3000 Noise Canceling and Performance
The 3000 Series from Fanny Wang brags four microphones in their noise canceling setup. Two measure the exterior noise to know what to block out and two measure what is coming out of the headphones to ensure that your auditory experience isn't compromised. Using these measurements, the active circuitry in the headphones create a canceling signal to block out up to 95% (their claim) of ambient noise. But what does this really mean in the real world?
If you think about the ambient noise that you hear on a plane, you know what noise canceling headphones are really designed to block. That sort of low hiss as the plane ferries you to your destination. The neophyte will believe that noise canceling means that, when you put them on, you hear nothing. Everything is blocked out. Not so. Everything is deadened, for sure, but not blocked out. You can still have conversations with people (though you can pretend you can't hear them if you don't want to talk to them I suppose) but they'll sound muffled and weird.
To get an idea of the types of frequencies the Fanny Wang headphones targeted, I moved to my home theater. Using my receiver on "auto switching" mode, I started playing the test tones. This is a wide-band, pink noise used to measure and calibrate the volume levels of the different speakers. The auto switching sends the signal to each speaker in series for a few seconds.
The difference between the noise canceling activated and deactivated was striking. The midrange of the pink noise was most affected with the upper and lower end remaining mostly untouched. The strangest effect was that all the speakers, even the three at the front of the room, sounded like they were playing from behind me. An interesting effect that one should remember when you are using the noise canceling feature.
There is a switch on the right headphone that allows you to use the headphones in one of three modes: Pass-through, Noise Canceling, and Noise Canceling with Bass Boost. The first is a nice feature as it allows you to continue to use your headphones even when the batteries are dead (estimated to last 48 hours). The Bass Boost mode adds 6dB to the bottom end.
My wife had a short flight scheduled so I lent her the Fanny Wangs for the day. She was impressed not only with the comfort of the headphones but how well they blocked out the ambient sound. Around the house, the difference with the noise canceling enabled was dramatic. Blocking out the ambient noise in the room made the listening experience much more enjoyable and meant that I didn't have to turn up the volume as much to really enjoy my music. As noise canceling performance goes, the Fanny Wang Series 3000 is at least as good if not better than everything else I've experienced.
The only problem I had with the noise canceling (or the Series 3000 in general I suppose) was a few moments of distortion. It seemed to happen most often when I was near my laptop computer. If I was facing the computer, the noise canceling would add a static hiss in the background. If I faced away from the computer, it would stop. It wasn't very consistent but it happened enough to be mentioned.
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