Denon Urban Raver AH-D320 puts a tremendous focus on deep, lower frequencies, delivering a sound that’ll appeal to lovers of big bass and less so to audiophiles and purists. An inline microphone and remote for mobile devices, as well as a detachable cable, add additional value to the investment. If you’re a bass addict, Denon has you covered.
The design of the Denon Urban Raver, like its frequency response, is intense. Black and dark blue glossy plastic combine with large leather earcups and a padded headband to form a very chunky frame. The fit is not heavy, but the headphones do press fairly tightly and securely on the ears. Regardless, they are typically comfortable, though you can start to feel some pressure on your scalp during longer listening sessions.
The cable is detachable, adding value to the AH-D320; it’s much less expensive to buy a new cable than replace the whole headphone pair or send it in for repairs, and cables are often the culprit when headphones begin to malfunction. These bulky headphones are likely to command more space than anything else inside a purse or carry-on. They don’t fold down, which makes packing them even more daunting.
The super-plush earpads of the Denon Urban Raver are hard to categorize—they’re more supra-aural (on-ear) than circumaural (around-the-ear), but they are large enough that significant portions of the earpads will touch your face and head, which is more typical of a circumaural pair.
On-ear controls for volume and playback, as well as call answering, are easy to overlook. They’re not inline along the cable, like most remotes, but are built into a dial on the left earpiece. Operation is simple enough—press it to play, pause, answer, or hang up, and turn it to adjust the volume
Call clarity is not amazing, partially because cellular fidelity is not amazing to begin with, and particularly because Denon chose to place the microphone on the right earpiece rather than inline on the cable. Your call partner will understand you, but putting the mic farther from your mouth isn’t a recipe for clarity. A large but not terribly useful zip-up pouch (it has no protective padding) is included, along with a ¼-inch headphone jack adapter.
Denon has a free iOS and Android app to pair with the Urban Raver. The Denon Audio app (there are many Denon apps, so make sure you go for the one with this name) accesses your iTunes music library and allows you to create highly customizable EQs, with very cool graphic EQ visualizers for the music as it plays. I prefer to listen to music flat, with no EQ settings at all, but this is a good way to get a little more sub-bass response out of the headphones if you want to, or add some clarity in the midrange by cutting or boosting, according to your preference. The app also includes access to local and Internet radio streams, and is generally a quite useful, free tool. For the record, however, you can use it with any pair of headphones, so it’s something you can play around with even if you don’t buy the Music Maniac.
Denon Urban Raver – Performance
On tracks with intense sub-bass frequencies, like the Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the Denon Urban Raver serves up some serious low frequency throttle. Audio purists will not be amused, but deep bass fiends will be thrilled. There’s no distortion at top volumes, though it sounds like the drivers are just on the cusp of beginning to distort. It never happens, and it only seems to threaten on truly intense low-end, like the electronic drum hits in the Knife’s aforementioned track.
Bill Callahan’s vocals on “Drover,” as reproduced by the AH-D320, lack the treble edge that they need to cut through the mix. This is primarily because the boosted low-end not only adds resonance to his baritone vocal delivery, but it adds some serious thunder to the persistent drumming in the background—enough so that the drums travel from the background to the forefront of the mix, competing with the vocals for your attention.
The bass boost works better on tracks that have subtlety in the bass realm, like Fiona Apple’s “Left Alone,” in which the upright bass is low in the mix compared with her vocals and the percussion. Through the Denon Urban Raver, it jumps out of the mix in a pleasant way, primarily because, even when it is heavily boosted, it doesn’t compete with her voice or the drumming, unlike on the Callahan track, where his deep voice and the drums vie for the same frequency ranges.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild”, the kick drum loop is delivered with some serious thump. The high-mid attack of the loop is still there, but it’s matched with an intense low-mid sustain, and the sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the loop pack some serious low-end presence. Compared with the Urban Raver’s cousin, the Denon Music Maniac AH-D340, the responses are like night and day, with the Music Maniac delivering much flatter response than the AH-D320’s booming sound signature.
The heavily-boosted bass response becomes a bit more comical on classical music tracks, like John Adams’ “The Chairman Dances.” It doesn’t sound horrible, but the lower register strings are imbued with such exaggerated low-end resonance, they sound amplified. The big drum hits at the end of the piece sound like the largest mallet in the world is striking a drum the size of a stadium. I’ll admit, it’s fun to listen to—it gives classical tracks a cinematic feel, but there’s no way this could be called accurate sound. As long as the purists know to look elsewhere and the bass fiends know this one is made for them, we’re set.
The Denon Urban Raver exists as viable alternative to the similarly glossy and booming, but more expensive and ubiquitous Beats Pro by Dr. Dre Best Price at TechnoVolume. If you seek a bit more balance and less thunderous low-end, without sacrificing the bass altogether, the Sennheiser HD 558 Best Price at TechnoVolume is a fantastic option, and similarly priced. If you can afford to go higher, the recent Editors’ Choice Yamaha PRO 500 is a powerful, but balanced, luxurious option that is well worth the high price.
In this range, however, the Denon Urban Raver AH-D320 is a solid performer, with built-in controls and a detachable cable that add value to its substantial price tag—plus enough bass to make the low frequency addicts out there grin with delight.