Libratone Q-Adapt In-Ear Headphone Review

Summary: Superbly comfortable for sleeping, minor problems, but good sound.

The ease of owning a pair of Lightning noise cancelling headphones does not compensate for the less than perfect ear tips and average sound cancellation. The introduction of the iPhone 7 indicated that the slow death of the 3.5mm headphone jack, and headphone makers have capitalized on producing wireless and Lightning connected choices. The Libratone Q-Adapt In Ears (Amazon) fall in the latter category, taking advantage of Apple’s proprietary connector, offering a special set of earbuds. While Libratone was not the first to advertise with Lightning cans, the company has created a pair of Lightning-powered earbuds that really make the most of Apple’s proprietary interface. In-ear monitors with active sound cancellation (ANC) are a perfect solution for both commuters and frequent air travelers.

If, however, you forget to charge the batteries that the device is powered by, you can end up with a set of expensive paperweights on a string. Libratone’s Q Adapt In-Ear headphones are outfitted with a Lightning adapter that powers the headset’s ANC circuitry in addition to performing the digital-to-analog audio conversion in the mobile device they are plugged into. I judge the effort a partial success. Smart layoutThe Q Adapt In-Ear’s Scandinavian design is slick and stylish. There is a lot to enjoy here, from the packaging all of the way down to the accessories. The main cord is covered with a high-quality nylon braid that will help prevent dreaded cable tangle. There’s a large inline remote controller at the neck of the Y connector that the company calls for the Combox. You are able to perform all of the normal forward, undo, play/pause, and Siri functions you would expect.

The Combox is logically and neatly laid out. The headphones feature a braided cable which resists tangles and ought to survive the misuse of your daily commute. The Q Adapt come with a high excellent nylon braided cable which can help maintain the in-ear monitors from getting uncontrollable. Press it for a second or two, and it instantly starts.

The inline remote is covered in rubber, and you may easily make out every button together with your palms–there’s no need to check out the remote. The ideal earbud cord includes a mic for voice calls. You could always tell which earbud is that without having to read the indicator on every earbud. A magnetic latch included on the pouch keeps the Q Adapt In-Ear (Amazon) perfectly protected. Cable strikes: No battery requiredMost busy noise-canceling headphones come with a rechargeable battery that adds mass and weight. And if you don’t remember to control the headphones, you can’t utilize the ANC. Libratone took another approach by including Apple’s Lightning connector on the end of their headphones which lets it draw the power it needs from your iOS device’s battery life. Voila! The Q Adapt In-Ear don’t take a battery, and they never need charging. The disadvantage to Libratone’s strategy is that you can use the Q Adapt In-Ear simply with iOS apparatus–they’re incompatible with cellular Android and Windows products, and you can not use them using a pc or a high-res digital audio player. A Lightning-to-3.5mm headphone adapter is not an alternative. There were instances when I’d plug in the Q Adapt and the iPhone simply wouldn’t recognize the cans. Unplugging them and then plugging them in again usually solved the problem. I struck this issue at least 2 or three occasions out of every ten, more than enough to provide a potential buyer pause. A firmware update solved a different difficulty that I had with Libratone’s Q Adapt On-Ear cans, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this problem could be solved in the same manner.

Four levels of noise cancellation

Libratone brands its Active Noise Canceling as CityMix, and you can choose from four levels using either the inline remote control or Libratone’s iOS app. I suggest using the app because that’s the only sure means of knowing which level you are using. The other way would be to push on the button until you’ve heard a double-beep that indicates you’ve attained the highest degree and then count backward from there since you repeatedly push the button. A better approach might have been to include an audible cue for every level. Libratone’s iOS program displays each mode and lets you empower Hush mode if you need to hear or talk with someone. The app uses a clock motif that will help you with picturing the amount of sound cancellation it wlll function: Level one reaches nine o’clock, level two at noon; degree three reaches three o’clock, along with the maximum level reaches six o’clock. The city skyline on the surface of the clock becomes dimmer as you proceed up the levels until it disappears in the six o’clock position, telling you which you’re presently achieving maximum sound cancellation. The In-Ear model just can not fit the On-Ears as it comes to blocking out outside sound. We found the sound cancellation of this Q-Adapt In-Ears worked to reduce the drone of an office but struggled to drown out the noise of a plane’s engine. That being said, people who need better noise cancellation should check out the Libratone Q-Adapt On-Ears instead. If you’re looking for something less complex, there are also passive sound isolating headphones like the Shure SE112 that block out noise much better. Hear the world over you with Hush styleActivate the Q Adapt In-Ear’s Hush mode, either by using the program or pushing a button onto the Combox, and the cans will deactivate noise cancellation, mute the audio (or a phone call), and twist onto a set of external microphones so that you can hear your environment without having to pull out the headphones. This is a great and very effective feature.

The Libratone App offers you access to tens of thousands of Internet radio channels. With Hush, you can take part in conversations and hear announcements (over an airport PA system, as an instance) without removing the headphones. Hush mode usually worked as advertised, however in some settings, they introduced a bothersome number of AM-radio-style hiss. Overall, however, the Q Adapt In-Ear still played better in this area than many higher-end ANC cans, such as Sony’s MDR-1000X. Subpar ear tips; average-quality noise cancellationLibratone’s ear tips are good, but they’re definitely not excellent. They don’t provide a tight fit that can block out a great deal of outside noise. That said, the production ear tips are much, much better than the pre-production set Libratone initially shipped, but that’s another story. I hope Libratone will redesign their tips again and provide customers a free upgrade.

Libratone earns an A for the magnetic carry pouch, but a C for its own ear tips. The pre-production ear-tips shown above look great, but perform horribly. Libratone’s active noise cancellation, meanwhile, is average at best, and it generates lots of hiss at level four. If you’re anticipating the Q Adapt to offer you greater performance than what Bose offers, you’ll be disappointed. They’re also poor in this regard to Libratone’s on-ear ANC headphones. The CityMix sound cancellation does a pretty good job of taking the edge off background noise, but it never reaches the point where you seem to no longer hear it. And if you want the most effective sound cancellation and musical performance out of these headphones, you’ll want to ditch their included tips and substitute them with a superior aftermarket set; perhaps something out of the Comply memory-foam line.

Libratone’s closing ear tips were a enormous improvement over the pre-production prototypes but they still didn’t deliver as great of a seal since the competition. In the end it’s mixed results There was also decent extension at the very top end. Many musical features–notably bass–are dependent on the character of the seal that the ear tips produce. Overall, the Libratone Q-Adapt In-Ears are a typical sounding pair of cans which are useful for people who want active noise cancellation. Though the sound cancellation can’t match competitors as well as Libratone’s Q-Adapt On-Ear version, it functions well enough to cancel out some background noise of an office while giving users the flexibility to allow in some noise from the outside world to remain mindful of the surrounds.

The Q Adapt In-Ear (Amazon) had the potential to be amazing, using Apple’s Lightning technologies to deliver active noise cancellation minus the hassle of recharging a battery. Alas, the Q Adapt In-Ear dropped short. The factory tips just are not as good as the competition in regards to creating a noise-isolating seal, and Libratone’s active sound cancellation is average at best. Poor-sealing ear tips and just average active noise cancellation weigh down an otherwise great pair of in-ear-monitors, along with the Lightning cable means they are incompatible with the huge majority of mobile devices. These aren’t necessarily one of the best in ear headphones under 200 that your money can buy, but you could certainly do a lot worse.