Plane Quiet Platinum

Summary: Not bad, but not brilliant. A good introductory pair to ‘expensive’ headphones, if they fit you.

The Plane Quiet Platinum were recommended to me by a fellow Twitter user when I put out the call for recommendations. And since it’s you can’t fit a pair of headphones through the Internet (yet), they stood just as good a shot as anyone else. I’d never heard of the brand, but at sub-$90, these were looking to be the surprise value. But unfortunately, these are fairly run-of-the-mill with questionable comfort and quality.

They say first impressions are everything and in this case, the PQPs did not make a good one. First, blister packaging, which is not only annoying to open, but a clear indicator that these are mainstream headphones to be sold at Sears and marketed towards the same folks who collect Incredible Hulk mugs from Burger King.

Plane Quiet Platinum
Blister packaging. Oh how I hate thee!

Next, when I finally opened the pack (with the aid of an exacto knife), I was disappointed to see that all the electronics for the active noise cancellation are contained on a widget halfway down the ridiculously long cable. Clumsy by anyone’s standards, and for me a definite turn off.

When I finally put these on, they felt lightweight and plasticy. The earcups feature only the minimum softness and barely fit over my ears. I may be a fully grown man, but there are plenty of folks with bigger ears than I mine, so I dare say these may not fit a large portion of people.

And finally, when I actually got around to plugging in the PQPs, there was an unpleasant crackling sound, most likely tied to the active noise cancellation, which reminds of the sound given off when headphones are about to die! Yikes.

By my previously stated criteria:

Comfort: As I mentioned, these aren’t terribly comfortable. The tightness of the earcups can get annoying over a period of time, and even after half an hour, I felt like my ears needed a break. When in commuter mode, this was only made worse — my sunglasses seemed to dig in to my skull in a manner that I’d like to do without.

Sound Quality: The sound quality actually isn’t bad. Both music and talk were competent and there was no glaring lack of either bass or hi-end frequencies. I’m sure audiophiles will have more to say, but if I didn’t notice anything, it’s a Pass in my book.

Plane Quiet Platinum

Plane Quiet Platinum
What’s in the box: The headphones, an airplane converter, a 1/4″ converter, two batteries, a soft case, and a smaller zipper pouch for the accessories.

Insulation/Noise Cancellation: The noise cancellation on these pair is rather weak. That is, there wasn’t a great difference between regular listening and active noise cancellation. While most pairs of ANC headphones engulf you in a sort of wall-of-sound effect when activated, these simply amplified the signal. Or so it felt. From what I could tell, the noise cancellation pretty much just makes things louder, and not much louder at that.

Style: These are clearly styled to resemble the serious headphones used by aviators. With metal-coloured cups, they are clearly going for that quasi-industrial edge. But since these are almost all plastic, the effect is lost. The Plane Quiet Platinum are very small in general, and therefore have a relatively low profile for the wearer. In other words, you don’t look too absurd wearing them. In fact, with a hat, they are almost invisible. As the blister packaging indicates, these are intended for a mass audience, and therefore the design isn’t terribly bold. It isn’t bad either, though.

Plane Quiet Platinum
The look

Plane Quiet Platinum
Commuting mode, with hat and glasses

The Dredg Test: Not terrible, not great. By turning the volume up, and by activating the “noise cancellation”, you can concentrate on your own music and not the ambience. But that’s hardly the point.

The Subway Test: These are clearly marketed as a good pair of headphones to wear on a plane, in order to cancel out the droning of the engines. Ok, fine. But considering that, they performed poorly on the subway. In following the troubles with water-down noise cancellation, these had trouble blocking out the subway noise compared to many other headphones I’ve tested. Obviously, it’s impossible to insulate entirely, but what about the low droning and repetitive sounds that subway cars make? That should be right your alley?

Does it have: A carrying case? [soft case] A detachable cord? [no. But the cord is absurdly long, if that helps] Volume adjustment? [none, which is disappointing consider all the electronics are ‘external’ and not located on the headphones themselves] The ability to fold up? [folds flat to fit in the case].

Overall Build Quality: Light and cheap, probably not the most durable pair in history. I fear that these are designed for someone who travels every now and then, but not for the day-to-day commuter. I also wonder what would happen if someone were to slam into my while I was carrying these in their soft pouch.

Price/Value: Retailing for $90, they don’t break the bank. If you’re an occasional air traveler, these might do the job. But if you’re willing to spend more for a quality product, these are no substitute. It’s only a value if you get something good, right?

Assuming these did fit me better, they’d be an all around average pair of headphones. Cheaply made, decent sound, not expensive. So maybe your dad will like these. With the addition of a few features, these might be more of a competitor, but then they’d be a totally different model, I suppose.

In they’re present form, I’d like to see the Plane Quiet Platinum equipped with a volume control, and with a detachable cable. That way, if people are indoors, and they don’t need the noise cancellation, they can swap it out for a shorter, plainer cable.

Perhaps it was the series of bad first impressions, but these are not the winner. Meh.