CNET First Look
Harmon Kardon NC headphones: Bose beater?HK's $300 noise-cancelling model gives the Bose QuietComfort 15 a run for its money.
I'm David Carnoy, executive editor for CNET.com and I'm here with the Harman Kardon NC Headphones. NC, of course, stands for noise-canceling and Harman Kardon makes a couple of these over the ear headphones. There's also a Bluetooth model but this is the noise-canceling model and it cost right around $3000. And whenever you have a noise-canceling model it costs around $300, you have to ask yourself, is it as good as the Bose QC15, which is sort of the de facto standard out there these days and it answers that these do measure up surprisingly well to those Bose that actually might sound a little bit better. Maybe not be quite as comfortable but they are comfortable headphones and they do have very solid build quality. They have metal band on top of that. Band is actually swappable. I have the larger band in their right now but there's a smaller band. Most people will go with the larger band and they also have a retention headband that conforms to your head. So, all in all, a comfortable headphone and the memory foam and the ear cups also helps create a tight seal. A couple of other features worth budgeting, these do have a built-in rechargeable battery. That's something that Bose QC15s don't have. You may charge that battery via the headphone jack, with especially USB connector for that. If you do lose that connector, you're gonna have a problem because it is not a standard micro USB connector. So, watch out for that. They also come with a nice carrying case and they fold flat. They're not quit as flat as the CL model from Harman, which is an on-ear model and folds very flat but they do have a pretty compact carrying case when you consider the depth of it. As far as the Sound Cloud goes what I liked about these is they actually have a very natural sound for noise-canceling headphones. The problem with noise-canceling headphones is the sound can end up seeming very processed but these do have a natural quality to them and when a couple other writers put them on, they were surprised to find they're actually noise-canceling headphones. There's a good amount of base, good detail, but it's really that kind of a natural open field to them maybe like them. In terms of the noise canceling itself, I thought it was good, it might not quite measure up to the Bose but it's very close. These are very solid noise-canceling model and should work fine on an airplane. I tested them in my office where there's kind of a high-pitched fan, there's a hump to it and it managed to muffle most of that sound. The cord is detachable and you do get an Apple-friendly inline remote with microphone as you can make cellphone calls with this headphone. One of the nice things about these headphones is if the battery dies or you don't wanna listen with noise-cancellation, you still get sound through them. So, all-in-all, I will say these are a worthy competitor to the Bose and a lot of the other noise-canceling models that are out there for around $300. No, they aren't cheap but around $300 tends to be what you pay for a premium noise canceling model and these do seem well-built enough for very good sound for what they are. I'm David Carnoy and those are the Harman Kardon NC Headphones, thanks for watching.