It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the Denon AH-C700s have the Shure SE310s clearly in their sights – the prices are pretty much identical, while they also offer a surprisingly similar sound. Unfortunately for Denon there are a few areas where the Shure’s have got the AH-C700s well and truly beat.
First up is the issue of fit. Although the Denons fit quite nicely in the ear (unless you have mutant ears like Benny of course), the seal created with your ear canal is nowhere near as tight as it is with the Shures. A large part of this issue is that Denon only supplies silicon tips with the AH-C700s, rather than a combination of silicon and foam tips like Shure, Ultimate Ears and Etymotic. The latest foam tips from Shure are staggeringly good and provide you with a very tight, yet very comfortable seal in your ear. The result is that almost all the ambient noise is blocked out, while the bass is also more prevalent due to the sealed contact with your ear canal.
However, it’s worth noting that the Shures create a better seal in your ear even when using silicon tips. This is due to the tapered design of the earphone itself, which simply allows you to insert the tip slightly further into your ear. The wide design of the AH-C700s cause a physical block directly behind the tip, which made it difficult to ensure a really good seal. Of course the advantage with the Denons is that it’s impossible to insert them too far into your ear and cause physical damage to your ear drum, but I can’t say that I’ve ever managed to push any earphones too far into my ear, regardless of design.
The other issue is one of bundled accessories. I can’t help thinking that a set of earphones that costs over £130 should come with a carry case of some kind, but unfortunately the AH-C700s don’t. In fact the only accessories in the box are the three different sizes of silicon tips. By contrast the Shure SE310s ship with a zip-up carry case, three sizes of silicon tips, three sizes of foam tips, a pair of triple flange tips and a wax cleaner.
Considering that the Shure’s can be had on the street for as little as £139 and the cheapest I could find the Denons was £134, the price differential is negligible. This is a shame, because the AH-C700s really do have a nice sound to them, while the construction of the earphones is up to Denon’s usual high standards. But when push comes to shove, you’re just not getting enough for your money.
I like the Denon AH-C700s, I really do. They look great, have a beautiful finish and decent cabling. Unfortunately the design makes it difficult to get the perfect fit and the lack of foam tips means that you’re never going to achieve that perfect seal either.
But the real problem for the AH-C700s comes in the shape of the Shure SE310s. The Shures provide a very similar sound, but back it up with a better fit and a decent amount of accessories. And considering that the Shures cost roughly the same amount, it’s difficult to recommend the AH-C700s.