Review – Planequiet NC-7 Noise Cancelling Headphones

I just purchased the Plane Quiet NC-7 Noise Cancelling Headphones from their US manufacturers Pro Travel Gear to wear while commuting to work on trains and buses. That way I could listen to music or watch my Tokai 7″ inch portable DVD/DIVX player in relative peace and quiet without having to turn up the volume quite loud like I had to with my old Sennheiser HD 202 headphones

Every time you hear a really loud sound, your hearing acuity decreases. Thankfully, the effect usually isn’t permanent – audiologists refer to it as temporary threshold shift – but repeated exposure to high volumes will likely reduce your hearing ability. If you occasionally experience ringing in your ears after listening to loud music or other sounds, take heed. Nature’s telling you to turn it down. If you don’t, you will suffer some hearing loss – and you’ll never get it back.

That’s why it’s a bad idea to block out external noise by cranking your portable audio device’s volume up to 11. Noise cancelling headphones alleviate this widely ignored problem. Noise cancelling headphones enable you to hear your music without blowing out your eardrums.

Plane Quiet NC-7 Features

  • Proprietary noise cancelling algorithm providing up to 17 decibels of noise cancellation across the entire sound spectrum.
  • Compact and lightweight (70 grams for headphones on head and 220grams total for headphones stored in the case)
  • Volume control and Automatic Noise Cancellation (ANC) on/off switch on separate clippable control box. Note: Headphones still work without noise cancellation if the battery goes flat.
  • Foldable design fits easily into included Protective Case
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • 1.5m (5 ft) Cord
  • Powered by single AAA battery (included) that provides a minimum of 14 hours continuous use
  • 3.5mm Stereo plug and Dual-pin airline adapter (included) are compatible with all worldwide airline in-flight entertainment systems and portable electronic devices, such as laptops, iPod™ and other MP3 devices, DVDs and CD players.

plane quiet nc7 noise cancelling headphones

Noise Cancellation Explained

Technically speaking, any type of headphone can provide some passive noise reduction. That’s because the materials of the headphones themselves block out some sound waves, especially those at higher frequencies. However the best passive noise cancelling headphones are heavier and bulkier than normal headphones.

Active noise-cancelling headphones can do everything that passive ones can do but they also add an extra level of noise reduction by actively erasing lower-frequency sound waves by creating their own sound waves to cancel out some of the the incoming noise.

Using a microphone, noise cancelling circuitry and speaker noise-cancelling headphones are able to provide a noise reduction of around 20 decibels. That means about 70 percent of ambient noise is effectively blocked, making noise cancelling headphones ideal for airline and train travel, open office environments or any other location with a high level of background noise.

A decibel (dB) is a measure of sound intensity. The dB scale is logarithmic, meaning that a change of 10 dB represents a tenfold change in loudness. So, a sound measuring 30 dB is 10 times louder than a sound measuring 20 dB.

While noise cancelling headphones do a good job distinguishing between the audio a wearer wants to hear and the background noise he or she wants to keep out, some people say that they compromise sound quality by muffling sounds.

Noise-cancelling headphones are better at eliminating low frequency sounds, such as the rumble of a train or roar of an air plane’s jet engines, than say the voice of someone talking on a mobile phone next to you. That’s because higher frequencies are more difficult to cancel out, so the headphones rely more on padding and insulation for this, leaving the circuitry to focus on the lower frequencies.

3 Kinds of Noise Cancelling Headphones

  • Around your ear (circumaural) headphones – Surround your whole ear with padding.
    Pros: Excellent noise cancelling abilities.
    Cons: Expensive, large and heavy.
  • On your ear headphones
    Pros:Very Good noise cancelling abilities. Generally smaller and lighter than Around ear.
    Cons:Don’t offer quite as good a seal against noise as Around ear.
  • Ear buds (in your ear canal) – Like other earbuds that come included with MP3 players etc they fit right into your ear.
    Pros:Excellent noise cancelling abilities, don’t need batteries because they’re passive and often cheaper,
    Cons: Some people like me find them uncomfortable & you can’t share them with others like you can with headphones.

In spite of the trade-offs, many people would never go back to normal audio headphones. That’s because noise cancelling headphones do more than reduce noise. They also help alleviate fatigue when travelling, which can result from exposure to low-frequency noise for an extended period of time. You can even use noise cancelling headphones if you don’t want to listen to another audio source but do want to cancel out background noise. And a little bit of quiet can be music to anyone’s ears.


