Denon Ah C830ncw HeroSource: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central

Denon is a well-known brand in audiophile circles, but has never ventured into making true wireless earbuds. Even for an established company that has already earned its pedigree in audio, new categories don’t always guarantee success, and in this case Denon’s approach may have been the right one for the right type of user.

That becomes more apparent after trying it out, although the more obvious contrast is with the AirPods, not so much with others. The reasons why come down to value and performance.

Denon AH-C830NCW review:

At a glance

Denon Ah C830ncw Render

Denon AH-C830NCW review

Bottom line: Denon is giving its debut true wireless earbuds a chance to play spoiler against the AirPods, especially for Android users looking for a similar experience without paying the full cost. And just like the AirPods, you have to miss out on a few things too.

The good

Good sound quality Comfortable when mounted properly Solid ANC and ambient modes Great call quality Fairly good touch controls Nice build quality

The bad

Smooth fit Moderate battery life No app support at all No multipoint connections No wireless charging

Denon AH-C830NCW: Price and Availability

Denon launched the AH-C830NCW in November 2021 for $159. Since this is Denon’s first foray into true wireless earbuds, it’s hard to say when it might drop in price, so it’ll likely be stable for a while. Retail availability should also increase over time. They come in both black and white variants.

Denon AH-C830NCW: What’s good?

Denon Ah C830ncw Close Up

Source: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central

Denon released two pairs at once: the AH-C830NCW and the AH-C630NCW. The main difference between the two is that the 830s have active noise cancellation (ANC) while the others don’t. The focus isn’t so much on unique features or advanced technology, it’s just about getting better sound in your ears at a reasonable price.

To do that, Denon chose to keep it simple. The design is no different from other AirPods clones, although I would say there is a clearer distinction towards the AirPods Pro. The shorter stems, angled ears and tips each contribute to a comfortable familiarity. Granted, the stems here are thicker, and they don’t quite have the sleek contours Apple gave the AirPods Pro, but the gap between them isn’t huge.

Denon Ah C830ncw Angle

Source: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central

Like the AirPods Pro, the AH-C830NCW doesn’t have a dedicated app to customize them, though Apple does offer a little bit of change through the settings on an iOS device. On Android, you should probably look for third-party apps to adjust AirPods settings. No such problems here, for the most part. Google Fast Pair is activated to automatically connect them to an Android device.

What you don’t get is a way to change or modify how they work. No equalizer to adjust sound, no way to change the touch sensitive controls, nor any way to personalize them. What you see and hear is what you get. For those reasons alone, the sound quality has to make a statement, and in that respect the AH-C830NCW sounds great. I’m not talking about stunning fidelity, I’m referring to a clear and defined audio profile coming from the 11mm drivers that you can appreciate right out of the box. Mind you, they won’t blow away the competition, where the best wireless earbuds stand out for a variety of reasons. They sound as good or better than many comparable pairs, and most importantly, they are easily comparable to the AirPods Pro.

What helps is the ANC, which is more than adequate at blocking out background noise, even if it’s not among the best you can find. Without an EQ to moderate how they actually sound, your only real recourse is to use ANC to hear more of what you’re listening to. The opposite also works well if you turn on ambient mode to hear your surroundings. You also have the option to disable both. Denon would have been better suited to verbally confirm these things as you only get tones to indicate that something is changing.

They sound as good or better than many similar pairs.

Comfort and fit do come into play here, and I’m not sure it will always be where it should be. When they fit right, they’re great. I just wasn’t convinced they would stay there consistently. The touch controls are another element that works well once you get the hang of it. The thing is, whenever I felt them slip, I could also accidentally switch modes. The AH-C830NCW will automatically pause as soon as you remove an earbud and play again when you put them back on, but the last thing you’d want to do is hang up someone during a call. It hasn’t happened to me, although I’ll throw it out there as a warning about how to handle these buds.

