Denon AH-D2000 Headphone Review – The Muscle Power

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Hi there guys n girls!

It has been just around a month (January 2012) of me owning the Denon AH-D2000’s which abbreviated is known as the D2K’s.

Packaging & Accessories: 4/10
Build Quality: 8/10
Cabling: 8/10
Design & Look: 8/10
Isolation: 6/10
Comfort: 9/10
Audio Quality: 9/10
Value: 10/10
My final Rating: 9/10

Purchase Date: January 2012
Purchase Price: £180

Let me start off by saying, my headphone knowledge isn’t vast. I have only owned, previously to the D2K’s the Sony MDR-XB700’s – which in their right, are absolutely brilliant headphones, and for the price of £60, I couldn’t recommend them enough.
That said, after being in the IEM world and finally finding an IEM that satisfied me, I chose to venture into the headphone world. Thus looking for a replacement of my XB700’s which I have owned for over 2 years now! It’s amazing how time flies by, it really is!

Secondly, I would like to state that I listen mainly to R’n’B, and more recently a little bit of Trance (AVB) – I also used/use the headphones mainly at home, when I’m cooking or playing games late night. I used the XB700’s on/off, although especially was using them a lot at night. Thus why, over the 2 years I had never been “desperate” to buy new headphones, as I wasn’t using them that much.

Also seeing as I use them at home, portability (as you can imagine with the XB700’s) was never an issue. I never intend, nor intended to take the XB700’s nor my future headphones out – as I have great IEM’s for that.

Finally, I was looking for something with a reasonably balanced sound, with an excellent sound stage (due to the nature of gaming), however which also had a nice kick in the bass department.
The ones I had “short-listed” coming from the XB700’s were:
Ultrasone Pro 900 @ around £300
Sony MDR-XB1000 @ £200
Denon AH-D2000 @ £250
Another one that cropped up in my mind was the Beyerdynamic DT 990’s @ around £200

I ended up buying the D2K’s for several reasons, them being:
Price: Originally £250, anywhere in the UK (unless they were used), I found them for £180, and quite literally bought the last one available from Peter Tyson, a UK retailer, who is an authorised dealer, with great customer service and a 2 year warranty. For that price and in comparison to its “competitors” I thought, even if I didn’t like the D2K’s I could return them or even sell them on, for not such a huge loss, whereas with the other models, I couldn’t be 100% sure.

Reviews: I read A LOT, a year ago (2010-2011), and also just before my purchase this year (2012) on the headphone market. I also opened up a thread asking for advice between the 3 that I had shortlisted. Almost everyone stated the pro 900’s would have a more thumping bass, however might be a little sibilant or/and have some high spikes – which in fact would be great for EDM/Trance, however for R’n’B might have proven to be unbearable, like my Denon AH-C710 earphones I had not long ago before purchasing the D2K’s.

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Here was my conclusion for the 2 others I had short-listed:

1. Pro 900: Might have a spike in their highs and thus sound a little like the C710’s – the price is also a little out of my reach, and seems a bit too much for someone like myself to spend on headphones.

2. XB1000: will be huge on my head, the XB700’s are big enough, and now the XB1k’s – yes they might be fun to own, but there wasn’t that much at the time of purchasing on these to justify if they were a real upgrade, or a change in sound over the XB700’s – that said I really do like the XB700’s sound signature, but I’m saying this, and especially for their SQ for their price point, which is A LOT cheaper than most headphones out there in the market, especially at their price tag. So now jumping to the XB1K’s at a huge price tag, might not seem worth it, nor might provide me with a much better sound.

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Here is my video review of the Denon AH-D2000’s:

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So let’s get into the review of the D2K’s.
Usually, and what I shall do here is, review the accessories, design & build, cable, comfort, before going into the actual SQ of the product.

Accessories

This is a little bit of a let-down, even looking at the D5/7K’s there seems to attention to detail here, no carrying pouch (which I even have with my XB700’s!), and no carrying case (like with the pro 900’s), literally nothing but a 1/4″ adapter…
I knew this was what was included or should I say not included in the package, but felt disappointed when it was actually my headphones, that I had paid for, in front of me.
Anyway, pouches, carrying cases, these things can be bought, for a relatively cheap price or like me, use an old one that you used to have for your old headphones.

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Design & build

Now this for me is quite important, as I don’t want to be upgrading or spending more money (even though I probably will) on another set of headphones any time soon. The build on the XB700’s were quite robust, to the point that I would not be afraid of them dropping out of my hands and falling to the ground, with little to no signs of any damage. However, with the D2K’s, I feel they are quite flimsy, especially the point where they pivot, holding the driver to the headband. I feel that, over time, if not by accident, but rather by just “wear and tear” these will start breaking. I haven’t really heard of such issues developing, reading through head-fi; however to me I’m a little worried. I do take extremely good care of my tech – and usually hardly even have a scratch on a thing I’ve owned for over a year, but regardless, I have to take the facts and opinions into consideration, as there might be people out there, who might not be as careful or precocious as me, I’m not undermining anyone, just stating that they are a little flimsy that’s it!

