Denon D5000 w/ full markl-mods (balanced w/ Jena Wire) - Initial Impressions
Aug 1, 2008 at 2:18 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 24

elrod-tom

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Denon AH-D5000 Headphones with markl-mods and Jena Wire recable w/ balanced termination - Initial Impressions

About a month ago, another Head-Fi'er generously loaned me his markl-modded Denon AH-D5000's with the stock cable. It took me all of 15 seconds to say "wow, I've got to own a pair of these"...it left THAT much of an initial impression. Impactful bass, crisp highs without harshness, and a full, rich midrange. It reminded me of the AKG K1000's that I had recently sold - not because I didn't like them (I LOVED them), but because they were SO open that I could hardly ever listen to them.

Well, don't just believe me...the folks at the Detroit mini-meet liked them too (though perhaps not so much as me
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)

Well, my latest thing is balanced termination. Ever since I bought the Wadia 830 and started listening to my Sennheiser HD600's right off the balanced analog outs (using the digital volume control as my volume pot
biggrin.gif
). From there, it was the HeadRoom Balanced Desktop with DAC - IMHO one of the truly incredible values in headphone audio. No going back now...I had to get a pair with balanced termination.

I contacted markl to inquire about the possibility of having the stock cable reterminated. I've known Mark for the entire time I've been here at Head-Fi, and I trust his instincts about all things audio without reservation. When he raved about the Jena Wire he used in a newly announced cable mod, I decided to bite the bullet and become the first balanced customer (the photo in the mall-fi ad...they're mine
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)

Well, they arrived just shortly before my birthday...I've had them for two weeks now. I am in the process of working my way through a full-blown review, but that will take some more time (both listening and writing). In the mean time, I thought that some initial impressions were in order.

First, I want to say that the cable work on these modded cans is very nice indeed. The braiding is nice and tight, with no uneveness...the attention to detail is obvious. It also just plain LOOKS nice...silly, I know, but it's part of the whole package.

Right out of the box, they sounded pretty nice...but there's no doubt that they were a bit sibilant. This was not unexpected, as Mark make sure that I understood that they'd need about 200 hours to burn in completely. That said, I couldn't resist taking several extended listening sessions even early on in the break-in process. As of tonight, they're at about 140 hours and counting...

So...what's to like? I'm thinking a lot:

For starters, I've come to the conclusion (in my short experience with balanced termination) that certain cans benefit from it more than others. I think that the Denon AH-D5000 is one such can. I've heard others discuss how, when properly powered, the bass is taut and impactful. As much as I liked the single-ended markl-modded Denons (and make no mistake, I was so blown away that I bought these), I really think that balanced termination brings out the best in these cans. Everything seems just that much more open...instruments seem more separate, rim-shots and kick drums more impactful, and so on. I suspect that the Jena Wire may play a significant role in all of this as well, though I don't have a balanced pair with the stock cabling to use as a baseline.

I tend to listen at pretty low levels...call it force of habit, and the hope of maintaining my hearing for a while. One thing I appreciate about the Denons is the way that the sonics don't become muddy and washed out at lower volumes. I've had this issue come up with all sorts of cans (and more than a few speakers), and I'm pleased to announce that it seems much less an issue with the Denons than with pretty much any other cans I've used. Something about producing a headphone driver where the highs are not overpowered by mid-bass at lower volumes seems more difficult than one might expect...but between the drivers and the mods, it seems as though we're onto something here that's not insignificant to folks like me.

Having said all that, they sound DAMN good cranked up a bit too.
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The strengths of these cans are two-fold:

First, their impact...they give a good pop, and instrumental decay seems more natural than many cans I've used. The bass is not the loose, single-noted sort spoken about by others when describing the stock D5000's.

Second, the detail and individual instrument separation. I found this to be a strength of the single ended markl-modded D5000's, but these balanced cans are another matter altogether. The highs are sparkling, without harshness. The mids are rich and clear. The bass has pop and pace that leaves one almost feeling the thump in ones chest. This creates a soundstaging that's better by far than any other closed cans I've used, and rivals some of the best open cans.

I'll be adding a lot more to these impressions, including photos and more stuff...and they will become a full-blown review shortly. Until then, I'll just keep on listening and enjoying the hell out of my latest new audio toy.
 
Aug 1, 2008 at 4:27 AM Post #3 of 24

richierich

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Thanks for the great read. Can't wait to hear your continuation after the burn in process is complete.
 
Aug 2, 2008 at 8:52 AM Post #4 of 24

HeadphoneAddict

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Now that I have a good balanced amp (Single Power Square Wave XL) to go with my balanced Apogee mini-DAC, you have got me really thinking about a pair of these to see just how much better they can sound than my HD600 with balanced APS V3 cable.

I thought about re-terminating my APureSound re-cabled D2000 (or APS Edition 9) as balanced first, but they are only 6 feet so I'd have to do a 4 pin XLR and then buy a 4 foot extension. At that point I may as well consider some MD5000, because I really liked the MDR10 at the Colorado meet last weekend but in no way can I afford a pair.

I look forward to more detailed impressions, with some comparisons with other headphones like the HD600!
 
Aug 3, 2008 at 7:25 PM Post #6 of 24

holdendebeans

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Hey Tom,
Thanks for you thoughts and I look forward to the full review.
I have had a pair with the Jena wire in single ended termination on order for some time now and can't wait to hear them.
After sufficient burn-in, I would be very interested in getting together (or swaping) to do an A-B on the differences between the balanced vs single termination, all other things being equal.

