I kicked off proceedings with the Monty Alexander and Sly & Robbie collaboration CD – the first track, Chameleon, is great example of accessible modern jazz. The strong bass line and horns of the intro are well rendered by the AH-C700s, and when Monty starts to play his solo, every keystroke is crystal clear, despite the complex accompaniment. It’s not always easy to get a good balance of tones with this track, but the Denons did a pretty good job – in fact if you close your eyes, you can imagine yourself in a smoky jazz club, soaking up the atmosphere.
I cued up Kid Rock next, choosing I Got One For Ya, from the album Devil Without A Cause. Although Kid Rock is more famous in the UK for marrying Pamela Anderson, his music is well worth a listen, although not for the easily offended. This particular track has a smooth bluesy feel to it, with some great electric piano and guitar sounds driving things along. The AH-C700s again did a good job of resolving all the instruments and vocals, although bass was slightly light.
By contrast the funky bass line behind the Sister Sledge classic, Thinking of You came through loud and clear using the Denons, while allowing the angelic vocals to flow over the top. And all the time the guitar is easily discernable adding that unmistakable disco flavour to the song – it’s almost enough to make you want to dig out some white flairs, track down a gold medallion and finish things off with an unbuttoned silk shirt, well, maybe.
For comparison I listened to all the same music on Shure’s SE310s and the Ultimate Ears super.fi 5 Pros. The dual driver Ultimate Ears earphones unsurprisingly produced the strongest bass, but still managed an impressive degree of clarity at the high-end. Considering that the super.fi 5 Pros have been on sale for well over a year, they still hold up very well, while that longevity brings with it the advantage of price decay. However, as I have mentioned before, some listeners may find the bass offered by the super.fi 5 Pros to be slightly overpowering, preferring a more neutral balance.