Denon is big news in the high-end audio world. Its name has long been synonymous with the stuff that has audiophiles gazing lustfully in pro-audio stores. The AH-C700s are the company's return to high-end earphones and promise precise sound, optimal comfort and solid build quality.
At a price of £149, the C700s are up against the likes of Shure and Ultimate Ears. This may be a moot point -- Denon's name is renowned for high-performing gear. Whether or not its professionalism in its established fields is enough to rocket these 'phones to the top of the earphone flagpole shall shortly be discovered.
The C700s are without doubt the toughest-looking earphones we've ever seen. While Shure's equivalents reign in a body of plastic, Denon's babies are built with machined aluminium. This gives them a huge head start in terms of ruggedness and the initial hands-on feeling is remarkable.
The main body of the 'phones strongly resembles silver bullets -- in both appearance and aesthetics. A 5mm central shaft secures the delicate but strong silicon tips and houses an 11mm diaphragm driver. A small hole at the rear of each earphone functions actively as a reflex port, as well as equalising pressure around the diaphragm.
With comfort being of high importance, Denon has gone to great lengths to ensure a good fit, especially considering metal isn't known for its general softness. Thankfully, the fit is excellent and the length of the aluminium housing is enough to secure the 'phones comfortably in the ear.
Silicon tips of three sizes are provided to help you get the best fit. The tips are responsible for sound-isolation and also contribute hugely towards the bass performance of any earphone -- choosing the right fit is crucial.
Performance on the whole is exceptional. In fact, these are certainly among the clearest earphones we've heard. The high end is where it feels the most work has been applied -- clarity is beautifully crystalline. The glockenspiel in the opening phrases of Saeglopur by Sigur Rós, is so defined and intrinsically well reproduced, the instrument can be almost felt. You'll hear every subtle hi-hat accent, every delicate pluck of a metal-stringed guitar.