P. S. I would be happy to spring for the Jena Balanced to Single adaptor if that is required.

Cheers,
 
Aug 3, 2008 at 7:34 PM Post #7 of 24

Akabeth

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Quote:

Originally Posted by holdendebeans /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Hey Tom,
Thanks for you thoughts and I look forward to the full review.



x2
yoji.gif


Also if I may add:
ttiwwop.gif
 
Aug 3, 2008 at 7:45 PM Post #8 of 24

Wmcmanus

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Nice impressions, Tom. But is there anything that you don't like about them? Even in the slightest degree? Or, maybe to put it in another way, are there certain things that you've heard some other headphones do better? Such as your K1000's?

The only reason I'm asking this line of questions is that I think it helps when doing a review of a pair of headphones that really "does it" for you (as in, they totally blow you away and exceed your expectations by a long shot) to provide a benchmark against something else that has also left a good impression on you.

Or to put it in yet another (more selfish) way, I've gone balanced as well and so far will have only the Qualia 010 and GS1000 to listen to when I get back to Cayman with my SDS-XLR next month. I'm trying to figure out which other headphones in my stable will be the most ideal candidates for the (rather expensive, typically) recable jobs.

I've been thinking about getting balanced cable jobs done for the R10, PS1, and L3000. Yet, I've been hesitant about the D5000 because in stock form (note that I've never heard a markl modded pair in any form), they fail to impress.

I guess maybe I'll just take my time with the transition to balanced and pick one pair at a time to get recabled. Maybe I'll get a chance one day to hear the D5000's in their full glory as you're now hearing them, and then it will be a no brainer.
 
Aug 3, 2008 at 8:41 PM Post #9 of 24

vcoheda

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Wmcmanus /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I've been thinking about getting balanced cable jobs done for the R10, PS1, and L3000.


that should be sufficient.
biggrin.gif
 
Aug 7, 2008 at 8:24 PM Post #10 of 24

malldian

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Quote:

Originally Posted by vcoheda /img/forum/go_quote.gif
that should be sufficient.
biggrin.gif



The choices we must make!

I would love to hear a comparison between cans like these balanced vs unbalanced.
 
Aug 7, 2008 at 11:12 PM Post #11 of 24

number1sixerfan

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Wmcmanus /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Nice impressions, Tom. But is there anything that you don't like about them? Even in the slightest degree? Or, maybe to put it in another way, are there certain things that you've heard some other headphones do better? Such as your K1000's?

The only reason I'm asking this line of questions is that I think it helps when doing a review of a pair of headphones that really "does it" for you (as in, they totally blow you away and exceed your expectations by a long shot) to provide a benchmark against something else that has also left a good impression on you.



Great Post!

X2
 
Aug 8, 2008 at 3:16 AM Post #12 of 24

elrod-tom

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Wmcmanus /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Nice impressions, Tom. But is there anything that you don't like about them? Even in the slightest degree? Or, maybe to put it in another way, are there certain things that you've heard some other headphones do better? Such as your K1000's?

The only reason I'm asking this line of questions is that I think it helps when doing a review of a pair of headphones that really "does it" for you (as in, they totally blow you away and exceed your expectations by a long shot) to provide a benchmark against something else that has also left a good impression on you.



Wayne, I'm with you 100%...if you could see the stack of review stuff that I'm working on.
eek.gif


I'm hoping that I can add to this over the weekend. I've got some specific impressions vs balanced Senn HD600's and AKG K701's. Oh, and the K1000 will be part of all this as well.
smily_headphones1.gif


Quote:

Originally Posted by malldian /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I would love to hear a comparison between cans like these balanced vs unbalanced.


I have extensive notes on just this, as I was fortunate enough to have a markl-mod with standard cable vs my own balanced markl-mods. Again, hopefully this weekend.

Quote:

Originally Posted by holdendebeans /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I have had a pair with the Jena wire in single ended termination on order for some time now and can't wait to hear them.

After sufficient burn-in, I would be very interested in getting together (or swaping) to do an A-B on the differences between the balanced vs single termination, all other things being equal.



Quote:

Originally Posted by Akabeth /img/forum/go_quote.gif
x2
yoji.gif


Also if I may add:
ttiwwop.gif



Hey fellas, we should discuss getting together for a little D5000 markl-mod listening session. I drive through A2 every day on my way to and from work, and it would be no big deal for me to pick a night after work for us to get together for a mini-meet. Just need to find a place...let's talk!!
biggrin.gif
 
Aug 13, 2008 at 6:24 PM Post #13 of 24

Quint

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Man, this thread is right up my alley, as I’m getting a pair of Jena-wired MD5000s myself! I must admit, I’m really psyched. I had a chance to listen to the pair that Tom had at the Detroit mini-meet, and I was greatly impressed. Not quite impressed enough to trade or sell my Jena-cabled R10s or Edition 9s, but close enough—and I think balancing them with JL wire might well tip the scales to the Denons. This is all conjecture, of course, and I need to break them in for a good long while before making any formal assessment. But this thread has me pretty stoked in anticipation.
L3000.gif
 
Aug 16, 2008 at 7:15 PM Post #14 of 24

sbulack

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Tom,
Are you able to provide any comparative observations between the markl-modded Denon D5000 and a pair of stock JVC DX1000 phones? (Is anyone reading this, for that matter?)
Thanks very much, -Steve
 
Aug 17, 2008 at 2:29 AM Post #15 of 24

musicman59

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sbulack,
I will be able to do that in a few days since I have a pair of DX1000 in the burn-in process and also own a pair of D5000 with my version of markl mods.

I will post later
 

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