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.

Denon AH-D2000

Click on graphs image to download .pdf for closer inspection.

Denon AH-D5000

Click on graphs image to download .pdf for closer inspection.

Denon AH-D7000

Click on graphs image to download .pdf for closer inspection.

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.

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.