I only wish the shipping charges to Australia were cheaper. I would have been happy to get them a few days later in exchange for cheaper shipping. Otherwise I rank them 9/10. In comparison the Sennheiser PXC150 noise cancelling headphones require 2 x AAA batteries, only have a 2yr warranty, aren’t foldable and are 50%+ more expensive than the Plane Quiet NC7′s.

The Plane Quiet NC7 Noise Cancelling Headphones can be purchased directly from Plane Quiet for US $80+shipping. It cost me $AUS 120 including express 3 day FedEx International Priority shipping (North Carolina, USA -> Sydney, Australia).

If you prefer ear buds I would recommend the Solitude® Passive Noise Reduction In-the-Ear Stereo Headphones also sold by Plane Quiet for $US $39.95+shipping.

NOTE: If you use the travelinsider discount code you’ll get a 5% discount off the price including shipping :-)


17 comments on “Review – Planequiet NC-7 Noise Cancelling Headphones

  1. SELBoy on said:

    did you know that i was thinking that you are actually cancelling a review on headphone? well, i’m sorry but that’s what I understand from the title.

    EDITOR: Thanks for spotting that :-)

    I changed the title from:
    Plane Quiet NC-7 Noise Cancelling Headphones Review
    to
    Review – Plane Quiet NC-7 Noise Cancelling Headphones

  2. Thanks for the helpful information. You really broke down the functionality of the headphones. I am guilty of turning up my earphones, but hopefully I haven’t suffered too much hearing loss.

  3. I’ve been looking at buying some new headphones! Thanks for sharing this – they look like they might be just the ones I need.

  4. Curious about how long the battery lasts and what battery do they take, 1 x AAA?

    EDITOR: That’s correct. 1 x AAA battery. If you use a standard alkaline it should last about 14 hours. Usage time for rechargeable batteries will vary depending on their capacity

  5. Hi, I enjoyed your review so much, I bought a pair of the plane quiet headphones. I have a slight problem so I hope you can help. Had no trouble opening them, but once opende I can’t figure out how to fold them up again. I am hoping that you can reply with some instructions that might help.

    Kind regards,
    Kay

    EDITOR: Simply fold them at the top hinge as pictured in the photo in the review. Then fold inwards at the 2 side hinges and store in the zip up case

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  8. I have bought a pair of these earphones. The noise cancelling is great, but they have broken! Do you have that experience too?

    It’s that plastic hinge on top of the earphones frame that has broken for me. I don’t understand why they would replace part of a solid metal frame with some soft plastic…

    EDITOR: Did you buy it directly from Protravelgear.com ?

    If so call them and tell them your invoice number on the receipt and they should post you out a new plastic hinge for free

  9. I have actually already done that, and they are giving great service by shipping out spare parts. The problem is that I have now broken a total of four hinges, though… :) Should I expect the fifth hinge to last much longer?

    EDITOR: crikey thats a lot of breakages, perhaps you should treat it a bit more carefully because I do agree that it’s a bit fragile

  10. What would REALLY make me happy is if they would send me a metal hinge. The rest of the frame is out of metal, right? As the expression goes

    “The chain is never stronger than the weakest link”

    so what is all the metal for if there is some weak plastic in the middle of the metal frame? :)

    I think I AM careful with them. Of course, I use them every day so I use them a lot. Is that careless? :)

  11. Jomark Osabel on said:

    How about the sound quality of this headphone as compared with the other noise canceling headphones such as the Bose Quiet Comfort?

    EDITOR: sound quality is a matter of individual perception

  12. There are more types of headphones than ever. Which ones are right for your ears? Here are some tips for picking the best style for your needs:

    Earbuds

    * Earbuds are commonly issued as freebies with MP3 players, but higher-performance buds can offer sonics that rivals full-size models. Their tiny earpieces rest on the outer ear or need to be inserted into the ear canal; some models include ear clips for a more secure fit.
    * Upside
    Ultracompact and lightweight; can provide moderate to excellent isolation from external noise; little to no interference with earrings, glasses, hats or hairstyles.
    * Downside
    Sound quality and bass response often not comparable to those of full-size models; can cause discomfort over periods of extended use; some models are difficult to insert and remove; the idea of putting foreign objects in the ear is counterintuitive and uncomfortable for many people; dual-cable design means more possibilities for tangled wires.

