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Review: Denon AH-D1100

post #1 of 72
Thread Starter 


Hello guys! I just got my Denon AH-D1100 from Jaben and I am going to be doing a very short and noobish review as it is my first XD. Apologies in advance if i get the terms wrong  ;D
Nothing Fancy.. Just the Box, Headphone, Carrying Pouch, and Extension Cable.

The Headphone fits just nice if folded flat. 
img7831p.jpgExtension Cable are basic gold plated 3.5mm Male/Female Jacks.
img7833wg.jpgThe pads are made of Leather. Very Comfortable  ;D
img7834e.jpgThe Headband consists of 2 Parts. The left is obviously Leather and the Right may look like Metal, but it is actually Plastic.
img7844z.jpg3.5mm Gold Plated jack.
img7847c.jpgDouble Cables all the way!
First Opinion: When i first looked at it, i thought that it looks very nice, with Metal plating and Leather headbands. Sure it does not draw attention like the Beats but, the sound totally compensates for that. The moment I put the headphones on, it felt soooo comfortable compared to the Beyerdynamic DT250's i tried before this. 
Headphone Comfort/Design: The headphone itself is very light and can be used for Home or On-the-Go. The Leather Pads fit Around My Ears (not sure for some of you) snuggly. When worn on your head, the hinge part will kind off stick out and may look weird to certain Individuals. The surface of the cans are Metal (not sure which) and it looks like it can be scratched very easily with a key or something that is of harder material. There are 2 things that bother me though. When there is a strong wind blowing, you can hear the Wind rubbing against the headphone. The isolation is not great either, for closed headphones that is. When I was in the Train, i could still hear the engine when I was listening to my music at "Listening" volume.
Sound Quality: I Plugged this Headphone directly to my Computer's Soundcard or my Sansa without any amp. I am going to be comparing the AH-D1100s with the Marshalls. let me say a few stuff about the AH-D1100s first. The Highs, Lows, and Mids are pretty much balanced. The Soundstage on this is really incredible, considering that this is a Closed Headphone. The Bass on this is very unique, in between a Nail-gunish "Thack" and a Boomy "Thump". I find the only thing lacking in this Headphone is the Vocals. The BGM's overpowered the Vocals in most of the songs i listen to. The Marshalls is like a Westone 2 that enlarged and became a Headphone. What the Marshalls lack is the Soundstage from the AH-D1100s and what the AH-D1100s lack is the Vocals from the Marshalls.
I tested this Headphone out with 2 songs : "Dani California" by Red Hot Chilli Peppers and "I Am" by Hitomi. 
Dani California: The 2 Guitars can be heard precisely on the Left and Right Cups while the Bass Guitar and Drums are kind off all rounded in the center. 
I Am: The vocals at the beginning were crisp and clear, right before the Drums and Piano set in. The Drums were not as crisp and clear. Could not hear the "Thack" of the  hitting the drum. The Soundstage is amazing here, with various instrument sounds coming from all round.
Summary: For $299, its the most Bang for Buck All-Round Headphone you can get. With it's versatility, you can use it for either Home use or Portable use. The Comfort is superb. And the Sound of this is really one of the best, for such a Budget. Honestly, this "may" beat the Monster Beats Solo in terms of Bass. But different people have different sound taste. If this Headphone is stronger in Vocals, it would be one of the best "Lower Budget" headphones yet!
-Pros: Bang for it's Buck, Comfort, Versatility, Soundstage, Bass.
-Cons: Not that good Isolation and The sound of Wind rubbing against the Headphone.

Edited by UzenTan - 2/15/11 at 4:00pm
post #2 of 72


Hi, enjoy your cans , i have had them for a few months and the mids do move forward a bit with burn in and the bass becomes less oppressive. 
The soundstage is amazing isnt it, try whippin piccilily by Gomez, sounds incredible with these cans!
post #3 of 72

Thank you for the review and especially the high res pics. I too am looking for a new pair of headphones (my 1st fancy pair) and the 1100s are on my short list. 

Comfort is my only hesitation with these. Most reviews define them as comfortable and snug.  Do you have any other insight on how these feel when worn? I am looking for "pillows for my ears". I keep looking at images of the beyerdynamics models and fantasizing how comfy those must be, and then I waffle on making a decision.......


