Review: Denon AH-D600 Music Maniac

Earlier this year, Denon announced it was in the process of completely revamping its headphone line-up. The Japanese manufacturer — which has been in the audio equipment business since 1910 — has since emerged from its cocoon with an entirely new collection of headphones designed for at-home and mobile listening.

One of the fruits of this brand revitalization is the AH-D600 headphone, which falls under the company’s “Music Maniac” banner — headphones for audiophiles who do most of their listening in controlled environments. They’re too bulky to qualify as commute-worthy travel headphones, but they are an excellent choice for working at your desk, relaxing on the couch, or — using Denon’s companion apps for Android and iOS — spending quality time with your tablet.

Let’s set expectations: They ain’t pretty and they ain’t cheap. The closed, over-the-ear design is bulbous, and the styling is gaudy, with lots of plastic. And they will set you back between $400 and $500, which isn’t that expensive for audiophile-grade headphones, but still too expensive for the masses.

They score low points for visual flair and thrift, but they make up for it where it counts: the sound, which is excellent, and the comfort, which is phenomenal.

The AH-D600 are relatively flat and uncolored overall. The middle frequencies are dialed in just about perfectly. The bass isn’t over-represented, which surprised me, given the 50-millimeter drivers and the abundant cavity space in the earcups.

If there’s one place where some coloring is evident, it’s in the highs, which aren’t super-detailed. This also goes against expectations — headphones branded as “audiophile,” as these are, usually have crystal-clear highs. But too much high end can cause ear fatigue, making the headphone a chore to listen to for long periods of time. So, I actually found myself preferring the mellower high frequencies these Denons offer. There’s still plenty of shimmer, but they’re rolled off pretty hard in the upper-upper regions. I especially noticed this when listening to 320k MP3 rips, since those faint whiffs of lossy compression in the high end that would drive me nuts in a more clinical reference headphone are reduced or eliminated here.

I don’t think it’s Denon’s intention to sell you a headphone that’s been dumbed-down, just one that’s been slightly tuned to be more accessible. I see this as a good thing.

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