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D2000, DX1000, Edition 9: A Comparison

post #1 of 103
Thread Starter 
I know, this thread is worthless without a picture.




This is a comparison of three headphones I've listened to for a while now: the Denon AH-D2000, the JVC DX1000, and the Ultrasone Edition 9. This is my first attempt at this, so feel free to point and laugh when I deserve it. I'm sure I forgot to include various details I intended to add, but if I wait until I remember everything I'll never post it so here it is, warts and all.

I did most of the comparisions using a Corda Opera through the USB with my PC as a source, and using a HeadRoom Micro Amp with an iMod as the source.


Denon AH-D2000

Break-in: When I first got the Denons the bass was boomy and sloppy and the mids were slightly recessed. I was listening to them at the 4.5 hour mark and the bass suddenly resolved to be tighter with better impact. Over the next 48 hours the mids came forward to even out the spectrum and the sound signature has not changed since.

Description: The D2000s have a relaxed, comfortable kind of sound. The bass is good without overpowering the rest of the audio specturm, the mids are pleasant with maybe a touch of recession associated with closed cans, and the treble is adequate. I hear a slight mid-bass hump around the 150 Hz range and the treble droops a bit at the top end but a touch of equalization can fix both. The D2000 are the cheapest of the compared cans by quite a bit and are great for listening to all day with no fatigue. I use them at work for hours each day out of my Micro Amp and they keep me going all day. The D5000 has the same drivers as the D2000 but with a thicker cable and wooden cups that reportedly add a touch of bass and better treble extension, but at twice the price.

I think the Denons and Micro Amp/iMod setup is a perfect match. The Denons reproduce roughly the same range of sound the iMod can produce with a little help from the Rockbox EQ adding +2 to the treble at the 6000 Hz mark and +2 again at 9000 Hz. Moving to the Opera didn't add much except maybe a bit more bass extension. The sound didn't change that much.

Bass: lots of it, relaxed but not too boomy, doesn't override the mids and treble
Mids: barely recessed if at all, slightly closed in
Treble: rolled off on top end, but EQ can bring it up
Soundstage: adequate, nothing special
Comfort: light clamping force, roomy earcups, earcup material lets ears breath, headband evenly distributes the weight

Pros:
  • comfortable
  • good bass
  • no recessed mids
Cons:
  • treble rolloff
  • tangly cable that just won't cooperate
  • screw loose problem? (mine haven't had it but others have)

JVC DX1000


Break-in: I bought these used in the For Sale forum so I don't know how many hours they had on them. I do know the sound signature never changed from when I got them.

Description: The DX1000s have a unique sound that people either love or hate. The bass is excellent and goes deeper and is tighter with more impact than the D2000s. The treble is slightly more extended than the D2000s. The unique sound of the DX1000s is centered around the 400-1000 Hz range in the midrange. The sound has been described as "honky" and is a distinct coloration of the mids. I personally think the coloration is a result of the stellar soundstage the DX1000s have, which is larger than any other headphone I've heard with the possible exception of the AKG K701s. There are songs that match perfectly with the mid coloration and sound better on these cans than any other, but there are other songs that abuse the coloration and can make you grit your teeth to listen to them.

The JVCs like the Micro Amp just fine, pounding out some great sound, but they really loved the Opera. The Opera is known as a warm solid-state amp and the warmth is just what the JVC mids need. Skylab says the DX1000 really shines with a tube amp that is even warmer but I haven't ventured into the world of tube madness yet so I'll take his word for it.

Bass: lots of it, deep extension, tight and punchy, best feature
Midrange: quirky with coloration that enhances/degrades the sound depending on song
Treble: adequate, not much sparkle
Comfort: moderate clamping force, roomy earcups still manage to crowd my ears, luxurious leather earcups feel good, headband - earcups are so large the headband only rests in the middle of my head and hurts from the weight concentrated in one spot

Pros:
  • beauty
  • soundstage
  • great bass
Cons:
  • midrange coloration
  • large size
  • uncomfortable (on my head anyway)

Ultrasone Edition 9


Break-in: These headphones are a beast to break in and they continue to change during the process, or at least mine did. These are the brief notes I kept during the nearly 500-hour process:
  • New: boomy bass, harsh highs
  • 100 hours: boominess left in midbass, only sometimes shrill, mids confused
  • 150 hours: highs mellowed a lot, midbass boominess barely there, mids still muddled and too forward
  • 200 hours: highs mellowed completely, mids beginning to clear up, midbass boom barely evident
  • 300 hours: good highs, bass boom increasing, still slightly muddy mids still too forward
  • 350 hours: much the same, sell them?
  • 400 hours: bass boom intolerable, can't concentrate on the music for trying to EQ out the boom
  • 450 hours: boom mostly gone, mids cleared up, great treble
I even changed amps during the process, moving from a Corda Opera with its slightly warm mids to a HeadRoom Desktop that is reported to be more neutral. It helped the mids which I felt were too forward but that's when the bass boominess came back and I was scared it was the amp. Not so, as since then the bass has settled down nicely and the HeadRoom amp pushed the mids back just a touch where I wanted them.

