Denon Perl Review: The Earbuds That Adapt To How YOU Hear

Denon Perl Review: The Earbuds That Adapt To How YOU Hear

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This article first appeared in HIFI Trends,”the journal of accessible hi-fi!”.

Another day, another set of True Wireless Earbuds on my desk. At this stage in the game, it’s hard to get excited about a new pair of wireless earphones, but sometimes, a pair surprises me with a nifty feature or some really extraordinary sound. Let’s see if this is the case with the buds I have today.

This time, I’m looking at the Denon Perl wireless earbuds (CA$ 249 / US$ 199), which are designed to provide a personalized listening experience based on your auditory perception. They use Masimo Adaptive Acoustic Technology (AAT) to measure your hearing and create a unique sound profile or EQ for you. This technology is related to the highly regarded Nura personalized sound technology, which was incorporated in their own line of Nura-branded products prior to purchase by Denon’s parent company, Sound United. According to Denon, this technology tailors the sound to your preferences, ensuring you hear every detail of your music.

I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Nura sound, but I never got to experience it firsthand. That said, I’m happy to finally get a chance to experience it, even under a new name. The earbuds also offer active noise cancellation to block out unwanted ambient noise and long battery life to keep you listening for hours on end.

Denon Perl ReviewBuild & Design

The Denon Perl wireless earbuds have a sleek black finish and come with a variety of ear tips (along with two types of ear hooks) to provide a comfortable and secure fit. They also have an IPX4 water resistance rating, which means they can withstand splashes of water and sweat.

The pre-installed medium silicone tip, in conjunction with the smaller (called “Medium”) ear hook, also pre-installed, worked well for me, making the Perl a pleasure to wear. I never felt any undue pressure inside of my ear when I had them on. The fit was also remarkably stable (and balanced), even though the buds are pretty big and a large portion of the earbud sits outside the ear.

The bulbous disc shape of the Perl earpieces may not be for everyone, but it didn’t bother me, especially since they were lightweight and fit me quite well.

Denon Perl ReviewFeatures

The Denon Perl wireless earbuds are packed with features to enhance your listening experience. The highlight is the aforementioned AAT, which measures your hearing using the free Denon Headphones app and creates a sound profile tailored just for you. They also feature active noise cancellation to block out distractions, plus an ambient mode (called social mode) that lets you hear your surroundings when needed.

I’ll discuss the AAT tech more in the sound section, but as far as the active noise cancellation is concerned, it’s quite strong, blocking out about 80-90% of background noise, depending on the type. It ranks right up there with the class leaders from Sony, Bose, and Apple. On the other hand, I wasn’t that impressed with the Social (or ambient) mode. With it on, I still found it hard to hear what was going on around me, and when I did, it wasn’t all that clear.

With an IPX4 water-resistance rating, they can handle sweat or a little rain, which makes them ideal for exercise. The four-way touch controls built into the side of each bud are quite responsive, making it easy to manage playback, volume, and even your voice assistant. In addition, the controls are customizable to some extent, so if you don’t like the default layout, you can change it to something that works better for you.

I found it interesting that most of the controls weren’t mapped out on my unit when I first used them, so if I wanted to control things like volume or previous track, I had to set them up in the app settings prior to use. However, updating the settings is easy, so it didn’t take long.

The sound is also customizable beyond the Adaptive Tech, thanks to the adjustable Bass Immersion Mode. I found it to be pretty useful as a quick way to add a little bit of warmth to a song when the personalized EQ wasn’t quite optimum (most of the time, it was, however). I also found if you overdid it, it made things a little muddy. On the other hand, if you have a song where the bass in the recording is a bit much, the immersion mode also lets you reduce the bass level. Furthermore, Bluetooth 5.0 with AAC, SBC, and aptX codecs provides reliable, high-quality audio streaming. However, the lack of a multipoint Bluetooth connection is a miss at this price point.

