HARMAN KARDON NC
| Over-Ear | 40 mm Driver | Active Noise Cancelling |
🎧 We are reviewing the HARMAN KARDON NC, a premium headphone from one of the most iconic audio brands – the model’s precise name is harman/kardon NC.
The HARMAN KARDON NC features 40 mm dynamic drivers, an over-ear, closed-back design, active noise cancelling technology and a bass tube that works as a tuned bass port to increment bass performance.
This model is the only full-sized, circumaural headphone that the brand has ever released and were the flagship headphone in their catalog (at the moment of their release)
The Harman Kardon NC presents an all metal headband structure, hinges and cups frame construction with leather pads and leather headband.
The cups of the HARMAN KARDON NC are rectangular and large with sufficient depth and space as to be considered, clearly, an over-ear headphone.
HARMAN KARDON is part of the HARMAN group, to be more precise the correct way of writing the name of this group’s division is harman/kardon (written with the”/”) but during this review you will find us referring to it as HARMAN KARDON (all caps), Harman Kardon or harman/kardon and we will be always be referring to the same brand.
The HARMAN group include some heavy-weight brands such as: AKG (headphones and microphones), JBL (headphones and speakers), Infinity (car and marine audio), Lexicon (amplifier and audio processors), Mark Levinson (high-end amps, preamps and players), Crown Audio (professional amplifiers), Revel (home and car speakers) and harman/kardon (premium headphones, home audio and speakers).
Probably most consumers and audio enthusiasts already know AKG and JBL as all-time headphone brands but HARMAN has and still is offering headphones under the harman/kardon brand division. Among the headphones released under the harman/kardon brand include the:
- Harman Kardon SOHO Wireless – currently the only on-ear headphone of their latest catalog
- Harman Kardon Vi Personal Trainer – a wireless in-ear headphone with Ai-Voice and advanced sports features
- Harman Kardon Soho II NC – in-ear headphone with ANC
- Harman Kardon SOHO – first version of the SOHO headphone line (wired)
- Harman Kardon CL – on-ear headphone belonging to the Harman Kardon NC era
- Harman Kardon NC – over-ear headphone with ANC (model being reviewed in this article)
The HARMAN KARDON NC uses a single-sided, detachable cable with a 2.5mm connector on one end and a 3.5mm on the audio input end, this cable is compatible with Android and Apple devices but their inline remote/mic offers compatibility with Apple devices (volume buttons)
The brand informs an estimate of 40 hours of use with their active noise cancelling turned on – on a single charge.
You can buy the HARMAN KARDON NC in black/silver color.
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HARMAN KARDON NC Review
Tests & ScoresAF
The Harman Kardon NC include advanced features such as:
- Proprietary Active Noise Cancellation Technology: HARMAN adapted in the harman/kardon NC their active noise cancelling technology developed for luxury cars
- Passive playback mode: the headphone can be used even when the battery is empty (with ANC turned off) – some active noise cancelling headphones will not work once the battery is depleted.
- Replaceable metal/leather headband: a normal and a large metal headband are included and can replaced according to each listener’s head size
- Detachable earpads with magnetic system: this kind of detaching system is similar and also found on headphones such as the Marshall Monitor and the Bowers & Wilkins P headphones line such as the Bowers & Wilkins PX, Bowers & Wilkins P9, Bowers & Wilkins P7 (P7 wired and P7 wireless models), etc.
Operation & Control
The remote of the HARMAN KARDON NC allows you to do the following (advanced functions only compatible with Apple devices):
- A single press: Play, Pause music
- 2 taps: Skip to next song
- 3 taps: Previous song
Volume UP Button:
- A single press: Volume up by 1 level
Volume Down Button:
- A single press: Volume down by 1 level
- A single press: Answer/Reject calls
- Active Noise Cancelling can be turned on or off by simply moving the dedicated switched placed on the bottom of the left earcup’s edge
LED Status Light: A very small LED light is placed on the bottom edge of the left earcup, this light can be checked to see the status of the headphone.
The LED light informs:
- Red light: Charging (you cannot use the headphones while charging them)
- LED off (while connected to a charger): Charge complete
- LED off (with ANC turned on and not connected to a charger): Empty battery
- White fixed light: Active Noise Cancelling On
- White light flashing slowly: Battery low
Charging: To charge the HARMAN KARDON NC you need to connect the included charging cable to the 2.5mm port on the left earpiece and the other end on a USB charger (same type of charging cable connection as the JBL Synchros S700) – the brand recommends a 5V 0.5A charger.
A full charge takes, approximately, 2 hours – which should offer 40 hours of music listening an active noise cancelling.
