Review: Altec Lansing AHP712i Headphones

Good, peaceful sound with comfortable ear pads (May 22nd, 2006)

MacNN Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: Altec Lansing

Price: $149.95 US

The Good

  • Very comfortable headphones. Easy to fold and store. Includes carry bag. Airline and stereo adapters included. Active Noise Reduction works well.

The Bad

  • Sound without ANR is less bright and tonally flat, but white noise may be distracting. The ANR controller is not removable. Need to carry spare AAA battery.

In spite of its success, the iPod is not really a self-contained music solution. Like early Macs, iPods breed the desire for more accessories, cooler gear, and better sound. The included earbud-style headphones just do not do justice to good sound. In the quest for a better listening experience, I tested the Altec Lansing AHP712i, Active Digital Noise Cancellation Headphones. The silver plastic and black faux leather headphones look better than these materials might imply. The headphones fit my head very well and the swiveling earpieces helped keep the headphones in place. Because earpieces cover the ears instead of sitting against them, the AHP712i are more comfortable if you wear glasses. With their closed-ear cup style and high performance 40mm neodymium drivers, these headphones deliver quite good sound.

The AHP712i headphones connect to a controller that requires one AAA battery. Another cable connects the controller to your sound source. The small, but bulky controller has a metal belt clip, a volume control, and an ANR (Active Noise Reduction) switch. The headphones also ship with two cables, a 2-foot and a 6-foot, so you don't get tangled in long cables when on a plane. Altec Lansing includes the adapters needed for airplane plugs and a 1/4" adapter for stereo use. Only the 3.5mm plugs are gold-plated.

Active Noise Reduction

Altec Lansing's implementation of Active Nose Reduction detects background noise with small microphones and creates white noise that is 180 degrees out of phase with the intruding sound. Active Noise Reduction technology achieves noise reduction to more than 19 dB from 40 Hz - 12 kHz. The sound generated by my iPod and Mac had a dull, colorless quality with the Active Noise Reduction feature turned off. I also needed to turn up the volume. The range of sound is good with decent bass, but it is not bright and you must turn up the volume.

The Active Noise Reduction boosts the volume and clarity when turned on, so all types of music and audio sound significantly better. The headphones pick up subtle sounds in complex tracks, which really enhances the music. Street noise and highway traffic become a dim memory. The downside is that there is a faint white noise hiss underlying what is playing. In a quiet environment, this is unacceptable. However, on a plane, or in another noisy place, such as a dorm, this white noise helps mask the intrusive sounds. You can concentrate and focus on what you're doing instead of listening to cell phones and fire engines.

A complete solution

In addition to increasing your listening pleasure, the 712i Headphones come with everything you need, except the battery. The ear pads fold in and fit nicely into the black nylon storage bag. An inner Velcro closing pocket holds your cables and two sets of adapters, so they won't scratch the headphones while in the pouch. The headpiece doesn't fold though, so it's not a small package. For the price, I would have liked more than a 1-year limited warranty.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by P.A.M. Borys


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