Denon AH-D9200Denon AH-D9200
Denon AH-D9200

Denon AH-D9200: Closed monitor reference headphones

Denon AH-D9200 is a closed monitor reference model that heads the brand’s line of full-size headphones and embodies advanced technologies and more than 50 years of Denon experience accumulated in the development of various types of headphones. The main part of the flagship is the 50 mm FreeEdge wideband drivers, the membranes of which are made of nanofiber and paper. This material has exceptional lightness and rigidity, which has a positive effect on response speed. This ensures excellent damping and eliminates parasitic resonances, since such a diaphragm is less susceptible to distortion and guarantees precise piston movement. The drivers are mounted on special ring panels that minimize vibrations.

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The body of the new product is made from a special type of moso bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis), which is sometimes called tortoiseshell bamboo. According to the developers, this type of wood has ideal acoustic properties – low weight, optimal rigidity and excellent damping properties. Headphones with housings made of this material are distinguished by a particularly realistic and expressive sound signature. The diaphragm with a diameter of 50 mm is made of nanofiber, like the AH-D 7200 model, but improved. The cups also have metal inserts to which die-cast aluminum holders are attached. The outer side of the aluminum headband frame of the Denon AH-D9200 model is covered with genuine sheepskin, and the inner side is trimmed with stitched faux leather. The headband adjustment mechanism, which uses a ball bearing system and has two metal guides with fixed numbered positions, deserves special attention. Comfortable, removable ear pads are filled with foam (with memory effect) and covered with soft but durable artificial leather.

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The Denon AH-D9200 headphones are equipped with a detachable three-meter reversible cord, manufactured in Japan to Denon specifications. The cable conductors use highly purified OFC copper (7N), which transmits the signal with minimal loss. The 6.3mm plug’s body is made from precision machined metal and features a decorative copper ring insert with the company logo. The cord is attached to the cups using 3.5 mm connectors.

The flagship boasts a high sensitivity of 105 dB and a wide frequency range from 5 Hz to 56 kHz, which is important when listening to Hi-Res formats. The impedance of the model is only 24 Ohms. The low impedance makes it easier to select an amplifier and allows the Denon AH-D9200 to work even with portable devices. Convenience and comfort during long-term listening is ensured by an excellent, well-thought-out design. The ear pads are made from a combination of memory foam and finely crafted leather, while the headband is made from lightweight, durable aluminum combined with soft genuine leather for a comfortable listening experience.

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The Denon AH-D9200 over-ear headphones are supplied with two cables: a three-meter oxygen-free copper cable with a 6.3 mm jack connector for home use, and a 1.3 m cable with a 3.5 mm mini-jack connector for use with portable devices. A luxurious storage case and cleaning cloth help keep your headphones in tip-top condition. The headphones are hand-assembled from start to finish by a single craftsman at Denon’s Shirakawa factory.

If you were expecting something beyond innovative or pretentious, then I will have to disappoint you. No impressive boxes made of expensive wood. There are no stunning passport data or shocking design touches – the most expensive models, with the exception of a couple of external differences and numbers in the characteristics, are almost an exact copy of the 7200s. But the new products, by the very fact of their appearance, express a typically Japanese approach to creating something new: take the best and use it to create something that today can be considered an ideal. And this philosophy implies special attention to detail.

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The Denon AH-D9200 has only a few of them. Magnetic systems use a unique alloy of neodymium, boron and iron. It made it possible to make magnets with induction in excess of 1 Tesla, which not only led to an increase in the sensitivity of the drivers, but also gave more precise control of the movement of the diaphragm, reduced distortion levels and an expanded upper reproducible range (the latter was probably achieved due to a lightweight voice coil). The diffusers themselves are 50 mm, pressed from nanofibers and suspended using Free Edge technology, which makes it possible to rid the moving system as much as possible from mechanical resonances. Vibration-isolating head mounts serve the same purpose. Finally, special attention is paid to the suppression of internal acoustic resonances – this is always the number one problem in closed headphones. To reduce their impact to zero, instead of a special type of walnut, the engineers found another material for the cups – a rare type of moso bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis), which is sometimes called tortoiseshell bamboo or simply Japanese bamboo. Its wood is very durable and has structural pores – the result is an ideal combination of density and damping. Any sound vibrations in this material are instantly damped. The new masterpieces are hand-assembled exclusively in Japan at Denon’s Shirakawa Audio Works north of Tokyo.

Moving on to listening, I must add that the headphones are equipped with two detachable cables for different jacks. And one of them (three-meter for home use) has also been modernized – its conductors are not just made of 7N purity copper, like the cables for the Denon AH-D7200, but are also silver-plated. That’s why I decided to do two rather formal sound checks before the main session – first making sure that the new headphones were compatible with low-power mobile sources, and then figuring out what the new cable provided in comparison with the “regular” one from the AH-D7200.

