DENON OVER-THE-EAR HEAD­PHONES

These $1699 over-the-ear­phones with a closed back de­sign nearly make them noise-can­celling

SoundMag - - Contents - WRIT­TEN By Scott Schumer

Denon was founded in 1910, orig­i­nally man­u­fac­tur­ing sin­gle-sided disc records and gramo­phones. The com­pany first be­gan pro­duc­ing hi-fi au­dio com­po­nents in 1971 and in­tro­duced its first head­phone line in 1990. Fast­for­ward through a num­ber of merg­ers, and the Denon+Marantz Group has now been ac­quired by Sound United, LLC--which also owns Polk and De­fin­i­tive Tech­nol­ogy. This just hap­pened in Fe­bru­ary, so we will have to wait and see what this merger means for the di­rec­tion of the com­pany.

To­day I’m au­di­tion­ing the AH-D7200 over-the-ear head­phones, com­par­ing them with my ref­er­ence Sennheiser HD 800 S model and a few other head­phones I had on hand that oc­cupy sim­i­lar price points and seek to ful­fil a sim­i­lar use case-i.e., au­dio­phile-level lis­ten­ing en­joy­ment. My setup from source to ear starts with 24/192 hi-res FLAC files played back via the VLC player on my 2015 MacBook Pro, com­ing out of the head­phone out­put into one of my two preamps. One is solid-state, and the other is tube-based. Each preamp then feeds sig­nals that main­tain 15 to 25,000 Hz (solid state) or 5 to 60,000 Hz (tube) straight to the head­phones.

The AH-D7200 is a closed-back, over-the-ear de­sign with 100 per­cent nat­u­ral wal­nut earcups. The alu­minium head­band is cov­ered in sheep­skin on the top and leather on the bot­tom, where con­tact with the top of your head hap­pens. Leather ear pads cover mem­ory foam, which con­forms to your ears and the sides of your head. These cans weigh in at 385 grams, which felt solid but never over­whelm­ing. The ad­justable head­band uti­lizes ball bear­ings for smooth oper­a­tion, and num­bered mark­ings al­low you to check, note, and re­set to your favourite po­si­tion. Such at­ten­tion to de­tail is great.

Denon uses a dou­ble-sided, high-qual­ity, cloth­wrapped cop­per head­phone ca­ble with a fixed quar­ter-inch in­put con­nec­tor. If you want to plug these di­rectly into a de­vice that has an eighthinch mini socket, you will need to pro­vide your own adapter. There are no con­trols or mi­cro­phone for mak­ing/tak­ing calls. Fre­quency re­sponse is listed as 5 to 55,000 Hz with 105-dB sen­si­tiv­ity (dB/mW). The AH-D7200 em­ploys unique Denon­de­signed 50mm dy­namic FreeEdge nanofiber driv­ers. Im­ped­ance is only 25 ohms, which means that they will get plenty loud--so go slow when first try­ing these!

I lis­tened to a va­ri­ety of tracks from gen­res in­clud­ing clas­si­cal, elec­tronic trance, jazz, R&B, rock, and rock­a­billy. Here are my ob­ser­va­tions on a se­lect few: On “Walk of Life” from Dire Straits’ Money for Noth­ing al­bum, you can her the chiff of the Ham­mond or­gan per­cus­sion in the in­tro, which demon­strates the AH-D7200’s tran­sient re­sponse-very nice! This track is in­ter­est­ing in that there is plenty of space be­fore the drums come in, but then we are in full-tilt-bozo wall-of-sound mode, which can chal­lenge any head­phone’s abil­ity to re­solve all the dense midrange fre­quen­cies. Lesser head­phones can’t han­dle such mixes too well. These Denon head­phones were up to the task--they pro­vided plenty of punch on the bot­tom and were silky smooth on top.

Next up was “I Say a Lit­tle Prayer” from Aretha Franklin’s Aretha’s Gold. The lead vo­cals are front and cen­tre, with the back­ing vo­cals and all the in­stru­ments placed just “so.” Here the D7200’s imag­ing was im­pres­sive. As with many very good to great head­phones, you don’t just sense right and left, but you hear an im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing right there in front of the per­for­mance. Mix­ing things up a bit, I put on the Hans Zim­mer’s In­cep­tion sound­track-- par­tic­u­larly, the track en­ti­tled “Mom­basa.” The mas­sive bot­tom-end of this track pro­duced some dis­tor­tion in the D7200. I quickly switched to my ref­er­ence Sennheiser HD 800 S head­phones, and they were able to han­dle it. Now, the HD 800 S is an open-back de­sign at 300 ohms, while the AH-D7200 is closed-back and only 25 ohms; so, I thought that maybe ad­just­ing my gain struc­ture might make a dif­fer­ence. I was able to lower the dis­tor­tion some­what but at the ex­pense of some dy­namic range and im­pact. I should also point out that the HD 800 S is 60 per­cent more ex­pen­sive. My con­clu­sion? Not many tracks have this level of low fre­quen­cies (it’s a great track for sub­woofer demos), and the open-back de­sign and higher im­ped­ance of the Sennheis­ers make quite a dif­fer­ence.

How about some jazz to cool down those driv­ers? I went with “Con­tin­uum” from Jaco Pas­to­rius’s The Es­sen­tial Jaco Pas­to­rius-which has, as one would ex­pect, plenty of bass. Here the AH-D7200 per­formed well ... as­ton­ish­ingly well, in fact. If you don’t have this FLAC file, I highly rec­om­mend it. The whole al­bum is won­der­ful, and I lis­tened to all of it through the Denons. It sounded amazing.

Com­par­i­son and Com­pe­ti­tion

I was able to get the Bey­er­dy­namic T5p 2nd Edi­tion, the Ul­tra­sone Sig­na­ture DJ, and the OPPO PM-1 for com­par­i­son with the Denon AH-D7200. The Bey­er­dy­namic and Ul­tra­sone models are closed-back like the Denon, and the use case and price point of the open-back, pla­nar-mag­netic PM-1 are so sim­i­lar that I con­sider it a fair com­par­i­son. I lis­tened to the same tracks (and more) as listed above, and here are the dif­fer­ences and sim­i­lar­i­ties: The Bey­er­dy­namic head­phones are very nat­u­ral, and I very much like the over­all sonic sig­na­ture they present. Per­for­mance is very close to that of the Denon head­phones, so I would have to say this comes down to user pref­er­ence. I might sug­gest lean­ing to­ward the Beyer if you like more thump and the Denon if you are more into the space in be­tween. The Ul­tra­sone and OPPO head­phones were each a bit more de­tailed and were able to re­pro­duce ex­tremely low bass fre­quen­cies a bit bet­ter than the Denon, but I would have to say they were all tied when it came to imag­ing--so this de­ci­sion may come down to com­fort, look, and feel. For­tu­nately, you re­ally can’t make a bad choice among these four.

Con­clu­sion

The over­all sound qual­ity, look, and feel of the Denon AH-D7200 are very good. As stated ear­lier, I think it comes down to your pref­er­ences and how com­fort­able these are on your head. I cer­tainly un­der­stand and sup­port hav­ing a closed-back set of head­phones; and, if this is what’s driv­ing your de­ci­sion, I would rec­om­mend the AH-D7200.

Price: $1699 Source: Home The­atre Re­view

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