Pros: Beautiful looks and great sound
Cons: For a "closed" can, they isolate no better than some "open" cans
Please note: this is a re-post of my original review from 2007.
This is the link to Denon’s website, if you read Japanese:
I bought the D5000’s from Pricejapan.com for $553 shipped via DHL express. I received them within one week of order. Some immediate things I noticed:
1.They are perhaps the most comfortable headphone I have ever worn. I always thought Beyerdynamic headphones were unbeatable in this regard. The Beyers are supremely comfortable, but they clamp a little more, and are a little heavier, than the Denons. Note that I don't find leather "hot" like some people, though, and all my Beyers have leather pads.
2.While these are closed, the seal is not too good, but it isn't sensitive to placement in the ear. The way the earpads are there is really only one way for it to go over the ear, unlike a Beyer or AKG headphone where it surrounds the ear so much that it can be slid back and forth quite a bit, which does effect balance. They do not isolate as well as the 06 DT770's – a notable amount less. They are certainly not going to bother anyone next to you, but they do not block out tons of external sound.
3.They are very light, and they are much smaller in depth than the JVC DX1000 (but about the same diameter).
4.These don't do well un-amped. I know the specs say 25 ohm and 106db sensitivity, but to get the same volume level as an 80 ohm Darth Beyer required 30% more crank from my Meier Opera.
5.The cable is not microphonic at all, unlike the JVC DX1000 where the cable transmits quite a bit of noise to the headphone.
6.The driver sits VERY close to the ear, which undoubtedly has a lot to do with why there is a somewhat forward presentation.
7.The wood is very pretty, but not the most beautiful I have ever seen. It's most like Wenge - very dark brown wood with very little red in it. Pics below. The leather earpads and headband are awesome and very supple. Again, easily the most comfortable headphone I have ever worn.
Overall, they sound very, very good. Very open mids, deep, well defined bass, and clear, clean, treble. This is not to say they are the best thing I have ever heard, but they are easily worth $500.
The highs are smooth, and there is quite a bit of treble energy - well extended and nicely detailed. I would not describe it as bright, but it isn’t laid back in the treble, either, though. It suits the overall response well. The treble is also quite transparent, which gives it a very open, natural quality.
Midrange is just slightly on the forward side of neutral, but highly transparent, and not edgy at all. The midrange is very alluring. I normally prefer a more relaxed midrange presentation, but because the Denons have powerful bass, the slightly forward mids do not make them annoying. There is enough bass power to balance the slightly forward midrange, and the transparency of the midrange make it very engaging. There is no glare, harshness or grain.
The D5000s have robust, powerful bass. They are headphones that a bass lover (like me) can really enjoy. The bass is not as strong as the older DT770’s, but on par with the new ones, and a little better in quality. Bass articulation, definition, and attack are very good, and way above average. It does bass very well, since the quantity is plentiful, and the quality of that robust bass is VERY good.
For soundstage...the D5000 has a slightly smaller soundstage than any of my Beyer headphones. It is less wide and less deep. However, image specificity is excellent - maybe a little better than any of my Beyer headphones. So there is a bit of a trade-off there.
I have listened to the Denons on a variety of headphone amps: Meier Audio Opera, Aria, HA-2 II/SE, and Singlepower PPX3, and ASL OTL mk III. I liked the Denons best on the Opera and Singlepower. I like a warm sounding headphone, and on the HA-2 and Aria I wanted just a little more warmth. The PPX3 did the trick for sure, and I swear everything seems to sound its best on the Opera .
For obvious reasons, I did some extensive comparisons to the JVC DX1000. These are both excellent headphones. The JVC has the deepest bass I have ever heard from a headphone, and the Denon didn't best it there. The Denon's bass is a little more robust overall, and both have among the very best in terms of bass articulation, definition, and speed for cans with a good amount of bass.
The Denon, to me, has the more natural midrange. It really excels here. The JVC always had just a slight nasal coloration to the midrange that keeps it from being a very top tier can. The Denon has no such coloration. It probably has the most neutral midrange of any headphone I own, right up there with the DT880 and the K701's mids.
The treble is a toss up, and neither is perfect. The JVC lacks the last little bit of extension and air, but the Denon may have just a tiny bit of extra sparkle. This may disappear with even more break in. Both have excellent treble overall, however.
The Denon images better. The soundstage is about the same width and depth, and image specificity is better. But again, both are very good.
The Denons are also more comfortable, although the JVC's are just fine. But I put the Denon's on my 8 year old son's head, and the first thing he said was "these are so comfy"! They really are. It's hard to imagine how a headphone could be more comfortable than the D5000.
I like both of the Japanese woodies a lot, and initially I thought I liked the D5000 better. However, over time, I changed my mind about the JVC's mids, and the Denon's imaging. The DX1000's mids are a slight bit unique, but in the end they have an incredibly musical presentation. And the JVC's imaging is more holographic than the D5000. In the end, I ended up preferring the DX1000, so much that I eventually sold the D5000 (which I then replaced with the D7000!).
I compared the D5000 to the DT880/600, using the ASL MG-Head OTL mkIII. These headphones sound more similar than the D5000 and the Darth Beyers do, or even JVC DX1000's do. The Denons have more bass output, and a slightly more forward midrange than the DT880. The DT880's sound a little smoother, have a slightly more refined treble, and have a better overall soundstage. I slightly prefer the DT880’s treble and midrange, and I prefer the bass of the Denon. But they are very close.
I further compared the D5000 to the DT990. The tonal quality is very different of course. The Denon has slightly forward mids, and the DT990 slightly recessed. This gives the DT990 the feeling of having both more bass and treble, of course. I think that the Denon's mids are just forward of neutral. The DT990's are just recessed of neutral. So they sound pretty different. But anyone who wants a headphone with punchy bass but more forward mids than the DT990 has would do well with the Denon. The articulation of bass on the Denon and DT990 are fairly comparable, with the Denon maybe having a slight edge.
Finally, I also compared to the Headphile Darth Beyers, and the Denons are pretty different sounding. The Denons have excellent bass, but less midbass than the DB's. The Denons have a more neutral midrange, though, and are the more "accurate" headphone overall. They also have more detail. It's very difficult for me to say which I like better. The Denons are the first headphone I have ever had that had a really neutral midrange and detailed treble but still had enough bass for me, and that's why I am pretty enamored with them. I like them for the same reasons I like the 2006 DT990's so much. But the Denons ate the far superior headphone. While the Darth Beyers are wonderful for a “relaxed listen”, that I still prefer them in some respects, the D5000 are better across the board.
So, to sum up, the AH-D5000 is a very high quality headphone with some outstanding qualities, and is a great listen. It will appeal to a large number of music lovers, and is very fairly, even attractively, priced. Well done, Denon!