STEREO GUIDE Verdict
+ precise, crisp bass
+ very well done calibration to the individual hearing
+ App also helps to find the right ear adapter by measurement
+ Up to 24 hours of playtime with recharge in case
- Inserting and wearing the relatively large earphones takes some getting used to
Sound: tonal balance / transparency8.7
Sound: Bass / Dynamics9.0
Eas-of-use / Connectivity9.4
If a manufacturer brings a new generation True Wireless Stereo (TWS) in-ears, they are often technically and visually almost indistinguishable from their predecessors. There are many examples in our headphone reviews. The two new fully wireless Bluetooth earbuds from Denon are different: Denon PerL and Denon PerL Pro have nothing in common with previous Denon products like the Denon AH-8730NCW, which we already had in review. However, the shape with the large flat disc in the ear looks familiar – until now, the TWS, known for their tricky ear canal measurement, were marketed under the brand name Nuratrue. Since the Denon parent company has taken over Masimo Nura, the PerL are now only marketed under the better-known Denon name.
The Denon PerL – which derives from“Personal Listening” – are slightly more expensive than the aforementioned Denon AH-8730NCW. For this, in addition to the flat design, they offer the otoacoustic measurement of the auditory canals developed by Nuratrue . Thus, the sound is to be adjusted individually to the wearer purely according to physical standards instead of by a sound evaluation (as with the equalizer)
The measurement of the auditory canal
At the front of the Denon PerL’s sound channel is a small measuring unit that measures the sound distribution within the ear canal and the frequency-dependent sensitivity of the ear by perceiving otoacoustic emissions, i.e. vibrations reflected back from the ear itself. A procedure that is also used in the individual fitting of hearing aids. This is done automatically, calculating an invidual correction curve.
The idea is quite tempting, because depending on the length the diameter of the ear canal and the fit of the in-ear earpiece, a significantly different sound image can be achieved. A personal equalizer curve is therefore generally a good option for in-ear headphones. The technology called “AAT” (Masimo Adaptive Acoustic Technology) by Denon and Masimo, respectively, goes one step further and is not only supposed to automate the adjustment. It not only helps in finding the best fitting ear adapters and the best positioning of the two PerL. It is also intended to correct a non-optimal fit of the earbud. According to the manufacturer, this also eliminates the need to make individual earmolds.
However, you should find a quiet corner for the calibration process and make sure that the in-ears do not sit too loosely in the ear canal. For this, the manufacturer supplies rubber adapters in four different sizes as well as a foam adapter as an alternative. The round main casing sits outside the ear cup and therefore finds little support. Therefore, small rubber gutters in two different sizes can be installed in addition. These are amazingly effective in preventing the whole structure from falling out.
Technically up to date
The manufacturer’s description that only the considerably more expensive Denon PerL Pro model has adaptive noise-cancelling causes some confusion. However, the less expensive Denon PerL also has noise cancellation, which we would call ANC (Active Noise Cancelling), but it does without automatic adaptation.
The normal PerL has four microphones per pair for noise cancelling and the optionally activatable transparency mode (called “Social mode” here). The Bluetooth in-ear uses two microphones for making calls.
According to the manufacturer, the runtime with activated noise-canceling is 6 hours with fully charged Earbuds. A rather average value, which is however brought to a total of 24 hours of autonomy by recharging three times in the case, which should also be sufficient for frequent travelers.
Bluetooth is used in version 5.0. Both aptX and AAC are on board as codecs, which means that all standard devices can send a stream in HiFi quality to the Denon. The highest levels of aptX are only available in the PerL Pro, but that should not be an obstacle for Android users.
Denon’s TWS uses a very large 10 mm transducer capsule as the Bluetooth in-ear’s transducer.
The control is done via touch controls on the two casing shells, and the functions can be customized quite extensively. However, you need the Denon Headphones app for this, where other functions are also available.
The Denon PerL in a practical test
There is little to criticize in terms of practicality. Thanks to the IPX4 protection class , the PerLs are well protected against splashing water and should also withstand sweat in moderation. Those who do not like to reveal their data might start sweating right after launching the Denon Headphones app. The software, which is available free of charge for iOS and Android devices, insists on registration with an e-mail address and asks for things like age or gender.
