Denon PerL Pro review: 5 things to know about these outstanding 'buds
Miss PerL at your peril: these super-smart ear buds are something else...
The true-wireless ear bud market is a tricky one to win in. Given the sheer amount of earphones on offer, casual users will naturally seek out the most popular brands, or look for value from their buds.
In short: to stand out, you need to offer something special. Enter the Denon PerL Pro. These super-smart buds are new in the market but they are using technology that may be familiar to some. They are the result of Denon's buyout of Australian brand Nura's audio IP.
Nura was renowned for its proprietary personalisation software being the best in the business and that's just what Denon has inherited. Having been a fan of Nura - and Denon for that matter - in the past, I couldn't wait to try the Denon PerL Pro ear buds out.
I've been using them for a few weeks now - here are 5 things you need to know...
1. These PerL buds are a TruePro
Those familiar with the Nura TruePro buds will be right at home with the Denon PerL Pro earphones. They look very similar, with Nura's branding reskinned with Denon.
This makes a lot of sense from Denon's point of view. The TruePros were never a mass-market proposition. Instead they were offered through Kickstarter. Denon has taken these already superb buds and made them its own.
I am a big fan of the look of the PerL Pros. The circular design makes them standout, but they also fit really well in the ear offering a lovely seal that helps with the ANC before you even switch the things on.
They are slightly bigger than your average true-wireless earphone, but sit snuggly next to the ear so they don't stick out.
2. Setup is simple but sophisticated
One of the big reasons to buy a pair of the Denon PerL Pro is its setup process. The algorithm used to personalise the audio you hear for your own ears is the best I've tested.
It does take a few minutes to get a personalised sound profile. This is done through the accompanying Denon app and it plays a number of strange tones into your ears - it's essentially a hearing test. These then 'map' out your sound profile, dramatically changing the music to fit how you hear.
When I switched the personalisation on and off, the difference was substantial.
3. Sound is personal - and that's a very good thing
Once the PerL Pros have adapted to your hearing, audio quality is superb. DJ Shadow's Friend Or Foe offered up a deeper resonance than I heard through rival earphones. The bass notes hit hard, while the synth textures bubbled nicely throughout the track.
Bass, again, was a high point (or should that be low point?) in the track Habla Con Elle by Sofia Kourtesis, which punctuated the warmth of the song really well.
It wasn't just with dance and electronic music where the 'buds came alive, though. Like Never Before by Bridget St John was sumptuous. The sad folk of the song was laid bare, with each pluck of the guitar string sounding like it was in my living room.
When outside, the Denon PerL Pro buds found a way to block the ambient sound well. I kept the ANC on full, rather than using the adaptive ANC which I found didn't quite do the trick for me. When going in and out of shops, it felt like it was playing catch-up - so I much preferred just having the full-fat ANC working on these buds.
4. The quality is impressive, most impressive
When I talk about the quality of the Denon PerL Pros, I am talking both about the audio and the build quality.
The good news when it comes to sound, they are superb. This is backed by the fact that the Denon PerL Pros offers AptX compatibility, so you can listen to lossless audio through the things. Spatial Audio is also on board which is now all the rage, since Apple got into the game.
This feature works really well through the PerL Pros but we recommend switching it off when you are listening to podcasts, as it just sounds, well, odd.
For those who don't want to drown out all sound, Social Mode works well as a go-between, offering fantastic audio but it doesn't shut the outside world out.
The circular build of the ear buds also makes using the touch controls a joy. These can also be personalised in the app, but they are responsive and there is a big enough area on the side of the buds to make sure that your finger doesn't fumble when you are trying to use touch to control your music.
5. Battery is big and there's wireless on board
As for battery life. when you add in the juice that the case holds, you can get up to 32 hours out of these things, which is on a par with the best out there. I was using the ANC a lot, though, and this does drain the battery faster but I never had charging anxiety with these things.
The good news is that wireless charging is on board - it takes around two hours to charge until full. By placing the ear buds into the case, they will automatically charge from the battery life of the case, too. Again, it will take around two hours. USB charging of the case is the fastest, with it taking around an hour.
There are three indicators on the case to let you know what the charge is like for the left and right bud and the case itself - this is a really handy at-a-glance look. When the LED is red, then the charge is under 30%.
Denon PerL Pro Final Verdict
The Denon PerL Pro are some of the best-sounding ear buds around. But that's not all, the sound they offer is personal to the user. Each person will have a different audio experience when listening to the PerL Pro and that's what makes them so sophisticated.
Often, true-wireless ear buds don't get the balance of software and hardware quite right. In the Denon PerL Pro range, though, it's a match made in heaven.