A few months ago, I bought a pair of Monster Inspire headphones—which I found to be tremendous. I let my wife Danya try them on and I could sense a tinge of envy—she appreciates good sound. To alleviate any potential domestic strife, I needed to have two pairs of premium cans in the house. My solution? I picked up a pair of Denon AH-D600 "Music Maniac" headphones. At first, I was glad I took the plunge, because I found the AH-D600 is quite similar to the Monster Inspire. I also have a pair of AKG K701, and I prefer both the AH-D600 and the Inspire to those cans, even when strictly comparing sound quality. The AH-D600 is decidedly geeky and ridiculous-looking compared to the Inspire, but makes up for it by being so luxurious-feeling. The earpads are the headphone equivalent of a Cadillac driver's seat.
The AH-D600 is a great performer. It's primary attribute is an uncanny ability to make bass sound real—as if there was a subwoofer in the room. While there is a noticeable difference between the Monster and the Denon cans in terms of how music is reproduced, that difference is relatively minimal compared to some other headphones I have sampled lately. The Inspire has a touch more intensity to it while the D600 manages to be a bit more open. There is near total parity in terms of bass, but the AH-D600 manages to make the bass feel real. I think the AH-D600 comes close to sounding perfect. Frankly I'm surprised by how much I enjoy both cans, after a series of disappointments with some Sennheiser and Logitech models (HD-380, UE6000), and a few weeks trying really hard to like the Pioneer HDJ-2000.
If there's a fly in the ointment when it comes to the AH-D600, it's the way the detachable cords connect to the earcups. The AH-D600 comes with two cords—one high-quality "audiophile" cord, and one that includes a microphone. Unfortunately, the plugs on the cords stick out a bit too much, which restricts head movement. On occasion they would poke my shoulder. I think Denon should have designed a cord with shorter plugs, it is an annoying design flaw that spoils an otherwise great product. Check out this photo from Denon, you can see how close the cables are to the model's shoulders. All he has to do is tilt his head up a bit and the cables will poke him.
Denon's own marketing photo shows how the plugs on the cable are too long
Thanks to my experience with the AH-D600, I'm in a place where the vaunted K701—my reference headphone for almost five years—sounds thin and generally lacking in comparison. If it were not for the sonic excellence of another recent acquisition—Sony's rather amazing MDR-1R—I would have kept the Denon cans. However, the Sonys were good enough to prompt me to get rid of the AH-D600. I still recommend the Denon AH-D600 because it performs so well, and when it comes to tight, deep bass it reigns supreme. I gave the AH-D600 four stars, but only because of the cord—otherwise it is a five-star product.