The Luscious Denon AH-D2000, AH-D5000, and AH-D7000

Old Friends
I've been listening to this fine lineup of Denon headphones for a long, long time. They've always struck me as really good, and a bit weird sounding...loose-ish or something. But yummy and lush, too! I've got a personal pair of D5000 and I like them a lot.

I discovered some new stuff in the current Dx000 models as I wrote this review and I'm excited to tell you it's all good news. But to tell the story properly we must cover some basic information first.

Mechanical Description
The overall design of these headphones are nearly identical, sharing many parts in common. But there are some differences from one to the next.

Denon_AHDx000_illustration_explodedD7000

Exploded view of the Denon AH-D7000 headphone.

Denon_AHDx000_photo_driverDriver - All three headphones use a 50mm diameter microfiber diaphragm. The drivers in the AH-D2000 ($349) and AH-D5000 ($699) are identical (I found the manufacturing part number markings stamped on the rear of the drivers to be the same); the driver in the AH-D7000 ($999) has an 11% stronger magnet making it slightly more efficient (108dB/mW vs. 106dB/mW). Denon marketing materials say the driver has a "free edge," sorry, not sure what this means--there is a flexible clear surround attaching the outside edge of the diaphragm to the driver housing

Housings - The D2000 housing is plastic, and has some damping material adhered to the rear of the cup, and a ring of fibrous acoustic wadding. The D5000 and D7000 use mahogany wood ear cups and are bare. The D5000 housing has a satin finish and a printed logo (which can wear off rather easily). The D7000 housing has a slightly larger internal volume, and has a gloss lacquer finish with an inlaid metal logo.

Driver Plate - This is a black plastic assembly that holds the driver and provides the mechanical means to assemble the housing and frame together. The driver plate on the D5000 and D7000 are identical; the D2000 plate has bosses on the rear to properly space the plate and housing. Mark Lawton (of Lawton Audio, a company that specializes in modifying Denon Dx000 headphones) claims the D2000 driver plate is slightly less rigid than the others.

Magnesium Frame - This is the metal ring around the headphone to which the headphone gimbals attach. This is a molded magnesium part that is painted silver on the D2000, and a lightly tinted gold color on the D5000 and D7000. This part appears identical on the D5000 and D7000, and is very slightly different on the D2000--it's missing the small detent bumps on the rear of the part which act to allow the ear pad to "snap" into place. I'll come back to this a bit later.

Ear Pad - All three ear pads are dimensionally identical. The pads on the D5000 and D7000 are identical; product literature states that the D7000 ear pads are leather...they are not. I've taken one apart before and it is some sort of synthetic material, possibly Ultraleather. The D2000 earpads appear to use a slightly inferior grade of synthetic leather, but still seems pretty nice to me.

Headband Assembly - All metal parts for the three headphones appear to be the same. The cast magnesium parts are all painted, and like the magnesium frame above, the D5000 and D7000 parts have a slight gold tint; the D2000 is silver with a slightly heavier visual texture. Like the ear pads above, the synthetic leather headband cover of the D5000 and D7000 appear to be of a slightly better grade than the D2000.

Cables - Both the D5000 and D7000 use identical cable with 7N oxygen-free copper (99.99999%) conductors, but the fabric sheath on the D7000 is significantly thicker. The D2000 uses lower grade OFC conductors and is also fabric sheathed. The D7000 cable is terminated with a 1/4" plug, the D5000 and D2000 are 1/8" plugs and 1/8" to 1/4" adapters are included. All plugs have brushed aluminum bodies and gold plated connectors and all cables are 3 meters long.

It seems to me that we're seeing in the various differences between models a serious effort to carefully pinch pennies on the D2000; build a solid performer with the D5000; and guild the lily with the D7000.

