Libratone has released the Q Adapt active noise cancelling headphone with Bluetooth and wired connectivity that feature four levels of noise cancelation and around twelve hours of playtime with a three hour recharge window.
They feature the standard 20-20 frequency range, an open air mic, Bluetooth 4.0 using A2DP and AptX, and in outdoor environments they can turn down the city noise and shine.
In indoor environments my experience was so/so. Some places they shine, in a server room that I work in they managed to gut a range of the ambient audio leaving only the most annoying fans audible.
Unless you work around a lot of tiny fans, chances are this is not going to be much of an issue, but it’s where I initially was testing them.
Outdoors you can remove a lot of the car and just ambient noise of the city, and they excel at that.
They shine outdoors, in the city. They work indoors in a server room. I was not particularly impressed with the phone call I had, however that could be a wide variety of reasons behind that and I really attempt to not look like a madman talking to nobody.
The sound reproduction when there’s no noise cancelation is very good. The more you cancel the outdoor sounds the more the sound feels wrong. I don’t know the proper wording for this, but at extreme noise cancelling it’s like the ear pressure is wrong. May be my tinnitus kicking in, I don’t know.
The volume level never seems to get to the levels other headsets I’ve used in the past do, but with the active noise cancelling maybe that’s not so much of an issue. I’m sitting here listening at a comfortable volume and not hearing any of the random room noise that’s going on… so maybe that’s a plus.
There’s one problem with these that I do not like and that’s that the earphones while they adjust for head size and ears going in/out they do not adjust for one of the axises they need to properly sit on my ear. They put a little too much pressure on the top and not enough on the bottom. This will be entirely ear dependent so don’t expect a lot of people to be complaining about this.
The Libratone Q Adapt has some very nice features such as pausing the music when you take the headphones off and resuming when they’re back on, letting you use the open air mics by cupping your hand over the right ear in case you need to suddenly hear everything around you much louder than it actually is (seriously, typing with this it sounds like I’m tap dancing,) and generally the features make the whole thing feel like a really polished product.
Only issues I have any more are fit and location of the function button which is required to press to change the noise cancelling level. It’s got no textual indicator that your thumb is on it, and the charging and aux-in ports have more definition. A little bump there would be much appreciated.
The Libratone Q Adapt headphone pack a 625 mAh battery and a lot of extra seemingly unneeded weight to give them some heft. Perhaps they’re following Beat’s lead and packing on weight to make you think they’re good, I don’t know. They could be lighter I think although I’d have to tear them apart to tell.
These do get loud, but more so when you’re not doing active noise cancellation, but not loud enough to kill your eardrums in any input scenario I’ve used.
The controls are mostly located on the right ear. The hidden four-mode active noise cancellation button which feels just like the power button (which thankfully is on the other ear,) two finger presses to pause/resume, rotating your finger to change volume, cover the right ear to switch to mic audio input and hear the world around you.
If you want active noise cancellation these are the best I’ve heard. If you’re in it for the loudness, probably not what you’re looking for. Audio reproduction is very nice and I didn’t ever notice any dropouts while carrying my phone in my back left pocket.
They’re currently available on Amazon for $249 though I would expect that to drop post-CES, and my cheap butt thinks the price point should be, and probably will be, more in the $129 range.