Denon D7000 review
To all those who want to stay away from my mindless babble, I'll answer the final question right now. Do I like the Denon D7000's? Yes.
Now let's get on with the review!
Unfortunately, not long after getting these headphones, my current DAC and amp broke, and am currently working to afford a nice DAC and amp. Currently I am using an old surround sound receiver. I will update the review when I get the proper source components.
Also, I made some comparisons between this and the Pro 750's (Kees modded), my previous headphones of 3 years. It isn't a fair comparison.
Also, while I wanted to keep this review as literal as possible, I decided to have a little fun with a small part or two. So please excuse any overly dramatized parts of the review.
Bottom of box, silk, and plastic.
The box it comes in is gigantic. It's primary construction seems to be of very highly compressed paper wrapped in a vinyl with a leather pattern. It can definitely take some abuse. The top is covered in padded leather (most likely the same pleather used on the headphones). The box itself looks like a miniature leather ottoman. Once the top is slid off, you're greeted by the headphones relaxing on a bed of silk. The silk is most likely fake, and they include a lot of it. The headphones are held in by a plastic mold; the silk is draped on top, and the two are connected by a metal plaque with Denon's logo on it. The cable is hidden by a compressed paper "drawer", as are a few pieces of documentation. With the exception of the box, said documentation, and a small microfiber cloth, the box is empty. With the Pro 750's, I received a case, an extra set of earpads, an extra cable, a CD, a 1/4" female to 3.5mm male converter. The D7000's do not come with any accessories.
All in all, beautiful presentation, and a fantastic box (which I now use as a holder for my headphones when not in use). However, I would expect a little more for the price of the headphones. Maybe a converter or headphone stand, but that's a relatively minor gripe.
Source: Tyll @ Headroom
The leather used in these headphones have me a bit conflicted. It feels like really nice glove leather; it is soft, pliable, and feels exactly like my leather gloves. Denon even says on their site "leather". However, in his review of the D2000/D5000/D7000 series, Tyll opened up the cups to find that it was pleather. While I do have to hand it to Denon for making such a realistic pleather (it's really quite miraculous how much it feels like leather), I do feel as though these should be made of real leather. The headphones have an MSRP of $999, and a street value of $700-$800. I would appreciate it if they spent the extra dollar or two and went with real leather. Real leather is more breathable, it lasts longer, and is more durable. It's something I'd expect to come with a headphone as expensive as this.
Source: Tyll @ Headroom
The inside of the headband consists of what I believe to be a thick metal band with wings made of either plastic or a thinner metal. The wings simply make the band wider, and are either thin metal or plastic to make the edges compress easily for added comfort. The thick metal core gives it rigidity. This is then wrapped in the same pleather the cups are made of.
Inner seams and texture of headband leather
The hinge is made of duralumin. It feels rigid and strong, and I doubt it will ever be a problem. However, the screws do seem to be a weak point. I've heard of people that have problems with the screws, but I do believe them to be the minority. I wouldn't throw these headphones around, however. While they are *very* high quality, they feel delicate, like a luxury item. They will not like being thrown into a bag and transported every day. Also, they do not fold. The headband is adjusted by a very satisfying ball-bearing system similar to the one used in car headrests. It feels very high quality, and simply moving the action gives you some very satisfying meaty clicks. The frame is made of magnesium and is very rigid and light.
Both sides of hinge
The cups are made of mahogany and are very nice to look at. The grain is very minor and subtle, something you rarely see with mahogany, which usually has a very wild and virulent grain. Images really don't do them justice, especially the ones Denon provides which are harshly photoshopped. Also, the mahogany is solid, it is not a veneer around a cheaper wood. Looking at the grain, it's very apparent. When it curves in, the grain channels change to a different perspective. Difficult to explain, but very evident when you're looking for it. Connected to that is the frame, it is made of magnesium and is very rigid and light.
Denon Cups, beautiful grain!
