Denon Urban Raver (AH-D400) HeadphonesReview
Pros: Amplified mode makes music more clear; Comfortable memory foam earpieces; Cool app for tweaking settings and Internet radio
Cons: Knobs on the earpiece are too big;
The Verdict: Although they’re on the bulky side, the Denon Urban Raver AH-D400 headphones pack a special amplifier mode to make your tunes really pop.
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Everything about the Denon Urban Raver headphones is big. Inside these bulbous, flashy cans is an amplifier that promises to raise the bar on your tracks, especially in genres like techno and hip-hop. Denon also includes on-ear controls and an app for iOS and Android that gives you more control.
You’ll definitely turn heads when you wear the Urban Raver headphones, but not necessarily for the right reasons. Though the headphones’ combo of glossy black and blue highlights looks slick, the huge knobs that jut out from the right and left ear covers of these bulky cans are not. Each knob sticks out about half an inch and is outlined by a Tron-blue LED light, making them stick out like big, blue sore thumbs.
The knobs aren’t just cosmetic. The right one can adjust volume with a simple twist forward or backward, pause and play music with a tap, or answer and end calls. The left knob lets you adjust the brightness of the blue LED lights that outline both buttons. Navigating the controls was a cinch.
The Urban Ravers are very comfortable to wear. The plush, memory-foam cans have a wide pentagonal shape that fit our ears snugly within their synthetic leather footprint. The headband is glossy on the outside and matte on the inside, and the crown is wrapped in thick-cut “protein leather.” We wore the Ravers for hours without any aches or fatigue. It helps that the headband can be adjusted with a sturdy tug.
Below the right cup is a port for the included 3-foot 3.5mm headphone cord. There’s also a switch for activating the amplifier that was so small, we often struggled to slide it off and on. Just above the headphone port is a built-in microphone, which means you don’t need a dongle on the headphone cord for making calls.
Beneath the left cup is a microUSB port for recharging the AH-D400’s battery that powers the internal amplifier and the LED indicators that activate in that mode.
Also included in the Urban Raver box is a zipper bag with a carabiner for attachment to larger book bags.
The Urban Raver headphones can be used with Denon’s Club app for Android and iOS devices. Basically an alternative to the music app on your device, the Club app lets you adjust and save equalizer settings for your tunes. We successfully adjusted the low end for hip-hop tracks by nudging sliders in the equalizer up or down. It was tricky to find a setting that worked well across many tracks, though. The equalizer is Club’s standout feature, but it only works in the app. Club’s equalizer settings don’t apply to other apps, such as Spotify or Pandora.
Club can also play tracks saved on your phone and create playlists, but the interface was too clunky and outmoded to replace our go-to music app. There’s also free access to 70,000 radio stations and podcasts — all streaming only — courtesy of TuneIn Radio.
In regular mode, the Urban Raver’s 50mm drivers produced muddy, but serviceable sound. In Frank Ocean’s “Pyramids,” the midtones, sandwiched between strong highs and lows, lost their edges and sonic detail.
When we turned on the amplifier, we could better hear the almost-atmospheric strings in the background; bass notes thumbed against our ears more, and the synths popped more clearly than before.
The amplifier mode rounded out the sound on almost every track we listened to, adding not only more volume but also making each song more clear. The pianos and horns in John Coltrane’s “Blue Train” were more textured and supple; the drum solo in a Queens of the Stone Age track kicked with thumpy vibrato; and Daft Punk’s “Human After All” took on bouncier bass and punchier highs.
Still, some songs remained cloudy in the center despite amplified mode. In “Go With The Flow” by Queens of the Stone Age, for instance, the bass guitar overpowered the vocals.
Incoming audio during calls made indoors was slightly better than average. As long as we spoke in a conversational tone, our callers could easily make out our voice.
Denon rates the Denon Urban Raver (AH-D400) Headphones for 12 hours of battery life. We got about 13 hours of amplified playback and LED illumination on the Ravers.
The Denon Urban Raver headset is definitely for those who like a bassy kick and a flashy design. The midtones are faded on the edges, but the overall listening experience really pops. If you like richer, more embellished audio, the Urban Raver headset is a bangin’ choice.