How does the top of your head feel from the band when wearing these for any extended period of time?   

post #4 of 72
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by fishinabarrel View Post

Thank you for the review and especially the high res pics. I too am looking for a new pair of headphones (my 1st fancy pair) and the 1100s are on my short list. 

Comfort is my only hesitation with these. Most reviews define them as comfortable and snug.  Do you have any other insight on how these feel when worn? I am looking for "pillows for my ears". I keep looking at images of the beyerdynamics models and fantasizing how comfy those must be, and then I waffle on making a decision.......


How does the top of your head feel from the band when wearing these for any extended period of time?   

Compared to the Beyerdynamics', i would say that this is much more comfortable. The Beyer's are kinda heavy with thick Earpads. So it was kinda uncomfortable for me. The Pads on the beyer's are also not as "soft" as compared to the 1100's.

The headband on the 1100's feels almost non existent. Most of the time, you won't notice it.

post #5 of 72

Yea comfort is great on this D1100 especially cuz it's so lightweight and clamping is fairly gentle and will become even more so with use. Soundstage is very large for a fully closed headphone and there's very clear instrument separation and it's a bit laid-back back sounding but has a slight warm tonal character. For me it was slightly too laid-back sounding and mids were too recessed and was slightly too "dry" sounding as in the sound had this "crispy" sound and faded away quickly and also a bit lack of very deep bass output for my taste.

post #6 of 72

I have had several portabel pairs of cans , ES7, K430 , PX100 + 200 , Vjays , Sony 570lp , XB500 and many more i cant remember.
The D1100 is the best , it attains this by being :


One of the most comfortable
Very very efficient
Great isolation
Scales very well with amp usage, really steps up well.
Light , weighs nothing
Soundstage and imaging are up there with open cans
Bass (after it calms a little) is hard hitting and 'round'
Treble detail is stunning
No sibilance


I was going to purchase the AH-A100 but after speaking to Denons spares guys it is clear that the ONLY difference is the woody cups , i am not paying an extra £400 for that!

post #7 of 72

^ They also sound different. wink_face.gif

post #8 of 72



So in the last 24 hours I had convinced myself that the grey fuzziness of the BeyerDynamic is what I really wanted. Now after reading RPGWizards, Uzentans and Asteroids posts, I am back in the Denon camp.  I am a sucker for the fuzziness though. And I am glad to hear the rave over the soundstage (I didn't know what a soundstage was a month ago). Those Denons just look all around simple and classy.  

post #9 of 72

The Denons are simply a great bargain, i prefer them to my SRH840 and my ES7 was sold thanks to them. I even use them in the house out of my Aune amp , they are getting more ear time than my HD600 at the moment!


Plus the extension cable they come with has been super handy , its soooooo long!

post #10 of 72

Adding My Two Cents to Extend This Review


I purchased the Denon AH-D1100 about a week ago and gave it an immediate audition both with and without amplification.  What I can say is during the initial listening period is the mid-range is rather recessed, the low-frequency extension is rather on the heavy side while the treble range is delicate to harsh.  At zero-hour, this is the impression that I got from the D1100 unamped, however once I added the C&C XO+ with the Moon Audio Blue Dragon Mini Interconnect and source (Shanling CD-player playing Jennifier Warnes "Famous Blue Raincoat") the sound stage became more expansive while the mid range became more forward in presentation.  Treble frequencies were still delicate and harsh while the bass frequencies began its boom toward ear bleeding.  This is of course the beginning of the burn-in phase from zero-hour to five-hours.


Twenty-Hours In


Still amped through the XO+ and switched to my Ipod 3rd-Generation 30-GB playing mostly classical with the volume dial at 12-o'clock, gain setting to low, and the impedance drive set to high for a more dynamic drive character.  At the Twenty-Hour mark, the sound stage is further expanded, the bass frequencies roll out more smoothly without the boom factor, the treble is smoother without any harshness, and the mid-range is brought out better than I initially anticipated.  The sound signature reminds me of the Sennheiser HD650 with the Cardas Cable Upgrade except the Denon D1100 has a much more expansive sound stage that is not normally associated with compact full-circumaural closed dynamic headphones.  Even my HD280 Professional headphones can't compete with the Denon AH-D1100 in sound stage presentation.  The mid-range however was still somewhat recessed hence I continued to burn-in the headphone till Tuesday Evening of this week.


