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Headphones

Libratone's Track Plus is the headphone Bang & Olufsen should have made

There's another Danish company making headphones. The Libratone Track Plus looks like a B&O product, and that's a good thing.

Libratone, a Danish company primarily known for its Wi-Fi speakers, has moved into the red-hot headphone market in recent years. Its new Track Plus is a neckband-style wireless noise-canceling model that comes in black or white. First announced at CES back in January, it's available now for $199 or £169 (there's no word yet on Australia pricing, but expect it to be in the AU$250 range).

After a few days using the Track Plus, I like it so far. For starters, it's well designed. It's sort of thicker version of the BeatsX and has it's own flexible but sturdy cables.

You can choose to use the fins -- or not.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The headphone comes with a few different sets of ear tips, as well as sport fins that you can choose to use or not. I did, and they helped keep the buds securely in my ears. I got a pretty tight seal using the the largest tips and I found the buds easy to get in and our of my ears, with a comfortable fit

The Track Plus joins the ranks of neckband-style wireless noise-canceling headphones such as the Bose's Quiet Control 30 and the Jabra Elite 65e. Like those brands, Libratone has a companion app that allows you to control the amount of noise cancellation and tweak the sound profile.

I thought the Track Plus sounded very good for this type of Bluetooth headphone. I initially went with the "neutral" sound profile, but then switched to the "extra bass" setting because I thought there was a touch of siblance (presence boost) even in the neutral setting. There's also treble boost setting, but I kept away from that.

While it lacks that extra bit of clarity and bass definition you get from a good wired model, overall it sounds fairly natural and open.

The noise canceling has some impact, but it's not as strong as what you get from Bose's QuietControl 30 ($299 at Amazon). And don't expect it to muffle the outside world as well as full-sized headphones like the Bose's QuietComfort 35 II or Sony WH-1000XM2.

You can choose an automatic "smart" noise canceling setting or one of four manual levels, plus an "ambient monitoring" mode that actually amplifies the sound around you a bit. It might come in handy if you were a runner or biker and wanted to hear the outside world for safety reasons.

Libratone mentions that you can use the Track Plus on planes to quiet noise, but as far as I could tell there's no way to turn it into a wired headphone to plug into an inflight entertainment system.

This headphone works for sports and running (it is sweat-resistant) and also performed well as a headset for making calls. Thanks to dual microphones, it has noise-reduction features that help callers hear you better in noisy environments.

The headphones have a flexible design.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The only thing that bothered me a little is when I used this headphone at the gym and leaned back on a mat to do sit-ups and other exercises, the headphone would slip off the back of my neck due to the way the cord is weighted. The battery and remote are integrated into the cord in two same-size, evenly weighted compartments on either side of the cord. 

The headphone is designed to rest on your neck with the buds hanging down, but if you lean back, the weight shifts and the headphone comes off your neck. That's par for the course for this type of headphone, but some come with a clip that allows you to attach the cord to the back of your shirt.

The battery is rated at up to 8 hours, which is pretty decent, but expect a bit less if you crank the noise canceling and volume. I liked that the headphone fully charges after one hour and automatically shuts off if you don't use it for a while. In the app, you can choose exactly how long.

The inline remote.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Overall the Libratone Track Plus looks like a solid choice for people in the market for a premium neckband-style headphone, whether for everyday use or sports. I'll reserve final judgment until I spend a little more time with it and compare it to Jabra's Elite 65e. But there's no doubt it's a more compelling headphone than Libratone's earlier Q Adapt In-Ear noise-canceling Lightning earphones ($150), which I thought were only OK and didn't fit my ears as well as these do.

The company also makes a USB-C Q Adapt in-ear headphone ($150) that's based on Track Plus's noise-isolating design. It's essentially the wired version of the Track Plus.

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