If you're familiar with Denon's outstanding headphones, and wondered how on Earth they could be bettered, we've got some news for you. After months of waiting we've been sent a glistening pair of Denon's new flagship headphones -- the £800 AH-D7000.
These cans are the epitome of luxury, with a precisely engineered closed-back enclosure of mahogany, genuine leather earcups, a lightweight magnesium frame, and a ball-bearing-mounted adjustable headband.
This is much the same as the D5000s, as are some of the specifications: 50mm Neodymium magnet, 1,800mW maximum input, frequency response of 5Hz-45kHz, 3m of 7N-OFC cabling, and a low impedance of 25ohms. The D7000s have a slightly increased sensitivity of 108dB/mW, however, compared to the D5000's 106dB/mW, helping to yield a marginally louder output.
Now it should be pointed out that these aren't headphones for your weedy 128Kbps MP3s or DAB radios. They're at-home hi-fi headphones, requiring a decent hi-fi amplifier or headphone amp. Yes they'll work with your iPod's headphone output if you use a 6.3mm-to-3.5mm adaptor for the Denons' 6.3mm plug, but it's akin to trying to drive a Bugatti Veyron with a Ford Ka's engine -- you'll move, but you might as well not bother.
So far we've been able to give the D7000s about 50 hours of burn-in, so their voice could still change ever so slightly. But over the D5000s they have a slightly tighter upper bass, and an even cleaner, brighter, more transparent high-end.
Listening to some Eva Cassidy, the D7000s so far seem to yield a more enjoyable, more detailed treble, with noticeable improvements over the D5000s in terms of detail, without becoming at all shrill. Everything remains beautifully tight and relentlessly powerful and clean, and Denon's signature bass performance is still present. Some drum 'n' bass from Pendulum still sounded as epic through these as through the D5000s, but with a little less of the 'boominess' the D5000s were occasionally criticised for.
They're brutal at highlighting the discrepancies of poorly encoded audio, and ideal for spotting poor mixing in a recording. They're also remarkably open-sounding -- not quite to HD 650 or levels, but terrific for closed headphones. And they're a little more snug to the head than the D5000s, which to us always felt just a tad too gentle on the skull. Though again, they're not as cranium-hugging as the 650s.
We'll have our full review very soon, and we're very excited to have a Woo Audio 2 headphone amp on the way from the US, for those of you curious to hear about the synergy between these two models.
For now, enjoy over the next few pages our gallery of hands-on photos, comparisons to the D5000s and our favourite physical features of these extremely promising new headphones. They'll be available from October.
Feel free to ask questions in the dedicated D7000 thread in our forums. We'll do our best to answer while we've got the cans in-house. -Nate Lanxon
The glossy finish and golden lettering emphasise the luxury of the D7000s.
The frame of the D7000s, including the pivoting earcup bracket, are made from robust but lightweight magnesium.
Not only does the bracket pivot, but it allows the earcup to pivot, too.
Both earcups are extremely soft and comfortable, thanks to generous padding and genuine leather.
Soft leather also encases the magnesium head support.
Unlike the D5000s, which had a 3.5mm plug and a screw-on 6.3mm adaptor, the D7000s feature a native 6.3mm plug -- gold-plated, of course.
While the oxygen-free cabling on the inside appears to have remained unchanged since the D5000s, the Elastomer casing feels softer, and is apparently less prone to tangling -- something we suffered from a little over the last year with the D5000s.
A slightly tighter grip on the skull helps block out a little extra ambient noise, and gives a more snug fit. Hopefully this won't increase 'sweaty-ear syndrome', but we'll discover that during our full review.
Side-by-side with their younger brothers: the D7000s, left, and the D5000s. Notice how much closer together the earcups are kept on the D7000s.
Finally, the D7000s beside the audiophile's favourites, the Sennheiser HD 650s.