The AH-C551’s can’t cope, however, with the complex choral refrains of Mozart’s ”Requiem” at the top end. When the voices reach their powerful crescendo, they take on a harsh and grating edge – in this respect the sound signature is similar to the AH-C751’s, but the 551’s give up the ghost much earlier.
But while the AH-C551’s impress – with a couple of caveats – Sennheiser’s CX 95’s are still the headphones to beat in this price bracket. For quiet jazz and most classical music, I prefer Denon’s AH-C751’s and, to a lesser extent, these AH-C551 earphones. But the CX95’s manage to create a sound that, while perhaps not as warm and emotional as the AH-C551’s, is just as atmospheric and captures just as much detail. They may be colder and more analytical, but they don’t get nearly as flustered when you give them complicated material to play with, and neither are they weak in any one particular area. Heavy metal, classical, jazz and choral music are all dealt with in a balanced, uncomplicated way that make the CX 95’s great do-it-all earphones.
Denon’s AH-C551 earphones are very good. If you mainly listen to jazz, classical and acoustic music, they’re the best you can get for this sort of money. They’re well made, come with a decent selection of accessories for the money, and sound fantastic (most of the time) with other music too.
The problem for the AH-C551’s is that they do have some weaknesses, specifically at the top end, which can sound strained and coarse, and this makes them occasionally difficult to listen to. For this reason the Sennheiser CX 95,s are still my favourite earphones in this highly competitive price bracket. The difference is small, but for my money the AH-C551’s just aren’t quite as rounded.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 8
Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.