Headphones and Earphones

Denon AH-NC732 Noise Canceling Headphones



They were nice enough to offer a pair just before I left for CEDIA back in September. For me coming from the east coast, a flight to Denver is several hours – perfect to audition the new AH-NC732’s.

The more sounds that come into your headphones, the more it seems to block out. Strangely while at home before my trip, I tried without much ambient sound and found small amounts of sound filtered out. So I don’t know if it was my perception that the noise-canceling feature works harder the more sound it detects to remove?

First let me state the solid carrying case is first-rate and very convenient. The headphones fold once to fit in. I passed up watching the latest romantic comedy for my own laptop stored music so I didn’t use the airplane double-pronged adapter.

So far a big thumbs-up for portability and flexibility.

It’s taking me years to admit to myself I may actually have a bigger head than normal. The adjustable bands on top make for an easy and comfortable fit. The ear-cover for lack of a better term fits nicely over the ear and the padding is soft yet firm. I wondered if it would feel this good for 3 hours+?!

Another thumbs-up for comfort!

With the blue-lit switch inactive and no music playing the NC732’s yield very decent results blocking out some lower bass while voices became muffled. Activating the noise-canceling feature still without music seemed to remove significant bass while it seems to raise the sound pressure in your ears, but impressively blocking many annoyances.

Ahhh, quiet, thumbs way up! Music time!!

For those concerned for your neighbors seated to each side of you whether on a train, airplane or in the office, be assured there is very little leaking even at quite loud levels unlike open back designs.

One surprise to me was the very different sound with the noise-canceling active and inactive. Inactive the playback was warm, laid back almost, and while active produced greater dynamics and clarity without too much edge. So it may be a personal preference you might have but I enjoyed the added richness and depth of the active setting. Highs seemed more extended, voices definitely more forward. Active seems to boost the midrange, especially noticeable with acoustic guitars having a cleaner definition.

Perhaps the perception is not having headphones on at all? The best description I can tell you is the difference is like hearing music coming from a different room and walking into that room and how it becomes tighter, less veiled, and more dynamic.

Getting home and plugging the headphones into my Benchmark DAC1 still playing digital music from my laptop produced yet another level of fidelity. The DAC1 nicely handled the digital source while the Denon’s delivered richly textured playback.

We live in a relatively small house and as such do not have a dedicated 2-channel room, but rather a shared space with a sitting area used for gaming. A doorway away is a laundry room that isn’t all that quiet. The NC732’s did an exceptional job of isolating the music from these audible distractions. So assuming we all live in less than ideal music listening conditions, noise canceling makes sense at least some of the time.