Sentry also has new earbuds, at only $5 a pair.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


Able Planet headphones aid cancer research -- and sound gorgeous

Aug. 15, 2010

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2010, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2010, The Post-Standard

   When the PR folks who represent Able Planet asked me to try out a pair of pink headphones, I did what any quick-thinking adult male would have done: I volunteered my wife.
   It's not that I don't look good in pink. I just don't want to look good in pink. It's a guy thing.
   So Nancy is now the official tester for pink sound devices. Specifically, she's been listening to her iTunes music collection with the Able Planet XNC230P noise-cancelation headphones. They're pink and plaid with soft black accents.
   Why pink? Able Planet is donating 10 percent of the proceeds from the sale of the pink 'phones to breast cancer research. They list for $149, but I've seen them as low as $99.99. (Try this site: http://tinyurl.com/36udr9a. I shortened all the URLs in this article.)
   Nancy told me they sounded fantastic. After she refused to let me have them even for a moment, I waited until she was asleep and gave them a try on my collection of live recordings.
   They're excellent. The pink headphones, much like the other Able Planet models I've reviewed, are smooth in all the important audio ranges -- ultra-low bass, regular bass, midrange and treble. They can play both loud and soft without a trace of ugly distortion.
   Noise cancelation worked well, making these 'phones ideal for noisy dorm rooms or airline flights. (You get an airline adaptor free.)
   And if you aren't partial to pink, you can get the same headphones in more standard colors. Check the company's Web site listing. It's at http://tinyurl.com/35wlw4y.
   At the other end of the scale are two new earbud models from Sentry. An earlier Sentry sounded so good I rated it the best earbud among all affordable models, and the newest ones are just as great.
   They're the Ultra-buds and the Wooden Digital Earbuds (yes, made from wood). The Ultra-buds have ribbed ear-canal cushions for a tight, noise-blocking fit, but I found them less comfortable than the round cushions on the wooden model.
   Earbuds almost never sound as good as around-the-ear headphones. But when you need earbuds, you might as well get some good ones. The two Sentry models I tested are available at Big Lots for $5. (That's not a typo. Practically all earbuds cost only a few dollars to make, regardless of what they cost the consumer. Sentry is passing the savings on to you.)