Classic Meets Modern in a Denon Flagship Headphone
Denon is a Japanese electronics company that's been around since 1910 and produced the first cylinder audio media in Japan and the players to play them. Needless to say, they know a thing or two about audio. The AH-D9200 is Denon's flagship headphone, so my expectations are pretty high going into this review. Denon has specialized in digital audio technology since its very conception, so I'm pretty hopeful their experience and longevity as a company bodes well for these cans. Let's get to it!
- Incredible reference signature
- Classic design
- Premium and detailed build quality
- Wish they included a case or carrying pouch - no protection for the headphones included in package.
- Cables feel cheap
Materials, Quality, & Comfort
Opening the box, Denon makes it clear that they've been around for some time. Their boxes are stamped with their name and "Since 1910" underneath. It's a super-nice presentation: lifting the top cover of the lined box you'll see the 9200 headphones sitting nice and cozy on the fabric-lined insert. The headphones are sturdy and well-built. Each point of articulation is smooth and premium feeling. What stood out to me first is the stitching on the genuine leather padding. It has a vintage aesthetic to it, and I find myself really drawn to it. The underside of the headband has a criss-cross stitching pattern that adds to that tailor-made feel for these flagship cans.
The ear cups are plenty plush - and stylistically are similar to Audeze padding, with the contoured shaping being thicker in the back to angle the drivers down your ear canals. Mentioned in previous Audeze headphone reviews, we like when headphones design their ear pads this way due to the fact that your ears are not flat on your head (so neither should be your headphones). Flat ear padding directs the driver at the exterior of your ear, allowing the sound to bounce around before it eventually reaches your ear drum. Angled padding allows the driver to reach your ear drums much more efficiently with quicker response times.
The quality of the AH-D9200 headphones are elegantly displayed by the Bamboo ear cups. The wood is nicely textured, allowing for a natural and organic aesthetic with the brand neatly and accurately milled out in the center. Denon chose Japanese bamboo for its unique vibration dampening properties, and according to the company it produces natural and detailed sound that rivals a concert hall. We've reviewed other wooden ear cup designed headphones in the past, and materials matter. Wood has a very different but extremely pleasant sonic quality to it, and personally some of my favorite headphones incorporate wood into their design to influence the overall sound signature (see HIFIMAN HE-R10P Headphones).
Denon utilizes a durable diecast-aluminum frame for the headphone, which is incredibly strong and lightweight. The clean-silver pairs well with the black leather and bamboo, looking almost executive with an old-school flair. It's a nice look, and lends itself to the flagship quality that Denon is marketing here. Denon includes some nice and subtle detailing here, like including numbers on the back of the extension bar, so you can see your desired fit by number.
The comfort is superb. The headphones have a classic fit to them (as opposed to something like the Meze 99 Classics that have a neat elastic mechanism that hugs the head), but as they say, if it ain't broke... The pads provide enough cushion to eliminate pressure points, and the openings on the inside for your ears is standard size. I did have to position the headphones a bit to make sure my ears were fitting inside, as they are a very tall oval shape, however, it'll be just fine for most. I found myself listening to the D9200 with very little fatigue. Being a closed-back design, you'll be able to take these outside of the house too, so the overall ergonomics of the Denon D9200 are pretty versatile. I only wish they provided a case or bag for flagship-level headphones.
Comfort and Quality: Excellent
- Balanced; mid-range energy
- Lows have depth ; extension in the high frequencies, not harsh
- Natural and detailed signature
Also Sprach Zarathustra: Sonnenaufgang. No, I didn't just have a stroke. If you know, you know. And if you don't, you'll know it the moment you hear it. It's the quintessential opening piece to the classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Most people also don't know it's part of a larger piece by Richard Strauss called Also Sprach Zarathustra and not part of the original movie soundtrack. It was relatively obscure until Stanley Kubrick decided to use it in the iconic opening of his sci-fi masterpiece.