Forty-Eight Hours In


The sound signature changes toward the better.  The sound reminds me of a go between the Sennheiser HD650 and the Beyerdynamic DT990 600-ohm Reference Audiophile Version.  Delicate treble extension with smooth mid-range response and very deep bass extension all without overwhelming each other.  The sound stage is very expansive to the point of being surreal.  Music reproduced is with warmth and fullness that again reminds me of the Sennheiser HD650 while the treble extension leans a little toward the Beyerdynamic DT990.  The mid-range is AKG K701 smooth while being slightly more forward especially when listening to Diana Krall's "The Book of Love".  Vocals come through clear and with excellent presence within the given sound stage presentation.  The presented fullness that the D1100 exudes really provides for long listening sessions without fatigue while the weight of the headphone is very light hence one can easily forget that it is on the head.  That can't be said with the Sennheiser HD280, however I have already gotten use to the clamping force of the these phones hence it doesn't bother me.  


Seventy-Two Hours In.


Another change for the better.  The sound stage is now I feel fully expanded and the veil completely lifted.  The delicate treble extension, the mid-range transition is ever so smooth and forward, while the deep bass frequencies are reproduced in its entirety without any boom.  A rather fulfilling sonic experience with a great deal of detail and warmth.  Great for extended listening sessions while still being isolated from the noisy crowd of people in a Coffee House.  Isolation aside, the sonic character truly rests between the Sennheiser HD650 and the Beyerdynamic DT990 while the mid-range is ever so smooth with a character of its own.  Instrument separation is quite good to the point it give both the Sennheiser HD650, 280 and even the Beyerdynamic DT990 a run for its money.  Open and airy however the Denon AH-D1100 doesn't excel in compared to the headphones I have mentioned.  It is airy and open to a certain degree which I feel is a commendable effort on Denon's part.  Careful listening to Deutsch Grammfone's Herbert Von Karajan conducting of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 Allegro con brio is to die for with the Denon AH-D1100.  


The warmth and fullness of the D1100 takes some of the edge off of the recording as when listening to this piece with the AKG K701 or the Beyerdynamic DT990.  Mind everyone here, I have performed significant modification to the K701 to smoothen the mid-range to high-frequency response while still retaining the airy nature of the headphone.  I really like the sound signature of the Denon D1100, but I like the natural response of the K701 and DT990, but I can't take those headphones everywhere hence the Denon will most likely be my headphone of choice for mobility sake.


The Denon AH-D1100 Listening Session without Amplification


Given the efficiency of the D1100, I decided to listen to "Famous Blue Raincoat", "Beethoven's Nine Symphonies by Von Karajan", and "The Secret Island" by Stanley Thomas Keiser (Clarity Recordings) through the 3rd Generation iPod (AIFF recordings) without introducing the C&C XO+ and I must say that these headphones sound pretty good without amplification.  Sound stage presentation is expansive, but the mid-range is a little too smooth while the treble extensions are not as clean as when amped.  The bass boom isn't present but the lack of extension was also noticeable.  Without amplification, the sound is very good still with excellent instrument separation and sound stage presentation, however the frequency transitions are not to my liking.  In fact the sonic character un-amped is similar to the Sennheiser HD500 Fusion 32-ohm edition (without the overwhelming bass flutter).  Muddy would not be the word I would choose to describe the sound signature since it isn't that bad, but it is a night and day transition between with and without an amplifier.  


I decided to use the C&C XO+ because of the smooth character that this amplifier exudes while still being able to drive the headphones without any noticeable distortion.  The LDMKI that I have would have been a better choice, however I think that would not have been a great idea since the MKI is actually a single ended design while the XO+ is a internally balanced architecture while outputting single-end.  It is as confusing as anything out there so please don't ask me to explain the logic behind this understanding.  Anyway the C&C XO+ was used throughout the burn-in testing and since I can't really live with the sound of the Denon AH-D1100 without an amplifier, I decided to mate the XO+ with this headphone.




The Denon AH-D1100 is an excellent entry in the world of High-End Headphone Audiophile Class as it has all of the attributes that larger headphones have with not a whole lot of shortfalls.  One could say that this could replace my Audio Technica W5000 or the harshly criticized Sennheiser HD280-Professional (mine is the first version purchased in 2001), but both the AT and the Sennheiser have sonic characters that I like and the Denon doesn't have.  Portability is quite good with this headphone as with the sound quality without amplification.  Better with an amp but not required hence very portable.  Though I wish that it would be made of alloy in the suspension arms of the headphone since the price tag given would make it fully justifiable.  The D2000 is built better in my opinion, but from the looks of the D1100, I feel that it is constructed better than the equivalent counterpart, the Bose Triports or some of the higher priced models from Bose.  Dollar for dollar, Bose versus Denon, Denon would make a better choice of headphone.


