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Denon PerL

True Wireless in-ears with personalised sound

In a nutshell

Great sound with a slimmed-down feature set. If you were interested in the Denon PerL Pro because of the personalised sound profiles, you can confidently buy the Denon Perl without Pro for under 200 euros. At the moment, in this price range, the sound doesn’t get any better.

Pros:
  • Very good sound
  • Otoacoustic calibration
  • Effective noise cancelling
  • Good transparency mode
Cons:
  • Relatively short battery life
  • No multipoint
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In our test, the Denon PerL Pro impressed us with their very good sound thanks to the ability to personalise them to suit your own hearing. In terms of sound, they were among our best of 2023. Their striking appearance, along with their rather heavy weight and the “difficult market environment” in regard to price, certainly did not make it easy for the PerL Pro since other manufacturers also have attractive offers in the €300 price range.

Denon has therefore recently launched a model called just PerL (without the “Pro” suffix), which inherits the core expertise of the Pro, including Masimo AAT technology (measurement of otoacoustic emissions), but does without multipoint, lossless streaming via aptX, 3D audio including head tracking. It also has a shorter battery life of 6 hours compared to the Pro model’s 8 hours.

A positive result of these reductions in features is that these earbuds are slightly smaller and, at 7.4 grams, 0.6g lighter than the PerL Pro.

So, in this review, we ask whether the Denon PerL are a good choice even without the Pro features.

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First of all, I would like to say that in the last few months, the PerL Pro has provided me with a lot of fun as “on-the-go headphones”, so I was able to evaluate the two models in direct comparison, something which is not always possible in our reviews for various reasons.

Denon PerL Package

In addition to a very short USB-A to -C charging cable, Denon supplies four pairs of ear tips (XS, S, M and L) as well as a memory foam tip in a medium size, which I immediately replaced with the M size tips. There are also a pair of rubber fins, which you have the option to use to make “locking” easier, depending on the anatomy of your ears. My ears only needed ear tips in size M – and nothing else.

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The operating instructions can be sent to your mobile phone using a QR code, and other accessories are also provided in an app.

Differences to the Denon PerL Pro

When you compare the specifications of the two PerL models, the list of items omitted is remarkable. However, with the objective of maintaining our main argument in favour of these Denon in-ears, the reduction in features is actually relatively minor.

The 3D audio component is missing. But Qualcomm aptX Lossless is still here. However, with aptX Standard alongside SBC and AAC, the conditions for good sound are by no means terrible. Multipoint may be missing, but quick switching between two “known” devices can still be done quickly.

The charging power is lower, but these buds are also somewhat smaller and lighter. With six hours without recharging and 18 hours with a maximum of three charges from the case, something which was largely confirmed in our test, users should think carefully about whether this is sufficient power. In addition, fast charging for one hour of music takes ten minutes, which is five minutes longer for these smaller buds than it was for the Pros.

Another thing you should know, in contrast to the Pros, is that the PerL cannot be charged with contactless via the charging case, only via USB-C. For telephony, Denon decided not to use the two bone-sound microphones and the wider-band aptX code for the PerL, which you can certainly hear when making calls.

Unique selling point – tuning to your own hearing

First of all, it is commendable that the app needed for the operation of these earbuds only requires you to register an email address and a corresponding name. Registration does not require any other personal data such as gender, bank details or place of residence. As soon as the PerL are synchronised with the app, the in-ears can be set up.

The first step is to try them on to make sure they fit properly. A short frequency sweep confirms when the earpieces are tight enough, then you can focus on the actual calibration process.

As already described in our review of the PerL Pro, adjustment to suit your own hearing is kept simple and effective. You are asked to complete the process in a quiet environment and a resting position. After a few minutes, during which you will hear various measurement tones, the app reports completion and two circles with a few bumps show a personal hearing profile; here, you can store three different profiles.

The result is not only amazing but also amazingly good. For fun, you can switch between the personalised and neutral profiles in the app. You will find that everything that sounds quite good in the neutral position sounds significantly better in the personalised profile. There is also an adjustable immersion mode, which gives the bass a broader foundation and is particularly fun when listening to electronic music.

