Essential gear for the road warrior

For the past few weeks, I've been traveling a great deal. Actually, I've been traveling a great deal for a long time.

Able Planet Clear Harmony noise-canceling headphones

For the past few weeks, I've been traveling a great deal. Actually, I've been traveling a great deal for a long time. Part of the price I pay for living for where I do. But I've recently been able to travel in greater comfort and have arrived at my destinations feeling a lot more refreshed and energized thanks to an amazing bit of gear that I now include as a standard component in my gear bag. The Able Planet Clear Harmony noise-canceling headphones I've been demoing have made flying a completely different experience.

I've been a happy user of noise-isolating earbuds for quite a long time. The current buds I use provide exceptional sound and are extremely portable, two qualities I generally place a very high value on. The idea of carrying around a larger set of over-the-air headphones seemed like a trade-off I didn't want to make.

How wrong I was!

There's simply no comparison in terms of the degree of relief you get from the incessant drone of the aircraft engines, not to mention the screaming children and too-loud adults surrounding you on a plane. It's like slipping off a busy street into a quiet library where you can actually hear your own thoughts above the din.

And that's before you turn on the music.

The sound quality is exceptional. Able Planet is a ten time winner of the Innovation Design and Engineering Award from the International Consumer Electronics Show  including last year and this year. The patented Linx Audio technology they've developed reads like rocket science and sounds like you're sitting in a great theater.

Like any quality audio gear, the Clear Harmony headphones are not inexpensive ($299.99) but a worthy investment for anyone who spends a lot of time on planes, trains, or in other noisy environments. The packaging is nicely designed and includes a carrying case (the headphone cups rotate to store flat to reduce bulk) and adapters for both 1/4" and 1/8" jacks. As I said earlier, this is a tradeoff from the pocketable earbuds I've long favored but the experience has proven it is well worth carving out room in my bag for these phones – especially on coast-to-coast flights. In-flight movies have never sounded so good!

I've used the headphones with my iPod, home stereo, and all of my mobile computing devices with excellent results.  Recently, when my family and I all flew to New York City, we all took turns trying the Clear Harmony phones out. Four out of four people in my family agreed that the elimination of jet noise was incredibly nice.