Plane Quiet Platinum with
Solitude Technology Active
Noise Reduction Headset
A review of
this hybrid of Plane
Quiet and Solitude designs
These handsome new headphones are closer to Plane
Quiet's previous high end line of 'Solitude' brand
headphones than they are to the reqular mid-market line of
Plane Quiet headphones.
Part of a series on noise
reducing headphones - click the links on the right for extra
reviews and articles.
If I'm counting correctly,
this is the ninth model of Plane Quiet noise canceling headphone
released by Outside the Box, although it looks for all the world
more like one of their high end Solitude models.
The headphones are moderately
priced and perform well. They're not as good as the Bose
Quiet Comfort 15, but they're only one third the price, and so the
price/performance - in other words value - they offer is
Recommended for value conscious
travelers wanting a good quality and well priced set of noise
Plane Quiet have now
supplemented their still available 'Plane
Quiet Platinum' noise cancelling headphones with a new
model, the clumsily named "Plane Quiet Platinum Headphones
Featuring New Solitude Technology", which is reviewed here.
At the same time, the PQ Platinum headphones
have been reduced in price to $55, with these new PQ w/Solitude
headphones taking over the $100 price point formerly
occupied by the PQ Platinum headphones.
The new PQ w/Solitude
headphones are the ninth release from this company, and by
combining both some external design and internal electronics
from their currently discontinued high-end Solitude headphones,
they are offering a somewhat better performing model of headphones than
the PQ Platinum, but at a much better value than their earlier
Solitude headphones, which sat uneasily around the $200 price
As such, these new headphones
are good value, while admittedly not offering the same noise
reduction capabilities as the
Bose Quiet Comfort 15 headphones, which continue to blow
every other set of noise cancelling headphones clear out of the
water. However, the PQ w/S headphones are only $100
compared to the $300 price of the Bose QC15s.
We have an arguably
interesting history of the evolution of the Plane Quiet model
line in the review of the PQ
Platinum headset if you are interested.
The Plane Quiet Platinum
Headphones Featuring New Solitude Technology - What You Get
These new noise cancelling
headphones (forgive us if we don't repeat their name yet again!)
come in in what appears to be one of those terribly hard to open plastic display boxes.
But after attacking the packaging with a pair of sharp scissors
to get at the headphones inside, I discovered a wonderful thing
- a perforated tear line running right around the back of the
box, complete with a tab to pull to start tearing the box open.
They are actually easy to open.
There's a fairly typical set
of inclusions inside. Of course the headphones themselves,
and two AAA batteries. This was a surprise, because the
headphones only require one AAA battery to power them, which I
believe marks the first time Plane Quiet have released a product
powered by only one rather than two AAA batteries. This is
a good thing - I tend to replace the batteries in my headphones
'whether they need it or not' prior to any medium or long trip,
and so this way I'm only replacing one battery rather than two.
I'm not sure why Plane Quiet still provide two batteries (and
the box promises only one so maybe this was a mistake, although
others have also reported getting two batteries), but
appreciated the extra one.
There is no information
provided about the probable battery life with the new single
battery powered electronics, or how to anticipate a dying
battery. My guess - expect 10 - 15 hours of battery life.
If you always travel with a spare battery, and replace it
regularly, you should never find yourself 'caught short', and at
the minimal cost of AAA batteries, especially if you buy in bulk
at Costco or online at
Amazon or somewhere, where you can pick
them up for less than 50c each in packs of 20+, the cost of
replacing not yet fully dead batteries is negligible.
There are two plug adapters
- one to convert to the dual pin/socket still found on some
airlines, and the other to convert from the 1/8" plug on the
headphone cord to the 1/4" socket found on most home stereos.
They appear to be gold plated.
The connecting cable between
the headphones and music source is a standard stereo music cable
with stereo 1/8" jacks at each end. This is good, because
it allows you to use the headphones without any cable at all if
you just want to kill the noise around you, and if you lose or
damage the cable, it is easy to buy a replacement at any store
selling electronics. The cable measures 60" (although
the specifications on the box say it is only 32" long) and appears to
have gold plated connectors at each end, one with a straight
connector, the other with the connector bent at 90°.
