Denon's new headphone range for 2012 and beyond has a bunch of interesting entries. There are the 1200 Euro Denon AH-C7100, which are of interest to both ears and eyes, but the most unusual are the AH-C300 Urban Raver earphones. Denon claims they are the first dual-driver dynamic earphones in the world.
Their design is pretty unusual, too. These are extraordinarily large earphones, making the triple driver Shure SE535 look petite. There are number of reasons for the size of these great big buds, though.
They use a pair of 11.5mm dynamic drivers per earpiece. When 8mm and 9mm drivers are the norm for in-ear headphones, using two giant ones made us intensely curious about how the AH-C300 would sound - and not in an entirely good way when matched with the provocative "Urban Raver" tag.
The size is also partly down to the additional tech in the earphones. There's a microphone built into the right earbud, and the large silver circles on their backs aren't just there for show. Designed for use with iOS devices, one of these is a dial controller to control music playback and taking calls. It also rules-out needing to have a remote control housing part-way down the cable.
handsfree, but where's the remote?
In part to compensate for the size of the AH-C300 earpieces, these earphones use a non-standard fit. Rather than relying on the isolating rubber tips to keep the things in your ears, there's a stabilising rubber arm that jams into the little alcove of cartilage above your ear canal.
Denon offers three sizes of ear stabiliser in the box, plus a wide range of single-flange, double-flange and Comply foam tips. We made do with what we guessed were medium sizes for both, but had no problems getting a decent, comfortable fit.
However, noise isolation didn't seem particularly impressive. We imagine it could be improved with the use of larger or Comply foam tips, but it put a bit of a damper on our listening session.
It seemed pretty clear that our worst fears of the Denon AH-C300 Urbans Ravers were not realised, though. We feared an ultra-bassy mess, but it's not what we heard. Bass depth was good, but the low-end seemed well-controlled and not too dominant.
There did seem to be a slightly fibrous quality to the mids, though - and not quite the top-end intricacy you might expect to hear from a balanced armature setup. However, these impressions were gained in less-than-perfect conditions and using smallers tips than we'd normally use. A pair of unusual-sounding earphones, we're looking forward to getting to know them a bit better for our full review.