The design on the other hand is extremely elegant. I find them to have this look about them, almost like telling me, in their own way that they own my soul…long story short, the design is nice, I can’t complain about anything here.

Bear in mind though, these are reasonably heavy headphones, not to the point that they are uncomfortable, but to the point that when you pick them up you feel the weight. It’s like picking up a bar of gold…more on that later! Also due to their size, these are not headphones that you might call portable, if anything, due to their wire length; these are the last things I want to take outside; if you want something portable, this definitely isn’t it. In other words look elsewhere for portability and possibly durability, but as I said before, this isn’t an issue for me, nor was I looking for this, I was in the market for a home-use headphone.

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Now the “famous” wire

God damn, this wire, is built to survive the Cold War…its very thick, long, and boy when I say long, I mean it… I’m talking 3m long. Now this can be seen as an advantage, but also a huge disadvantage.

The advantages:
-Can be plugged in source, and you can be on the other side of the room – quite literally.
-Isn’t limited to a certain place, i.e. When you’re gaming and want to go back on your chair, to grab your bottle of water which is 2m away, you can do so
The disadvantages:
-Makes it very uncomfortable, if you want to take it around. By this I mean, outside the house, or even within the house, cooking. You have to roll up a 3m or say 2m of wire and tuck it somewhere. Don’t ask where. But somewhere….

Now apart from the wire being extremely long, the jack is quite big too, built to last in some respects. It’s a really big jack, well big in comparison to all IEM’s I’ve ever owned, and compared to my XB700’s – and I like this huge jack, almost shows it majesty and professionalism.
I have found over the last month though, that the wire tends to create itself in some problems. The wire, bends on itself, and thus creates this sort of in-house tangle problem. It’s almost like the headphones don’t want to be twisted or turned in any direction, and always have to be used as the wire wants you to use it. It does get sometimes very tedious when you spend 15mins untangling a non-tangled wire, just so that it goes down straight rather than being loopy.

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Comfort

Now when I put these on my head, I felt straight way a sense of openness. These didn’t clam on my head as strong as the XB700’s did – which is great if you wear glasses! Then again, this meant that the headphones felt a little loose on my head. When I moved my head back and forth, for example, I felt that the headphones wanted to fall off. I feel that the pads are nice, and especially great for the soundstage, as due to their design, their pads are quite “thin” and thus provide that brilliant soundstage. I have no idea how this can sound with more padded ear pads like the J Money, also known as the J$ or angle pads previously known as the MarkL modded ones, but I really want to try. I have thus been looking for a month trying to buy myself some new pads. I would buy the angle pads, as the J$’s currently seem to be unavailable, but the cost of around $100 is too much to spend on just pads. If anything, I could buy another set of XB700’s for that price. So the comfort is good, but not securely fit. I feel that with some padding, these headphones might be even more comfortable, at least for me.

Now regarding these stock pads, I felt that after several hours of (intense) gaming, which they did get a little sweaty. I find its due to the stock pads not being made out of real leather, unlike the angle pads or the J$’s which, from research are made out of real leather, meaning added comfort, and more breathable.


Also due to their reasonably heavy weight, you can feel them on your head – although I don’t find this a problem, nor it being uncomfortable after many hours with them on – I just thought to mention this, as they aren’t light headphones unlike some portable headphones, such as the Sennheiser HD25’s

Finally on the comfort aspect, I found that the headphones were actually suited for larger heads so to speak. I have my XB700’s on “2 Clicks”, and on “0 clicks” thus the smallest size possible, they didn’t fit my girlfriend’s head properly. Now with the D2K’s I have them on “0 clicks” and they just fit, I find that even if Went to “-1” I might be better off. I would have liked a little bit of consideration for people with smaller heads, as who, realistically, will go to the largest size possible? No one I know will do.

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Sound Quality
Now we are left with, the sound quality! Arguably the most important aspect of any audio equipment.

Here is what really strikes me as brilliant. The D2K’s deliver in all departments, without being intrusive in any of them. This means that there is a bass impact, but not one that will make you uncomfortable when listening to classical music, mids that are present, but not too forward as its not suited to your music, nor too laid back, making you stretch out to EQ these to get those mids that you were lacking, and finally highs that are spiked with notes you can barely withstand or with highs that are non-existent.

These really are a balanced headphone, at least in my opinion, any less or more in any department, might make me go: “Maybe there are other headphones out there that might suit me better” saying that, I’m an extreme basshead, and these are by far not as bassy as some people make them out to be. Yes that might seem ironic, but really, these don’t hit as hard as the XB500’s for example, nor do they have the same quantity of bass of the XB700’s, but the D2K’s go low, and deep. With a little bass EQ, for you bassheads out there, your D2K’s will satisfy your needs, honestly.

