MP3 players are practically as prolific as cell phones now--heck, some of them are cell phones. Regardless of what portable device provides the music, one thing is a given: the stock earbuds that come in the package aren't doing ears any favors. Clearly, the landscape is ripe for aftermarket headphone manufacturers, which explains why companies such as Denon, which is normally associated with home audio, continue to expand portable product lines. The latest entry-level offering from Denon is the AH-C351 In-Ear Headphones, a $50 pair that is essentially the same as the AH-C350, only with a travel pouch included in the box. While they aren't the best sounding or best-designed earphones on the block, the AH-C351s offer reasonable bang for your buck.
We're mostly pleased with the design of the Denon AH-C351 earphones. The 'buds are very small and low profile, and the overall style is understated. You can choose from black or white versions to best match your player or preference. Although the earpieces are plastic, they have a nice shine to them, which helps them to not look too cheap. Also, since they are so small and feature rounded edges, they're quite comfortable, even during extended wear. Denon includes three sizes of silicone ear tips to help users get a proper fit--you'll need that to achieve the best sound isolation and bass response. We had no issues achieving a good seal with our ears.
However, the cable design of the Denon AH-C351 earphones is a bit questionable. First, they feature a "behind-the-head" style where the left earphone cable is significantly shorter than the right. This in itself isn't really an issue for most, but since the cord is very short (18 inches) in general, almost all uses (save those where a player is in a shirt pocket or affixed high on the body) require attaching the included extender (32 inches). The connection point puts extra weight on the earphones, which is then distributed entirely to the left earbud, thanks to the uneven cable lengths. This can have a tendency to pull the 'bud out of the ear--annoying. On the plus side, the cord is relatively thick and seems pretty durable.
Sound quality from the Denon AH-C351 In-Ear Headphones is about what we would expect from a set in this price range. That is: not stellar, but certainly solid. Overall, we thought music sounded quite good, although electropop and poppy hip-hop tended to sound overly bright. However, in general, mids came across as warm and encompassing, while high-end detail--gentle acoustic guitar strumming, for example--was not lost. Bass response is present, though we found that we really had to shove the 'buds in to get the most on the low end. The AH-C351s are definitely not as bumping as the V-Moda Bass Freq earphones, so bass addicts need not apply. However, if you're looking for reasonably balanced sound in the $40-to-$50 price range, these Denons are worth considering.