The Luscious Denon AH-D2000, AH-D5000, and AH-D7000 Page 2

Making Good Better
This review took me far too long to write. I've had a personal pair of D5000s for years now, and am very familiar with all the cans in the line. When I decided to do this review, rather than bugging HeadRoom to borrow their sales demo units for an extended period of time, I called Denon to acquire some current samples. Boy, am I glad I did, but it was disorienting for a while.

First, I unboxed the three headphones and stuck them on my burn-in station for a week or so. Once I figured they'd cooked long enough, I sat down for a preliminary listen. They sounded pretty much as I expected, except they were a bit smoother and tighter than I remembered, and I had a fairly hard time telling the differences between them at first. I figured it it might just be an off day for my ears or something. Then I measured them.



The above data are plots of the compensated frequency response of the new Dx000 with the old headphones in the line-up. I was concerned that the old ear pads may have worn over time, so I put the new ear pads on the old cans prior to measurement to ensure an apples-to-apples comparison. What's obvious from the data above is the new series of headphones measure more closely to each other than the older headphones. I wouldn't characterize these differences as huge, and if you've read the recent article by Macedonian Hero on my measurement system's repeatability you'll know there's a good bit of room for error, but I feel the change is large enough to be real and moderately audible.

This really peaked my curiosity, so I decided to give Mark Lawton (of Lawton Audio) a call. He has many years of experience modifying these cans, I figured if anyone would know of these changes, he would. He was surprised to hear of my findings, and said the only change he was aware of was the he had started to see some stickers with numbers on them appearing on the rear of the magnesium frame starting about a year ago. I decided to do a little more digging, so I put the old and new D5000 on my bench to take them apart and really scrutinize the two for differences.

First, the internal foam of the new pads did seem to be a little more pliant than the old pads, and the synthetic leather material was slightly softer and more flexible. However, since I measured the differences with the new pads on all the cans, this change couldn't have been the source of the differences.

I got out my calipers and made a number of dimensional measurement of various parts and didn't find any changes. But as I did some really close visual examination I noticed a couple of things.


The old D5000 parts are to the left, the new D5000 parts to the right. You can click on the picture to see this image full size.

In the picture above, you can see the rear of the magnesium frame of the old (left) and new (right) D5000 headphone. The "L" shaped slots are used to attach the ear pads to the frame. On the new frame you can see a bump next to the "L," this is a detent to prevent the pad from easily rotating and becoming inadvertently unattached. On the old frame, there is a tiny bump inside the "L" that serves the same purpose. I suspect the designers got too many complaints about pads falling off and redesigned the part.

Interestingly, the new D2000 uses this old frame. This part is manufactured using magnesium injection molding. (Here's a short article.) The molds used in this process wear over time, and are very expensive to produce. My guess is that in an effort to cut costs, the old molds are being used for D2000 production to save wear and extend the life of the new molds used for the current D5000 and D7000. Unfortunately, I couldn't identify any differences to this part that might account for the sonic changes observed in the frequency response data.

The other change I noticed is that the foam damping part around the driver has a slightly more open-cell structure. This is not so clearly evident in the photo above, but was apparent to the naked eye. This change certainly could produce the modest tweak to the frequency response of the various headphones observed. However, I also noticed that the D2000 still has the old foam. Maybe they're using up the old parts on the D2000 until they run out.

Here's the bottom line: the headphones have changed. Not a lot, but enough that headphone enthusiasts probably need to be very careful about holding on to their well-formed but now somewhat obsolete opinions about the sonic differences between these headphones.

I'll talk next about how the 2012 Denon headphones sounded to me...

Denon USA
100 Corporate Drive
Mahwah, N.J. 07430-2041

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 ...
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!!!:

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.

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

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

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.