The Denon PerL Pro reviewed here are interesting in that they’re clearly premium earbuds and they’re clearly special. But, pointing out exactly what makes them special is hard without sitting down and thinking long and hard about it.
To that point, I’ve been testing these earbuds for many weeks now, while concurrently testing a few others. And, I keep reaching back for the Denon without knowing exactly why.
While the included personalisation option is very powerful and far from the gimmick that this type of feature used to be, it’s not unique by offering it. Maybe it’s the Hi-Res frequency range and all the other features included here, but the Denon PerL Pro makes an argument as being one of the best wireless earbuds out there.
Of course, the price tag is a bit hard to stomach, especially since there are plenty of great options for half the price out there. But, hey, Denon's earbuds are simply better in this reviewer's humble opinion. So let’s get into why I feel this way about the Denon PerL Pro.
Denon PerL Pro: price & release date
The Denon PerL Pro, along with the non-Pro PerL, have been available since the beginning of September 2023. This more robust Pro version is quite pricey, coming in at £299/$349, which is more than the majority of earbuds out there, including favorites like the Sony WF-1000XM5, which retail for £259/$299.
The Denon PerL are cheaper at £189/$199, but don’t have spatial audio or the aptX lossless codec, not to mention its battery life is a bit shorter at six hours per earbud instead of the PerL Pro’s eight. It still has the same personalisation options, so if you do all your listening via Spotify, which doesn’t support Hi-Res audio, you might consider these cheaper earbuds.
Denon PerL Pro review: design & features
The look of the Denon PerL Pro are unusual insofar as they have large spheres that hover over the portion of the earbud that fits into the ear. They’re quite an attractive looking set of earbuds actually, but from the outside, they look like they wouldn’t fit most people. However, they fit quite nicely.
That said, they can still feel a bit bulky as each earbud weighs 8.6 grams. Compare that to something like the Jabra Elite 10 (or any Jabra earbuds really), which weigh 5.7 grams, and you can see how the Denon PerL Pro can feel a bit heavy.
However, it’s still more than manageable and I found them to be comfortable to wear. They have a snug fit that doesn’t move around without being suffocating. Plus, they come with two wing attachments and five eartip sizes to adjust comfort as suits you.
Along with the premium look, these earbuds do feel premium too. An aluminum or metal alloy ring circles that raised sphere for a little bit of chic, while the outer surface emblazoned with the Denon logo hides capacitive controls.
I generally prefer physical buttons and it’s no different here: if you’re moving vigorously – maybe you’re going for a jog – the earbuds won’t always register a press. At least, they have an IPX4 rating to handle any sweat from a workout.
Denon PerL Pro review: performance
Before I share impressions, I would like to share some stats on the Denon PerL Pro. They have a frequency range of 20Hz to 40kHz, use what Denon calls "Ultra low-distortion triple-layer titanium diaphragm dynamic drivers" (which are 10mm in size), and support the Qualcomm aptX lossless codec. Point being you can listen to high resolution audio and get a hi-fi experience.
There’s plenty of low-end output, specifically clear and distinct bass. Some earbuds have plenty of that but it can be flabby and indistinct. That’s not the case with the PerL Pro.
The mid-range is nice and full without there being too much. I wouldn’t call these 'rich', though it is a bit mid-forward, perfect for mid-heavy music like when rock is experienced in its full anthemic or aggressive glory. And, thanks to that full frequency range, the high-end has plenty of detail and clarity without being harsh.
In short, the PerL Pro sound slightly warm, but with a full extended sound. And that’s before taking any of the additional sound-focused features into consideration.
Dirac Virtuo spatial audio is on hand, and though it’s an on or off feature, it gives some dimensionality to anything you listen to. Don’t confuse it with virtual surround sound as it’s not trying to recreate that. Instead, everything sounds a bit bigger, a bit taller.
There’s also an immersion mode, which is essentially a bass cut or boost, that is adjustable on a slider in the app.
Denon PerL Pro review: app
Speaking of the app, it’s intuitive to use. Adaptive active noise-cancellation (ANC) and transparency modes are both available here. Unfortunately, there’s no fine tuning these functions as you just turn them on or off. You just have to live with the ANC to adapt correctly to whatever environment you’re in.
The app has quite a few features hidden away beyond showing battery life, like enabling multipoint connectivity or accessing a five-band equaliser (EQ), which allows you to boost or cut up to 6dB.
But the real star of the show is the personalisation feature which through a series of listening tests will create a personalised EQ profile for each earbud to make up for any hearing deficiencies you might have. Generally, when I come across such features, I use it to make sure it works and then just turn it off. With the Denon PerL Pro, I prefer to use the personalised profile along with the spatial audio toggled on. It sounds great.
Denon PerL Pro review: battery
Since earbuds have come along way in the last few years, an eight hour battery life on a single charge isn’t the impressive achievement it used to be. That said, it’s good enough and long enough for it to not be an issue. There’s a total of 32 hours when including the charging case, which again is good but not going to turn any heads.
However, I do appreciate that fast-charging to the tune of five minutes for an extra hour of use, as well as wireless charging, is on hand.
Denon PerL Pro review: verdict
If it wasn't clear already, I adore the Denon PerL Pro earbuds. And I think you will too, because the sound quality is out of this world.
However, the asking price is high, and the active noise-cancelling (ANC) is good rather than great. Some people may find those two points hurdles to overcome, but it's no deal-breaker for me.
Furthermore, it's that the audio quality is further improved upon by the personalisation and spatial audio features that sends the Denon 'buds into a whole other stratosphere.
If you find $349/£299 too steep a price, the non-Pro Denon PerL have a lot of the same qualities and go for a somewhat easier to stomach $199/£189 price tag. The battery life suffers a little bit with six hours to the Pro’s eight and you won’t have that aptX lossless codec or spatial audio. But, it still has that 20Hz to 40kHz frequency range, Masimo-powered personalisation feature, and just about everything else that makes the Denon PerL Pro special.
If money is no object and you might consider spending more, the Devialet Gemini II are worthy of consideration. Sure, that $450/£349 price tag is even higher, but these earbuds add in fantastic active noise-cancellation (ANC), great sound quality, not to mention they’re very stylish.