Pros: Deep/Punchy/Authoritative bass, soundstage, comfortable, aesthetics, easy to drive
Cons: Recessed mids, somewhat bright at times, does not seal outside noise
My Denon AH-D7000 finally arrived, and I've been putting it through its paces. My perspective on the D7000 is from a slightly different angle from most people who have reviewed it, since I have used the previous generation of Denon flagship AH-D950 headphones from mid-90's to 2005 or so. It was already falling apart around 2001, and I kept taping it back together until it could no longer be fixed and looked like crap. Here's the D950 all beat up, with electrical tape, worn out pleather earcups, snapped off housing...etc:
It's been with me all over the place throughout the years though, and will always stay in my memory. It still sounds great too, after the countless dropping on the floor, accidentally blasting at full volume, getting crushed/knocked around in the luggage...etc.
And here's how the D7000 compares to the previous flagship model:
What was immediately apparent to me about the sound of the D7000 is that it carried the torch of the D950 into the modern age. They have a very similar sonic signature. The D950 have that somewhat hi-fi sound where the treble and bass seems to have that smiley face EQ'd enhancement (just enough to be "exciting," but not too to become grating and fatiguing), while the D7000 is more accurate, but still retaining the excitement due to the superior sub-bass and detailed treble. The D7000's sub-bass is definitely more substantial in the 30Hz range, whereas the D950's sub-bass starts to roll off after 40Hz or so. The D950 emphasizes the upper bass for more punch, but the D7000 does not have any obvious peaks or dips in its bass region and is remarkably flat all the way down to 30Hz. The D7000 is also a tad more refined across the entire frequency range--higher resolution, if you will. In terms of comfort, the D7000 is very comfortable to wear--much more than the D950, since the D950's earcups are shallow, with your ears touching the drivers, and it can get uncomfortable after a while (my ears would hurt after prolonged listening with the D950). The D7000 is hands down the most comfortable pair of headphones I've ever worn--its clamp is feather light, with luxuriously soft pleather earcups that are very well cushioned. Although the clamp is light, the headphones stay on the head pretty well, but I wouldn't do any dramatic head-banging with it on though.
Compared to my Sennheiser HD650, the D7000 sounds like a smiley face EQ'd version of the HD650, with the treble being sharper, and the sub-bass more extended and prominent. The one thing I wish the HD650 could do better in is the sub-bass, since below 40Hz it starts to roll off, and the D7000 takes care of this problem, with the sub-bass remaining prominent and flat all the way down to 30Hz (I haven't tested frequencies below 30Hz yet), which is a rare thing for headphones. The sharper treble of the D7000 can be a tad too bright on listening material that's mixed/mastered on the bright side, and on such materials, I would prefer if the D7000's treble is slightly more subdued. Although the D7000 is a closed-back design, it might as well be open-back because it barely isolates outside noise at all; however, the strange thing is that it isolates the headphone's output much better, so leakage isn't nearly as bad as with actual open-back cans (in other words, it sucks at blocking outside noise, but controls leakage into the outside world pretty well). Comfort-wise, I do think the D7000 is more comfortable due to the feather-light clamping of the earcups, but with pleather, no matter how soft, will never be as comfortable as velour, since pleather will get too warm and your face might sweat a little (or at least get slightly sticky). I bought a bag of headphone sanitary covers and with them on, the D7000's pleather problem is solved. The sanitary covers are of similar material as some of the disinfectant moist wipes, so while they are soft, they are still not as soft as velour. At least they don't get sticky like pleather though. The HD650 while has very soft velour earcups, clamp a lot tighter, but it's a snug kind of tight, and quite comfortable, unless you have a ultra-sensitive head where any amount of pressure will give you a headache. I never had any problems with the HD650's clamping pressure. Here's how the D7000 looks with the sanitary covers on:
One of the reasons I got the D7000 was with the wish that it would be like if the Audio-Technica ATH-M50 and the HD650 got married and had a kid. So, does the D7000 sound anything like that? Well, yes and no. I already talked about how it compared to the HD650, so now I'll talk about how it compares to the M50. One thing I really liked about the M50 is it's sub-bass capabilities, remaining prominent down to 30Hz. Not many headphones can sound like there's a subwoofer in your head, and the M50 is one of them. While the M50 sounds pretty neutral and flat in general, it doesn't sound quite natural--as if the engineers somehow pushed and pulled it into sounding that way, instead of it naturally sounding that way with the way its components naturally work together. For example, the treble has a slightly metallic feel, as if a very narrow band of the treble frequencies was EQ'd to get that clarity, but it's carefully tweaked so that it sounds very comfortable and never fatiguing. In fact, the M50 is one of the most comfortable headphones in terms of how pleasant it sounds. It is never too bright, but has plenty of clarity. The same goes for its bass--it's full and substantial, but never overwhelming like some of the bass-head headphones where the bass is so bloated that it intrudes into the other frequencies.
