Earlier this year, Denon bought Australian headphone company Nura and availed itself of some of the best technology for true wireless earbuds. Nura was founded in 2015 by Dr. Dragan Petrovic, Dr. Luke Campbell and Kyle Slater. The Melbourne-based company was funded with Kickstarter funds and venture capitalism.
Since its inception, Nura scored plenty of successes and heaps of praise for its products because they tailored their sound to the listener’s hearing profile and included many innovative features. Now the brand is under the Denon umbrella, which is part of Massimo Inc, having recently been bought from Sounds United. Denon has rebranded the NuraTrue Pro earbuds.
The Denon PerL Pro wireless earbuds support Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sound platform and feature an advanced Active Noise Cancelation to block unwanted sound. Thanks to the Nura technology, the Denon PerL Pro earbuds can be tailored for an individual’s unique hearing profile using innovative technology to build a truly personal sound profile.
The Denon PerL Pro earbuds use ultra-sensitive microphones in the earpieces that measure otoacoustic emissions. The microphones can effectively measure how a listener’s ears react to a series of test signals. A processor in the earbuds working with an app on the user’s smartphone creates a data map of the listener’s hearing. The measurements produce a bespoke EQ setting that fits the user’s hearing like a glove. The difference between the before and after sound is staggering.
Setting up the Denon PerL Pro is simple. The user must download the Denon app for their iOS or Android smartphone before connecting to the Bluetooth earbuds. The app then begins measuring the wearer’s hearing and creates a custom hearing profile. Even better, you can have multiple profiles and rerun the test any time you like if you think your hearing has changed.
The new Denon PerL Pro earbuds look much the same as the Nura version except for the appearance of the famous Denon logo on each earpiece. The same goes for the Denon PerL Pro’s charging case, which supports wireless and wired charging using the supplied USB-C cable.
Other technical improvements to the Denon PerL Pro include more microphones than the previous generation. The extra microphones are used for the added ANC function, which automatically alters the level of active noise cancellation for filtering out unwanted external sounds. Another feature uses bone conduction microphones for picking up the user’s voice more clearly, especially under windy conditions, making using wireless earbuds for phone calls a real problem.
Like many true wireless earbuds and headphones coming onto the market, the Denon PerL Pro support Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive audio codec. In theory – and with a compatible smartphone – the Denon PerL Pro can wirelessly receive Bluetooth lossless audio at resolutions up to 44.1kHz with 16-bit CD-quality lossless audio. Unfortunately, Apple iOS devices don’t support aptX, so the Denon PerL Pro revert to AAC is the best codec Apple users can access. That said, AAC is still excellent quality and most people might not notice the difference.
Another major upgrade on the sound front is how the Denon PerL Pro support spatial audio mode. This setting is on by default but can be turned off if spatial audio processing isn’t your thing and you prefer regular stereo. The Denon PerL Pro use Dirac Virtuo spatial audio, which shouldn’t be confused with Dolby Atmos or any other spatial audio standard. The earbuds process the source audio to create a unique spatial effect.
The Denon PerL Pro are physically large earbuds but also very comfortable. Denon ships the earbuds with silicone ear tips in various sizes and a pair of foam tips for those who prefer that kind of tip. Choosing the correct ear tip size is essential to hear optimum sound and enjoy the full effect of the ANC function.
A full charge of the PerL Pro earbuds can deliver an impressive eight hours of playtime. The charging case holds an additional 24 hours of reserve power, enough for topping up the earbuds during a long flight. The case can be recharged using the supplied USB-C cable or on a Qi-compatible wireless charging mat. Wireless charging takes longer to deliver a full charge, but it is more convenient.
Each of the Denon PerL Pro earbuds has touch-sensitive controls for adjusting all the usual settings and control like pause, play, skip and repeat. The controls can also be set up for phone calls or adjusting volume levels. Using a combination of taps, double taps and even triple taps, Denon has enabled six functions to be accessed easily. The tap functions can be varied using the Denon app, which has other handy functions, such as customizable EQ settings and variable ANC settings to filter out unwanted sounds.
The ANC function on the Denon PerL Pro is incredibly effective thanks to Adaptive ANC, which changes the amount of noise canceling on the fly. The Denon PerL Pro do an excellent job of cutting unwanted sounds, although it works best on continuous sounds like the roar of an aircraft engine or the rumble of road noise when in a car. The ANC is very effective; you can pause the music and switch to ambient mode with a single tap. This feature is handy for stopping the music and amplifying whatever is happening around you so you can hear a travel announcement or if someone is talking to you.
The four microphones built into each of the Denon PerL Pro’s earpieces are excellent at picking up voices. If you are in a noisy or windy environment, a bone-conducting function can produce clearer voice calls, especially outdoors. The noise-canceling mics also do a good job suppressing unwanted background noise that can spoil a phone or video call.
And now we come to the all-important sound quality. Bear in mind that the Denon PerL Pro earbuds were customized for my less-than-perfect hearing, but with the customization the music comes alive with these incredible earbuds. The Denon PerL Pro are some of the most engaging earbuds I’ve tested. The depth of the bass and the soundstage focus with the spatial processing is incredible.
The distortion levels created by the Denon PerL Pro are low. During my test period, I didn’t experience any fatigue when listening to music. Some of the earphones I test can quickly give me a headache because of distortion. The brain must work harder to decipher the sound when music is distorted. With the Denon PerL Pro, it’s as if you can hear the music with much more clarity. It’s as if a layer of mist has been wiped away. It’s like putting on a new prescription of eyeglasses. Suddenly everything is sharper but without ever sounding shrill or harsh. There’s a depth and richness in the sound that is genuinely satisfying and very musical.
Verdict: The Denon PerL Pro earbuds are the Rolls-Royce of true wireless earbuds. The customization function is easy to use and it makes a huge difference. With customized sound, it’s like having a bespoke suit made instead of something off the peg. The ANC function of the Denon PerL Pro has been beefed up and features Adaptive ANC. The microphones for making and taking phone calls have been increased to eight and a bone conduction function provides better and clearer calls, especially in windy conditions. The spatial audio function on the Denon PerL Pro is one of the most impressive I’ve heard and doesn’t make the music sound artificial or echoey. There is also the bonus of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sound, which offers some futureproofing for users of Android smartphones which support the standard. Overall, the sound from the Denon PerL Pro is breathtaking. All this excellence comes at a price because these earbuds aren’t cheap. However, if you want some of the most engaging earbuds on the market, try the Denon PerL Pro. You won’t go back. Highly Recommended.
Pricing & Availability: The Denon PerL Pro earbuds are available now and cost $329 / £299 / €359.
More info: www.denon.com
- Drivers: 10mm dynamic.
- Audio codecs: Qualcomm aptX Lossless (44.1kHz, 16-bit CD-quality lossless audio, bit-for-bit with maximum bitrate: 1.2Mbps) / aptX Adaptive / aptX Classic / AAC / SBC.
- Frequency range: 20Hz—40,000Hz.
- Sensitivity: 101dB.
- Microphones: 8 (including 2 bone-conduction)
- Mic noise canceling: Qualcomm aptX Voice for super-wideband (32kHz) voice calls.
- Spatial audio: Dirac Virtuo.
- ANC: Adaptive, hybrid active noise cancellation.
- Controls: 4 configurable touch inputs per earbud.
- Controls: Play/pause, skip tracks, change volume, voice assistant.
- Battery: 32 hours total / 8 hours (earbuds) / 24 hours (case).
- Charging: USB-C / Wireless.
- Weight: Earbud (each): 8.6g Case: 51.2g
- Dimensions: 72.4 x 30.2 x 35mm (case).