And if you ever use your handset in flight mode, you’ll notice that the app connects to the Denon server in the cloud when you call it up. If flight mode is already enabled when the app is launched, it displays a hint and grants the option to use it in offline mode. However, if you disconnect the mobile network sometime after the start, there is no such hint and the Denon software tries for ages without success to establish a Bluetooth connection with the PerL. However, the Internet connection can also be established via WLAN instead of the cell phone network, for example, if you are on board an airplane or in a basement deep underground.
No new profile without network access
By the way, an Internet connection is mandatory to create a new hearing profile. However, existing profiles can also be called up in offline mode. We see some room for improvement in the operation of the ANC from the app. The transparency function can be activated via a button in the main menu. However, Denon has not provided this with a textual hint, but only with a tiny, ambiguous symbol.
To completely disable or enable ANC, you have to dive into the settings. The individually configurable tap commands on the touch-sensitive surfaces of the two in-ears in the app can also only switch between ANC and social mode. This is a bit more cumbersome than is generally the case with noise-canceling earphones. The effect of ANC through anti-noise to cancel active noise is largely limited to the upper bass range. Below and above that, the noise-canceling effect is mainly based on the good mechanical damping of the Denon PerL earphones.
Also, the slider that boosts the bass is not necessarily clearly labeled “immersion mode” because it mainly affects the bass. The Denon Headphones app reserves a surround sound button for its big brother, PerL Pro. However, this is easy to get over considering the price difference. The setting options of the Denon Headphones app are extensive. There is an equalizer and even the language of the announcements, such as pairing via Bluetooth connection, can be switched to German and many other national languages. However, the app loads the corresponding software supplements from the Denon server and then requires a restart. However, given the simple language cues, most should be fine with standard English. But it is a nice gesture in any case.
Want more level?
There is one special feature to report in terms of volume. Not only can you activate a volume limit for hearing protection. For hearty levels even with quiet recordings or just more oomph with all music tracks, the fearless can switch to High Gain. Then a considerable dynamic range is available.
This is how the Denon PerL sound
There is more than one answer to the question of how the Denon in-ears actually sound. After all, they not only have individual hearing calibration, but also equalizers and an immersive control. The equalizer is still easy to evaluate: It is left out, and is usually only tried out by STEREO GUIDE in the course of the practical test. But the virtual slider in the Denon Headphones app makes things more complicated, and the AAT calibration makes a completely different listener out of the PerL. After all, there is a lot to report from the listening test.
Without the AAT optimization, the Denon PerL sounded somewhat sober and relatively slim in the bass. With the immersion control, you can influence the tuning so that the Bluetooth in-ear either sounds even drier and has little bass volume. Most users would certainly refrain from doing so. However, turning the knob to the right is not recommended either, because it inflates the bass and costs contour. The factory center setting fits pretty well for most music and tastes. Thus, the Denon reproduces electro beats and drums very crisply and precisely. But quality, i.e. impulse behavior, takes precedence over quantity.
AAT really works well
If you like it really rich, but still value a precise punch, you should always leave the AAT hearing adjustment activated. It also adds a bit more sparkle to the somewhat sober voice reproduction and lets hi-hats and other high-frequency impulses shine more. All this increased splendor is not bought with sharpness. In contrast to the marginal changes in the immersive control, AAT practically makes a different, higher quality sounding listener out of the PerL when used correctly, moving it a bit in the direction of its big brother PerL Pro (review coming soon).
Conclusion and alternatives to the Denon PerL
You have to get used to the artful rotation and the feel of the large control panels – or rather, you have to like it. Then the Denon PerL offers a shaken level of dynamics with precise bass and neutral vocal range. The sophisticated AAT calibration takes performance to another level. The cheaper of the two new Denon TWS earbuds does not necessarily make it easy for the top model PerL Pro to justify its hefty surcharge. But this luxury problem is common in the headphone field. In the class of in-ears around 200 Euros, the Denon PerL can best be compared with the currently (as of mid-October 2023) unavailable Grell Audio TWS/1 or Jabra Elite 7 Pro ,. The two competitors also enable a calibration with an individual hearing profile via the SoundID app.
Technical Specifications Denon PerL
- Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: 200 Euro
- Type: In-Ear
- Transducer principle: Dynamic
- Weight: 7.1 g (per earpiece), 47 g (case)
- Features: Bluetooth 5.0, Active Noise-Cancelling, up to 24 hours playtime with recharging in case, protected against splashing water according to IPX4
- More at: www.denon.com