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Denon AH-C830NCW review: Impressive sound but found wanting for features

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £139
inc. VAT

Denon’s first true wireless earbuds provide clean sound and competent noise cancellation but are sorely lacking in the features department


  • Dynamic audio
  • Comfortable fit
  • Effective touch controls


  • No companion app
  • No EQ options
  • No touch control customisation

Denon has been involved in the audio industry for over a century but waited until 2022 to make its first move into the true wireless market with the active noise-cancelling Denon AH-C830NCW and their non-ANC stablemates, the AH-C630W.

The Japanese manufacturer’s first noise-cancelling earbuds perform admirably where audio is concerned, and are very comfortable too, but omit a number of key features offered by many of their countless rivals.

Denon AH-C830NCW review: What do you get for the money?

The Denon AH-C830NCW can be picked up from Amazon or Denon for £139. Housing 10mm x 11mm dynamic drivers, they operate over a Bluetooth 5.0 connection with support for SBC and AAC codecs and offer active noise cancellation via a dual-microphone setup. Those specs marry up with similarly priced alternatives like the JBL Live Pro 2, but lag behind recent releases like the Redmi Buds 4 Pro and Huawei FreeBuds 5i, both of which offer Hi-Res audio for under £100.

Inside the boxy charging case, you have two Apple AirPods-style earbuds weighing 5.3g apiece. The earbuds don’t look particularly flashy, but are solidly constructed and come with an IPX4 rating for water resistance. Two additional pairs of silicone eartips are included in the box, along with a USB-C to USB-A charging cable, which you’ll definitely need as there’s no support for wireless charging.

The AH-C830NCW hold up to six hours of juice with noise cancellation off, a figure that drops to a touch under five hours with ANC engaged. Since the accompanying case holds three full charges, your total potential battery life is 24 hours, or 19 hours when using ANC, with all these figures around average for this price point.

There are touch-sensitive zones on the outside of each stem used for executing various commands, however, unusually for a pair of earbuds, there is no accompanying app to customise them or access additional features.

Denon AH-C830NCW review: What do we like about them?

It’s worth highlighting the fit of the Denon AH-C830NCW first – they managed to create a tight in-ear seal to passively block out sound while remaining very comfortable in my ears. There was next to no loosening, even when running, and I was ache-free during longer listening sessions. Your mileage may vary here, however, as I’ve seen complaints that they’re too large for smaller ears.

I was content with their active noise cancelling capabilities, too. With ANC enabled, the whoosh of passing traffic when walking beside a busy road was reduced to a quieter grumble and the ANC system did a solid job attenuating low and mid-range noise. Higher-pitched squeals made by a police siren, my washing machine and the clinking of kitchen utensils weren’t attenuated as well but that’s not unusual for earbuds at this price point. I’ve got no complaints about their Ambient mode either – it allowed me to hold conversations effectively and piped in sound from the outside world in a natural manner.

Another of the AH-C830NCW’s strengths is their implementation of touch controls. The touch surfaces are highly responsive – light presses on the top of the stems quickly execute commands and elicit a small beep to let you know you’ve made contact, which is handy. The controls cover playback and call control, as well as cycling between the noise-cancellation modes, activating your voice assistant and entering pairing mode, which is an adequate range that would only be bettered by the addition of volume controls. The sensitive nature of the controls takes a little getting used to, but the experience is hassle-free once you’ve gauged how lightly to tap the buds.

Considering codec support is limited to SBC and AAC, I was impressed by the AH-C830NCW’s rich audio reproduction, with the sound profile well-defined and capably controlled. The dynamics of pop songs like ‘Porsche’ by Charli XCX were handled particularly well and the result was a clean listen across the frequency range free of any bloat. In fact, while mid-range frequencies are most prominent, the buds are generally well-balanced across the board and brought a vibrant and roomy listening experience to rock bands like Korn through to classical numbers by Claude Debussy. They aren’t buds with thunderous low frequencies but did provide enough oomph to keep my bass-hungry ears satisfied on the bouncy reggaeton rhythms of ‘Latina’ by Isabella Lovestory.

Denon AH-C830NCW review: What don’t we like?

While what’s there works well, the Denon AH-C830NCW have a severely limited suite of features in true wireless terms. The most glaring omission is that of a companion app, which means you have no way to customise your experience.

Consequently, you can’t alter the default sound signature in any way, and the absence of EQ presets, let alone a banded graphic equaliser, leaves the AH-C830NCW lagging behind most similarly priced earbuds and many in the sub-£100 category, such as the Creative Outlier Pro.

No app also means you will have to make do with the default setup for touch controls. This isn’t the end of the world as the controls cover most bases but some level of customisation would certainly be welcome.

There are a few other omissions to be aware of, too. There’s no Bluetooth multipoint for pairing with two devices simultaneously, and the buds don’t support wear detection so won’t automatically pause when removed from your ears or resume again when put back in. The AH-C830NCW also forgo wireless charging, while the lack of an app means you don’t get any useful extras like “Find my earbuds” or the ability to manually adjust noise cancellation.

All of this leaves the Denon AH-C830NCW offering a rather bare-bones true wireless experience, which, depending on how you use your earbuds, is either a blessing or curse.

Denon AH-C830NCW review: Should you buy them?

If you’re desperate to avoid having to engage with a companion app, the Denon AH-C830NCW are worth considering. Their comfortable fit and responsive touch controls are worthy of praise, while their detailed, balanced audio will entertain those with eclectic musical tastes.

However, compared to other buds in their price bracket, they’re found wanting when it comes to features and functionality. Their total battery life and active noise cancellation are nothing to shout about, while a lack of customisability – whether that’s for touch controls, audio or other extras an app would provide – sees them fall well behind their rivals.

At the time of writing, I’d recommend nabbing feature-rich earbuds like the LDAC-capable Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 or 1MORE Evo for similar money. Unless you view in-app customisation and additional convenience options as more trouble than their worth, you’ll find much better value elsewhere.

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