So how does the D7000 compare to the M50? In terms of sub-bass prominence, they are about the same, although the D7000 distorts less when reproducing pure 30Hz sine wave test tones. The D7000's treble is sharper for sure, and the overall clarity is also better, making the M50 sound warmer in comparison. The soundstage of the D7000 is also very good--almost on par with the HD650, while the M50 has a more typical closed-back sound with smaller soundstage. In terms of comfort, while the M50's pretty good, the D7000 is definitely more comfortable. Without the sanitary covers, the M50 gets warm faster than the D7000, but with the covers, the M50's pleather problem is also solved. Here's the M50 with sanitary covers on:
In conclusion, the D7000 is a beautiful sounding pair of headphones (though with obvious flaws), possessing authoritative sub-bass presence and punch, a smooth, clean, and detailed sonic signature, a big soundstage that's highly unusual for a closed-back design, very comfortable to wear, and visually attractive in that "premium high-end" style. Some people say the D7000 has recessed mids, and I agree. To me, it's not just because the treble is more detailed and the sub-bass is substantial that it creates the illusion that the mids are recessed--the mid-range is actually recessed--at least compared to my Klein+Hummel O 300D's and other headphones. But it needs to be said that the recessed mid-range is in general not a good thing, especially when the vocals and instruments end up lacking body and weight on the D7000. Whether it sounds a tad bright and sibilant in treble depends on personal taste. I'm very sensitive to bright sounding headphones and speakers, as I find them very fatiguing and grating to endure--as if my ears will start bleeding if I keep listening, and the D7000 usually sounds detailed instead of fatiguing, but on some really bright material it becomes brighter than comfortable for me. It's only somewhat of an issue though, as most of the music in my collection are not mixed and mastered by half-deaf engineers who have lost most of their hearing above 6Khz. :D But when the recessed mids combine with the slightly sibilant brightness, it can make some material really splashy, such as the song "William, It's Really Nothing" by The Smiths--the hi-hat, tambourine, and strumming of the guitar all blend into this splashy mess that has no real body or definition. While the treble is up for debate, I don't think the bass is--since I did extensive tests on its bass region and found it to be very flat and neutral all the way down to 30Hz and probably lower too.
The D7000 is a premium high-end pair of headphones, and as such, its price tag reflects that. Is it worth the money? I paid $571 for it before taxes and shipping, while some places sell it at its full retail price, which is $1,000. I don't think I would pay $1,000 for it, but at $571 it's acceptable (relatively speaking, since high-end anything is always a game of diminishing returns. It sure doesn't sound five times better than the M50. In fact, with the recessed mids and slightly bright sound, it's hard to say if it's really "better"--maybe just different). Will I sell off my other headphones and keep just the D7000? It's too early to say right now--I'll have to live with the D7000 for a while longer before I even contemplate that thought.
To accommodate the new arrival in my headphone collection, I got a triple stand with adjustable arms. It's very convenient and flexible, and since I don't foresee myself adding anymore headphones, I think it'll do just fine: