Alas, as soon as you plug them into your ears you’re back in audio geek territory: those bullet-shaped bodies stick sideways out of your ear instead of sitting flush making it look as if you’ve got some sort of bizarre piercing in – it’s not an elegant look. And I’d like to have seen a more expansive set of accessories for £140, too. Though you do get a two piece, modular cable (the main cable is 50cm long and there’s an 80cm extension), plus a carry case, the fitting options are limited.
As with the AH-C751’s predecessors, the AH-C700s, you get just three pairs of silicone rubber flanges; and as Riyad found then, I found that none of the supplied fittings created a fit tight enough to experience the headphones at their best. That’s not to say that they won’t fit your ears – everyone is different, after all – but it does mean that they’re less likely to fit you than, for instance, a pair of Shure SE310s, which cost a little less than these and come with a total of seven fitting sleeves: three foam, three rubber and one triple flange rubber fitting.
Once you do achieve a tight fit, however (I had to transplant a pair of medium Sennheiser fittings for the purposes of this review) they do sound rather special. I started my listening tests with Cerys Matthews’ album Till The Sun Turns Back and compared the Denons back to back with my current favourite ear canal phones – the Sennheiser CX 95s. Open Roads is a track that’s particularly difficult for headphones to reproduce: strong, strident vocals are coupled with a complex backing track that includes guitars, pianos and violins. The AH-C751s reproduced each part with impressive clarity and separation. The CX 95s do well but have a little more sibilance on Matthews’ voice and I couldn’t quite hear the separate parts as clearly.
Moving onto something a little simpler, but equally challenging, I loaded up the opening track of Joe Henderson’s peerless Lush Life disc – Isfahan. Its simple saxophone solo and double bass soundtrack is an excellent gauge of how naturally a pair of headphones is able to reproduce music. Again, I was impressed with the Denons. Every nuance of the sax was reproduced faithfully and the soft twang of the accompanying double bass was far more convincing and real-sounding on these phones than it was with the CX 95s.