Pros: Bottomless bass extension; extreme comfort
Cons: slightly recessed mids, potential build quality issues
The Denon D2000 is a result of a rather short, but extensive search spanning multiple audiophile grade headphones to find my personal ‘perfect sound’ while retaining an extremely high amount of comfort. My journey into the hi-end headphone market ironically started with a somewhat expensive Turtle Beach headset, and if it weren’t for the extreme discomfort I found with it, I might’ve never entered the market for top dollar cans. Since the Turtle Beach (DPX21 btw), I’ve owned, auditioned and still keep a number of cans, ranging from Audio Technica’s AD700 and M50, Beyerdynamic’s DT990 and Sennheiser’s 555, 595 and 598. The AD700 was a direct result of wanting the ultimate in long term comfort after having bad ear aches from the supra-aural fit of the Turtle Beach. The M50 was the direct result of wanting more bass out of the AD700 for music, and the DT990 was wanting to combine the best of both of those Audio Technica headphones. Ultimately in the end, still my AD700 remains (my oh my is it ever comfortable), and I’m thinking of selling off Beyer soon, as the Denon seems to have replaced it.
Enter the Denon D2000, it is what I would dub the ‘audiophile’s basshead can.’ Even compared to headphones renown for their low end extension like the M50 and some ultrasones I tested, the Denons seem to be bottomless in terms of how low their bass can go, and how effortlessly it can go, it’s quite remarkable. Before we delve into the sonic signature of the D2000, let’s talk about its fit and finish.
At the time I bought the D2000, I was already quite accustomed to the build quality of other top dollar cans, so there was never a moment of extremely high expectations. I was afraid of the build quality the Denons would provide because there’s a lot of reports about the infamous screws on their yokes coming loose over time. At the time of this review, I can’t say I’ve had the D2000 quite long enough to ever experience such a thing, but in the couple months that I’ve had it , I’ve had no issues with loose screws yet. The thing that impressed me most about the Denons was their presentation, it is extremely elegant and luxurious looking headphone. If I could compare the D2000 to my Beyerdynamic DT990, I’d say it compares favorably. Beyerdynamic is famous for the build quality of their headphones: They’re all built in Beyer’s motherland of Germany. The feel and solidness of the DT990 is superb, the yokes and trim of the DT990 is made of a composite it looks like, and not a cheaply hollow plastic like you’d find on say—the Beats or Turtle Beach headphones. Compared to the Beyers, the Denon is more of a top dollar Mercedes Benz, while the Beyers could be marketed as a Lamborghini. The louvers and yokes of the Beyer make for an iconic and exotic appearance, while the Denons are more reserved and mannered. The yokes and trim of the Denons are made of magnesium, and are extremely light for their strength. The backings of the cans themselves feels like another sort of composite, and it’s from my knowledge that they have a metal reinforcement inside (they are matte finished too, which might I add is a very gorgeous look) The yokes and headband are held together with screws to give it a very sturdy look. Inside the headband are two polished steel band that double up as adjustment for head size (and might I add the adjustment of the D2000 is silky smooth compared to the Beyers—perhaps one chip in the Beyer’s build quality) Coming off the Denons and Beyers, even the Audio Technica M50—very famous for its tank-like build—looks like like a cheap plastic toy. The thing that struck me the most in the D2000’s presentation, however, was the quality of its pleather padding. When I first touched the pleather padding on the inner cups, I could have sworn I wasn’t touching anything at all. It felt like I was pressing down on clouds. The pleather padding is the most supple I’ve ever seen from a headphone, and months later it’s still extremely supple. The actual fit of the D2000’s pleather earpads is bar-none the best I’ve ever experienced as well. The pads are uniquely contoured to fit the angel and shape of the ear. They’re very thin at the front, but extremely gracious and well padded in the back. The pads are concave in shape, meaning from a vertical view, they are at their thinnest on the very middle of their form, to match the natural curvature of the head. The openings of the pads are just big enough to allow for a full cicrum-aural fit—something which is a considerably huge bonus for me (something like the M50 is marketed as circumaural, but your ears actually have to go inside the padding, the D2000s are true ‘over ear’) The pads are also cleverly designed so that your ears hardly ever touch the driver cover too, something which a whole lot of headphones have trouble with for me and my large ears. The Beyers are known as some of the most comfortable cans on the market, but the Denon D2000 surpasses the DT990 in short term comfort, while just barely losing out on long term comfort. The Denons make the Beyers’ fit very sloppy feeling. (I know it’s hard to believe since the D2000 is closed and pleather) With that said, the D2000s don’t really get hot or build up sweat at all because of their fit, so nobody should worry about the sweat issue. So to sum it up, the build quality and especially the comfort of the D2000 is exceptional.
