Denon Globe Cruiser AH-NCW500 review: Bluetooth, noise canceling at too high a price

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Denon Globe Cruiser (Black)

(Part #: AH-NCW500BK)
See all prices
3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars 1 user review

The Good The Denon Globe Cruiser AH-NCW500 headphones stream audio and answer calls over Bluetooth. They’re also comfortable and provide lots of bass.

The Bad The Globe Cruisers are expensive, bulky, and have unimpressive audio and weak active noise canceling.

The Bottom Line Noise canceling and Bluetooth help the $499.99 Denon Globe Cruiser AH-NCW500 stand out, but other devices sound much better and cost less.

6.7 Overall
  • Design 6.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 6.0

If you’re a frequent flier, you know that a quality pair of headphones is an essential travel tool. Denon recognizes this fact and has built its new $499.99 Globe Cruiser AH-NCW500 to target the top tier of highly mobile traveler. The pricey gadget is one of the rare stereo Bluetooth devices to also feature active noise canceling. Unfortunately for this amount of cash, I expect to be treated to a truly awesome audio experience, which the Globe Cruisers don't deliver.

Design
Aside from its sober black paint job and fat faux-leather earpads, the only other clue that the Globe Cruiser AH-NCW500 is a luxury model is its large size and cushioned headband. Everything else, other than the metal headband rail, is constructed from lightweight plastic. That said, the device weighs 9.5 ounces.

I was also able to twist the Globe Cruiser’s frame easily in my hands, which also creaks disconcertingly. Compared with the Parrot Zik’s sturdy and more premium metal construction, the Globe Cruiser feels downright cheap. That’s mystifying to me considering that the Zik costs $100 less.

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The Globe Cruiser sports a plastic design and two large dials. Sarah Tew/CNET

I do like the feel of the Globe Crusier’s pentagonally shaped earpads. While the pads rest against your ears instead of over them, they’re soft, cushiony, and quite comfortable. The earpads also swivel within the headphone’s housing to absorb excess pressure, almost like a car shock absorber.

Over each earpiece are large, flat circular dials that serve more than to create visual impact. The right-hand dial functions as a volume control; twisting its serrated edge clockwise pumps up the loudness, and cranking counterclockwise achieves the opposite. Tapping the center of the right dial will pause or begin audio playback. Performing the same action on the left dial either answers or ends phone calls, or activates your phone’s voice command feature, depending on the situation.

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Tap the dial's center button to answer calls. Sarah Tew/CNET

Sadly, though serviceable, these controls felt crude to me, especially when stacked against the Parrot Zik’s slick gesture interface. I also couldn’t get the Globe Cruiser to skip tracks, only pause (not resume) playback when paired with my Samsung Galaxy S III test unit.

Underneath the left earcup is a tiny switch to turn on noise cancellation along with a 2.5mm headphone jack. On the bottom of the right earphone is a Micro-USB port hidden under a rubber flap and a miniscule square power key.

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Under the right earpiece sits a Micro-USB port and a small power button. Sarah Tew/CNET

Denon also includes a handsome carrying case that the Globe Cruisers neatly fit into when folded flat. In a pouch on the case’s left side are a few extras such as an audio cable to use the headphones without Bluetooth, a USB cable for charging, and a dual-pronged adapter.

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