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The W-5000 aka Raffinato—that's Italian for refined while the German raffiniert similarly implies being trick or sophisticated— is a thing of unabashed luxury. The dedicated hard-shell 'instrument' case telegraphs it right upon arrival. "James, please park the Bentley in my garage. And, tell callers that I'm out of town for three days." The butler's "Yes m'lord" would be lost already because...

... the W5000 is a sealed design. It sports wooden bodies of striped Ebony cushioned in leather. Not apparent to the eye are the 53mm/2" drive units powered by Neodymium Permendur magnets and OFC-8N voice coils. The transducers are splayed at a slight angle to optimize directivity*. In the firm's super comfortable tradition, head support is by two padded spring-loaded wings which avoid all contact with the sensitive cranium and cradle the scull laterally without undue pressure. The Magnesium alloy frame floats freely above, the cups have some swivel play to adapt to the head. Unlike the W1000's left-handed cable feed, the Raffinato's is a Y and the 4-core OFC6N+Hi-OFC hybrid wire is sheathed in an elastomer to prevent tangles and terminated in a standard gold-plated ΒΌ" / 6.3mm plug.

Sensitivity is a high 102dB/mW into 40 ohms, frequency response is a claimed 5 to 45,000Hz and wear weight without cord is 340g.

Conceptual competitors—sealed wooden enclosures—are the Denon AH D5000/7000 models and JVC HP-DX1000. Other sealed top efforts with non-wood chambers include Ultrasone's best. Sealed designs are recommended whenever sound isolation is desired or required. This naturally works both ways. While bystanders won't suffer obnoxious sound leakage, you don't hear them either. You're lost in your own private sound world. In certain outdoor scenarios involving traffic, wild animals or other approaching potential trouble, this could be dangerous.

Sealed headphones can enjoy an advantage over open-backed challengers in bass power. That particular aspect has made the Denons a top pick with lovers of potent low frequencies. The polar opposite to this proposition were AKG's now discontinued winged K1000 ear speakers. Particularly angled out to engage the desired acoustical cross feed, their bass power receded noticeably.

* Sennheiser's marketing department has heavily banged the drum on their angled 56mm jumbo driver for the HD800s. It's fair to point out that audio-technica headphones had angled drivers for ages and that the Raffinato's driver diameter is only 3mm narrower than the vaunted 800's. About their choice of wood, audio-technica explains that "striped Ebony is a heavy hard wood with ring-like patterns consisting of a hard black layer and a softer lighter layer. The two layers of dissimilar hardness mutually suppress resonance to achieve excellent self damping."