STEREO GUIDE verdict
+amazing resolution and rich details
+ deep, tight bass, well-integrated
+ naturally sounding Noise-Cancelling
- tonal balance to silverish at times
- lacks fundament and punch
- not all listeners found it comfortable
- clumsy operation
Sound: Tonal Balance / Transparency7.8
Sound: Bass / Dynamics8.2
Ease-of-use / Connectivity8.6
Price / Performance8.8
Officially priced around 150 bucks, with the sonic virtues of a renowned HiFi manufacturer and top-of-the-market active noise cancelling technology (ANC) – the Denon AH-C830NCW already seem to offer an attractive overall package. Weknow a lot of very good-sound and pretty dynamic gear from that manufacturer, whose multi-room speakers we have already been reviewing.
High-gloss surface, ergonomic-slim design with a bit of a mic stick hanging down – we are reminded of the Apple Airpods. That is by any means a mistake, especially as Denon is boasting with an even more comfortable fit in the ear canal. And with black as an option, in case you might be bored with the white standard.
Connectivity and much more
Music can be played via Bluetooth 5.0. Besides the standard SBC, Denon just offers AAC as a high-quality codec alternative. A choice appreciated by iPhone users, while Android fans who want to use one of the latest aptX variants might feel a bit of a disappointment.
The spec sheet is telling us that batteries should last for six hours without active noise cancelling and 4.8h with ANC turned on. We call that good average. The battery in the case supplies another four full charges, which is what you might find practical when traveling. Unfortunately, the case also turns out a bit thicker and cannot be easily placed in trouser and jacket pockets due to its edgy form on the lid.
Not particularly rounded
The manufacturer praises oval-shaped diaphragms as a technical innovation in order to avoid resonance effects: The diaphragm measures a generous 11 x 10 millimetres. .
The Earbuds make it a bit more difficult for the user to insert them: There are only three adaptor sizes. Their fit being are quite far apart in diameter. So it may happen that the small one is too small and the medium one is too big. Here you should definitely make a fitting before buying. Because at the same time, the housing widens out relatively quickly from the sound channel, and the mic sticks sit quite close to the ear. So, the shape of the Denon AH-C830NCW may not fit your own ear, or they may fit too loosely. However, this would have a lasting negative effect on the listening experience, since the low bass is fully reliant on tightly insulating earbuds that reach quite far into the ear canal.
Even experienced in-ear listeners have to apply pressure on the Denosn for a while before it seals tightly in the ear canal. And even if you’ve been listening for a while, you can’t help feeling that there’s something not quite secure here.
Control it? Learn some Morse code
The Denon AH-C830NCW is controlled by touch surfaces on both earpieces. Theoretically, because in practice the orders are sometimes not recognized at all and double or combination clicks are sometimes recognized incorrectly. This is surprising in that the range of functions is reduced to a sensible minimum: Play/Pause/Skip, switching the noise cancelling mode as well as answering phone calls and activating the voice assistant (Siri or Google).
The shortest manual we know of, which is included with the Denon keeps silence about the latter function. Probably because no one can remember the combination anyway: Short – Long. In Morse code, this stands for the letter A. Perhaps this mnemonic will at least help amateur radio operators.
If you’re hoping for more in an app, you’ll be disappointed: There is none.
Noise-canceling in practice
With a quick tap on the left side, the Denon switches between active and passive noise cancelling as well as voice-trough mode. When operated indoors, it is not clear at first which mode is which here: the voice-through mode sounds quite muffled, and in ANC mode, a noisefloor is audible, but you will not notice it annoyingly when being on the street or sitting in an airplane. The noise cancelling was not particularly efficient, but convincingly natural in the bass region. In the mid-high range, we occasionally noticed minimally phased-out residual leftovers of the external noise. For most of the official listening test, we therefore relied on passive mode, which managed a very harmonic attenuation except in the bass.
This is how Denon´s AH-C830NCW sound
For those who appreciated Japanese monitor speakers of the 1970s, the Denon will delightfully take you back to the golden age of hi-fi: It offers extremely highlighted fine resolution and silverish treble that almost overemphasize the pronunciation of voices and sibilants without sounding generally harsh. However, with some recordings, especially closely-recorded female voices, this can quickly be too much.
We experienced a contrast between the rather slender, almost chiseled tonality of voices and the impressively deep bass foundation. Provided you got the right adaptors and inserted the earbuds correctly, of course. The bass is deep and powerful without dominating, but blends quite harmoniously into the musical events, even with classical music and jazz. However, those who rather listen to electronic beats or rich drum sounds will notice that such fun sounds a bit more academic, studio-like via the Denons: It is noticeably restrained when it comes to kicking and grooving, its bass authority remains rather subtle and leaves more room for higher frequencies. Which is not a bad thing if you are not a hip-hop kid trying to get some hearing damage quickly.
The Denon AH-C830NCW cut a good figure in classical and jazz recordings from an audiophile´s perspective: we experienced an almost unbelievable richness of detail, they remained very transparent and also projected a not too large but plausible imaging. However, male voices and lower strings occured to sound a bit slim to us.
Thus, a split impression remained after the listening test: The Denon has its strong points from audiophil point-of-view. However, you have to really like its tonal balance. We have never missed an app with an equalizer for fine-tuning so much in an Inear.
Review conclusion and alternatives to the Denon AH-C830NCW
In terms of features and specifications, the Denon AH-C830NCW seems to deliver good value for frequent travelers. However, most people who are interested in in-earbuds will probably find alternatives in view of the too silverish and not very groovy sound, the clumsy handling and the not always secure fit. First and foremost, the cheaper JBL Tune 230NC TWS, which offers less resolution, but otherwise can actually do everything better than the Denon. Those who want more audiophile tuning and more isolating noise-canceling will probably be happy to pay the small premium for the Panasonic RZ-S500W.