HARMAN KARDON NC weight in Ounces and HARMAN KARDON NC weight in grams.
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Accessories & Packaging
The HARMAN KARDON NC unboxing results in 2 metal headbands (one large, one small/standard), a flight adapter, a 2.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable, a 2.5mm to USB charging cable and a soft carrying case. Everything comes packed inside a well-protected large cardboard packaging.
Bass & Sub Bass
The HARMAN KARDON NC has a balanced bass with sufficient mid-bass and sub-bass to cover mostly any genre.
Their lower end is non-invasive, non-boomy, not boosted bass with nice controlled but well-bodied bass that provides energy and warmth without getting out of control.
If you are an EDM and bass-intense music listener you should look elsewhere for other headphones with a bassy profile or with richer bass like the V-MODA Crossfade M-100, Sony MDR-1A, Meze 99 Classics, NAD VISO HP50, Sennheiser HD598CS, Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless, Beats Solo2, Kingston HyperX Cloud II (all the aforementioned are simply bassier headphones than the harman/kardon NC but do not represent the bassiest headphones on the market)
Applying an EQ there is an extreme increment of sub-bass depth but not a lot of enhancement of their mid-bass punch intensity.
A higher score in this category does not necessary mean a stronger bass response. In the case of the harman/kardon NC, their 8.75/10 score is obtained for their balanced, well-resolved and pleasant bass not at all for strength.
Using the harman/kardon NC in Active Noise Cancelling mode, their bass gets very punchy and highly-noticeably deeper with a more energetic and powerful bass response that will now cover absolutely any bass-hungry track with no issues but their balanced and clean bass gets a bit more out-of control with this new tuning.
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Mids & Vocals
The Harman Kardon NC mids have clear lower vocals with very mild mid-bass bleed. Lower vocals do not sound distant but have a non-aggressive tuning.
Higher mids are sufficiently crisp and clear but not forward nor ever harsh.
Overall their mids offer a pleasant, smooth sound with good warmth, non-harsh peaks, sufficiently crisp/clear and with a bit of a relaxed-styled lower vocals – a great daily companion.
With an EQ lower vocals can be cleared up and taken into a more alive sound, mid-bass bleed is fully erased and higher mids get clearer and crispier without any harsh peaks nor boxy or tinny sound.
While ANC is turned on, there is a general empowering of bass which also makes mids warmer but somewhat more congested due to a stronger mid-bass bleed perception.
Highs & Treble
The HARMAN KARDON NC highs have sufficient brightness and resolve a good amount of detail. Their highs are not fatiguing and do not present piercing peaks at all but some sibilance can show up.
It is fair to note that these are not a highs-forward sounding headphone and will not provide as much brightness as, for example, the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO.
Using an EQ, their highs become very bright and detailed with a much more open sound, yet without showing piercing highs – sibilance will become stronger.
The stronger bass that shows up once their ANC is turned on, also gets somewhat out of control and affects highs making them more congested and darker.
There is a noticeable difference but not a horrible deterioration.
The sound leaking out of the harman/kardon NC is lower than on most average over-ear headphones and will not cause any disturbance on normal situations.
Yet, if you are planning to crank up the volume all the way up and use them in libraries, they might not be the best adapted for this.
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The HARMAN KARDON NC offer active noise cancelling technology. Still, before activating it, the passive sound isolation provided by the HARMAN KARDON NC is very strong and will achieve a nearly-absolute isolation without needing to crank up the volume.
We tested and measured the active noise cancelling performance of the harman/kardon NC, resulting in a noticeable and efficient degree of dB reduction, averaging in -15dB and having nearly no ANC hiss at all.
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The HARMAN KARDON NC have large earcups and leather pads with good depth and PORON® foam, the quality materials combined with the design and form factor ensure a comfortable fit.
Moreover, the leather self-adjusting headband offers a soft support to avoid upper-head pain and the tilting earcups provide better placement for any head’s shape and dimension. Additionally, the cups can rotate nearly 360 degrees and can lay fully flat for easier transport.
The hefty metal headband’s structure results in a super robust construction but also a firm clamping force that larger head-sized people could find a bit too strong after long listening sessions.
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Response to Equalization
The response to EQ of the harman/kardon NC was highly efficient, allowing their sound to be fine-tuned and cleaned up according to each listener’s preference.
Size & Fit
HARMAN KARDON NC size and HARMAN KARDON NC fit.
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HARMAN KARDON NC Frequency Response Curve
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HARMAN KARDON NC Technical Specifications
|Plug||Stereo mini plug|
|Supplied Accessories||Soft case; 2x headbands; Audio cable; charging cable; flight adapter|
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HARMAN KARDON NC Photos
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