You'd normally plug the straight connector end into the
headphones and the bent connector into the music output socket
on your airplane armrest.
is a (perhaps overly) spacious woven black nylon carry pouch
with a zip top into which you can place the headphones,
connecting cable, adapters, spare batteries, and for that
matter, an MP3 player too. The pouch measures about 6.5"
wide and 8.5" from the bottom up to the zip line. The
pouch has no padding.
There is also a folded over
sheet of instructions and a warranty sheet. The
instructions are in three languages (English, French and
Spanish) and basically tell you how to replace the batteries and
not much else (but what else do you need to know).
There is some confusion as
to how much noise cancelling the manufacturer claims. The
instruction sheet says it cancels noise in the frequency range
of 40 Hz - 1 kHz, with maximum cancellation of 18 dB in the
octave between 100 - 200 Hz. The packaging claims up to 18
dB of cancelling between 150 - 400 Hz. Clearly, this lack
of consistency, and the use of the word 'up to' which of course
includes all amounts less than this, yet again underscores the
low degree of reliance one should place on manufacturer
specifications when it comes to noise cancelling headphones.
The warranty is a one year
limited warranty, and appears to be transferable if you pass the
headphones on to anyone else.
The Plane Quiet Platinum
with Solitude Technology (ie
PQ w/S) headphones are of an around the ear design, with the
headphone earcups closely comparable in size to the Bose Quiet
Comfort 15, the Solitude and the Philips SHN9500 headphones, but
with much shallower ear cups (about 0.4" deep instead of about
0.8" or more deep with the QC15) - if your ears stick out even a
little bit, they'll be pressing on the inside of the ear cups
(not that this is necessarily all that uncomfortable).
headphones do not have both tilt and swivel hinging where the
ear cups mount the headband. They will rock backwards and
forwards, but will not swivel from side to side. But this
did not seem to be a huge problem - I guess the side of most
peoples' heads are reasonably parallel by the ears.
Nonetheless, with the importance of securing a tight seal
between ear cup and head, this was a surprising design omission.
are cleverly designed however in terms of folding up.
As you can see in this
picture, the earcups fold up inside the headband to make for a
compact carry package.
On the other hand, while
this makes for a squat carry package, it is 'thicker' than the
QC15 headset where the ear cups rotate 90° to make for a less
thick package. In very approximate terms, ignoring carry
bags/cases, and squaring off the dimensions, the PQ w/S end up
taking up a maximum of 5.5" x 5" x 2.75". The Bose QC15
takes up about 6.75" x 7.25" x 1.5".
So overall, the PQ
headphones take up much less space when calculated as a
volumetric measure, and as long as your carry bag has space for
a thicker package, there will be no problem.
The headphones with battery
weigh 7.5 ounces. Add the weight of the cord and you're
looking at 8.2 ounces. Add the weight of the carry bag and
two adapters too and you're up to 10.2 ounces - still a good
The left earcup has a slide
on/off switch, a red LED to indicate the headphones are turned
on, a socket for the connecting audio cable, and a volume
control. The right earcup has a battery box with a
complicated and not very substantial seeming latching mechanism,
inside which one places the single AAA battery.
I couldn't get the latch on
the battery cover to close up again, and while there is a
reasonably secure friction fit between battery cover and the ear
cup base, I suspect that sooner or later, the battery lid will
come off and potentially get lost. That is perhaps a good
reason to keep the headphones zipped up in the carry bag when
not in use.
Using the Headphones
The headphones are only
moderately comfortable. The foam in the padding seemed to
be harder than earlier model headphones, and of course the lack
of the swivel capability also added a small extra degree of
discomfort to their fit on the head.
The headband adjustment also
felt rough rather than smooth, and didn't seem to extend as far
as earlier models of headphones - perhaps a problem if you have
an unusually large head.
The good news is that when
one turns on the noise cancellation in a moderately quiet
environment, there is almost no perceived electronic hiss at
all. The circuitry in these headphones is among the
quietest ever tested, and in particular, massively better than
the quite noisy Solitude headphones.