So before you get the impression: “Oh these are bassy headphones”, as people make them out to be, no – they really aren’t. I would be shocked to hear what some people call flat headphones. I would be looking for bass and scratching my head why a certain headphone doesn’t have that kick, and why is it I have to EQ it to +10-20dB to hear any bass. Seriously, common. I do have to state, unlike my earphones, which are extreme basshead earphones; I wanted my headphones to be much more balanced, as said before. This is mainly due to the fact I want it to handle everything and anything thrown at it, and to be a perfect headphone for gaming.

What struck me; out-the-box was how brilliant the headphone’s soundstage was. These are so wide, and provide a brilliant soundstage (which, by the way opens up quite significantly with burn-in) – I sometimes end up turning my head thinking someone is talking to me or something is buzzing by. Let me get this straight, the XB700’s delivered a nice soundstage, but it’s no match with these babies.

Now unto the frequencies, or what I like to call: treble and bass (also known as lows (bass), mids and highs (treble))
The lows:
As said before these do deliver, and can cope with high amounts of bass. Being an extreme basshead, I tend to give them an additional +5-10dB boost – but for your average listener, who wants a flatter sound, they might want to keep it as it is. It’s all a matter of preference; I would suggest trying different EQ’s to see what suits you best. These also, as said above, cope with anything thrown at them, and that’s their beauty. Due to their versatile or should I say capable driver, these can handle large amounts of bass which has been EQ’ed. Do remember they won’t have that same bass impact, as say the XB700’s and I feel neither in comparison to the DT 990’s or the Pro 900’s – I could be mistaken, but this is my general understanding of the 2 other headphones.

Mids and highs:
I tend to group these together, as I find that they both represent the same thing, in essence these are the treble capability and frequency of the headphones.
The mids I found quite nice, a little more forward than what I usually I’m acquainted to, but brilliantly presented. It’s here that I heard a HUGE, I can’t stress that enough, a huge difference between my XB700’s and the D2K’s. The XB700’s seemed to be a great headphone, but when I put the D2K’s on, it felt like I was missing a HUGE chunk of the sound on the XB700’s. Here the D2K’s here put the XB700’s to shame. This was also the case with the highs too. Although the Xb700’s had nice highs, they sounded rolled off, and for me the D2K’s were absolutely excellent.
I really enjoy listening to these, and especially when I’m gaming hear those crisp footsteps as I walk through the “Battlefield”.

The soundstage:
I already touched upon this, and I’ll reiterate it here. The soundstage of these headphones is sublime. They just make you wonder where all that sound is coming from! It never ceases to amaze me, be it with music to shots being fired from behind me, or even whilst watching YouTube videos.

Sound Quality Ratings:
Lows: 9/10
Mids 8/10
Highs: 9/10
Soundstage: 9/10

Sound Quality Ratings for the modded D2000 with a D5000 dampened cup:
Lows: 10/10
Mids 8.5/10
Highs: 9/10
Soundstage: 9.5/10

Denon AH-D2000 with the Chimp

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Conclusions
These headphones are brilliant, although their build quality, comfort, accessories, and things somewhat un-related to sound are a little disappointing, their actual forte is in itself its sound. If you are looking for headphones, you want to keep indoors, that are very balanced under the £250 or so price tag, I would not hesitate to recommend these.

For the price I paid, £180, I find these were an absolute bargain. I pay around this amount for them, and value them at around this price.

Overall rating for these headphones: 9/10

(Seeing as I don’t care that much for the added extras so to speak, and rather rate headphones for what they are, not the look, or the things they come with, but rather the actual sound quality)

Final notes, recommendations and observations:

These headphones have the possibility of being modded (which I’m currently looking into), the cable can be re-cabled, the plastic cups can be changed to wooden ones, similarly to the ones on the D5/7K’s, the ear pads can be changed (to J$/angle pads), dampening the cups (MarkL Mods) and the headband can be modified too.

Some useful links:
Disassembly guide for the Denon’s
Wood cup installation guide
Recabling the Denon’s
Lawton Audio Angle Pads installation
J$ Pads installation

Here are some pictures I took whilst attempting the open-back mod:

I hope you enjoyed this near 3,000 word review!
TotallydubbedHD

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4 thoughts on “Denon AH-D2000 Headphone Review – The Muscle Power

  1. Dominic

    Great review. But there is absolutely no way these headphones can receive 8/10 for isolation. The Denon X000 headphones have terrible isolation that I have experienced personally.

    Reply
    1. TotallydubbedHD Post author

      When I created the review I thought of it as comparing other headphones I’ve heard. Thinking back to it, it can get people the wrong idea, especially when they read through my site.
      Thus I’ve adjusted it accordingly and dropped the rating from 8/10 to 6/10 :)!
      Thanks for the heads-up and reminder! 🙂

      Reply

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