Isolation, Sealed or Open?
The Denon AH-Dx000 headphones are full-sized, around-the-ear (circumaural) headphones. They have a closed back--meaning there is no opening in the rear of the housing behind the driver to let the sound escape the headphones easily--but they are not sealed headphones, even though they are commonly thought of and characterized as such. I read all the Denon literature on these cans, and nowhere did they claim them to be sealed. Denon uses the term "Acoustic Optimizer" to describe the acoustic principle at work in these headphones. Bah, marketing blurbage!

In order to have the lovely uninterrupted wood housings (though the D2000 is plastic) of these headphones--which does give them a simple and elegant look--the acoustic engineers had to deal with the potential of resonances developing in the chamber behind the driver. This is a very real problem in sealed back designs, and is what makes sealed headphone performance generally inferior to open headphone designs. In the case of the Dx000 headphones, the engineers developed an acoustic labyrinth of channels, damped windows, and vents which are designed to inhibit and control resonance and response. (All well designed headphones have these elements, but because of the closed back of these headphones this design appears to be somewhat more complex than most.) The external vent of this design is a thin gap around the entire ear piece between the magnesium frame and ear cup housing.

While this design does a good job of controlling the sound of these cans, it also provides ample opportunity for sound to escape from the headphones, and for external sounds to enter them. The Dx000 do not isolate very well at all, and people close to you will be able to hear your music. I think they should be considered a semi-open design. Unfortunately, I don't have a category for this type of headphone here at InnerFidelity, and because they do provide somewhat more isolation than open cans, and because so many people consider them a sealed headphone, I will continue to categorize them as such. I'll make a note here that the Phillips L1 is also of similar semi-open design, and I have placed them in the open category here at InnerFidelity.

Comfort, Build, and Style
I find the Dx000 headphones to be very comfortable. Caliper pressure on the ears is modest, and the earpads are plush. They're about as good as it gets for long listening sessions. Build quality is excellent, but I would characterize these headphones as somewhat delicate. I do not recommend them for portable applications where wear and tear may be damaging to the fine finish of these cans. I've also noticed over time that the screw holding the bail to the headband assembly is prone to backing out causing the headphones to rattle a bit and sometimes falling apart. The screw is on the underside of the bail, and the earpieces must be disassembled in order to tighten it. Despite these observations, I think the look of these headphones is terrific, and feel that the developers of these headphones have made some very good choices in their design.

Speaking of Developers
These headphones are actually designed and manufactured by Foster in Japan--parent company of Fostex, who also make the famous Fostex T50RP which is a favorite among DIY headphone modification enthusiasts. Foster is a terrific headphone maker, and I think Denon has chosen their supplier very wisely. You can see these headphones on this Foster page, part numbers 443742 and 448498.

I think one of the marks of a great manufacturer and a long-lived product is the willingness of the manufacturer to glean feedback from customers and make improvements to a product over time. While this type of work is assumed by the public to occur with car models and car manufacturers, which make changes year to year, it is more common for consumer electronics manufacturers to either change the model number as a product is improved, or to simply say nothing at all as changes occur. The latter, evidently, is the case with the AH-Dx000. These changes will no doubt cause angst among the Denon faithful.

All you headphone enthusiasts out there need to push the reset button on what you think you know about these fine Denon cans because they've changed. Let's have a look...

COMPANY INFO
Denon USA
100 Corporate Drive
Mahwah, N.J. 07430-2041
201-762-6500
ARTICLE CONTENTS
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COMMENTS
MacedonianHero's picture

Great write up Tyll. Enjoyed the read. Having owned the D7000s twice and hearing the D5000s and D2000s on several occasions I agree with your comments.

Based on the variability of the graphs, they do appear to be statistically significant. There is significant variability in the FR regions where the precision of the measurement system are very tight (under 4kHz) and still pretty good (under 8kHz ish). Now a quick question, is this a design change, or are we seeing some variability over batches that account for a long period of time?

Had the D7000s isolated better, I would likely still have them in my collection; I liked them that much.

Thanks for this!