Description: The UE9s have the best bass of the three headphones with the deepest bass extension, best bass impact, and tightest bass sound. They actually have more bass than I like and I take a tic or two off from 220 Hz all the way down with the Foobar EQ. I'm not a basshead at all so keep that in mind. The treble is excellent once it burns in with good extension on the top end to match the bass extention at the bottom. Detail is excellent and sensitivity as well. The mids take some getting used to, probably because of the Ultrasone "S-Logic". I don't know if the mids finally cleared up or my ears finally adapted to the sound, because for the longest time I found the mids a bit thick and confused and one of the reported features I was most looking forward to with these cans was the transparent mids, which made me worried I wouldn't get it. At long last going on to 500 hours, the mids are clearing up (or my ears are) and these cans are on my head as much as possible.

The 9s sound good with the Micro Amp/iMod but you can tell they can do better. Moving to the Opera opened up the bass and treble, maybe too much in the treble, but also moved the mids more forward and I don't like them that way. The maxxed HeadRoom Desktop pushed the mids back just a touch to where I wanted them and as a bonus, the Desktop treble is an even better match for the UE9 treble, sounding smoother with not even the slightest hint of shrillness, where the Opera could sometimes hurt on the high end with some songs.

Bass: excellent, deep, tight, impactful
Midrange: an aquired taste but great after that
Treble: excellent, good extension and detail
Soundstage: second only to DX1000, also resists narrowing effect of crossfeed
Comfort: vicious clamping force, small earcups both in diameter and depth, soft leather earcups, headband - small, narrow leather pad concentrates all the weight and clamping force in one spot which hurts

Pros:
  • great bass
  • great treble
  • detail
Cons:
  • price
  • uncomfortable, both earcup size and headband pressure
  • incredibly long break-in time

Summary


These phones all have very strong bass performance but they diverge from there. The Denons are excellent cans for the price. The JVCs and Ultrasones are noticeably better but not if you can't (or don't want to) afford them. The JVCs have better treble than the Denons but the midrange coloration can make or break these cans depending on the tastes of the listener. The Ultrasones are the best of the three (which you would expect from the price) with the best bass, best treble and best mids once you spend half your life breaking them in and hoping they keep changing.

Which did I like the best? Well, I still have the D2000s and UE9s, but I sold the DX1000s. I use the Denons at work and the 9s at home and life is good.
post #2 of 103
Thanks for nice review Jeff.

I'm still tossing coin between JVC's and UE9's. Wonder if I'm the one that's gonna love JVC's or hate them...



<trembling wallet is trying to escape and hide somewhere deep and dark>
post #3 of 103
Nice writeup, thanks for posting your impressions.
post #4 of 103
Hey look at the towel you're using, I didn't know you were a Broncos fan.

Great review Jeff.
post #5 of 103
Jeff,

Very nice written and direct review. I appreciate you calling out how the amplifiers own traits played a role in the synergy between these cans instead of just focusing on phone comparisons. Would you consider a D-2000 recable as an option to deepen the bass and make the overall presentation more transparent?
post #6 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardwired View Post
The D5000 has the same drivers as the D2000 but with a thicker cable and wooden cups that reportedly add a touch of bass and better treble extension, but at twice the price.
are you sure they use the same drivers. do you know if the D5000s are more closely matched. your understanding is that just the cable and wooden housing are the difference between the two.

Quote:
I personally think the coloration is a result of the stellar soundstage the DX1000s have, which is larger than any other headphone I've heard with the possible exception of the AKG K701s.
i'm surprised by this. a closed headphone with a very large sound stage - especially as large as the k701 - sounds atypical.

Quote:
The UE9s have the best bass of the three headphones with the deepest bass extension, best bass impact, and tightest bass sound. They actually have more bass than I like
would you say that the bass is overpowering. that it takes away from the mids and highs. this seems to be a repeated complaint against this headphone.