On the positive side, the buds themselves provide a decent 6 hours of battery life, and the charging case provides an additional 18 hours (a little low, but ok). But if you need a quick boost, a 10-minute charge gives you an hour of playtime. Keep in mind that these times are shortened a bit with ANC turned on.

One cool feature that isn’t advertised is the High-Gain mode, which is buried in the settings menu. If you’ve ever used a pair of wireless earbuds with a low-volume source and struggled to hear, then you’ll know how useful this feature is. Basically, if you’re not getting enough volume from your smartphone, for example, this will increase the gain from the app, making the sound louder in the earbuds.

Denon Perl Review: Sound Performance

I know I’ve mentioned this a couple of times already, but the personalized listening experience with AAT is truly a unique feature that sets these earbuds apart from the competition. The setup is quicker and easier than the other personalized EQs on the market, and so far, it’s the most effective I’ve heard. Most of the time, when I get an earphone with this type of hearing profile setup, I try it and promptly turn it off because I feel it sounds worse than the standard sound profile.

Not this time, however. This Nura-based tech truly wowed me from a musical enjoyment standpoint, adding nice balance and warmth to the presentation. I’m not 100 percent sure how it works, but from what I understand, the earbuds send tones through your ear canal and then somehow measure tiny sounds that are reflected back. Then, the AAT technology creates an EQ based on this information. The personalized EQ sounded so good to me; it basically made the Perl earbuds sound washed out and unlistenable without it.

Pretty much anything I listened to with the Perl sounded great, providing a refined audio experience that excelled in its richness, dynamics, and overall balance. The soundstage was a cut above the competition at its price point, creating a sense of depth and width that lets you pick out individual instruments and their placement within a mix.

The dynamic range was impressive, handling transitions from quiet, intimate passages to loud crescendos with excellent control. The bass was satisfyingly present without being boomy, offering warmth and impact, while the treble was crisp and clear enough to deliver adequate detail. The midrange is where the Perl truly shines—vocals and acoustic instruments sound natural and full-bodied, adding a pleasing smoothness to the listening experience.

That said, if you’re looking for flat reference tuning, the bass may be a bit much out of the box, but as I said before, that can easily be adjusted in the app. In addition, while Perl’s sound is remarkably insightful if you want the absolute best in resolution, depth, and soundstage, you’ll have to step up to the next level in price. At that price point (around CA$ 300, currently on special), you’ll find my favorite set of true wireless earbuds, the Technics EAH-AZ80-S, which has similar comfort, better ANC, and a more open, more detailed sound.

Denon Perl Review: Value

The Denon Perl wireless earbuds are a good option for listeners who are having a hard time finding a pair that suits their tastes soundwise. They offer a personalized listening experience that has a chance to provide a high-quality sound in a way that other earphones do not. They also offer good active noise cancellation, and they are also one of the most comfortable pairs of earphones I have listened to. However, while the ANC is good, the ambient sound mode isn’t the best at bringing in outside sounds, and sound quality is largely dependent on the companion app. If you don’t want to deal with the app, then these earbuds may not be the best value. Also, for Apple folks, the AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) offers a similar quality of sound and comfort, along with better ANC/Ambient modes, for around the same price currently.

Denon Perl Review: Conclusion

The Denon Perl wireless earbuds offer a unique combination of features, including personalized listening with Masimo Adaptive Acoustic Technology (AAT), active noise cancellation, and long battery life. I found the AAT tech to be really good at providing a sound that was pleasing to the ears, but I also thought the sound was pretty bad without it. So, If you are interested in what a personalized listening experience can do for you and are willing to pay for it, the Denon Perl wireless earbuds are a good option.

RATING: 7.3/10

What We Dig

  • Rich, Balanced Sound with AAT Technology
  • Good ANC
  • Very Comfortable

What to Think About

  • Don’t sound great without AAT turned on
  • Social (Ambient) mode not the best

Check out the rest of Hifitrends’ website for more in-depth reviews and comparisons of affordable products. You can find helpful articles on audiophile topics and discover new music recommendations.

2024 PMA Magazine. All rights reserved.


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