Jazz Casual's picture

The D7000 is often described as having a recessed midrange and that's how I heard it. However, the frequency response measurement suggests otherwise.

By the way Tyll, will you be adding your measurements of the PS1000 and GS1000i to the Headphone Data Sheet Downloads page?

Armaegis's picture

Just a minor typo, on page 1 & 2 you've listed "Mark Lawton" as "Marl Lawton".

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Fxt, thanks!
Swbf2cheater's picture

Hi Tyll, thanks for the reviews, I love reading and listening to all of your impressions. I wanted to know your thoughts on which set I should be aiming for: the AKG-K550, Philips Fidelio L1 and the D5000. I absolutely loved the Fidelio L1 but found its presentation too small to satisfy my desires, I've not heard the D5K or the K550 yet. Do you feel the new AKG K550 has a superior sound staging experience over the L1? Out of the three, which one do you favor and why? Thanks! -mike

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Imaging is not a strong suit on any of them, IMO. None of them are open. I'm going to review the L1 soon, and I'll try to give them a listen relative to the K550 and D2000 to answer your question.
bigb121074's picture

Just got the D2000's a couple of weeks ago. I enjoy them quite a bit on my portable rig, while in bed. I bought them to replace my M50's and they do not disappoint. It was a toss up between these and the K550's and although the k550's, I read, did seal better and had a more robust build, the impressions on the D2000's sound won me over. Well, that and getting them on sale for $215.

13mh13's picture

Can't find the orig. late '70s TV comm. on YT in which a blonde-haired Sylvania spokesman (looks/sounds like Dick Cavet) says its Superset color TV -- in public tests -- is better than the competition. A Jap to the side, in accented/slurred English, keeps badgering ... "What about Sony?"
And the spokesman finally replies ... and, finally, Sylvania Superset beat Sony, too.

In the same annoying tradition ... Tyll's review means almost nothing to me. Why? 'Cause he really didn't compare, e.g., the 2000 to Amperior and BD DT1350.

"Where's the beef?"

13mh13's picture

Here's a follow-up comm ...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KQrf7jrz5U
Not as good as orig. tho'! Come on all you Betamaxers ... upload the orig.

Swbf2cheater's picture

That would make me feel a bit less stressed if I had another experts word or impressions on the presentation qualities of some of the closed backs. I am a soundstage nut, but one that requires a closed back design. I am aiming for the JVC DX1000, as I am told it is larger sounding than the Denons. Any advice on any of the models mentioned would help immensely. As for the L1, it was congested to me, but for a closed back it was quite nice. I really loved the headphone in general, but returned it soon after my hearing loss accident a few weeks ago.

thune's picture

I heard some (probably already old) D2000/D5000 at last year's RMAF-CanJam. Choral and orchestral music was quite well rendered. But when I put on some electronica with a tight bass-drum track, it sounded like a souped-up civic with an undamped sub was driving by (tone didn't stop and was mostly distorted 2nd harmonic). If it wasn't for this problem, I would have classed the D2000 or D5000 as a must-get phone.

Given that low bass distortion seem lower in the 2012 phones, and Tyll reports the new production does "tighten things up a bit," I feel I should give them another serious listen.

HeadphoneAddict's picture

To thune - also the amp being used makes a difference in the speed of the Denon bass. When I used my battery powered ALO Amphora with my LA7000 (and D2000) there was some "one-note" bass when listening to some fast paced electronica. This was pointed out by a friend at a headphone meet. But this improved quite noticeably when driving the LA7000 from my Eddie Current ZDT amp.

In between the worst and the best amps for Denon were my Woo Audio WA6 and a loaner Woo WA22. In the end, I like the Denon most with a good transformer coupled tube amp or a solid state amp with a stout power supply and good current delivery.

To Tyll, I think that if you call J&R Sales and order by phone they will reduce the price of the D7000 to around $600-700. They just can't advertise below the $999. That makes them a better deal than D5000 to me.

gkanai's picture

Tyll, love the site. Found a broken link.

