The last high-end cans to come from Denon were the superb £500 AH-D5000s. However, you needn't spend £500 to get into Denon's high-end good books anymore -- the AH-D2000s have just been released, and at £250 they're twice as affordable. Sort of. Denon states the D2000s are based on the flagship D5000s, so comparisons are naturally in order.
Instead of the D5000's mahogany enclosures, the closed-back £250 D2000s are built from a composite material, resulting in a silky smooth finish. This material difference affects the tone of the headphones' bass, given that wooden enclosures tend to offer a more natural sound, but we'll come to that shortly.
Present still are the exceptionally comfortable padded earcups -- though the material appears to be of a slightly lower quality than that used for the D5000s -- which press only lightly against the skull, offering not only comfort but, for us at least, no noticeable 'sweaty ear syndrome' even after several hours of listening.
Padded well, too, is the adjustable headband. It's mounted on what feels like ball bearings, adding a subtle but noticeable element of class.
The D2000's copper cabling is 3m in length (so no, iPod fans, you won't be taking these on the bus), over 99.9 per cent oxygen-free, encased in cloth and features a gold-plated 3.5mm plug (a screw-on 6.3mm adaptor is in the box), ensuring the 50mm neodymium magnet and Microfibre diaphragm get every last detail from your audio source. And, just like the D5000s, they'll respond to frequencies between 5Hz-45kHz and rock a sensitivity of 106dB/mW.
The same 'Acoustic Optimiser' technology, implemented in Denon's entire new earphone and headphone range, is also a part of the D2000s. This technology balances pressure both in front of and behind the diaphragm, which Denon claims provides a more natural sound.
As £250 closed-back cans, they excel at conveying detail -- the high-end in particular is beautifully crisp and clear, without a hint of harshness. We heard terrific transparency on Jenny Owen Youngs' From Here, with excellent separation between instruments and a sonically balanced overall voice.
This clarity and separation was apparent again listening to Vanessa Carlton's orchestral masterpiece Twilight. The string section's beautifully defined crescendos throughout the track sent shivers down our back, and we were able to pick out the oboist's delicate key presses at one point, too.