When I think of premium over-ear headphones, my mind immediately goes to some of the bigger players. Brands like Beyerdynamic and Sennheiser come as some of the main manufacturers that occupy a highly competitive space. Before now, I have not heard Denon named before in the same spotlight, but after listening to the AH-D5200 I think they’re a new variable worth analyzing. The D5200 is a closed-back wooden headphone priced at $699, putting it up against some heavy hitters like the DT1770, Grado RS1E, and the HiFiMan Ananda. Does Denon impress?
What You Get
- Denon AH D5200 headphones
- 3m headphone cable
- 3.5mm to quarter-inch headphone jack
- Drawstring carrying pouch
Look and Feel
Wooden cupped headphones are my type of aesthetic and are an easy way to catch my interest immediately. On the D5200 is a zebrawood housing not unlike what’s featured on the SIVGA Pheonix but in a darker color. It’s very well crafted of course and uses a natural wood-grain pattern. Attached are soft pleather earpads that fit over my ears like a glove, firmly holding the headphone in place. Great support is applied by the headband as well, sporting the same material as the cups and adding just enough pressure to hold the cups in place. This excellent build is constructed by a metal frame that provides a great foundation for all these elements to be built upon.
Within its housing is a Japanese-made FreeEdge 50mm driver. The FreeEdge drivers are used to reduced unwanted resonance and supply a much more natural and accurate signal flow. The characteristics of the Zebrawood also help to shape the sound signature, giving it a dampening effect. These drivers also incorporate resin baffles that aim to reduce vibrations and more materials are used to produce the purest sound possible.
As soon as I initially took in the soundstage and imaging of the D5200 I got a good idea of what Denon is about. Being a wooden headphone I always assume a more naturalistic output, and that’s exactly what you get here. As far as the soundstage goes, the width goes almost shoulder length and not much more. With the D5200, accuracy is the focus, so all the sound elements are more constricted in their positioning.
It’s a tighter, more surface-level image that gives you a good reference for the mix, but without a fun, holographic stereo field. Not all headphones benefit from that sort of response, but the D5200 plays its imaging straight and to the point, which makes it well-suited for the sonic purity it’s going for. The flatness of the stereo plain is heightened by a clear sense of separation, making the instruments and effects appear much more transparent in the sound field.
Although it lacks some initial heft, the lows supply a good amount of depth that helps give a more defining quality to its timbre as a whole. There are no outward resonances, but its tonality is its strongest attribute. There’s just enough to bite on while keeping the frequencies tight and consistent. Again, you don’t get an overly booming presentation, but the bass is still articulate and still knows when to punch. It’s less effective with hard beats and more ideal with slick bass grooves and rhythms. Here the details are much more clear and make for a more gripping listen.
Much like the bass, the midrange also presents a more confined response, but it just gives the frequencies more balance. Within this space is a full midrange, that is given a good amount of presence and momentum. Not a single frequency band seems to be absent, as the timbre showcases a soft richness with an uncompromised tone. The frequencies appear with a pronounced shape while adhering to a more straightforward timbre, making it enough of a highlight of the sound signature to impress with its great detail.
Not much tone is pronounced in the high frequencies, but what’s there is definitely notable. You don’t get a lot of texture to grab onto, as the treble never sticks out in any significant way. It’s mostly a flat field with little sibilance and harshness, which will make this a much more accessible timbre for some listeners who are more sensitive to those frequencies. However, it also won’t disappoint those hoping for a proper finish to their sounds, as the D5200 helps produce detailed high frequencies that are subtle but not underdefined.
I’m very happy with the sound of the Denon D5200. It might be more of a standard reference sound signature, but it sets out to accomplish natural accuracy and succeeds on almost all fronts. It won’t be for everyone, and most of its tone is uneventful, however, it can be a useful tool for those who need it. This will satisfy those who’re looking for a wooden closed back with a natural sound signature. It’s best categorized as a niche product, perfect for those seeking it.
Pros and Cons
- Excellent build
- Great separation
- Punchy bass
- Full midrange
- Detailed, non-fatiguing highs
- Limited depth
The Denon AH D5200 is available at Audio 46.
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