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Comparison: Denon AH-D2000, AH-D5000, and Headphile "Darth Denon"

post #1 of 137
Thread Starter 
OK, I spent the morning comparing the stock D2000, the stock D5000, and the Darth Denons (which are recabled and woodied D2000's). I am posting my initial findings, but I may update tomorrow after another 24 hours of break in on the Darth Denons. Right now they only have 20 hours of break in, although my experience with my D5000 was that not much changed after about 20 hours.

Testing setup: I used a Sound Devices HX3 Headphone Amp and an iMod iPod. Many of you may be asking "what the heck headphone amp is that"? It's a professional headphone amp made by a company called Sounde Devices, which makes very cool pro audio products. It's an excellent sounding headphone amp, and it was perfect for this review because it has 3 headphone outputs each with a separate volume control, so I was able to very quickly switch between headphones with no unplugging and re-plugging. I did also listen to each can on the Meier Opera.

Here are some pics:






Results:

Well, this is going to surprise no one, but the difference between these headphones are fairly subtle - much more subtle than you would find if comparing to any other make/model of headphone. I went back and forth a lot of times to determine the differences. Also not surprisingly, the Headphile Darth Denon was the most different, so let's discuss it last.

D2000 vs. D5000: These headphones sound INCREDIBLY similar. but there is a noticable difference that is reasonably easy to detect. My 8 year old son was able to detect is when I asked him to join the comparison, and he described it without my asking him about what he heard. He said the D5000 has "more Zap". And he's right. The D5000 has a slightly hotter, and slightly more extended treble. The D2000 sounds a little darker and more rolled off. The difference is subtle, but readily noticable. I guess this has to be attributed to the better cable the D5000 has, since I can't imagine how the woody of the D5000 would do this. But there it is.

Generally the rest of the spectrum is too similar to find much difference. The bass is well defined and powerful on both, and the mids are clear, clean and transparent on both. But the D2000 seems just a little dark by comparison.

Enter Darth Denon: so what does that mean for the Darth Denon, which starts life as a D2000, but where the stock cable is tossed out, and the housing changed?

First of all, if it isn't obviuos from the pics, the Darth Denon is the nicest looking of all of these by far. It is also the heaviest by far, which does slightly compromise the incredible comfort of these cans, but not enough to make them even remotely uncomfortable. As I said in my D5000 review, these are the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn.

The Darth Denons sound different from both the stock D2000 and D5000. They are more extended in the treble than the stock D2000, but they still have less treble than the D5000. They also, believe it or not, have slightly LESS bass than either of the stock Denons. However, the bass is slightly smoother, and slightly more extended. In general, the Darth Denons offer a slightly mellower, more relaxed sound, but very extended bass and treble.

In terms of soundstaging, the D5000, due to it's slightly more extended and energetic upper treble, has a very slightly wider soundstage than the D2000, but again it's subtle. The Darth Denon has a even slightly wider soundstage, but it has ever so slightly less image specificity. Still, I personally prefer that presenation.

So did I prefer them to either stock Denon? Ummm...yeah. I did. I like their somewhat smoother sound. But the difference is not nearly as pronounced as the difference between a stock DT770 and a Darth Beyer, where they don't really sound like the same headphone. In this case they are very obviously the same headphone.

I have no idea what a Darth Denon is going to cost, so I cannot comment on what the value is like for them. I will say though that given how much prettier they are than the D5000, I think if Larry offers Darth Denons on a regular basis (which is his plan I believe) then these will be the way to go versus buying a D5000, since they look nicer and sound better, IMO. For the thriftier head-fier, The stock D2000 is a terrific buy, and I think would benefit from a recable for those who like to mod their own cans.

So there you have it: Darth Denon > D5000 > D2000, but in each case the delta is not massive. These are terrific headphones all, and I think that for anyone who actually likes robust bass, they are darned near perfect. But here again, if you like your bass lean, then none of these are for you. For the rest of us, there is a LOT to like with all of these cans. Good news!
post #2 of 137
Thanks a lot for that, Skylab.
post #3 of 137
How do each of them isolate?
post #4 of 137
No difference in details extraction from recabled Darth?
post #5 of 137
Thanks for shedding some light on this "controversy" Skylab. I would imagine the Darth Denons are going to be in the $500-$550 range- if so, they could be a great custom- woody alternative to the D5000s. As it stands, I am pretty happy with the options I have with the D2000.

Regarding isolation- the D2000s have mediocre isolation. I think they are a little better than w5000s, but they certainly aren't at the Proline 750 or Darth Beyer isolation level. I can hear the fan we have in our bedroom, but my music does not disturb my sleeping wife.
post #6 of 137
Cool! Thanks Skylab.

235$ extra for a pair of wooden cups that doesn't do much

Oh well I would have bought the D5000's myself if I had the dough (even if I knew they weren't THAT different from the D2000's).

-Just to find out that they sound better anyway when you remove the cups

Anyway, nice pictures, nice review. Looking forward to more impressions..
post #7 of 137
Those Double-D's are beautiful!
post #8 of 137
Larry's wood work is absolutely gorgeous. I believe that without a doubt, the D2000 will be my next can, and then, it will make a trip to Larry when I can afford it.
post #9 of 137
Skylab, thank you from all of us potential Denon buyers. Do
you feel that the qualitative differences between the 2000 and 5000 justify the fairly large price difference?
post #10 of 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpelg View Post
Those Double-D's are beautiful!
double D?
post #11 of 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by nfusion770 View Post
Regarding isolation- the D2000s have mediocre isolation. I think they are a little better than w5000s, but they certainly aren't at the Proline 750 or Darth Beyer isolation level. I can hear the fan we have in our bedroom, but my music does not disturb my sleeping wife.
If the W5000s isolate as good or better than the A900, and the D2000/D5000 isolate even better than the W5000, then they will be perfect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dw6928 View Post
Do
you feel that the qualitative differences between the 2000 and 5000 justify the fairly large price difference?
I'm not skylab, but I do have to say I have seen larrys work before, and I don't care for it to much. His Grado/Alessandro woodys looks really nice, but I don't like the others. From the pictures, the Denons are no exception.

I would say if you are going to be using a tube amp (and tube dac at that), I think the D5000 would be best because of it's brighter treble. Plus it's really sexy. Note I have not heard any Denons yet but I hope to have my D5000s next week.
post #12 of 137
Wow, those are definitely some of best looking cans I have ever seen!!!




Quote:
double D?
Darth Denons, I suppose.
post #13 of 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by 003 View Post
If the W5000s isolate as good or better than the A900
I can't agree on that. W5000 isolate even worse than my DT880 and definitely much worse than A900.
post #14 of 137
Personally I like cleaner look of smaller stock cups on D5000 better than Darth. Plus cable tension relieves look overkill comparing to stock.
IMO D2000 plastic cups much more practical, no worries about dings, scratches, direct sun and termites . I guess just recabling would be more than sufficient to bring them to D5000 level, may be further with the right cable.
Surprising that cups of such different shape did so little to the sound
post #15 of 137
Thanks for the impressions, Skylab. Am quite relieved as well, as I just ordered the D2000 under the impression that they are quite similar to the D5000 and I could always Darth them if after previewing them I decide they're exactly what I'm after sound-signature wise and just want to take them up a notch. Had you written there was indeed an unexpected dramatic difference between these models I might have had some buyers remorse before even receiving them.

Looking forward to getting them--just received a ship notification from Price Japan.
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