Quote:
The Ultrasones are the best of the three (which you would expect from the price) with the best bass, best treble and best mids once you spend half your life breaking them in and hoping they keep changing.
do you think the ed.9 is overall worth its price of $1000+ i am considering acquiring one, but not sure. i'm not really a basshead either.
post #7 of 103
Very simple to read and understand review. Many Thanks!!! I really want to have DX1000 and convert it to balanced. I think that will put it to another level
post #8 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lad27 View Post
Thanks for nice review Jeff.

I'm still tossing coin between JVC's and UE9's. Wonder if I'm the one that's gonna love JVC's or hate them...


<trembling wallet is trying to escape and hide somewhere deep and dark>
Same here, although between the JVCs and the D5000s. I'm slowly gearing towards the JVCs though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SK138 View Post
Very simple to read and understand review. Many Thanks!!! I really want to have DX1000 and convert it to balanced. I think that will put it to another level
This would be fantastic, I think if you pulled it off it would make you the first person to do so.
post #9 of 103
I would rate them same as well.
post #10 of 103
Hardwired, I enjoyed reading your review although I have some questions.
Firstly, can you discuss the detail retrieval abilities between the JVCs and the Denons.
Secondly a note or two regarding the cable of the three( I know you mentioned the Denons).
Thirdly, what genre of music do you use to evaluate each phone.
Lastly, can you rate if possible the value of each phone. i.e. the subjective improvement in quality verses the increase in price. e.g. the Ultrazone cost some 40% more than the JVCs, is the cost of the improvement justified?

Thanks.
post #11 of 103
VERY nice review. Well done. I hope to hear some Edition 9's someday.

FWIW, the Denon D5000 has more extended treble than the D2000 (and is more in the price range of the other two).

Again, very well done! Thanks.
post #12 of 103
Great review!
post #13 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by vcoheda View Post
are you sure they use the same drivers. do you know if the D5000s are more closely matched. your understanding is that just the cable and wooden housing are the difference between the two.
This doesn't surprise me. Every Headphone in Sony's SA-series has the same driver, the RS-1 shares a driver with the RS-2 and the SR-325 with the SR-225, and get this; the Edition 9 uses the same driver as the proline 2500. The driver is only one part of the equation, and not as big a part as you'd think it would be.
post #14 of 103
Well done review of three cans and two & three amps, which can be so overwhelming to put down in writting.

That said, I fully appreciate the overview especially in light of my amp of choice and being ever slightly interested in the next level of headphones to match.

Fortunately I'm quite satisfied at this point and not actively looking, however these two (being a D2000 owner), are on my curiousity list.

Thanks again for sharing
post #15 of 103
Thanks, Hardwired, for the nice review!

The Edition 9 goes deeper in the bass than the JVC? I thought the JVC had shown me the bottom of the well! Are you sure that impression doesn't come from a louder mid-bass? Just wondering. This is an area where choice of material will affect one's perception decisively. There's skull-shaking bass out of the JVC/Max'ed Desktop w/Max DAC combo. Again, just surprised by your findings in that area.

You're right that the AKG K701 is a match for the JVC's soundstage as regards width. But, to my ears, the JVC throws a much deeper soundstage.

As regards the JVC's "honkiness", I pretty much agree with you. It is an area of concern for prospective buyers. I've tried my best to warn those who have asked me about these phones and have also described my experience with the JVC's midrange at length in a number of threads. But I think I'd be remiss if I didn't emphasize how subtle the thing is most of the time. I perceive it as a kind of warmth that's won me over completely at this point.

I'm far from certain that the DX1000 are the best headphones out there, and I'll always be willing to try whatever promises an improvement over what I have. But I confess that the DX1000 often has me thinking: "Shut up! Just shut up about it! If it goes out of production and people realize what they've missed... " But my better Head-Fi instincts speak louder, as you can see, and I come back to let others know about these great phones.

As for comfort, it's a major part of what's kept me away from the Edn. 9. I think comfort is the very least one must get for that kind of cash. This is an area where the Denon's and the K701 are hard to beat. The JVC is second to those. It trades some measure of comfort for good isolation. But it's still among the most comfortable I've known.

Again, thanks for the review!

PS: Thought this might be of some help: In casual listening (but attentive casual as opposed to casual casual), I haven't noticed any difference in bass extension between the DX1000, the D5000 and the DT990-250. Maybe a more careful comparison would produce a winner. This is relevant because Hardwired finds the DX1000 better than the D2000 as regards bass extension, and I wonder what might account for the discrepancy: any D5000/D2000 difference, or just a better job of listening on his part.
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