Harman/Kardon NC Noise-Cancelling Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Reviewed Mar 07, 2016 at 12:00 am
Harman/Kardon NC Noise-Cancelling Picture
Test Methodology v1.0
6.8
Mixed Usage
7.2
Critical Listening
6.8
Commute/Travel
6.6
Sports/Fitness
6.8
Office
6.9
Home Theater
Type Over-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless No
Noise-Cancelling Yes
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Harman/Kardon NC are well-crafted, well-rounded headphones that sound great, deliver decent noise isolation in noisy environments and are comfortable enough to have on the head for hours. They will not disappoint, even though they struggle a little with treble reproduction.

Our Verdict

6.8 Mixed Usage

The Harman/Kardon NC make for good everyday headphones. They have a good design, they isolate well and have an above-average audio reproduction. They handle most use cases and environments well enough to be versatile.

7.2 Critical Listening

Above-average for critical listening. They have a good sound quality but poor soundstage due to their design.

See our Critical Listening recommendations
6.8 Commute/Travel

Decent for commuting. Noise isolation is good enough for moderately noisy commutes. They're comfortable and have a decent control scheme.

See our Commute/Travel recommendations
6.6 Sports/Fitness

Above-average for sports use. They're comfortable and remarkably stable for an over-ear design. They also have a good controls scheme. However, they're a bit bulky.

See our Sports/Fitness recommendations
6.8 Office

Suitable for office use. Noise isolation is enough to cancel the chatter of a busy office, and they don't leak too much.

See our Office recommendations
6.9 Home Theater

Above-average for home theater use. They have no latency but a relatively short audio cable. They would be a good option for watching movies on a tablet or PC but won't have the range to watch TV from your couch unless you have an extension cord for the audio cable.

  • 6.8 Mixed Usage
  • 7.2 Critical Listening
  • 6.8 Commute/Travel
  • 6.6 Sports/Fitness
  • 6.8 Office
  • 6.9 Home Theater
Pros
  • Above average audio reproduction.
  • Sturdy metal build.
  • Very comfortable design.
Cons
  • Sub-par treble reproduction.
  • Large ear cups susceptible to damage.
  1. Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.0. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.

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Test Results

Design
Design
Style

The Harman/Kardon are an eye-catching set of headphones. The square design of the ear cups is unique and looks great and the metal headband and joints look premium. The matte black finish on the ear cup housing, as well as the black reto-design padding on the headband, complete the two-tone color scheme and the old school esthetic.

7.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0 lbs
Clamping Force
1.52 lbs

The Harmon/Kardon are a pleasure to have on the head. The square over-ear cups fully encompass the ear and are very well padded, making them comfortable to wear for hours. The interchangeable headband design delivers a tight, painless fit that does not need to be adjusted between listening sessions, which is a definite plus.

6.7
Design
Controls
Ease of use Above-average
Feedback Average
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Noise Canceling Control No
Talk-Through No
Additional Buttons No

Simple and efficient button layout. The inline controls of the cable are well designed and provide good tactile feedback for the call/music and volume buttons. There is a noise cancelling switch on the ear cup. However, it is a little difficult to reach at times, reducing its ease of use.

8.0
Design
Stability

The Harman/Kardon NC are incredibly stable for over-ear headphones. The large square ear cups are broad enough to apply even pressure around the ear, preventing them from swaying when running. The headband has the right amount of tension and keeps the headphones in place during casual listening sessions or high-intensity activities. The audio cable will also detach if it gets hooked on something and won't pull the headphones of your head. Sadly, they're not designed for sports and might feel a little too bulky and heavy for some.

6.1
Design
Portability
L 7.87 "
W 7.68 "
H 1.57 "
Volume 95.17 Cu. Inches
Stand required N/A

The Harman/Kardon NC are on the larger side for over ear headphones. The broad earcups lay flat to take up less space making these headphones somewhat portable. Unfortunately, they don't fold up into a more compact format and will occupy a decent amount of space in a backpack. They won't comfortably fit in a handbag and are far too big to fit in a pocket, even larger jacket pockets.

6.0
Design
Case
Type Pouch

Comes with a soft, leather pouch that will shield the headphones from scratches and mild water damage. It also doesn't add much bulk to the headphones. Sadly the soft bag will not protect the headphones from hard falls, which is slightly disappointing given the Harman/Kardon's premium appeal.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

Solid build quality throughout. The metal frame of the headband feels sturdy and durable. The joints are also made of metal, which makes them less susceptible to regular wear and tear. The ear cups are held in place by the solid frame and the padding used is soft. However, the housing of the ear cups is made of plastic and could crack if enough pressure is applied.

6.3
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 6.3 C

Design
Cable
Detachable Yes
Length 0 ft
Connection 1/8" TRRS

Comes with one 1/8"TRRS-1/16"TRRS cable with in-line mic, call/music control and volume up/down.

Design
Front

Design
Angled

Design
Side

Design
Rear

Design
Top

Design
In The Box

  • Harman/Kardon NC headphones
  • Extra interchangeable headband
  • Audio cable
  • Airline adapter
  • Carrying case
  • USB Cable

Sound
8.8
Sound
Bass
Std. Err.
1.72 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
10 Hz
Low-Bass
2.64 dB
Bass
1.37 dB
High-Bass
1.74 dB

8.3
Sound
Mid
Std. Err.
2.28 dB
Low-Mid
0.91 dB
Mid
-0.76 dB
High-Mid
-2.71 dB

7.3
Sound
Treble
Std. Err.
4.08 dB
Low-Treble
-1.89 dB
Treble
-3.25 dB
High-Treble
0.92 dB

6.8
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.68 dB

4.8
Sound
Soundstage
PRTF Error
6.13 dB
Openness
3.8
Acoustic Space Excitation
2.1
Correlated Crosstalk
-0.52 dB

7.8
Sound
Imaging
Phase Error
27.08 °
Driver Mismatch (Amplitude)
0.9 dB
Driver Mismatch (Frequency)
2.33 dB
Driver Mismatch (Phase)
30.18 °

7.1
Sound
Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
1.604
Weighted THD @ 100
9.073

Isolation
7.5
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Overall Attenuation
-21.02 dB
Bass
-10.39 dB
Mid
-16.85 dB
Treble
-38.34 dB
Self-Noise
16.95 dB

Good performance. Isolation in the bass region is average, but the mid and treble performance are very good. The treble isolation remains unchanged even with ANC off.

7.9
Isolation
Leakage
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
34.15 dB

Good leakage performance. The profile is quite narrow too, from 2.5KHz-5KHz, which covers the higher harmonics of vocals/lead instruments and cymbals.

Active Features
0
Active Features
Wireless
Type
N/A
Obstructed Range
N/A
Line of Sight Range
N/A
NFC
No

10
Active Features
Latency
Base Latency
0 ms
aptX Latency
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
N/A

6.8
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Battery Life
41 hrs
Charge Time
3 hrs
Auto-off
No
Audio while charging
No
Passive Playback
Yes

The Harman/Kardon have a good battery life but take a bit long to charge fully. They last around 41 hours which makes them good headphones to use on a long flight or a road trip. Unfortunately, if you leave them on they will run out of battery because there is no auto-off timer and you can't use them while they're charging as the power and audio cables share the same port.

0
Active Features
App Support

No compatible app.

Harman/Kardon NC Noise-Cancelling Price

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