Reviewed Jul 2010
Details: Denon’s newest mid-range entry meant to replace the aging C700/C751 models
Current Price: N/A (discontinued) (MSRP: $149.95)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16 Ω | Sens: 110 dB | Freq: 5-25k Hz | Cable: 2.3’ I-plug + 2.6’ L-plug extension
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: UE Single flanges, Comply T400
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear
Accessories (4.5/5) – Single flange silicone tips (3 sizes), Comply foam tips, extension cord, shirt clip, and hard carrying case
Build Quality (4/5) – The large metal shells with plastic nozzles feel very solid. Cabling is modular but thin and tangle-prone. The extension connector is sightly bulky in comparison to those used by Jays and others
Isolation (3/5) – The housings are fairly large and don’t really allow for deep insertion but isolation is passable nonetheless
Microphonics (4/5) – Quite low although wearing these over-the-ear is not as easy as I would have liked
Comfort (3.5/5) – The shells of the AH-C710 are large but not too heavy and boast an ergonomic angled-nozzle design. They are very comfortable to wear in the conventional manner but the large housing diameter makes them problematic for cord-up fit – more slender housings such as those of the Klipsch S4 and Auvio Armatures fare far better in this regard
Sound (7.7/10) – The Denon AH-C710s are lively but not downright aggressive earphones. The bass is strong and smooth, extending nearly deep enough to compete with the likes of the FA Eterna. Bass power is impressive and the impact tends towards ‘boomy’ rather than ‘punchy’, but not in a bad way. The Denons do have a slight mid-bass emphasis but no Kilimanjaro-sized hump as with the Senn IE8. The low end carries some warmth up into the midrange and can be too heavy at times but remains well-layered, aided by the large soundstage and relatively transparent midrange.
The mids are clear and detailed, neither too thick nor too thin, and quite transparent in comparison to the more upfront and aggressive top end. Despite the AH-C710 being a bass- and treble- heavy earphone, the midrange is not easily overshadowed and blends well in to the rest of the sound signature. The treble, on the other hand, is very prominent and sparkly. It can be a touch harsh and sibilant at first but settles down with time. The C710 does lack that last bit of extension that earphones like the Hippo VB and RE0 revel in, making it sound slightly less effortless and accurate. Still, the treble remains well filled-out and quite lively, if somewhat colored.
The presentation of the AH-C710 is spacious and well-separated, with above-average soundstage width and depth and solid, though not pinpoint-accurate, positioning. The Denons never sound too intimate (a-la JVC FXC80) or too spread-out (a-la IE8). The overall presentation is quite immersive and works well with the dynamic sound signature. They may not be as outrageously large-sounding as the Eterna or IE8 but they are engrossing and enjoyable. Indeed, vivaciousness is a recurring theme with these earphones – they aren’t relaxing to listen to and may be too intense for long listening sessions but they certainly do carry great energy and score high on the fun factor. Remarkably, the fun factor is something the Denons maintain even at low listening volumes, which is rare for dynamic-driver IEMs. The fact that the 16-ohm C710s are very sensitive doesn’t hurt either, though minor hiss may be present with some sources.
Value (7.5/10) – The Denon AH-C710 is a competitive entry from one of Japan’s best-known audio firms, offering a convenient and user-friendly form factor, solid build quality, and low microphonics. However, some of the design choices, especially in the cabling, are baffling. The cord is quite thin and very prone to tangling and its length is several inches too short without the extension and quite excessive with it. A shorter or longer cord would have made more sense to me. And then there is the included carrying case, which is very frustrating to use, especially on the move. It makes the Sennheiser IE8 and Phiaton PS200 cases seem sensible in comparison. Usability complaints aside, there is plenty to like about both the sound signature and presentation of the AH-C710. The earphones are lively and spacious, with powerful bass, smooth mids, and sparkly treble. The current $130 price tag is slightly excessive for those who don’t find added value in the Denon brand, putting the C710 in the same price category as the Panasonic HJE900, Klipsch Custom 3, and even Radius DDM, but those who can find them for less or are stuck paying import duties on competing products could do much, much worse than the Denons.
Pros: Powerful, spacious, and lively sound, comfortable to wear cord-down, well-built, low microphonics
Cons: Over-the-ear fit not for everyone, tangle-prone cabling, quirky cord lengths