Denon AH-D2000 £250
30th Jun 2008 | 11:35
Denon has got it just right with its new high-end headphone
Denon may not be the first name one would think of in the context of high-end headphones, but it has five models on offer at present, plus three in-ear designs.
This particular contender is an all-new model and sits one rung down from the range-topping (and more expensive) AH-D5000.
Like the D5000, the D2000 is a closed-back model, the main advantage being the degree of isolation from exterior sounds.
A few closed-back models we've tested recently had next to no attenuation of outside noise, but while the D2000 is hardly in the 'sensory deprivation' league, it does (thanks to its close-fitting ear cups) cut out a good deal of peripheral interference.
It's also comfortable to wear, with soft padding on both cups and a spring-forced headband that's nicely balanced between security and a vice-like grip.
Naturally, a major contributor to the sound of any headphone is its drive units and Denon has apparently used some form of microfibre composite for the membranes, with a voice
coil driven by a neodymium magnet.
Something called an 'Acoustic Optimizer' helps maintain a neutral balance (closed-back headphones can be at a disadvantage because of the enclosed space behind the diaphragms). The driver housings are usefully non-resonant, too.
Lots of little touches complete what is a very upmarket-looking package. The cable is made of high-purity copper and is sheathed in a business-like braid, although the noise it makes when rubbing against clothing is a bit disconcerting. At the end of the cable is a 3.5mm jack plug, a top-quality metal item with a screw-in quarter-inch adapter.
Satisfying sound quality
Having just mentioned that warning note about coloration from closed-back cans, we are delighted to report that this model seems almost entirely free from any such effect. It is, in fact, one of the most neutral closed headphones we can recall: possibly the most neutral, standing comparison on tonal grounds with the best open-back models.
The only slight blemish on its tonal character is a hint of shyness in the upper midrange and lower treble. So many transducers, especially loudspeakers, have something of a peak in that region and we thought (at first) that the D2000 was unusually honest, but careful listening to recordings of familiar sounds (including speaking voice, a very searching test of headphone tonality) confirmed that there is a small dip in the response.
Very high treble, however, is superbly open and extended, while lower frequencies are also very well served. Bass is completely effortless, but very powerful when required.
The result giving an unusually satisfying feel for the visceral impact of percussion (even though it's one area where headphones must inevitably bow to the superiority of speakers).
Deep and detailed audio
Detail is another area in which this headphone scores very highly (with just a touch less insight than we've heard from the very best open-back models). The real glory of the D2000, though, is its imaging.
This is a bit of an odd one as headphone imaging works differently from loudspeakers and results can certainly be expected to vary from those heard via speakers, although this works very well indeed.
Instruments are clearly defined spatially, with good lateral placement and excellent depth. This, without doubt, is due to the high levels of detail and low levels of resonance in the D2000, which allows sounds to project clearly from their place of origin.
Headphone listening isn't for everyone, but models like this can only help widen its appeal. If you're already a convert, you'll need little persuasion of the virtues inherent in this model once you've heard it!