Tech review: Harman Kardon Fly ANC offers decent noise cancellation at affordable price

Audio quality is impressive, with sparkly highs, smooth mids and punchy bass.
Audio quality is impressive, with sparkly highs, smooth mids and punchy bass.PHOTO: HARMAN KARDON

Fly ANC (available on Lazada and Shopee), the wireless over-ear headphone model of audio company Harman Kardon's new Fly headphone series, comes with active noise cancelling (ANC) technology and a sleek, black minimalist design.

It feels premium with a leatherette material covering most of its exterior, including the headband and ear-cups.

Its construction is sturdy, though the headband feels rather tight. Even after I tried stretching it out, the headband firmly retains its shape and clamps tightly on my head.

The ear-cups are a tad small for me and just about cover my ears. As a result, they make my ears feel quite warm after an hour of listening, though this might be a good thing when I can travel to colder countries again.

On the left ear-cup is a micro-USB charging port. This is a surprise, as most wireless headphones use the USB-C port for charging. This also might be a hassle for users who have USB-C smartphones.

All of the controls - volume, playback, Bluetooth, ANC and power - are found on the right ear-cup. This makes the changing of controls quick and easy, as there are no touch gestures to remember.

You can download the My Harman/Kardon Headphones app (available on Android and iOS) to select Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa as your voice assistant, as well as change or customise the equaliser settings. The app comes with three equaliser presets - Jazz, Bass and Vocal.

Audio quality is impressive, with sparkly highs, smooth mids and punchy bass. Even when you set the equaliser to the Bass setting, vocals are clear and not overpowered by the bass. If you love pop songs, the Vocal preset works a treat.

However, in terms of ANC performance, the Fly ANC is probably a notch down from genre leaders such as the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the Bose NC Headphones 700. When the ANC is turned on, I could still hear the loud music that neighbours in my block were blasting.

But the ANC function could be useful when you can fly again - it effectively blocked out my "recreation" of the engine groan inside an airplane cabin by turning up the fan of my study room's decade-old air-conditioning unit to maximum.

 
 
 

On the pricing front, the Fly ANC ($349) has a clear edge over the WH-1000XM3 and the NC Headphones 700, both of which cost over $500.

It also comes with a hard case that resembles the one found in the WH-1000XM3. The case holds the headphone, along with cables and the included airplane audio adapter. Many of its competitors either don't have one or only offer a fabric bag.

Battery life is pretty good, at 20 hours with ANC turned on. This is similar to the stamina of the NC Headphones 700, but not as good as WH-1000XM3's 30-hour battery life.


FOR

• Great sound quality

• Premium build and looks

• Decent active noise cancellation

• More affordable than many competitors

AGAINST

• Micro-USB charging port

• Tight headband, small ear cups

TECH SPECS

Price: $349

Drivers: 40mm

Frequency response: 16Hz to 22KHz

Impedance: 32 ohms

Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2, 3.5mm

Weight: 281g (without cable)

RATING

Features: 4/5

Design: 4/5

Performance: 4/5

Battery life: 4/5

Value for money: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

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