As for the sound of the D2000, let me say it’s pretty close to ideal for what I’ve been looking for. For the longest time I’ve been looking for the perfect balance between the M50 and AD700—the D2000 delivers. The DT990 was extremely close in that regards, but ultimately I ran away wanting more from the low, low end (50hz and under) The DT990 is a great headphone, and is perhaps the most dynamic I’ve ever heard. Compared to the DT990, the D2000 definitely extends way lower, has the same amount of detail and timbre accuracy, but loses out a tiny bit on crispness—which isn’t entirely a bad thing because almost everything out there loses out on the crispness department compared to a Beyer. Compared to the M50, the D2000 is an upgrade in every sense possible. The bass isn’t quite as bloated, extends lower, and definitely has more visceral impact to it (maybe because of its 50mm driver and added tightness to the bass). Songs with super low bass like James Blake’s Limit to your Love and Trentemoller’s Evil Dub sound extremely powerful on the D2000, while headphones like the M50 and even the Studio Beats (yes I couldn’t help but compare with my friend’s) sound very weak in comparison. The kick drum and bass guitar in Rage Against the Machine’s Take the Power Back are well defined—the kick drum giving lots of impact while the bass guitar sounding controlled and deep. Some people might fear the Bass of the D2000 is such that it drowns out the mids, but that isn’t the case. The bass is effortless, as in it extends super deep and with plenty of impact when it’s called for, but is always well controlled and light when called for, so bass guitars won’t sound like subwoofers, or kick drums won’t sound like a monotone 40hz tone.
The mids of the D2000 are very smooth and sweet. They are very timbre accurate—matching the Beyer and easily surpassing the Studio beats and M50 in this aspect, and surprisingly ‘airy’ and separated for being in a closed headphone. They are every bit as resolving as a Sennheiser, but also more recessed and laid back in the sound signature compared to the Sennheiser. Yes, the mids are recessed, but still are very robust. Someone coming off a Sennheiser might notice it and might not like it, but for anybody else, they probably wouldn’t notice a difference. Although not as crisp in their mids as the Beyer DT990, the Denon’s mids are crystalline compared to the Studio Beats and M50s. The vocals and instruments in Radiohead’s No Surprises and the Tourist are beautifully rendered. Each string instrument in Mumford & Son’s Little Lion Man is gorgeously separated and dynamic sounding, giving the song a new life to a couple of friends I’ve had try the song out with on the Denons. To quote them, it was ‘a whole new song.’ The soundstaging and instrument separation presented in the Denon is more along the lines of an open headphone, and it surprised me very much how much the D2000 could give these sonic qualities for being enclosed. The ‘airy’ sound makes cans like the Studio Beats and M50 sound like tinny apple earbuds in comparison.
I won’t get into the highs too much other than to say they’re very sparkly and not too powerful, but at times they can cause for a bit of sibilance in less than ideally recorded/mastered songs, but it’s something that effects nearly every headphone, unless it’s a Sennheiser with a treble veil to help minimize sibilance. The highs are a bit more harsh than the DT990, but the DT990’s highs are amazingly bright, which a lot of people don’t like. I’d rate the highs of the D2000 around the same strength as the M50, but less strident.
So all in all, nobody can really go wrong with this headphone, even your typical Basshead who’s after a pair of Beats for only that midbass thump would enjoy these, and the audiophile who wants to hear every bit of detail a song has to offer could enjoy these too. They’re not very portable and actually don’t seal very well for being close (and really want an amp to boot, but nothing overly robust like what a Beyer would require), but are easily the most enjoyable pair of headphones I’ve ever listened to so far. They do everything close to perfect for their price, and often they can be found used-like new for only around 200usd. They are an incredible steal, and something I’d never hesitate to recommend to any person on the market, no matter their musical taste—they are a superb headphone worthy of anyone’s ears.