The earcups have an interesting design, they're much thicker in the back, and thinner in the front. It seems like a strange choice, when mixed with the strangely designed hinge, they give a great fit very easily. They are made of a very soft pleather, which feels shockingly like leather. The stitching and overall construction is very well done, they should last quite a long time. The earcups do need to be fiddled with a bit during first use, rotating the cups to form a proper seal will help with leakage and comfort. For me, the seams in the front are now located around the connection between the cup and the headband (the "nut" a few have been calling it). This is actually quite important for isolation/leakage. See third image for my placement.
Cups front, back, and "nut"
The cable begins with a 1/4" jack that feels very high quality. The contact area seems like a fairly standard gold plated jack. The rest of the jack is made of aluminum. The exterior shell can be screwed off to reveal the internals of the plug. The cable is very nice, it isn't what I would call stiff, but it isn't loose either. The cloth wrapping makes it very tangle proof, but makes it very susceptible to twisting. What I mean by this is, if you twist the cable, it will coil itself. It has a very strong rigidity in the twisting direction, which isn't a drawback as it helps keep it untangled. It splits into two much thinner cables that run into each headphone cup. The cable is quite long, I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who wants to wear headphones on a run. The cable itself feels extremely durable, I wouldn't worry about it getting damaged, it is very thick and very solid. The split part of the headphone isn't quite as durable. Feeling inside the cloth, the wire seems to be very thin inside. Though I do feel as though the cloth is adequate protection.
Braided cable, jack, and jack interior
Overall, the headphone is shockingly light, it feels as though it is made of light plastics instead of metals and wood. The lightness makes it feel as though they aren't as durable (or expensive) as they really are. All the actions feel solid, all the materials feel solid, but it feels very light which will most likely make you more careful with them, even if it is not warranted. Everything on these headphones is made of metal or wood. I've only found one part that is plastic, and that is the bracket that holds the pad on the cup. Not to worry, however, it is a durable plastic.
Yes, that is a triple beam balance. And for those curious, it weighs 414.25g
As I said before, I wouldn't throw these in a backpack every day, they don't feel bulletproof like the Pro 750's do. I could pretty much do anything to the pro 750's, and they'll just laugh at how weak I am. They're immensely durable, and have taken quite a lot of punishment over the years. The Denons are not like the Pro 750's, they feel delicate, but they don't feel cheap (they feel like a luxury item, as I said earlier). I wouldn't subject them to the punishment I subjected my Pro 750's to. As far as general at home use goes, they're definitely durable enough for the average home user.
The Denons really excel in this area. A combination of lightness and earcup design make it feel as though they disappear on your head.
Nowhere on the pad does it feel like there is more pressure than any other part of the pad. In the beginning, the front of the pad felt overstuffed, making it harder on the front than the back of the pad. This caused a bit of minor discomfort, but it has subsided with use. The pads are large, which gives large ears the ample space they deserve, but rarely receive. My pro 750's feel like I'm mashing my ears to my head in comparison (though I still believe they're comfortable). My only gripe with the earpads is heat. Over time, it can get hot and sweaty inside the cups. The pleather prevents the area from getting fresh cool air, and I find myself taking them off to cool my ears every so often. Much less of a problem than taking them off because of discomfort, which is fairly common in other headphones. I do, however, wish they came with both a leather cup and a cup made of a breathable material. The added breathability would be very helpful, though realistically it would probably alter the sound in a negitive way. I never had a heat problem with my Pro 750's, but they use velour pads. The clamping force is very low, but enough to keep them on your head (they fixed the problem with earlier D5k's that would fall off your head if you leaned forward). The headband is not really cushioned at all, the only thing that really cushions them is the two thick seams that run all along the bottom of the headband, and some *very* small amount of foam. I do wish that they cushioned the headband as well as they did the earpads, but it is still quite comfortable because of how light these headphones are. I've seen some people use a snap-on Beyerdynamic headband on the Denon D series, and it is something I intend to try. I will report the result once I've had a chance to try them. Gripes aside, they're *very* comfortable. I've never had a headphone disappear on my head quite like these do. Though if I could fit a softer pad and velour earpads (or at least leather ones with holes) on the D7000's, they'd be ideal.