The noise cancelling works
well, particularly in lower frequency bands. For the
higher frequencies (not truly high frequencies - just
frequencies up from the lowest frequencies where noise
cancelling works best) the performance dropped off, and was
noticeably inferior to the Bose QC15 headphones.
So is this a pass or fail?
I'd give it a pass in the sense that putting the headphones on
and turning on the noise cancelling, on a plane, really made a
big perceptible difference to the background noise and improved
one's feeling of relaxation.
It is only when compared
side by side with the awesome Bose QC15 headphones that one
realizes that, as good as the PQ w/S are, there is even better
quietening available with the QC15s. But that is nothing
to be embarrassed about - the QC15s also cost three times as
Or, to put it another way,
for the same price as one set of QC15s you could have two sets
of PQ w/S headphones and $100 cash left over.
The good news is the
headphones will play music even with no battery (unlike the
The other news is that the
sound quality alters as between when the quietening is turned on
and turned off. The sound is much - well, a polite word
would be 'brighter', a less polite word would be
'harsher/thinner' with the noise quietening circuitry activated.
But turn the noise cancelling off and the sound becomes
distinctly muffled and not nearly as clear.
Which is closer to real
life? Please forgive me if I equivocate and suggest the
best sound would be somewhere in the middle between the two
variations offered. As between the two sound profiles
offered, I prefer the brighter sound with noise cancelling on.
But neither setting gave me truly 'live' sound quality.
This is very similar to the
effect noticed with the previous version Plane Quiet Platinum
headphones. However, comparing the headphones to an older
set of Solitude headphones showed the Solitudes to be clearly
superior in sound quality (and more comfortable to wear as
well). In particular, on piano music, there was no
crispness or sensation of hearing the impact of the hammers on
the strings with the PQ w/S headphones, while this was much more
richly apparent with the Solitudes.
So sound is okay but not
perfect (not that it ever is perfect with noise cancelling headphones,
where sound quality is always subjugated to the noise cancelling
issues). It is fine for listening to movies, but if
you're an audiophile seeking to recreate a concert theater
experience while flying noisily at 575 mph at 35,000 ft, you'll
The volume control works as
you'd expect, with a nice even attenuation and no noise as it is
turned. Note that we recommend you always have this volume
control at maximum, with the only exception being if you are
sharing one audio feed with a second person with a second set of
headphones and you need to adjust the volume to make it
appropriately loud for each of you.
Other than that one limited
scenario, don't waste battery life in your MP3 player by making
the music player pump out sound energy that is then just wasted
going through the volume control.
Where to Buy
The headphones have a retail
price of $100 but sometimes can be found on special, and can be
purchased direct from the manufacturer, Plane Quiet, at their
Pro Travel Gear website.
They are also sometimes available on
and occasionally for a slightly better
Summary and Recommendation
Which to choose? Plane
Quiet Platinum at $60 or Plane Quiet Platinum with Solitude
Technology at $100 (or $90 at Amazon)?
UPDATE : The standard
Plane Quiet Platinum has now been discontinued. Your
choices now are these headphones or the
upmarket Solitude X headphones - see separate discussion on our
review of that product.
The PQ w/S look slightly
nicer. We prefer their design with the connecting cable
that can be disconnected, rather than the fixed cable on the PQ
Pt, and we also prefer the controls on the ear cup rather than
on a control/battery box half way down the connecting cord.
But in terms of comfort and
performance, we're a bit pressed to see much difference between
the two products.
If you're a value conscious
person seeking a bargain that performs adequately, take the PQ
Pt headphones for their very good $60 price.
If you're a 'nothing but the
best' person, your choice is obviously the $300 Bose Quiet
Comfort 15 headphones.
But if you're more a 'middle
of the road' person, and if you want something that looks
attractive, the PQ w/S might be a better choice, although in
truth, we don't think they look nearly as nice as the
discontinued Solitude headphones, and of course, they are
completely trounced, appearance-wise by the Bose product.
At $100 or less, these are
moderately priced noise cancelling headphones that perform in
line with their price.
They're not as good as the
top of the line Bose and similar products, but they are also
three times less expensive, making them a better and more
prudent choice for most people.
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17 Sep 2010, last update
28 May 2011
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.