(I know this review is pretty late seeing as how the new line of Denon headphones is almost out. I still hope this review is of some use to people, seeing as how there will still be a lot of old Denons going around. First review on Head-Fi...here goes)
Let me start off by saying that I am not a sound engineer, nor am I a musician (I'm a vocalist but I have never put the voice to any good use >.<). I am just a man with a passion for music. I suppose I can thank my dad for that, as he started introducing me to all the classics of his era when I was very young, and before I was even aware of the more modern artists within my own generation. Zeppelin, The Stones, The Eagles, Queen, oh yeah...he pretty much succeeded in making me a classic rock enthusiast by the age of 7. What I am trying to say folks, and I apologize if I went off topic, is that I am just an 'everyman'trying to give my insight to a community that has been so good to me about helping me make informed decisions. If my criticisms are less than perfectly accurate, please don't crucify me.
This love of music has lasted throughout my whole life, but it wasn't until just recently that I have had the expendable income to afford audiophile equipment in order to more thoroughly enjoy it. While my first audiophile headphones were some cheap IEM's while I was deployed to Afghanistan, it was from that moment I was hooked and the rest was history. As of now I own the Denon AH-D 5000's (first over ears), the AH-D 7000's, and the Sennheiser HD 598's powered by a Fiio E9&E7 DAC/amp combo (that I plan to upgrade soon).
Now let's get down to business! I bought my all my headphone's used, but when the AH-D 7000 came in someone was actually thoughtful enought to hold on to the box and I got to experience the 'unboxing' of a headphone for the first time. The box's presentation is of the same simple elegance as the headphone itself. Nothing but black leather on top with Denon in gold lettering and upon opening the headphone is presented in a bed of burgundy silk type material. After owning the AH-D 5000 for 8 months, I wasn't surprised to see that the D7000 borrowed from the same basic design. The headband is covered with very soft, comfortable leather. I did not feel any clamping force when I put them on but as far as I'm concerned that's a good and bad thing. These cans leak a lot of sound. So much to the point that they may as well be open cans. Maybe just a 'little' clamping pressure would help make a better seal with the 'pleather' pads. I also have a tendency to want to head bang a little when listening to the Denon's (they are VERY fun cans) and it is so loose that they almost fall off my head sometimes. I also have a pretty big dome, so I can only imagine people with smaller heads. The wood cups look generally the same as well. The D7000's just have that waxy finish that makes them a little sexier and they also look to be a bit more red in color than the D5000's. The 'pleather' ear pads are exactly the same as well. It still amazes me just how close they are to real leather. Most people in a blind test would never be able to tell the difference.
But how do they sound? The first word that comes to mind is 'dynamic'. They still very much have that same house sound as it's other Denon brothers, but everything sounds more smooth and refined. As soon as I pressed play I immediately felt the sensation that more effort was put into smoothing out the over exaggerated peaks of the D5000 and bring the mids and sound stage out a bit more. In a way, Denon did succeed. But, despite the effort, the AH-D 7000's still sound very far from neutral. Whether this is good or bad is up to you. I personally enjoy the how the bass and treble is presented and despite being somewhat forward, both ends of the frequency are very articulate and clean. Allow me to be more specific:
Bass: The lower frequencies is still very much the focal point of the D7000's (surprise!) and they easily have the best bass I have heard out of a headphone. Coming from the D5000, the D7000 has noticeably tighter bass and the faster electronic tracks in my collection such as "Adagio for Strings" by Tiesto respond by having even more detailed and rhythmic beats. It still retains some of that flabby, vibrating but it is not as bad as the D5000's. It is true, the drivers have been upgraded, but both Denons suffer from lack of dampening which still results in this effect. Despite this, fans of the D5000 will be pleased to here that not one ounce of that famous bass impact has been sacrificed and it still hits like a ton of bricks. Overall I would call the quality of the bass excellent and very detailed, although I still think the markl mods would make it even better.
Mids: The mids are still admittedly recessed compared to my HD 598's. Quiet, intimate acoustic songs like "Cocoon" by Jack Johnson are shockingly detailed but still has an overall warmness to it I don't think should be there. This is an example of how the the bass can sometimes bleed into the mids. Maybe this can be fixed with some EQ but I have never tried. By no means am I saying the mids are bad, they just lack the same forward presence of the bass and treble and yet it still retains all the detail of both.
Treble: This is an area where I do not think the D7000 gets enough credit. Too often I feel the D7000 is written off as a bassheads wet dream and the astonishing peaky treble goes unnoticed. The Denon D7000's give a lot of 'wow' factor to vocalists with exceptional range. Tracks such as "Walking on Clouds" by Tiesto give me goosebumps every time when it gets to about 5 minutes in and Kirsty Hawkshaw shows off her tremendous singing voice. However, when I say 'peaky treble' it can be both a good and a bad thing. I do not feel as though these headphones would pair well with a particularly bright amp. Too much more treble and you ears will bleed. The treble is also a bit unforgiving when it comes to low quality tracks and they can come off as being harsh. All in all, I do love how the treble sounds on these cans and I think this area shows the biggest improvement over the harsh and sometimes shrieky D5000's. It retains all the range of the D5000's but just smoothed out a lot.
Sound stage: Well being a closed headphone, it is not going to give you the same sound stage as a good Sennheiser. That being said, I would describe the sound stage as being small but accurate. The size of it does not come anywhere close to the wide open sound of my HD 598's but instruments are separated very well. While istening, I feel as though the sound I am hearing is a result of several instruments and effects being layered into an orchestra of music. It is only on the lower quality recordings that I get that 'wall of sound' effect. With the bigger pads, I do feel as though their sound stage would increase in size so I think either the Lawton mods or the J$ pads would be a great improvement. I have read on many threads, that for a closed headphone, the D7000's have a big sounstage, although I cannot personally verify this as the D5000's and D7000's are the only closed headphones I have owned. Regardless, I still thought it was worth mentioning.
All in all, the D7000's are my favorite headphone to date, despite some of the criticisms. Maybe it comes down to personal preference. I am somewhat of a basshead (although not as much as others) and I love electronic music. Perhaps it could also be my lack of experience with other headphones. I have in fact only owned 3 pairs of full sized headphones, other than the various
ear buds, IEMs and surround speakers I have owned. All this is true but, in the end, I KNOW what good music sounds like, and the AH-D 7000's make good music. I still think if Denon/Fostex could make some bigger stock ear pads and bring the mids out more they could have a truly standout product. Ultimately though, these are just nit picks out of what is otherwise an incredible
Overall rating: 91/100
Edited by goropeza - 6/17/12 at 3:21pm