Fun Fact: Strauss’ piece was originally inspired by Nietzsche’s far less familiar book of the same name, which is perhaps most famous for including the infamous (and widely misunderstood) declaration that “God is dead.” Nietzsche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra is a philosophical novel about a fictionalized Zarathustra (the historical Zarathustra founded the religion of Zoroastrianism). Nietzsche’s Zarathustra is essentially a raisonneur for his own philosophy, which addresses the crisis of values that faced European society as the advance of science led people to doubt traditional religions and cultural norms.
This bombastic opening is exactly what I needed to get quickly acquainted with the 9200 headphones. The low rumblings of the bass really shows off the detail that resides in the lower frequencies. The variation in vibrato between the basses is clearly heard in the long, sustained notes. Each iteration of the fanfare becomes more powerful and that clarity extends to the subtle intonation differences between the trumpets. The energy is completely unhinged when the full orchestra comes in on the accents. Timpani is weighty and the soundstage is fully expressed on this track. Needless to say it's superb for a closed-back headphone.
Next in the lineup were some early Beatles to spice things up. Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! is one of my favorite raucous tracks from their earlier years (off Beatles for Sale). Despite being a mono recording, there is some great separation, at least vertically and front-to-back depth. Paul's rock vocals are certainly in the forefront, showing off the extension in the mids. The piano in this track usually gets missed or covered up in a lot of more consumer-marketed headphones, but the staccato pattern is easily heard in the Denons - another nod to that great detail.
I'm throwing a curve ball here: Will Smith: Gettin' Jiggy Wit It (I'm a '90s kid). That song is mixed phenomenally well. In the AH-D9200 headphones the bass is amazingly tight and punchy. You can really hear the depth of the low end in this track because there are lots of
noise gates - making the instrumentation sound precise and snappy. Pop and R&B are mixed with vocals in the forefront to begin with, and the Denons really show off the detail in the mid-range with this track. Vocals are never competing, and there is plenty of room in the soundstage for the other performances to shine. The highlight of this track is to show off the low end prowess of the headphones however, and despite being balanced, the bass has some great extension and depth.
Lastly, I need to hear how the headphones handle some rock guitars. Not all headphones handle chaos equally, and the song Beetlebum by Blur is nasty, grungy, and driving rock song with a myriad of guitar tones and intonations. The static in the distortion is almost textured, allowing the listener to almost reach out a take control of the pick on the guitar. When the drums kick in the soundstage suddenly expands, giving you the impression that the other band members appear out of nowhere - and even more so when the chorus pops in. I like that I am hearing plenty of space between the instruments, giving me the sense that these headphones are expansive and immersive at the same time.
Overall the Denon AH-D9200 headphones have a balanced flagship-quality sound. Incredibly resolute and offering some great mid-range energy, the headphones also have some great low-end depth and high-frequency extension, though never harsh.
- Richard Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra Tod Und Verklarung
- The Beatles: Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! (Beatles For Sale)
- Will Smith: Gettin' Jiggy Wit It (Big Willie Style)
- Blur: Beetlebum (Self-Titled)
Patented 50mm Free-Edge Nanofibre Drivers
"The AH-D9200 headphones feature unique, Japanese-made FreeEdge 50mm drivers. Built from materials chosen for rigidity and low mass, the unique FreeEdge drivers cancel out unwanted resonances in the diaphragm to provide detailed, accurate sound. The drivers are mounted on vibration-reducing engineered resin baffles. These soft, compliant surround materials make it easier for the drivers to move in response to the music signal without flexing or distorting, for the purest possible sound." -Denon
Focal is known for some very resolute beryllium dome drivers, resulting in extremely clear and detailed. They're great for listeners who live for a more analytical listening experience. The Stellias have a detailed, energetic, and forward sound, but I wouldn't call it bright. Being a closed-back headphone like the Denon, the sound is going to be closer to the ear than an open-back headphone, and comparatively the Stellia has a larger soundstage than the Denon AH-D9200. The Stellia has a smaller driver size (40mm compared to 50mm on the Denon), which ultimately helps the Denon in terms of perceived clarity at its price point, the Denon's simply can't compete with the superb tuning of the Focal Stellia. The Stellia boasts a frequency response from 5Hz to 40kHz (±3 dB) with a THD of 0.1% @ 1 kHz/100 dB SPL and a sensitivity of 106 dB SPL/1 mW @ 1 kHz. The low impedance of 35 Ohms makes the Stellia relatively easy to drive, including from portable audio sources. The Denon's have a sensitivity of 105 dB/mW and an impedance of 24 Ohms comparatively, making them more efficient to drive than the Stellia.
