If Lamborghini started making cars everyone could afford, the chances are it'd appeal to a lot of people. That's what happens when high-end manufacturers release affordable products.
Denon -- the high-end Japanese audio systems manufacturer -- has gradually been introducing earphones for casual iPod users for over a year. It's latest and most affordable pair is the AH-C252s. At £30, there's very little reason not to take note.
They'll be on sale towards the start of September and we've taken a pair for an exclusive and extensive listen.
We've given accolades to the more costly Denon models for adopting aluminium as an enclosure material of choice. At this price point, it obviously wasn't practical. Instead, Denon has used a gum-coated plastic, making them a lightweight 'phone, but with enough strength to withstand life without a case (although a cloth case is supplied).
Also included is a range of silicone tips, varying from small to large. Getting the right fit is essential for bass to be heard properly, but they also passively block out ambient noise, such as chattering on the commute, air conditioning systems and the sound of air rushing past windows in trains. Although these silicone tips don't block out as much sound as the foam tips Shure earphones use, they have an excellent balance of comfort and performance.
On the inside, the C252s rock 11.5mm neodymium- backed drive units, a frequency response between 20Hz-23kHz, sensitivity of 100dB/mW, an impedance of 16ohms and they'll handle up to 100mW of power.
Sonically, there's a very different voice present when compared to other Denon earphone models. The AH-C751s, AH-C551s and AH-C351s all tend to be quite bright in the treble with exceptionally deep, smooth bass, but a less prominent mid-range. But the exceptionally loud C252s instead produce a powerful mid-range and strong low end, but without the particularly bright treble.
This makes them well suited to rock and metal genres. But we also enjoyed listening to a lot of pop on these 'phones. The Black Eyed Peas track Let's Get Retarded has such a powerful bass line and kick drum and although the bass from the C252s is a little overpowering, it gives the song a real club feel. This was heard again in Usher's Love In This Club, the bass line throughout which was delivered with cataclysmic power.
What the C252s lack over, for example, the Sennheiser CX 500s, is detail and transparency. The CX 500s offer a much more balanced sound, with a clearer overall voice. Instead of focusing on raw power as the C252s do, the CX 500s focus on offering up a more open sound stage and clearer highs.
While the construction of the earphones themselves is certainly good, we're not fond of the cabling; it seems to tangle much more easily than we'd like. The rubbery coating used on the Sennheisers is definitely much preferred.
As one of the bassiest earphones we've seen in this price range, the AH-C252s will appeal particularly to dance fans. Their generally loud, brutal voice makes the heavier end of the rock and metal scene just that much heavier.
Overall, though, there are definitely better earphones out there and our pick of those would be Sennheiser's CX 500s. With comparable bass but a cleaner voice, they're more capable of reproducing audio accurately, despite their relatively low cost.
They will be available from Advanced MP3 Players.
Edited by Shannon Doubleday