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Denon AH-NC800 review

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Denon AH-NC800
  • Denon AH-NC800
  • Denon AH-NC800
  • Denon AH-NC800
  • Denon AH-NC800
  • Denon AH-NC800
  • Denon AH-NC800
  • AHNC800 Headset - Stereo (Over-the-head - Binaural - Ear-cup - Black)

Summary

Our Score:

7

User Score:

It would be easy to dismiss the Denon AH-NC800 noise-cancelling headphones out of hand. At £250, they are £30 more expensive than the excellent AH-D2000 headphones, and it's hard to imagine that the AH-NC800s could be £30 better, as active noise-cancelling headphones rarely exceed the capabilities of their passive brethren. However, descended as they are from the AH-NC732 noise-cancelling headphones, which left us far from unimpressed, we'd be remiss not to at least give the AH-NC800s a chance to prove their worth.

With noise-cancelling headphones generally being used out and about, it's unsurprising that the AH-NC800s are pretty solidly built, if a little utilitarian feeling as a result. The thin, flimsy cable is the likeliest break-point, so it's nice to see that Denon has made this replaceable, as it connects to a 3.5mm jack socket on the left earcup. We wouldn't expect the AH-NC800s to break in what you could consider normal use, but they won't take a beating, and the only less-than-solid parts are the articulated joints which make the AH-NC800s foldable, and thus particularly portable, so it's a fair trade-off.

Fortunately for those worried about the structural integrity of the AH-NC800s, Denon supplies a semi-rigid case with them, so there's no reason to worry about placing these headphones in a bag. This case is also home to the AH-NC800's accessories, which comprise two cables of different lengths and an aeroplane adaptor. We'd have liked a volume attenuator as well, having been nearly deafened by inconsistent volume by more that one airline, but it's not the worst omission Denon could have made.

One addition we're slightly curious about is the three-position power switch on the right earcup. Off and On we had no problem with, but the Restorer option left us a little confused. Denon says that this: "improves the fidelity from your portable audio player," but leaves it to the user to figure out quite how. We have our theories, but aren’t sure because, at least with the music we use to test (ranging from The Beta Band to Wagner), we couldn't discern any improvement from using this Restorer setting.

We chalk that up to two things: first, that we always use as high bit-rate encodes as we possibly can so any supposed enhancements have little room for improvement and, second, that the AH-NC800s sound good enough so adding an 'audio restorer' into the mix is completely unnecessary. The one caveat to that is the need to have the AH-NC800s turned on for them to sound any good - un-powered they need a lot of volume from the player to get any volume from the earpiece. However, this is hardly a criticism - anyone who buys active noise-cancelling headphones and is then surprised at needing to power them clearly has a screw or two loose.

Neville Mosey

November 19, 2010, 5:25 pm

Once again the gimmick of "noise cancelling headphones" strikes again! If they were so good at cancelling noise why don't DJ's use them, they rely on isolating the sound of one track through the headphones and the other via the speakers?





They are the audio equivalent of a new DIY tool on the shopping channel!

Hugo

November 19, 2010, 5:37 pm

I take it you read the review then; especially the part when I pointed out that they only block certain kinds of noise and it's not a universal fix.

WestHej

November 19, 2010, 7:24 pm

I'm very interested in buying a pair of headphones around the £130 price point and at the moment I've stumbled upon the Sennheiser HD25-1 II, Shure SRH-840 and Audio Technica ATH-M 50 (which is actually £75 across the pond!). I was wondering if you have any more recommendations from this price range?





Any chance of a review of those 3? At the moment the Audio Technicas are taking my fancy.

alchobot

November 19, 2010, 10:24 pm

I've tried the noise cancelling route twice, both Phillips, but I can't live with the hiss that the electronics generates so I've gone over to Shure 'in the ear' headphones which I find very good for noise isolation sans input - they do a reasonable job of filtering out screaming babies on overnight flights.

shnatiw

November 27, 2010, 12:44 am

Have recently purchased these headphones. Agree with the review which seemed fair. Tried these out before buying along with a pair of Bose Q15's. The Q15's looked and fit nicer and were far better at the noise cancellation. However, the sound was inferior to the Denon's and the Denon's were £30 cheaper. I use the Denon's on a regular bus/coach commute and they do a reasonable job at noise cancelling. Certainly a lot better than any in ear headphones I have used, and the quality of sound is superb, especially for electronic music. Jean Michel Jarre has never sounded so good on my ipod. They are also very light, and comfortable, and the hard carry case is a nice touch. Overall, a pricey buy, but they have made my commute a lot more enjoyable.

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