Denon AH-D7000 review: Denon AH-D7000 headphones

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4.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

4.5 stars 1 user review

The Good Exceptional sound quality; prowess with a huge array of musical styles; almost unrivalled clarity across the board; great design and level of comfort.

The Bad Not so much better than the previous model that they warrant such a price increase.

The Bottom Line The older D5000s put the icing on the cake, but the D7000s add the artistic decoration to turn that cake into a masterpiece. At £800 they're very pricey, but they're also the most exciting headphones of the year, excelling with rock, folk, acoustic, electronic and metal alike

8.8 Overall

Denon's AH-D5000 headphones were previously our favourite pair of cans since the Sennheiser HD 650s. Now they've got an official successor in the form of the Denon AH-D7000s.

These �800 monsters were, for us, the most exciting headphones of the year, and after over a month of testing and daily listening, we're ready to sing their praises. They're on sale now.

Design
The D7000s give an even higher level of luxury than their D5000 brothers -- if that's possible -- with glossy varnished mahogany enclosures, golden lettering than doesn't wear off over time, and larger, softer leather earcups. They're also a little more snug than the last version, clinging to the head better.

Although unchanged internally, cabling has been improved. The D7000's Elastomer cable is less prone to tangling and more resistant to being repeatedly packed away and unpacked. Good news, because our in-house D5000 cabling is looking battered these days.

Of course one of the main selling points of the D5000s was the use of real wood to house the drivers. This appears largely unchanged here -- they exhibit the same natural warmth that the wood provided in the previous model.

What hasn't changed much to look at is the padded leather headband, which still extends delicately on ball bearings. We found them extremely comfortable, with looser clasp to the skull than the HD 650s, but more so than the D5000s. They're one of the most comfortable pairs of headphones we've ever used for hours of perpetual listening, beating the Audio Technica, Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic models we've become so fond of over the years.

Features
Inside these lightweight enclosures are microfibre diaphragms, and behind them a 50mm Neodymium magnet. Denon claims the D7000s feature more powerful circuitry than before, enhancing the magnetic power of the drive unit by just over 10 per cent.

Many other specifications remain largely unchanged. The cans can handle a 1,800mW maximum input, respond to frequencies between 5Hz-45kHz, feature 3m of 7N-OFC cabling, and offer a very low impedance of 25ohms. But they have a slightly increased sensitivity of 108dB/mW, however, compared to the D5000's 106dB/mW, helping to yield a marginally louder output.

What's interesting about these headphones is their impedance, or the amount of power required by an amplifier to drive them. Such a low impedance means they're more easily handled by portable players such as iPods, whereas more power-hungry cans really should be used with a headphone amplifier of some kind.

Performance
As such, we've tested these headphones with our usual reference amplifier (coincidentally also a Denon), and a hand-built Woo Audio 2 valve-based headphone amp -- which, actually, is typically more suitable for higher impedance headphones. Our musical choices came from both CD and Apple Lossless-encoded files from an iPod classic, via an Arcam rDock.

The first thing we noticed was the tighter, slightly less boomy bass. These cans have a hugely extended low-end response, and to accompany it is an even more transparent, open and detailed treble. A hi-hat rudiment during Ingrid Michaelson's Starting Now was just that bit clearer through the D7000s -- just that little bit more detailed and more believable.

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