The HE-R10D are superb headphones. Despite their bulky appearance, they're actually incredibly lightweight and extremely comfortable to wear. The biggest difference with the Denon headphones is that the R10D's have a warm sound signature as opposed to the Denon's more balanced and detailed signature. The ear cup design aids in opening up the sound of the headphones, but it doesn't quite cut it as simulating a full-open back sound design. Like the D9200 headphones, the R10D provides plenty of energy and are both quite easy to drive. Note that the R10D headphones are single entry whereas the 9200 has your standard dual entry configuration. The HIFIMAN R10D also comes equipped with the BlueMini, HIFIMAN's Bluetooth adapter for the R10 series headphones, allowing you to listen to the headphones wirelessly with Bluetooth-compatible devices. If you're looking for a warmer sound signature with the option to go wireless, then the HIFIMAN HE- R10D makes a good alternative to the Denon AH-D9200.
In my testing session, I paired the Denon AH-D9200 headphones with the Naim Uniti Atom and a Premium Black Dragon Cable. Since the overall signature of the 9200 is a balanced reference sound, adding the Black Dragon helped to give my music a little more body, warmth, and musicality. Not that the Denon's were sterile to begin with, but there's just more perceived expression when adding the Black Dragon cable. A Silver Dragon cable would also be a good option for those wanting a bit more bite and energy from the 9200.
About Dragon Cables
Generally, stock audio cables are manufactured with subpar materials, metals with impurities, poor geometries, and an overabundance of layers to make them look and feel like a fire hose. Inconsistency and lack of quality control in stock cables can lead to poor sound quality and a veiled sound vs what the musician intended for you to hear and feel from the music. Dragon cables are handcrafted with the highest standards and made to order according to your specific needs.
At Moon Audio, we create a custom cable for you using the highest quality UP-OCC silver or copper conductors that can be manufactured. UP-OCC metals are void of impurities and are optimized for signal transfer and sound quality. We have one of the largest collections of audio and headphone connection options available online and we create limitless audio cable options depending on your specific gear and needs.
Great for (Genres): Most Genres - Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop are excellent.
The Denon AH-D9200 Headphones are some solid reference cans. The build quality and overall comfort level falls in line with the standard for a flagship-level headphone, and I'm a big fan of the classic-yet-touch-of-modern aesthetic. Along with the premium materials you also get a premium sound: balanced and detailed. Low end is extremely natural yet precise. The mids are energetic and the highs extensive, lending to a sound that will accurately reproduce the music just the way the artist and engineer intended. The Denon AH-D9200 Headphones don't get the credit they deserve for such an excellent sound. Priced at $1,599, it ain't cheap. But considering the price points for other flagship model headphones out there, it's a downright steal.
What's in the Box
- Detachable audio cable (x2)
- 3.5mm Connector (to Source)
- Quarter-Inch Connector (to Source)
- 3.5mm to 1/4-in adapter
- Microfiber Cloth
- Owner’s Manual
Denon AH-D9200 Headphone Open Boxing Video
Denon AH-D9200 Headphone Video Review
- Weight: 13.23 oz (375g)
- Driver Diameter: 50 mm
- Driver Type: Nanofiber FreeEdge
- Impedance: 24ohm
- Sensitivity: 105dB/mW
- Maximum Power input: 1.800mW
- Frequency response: 5-56.000Hz
- 3.0 m cable with Silver Plated 6.3 mm plug and 2x 3.5 mm plug (Headphone),
- 1.3 m cable with 3.5 mm plug and 2x 3.5 mm plug (Headphone),
- 3.5 mm to 6.3 mm headphone plug adapter