All in all, I really like the sonic character of the Denon AH-D1100 with excellent instrument separation, expansive sound stage with a bit of air and warmth wrapped in a compact full-circumaural package.  Seventy-two hours is the minimum burn-in time as I actually stopped with the burn-in Tuesday May 10th for a full 120-hours of burn-in with the C&C XO+ and the iPod 3rd Generation playing AIFF formatted music files.  


Everyone have a great week and weekend.


post #11 of 72

Great review!


I really agree about soundstage and instrument separation, these two factors are really insanely good for the price and the fact they are closed. The headphone wasn't really my cup of tea though but I think they benefit a lot from amping (tube amps especially) + EQing. 

Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 5/11/11 at 11:54pm
post #12 of 72
Totally agree, the bass improves a lot over time, the only criticism i have is that the bass is a little one dimensional.
Soundstage is really topnotch on these, i love the stones remastered let it bleed, so easy to position the band with thesev cans
post #13 of 72

After 160-hours of Burn-In


I decided to use my Little Dot MKI with the LT1364 op-amp upgrade with Version-1 of the Moon Audio Blue Dragon interconnect and a borrowed Colorfly C4 playing 24-bit/96-KHz FLAC files.  One thing I can say is the precise and controlling nature of the LDMKI is a perfect match with this warm, rich, and full headphone.  The Denon AH-D1100 needs the right combination of amplifier and source to provide the excellent sonic character that make this a good replacement for the aging Sennheiser HD580 and maybe the AKG K701.  One thing I can say is that this combination really surpasses the Audio Technica W1000X and A900 that I have in a heart beat in both sonic character and overall sound stage presentation.  


Using Jennifier Warnes "Famous Blue Raincoat" as a point of reference (AIFF) and comparing between the W1000X, A900, and the AH-D1100, I can say with some sureness that the Denon has a better sound stage presence and warmth that the other two don't present.  To further solidify my thoughts in regards to the Denon, I decided to put on the album "Yo-Yo Ma Plays The Music of John Williams" (SACD) and wow what a sound stage presence.  Instrument separation is quite good and overall listening experience is far cry better than the Audio Technica ATH-W1000X and A900.  This is quite an experience and I am very happy with the Denon.  I still feel though that the drivers in the D1100 haven't reached their true potential so I will continue with the Burn-In sessions with the Little Dot MKI now to exercise that Microfiber diaphragm driver to the point where I am satisfied fully that the headphone's reached the settling phase (where the headphone sounds its best).


More details later on over the coming days.


Have fun, stay well, and have a great week



post #14 of 72

300-Hours in and Reached the Settling Phase


I feel now that the Denon AH-D1100 has reached the settling phase of the headphone burn-in test.  Playing mainly lossless audio files in FLAC format at 24-bits of resolution and at least 96-KHz sampling rate.  I felt that this would be the best way in obtaining the best sound possible for the frequency range published in specifications of the headphone.  Compared to the sound in the initial phases, the Denon AH-D1100 has a full warm bodied sound associated with many high-class headphones from Germany.  Very clear treble registers similar to Beyerdynamic's DT990 600-ohm and the T1, very smooth mid-range transitions like the AKG K701/702/Q701, and very punchy, deep bass like with the Sennheiser HD650 with the Cardas or Moon Audio Silver Dragon upgrade.  All in all a very good combination of attributes with virtually none of the disadvantages.  I only say this when the headphone is properly amplified that is since without amplification, the audio character of the headphone changes toward being just a listener versus an appreciator of sorts.  It is like audiophile versus casual listener, this is the comparison I make with this headphone between being amplified or not.


Hope this helps since I will write a conclusion early next week.


Take care and have a great weekend



post #15 of 72

Thanks for the great review, its nice to see how a set of cans develop over time. 

The best thing i can say about the D1100 is that i am no longer looking for headphones when i go online and have switched to looking for a better source. 

This is a big change of behaviour for me and my wife is over the moon!

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