Why Denon hasn’t expanded the quick start guide is another mystery. I always make it a point to read the full user guide when reviewing something just in case there’s a feature hidden in it, and sure enough, there was. The quick start doesn’t mention that you can mute a conversation by tapping and holding one of the buttons for five seconds. You can also abort a Google Assistant request by pressing and holding for three seconds after waking it. For any nuances, I recommend checking out the full manual to make sure you understand everything these earbuds can do.

Denon Ah C830ncw Hand

Source: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central

Speaking of phone calls, the AH-C830NCW has served me well on that front. I had no callers complaining or pointing out audible problems during calls. Sure, they were clearer in quieter environments, but even outside, the ANC did a good job making both sides easier to hear. Once I pressed the touch controls, it was super easy to make or receive calls and mute when needed.

Denon rates battery life in two ways, namely whether ANC is enabled or not. Leave it on and you’re looking at a mediocre max of 4.8 hours per charge. Keep it off, and that goes until six o’clock. The case gives you three extra charges, and sits nicely on its own, but doesn’t support wireless charging – an unforgivable omission at this price.

Denon AH-C830NCW: What’s not right?

Denon Ah C830ncw Enclosure

Source: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central

It’s not just the lack of wireless charging, it’s also the lack of fast charging. The AH-C830NCW does charge via USB-C, except there’s no speed increase here to take advantage of. If you go from empty to full, you have to plug it in and wait two hours for it to be full.

I mentioned earlier the smooth fit, which is largely caused by two design choices. The glossy finish might make these look like AirPods (at least the white ones do), but it also smoothes them out when the heat from your ears starts to warm them up. Their slightly taller profile, especially in the part that contacts the concha in the ear, contributes to the lack of stability when they get slippery. That’s why you notice that they slip a bit over time.

These tops tend to slip over time and can’t stand a lot of sweat.

That doesn’t bode well if you want to get active. Denon gave these earbuds an IPX4 rating, which is decent for sweat and water resistance, but barely what I consider durable. The AirPods Pro have the same designation, so another thing these earbuds go with, but if you’re looking for something to sweat in, the best running and training earbuds can be a good place to start.

I couldn’t find a way to use just one earbud unless I kept one in the case and wore the other. There is no multipoint, so forget about connecting two devices at the same time. Also, don’t switch from a computer to a phone when a call comes in.

Denon AH-C830NCW: Competition

Denon Ah C830ncw Wear

Source: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central

It’s not hard to find a good pair these days, even if you look beyond the best wireless earbuds. The AirPods Pro are the most obvious to me because of how similar they feel from a visual and functional standpoint. If price is a factor, the design of the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro is similar, but with more trappings.

The Jabra Elite 4 Active is much more robust, offers ANC and comes with plenty of app support. Not to mention they are super comfortable. The Marshall Motif ANC is also similar in concept and looks great, although you won’t get a white variant that resembles AirPods.

Denon AH-C830NCW: Should you buy it?

Denon Ah C830ncw Los

Source: Ted Kritsonis / Android Central

You should buy this if…

You want something like the AirPods You want active noise cancellation You want something simple to use You care about good sound quality

You should not buy this if…

You want more customization You want longer battery life You want more durability You want multipoint connections

Denon didn’t knock it out of the park with the AH-C830NCW, but it certainly didn’t come with a dud either. These are solid earbuds that do an important fundamental good, namely the sound quality. The fit is hard to measure because of how subjective it can be, but if you can get that right, you’ll like the combination. It’s just a shame there’s no real customization from an app perspective.

3.5 out of 5

If you see it purely as an alternative to using the AirPods with an Android device, then you will undoubtedly get more for your money with these earbuds. You will save money and get a very similar experience. It’s just hard for them to match the countless other options available.

Denon Ah C830ncw Render

Denon AH-C830NCW

Bottom line: Denon enters the arena of true wireless earbuds with a decent debut thanks to the AH-C830NCW, which can play great sound and offers solid ANC. You do have to deal with mediocre battery life and a finicky fit, but they are more affordable than the AirPods for Android users.

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This post Denon AH-C830NCW review: Much better than AirPods

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