Denon’s original line of Foster 443742 variants in the D2000, D5000, and slightly different D7000 was one of the most recommended lines of headphones when it was in production. That contrasted the line that succeeded: the D600 and D7100, with a much less agreeable sound signature and higher distortion characteristics. But in late 2016, Denon announced the D7200, which people hoped would be a return to the 443742.
The Denon D7200 is a very handsome headphone and I like this look much more than the Fostex TH-X00 and E-MU Teak with the original Foster housing. It feels much less prone to breaking* than the infamous broken pin in the aforementioned Foster housings. The wooden cups are matte rather than shiny, which makes the D7200 look a little more subdued and mature, matching its more refined housing. The headband is quilted, which I’m not a huge fan of aesthetically, but I can see the quilted design being grippier on people’s heads. The D7200 also has 3.5mm jacks, so finding replacement cables for the D7200 won’t be a challenge at all should the original cable fail. There’s been some questioning whether or not the D7200 is a 443742 driver. It does look pretty similar but I can’t confirm beyond that.
The D7200 was pretty fun at first listen—they have a lot of bass, more than the TH-X00 from memory. But my first mistake was using it with a bass heavy EDM song for my first track. When I switched to a more midrange-focused song, its problems showed. They’re really lacking in upper midrange. It’s not unlistenable by a long shot but they definitely do sound pretty distant. The D7200’s wonky sound signature keeps it from being all that reasonable of a main headphone for most people, but I could see the case for it being a complementary headphone to another flagship headphone.
The D7200 is a lot like the Fostex biocellulose headphones in that they have a sub bass boost over the midbass. This makes for a fun subwoofer effect, but rather strangely, the midbass impact isn’t particularly strong. It’s also not the cleanest bass, occasionally muddling up during complicated passages. That’s not to say it’s outright muddy; compared to a Beyerdynamic DT770 or even Sony Z1R, the D7200 sounds cleaner. I could use a bit less bass overall because the D7200 is incredibly bassy; anyone looking to buy the D7200 needs to know that they seem to be catered more to bassheads than anyone else.
My biggest problem with the Fostex TH900 and to a lesser extent, the TH-X00, is that they both have dipped low mids which really messes up male vocal and low instrument tonality. It makes them sound too thin, which sounds incredibly unnatural. The D7200 seems to have noticeably less of this trait, which is very welcome. However, past about 1kHz, the upper midrange really takes a dive. Everything sounds distant and muted. I didn’t notice this all that much with bass heavy electronic music, but when vocals are added to the mix, it’s very, very obvious. It actually vaguely reminded me of the Elear, except less thick-sounding so it didn’t sound like a blanket was over the midrange. Still, it’s hard for me to imagine listening to midrange-heavy music with the D7200 for long periods of time unless someone specifically likes severely dipped midrange.
Treble is seen as a bit of an issue with the TH900 and TH-X00. They both have a boost in the mid treble which some, like me, may consider harsh. The D7200, however, doesn’t have that trait. Actually, if anything the D7200 could use more treble. They also could really use more air because they sound quite closed in. They almost sound veiled because of how dipped the treble is relative to the bass and low/middle midrange.
I think the D7200 is a really fun headphone with certain types of music so it’d make a great complementary headphone to something like a Sennheiser HD800, but at $1000 new in the US, it’s a hard sell. It’s a lot of money for something that really doesn’t sound technically better than the $400 TH-X00—it just has a more agreeable sound signature. The ZMF Atticus is also $1000 new and is meant to be a complement to another high end headphone, but they’re more of a lush sound rather than the D7200’s bassy sound. And one can easily find a used TH900 for $1000, but I feel like the TH900 has more problems than the D7200. If the D7200 does ever drop to half its MSRP, it may make a compelling option for those who want an upgraded Beats Solo 2 or maybe a more sane version of the Focal Elear.
*Apparently it just feels sturdy but doesn’t actually hold up. This particular D7200 has actually broken, according to its owner. He’s also been unable to get it fixed because as of November 2017, Denon’s repair contractor doesn’t have parts to fix the D7200.