Travel product reviews: Quiet flights

(Able Planet)
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By Andrea Sachs
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 3, 2010; 2:14 PM

When flying, we like to feel as if our heads are in the clouds, but sometimes it's more like being thrust into a thunderstorm, with engines roaring, kids crying and seatmates snoring.

To crawl into a quiet space, we tried out Able Planet's newest model of noise cancellation headphones, the Extreme (877-266-1979, www.ableplanet.com ; $149), released last month.

White is the sound of the noise when you switch on the function that throws a soft blanket over the world's din. But it's also one of the color options. The others are pink (10 percent of proceeds go to breast cancer foundations), red and blue, and all feature swatches of Burberry-knockoff plaid where Princess Leia's hair buns sat. For easy packing, the headphones fold into a compact ball smaller than a travel hair dryer.

The electronic muffs fit comfortably on our head, with puffy cushions protecting our ears and crown. Oddly, the chord is as long as a jump rope, but we could still easily reach the volume control midway down. The company touts its Linx Audio technology, which claims to sharpen sound with no need for you to pump up the volume and shatter your ear drums. And indeed, when we plugged into our music-and-movie device, the voices were crisp and clear, as if we were in a private theater with surround-sound. Despite the headgear, though, we could still hear the man next to us singing. But with our headphones on, his song was more of a lullaby than an off-key screech.


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