Plane Quiet Platinum Active
Noise Reduction Headset
product from our favorite manufacturer
The new Plane Quiet Platinum headphones have an
appealing clean design and are an around-the-ear type
headphone. This type of design, while necessarily
bulkier, usually offers superior noise cancellation.
Part of a series on noise
reducing headphones - click the links on the right for extra
reviews and articles.
Outside the Box Group have
been making noise cancelling headphones for almost six years
now. This is the eighth model in their middle priced Plane
Quiet series; they've also occasionally offered high end units
under the Solitude brand name, and for a while had an entry
level unit also for sale.
The Plane Quiet brand is known
for being good performing and good values and this product is no
exception to that rule. It offers good quality audio,
and average to good noise cancelling.
This eighth model variant of
the Plane Quiet headphones harks back to the original models
from a point of view of external design of the exterior of the
headset. Inside however is an appreciably improved set of
electronics, giving much improved sound and noise canceling
compared to earlier model units.
The design is better than
the company's brief sidewards move to 'on the ear' rather than
'around the ear' type headphones and seems to be more robustly
In terms of performance,
sound quality is good, but noise cancelling is only satisfactory
rather than stellar.
Priced at $100, and
sometimes with specials on Outside the Box Group's retail facing
website, ProTravelGear.com, the headphones are priced in the middle of
the range of headphone prices, while offering reasonably good
audio fidelity and noise cancelling.
There are better headphones out there, but they cost three times
more money, so for average/ordinary users, these headphones
represent a good price/performance (ie value) point.
A second version of the
Plane Quiet Platinum headphones was released in September 2009,
nearly a year after the original model was released.
The newer version has better
noise cancelling and a volume control added to the battery box.
The review has been revised
and updated to reflect the new model now available.
Note that these headphones
have been reduced in price (they now seem to list for around
$55, down from their original $100 price), and have been joined
by another product referred to by the rather clumsy title 'Plane
Quiet Platinum Headphone Featuring New Solitude Technology'
which now occupies the $100 price point.
Please see our separate
review of the new Plane Quiet
w/Solitude headphones for a discussion of this newer and
The Evolution of the Plane
Quiet Platinum Noise Canceling Headphones
The evolution of the various
products designed and developed by Outside the Box Group is an
interesting story of American ingenuity combined with rapid change and
enhancement based on marketplace feedback.
The first Plane Quiet
headphones came out in May 2003, and between then and late 2004,
there were five different models released, with minor internal tweaks and
improvements each time while retaining the same exterior shell.
This is a new model every three months or so,
which is an astonishingly rapid pace of development and
enhancement. If you're interested, you can see the history
of earlier models here.
We then saw the company
switch design strategies from the 'around the ear' type
headphones to a smaller, lighter, more portable and also more
affordable 'on the ear' type design, which first appeared in
October 2004 as the Plane Quiet NC6 and then came out in an even
lighter smaller form as the NC7 in August 2006.
The NC6 used the same design
molds and had the same appearance as other brands of headphones,
even though its internal workings were superior, and this proved
a problem to marketplace acceptance. And then the NC7 was perhaps a bridge
too far in terms of being a slim thin lightweight design, and some users reported problems with the headsets
breaking. On the other hand, this isn't a problem unique
only to lightweight NC7 headsets - we get feedback from people
unhappy with the reliability and strength of even the top of the
line Bose headsets, the Bose Quiet Comfort 2 (around the ear)
and Bose Quiet Comfort 3 (on the ear) headsets.
Part of the reason for
switching the design of the Plane Quiet headsets to the
on-the-air type was the release of a second family of noise
cancelling headsets, the Solitude series, which were very high
end and directly targeted at the Bose Quiet Comfort 2
However, we now see the
company merging its two product lines back into one, with a
design that looks very reminiscent of the earlier Plane Quiet
headphones, back to a more solid and around the ear design.
Meanwhile its high end Solitude series of headphones have been
withdrawn, with these new Plane Quiet headphones stealing some
of the high end features of the $200 Solitudes (especially with
regard to the ear cushioning pads, which are a subtle but vital
part of the overall noise controlling design - better pads are
not only more comfortable but also provide better passive sound
The Plane Quiet Platinum Active
Noise Reduction Headset - What You Get
The Plane Quiet Platinum
Active Noise Reduction Headset (yes, a bit of a mouthful but
that is its official name!) comes
in one of those terribly hard to open plastic display boxes.
Inside are the headphones
themselves, two adapter plugs (one a dual pronged adapter for
airline use and the other a 1/8" to 1/4" jack), two AAA
batteries, a brief user manual and a warranty card. There
is also an unpadded nylon type bag (8" x 9½")
with a zipper over the top into which the headphones could be
placed for carriage, and a small zippered pouch (2¾"
x 4¼") which can be used to
carry the two plug adapters and perhaps a spare pair of
batteries. A piece of Velcro on the back of this pouch
mates with a Velcro strip inside the carry bag.
