Pros: A more detailed sound than I'm used to, but still with lots of tuneful bass
Cons: Flimsy feeling build quality, especially the silver colored plastic bits
This is my first ever review, so please excuse my amateurish fumbling attempts at describing sound. I will do my best, but don't expect the work of a seasoned professional!
The Denon's are my 4th set of "good" headphones, but the only set I have used consistently since I started getting into head fi are my beloved Audio Technica ATH 700 Pro MK2's.
I went looking for a new set primarily because the Audio Technica cans are still too uncomfortable due to clamping even after a lot of use, and even after replacing the stock pads with M50 ones. I primarily use them at work, and that means many straight hours of listening (I'm a programmer), so comfort is a big concern for me.
The other motivating factor was that after listening to a few other models recently (notably the Sony MD1R's that I nearly bought when I saw them on sale in an airport), I have started to realise that the 700 Pro's are a little... um... samey? I lack the vocabulary for describing sound that most reviewers here have. What I'm trying to say is that they seem to smooth everything out a bit. Everything sounds kind of melded and creamy as if the top has been cropped off a bit. The bass is what attracted me to them, and what has kept me faithful for so long, but like I said... samey. Different albums and genres all seem to sound similar through them it seems to me - like an instrument I guess - whatever music you play on it, it still sounds like that instrument.
Anyway, I digress. This is a review of the Denon D1100's, not the 700s.
Denon AH-D110's (obviously) - brand new with zero burn in.
Audio Technica ATH 700 Pro MK2's - for direct comparison.
Fiio E11 amp.
When I first unpacked them, I had a bit of a sinking feeling to be honest. I read a lot of reviews (especially on Amazon) complaining about the build quality, or more accurately the quality of the materials. They feel flimsy and brittle, especially the silver coloured plastic bits, and I am certain they would not stand up to being sat on or dropped from any appreciable height.
Another major downside for me is that the cable is not removable. The cable is (usually, although I'm not sure in this case) the weakest & most vulnerable part, and should therefore always be easily replaceable on all but the cheapest cans in my opinion.
Compared to the Audio Technica's (OK, they're designed for DJ's but still), the build quality on the Denon's does not fill me with confidence that they will last.
Brilliant. They are light, the pads are soft & sensibly sized, and the grip is firm without clamping.
Sound insulation for me seems very good, and initial experiments suggest they don't leak much.
I do not have a whole lot of reference or experience here, so once again I'm going to have to resort to a direct comparison with the 700 Pro's.
The Denon's have bags of bass! It's not quite as punchy and aggressive as the teeth rattling capabilities of the 700's, but every bit as tuneful - possibly even more so! Amplified, they really start to thump! The RZA's Grits turned up moves an incredible amount of air in those pads - even to the point of being quite overwhelming, almost unpleasant even. Actually, they seem a little more bass sensitive than the 700s - you don't need to work them as hard to really get the drivers traveling. I can see I am going to need to dial it back a bit on the EQ if I want to turn these up when listening to Hip Hop.
Where they really shine (at least to my novice ears) is in the separation. Highs are much clearer, and the mids are much more detailed. I can hear things that I now realise were there with the 700's too, but muted so that I never really noticed them before. Everything sounds much crisper, lighter, airier, and more playful. I am listening to Larry Carlton's All Blues as I write these words, and the interplay between the different instruments is absolutely joyful. The music seems to have much much more three dimensionality to it... not only is each instrument more clearly distinguishable, but also it's position in the soundstage.
Rock is a similar story - A Perfect Circle's Blue delivers in a big way through the 1100's. The vocals are clear and commanding, the drums kick confidently, the bass massages my earlobes reassuringly, and the guitars are ... just so THERE. I don't know how else to say it, but hopefully you have some idea what I mean.
Even older and accordingly lower quality recordings like Led Zep's Lemon Song sound great through these cans. They don't seem to refine the sound or take away any of the rawness. Perhaps the guitar solo in the right channel around the 1:40 mark was a bit TOO harsh and high, but that could be because I am used to the muted mid-y quality of the Technica's.
I got these headphones from Amazon UK for 60 quid (GBP) - at that price, I would definitely recommend them to any new head-fier who, like myself, is looking for a comfortable, fun and bass heavy listening experience. I'm looking forward to spending some more time with these things. They will be going to the office with me on Monday instead of the 700's, and I'll see then whether they are less fatiguing over a long listening session.