Denon is a respected maker of a variety of audio gear. Beyond its well-known receivers, Denon has several long-standing product lines that signal the company’s history in the recording side of the music business. In that arena, older audiophiles will be familiar with Denon phono cartridges; from similar studio roots, Denon has also made a range of high-end headphones, earning something of a cult following in the process.
The AH-D7000 is the top of the Denon headphone line. Denon uses big 50mm, (1.97”) free edge Microfiber diaphragms on the 7000s. The objective is extended frequency response, which Denon rates at 5 Hz to 45 kHz (but with no variation range specified). High strength Neodymium magnets are said to provide high efficiency of 108 dB/mW and low non-linearity. Like many Japanese transducer makers, Denon believes in the use of wood for the driver housings, in this case mahogany, with intricate internal carving to enhance the natural tonal balance. The 9.8 ft. uncoiled cable features 7 Nines (99.99999%) oxygen free copper wiring. A cloth lined and fitted storage box is provided.
I have previously had good, if controversial, experience with the Denon AH-D5000, a sister design to the AH-D7000. Let’s see what the extra effort on the 7000s has wrought.
Consider this headphone if: you’ve been looking for a wide-bandwidth headphone that sounds potent without deviating too far from sonic neutrality.
Look further if: you need state of the art resolution or neutrality at the frequency extremes.
Ratings (compared to similarly-priced headphones)
• Tonal Balance: 9.0
• Frequency Extremes: 9.0
• Clarity: 8.5
• Dynamics: 9.5
• Comfort/Fit: 9.0
• Sensitivity: 9.5
• Value: 9.0
If you’ve been following Playback’s headphone coverage over the past two years, you may have noticed that I am a fan of Denon’s high-end but not too high-priced AH-D5000 headphone. The AH-D5000 isn’t set up to be neutral, but I’ve used it to explain why literal neutrality and psycho-acoustic neutrality are likely to be two different things especially when it comes to headphones. The Denon 5000s have a somewhat elevated bass range that often does a better job of simulating the dynamic impact of live bass than does many a more theoretically “flat” headphone.
I still hold that point of view, because it is rooted in some pretty sensible logic as well as lots and lots of listening to both headphones and live music. But, since my original review of the AH-D5000s, many new high-end headphones have come to market (e.g., the Sennheiser HD-800, the Beyerdynamic T1 Tesla, and the Ultrasone Edition 8 to name a few). As technology marches forward, the colorations of the Denon 5000s have seemed more bothersome (they were always obvious). This led us to wonder if the maximum supreme AH-D7000s might resolve some of the issues with the 5000, while retaining strengths no other headphone has matched recently.
I’ve been listening to the AH-D7000s at length now, and I can offer some observations. While reading this, keep in mind that the street price for the 7000s lies in between the upper-middle headphones in other manufacturer’s product lines (e.g. the Sennheiser HD-650, which lists for about $500) and the new ultra-premium headphones (e.g., the Sennheiser HD-800, which sells for $1399.95).
Overall the Denon sounds quite smooth and relatively flat (considering the typical frequency response variations of even high-end headphones). I would characterize the 7000s as having a slightly “U” shaped frequency response curve—that is, a curve with some small emphasis in the bass and the treble.
Bass, as indicated above, remains a relative strength versus most other headphones when you listen to the 7000s. I would rate the depth of the bass as outstanding and the overall level is probably a better compromise between technically balanced and psycho-acoustically neutral bass than with the Denon AH-D5000 (the 5000 is really too rich in the low end). There is, however, no free lunch, and the 7000s fall short of the ideal (i.e., the sound of live music) in upper bass definition. I think the bass on the 7000s is comparable overall to the Sennheiser 800s, with the 7000s sounding livelier in the mid-bass but not quite as solid in the low bass as the Sennheisers.
The mid-range of the 7000s is clear, with excellent instrumental separation. This is high praise, because most headphones have some wobbliness in the mid-range that is pretty obvious. The 7000s don’t entirely escape criticism here, though, as extended listening reveals a somewhat over-damped sound that may be the result of a shallow dip in the upper mids.