Sound Leak / Isolation:
These headphones don't really leak much sound, at listening volume they really aren't audible by any bystanders. Unfortunately, they aren't the best with isolation. They aren't bad, but they're moderately worse than the Ultrasones. However, with music playing, you won't hear anything, with the exception of audiobooks and quiet moments in songs. I've used the D7000's numerous times at work, where people play music through large concert speakers (played at a moderate volume), and I haven't had any issues. If I had to place them, I'd say it leaks about the same as any closed headphone with leather pads, and it islolates a bit worse than the average closed can. It's something I personally wouldn't worry too much about. They're not open cans by any degree, but the design that gives them a nice soundstage did sacrifice some isolation along the way.
The warranty is a 1 year Denon warranty *if* you buy from an authorized distributor. It seems a bit short for headphones that can be $1000. I would expect some kind of special lifetime warranty with some extra benefits for this price (especially for how much *more* it costs to buy from an authorized reseller). However, I could be expecting too much. For a company like Denon, gear that runs you a grand isn't exactly rare, and they are a large company, they have very few reasons to add an awesome warranty.
I would say these headphones are on the "fun" side of balanced. They are fairly flat, and have won me over from the "U" shaped colorization found in a lot of headphones (like the Ultrasones). They are detailed and warm, which is a bit of an odd combination. The detail seems slightly rolled off because of the warmness. However, I do believe it makes them more natural sounding than the icy Ultrasones. While the cold and tight combination of the Ultrasones complimented each other very well, it made them sound digital and surgical. Sometimes this is great, especially for electronic music, but it doesn't fair as well in most other genres. The more natural sounding Denons shine with pretty much every genre. When I listen to music with the Ultrasones, it seems like they are hiding behind colorization, while the Denons sound much more like my brain simply has an audio input, and I'm plugging a cable straight in there. Listening to songs sound "just right" as though the headphone really isn't there. While it isn't perfect, it is very refreshing.
The Denons aren't nearly as analytical as the Ultrasones. I could really dissect individual notes with the Ultrasones, but I don't seem to do that as much with the Denons. It seems as though I'm more "distracted" by the Denons. It may be because they don't sound quite as hard or "digital" as the Ultrasones, or it could simply be because I don't have enough time on the Denons. I'd say I've had thousands of hours on the Ultrasones (at least). I'm a very active listener, I tap my foot, shake my head, close my eyes, and even do a little dance every so often (it's quite embarrassing). With my Denons I'd say I do just as much dancing, possibly even more. The Denons are very musical, and really give life to the music it plays.
The soundstage is impressive for a set of closed cans. Ultrasone always seems to tout its "S-Logic" technology, which does do a bit for soundstage, but not a whole lot. The Denons outclass any closed headphone I've ever heard in soundstage by quite a margin. They're not like open cans, but for closed cans, the soundstage is very impressive.
Music separation is very nice with the D7000's. I'm used to very good music separation (which I think is the Pro 750's best aspect), but the Denons do a fantastic job of it as well, even better than the Ultrasones. Each instrument is clear and separate from everything else. This is especially apparent in dnb music, which is purely euphoric with the Denons.
The Denons are much more forgiving of lower quality bitrates than the Ultrasones are. Spotify sounds surprisingly nice, but FLAC is still very much better. But I don't hear as many issues with compression as I did in the Ultrasones. Unfortunately (fortunately?) the Denons vary widely depending on the quality of the mastering of the album. With the Ultrasones, I felt as though the quality of the mastering was what was holding them back, and with the Denons, it's far more apparent. Even the worst mastered albums sound better on the Denons, but the gap between a badly mastered album and a well mastered album is now *much* wider. This has caused me to continually search for quality mastered and mixed albums. The denons have a lot of "life" to them, and that is what is lost through poor mastering. The Denons feel like a living, breathing creature; one with a soul, ambitions, and dreams. When using a well mastered album, you can see all of that, experience it. It's vibrant and livid; joyful, exuberant, and soul-crushingly beautiful. But once you put on a poorly mastered song, you can feel the life slipping away. The heart beating slower, softer; clamoring on to life, but watching it slowly flicker and die.
