AV Peripherals and Systems Guide
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New Denon Headphones
Audio manufacturers have realized that consumers use headphones for a variety of purposes. This has led brands ranging from Sony to Monster to release products targeted at specific demographics. Following suite, Denon has introduced a total of eight headphones divided into four categories - Music Maniacs, Urban Ravers, Globe Cruisers and Exercise Freaks. As the title suggests, each category includes headphones intended for a specific purpose and to meet the needs of unique individuals.
The Music Maniac series is intended for audiophiles. Headphones included under this banner aim to provide a Flat EQ and seek to reproduce audio with the utmost fidelity possible. The flagship product from the Music Maniac series is the Denon AH-D7100.
Featuring 50mm drivers and plush leather cushioning, the AH-D7100 costs a pretty penny with its price of S$1699. One reason for the exorbitantly high pricetag may be the fact that mahogany wood has been used in the construction of the cabinet for the ear-cups so as to provide a natural, earthy tone to the audio.
For the price, one would expect unparalleled performance from the headphones. Upon trying the AH-D7100 we were not disappointed. The level of fidelity and attention to detail was quite amazing. Every inflection of Adele’s voice on Melt My Heart To Stone could be heard is complete detail. The mahogany ear-cups also ensured that the warmth of the song was almost perfectly captured.
Moving on to the noisy distortion of Everlong, we were surprised once again by the fidelity of the headphones. The cymbal crashes on the track shimmered with precision and were a joy to hear. In fact, we threw the dusbtep track Bangarang by Skrillex at the AH-D7100 just to see if it would falter. The synthesized bass modulation however was handled with an aplomb we have not yet heard from any other audio product.
Amazingly, the startling audio performance is achieved with just 25 Ohms of impedance. High end headphones often have a minimum impedance of 32 Ohms or higher, which makes them unsuitable for use without an amplification unit. However, the AH-D7100 with its lower impedance, can actually be used directly with your portable music player which should provide enough juice for the headphones to function. Obviously though, an amplifier is sure to boost performance.
Almost as an added bonus, the AH-D7100 benefits greatly from the Denon application which accompanies the Music Maniac series. It allows you to tune the headphones to your liking on the fly, something that can be used to compensate for low quality MP3 tracks.
A step down from the AH-D7100 is the Denon AH-D600. Similar to the flagship product, these headphones also feature 50mm drivers. However the mahogany ear-cups are missing which also brings down the price significantly to S$749. Audio performance was commendable but compared to the AH-D7100 but it was missing a certain je ne sais quoi. Definition of sound was present and the emotion of the songs we played was captured.
Rounding up the Music Maniac series is the AH-C400 which features balanced armature units instead of dynamic drivers. These headphones are intended to be the in-ear offering from Denon and are priced at S$499.
One look at the popularity of products such as Beats by Dr. Dre and you will realize that bass-heavy audio products are a profitable business. Keeping in mind that today’s youth heavily prioritize aesthetics and enjoy bass-heavy music, Denon has introduced the Urban Raver headphones.
This series is lead by the Denon AH-D400 headphones which sport 50mm drivers. The Impedance is 32 Ohms and the product also has an on-board amplifier to help power the sound. While the headphones might be tuned to emphasize lower frequency performance, in our opinion they did not veer as dangerously close to being completely bass-heavy as other headphones. Tracks such as Ratatat’s Loud Pipes and Tiesto’s Elements Of Life had a well defined groove with good levels of depth for the bass melodies.
Similarly, the distortion on tracks such as Show Me How To Live by Audioslave sounded heavy and menacing like they were supposed to. A slight sluggishness to audio was observed on Melt My Heart To Stone by Adele and the trebles were too rounded for our liking. But the distinctive warmth of tone we expected to hear on the track was still present.
In terms of aesthetics, the Denon AH-D400 is nowhere near as flashy as other competitors, such as Soul by Ludacris, but sedated looks are never a bad thing if you ask us. The headphones come with control knobs on the ear-cups, which provide a ring of electric blue when activated. Besides raising or lowering volume, you can also use the control knobs to operate the core functionality of your iPhone and other Apple devices.
Collaborating with Starkey, which produces hearing aids, Denon also includes the AH-C300 as part of its Urban Raver series. The partnership was intended to ensure high comfort levels for the in-ear headphones. However we just found the AH-C300 to be bulky and somewhat ugly. Personally, we found the fit to be a bit too eccentric but that might just be because we are traditionalists at heart. The device provides sound, courtesy of 11.5mm drivers.
Musical accompaniment while exercising has become common. For this purpose Denon has released the AH-W150. Sweat proof with an anti-microbial coating, this product is intended for people who are looking to have a musical soundtrack for their workout.
These headphones come with 11.5mm drivers and an around the neck design. Hooked ear buds ensure that the device stays in place when in use. When testing the product out, we noticed that the mids were quite muted. This negatively impacted tracks such as Melt My Heart To Stone from an audiophile’s perspective. But looking at it from the viewpoint of someone engaged in physical activity, we found that the lack of mids helped bring the beats encapsulated by the bass and trebles to the fore. Seeing that exercises like running are based on rhythm, emphasizing the tempo in audio reproduction for the AH-W150 is a smart move from Denon.
A sports based application will also be available for the Exercise Freak series.
Last but not least, we have the Globe Cruiser. As the name suggests, these headphones are targeted at frequent flyers or the business executive who always find themselves on the move. The particular products in this category come with Bluetooth connectivity along with Apt-X codecs to ensure quality audio. Digital Noise Cancelling capabilities have also been included to help drown out the drone of jet engines allowing you some modicum of comfort on long haul flights.
The AH-NCW500 features 40mm drivers and looks stylish with its silver finishing. Those that prefer in-ear versions can go for the AHW200 that sport 11.5mm drivers.
|Music Maniac||AH-D7100||S$1699||Early August 2012|
|Music Maniac||AH-D600||S$749||Early August 2012|
|Music Maniac||AH-C400||S$499||Early August 2012|
|Urban Raver||AH-D400||S$599||Early August 2012|
|Urban Raver||AH-C300||S$369||Early August 2012|
|Globe Cruiser||AH-NCW500||S$699||1st September 2012|
|Globe Cruiser||AH-W200||S$269||15th September 2012|
|Exercise Freak||AH-W150||S$199||1st September 2012|
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