Review – DENON Gobe Cruiser AH-GC20 headphones

Each month we give Ortis Deley, from Channel 5’s ‘The Gadget Show’, some amazing tech to test drive. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, he’ll give you the lowdown on the best gadgets money can buy

DENON Gobe Cruiser AH-GC20 headphones

Price: £249.99
Available from: www.denon.co.uk

Denon AH-GC20 folded - £249 - www.denon.co.uk - sam@littleredrooster.co.uk

Of course I’m listening to this month’s product while writing this review.

I’ve purchased Denon tech before and have always been very happy with it. They have a solid reputation in hi-fi equipment and for good reason.

The Denon AH-GC20 headphones are aimed squarely at the business traveller and that’s evident from their design and form factor. Personally, I think they’re gorgeous! Elegantly designed, with black and chrome detailing that is not too ‘in your face’, they aren’t garish at all and have no bright colours desperately trying to grab your attention. There’s just enough going on to make them worthy of a second glance. They fold beautifully into their case and the whole ensemble is light enough to carry in a briefcase, backpack or small suitcase. They don’t feel the most robust due to all the articulation points, but that’s not something I’m able to put to the test and to tell the truth, if you spend this kind of money on a pair of cans, you treat them well. At £250, they do cost a pretty penny and have a similar price point to the more ubiquitous and youthful Beats by Dre.AH-GC20-accessories_XL

These are wireless headphones which are pretty popular now and so very preferable to the cabled alternative. However, a wire is included if needed and will work when the device has no charge left. Bluetooth connection is thankfully not fiddly at all (you’d be surprised how many minutes I’ve lost trying to tether devices using Bluetooth to no avail).

Since they’re designed to be worn ‘over ear’, they already do a great job of mechanically blocking out unwanted external sound (passive noise reduction). I found, on experimentation, that engaging the noise reduction function lead to the higher end of the noise spectrum coming through which spoilt the music listening experience for me. While not perfect on the Underground, on a plane this works well to cut through the bassy hum of the aircraft’s engines. Otherwise, I experienced nice, warm vocal tones while listening to a podcast and clear voices when taking phone calls – although it did feel weird holding a conversation and not having to wave a wired mic under my mouth to convince others I wasn’t having some odd monologue with myself. Whispers were not picked up by the headphone’s microphones, so one does have to talk at normal level, which increases the quizzical looks in your direction!

AH-GC20-connectivity_XLI found that the factory music balance sounded better with my iPad than it did my Galaxy S6 and the low end, mid and tweeter all sounded quite distinct on the latter despite using my mobile’s equaliser settings. I couldn’t make them merge in the way I prefer.

There was one other thing: the headphones are supposed to come into their own when used in conjunction with the ‘Exclusive Denon Travel Smartphone App’. I found the app unattractive and not the most intuitive, although I did enjoy having fuller control over the equaliser settings (this compensated for the lesser sound experience on the smartphone). The app can play music you have stored on your device, although it wouldn’t allow access to my Google Play library. This was a deal breaker for me as streaming (and the phone storage options Denon AH-GC20 - £249 - www.ddenon.co.uk - sam@littleredrooster.co.ukprovided by this service) is how I listen to music via my phone nowadays. TuneIn Radio comes built in to the app, but I was unable on five occasions to select the stations I wanted to listen to. It’s fair to say the app needs work and would benefit from some cross-app compatibility. However, if you keep your music ‘physically’ on your device, then the app has some merit.

Denon have continued in their well-trodden path to create attractive tech that works well, but
they’re not setting trends or the world alight with new innovation. These are the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever used; they connect effortlessly with both Android and iOS devices and are well designed. Great for the business traveller.

Rating:  Headphones – 4/5