Denon AH-D2000 Review

I purchased these Denon AH-D2000’s from Head-Fi’s FS/FT forum recently.  My pair came modified with a 4-pin XLR balanced termination as opposed to the stock SE termination and so is used and reviewed as such.

Pictures

Background

The Denon AH-DXXXX series is a notable and well known series of headphones that was first introduced in the 2008-2009 timeframe.  As many know, Denon bought and modified a OEM design from Foster Electronics, the company whose commercial arm many know as Fostex.  The AH-DXXX line is based on the same overall design and driver as the Fostex TH-XXX line of headphones, despite the similarities however, sonically they are quite different.  

It is unfortunate that Denon’s Foster-modified line of headphones is no longer available, however Creative has revived the headphones in a way with their subsidiary EMU, who makes the Teak line of headphones know for their wide array of wood choices for their headphone earcups.  It also appears that Denon has renewed their work with Foster with the upcoming AH-D7200 that was recently announced, the true successor to the AH-D7000.  The AH-D7100 supposed was an attempt at Denon going off on it’s own, but the marketing material for the driver suggests they continued to use Foster drivers, just developing their own housing.  

One thing that has always been surprising, is that despite being a low impedance headphone, the Foster line this headphone is based on and their bio-cellulose drivers are quite revealing of amps and quite demanding of them.  Being very low impedance, they seem to perform better with amplifiers with the ability to swing current, similar to planar magnetics.  

Fit and Comfort

The AH-D2000 is quite lightweight which is what makes it most comfortable for me.  It also has a very light clamp, which can make seal with the pads a problem, but has not been an issue for me so far.  Some people complain about the size of the openings in the earpads, preferring Fostex’s “ring” pads to Denon’s pads, however i have also found the angled pads and their openings to be sufficient.  The pads used on the newer TH-X00 headphones from Massdrop use very similar pads to those used on the Denon.

Sound Impressions

I find the AH-D2000 to be a very well balanced headphone, especially through the midrange with some small issues at the extremes.  One important thing to note about the AH-D2000 is that despite looking like a sealed headphone, there is actually a space between the edge of the cup and the metal frame which connects to the yokes.  This space between the cup and the frame acts as a vent for the headphone driver, and while it’s relatively good at keeping sound in, it’s not very good at keep sound out at all.  This is true of all Fostex headphones that share similar Foster roots.

The bass on the D2000 leaves something to be desired for me.  While I can hear the headphone extending into the sub-bass region properly,  I feel it lacks the clarity and tightness to deliver appropriate impact in that range.  That’s not to say it delivers no impact in the sub-bass, because it does and it does so with relative clarity, just not well enough to compete with other headphones in the price range..  The bass is also relatively flat, so the headphone doesn’t possess a midbass hump in the way some other dynamics do, adding punch to augment some of the lower end impact.  One thing Denon did especially well with this headphone was to ensure that bass was at a good level without ever interfering with the midrange.

The midrange on this headphone to me is what really makes it stand out.  The evenness, clarity and timbre of the midrange are really stand out features of this headphone to me.  It brings so much excitement to the midrange while remaining relatively balanced, which is a rare quality.  I believe the excitement is a result of what I hear as a slightly elevated upper midrange that remains smooth and detailed.  One of the other features of the midrange on this headphone that also really impressed me was the imaging.  I find that instruments and vocals are very easy to place in the space this headphone creates, despite the relatively small size of the stage.  The positioning of those individual elements and the information about them conveyed in the midrange is quite vivid and clear.

Treble is mostly good, and has good clarity.  There is a small bump in the upper mids/low treble that’s noticeable and brings a slight emphasis to the mid treble, which can make things like tape hiss slightly more noticeable or can emphasize cymbals but also adds a bit of sparkle to the treble.  The bump is quite subtle however, and doesn’t sound like it overly colors the music.  Overall the treble has great clarity like the midrange which helps with the headphones ability to imagine surprisingly well.  The headphone generally remains coherent sounding, with no noticeable dips or peaks in the region.  

While the AH-D2000 presents a small space, it also presents what sounds to me like an accurate space when trying to judge the width, height and depth.  Though the space is small, the relative positioning of different sources within a song on the AH-D2000 is still very impressive and makes the experience of listening to it more immersive.  I find the headphone quite detailed in the treble and mids, losing some of that detail in the bass, where it become looser and less defined.  The lack of definition also accounts for the softer texture of the sound of the headphone overall.

Conclusion

The AH-D2000 was a headphone I was always curious about.  I’ve heard so many comments about it repeated, one of the ones that’s always stuck with me is that the headphone is like a sealed Sennheiser HD650.  I can certainly see some of the comparison, especially the midrange balance and tonality.  Bass is more extended and doesn’t have the same mid-bass hump the HD650 possesses and the AH-D2000 is a bit more extended in the bass than the HD650.  The D2000 bass is also a bit more controlled and doesn’t impact the midrange the same way.  I really enjoy the AH-D2000’s tonality and balance, and find it a very engaging headphone to listen to because of its midrange and imaging properties.  Bass is adequate though I would prefer if it were cleaner and more impactful, and treble is engaging and well balanced without being too forward.  I am happy to finally have my own pair and I certainly suggest seeking one out on the used market if you can, as they go for very reasonable prices.

  • Baserri2012

    Nice Review!!

    The amp bellow is a Master11? Or a NOS11?

    Regards.

    • Amar

      It is an NFB-27H, the Sabre version of the Master 11.

  • Chung Gouy

    Great review! By any chance, have you tried the TH-X00 and Teaks? Do these compete with them?