The big plus of the Denon PerL: convincing sound

Let’s start with “Malia” by Boris Plank – from our Spotify playlist. The PerL easily brought the powerful bass foundation to life; even the subtle vocals could be heard in detail, and the dark surface and the lush echo chamber created a distinct sound. Next, we listened to “Easy On Me” by Adele, and the PerL was also convincing here. Her impressive voice stood out perfectly and the accompanying piano, as well as the bass and drums, blended impeccably. My third test track was “In Da Club” by 50 Cent; here, my personal sound profile was also convincing with defined bass that was neither swallowed up nor overemphasised.

Classical music or jazz was also presented in an ear-friendly way, which made me realise that the personalised sound obviously only allowed me to make a subjective sound assessment. But: The adaptation to your hearing ability based on otoacoustic emissions, where the eardrum generates vibrations in response to the incoming sound, is a unique selling point of the Denon PerLs. If you want to find out more, you should read our review of the Denon PerL’s predecessor, the NuraTrue.

Good noise cancelling and social mode suitable for everyday use

I conducted the listening tests both with noise cancelling switched on and without, and a serious difference in sound was not audible – apart from the masking effects caused by external noise when noise cancelling was switched off. Without a reference signal, noise was also not an issue, but an occasional low “rumble” was noticeable; this would only be a negative point if you were expecting absolute silence. Thanks to the seal supplied by the Comply Memory Foam ear tips, the passive damping of these in-ears was already good. In various everyday situations such as crowded underground trains and football stadiums, walks along main roads and construction noise outside my bedroom window, I can confirm that, for in-ears, the PerL provided wide-ranging, balanced, very effective attenuation which was in the upper mid-range in terms of quality.

The social or transparency mode also worked very effectively. Denon has trimmed the tuning primarily for traffic safety. When activated, the reference signal was reduced slightly and the external signal was passed through with a high level of speech intelligibility, something I found very useful in everyday life.

The Denon PerL in practice

I have come to appreciate the Denon PerL as a comfortable accessory, both in an urban environment and when travelling on public transport. I was able to take part in conversations – at the supermarket checkout, a quick chat with neighbours, station announcements or conversations in the office – while using the PerL without any problems. But even when I immersed myself in music or listened to podcasts on train journeys, there was no problem with the PerL’s excellent noise cancelling, and I would like to emphasise that they had very good sound quality here, too.

Control via touch command on both sides was well implemented, especially as Denon offers a number of options in the app that allow you to program the controls to your liking. Changing the volume via a long tap and the subsequent finger placement was easy to learn and became routine once I’d used them for a while.

Personally, I don’t mind the eye-catching look of these disc-shaped in-ears, but it might be a bit too much for some tastes. You just have to get used to it. The rather heavy weight of 7.4 grams per earbud may also be too much for some people. And if you like to pull a cap over your ears, you may have problems.

Wind sensitivity was present when social mode was activated but was virtually imperceptible when in noise-cancelling mode. The battery life of six hours, which is not exactly generous when compared to the competition, is something that should be taken into account.

And last but not least, a note on the Bluetooth behaviour of the PerL. Bluetooth version 5 is not the most up-to-date, but promises fixed switching between devices. As already mentioned, there is no multipoint, and the range we tested was within the expected range at 15 metres in open space and just under 10 metres when there was a wall in between.

Conclusion

The Denon PerL impressed us with a sound that cannot be taken for granted for this price range. The aim of offering the personalised sound adjustment that came with the PerL Pro for less than 200 euros has been successful with the PerL without Pro. Despite some missing features, such as Multipoint or higher aptX codecs, we recommend the PerL in-ears for everyday use. We definitely recommend you test them for yourself.

4 weeks ago by Ralf Willke
  • Rating: 4.38
  • Sound
  • Handling
  • Price/Quality
  • Function

Technical specifications

  • Ear couplingIn-ear
  • Typeclosed
  • Transducer principledynamic
  • Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
  • Weight without cable7.1 g each, case 47.4 g

What's in the box

  • 4 pairs of ear tips (XS, S, M, L)
  • 1 pair of foam ear tips (M)
  • 2 pairs of earwings
  • USB charging cable
  • Charging case

Special features

  • BT version: 5.0
  • BT codecs: AAC, SBC, aptX

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