Denon had recently refreshed their headphones lineup with several new entrants to keep up with the demands of the personal entertainment market. You can check out the complete lineup on the Denon homepage. The Denon AH-D340, reviewed here comes under the Music Maniac line with a neutral tuning (no enhancement of bass or treble regions of the music).Though the company has not made it clear, I believe this lineup matches up closely and could be the successor of the their previously popular D2000, 5000 & 7000 models. Denon is a competent player in the audio entertainment industry and my personal experience with the D2000 left me with a very good impression of their headphones line as well.
The AH-D340 is the entry level model in the Music Maniac series, followed up by the D600 & D7100. The headphone is also promoted as a portable solution for music lovers. The 40mm driver provides very good performance and clarity. The 36 ohm impedance value made it friendly with most portable devices (tested on iPod Classic & Nano). I did try using the Fiio E11, which actually only seemed to improve performance slightly but colored the sound more than expected. Driven out of a desktop headphone amplifier (Burson HA160), the D340 gained more speed and definition with some bass authority. The closed headphone offers a soundstage that keeps the listener involved in the music rather than having that claustrophobic atmosphere. Closed back headphones have actually evolved very nicely to compete with their open brethren. However, they may not offer the vast soundscapes like the Sony MDR MA900 can but still do a fair job. Imaging and stereo separation as well came out nicely, the D340 is no studio monitor and it flavors the music in an enjoyable manner.
DESIGN, BUILD & COMFORT:
I have to say that I am not overly impressed by the new design of the Denon line. The D340 is playing in a market with great looking headphones like the Sennheiser Momentums, Onkyo..etc. Comparatively, the design is a bit understated in my opinion. There is of course nothing you can do about the Princess Leia look, but the black version is especially very understated. The black leather lining with white stitches does look nice, though the overall use of plastic gives a slightly flimsy feel to the product. The detachable cord is a plus (and a necessity these days, looking at the competition) and felt no microphonics with it. The iPhone remote/mic controls are practical, though I personally do not own an iPhone to test it. The right angle 3.5mm jack was convenient and had no issues using it on my iPod Classic with case.The headphone is enclosed in a very well designed and stable box, the headphone is laid out in a golden colored cloth for a very premium feel (check out the unboxing video from hifiguy)
The earpads are plush and comfortable, with the driver located deep inside. This is an on-ear model and the sufficient cushioning on the earpads prevents discomfort during prolonged use. I felt that the pentagonal earpads actually were slightly enclosing the rear of the earlobe and behaving more like a on/around ear hybrid! The driver units enclosed in a grey plastic case lined with the plush earpads are allowed restricted movement on the vertical axis and more freedom on horizontal axis. This was initially a little restraining and may be an issue of comfort for some. Isolation on offer with the D340 is actually quite good, considering the comfort on offer here (isolation and comfort often seem to be coming at each other’s cost!). Overall the build is ok, though nothing special and when competing with headphones like the Onkyo ES-FC300 or even the AKG K550 – this headphone feels a little wanting! The headband was on maximum extension to fit my slightly larger head, though that does leave some unsettling questions about fit for larger heads! Though the headphone is suggested for regular everyday use, it is actually, slightly cumbersome. The D340 does not collapse or fold down for easy storage and actually extends a little bit more on either sides of the ear while wearing which I find made me a bit more “conscious about my space” than usual. I actually loved the D340 as an at-home listening headphone more than a portable solution.
The Denon D340 is without a doubt, a mids/vocals-lover’s headphone.The mids are presented with great detail and clarity and are an absolute delight.There is no bleed of the mid bass and a very seamless flow into the highs, which picks-up female vocals beautifully. Acoustic, Vocals, Country & Jazz are the true talent of the D340. Brushfire Fairytales from Jack Johnson was lovely as ever,The Civil Wars is another album that I would recommend listening to on this headphone. My usual test track, Spanish Harlem by Rebecca Pidgeon in 24/96 resolution was nuanced, sweet & clear.The resolution this headphone is capable of was very evident in Take Five by Dave Brubeck as well making it a suitable accompaniment to HighRes players like the Astell & Kern, Fiio X3, iBasso DX series and so on.I love vocals and the D340 just seems to enable my mids addiction. The mids are infact as good as my Audiotechnica W1000x (though the latter does seem to have a little bit more air in the highs and a stunning soundstage) making it a suitable at-home headphone as well.
The highs are once again well extended and clean. There is enough resolution here to go hand in hand with the mids-forward presentation style of the D340. The highs never got sibilant nor too bright to bear. Comparatively, the highs on the Sennheiser Amperior were more shiny and slightly bright. The Sennheiser Momentum (over-ear) is another headphone that has a similar presentation of the highs though, I personally think that it lacks a little “bite” in the highs (just too smooth!). Overall the treble is very good, with enough air in the lower treble to enhance voices. It does not surpass the ATH W1000x in this area but, still one of the best I have heard in a portable headphone. The Onkyo did not give me the same refinement in this area of the sound.
The present trend of overpowering bass does not seem to have affected the D340, though I definitely feel the lack of weighty bass in tracks that truly require it! I regularly listen to the ATH W1000x & HD650, both bass heavy headphones (maybe that explains my feeling!). Nevertheless, listening to Rihanna’s “Shine bright like a diamond” on the Sennheiser Amperior, Momentum, Onkyo clearly showed that the D340’s bass impact was comparatively lighter and a bit recessed as well.On Chasing Pirates – Norah Jones the bass line was good but not attracting as much attention to it as on the HD650 & W1000x.The result was the same on Billie Jean by Michael Jackson.The D340 adopts a very linear or neutral presentation of the bass frequencies.Normally, I like that presentation (reminds me of the Sennheiser HD448), feels refreshing with all the bass thrown around these days. The D340 also has a very resolved treble region, such clear and sharply defined boundaries.Fair warning, some could find this a bit too bright! Though I don’t deem it “too bright”, I want to have some mid-bass weight to sufficiently balance this presentation. The bass that comes out is of very good quality, well defined and tight. It definitely has no bass bloat, but also feels slightly restricted (though that will not keep me away from the D340! ;-)). If you are interested, I am sure that some equalizer presets will make the experience better, my time with a Fiio E11 portable amplifier brought out the bass lines very well! Needless to say that the E11 is a slightly bassy amplifier and paired very well with the D340.
Overall the Denon AH-D340 is a very good headphone that I recommend for music lovers more into subtlety, neutral sound and midrange. It has a very mature and refined presentation. Personally I haven’t heard this type of tuning on a portable headphone so far, but offerings from Audio Technica could match the D340’s style.The Denon AH-D340 is available from Audiogurus along with a range of other headphones as well. For a slightly more fun sounding alternative, try the Sennheiser Momentum and the Onkyo FC300.The next higher-end model, the D600 is supposed to have a much more fun sound for at home listening and therefore may be a better choice for home use (provided your budget permits!).
This post was sponsored but all opinions expressed in the review are my own.