The highs are clear with some nice sparkle. They're not shrill because of the moderate amount of warmth the D7000's have. They sound natural, which is nice compared to the Ultrasones. However, they can become sibilant. Usually I don't have an issue, but sometimes they become sibilant, and it can be frustrating. Sometimes I listen to music on Spotify, and every sssssssssspotify commercial talkssssssss about how you're ssssssssupposed to buy ssssssspotify premium because it doesn't have adsssssssss. It can get tiresome. Outside of Spotify ads, I've had issues with Disturbed and another band or two mostly, but only in lower quality recordings. It isn't common by any means, but it is moreso than my Ultrasones. I usually roll off the highs a bit in the EQ to fix it. But besides some sparse sibilance, the highs are lush, clear, and absolutely fantastic. Classical and electronic really benefits, detailed and precise when it needs to be, lush and smooth when it doesn't. Layered and complex with violins, and shining with flutes.
The Ultrasones didn't exactly have what I would call a midsection, so the Denons are a nice change of pace. What surprised me most was how much nicer rock was; Billy Joel has never sounded so good. In fact, it was the first thing I noticed when I first put them on. Music that originally was "okay" with the Ultrasones became "fantastic" with the Denons. However, the real winner with this is the cellos. Cellos are nothing short of breathtaking, complex, and enchanting. Yo-Yo Ma's Yanzi (Swallow Song) is magical with these headphones. I have heard that the Denon's midsection is just ever so slightly recessed, so take that into account.
The D7000's little brothers, the D5000 and D2000 are on the bassier side. The D7000 doesn't have the large bass hump of the other Denons. When I first got them, I really thought the bass was far too weak. I was used to a headphone that would kick you in the teeth with bass. However, as I got used to the D7000's signature, the bass really seemed to develop and become stronger. It's tight, super tight. I thought the Pro 750's had tight bass, but they sound flabby compared to the D7000's. It also has more of a focus on sub-bass as opposed to midbass. It's tight, quick, and surprisingly powerful. It takes getting used to if you are used to a bassier headphone, but it's worth the wait. The bass is absolutely glorious once you take the time to listen to them a bit. It doesn't interfere with the mids or highs, and is fantastically quick, but is still meaty.
Music Genres: (Click name to listen to an example song)
Metal is a very difficult genre for most audio gear. Personally, I believe metal overall has the *worst* mastering of any genre I've run into so far. Bands looking for that "wall of sound" effect take most of the true kick and power out of their music. The bass drum is an important foundation in metal, but it's hard to find a song that features a bass drum with any of its natural kick to it. When you do, it's very satisfying. Overall, the life that it brings out in music really helps metal. Bands like Xerath sound truly intense and epic, the harmonics between the synth, and the vocalist mixed with the intense and tribal low end sends shivers up my spine. Disturbed sounds forceful and domineering; the Denons reproduce the overdrive and clipping effects well, which was surprising. Agalloch has a certain musicality that is nice on the Denons. Some songs sound better than others, and the difference in quality from one song to the other is pretty noticeable. The ones that do sound good, however, sound very nice. That would be an issue with the album itself, however, not with the Denons. Cynic's newer stuff is a great example of what sounds good on the Denons. A mix of airy, well mixed metal, and hints of electronic.
I would like to say, however, that I do prefer my modified Fostex T50rp's for most metal, as I tuned it to have a very strong midrange. While this did make them better for metal, it also made them much less suited for pretty much every other genre.
