If you ever needed proof that the audio industry was faddish
and driven by an insatiable desire to move in on rival companies’ markets, then
look no further than headphones. A decade ago, these were specialist things
bought by geeks, many of whom had a connection with the recording or DJ
industry. They were invariably black in color, and functional objects to which
your friends and family paid absolutely no attention whatsoever.
How times have changed! A decade later, everyone in the
world either has an iPod, and iPhone or some other sort of iDevice, or an
equivalent from the likes of Samsung or Sony. The mystique and the romance of
having a small portable digital music making machine has gone, and instead now
people’s collective attention seems to have shifted to the headphones plugged
It’s for this reason that hi-fi manufacturers that have not
traditionally paid much interest in such things, now seem very interested in
anything that sits around your shell-likes and pumps out a noise!
A design for life
Enter Denon, which has obviously cottoned on to the
‘lifestyle’ idea; the presentation of the AH-D600 package is the sort of thing
your mum might call ‘plush’, in the same way she’d talk about rucked velour
scatter cushions or fancy velvet curtains. It’s a shame the company didn’t
spend the cash on the build of the phones themselves; its a little plastic, the
like of which you’d never see on Philips Fidelio L1/00s, for example. Worse
still, the memory foam ear cups are covered in sweaty vinyl, with a white stitching
effect that’s unlikely to give the AH-D600s universal appeal.
Denon makes no
mention of this, oddly
What is good to know, however, is that when you put the
phones on your head and tap the casing, the AD-H600s sound quite inert compared
too many others? And better still, when those two 50mm ‘Free Edge Nano Fiber’
drivers have been run-in for a few days, these phones really begin to shine.
What you get is a surprisingly detailed, insightful headphone that digs deep
into the music. So much so that it makes a number of already excellent, but
more expensive designs, sound quite average in some ways. I’m thinking
specifically about the Sennheiser HD650 here, which is something of an
established favorite; but against the Denon it sounds quite murky and opaque.
For example, Daft Punk’s Get Lucky comes over with
disconcerting clarity. Being closed back (Denon makes no mention of this,
oddly), bass is very tight and taut, yet it breathes better than many similar
such designs. The result is a fun-packed, highly tuneful bass line that starts
and stops on a sixpence, and pushes the song along with aplomb. Then there’s
the midland, which is a real ear-opener; it is genuinely very detailed, making
the already excellent Philips Fidelio rival sound a bit cloudy and imprecise.
It proves great at unpicking the track’s rhythm guitar work, and slotting all
the elements of the track together beautifully.
This new headphone
proves really impressive
Then there’s the treble; this for me is where about 95
percent of ‘phones stumble and fall. It’s usually harsh and tizzy like a Grado
or dull like a Beyer, but the Denon again proves consummately detailed and
open. You would never call this a dull headphone; with poor quality programmer
material and/or a poor source (i.e. MP3 from your computer), it can be quite
lacerative, but feed it with a decently recorded piece of music from a good
headphone amp, and it is smooth and even yet intricate and delicate. I love the
way it makes a well recorded drum kit sound; a bit of Brand X reveals its
ability to render cymbals in a realistically steely way, yet not infuse the
sound with hardness or distortion.
Top of the pops
This new headphone proves really impressive; first
impressions aren’t overwhelmingly good, but the more you use it the better it
gets. It is a pretty comfortable design that’s not too heavy at 345g, and it
has a relatively soft fit on the head where some rivals ‘clamp’ you much more.
This helps you enjoy the AH-D600’s powerful, punchy and musically engaging
sound more – but it isn’t all go and no show; there’s loads of detail and this
headphone lets you listen right into the mix like few others at or near the
price. Headphones are highly personal things, but if you’re looking for an
enjoyable, but accurate pair of cans, this should go right to the very top of
Our verdict: 5/5
Weight (g): 365
Cable length (m): 1.3
Surround sound: No
3.5mm connector: Yes
6.3mm connector: Yes