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Denon AH-C830NCW Review

Verdict

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Taken on their own terms, the Denon AH-C830NCW are a very likeable pair of true wireless in-ears indeed. How many people will take them on their own terms, though?

Pros

  • Convincing, confident sound
  • Comfortable and light
  • Predictably well made

Cons

  • No app or voice control
  • Average battery life
  • Noise-cancelling is nothing special

Key Features

  • ConnectivityBluetooth 5.0 with SBC and AAC support
  • BatteryMaximum 30 hours of stamina

Introduction

When you realise companies with no audio background whatsoever want to sell you true wireless in-ear headphones, it seems a bit weird that a brand such as Denon – with well over a century of experience under its belt – is only just getting in on the action.

After all, the market seems to be packed to capacity. How can a brand (even a brand with the reputation and credibility of Denon) hope to stand out?

Availability

  • UKRRP: £139
  • USARRP: $159
  • EuropeRRP: €159

The Denon AH-C830NCW are on sale now. In the UK, they’re priced at £139 or thereabouts, while customers in the US will need to hand over $159. In Australia, the asking price is around the AU$259 mark.

You don’t need to be a keen observer of the electronics industry to realise you can spend this sort of money on a pair of true wireless in-ears from any number of brands. Apple, Beats, Cambridge Audio, Sennheiser, Sony… I could go on, but what would be the point? Basically, you’re spoiled for choice and Denon is just another name on the list. 

Design

  • Pick from shiny white or shiny black
  • Quite elegant by ‘stem’ design standards
  • Tidy charging case

It isn’t easy when a product is as little as this, but Denon has managed to make the AH-C830NCW look and feel quite expensive. The flawlessly shiny finish doesn’t do any harm, and the angled silver cap at the end of each stem makes the earbuds look like a more premium proposition than, say, the Apple AirPods equivalent.

Denon AH-C830NCW charging case from behind

A choice of three sizes of silicone eartip, combined with a per-bud weight of 5.3g, means the AH-C830NCW are easy to fit and stay comfortable once you’ve done so. And when they’re not in use, the charging case is just as tidily finished as the earbuds themselves. It only charges via USB-C, though – there’s no wireless charging available here. And that shiny finish is slippy, too – which makes getting the earbuds back out of their case a little more fiddly than it otherwise would be. 

Features

  • Bluetooth 5.0 with SBC and AAC codec support
  • 11 x 10mm full-range dynamic drivers
  • Alarmingly short of control options

As far as the business of serving up music goes, the Denon AH-C830NCW use Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless connectivity. They’re compatible with SBC and AAC codecs – and that’s your lot. At this sort of money, any number of rival designs can accommodate aptX as a minimum, and it’s a pity to see Denon ignoring the opportunity. Once it’s on board, audio information is served up by a couple of 11 x 10mm full-range dynamic drivers.

Active noise cancellation is governed by a couple of mics in each earbud, while call quality is handled by three more. With ANC switched on, you’re looking at just shy of five hours of battery power from the earbuds themselves; switch ANC off and you can expect closer to six hours. The case itself will hold another four full charges, so you should hope to achieve somewhere between 25 and 30 hours of playback before a visit to the mains is required.

Denon AH-C830NCW earbuds stem design

As far as control is concerned, the Denon fall quite heavily into the just about “adequate, I suppose” category. A responsive touch-surface on each earbud covers play/pause, skip forwards/backwards, answer/end call and noise-cancellation (the latter has ‘on’, ‘off’ or ‘ambient sound’ as its options). And as far as bossing your earbuds around, that’s your lot.

There’s no voice control. There’s no control app. Which means there’s no facility to adjust EQ levels or anything like that. In fact, you can’t even adjust volume levels without using your music player to do so. As Points of Difference go, this isn’t one with which Denon should be especially pleased.

Sound Quality

  • Detailed, dynamic, persuasive presentation
  • Organised and convincing sound
  • Passable noise-cancellation and call quality

With no EQ adjustment available at any point, Denon has made a rod for its own back with the AH-C830NCW. Unless the company has voiced these earbuds to sound good to pretty much everyone, with pretty much any genre of music, there may be trouble ahead…

…but to be honest, it’s difficult to see how Denon could have done a better job where the sound design of these earbuds is concerned. Will the sound appeal to everyone? Probably not – there are plenty of listeners who confuse ‘too much bass’ with ‘excitement’. Will the AH-C830NCW deal faultlessly with every genre of music? Probably not – there are some categories that thrive almost exclusively on ‘too much bass’. But for the rest of us, the Denon are a poised, balanced, realistically musical and periodically thrilling listen.

Denon AH-C830NCW both earbuds stacked together

A relatively complex and musicianly recording such as Sunglasses by Black Country, New Road makes the point in some style. The balance the Denon strike is nigh-on ideal – from the deep, textured and properly controlled low frequencies to the bright, shining and equally detailed top-end, tonality is consistent and believable. In between, the AT-C830NCW pile on the details to the point that a singer sounds like a characterful individual with specific intentions.

Denon AH-C830NCW close up of earbud housing

Rhythms are expressed organically – even rhythms as gimpy as those on display during this recording. The dynamics of the tune – the broad pile-ons and the finer harmonic variations – are given proper articulation, too. The Denon manage to create a wide, deep soundstage and position individual instruments on it with absolute certainty, and do so without making any element of the recording sound remote or estranged. There’s convincing unity to the way the Denon present the song, a harmoniousness that’s by no means a given in wireless earbuds at any price.

The active noise-cancellation circuitry is a slightly more qualified success. Taken in isolation, the Denon do a decent job of minimising external distractions without introducing a sensation of counter-signal or particularly affecting the way they deliver music. But compared to the best alternatives, the AH-C830NCW are just slightly tentative – other designs will isolate you more effectively from the sound of the outside world.   

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Should you buy it?

You enjoy balanced, realistic sound That’s how Denon has voiced these earbuds.

You want to listen in silence Noise-cancelling is good, but not class-leading.

Final Thoughts

Why it’s taken Denon this long to launch some true wireless in-ear headphones is anyone’s guess – and it’s equally difficult to know why there are such significant gaps in their functionality. But in terms of sound, there’s an awful lot to admire here.

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We test every headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.

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Tested for more than a week

FAQs

Do the Denon AH-C830NCW support aptX?

SBC and AAC are the only Bluetooth codecs the earbuds support

Full specs

UK RRP
USA RRP
EU RRP
Manufacturer
IP rating
Battery Hours
Fast Charging
Release Date
Audio Resolution
Driver (s)
Noise Cancellation?
Connectivity
Colours
Frequency Range
Headphone Type

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