The Good Unique design; excellent fit and finish; impressive sound quality for a noise-canceling headphones; built-in rechargeable battery to power the noise cancellation; fold flat (a nice carrying case is included); work without the noise cancellation on (when the battery dies, they keep playing); include Apple-friendly inline remote and microphone.
The Bad Fairly pricey; the inline remote and microphone won't work with many non-Apple smartphones and tablets; the battery charging cable is not a standard Micro-USB cable.
The Bottom Line While they may not be quite as comfortable as Bose's ultrapopular QC 15 headphones, the Harman Kardon NCs offer slightly better sound and have a built-in rechargeable battery to power the active noise-cancellation circuitry.
An NC model that doesn't sound like one
Last year I reviewed the
While I'm still waiting to check out the Bluetooth model -- it's generally received very positive reviews from consumers -- the noise-canceling NC showed up the other week. The timing was good because Monoprice's $112 Noise Cancelling Headphone turned up around the same time, and I also had a special-edition blue version of Bose's
In terms of comfort, the Bose came out the winner, but the Harman NC wasn't far behind and arguably was the best-sounding of the bunch. I can't say that makes it a great bargain at $300 (none of these $300 headphones can be considered a bargain). However, it is a surprisingly worthy competitor to the Bose and includes a cord that has an Apple-friendly inline remote/microphone for making cell phone calls. It also features a built-in rechargeable battery and can play even if you don't have the noise-canceling circuitry engaged (or if the battery dies).
Get a pair of Harman Kardon in-ear headphones for $18.99
Normally $73.99, these noise-isolating 'phones would probably make a great gift.