I’ve always loved music but since I got my first iPhone I find myself listening to more music than ever. When I was a kid I had a pair of over-the-ear Pioneer headphones that I played way too loud and, no doubt, did my self some significant longterm damage. Nowadays I tend to prefer earbuds to on-ear or over-ear headphones. As a rule I find the buds more comfortable and less tiring to wear. They are also easier to carry. When Denon asked if I was interested in reviewing their AH-D1100 over-ear headphones however I jumped at the chance. I hoped that, perhaps with these over-the-ear headphones, I would finally find a pair of large headphones that I enjoyed using for long periods of time.
Did they fit the bill? Read on to find out.
Designed for hours of fatigue-free listening, the AH-D1100 over-ear headphones feature remarkably light weight (6.7 oz., cable not included) along with a host of exclusive Denon technologies for the ultimate in audio fidelity and listening comfort. Denon’s Acoustic Optimizer technology provides balanced acoustical pressure on both sides of the large 50mm diaphragms, which are powered by advanced neodymium magnet motor systems.
Unlike conventional headphones, the AH-D1100 features internally angled drivers which provide superior aural matching with the ear canal for the ultimate in audio fidelity. The large diameter 50mm drivers provide extended frequency response up to 37 kHz for the utmost fidelity with wideband audio sources such as lossless FLAC, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, and also provide tremendous reach down to the very lowest bass notes.
Denon’s professional over-ear headphones are the premiere choice of the world’s most renowned DJs due to their combination of fidelity and comfort. The AH-D1100 features that same elevated combination of comfort and fidelity and can be worn with ease for far longer than conventional headphones. The earpieces feature supple synthetic leather covers over compliant foam pads that together provide superior acoustical isolation along with unparalleled comfort.
The earpiece housings are constructed of a multi-layer sandwich design that incorporates machined aluminum alloy bonded to a resin compound material that together provide the ultimate combination of lightness and rigidity, providing superb resonance-free sound across the entire audio range.
Newly designed 50mm drivers use Neodymium magnets and feature Denon’s exclusive Microfiber diaphragm technology
Precision Aluminum ear cups with new soft protein leather foam ear-cushions
Denon’s Acoustic Optimizer design improves low frequency extension and smoothes overall response by precisely adjusting the sound pressure balance behind and in front of the driver diaphragm 32-ohm impedence with 101dB/mW sensitivity mean these premium headphones can be successfully driven by portable music devices
The packaging of the Denon AH-D 1100 headphones is simple and not overly wasteful. In the box you will find a 3.5m extension cable (it’s LOOOOOONG), a 3.5mm to 1/4″ adapter jack and a soft carry pouch. Did I mention that the extension cable is LOOOOOONG? How long? I’m glad you asked. The main cable of the headphones is a healthy 4.3 feet. The extension cable is… Wait for it… 11 1/2 feet long. That’s right, with the extension cable attached you can be almost 16 feet away from the audio source. I’m not sure when I would need such distance but I guess if I were in a studio it might come in rather handy.
One minor drawback is that the main cable is permanently attached to the headphones. I’ve tried a number of different headsets that have detachable cables and really liked the feature. It lets you change the length of the main cable so it is the right length for your current usage and, if there is a problem with the cable you can just replace it. With these headphones repairing the main cable is a warranty issue.
I do appreciate the fact that Denon ONLY includes accessories you will actually USE rather than wasting space and material on lots of little piece that just get thrown out. (Here’s an idea for 2011… How about all tech accessory companies enter into a competition with one another to see who can use the LEAST wasteful packaging for their products?)
As you can see, these are rather large headphones. They have to be since they are designed to engulf your ear and sit with the cushions on the areas around the ear. I have a rather large head but they went on quite comfortably.
There is a small, nondescript “L” on one earpiece and an “R” on the other. The headphones CAN go on with either ear piece on either side but they are a bit more comfortable if you pay attention to the way Denon designed them.
The most striking thing about the headphones is the fact that they look like they would be heavy and cause fatigue if worn for an extended period but they are surprisingly light. This comes from the fact that they are primarily made from plastic. (The only metal on them is the band that connects the two ear cups and goes over your head when wearing them). Some might look at the fact that they are mostly plastic and conclude “CHEAP!”. I see it a bit differently. I’ve tried a few over-the-ear and on-the-ear headphones that are made from more substantial material and, as a result, are far “beefier”. Time and again, I have been impressed by the construction but unable to use them because the weight grew remarkably uncomfortable in a short period of time. That’s not the case here.
So how do they sound? VERY good actually. I’m far from an audiophile but I do appreciate good sound and these offer it. I listened to a number of different styles of music and all of them sounded great. I then listened to the same songs using a number of different headsets, from on-ear headphones to in-ear buds. The AH-D1100s matched or surpassed all of them for overall sound. They produced a full, rich sound and offered a good bit of base without being overpowering. I suspect the fullness of the sound is the result of the sound filling the area around the ear instead of being fed right into it. It really does envelope you within a few seconds of listening to just about anything. I have not used these while gaming but I can see them helping to seriously put you “into” the gameplay.
So, overall, the Denon AH-D1100s are a winner. This is especially the case because they are widely available for a significant discount on the MSRP of $199.
The biggest disappointment for me is the fact that there isn’t even the OPTION to swap in a cable with an inline mic the way you can with cans like the V-Moda Crassfade LPs. It isn’t a deal breaker but as someone who uses my iPhone and iPad for listening to music the option would be nice. And while speaking of the Crossfade LPs… Those headphones come with an awesome case rather than a simple bag. Besides being more impressive, the Crossfade case makes it simple to throw your headphones in a bag without fear of them being crushed or otherwise damaged. No such protection here. Again, this is no deal-breaker but it is a bit disappointing with headphones of this quality and price.
Speaking of price, The AH-D1100s have an MSRP of $199 but they are available on Amazon for $134.95. Better still, Amazon is offering this deal that knocks another $100 off if you subscribe to Audible…
Special Offer: Save $100 on the cost of this product when you agree to join Audible.com’s AudibleListener® Gold program for 12 months at $14.95 per month. If this product costs less than $100, you will receive it for free. Here’s how to join the AudibleListener Gold program. See the complete list of all qualifying products. See further details. This offer does not apply to products sold on Amazon.com by third-party merchants.
My bottom line with the Denon AH-D1100s is this. I’ve tried a number of similarly styled headphones in the past year or so and could not see myself using them going forward. I returned any I purchased and gave away any I reviewed. I’m keeping these and see them getting a fair bit of use in the months to come.
This is Denon’s 100th anniversary and these headphones reflect their experience and expertise quite well! More information can be found on Denon’s site.
MSRP: $199.99 but it is currently available on Amazon for $134.95.
What I Like: VERY good sound; very light and comfortable; easy to wear for extended periods without significant fatigue
What Needs Improvement: Cable hard-wired to headphones; Denon cheaped out on the bag; no detachable cable; no in-line microphone; plastic may turn some people off