The link above the title of this article for "Full-Size Sealed Headphone Reviews" goes to a "The requested page could not be found." page.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Thanks, I'll check into it.
ultrabike's picture

You got an extra zero on that AH-D5000 (title section)...

And what do you know! Seems these phones are going puff!!!:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/607128/denon-d2000-d5000-d7000-headphones-offic...

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Thanks for the heads up on the typo, and AAAAARRRRRRRGGGGHHHH! I can't believe the PR people didn't tell me about the discontinuation. Gonna have to rant a bit I reckon.
ultrabike's picture

The Head-fi link just became puff!!! as well:

"Insufficient Permissions
Your account does not have the required permissions to access this page."

I guess regular consumers were not supposed to know that!? What's going on? Man, talking about a case where curiosity killed the cat!

Currawong's picture

I took a chance on his mods before he started up Lawton Audio officially. They were an upgrade, for me, from K701s, which didn't have enough bass for me. The funny thing is, when I tried stock D5000s in a store, I felt they sounded like my K701s, just with the addition of a lot more bass. Looking at the graphs on HeadRoom (back then), I wasn't far off!

I did, after years of wanting to, finally get a chance to try the D7000s at a local store and was pleasantly surprised, more than I expected.

Tyll: There are two guys on HF who cut out the back the cups on their denons and put grills in as well as someone who recommended that the Denons sounded fantastic with the cups removed altogether. I never thought to try this, so it'd be interesting to read your comments and see measurements of the headphones with the cups off as well.

Twinster's picture

Very good in depth review Tyll. Thank you!

Personally I owned the D2000 (MarkL modded) and the D5000 (also MarkL moded) and miss the D2000 to these day.

I tried the Fidelio L1 but it didn’t had good enough hi’s for me.

After reading your review on the AKG K550 I was going to try them but today I got the chance to try the new PSB M4U 2 headphone and was pleasantly surprise. Guest what I’m listening now. The store loan them to me for our local meet tonight for the member to demo.

I strongly encourage you to try them. I pretty sure these will impress many.
Cheer!

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I've requested samples, and will have some soon. I only heard them breifly at CES, but was pleasently surprised as well.
azelais's picture

Beautiful headphones. D7000 is a great headphone

DaveBSC's picture

Great review Tyll! I'm looking forward to what you think about Mark's mods.

Curious, how would you rank the Thunderpants against the stock D5000 and D7000?

Kees's picture

I've heard they're being discontinued, and the D7100 look a bit different.

Tyll Hertsens's picture

See Head-Fi thread here.

ultrabike's picture

Hopefully sounds better than it looks!

John Grandberg's picture
Because it looks kinda like Beats meets Tron.
jpelg's picture

The next big question is how does Fostex's latest flagship, the uber-expensive Fostex TH900, compare to the Denons?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I thought they were too thin and bright on short listen at RMAF. They seemed worth a longer listen at some point though.
rnconync's picture

Tyll,
I was wondering if you had a quick easy way of telling the differences between the 2012 and older Denons? Or how to verfiy which I have in any way. From your article, it sound like probably not, but I was curios for people looking to buy a used pair to know which they are getting. I have two pair in front of me now and the only visual difference I can tell is that the y-splitter on each set is slightly different. I do not know if either one of these is new or old. One has more of a short V shaped y-splitter and the other has a longer more rectangular y-splitter on it. These may even be the same age models with different cables from the manufacturer, I don't know. I also notice that on the pair with the rectangular splitter the cables from the splitter to each cup look slightly thick than the other set. Would you be able to compare an old and new set and see if either of these are consistent with the new and old pairs? The sets that I have here are both AH-D5000's
Thanks!

Tyll Hertsens's picture
The only suggestion I have is to take them apart and look for the bumps on the metal casting as seen in the picture on page two.

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