Electronic music really shines with the Denons, and dubstep is really able to show off how good the bass really is. The three most important things for dubstep (in my opinion) are bass kick, bass speed, and cleanliness. The D7000's have all three. Separation is fantastic, and the bass is really satisfying, it almost has a tautness to it, much like a drum. Bassnectar is a great example of the tight bass the Denons have. Noisia's Machine Gun and Split the Atom show the intense detail the Denons are capable of.
For me, dnb has some of the best cleanliness out there. The cool calm notes with a fresh, clean background make me love the genre. Electrolyte's Ray of Light is a great example of this. Quick hits, chill notes, and very little excess noise. The Denons plus dnb is pretty much fatigue-free, and very relaxing.
Personally, I prefer gaming with speakers. Game audio and sounds are usually pretty compressed. Even so, the Denons are great for gaming. The soundstage gives you great positioning even without something like Dolby Headphone.
For classical, I'm mostly going to talk about one album. That album is Yo Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble (Beyond the Horizon). It's the most well mixed and mastered album I've ever come across by a nice margin. I have the non-remastered version, which I think is a bit better (it has much more dynamic range, almost too much). It's the album that I judge all headphones on. With the Denons, the album is as good as ever. Songs like Mountains are Far Away and Mohini are amazing and immensely emotional. Kor Arab is simply amazing on the Denons. Haunting, etheral, and utterly fantastic. The voice is like nothing I've ever heard before. And Yanzi with the Denons is flat out the *best* cello I've ever heard from any speakers or headphones. It's utterly soul-shattering.
With the nice mids, these do nicely with classic rock and country, much like metal. Johnny Cash's guitar is fantastic, very musical, warm, and lively. It's got a very comfortable and welcoming feeling to it. Definitely makes his music sound fantastic. However, it doesn't make his music any less depressing. Yes is a good combination of rock and psychedelic. Psychedelic is a precursor to modern electronic music, and so shares in a lot of the benefits with the Denons. Close to the Edge sounds great, even though that song is really meant to played live (it's an incredible experience). The drums hit with confidence, something rare in more modern music. Songs like Siberian Khatru sound amazing, each sitar twang can be heard, and felt. It's a very tactile song. Jethro Tull's Living In the Past is a great song, the guitar is meaty, and overall it's quite musical with the Denons as are songs like Bouree, and Aqualung. Emerson, Lake, and Palmer's Lucky Man is much like yes's songs in that it utilizes synths, which sound great. The guitar is replicated quite nicely, and I love the harmonics. Oh, and Billy Joel is awesome with the Denons. All of it. :D
I think the added warmth gives the Denons an advantage with classic rock and country over the Fostex's I mentioned earlier.
Solo acoustic guitar music is great because of how good the mix and master is. Being able to hear everything, and even the texture of the vibrating strings is a good feeling. My favorites are Michael Hedges and the California Guitar Trio. And for Indie, Bon Iver and Dad Rocks! are great on the Denons. Mount Modern (the song) sounds fantastic. Whats nice about the Denons with Indie is it benefits from the relatively small amount of coloration. It sounds very natural and acoustic, and the warmth ads to it nicely, making the music comforting and calm.
These are a great set of headphones. I'd recommend them most as a primary headphone because of how good they are with pretty much everything. A pair of the D7000's as a primary can with a few secondary specialty cans should fulfill almost anyone's needs. The combination of comfort, warmth, and quality make this a fantastic at-home can. The best I've owned or heard by far. I wouldn't use these as a portable can, however, even if you're simply taking it from place to place. The fact that they're so sensitive would make them a great portable can if it weren't for their size and lack of folding. I think these headphones are a steal for their price, and the fact that you can sometimes find them open-box for about $545 makes them an even better deal.
EDIT: I've been asked by quite a number of people what headphone stand I'm using. Just to save you guys some time, here is the stand:
It's originally designed as a hose rack, but works great as a headphone stand. I have two at the moment. :)
And please, if anyone has any more questions, do not hesitate to ask, I'd be happy to answer. :D
Edited by Taowolf51 - 4/5/12 at 6:57am