We all need to shut out the world sometimes; for those seeking the ultimate distraction, Harman Kardon's NC headphones are a superior means of escape.




Before you even put them on, the headphones are beautiful to look at. With a sleek black and silver design incorporating fine protein leather on the band and cups with a rugged steel housing, the headphones appear and feel equally sophisticated and durable. And to accommodate the unique positioning of the ear cups on one's head, Harman Kardon's NC headphones include bows in two different sizes, which can be easily swapped out to optimize comfort.

With the foamy rectangular NC headphones over your ears, the ambient sounds of the world are immediately and effectively sealed off -- but without the annoying buzzing sound created by many headphones' noise-canceling options. By embedding proprietary closed-loop, active digital noise-canceling technology in the slow-retention foam of the ear pads, Harman Kardon's NC headphones create a surprisingly crisp and accurate listening experience with balance and clarity at all volume levels.

The NC headphones' noise-canceling technology -- the same kind used for acoustic installations in many luxury cars -- runs on a 40-hour lithium-ion battery, and Harman Kardon supplies users with a USB cord to recharge the headphones. But even when the battery dies, the NC headphones will still continue to operate.

Harman Kardon throws in some nice added functionality, including EarPods-like play controls and the ability to fold the ear cups flat for easy travel, and the earphones themselves are relatively light and portable. Some may be turned off by the headphones' modern design, and I'll admit I wasn't a huge fan of how the headphones looked on my head; that said, when you're sitting on a plane and your seat is located directly above the plane's engine and adjacent to three screaming babies, "looking good" is the last of your concerns. The NC headphones exceed their "noise-canceling" moniker to become something transportational.

Grade: A

Harman Kardon's NC headphones are available through Harman Kardon and Apple for $299.99.

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