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And this is what happened. Listening to music on 9200s connected directly to a smartphone or laptop is possible, but not interesting. The sensitivity is quite sufficient for loud, dynamic sound. Such tandems can even be praised for their good low band intelligibility. But all the colors and flaws in the operation of a low-quality amplifier are heard so clearly that it is very difficult to distract from them and switch to music. Conclusion: conditionally compatible.

What does the new cable do? There’s an interesting picture here. If we compare the sound on new flagships by switching headphones to a cable from the 7200, we immediately lose detail. The silver-plated wire allows you to get more information, less coloration in the middle and even seem to increase the dynamics a little. At the same time, there is absolutely no aggressiveness characteristic of silver-coated conductors. But if the same operation of changing the cable is performed on the Denon AH-D7200, then the differences between them will be minimal and not even in favor of the more expensive cable – in this case, the undesirable “taste” of silver makes itself felt. Did Denon really select the correct wire for the Denon AH-D9200 (as well as for the AH-D7200) by ear? If yes, then I will say “bravo” – great job!

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Taking this opportunity, I, of course, compared the headphones with each other, using the output of the Denon PMA-2500NE amplifier. The main difference between the models is that the “cups” of the new headphones are really inaudible. The 7200s had a slight hint of shell tint, but the new ones have almost none. These are perhaps the most linear and neutral closed-back headphones in their price segment. They have more accurate micro-elaboration, they more fully convey the atmosphere of the hall and are a little more natural on sharp ringing sounds, more openly voicing the critically important range for perception of 2000 – 6000 Hz. However, the 100 – 300 Hz register, where there is also a lot of information necessary for constructing holistic bodily images, also seemed more structured and clear. At the same time, this pair has common shortcomings. When working with an integral, the lower register is scanty – precisely for temperament, and not for the lowest components. The virtual scene in the head is very accurate in terms of distinguishing images, but all the images shifted to the side have a distorted scale.

Everything changed when I went to listen to the same thing, but on a McIntosh amplifier with a dedicated telephone section. This is a completely different order of immersion in sound! Denon AH-D9200 turned out to be extremely demanding on the class of source. Any errors in the path are immediately audible – a barely noticeable drag veiling the stage space, typical of the CD format, is noticeable from the first seconds of listening. In the same way, the incorrect setting of the sampling frequency in the audio interface of a computer connected via USB to a converter is also easy to hear – for example, when instead of 176.4 kHz, like the original audio file, the output is set to 192 kHz. In identical recordings made in different Hi-Res Audio formats, all qualitative differences can be easily traced. And sometimes you can read even the smallest defects made in the recording studio. This hyper-resolution puts Denon’s new dynamic headphones on the same level as open-back film models, but only here you get consistent bass, complete isolation, and comfortable listening, because these models weigh not half a kilo, but only 375 grams.

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The main value of the Denon AH-D9200 is that the amazing resolution, combined with a decent amplifier, is also complemented by musicality – the kind that gives “goosebumps” to the skin. The headphones themselves seem to step away from the playback, but take you to the best place of the musical event. The clarity is amazing. And often there come moments when you are simply taken aback by how realistic and close everything is happening.

The detailing is so penetrating in the main band that you begin to notice a subtle hoarseness in some jazz vocalists where you have never noticed it before. Sibilances are heard as if they were actually coming from a living person. The bright shades of brass instruments and the ringing of cymbals are conveyed more fully and interestingly. The acoustic atmosphere is so natural that sometimes you want to take off your headphones and look around – isn’t this an obsession? And sometimes something incredible happens: you turn on a track where the performers do not all start playing at once, but even before all the musicians enter, you clearly perceive the living presence of the “silent ones”, you can tell exactly where they are sitting on the stage and even count them. And at live concerts, you also begin to sense the listeners sitting next to you! Isn’t that cool? I’ll just add that not all super headphones have the ability to reproduce all the creaks, rustles, sighs and other very elusive signs of presence so clearly that the ear takes them for reality. Now you understand the level to which Denon has stepped with the new model.

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Specifications Denon AH-D9200

Drivers 50 mm wideband FreeEdge drivers with paper and nanofiber membrane, powerful neodymium magnets, lightweight coils wound with copper-bonded aluminum CCAW wire
Frequency range 5 Hz – 56 kHz
Impedance 24 Ohms
Sensitivity 106 dB/mW
Maximum input power 1800 mW
Material cups wood/metal
Ear pad material: soft artificial leather, filling: memory foam Headband
material: die-cast aluminum, trim: sheepskin/imitation leather
Straight cable, double-sided, removable, OFC copper conductors (99.99999%), 3.5 mm connectors for connecting to cups
Cable length 3 m
Cable plug 6.3 mm connector with metal housing
Weight 385 g (without cable)

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