    Also known as
    In-ear headphones.

    Portability
    Highest.

    Sports headphones

    * This loosely defined category usually refers to lightweight, non-earbud models with two general headband styles: Standard vertical bands that arch over the head or horizontal designs that extend behind the head or neck. These headphones are almost always open-backed designs, with good reason: If you’re jogging, the last thing you want to do is completely block out the ambient noise of the street around you.
    * Upside
    Behind-the-neck designs won’t interfere with your hairstyle or your hat and will usually stay put during running or jogging.
    * Downside
    A lot of stylish, slender headphone designs aren’t all that durable. Some behind-the-neck designs exert higher-than-average amount of pressure on your ears.

    Also known as
    Fashion headphones; vertical headphones; behind-the-neck headphones; clip-on headphones; neckband headphones; Walkman-style headphones; portable headphones.

    Portability
    High.

    Ear-pad headphones

    * These headphones rest on your outer ears and run the gamut from inexpensive portables to high-end home models. While ear-pad headphones can have closed designs that cover the ears, they are never fully sealed as full-size circumaural models are.
    * Upside
    Comfortable and less prone to overheating ears than full-size headphones. Some models even fold up for easy transport.
    * Downside
    Less effective noise isolation than in-ear or full-size models, and less powerful bass compared with full-size headphones.

    Also known as
    Supra-aural headphones; open-backed headphones; semi-open headphones; closed-back headphones; on-ear headphones.

    Portability
    Medium.

    Full-size headphones

    * The tech-speak description for this type of headphone is circumaural–it includes any headphone with ear cups that fully enclose your ears. Because of their size and their acoustic isolation, full-size headphones are often considered to be better suited to home use rather than as a portable option.
    * Upside
    Large headphones offer potential for maximum bass and loudness levels, and by fully enclosing your ears they effectively block outside noise.
    * Downside
    Large size is cumbersome for portable use and some full-size models can be uncomfortably hot, making your ears sweat. Ear cups and headbands can also often interfere with earrings, glasses, and hairstyles.

    Also known as
    Circumaural headphones; closed-back headphones; ear-cup headphones; over-the-ear headphones.

    Portability
    Lowest.

  13. Is there anything that actually can effectively cancel out human speech? I’ve tried loads of things but none work.

  14. Steve on said:

    These look like exactly what I have been looking for. I am a little concerned about the headphones breaking. The price isn’t too bad but if they aren’t very durable it would kinda be a waste for me. Great review Neerav, keep up the great work.

  15. Geosta on said:

    Nice review, I also purchased a pair of these. They do their job, well, when they can. Let me explain that.

    The first pair I got came broken out of the box. The clip holding the band together at the top was already broken when I pulled them out of the box. Wasn’t very impressed. But sent them back and got a new pair quickly, so back on track.

    I’ve used them now for about 12 months, but only on flights and ferries, otherwise I use my in-ear headphones (no need to take the bulkier ones when not necessary). So I board a 777 for the first sector of a 24 hour flight (LHR-SIN-SYD), take headphones out of case, put them together, move the earpieces down my standard 8 clicks (very useful feature the clicking sound), go to put them over my head and then…

    snap…

    Not the clip this time. The joint where the earpieces fold in on themselves (there is a little pin hinge) broke clean off. No chance of repair.

    There is obviously some build quality issues here. Given that I’ve had two pairs, and both have broken on the plastic bits, they really need to look how brittle that plastic is.

  16. Anonymous on said:

    I have been using these headphones for a couple of years, but yesterday (November 27 2009) while sitting on the tarmac at Hong Kong with a 13 hour flight to London ahead of me, I was lifting them from around my neck onto my head and they just snapped. Sound is good, but they are very delicate. I had 13 hours of in-flight films and airline headphones. Ipod with my chosen movies had to be abandoned.

  17. M. Wright on said:

    I’ve had these for about 18 months now and have travelled over 200,000 miles using them. They have good audio quality, block out most of the plane noise and are light and comfortable. As far as durability goes, I’ve slept many nights in them while flying and they survived well. I recently had the problem where the hinge broke and on calling the company and speaking with Dave in customer service he immediately offered to mail me a new hinge free of charge. 2 small screws and 30 seconds later they were back to new. I own several other pairs of noise cancelling headphones from other manufacturers but these are my firm favorites.

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