The warranty is for one
year, and while it seems each headset has a unique serial number
(in the battery box) the serial number isn't required on the
warranty form. If you need warranty service, you need to
produce proof of purchase, a difficult thing to do for those of
us with imperfect receipt filing systems.
The Plane Quiet Platinum (ie
PQ Pt) headphones are of an around the ear design, with the
headphone earcups closely comparable in size to the Bose Quiet
Comfort 2, the Solitude and the Philips SHN9500 headphones.
The foam that fills the
surroundings of the ear cups is a type of memory foam that
moulds closely and comfortably to one's head. This is
important so as to create the most effective passive sound block
barrier possible, and when you first put the headphones on,
you'll want to make sure that the foam lining is making a good
seal with your head.
The 'on the head' perceived
weight of the headphones is 5.8 ounces. The total travel
weight for the headphones and extra plugs, in their carry bag,
is 10.3 ounces. These are reasonably light weights for
around the ear full sized headphones, which is of course a good
The headphones have a nice
padded headband, and aren't too tight on the head, and have more
space inside the cups than did the Solitudes, so your ears are
less likely to get squashed. They are comfortable to wear
for long periods of time.
The connecting cord is
permanently connected to the headphones at one end, and after
36" it reaches a battery box with on/off switch. A second
36" cord then runs from the battery/control box to the plug.
These are generous lengths of cord, but it is unfortunately that
both lengths are permanently connected, meaning that if you get
a problem in the cord wiring or plug, you need a new set of
headphones rather than simply a new cord.
There is now a volume
control on the battery box. This is not a very useful
feature, because the headphones are perhaps slightly less
sensitive than some other models to start with, and it is hard
to think when you'd want the volume control other than at
maximum. It is probably best to use a spot of instant glue
to stick the control at maximum so as not to accidentally move
the control down.
The headphones have the usual swivel
joints, and no extra folding parts. They seem solidly made
and sufficiently sturdy for the stresses of regular travel.
The headphones use two AAA
batteries for the noise cancelling, and will still send sound to
the headset if the batteries die - you just lose the noise
cancelling capability. They are stated as offering about a
35 hour life.
Using the Headphones
When the noise cancelling is
turned off, the headphones have a pleasing sound that is full
frequencied, but the volume level is fairly low - you need to
turn up the volume on your audio device further than you do with
other headphones, which can slightly reduce the battery life of
the player and you should ensure the volume control on the
battery box is always at maximum.
The sound, while good, is
not excellent, and isn't quite as clear and transparent as other
headphones, with some of the location information for different
instruments in a recording also being less distinct.
When the noise cancelling is
turned on, the audio level slightly increases, and the higher
notes become a bit harsher and edgy (or is it the lower
frequencies becoming less prominent?).
Comfort and Convenience
The headphones are perfectly
comfortable with no issues or concerns at all. Full marks
on this point.
In theory the noise
cancelling should be great, and the manufacturer promises 'up to
18dB' of noise cancelling, although the 'up to' part of the
phrase makes this a meaningless promise - even 1dB is covered by
the 'up to' line.
Like other similar products,
the noise reduction works unevenly across the audio spectrum. Most headsets
seem to offer a combination of passive and active noise
cancelling so as to cut down on background noise one way or the
other, and these headphones too offer a moderately broad range
of noise reduction (be it through active noise cancellation or
passive noise blocking).
introduced by the noise cancellation circuitry is very quiet - no worse than other similar
headphones and better than many.
We took a pair of the
headphones for a test flight and compared them side by side with
the high end Bose Quiet Comfort 2 headphones plus two more
moderately priced headphones - the lower priced Philips SHN9500
(also an around the ear design) and the higher priced Sennheiser
PXC250 (an on the ear design reminiscent of the Plane Quiet NC7.
The $300 Bose QC2 headphones were of course better, the Philips
and Sennheiser products were similar. (Reviews of the Philips and Sennheiser
headphones will be published shortly.)
Where to Buy
The headphones have a retail
price of $100 but sometimes can be found on special, and can be
purchased direct from the manufacturer, Plane Quiet, at their
Pro Travel Gear website.
Summary and Recommendation
At $100 or less, these are
moderately priced noise cancelling headphones that perform in
line with their price, and better than expected.
They're not as good as the
top of the line Bose and similar products, but they are also
three times less expensive, making them a better and more
prudent choice for most people.
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17 Oct 2008, last update
28 May 2011
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.