Headphones Guide

Denon AHD-7100 Headphones review

Denon AHD-7100 Headphones - The Sound of Mahogany

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Launch SRP S$1699

Overall rating 7.5/10
Design:
6.5
Performance:
8.5
Features:
8
Value:
6.5
THE GOOD
Mahogany ear-cups
Warm tonal characteristics
In-line, three-button control pod
THE BAD
Highs lack brightness
Extremely loose fit
Expensive


Performance and Scores

Quality Audio?

As always, we thoroughly tested out the audio capabilities of the Denon AHD-7100 with the help of our MP3 and CD lossless test tracks. At an earlier launch event, we were somewhat impressed by the product's initial impressions it made upon us. Now that we've had time, we will be delving into every minute detail with regards to the sound reproduction of the headphones.

Please note that all files were played from a computer. While the low impedance of the product does not necessitate an amplifier, we tested the headphones both with and without an amplifier (Audinst HUD-MX1).

MP3 Testing

Adele’s Melt My Heart To Stone has become the default starting track for our testing procedures at HardwareZone. The pop hit is an excellent track to determine the treble and mid performance of an audio product thanks to the lead, female vocals and the reverb drenched instruments. The Denon AHD-7100 gets off to a good start and accurately captures the warmth of the song, which other headphones such as the Audio Technica ATH-W3000ANV failed to deliver. The overall melody is beautifully rendered, although if we nitpick, the organ parts could do with a bit more definition. Trebles could also have been rendered with more clarity.

Moving on to Sail On Soothsayer, the lack of definition for mids and treble we experienced with the previous track mars the performance for this song. Distortion sounded sluggish and we expected better clarity. Additionally the highs also sounded slightly muted. Finally, the soundstage for the headphones was a bit constricted making the delivery have a strong central channel. This led to listening fatigue being a problem after repeated play throughs. Don’t get us wrong, performance on the whole with this Buckethead track was good enough to merit a high score thanks to solid overall audio. But taking into consideration that the product is intended to be a high-end headphone, it failed to wow us. From our prior experiences, both the Audio Technica ATH-W3000ANV with its bright tonal characteristics and the Beyerdynamic T90 with its fidelity to sound performed better on this track.

Seeing that the AHD-7100 is fitted with 50mm drivers, bass performance should be solid. For Elements Of Life by Tiesto, the headphones perform well with the lower registers. The bass lacks a smidgen of definition, but this characteristic actually helps deliver the atmosphere of the track. Where the Denon headphones falter is in terms of soundstage. Like with Sail On Soothsayer, the constricted soundstage takes away from the enjoyment of the song. 

The last stop on our MP3 testing track list is Hotel California by The Eagles. The song was rendered with good warmth, but it did not possess the brightness required to make the intricate acoustic guitar really shine through. Instead, this brightness was delivered perfectly in an balanced manner by the Beyerdynamic T90. The Denon's loose definition for bass, while good for Elements Of Life, detracts from an overall balanced mix in this case. A good transient response helps dutifully represent the tone of the alternate percussions, which sounded adequately lifelike. 

 

CD Lossless Testing

While all our MP3s are encoded as 320Kbps bitrate versions and are thorough enough to determine the worth of regular audio products, high end headphones get a more extensive examination. For this purpose, we bring out our CD Lossless suite.

Fanfare For Louis was rendered well. The natural characteristics of the mahogany wood probably helped replicate the warm tone required for this track. The melody of the piece was done justice and the headphones handled the volume swells with some ease. The good pacing for this track along with the tonal characteristics of the Denon AHD-7100 suited this track well and made this the high point of our CD loseless suite testing session.

We followed up Fanfare For Louis with the theme from Cutthroat Island. The headphones continued with their impressive performance by ensuring the rhythm of the track was done justice. However, on this particular piece we found some of the delicate, overlying melodies to sound subdued and lost in the overall mix. Some of the highs lacked the required sparkle which led us to mark the performance down slightly.

Performance continued its downward trajectory on the last track from our CD testing suite in the shape of Romeo & Juliet No:13, Dance of the Knights by Prokofiev. The loose bass experienced during our MP3 testing segment reared its ugly head once more and decreased the enjoyment of the low registers for this composition. The violin pieces of the composition also lacked brightness, which the AHD-7100 was unable to reproduce with its warm tonal characteristics. 

Denon AHD-7100  - Performance Report Card
MP3 Testing Score
Melt My Heart to Stone - Adele  9.0
Sail on Soothsayer - Buckethead  8.5
Elements of Life - Tiesto  8.5
Hotel California - The Eagles  8.5
CD Testing Score
 Cutthroat Island  8.5
 Fanfare for Louis  9.0
 Dance Of The Knights No:13, Romeo & Juliet  8.0