A warm tone, which is a characteristic of mahogany wood, was the defining feature of the Denon AHD-7100’s performance. This particular nuance colored all the rendering of audio through both our MP3 and CD testing suites. For tracks such as Adele’s Melt My Heart To Stone and Fanfare For Louis, the warmth helped to deliver quality sound, staying faithful to the mix as well as capturing the emotions and essence of the tracks.
However when the headphones were tasked with handling bright highs, they faltered. The sparkling treble melodies of Hotel California lacked verve. In the same vein, bass lacked that extra bit of definition which resulted in the low registers failing to impress fully.
While the performance of the AHD-7100 may not have been flawless, nonetheless it is still a good sounding product. Unfortunately the rendering of sound does not match up to the headphone’s status as a premium headphone. Denon has positioned the AHD-7100 as the flagship product from their Music Maniac series targeted at serious audiophiles. The headphones also have a correspondingly high price-tag of S$1699 to match this billing. Taking these facts into account, the blemishes and stutters in performance have added weightage and take on extra relevance.
As mentioned during our earlier breakdown of the features and design of the product, the AHD-7100 has a relatively low impedance of 25 Ohms. This implies that the headphones can be adequately powered by portable music players and smartphones. However, audiophiles generally prefer to plug their headphones in to dedicated amplifiers making this design feature redundant. Perhaps Denon was trying to make the headphones a plausible option to be paired with your iPod or iPhone and used on your daily commute? The fact that an in-line control pod was included in the design further lends credibility to this notion. If that is truly the case, the AHD-7100 severely lacks 'portability' making it ill suited for the task. The fit of the Denon unit is extremely loose and it cannot be folded into a smaller bundle for transport.
The idea of a pair of top quality cans which can be carried around in your bag has not really been implemented before and perhaps if Denon had explored this avenue fully, the AHD-7100 would be a more exciting prospect. At present though, the AHD-7100 neither meets the standards expected of a high-end headphone, nor does it seem like a smart option to pair with your portable music player.
We generally judge top-tier headphones on their premium feel with respect to design, pristine audio quality and great comfort. The bottom line is that the Denon AHD-7100 fails to deliver to satisfaction for some of the individual categories and hence, is unable to justify is S$1699 price-tag. But since evaluation of headphones and audio is an extremely subjective process, you are free to try out the headphones yourself and see if they are up your alley.