Denon AH-C551 earphones review: Denon AH-C551 earphones

Typical Price: £70.00
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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars 3 user reviews

The Good Sound quality; price; build; excellent bass performance; hard case supplied.

The Bad Doesn't use Denon C700 cabling; slightly weaker with highs compared to lows and mids.

The Bottom Line Within the top three sub-£100 earphone models, the Denon C551s are absolutely stunning all-rounders, with clean, powerful bass performance. Combined with the supplied carry case and gold-plated connections, these are remarkable 'phones for the price

8.3 Overall

Denon often impresses us with its headphone and earphone products, and today we're hoping to add another model to a list.

The new C551s, which are available soon, sit in a category populated by Ultimate Ears, Shure and Etymotic. Can these £70 aluminium audio bullets withstand the warfare of the earphone market?

Immediately, you see the same effort has gone into these 'phones as went into the C700s. Their bullet-like build, made from a machined aluminium, offers a feel certain to be alien to dedicated fans of Shure 'phones. Despite their heavy-sounding build, they're remarkably lightweight and feel no heavier in the ear than any competitor.

Packed into the box is an excellent zip-fastened carry case, silicon tips in three sizes and a 31-inch extension cable.

Our performance test started with a particularly bass-heavy favourite, 'Yeah Yeah' by Bodyrox. Hearing that powerful kick drum furiously pounding away without difficulty was a great start. The trippy distorted bass on Pendulum's 'Tarantula' was superbly driven by the C551s and vastly more impressive thanShure's SE110s.

Moving onto some Primus and Les Claypool's sometimes-smooth, sometimes-frantic bass lines drove beautifully through these 'phones. Drummer Bryan Mantia's crisp snare had the punchiness you'd expect to hear through good hi-fi speakers and his intricate hi-hat and bell rudiments had the tight, bright flavour so integral to the Primus signature sound. Also, the Octoban-driven intro to Primus's track 'Eleven', allowed us to see perfectly then-Primus drummer Tim Alexander performing live in our head.

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