The Luscious Denon AH-D2000, AH-D5000, and AH-D7000 Page 3
Historically, the Dx000 have been lush and slightly loose sounding headphones. This latest batch tightens things up a bit and sound a bit more neutral, though they do retain quite a bit of their characteristic warm, organic sound.
The AH-D2000 is somewhat thin and analytical compared with its more expensive siblings. Voices are a bit dryer sounding, not having quite the body and intimacy, and they sound a bit more distant than the other two. I also hear a bit of grain in the sound. Compared with the AKG K550 (a headphone of similar price and type) I find the D2000 to be more accurately resolving in the treble, but the K550 has a tighter bass and a more natural sounding midrange for vocals. The bass on the K550 may be a bit stronger than neutral making it a warmer headphone overall, where the D2000, while still a slightly warm headphone, has a more neutral balance in general.
The AH-D5000 clearly steps it up a notch in the sound quality department. Female vocals regain their organic warmth and juicy intimacy. The bass is slightly elevated and a bit loose, though now a bit tighter than the earlier D5000 model. The treble range is clear and clean, with a slightly overemphasized sparkle. This is a very good sounding headphone, but when compared directly to the Sennheiser HD 800 you can hear they're not as transparent, and the colorations of a closed back design prevent the airy depth achieved by the HD 800.
Moving up to the AH-D7000 is not nearly the leap in sound quality I found moving from the D2000 to D5000, but the D7000 is audibly cleaner, more resolving and refined. The tonal balance is slightly less warm than the D5000 and now very close to what I would consider neutral, though still a tad warm. Moving backward to the D5000 after becoming accustomed to the D7000, there's clearly a sense that the D5000 is a bit muffled sounding in comparison. The bass is tighter than the D5000, but remains slightly loose sounding. The mids are truly lovely and lush, but in comparison with the almost eery realness of the HD 800, the closed back coloration again becomes obvious. Highs have a touch of sparkle, but are a bit more refined and natural than the D5000.
For your convenience, I've bundled all the measurements taken for the Dx000 line in a pdf booklet here.
Raw frequency response measurements show some modest effects from movement up to around 800Hz, and all the cans have a small but unusual feature there. I suspect this is showing us something about the "Acoustic Optimizer" design. Compensated frequency response shows a slight warm tilt to all the cans between 30Hz and 2kHz, and the headphones are nicely flat in this region for a closed back design. Linearity here is substantially better than the older versions of these models. Responses roll-off after 1kHz, the tilt appears to be slightly greater in the D2000, which may account for the more distant and dryer sound. Bass drops off rapidly below 30Hz, but bass response above 30Hz is very good for a traditional dynamic headphone. All headphones show a mild peak centered at about 9kHz, where a very deep notch is observed. I suspect this is to tame the peak in this area which is very common in headphones, and is likely accomplished by the spacing between the diaphragm and the grill in front of it.
30Hz square wave response is quite good for a headphone of this type, but the trailing edge does go below zero, which is indicative of headphones having a slightly loose sounding bass. Rising THD+noise below 100Hz echos this, and moderately loose bass was heard during listening tests.
300Hz square wave response of the D2000 shows good high frequency control with less overshoot than the other two cans, but is also slightly noisier, which may account for the grain heard in listening. The 300Hz square wave of the D5000 and D7000 are quite similar and show slightly excessive overshoot, which may be indicative of the slight brightness of the treble in these two cans. I was hoping to see some evidence of the improved driver of the D7000 here, but I don't...though I did hear it as slightly more refined sounding than the D5000.
Impedance response of these headphones show a mild primary driver resonance at about 28Hz, and a few minor bumps and wiggles between 2kHz and 10kHz. Impedance remains between 25 and 30 Ohms throughout. This is a rather low impedance for a home headphone, and means that a low output impedance amp will likely give best results, though the rather constant impedance would indicate they will behave fairly constantly with amp of varying output impedance.
THD+noise remain below 1% except for the lowest notes. The 100dBspl curve is comfortably below the 90dB curve indicating a headphone that plays very cleanly at high volumes. Impulse response curves show the headphones are quick, but ring a bit after the fact, showing that they would likely benefit from some internal damping like that done by Lawton Audio.
As a side note: Mark Lawton did send me some of his ear pads, which I did measure and audition. The measurements are in the pdf booklet mentioned at the beginning of this section. I felt they improved bass tightness and imaging some, but I also heard them as adding a little grain to the sound. Unfortunately, this review got so complicated by sorting through the differences between old and new versions of these models that I couldn't do a proper review of the pads. I have talked with Mark, however, and am planning to do a review comparing his fully modified D5000 product to the stock D5000 sometime in the future.
Isolation measurements of these headphones show a modest broadband attenuation figure of around 7dB, which is pretty poor when compared with the 14dB attenuation of the AKG K550. It is significantly better than open headphones where 1 or 2 db is common, though. These will not be good headphones for listening in loud environments, but will nicely attenuate modest background noise in the office and around the home.
I find the Denon AH-Dx000 line of headphones to be very, very good indeed. They look good, are very comfortable, and all deliver a slightly warm and lush sound which is excellent for a closed back design. Unfortunately, they don't isolate very well and are a bit fragile, so I recommend the mainly for home, office, or mixing/mastering suites.
Denon AH-D2000 ($349) - This is the best price/performance value in the line, and is among the best sounding headphones of any type at this price. Though somewhat dryer sounding then the more expensive Denons, to my ears it's slightly better sounding than the competing AKG-K550. When selecting between the two cans, I feel the K550 is a slightly better all-around headphone with a more durable build quality, better isolation, and a bit more bass punch, but if sound quality and clarity is paramount, then the D2000 has the edge. This is a very good entry-level audiophile and audio-pro mixing and mastering headphone. I highly recommend them, and they earn a spot on the Wall of Fame for best in class audio performance at this price.
Denon AH-D5000 ($699) - A solid step up in sound quality from the D2000, the D5000 is a luscious, juicy, warmish headphone with a lovely intimate voice. It's good looks, modest isolation, and excellent performance makes these a great home and office headphone for the earnest audiophile. Ample opportunity for upgrades are available commercially and DIY. It's best in class performance of headphones in the sub-$1000 headphone area has it bound for InnerFidelity's Wall of Fame. Highly Recommended!
Denon AH-D7000 - From it's beautiful gloss-finished mahogany earpieces, to it's 99.99999% pure OFC cable, no expense has been spared with these very fine trophy cans. The sound is yummy and refined. At this price however, with close competition from the much less expensive D5000, and significantly better performance from open cans in the $1000 area (Sennheiser HD800 and Audeze LCD-2), I'm hesitant to put it on the Wall of Fame. I'm not hesitant to recommend them, though, these are very nice headphones indeed for those with the wherewithal to afford their luxuriant beauty. Definitely recommended for the well-to-do headphone enthusiast.
Denon product pages for the D2000, D5000, and D7000.
Head-Fi threads here, here, and here. Please remember these comments are for the older line and may not accurately reflect the current products.
Head-Fi threads on modifying these Denon cans here and here.
For commercially modified Denon headphones and DIY kits check out Lawton Audio.