The market for wireless noise canceling headsets is enriched with a new model, with this AH-GC30 from Denon. More famous for its hi-fi elements or its sound bars than for its headphones, the Japanese brand wants to beat the pawn to its compatriot Sony or to the American Bose, who are, for the moment, the two references in this field .
And she clearly gives herself the means with this very well finished product, with a solid and serious assembly. The structure is made of metal, the plastic covering the quality earphones and the “synthetic leather” used to cover the ear cushions and the headband, which is rather pleasant to the touch. Its overall design is reminiscent of what Parrot had proposed with its Zik. However, the whole is relatively heavy. With 306 grams on the scale, this model exceeds by 50 grams the average of its competitors in the same category.
Accessories: messy cables
On the accessories side, Denon is rather generous with his helmet billed at 349 euros. In addition to a rigid and sturdy carrying case, it includes three different cables that can be used when the headphones are off, a good point when you run out of battery. The first is a 2.5 mm jack / 3.5 mm jack model for connecting the headphones to a device equipped with this second socket. The almost identical second incorporates a microphone used for telephone conversations. Finally, the third is a micro USB / USB-A cable to charge the device.
Of course, the AH-GC30 also has two microphones for headphones to make calls during normal use, headphones connected via Bluetooth to their smartphone. They are also used to dictate requests to the voice assistant. To trigger it, simply press and hold the dedicated button on the left earpiece. These microphones are effective and pick up voice well, even in a noisy environment such as a street.
A Denon Audio application from another era
When we connect the headset via Bluetooth to our smartphone, we are asked to install the Denon Audio application. Highlighted on the brand’s website, it promises to be “the perfect complement to the AH-GC30”. It is true that now each manufacturer offers applications, often very practical, dedicated to their high-end helmets. They allow in particular to access the settings or even equalization options.
But what a disappointment when opening the application once it is installed on iOS. This is actually a simple audio player that groups the songs stored on the smartphone. A not really wise choice at a time when streaming reigns supreme. In the upper right corner, a logo in the form of a helmet suggests that you will be able to access the helmet settings thanks to it. We finally discover a section dedicated to the equalization of the sound signal. But to be able to use it, you have to … buy it! And the bill is 2.29 euros. Ridiculous!
On Android, the equalization options are not even offered … Looking more closely at the history of updates on the Play Store and the App Store, we see that the application has not been updated updated since February 2018. In addition to the obvious lack of functionality, this also explains its aging interface, not even adapted to the screen of the iPhone X on iOS. A very real bad point for this helmet.
Three noise reduction modes
Noise reduction issue, here too Denon somewhat disappointed us. This mode is certainly effective, but it is not yet up to what Sony does with its WH-10000XM3 or Bose with its QuietComfort 35 II. Three modes are available: plane, city and office. But unfortunately we haven’t really heard a noticeable difference between them. Too bad, because the passive insulation is excellent and could have been further enhanced by a more advanced noise cancellation system.
On the audio side, Denon chose to equip the AH-GC30 with its FreeEdge transducer normally reserved for its much higher-end models. On these headphones, the sound rendering is very dense and sometimes seems almost muffled because of its lack of amplitude. Those who appreciate the bushy bass will get their money’s worth. As for the stereo image, it reproduces a rather narrow sound scene without real width. In the end, we are frustrated by the lack of character of these headphones, which is all the more regrettable as it manages the distortion and the volume increase of the music rather well. It is even when pushed to its limits that it has the most tendency to assert itself, at the risk of breaking its eardrums a little.
Finally, the autonomy left us on our hunger with only 15:59 of operation with noise cancellation activated, while the manufacturer announces 20 hours. More surprisingly, once this mode is deactivated, you only gain a few minutes with a result of 4:13 pm Here again, we are about 5 hours below the average generally observed among the competition.