Denon D5200 Review



The Denon D5200 is Denon's latest iteration of their semi-closed back Foster biodynamic driver line of headphones. This model was released in 2018 and features the Foster Free-Edge driver along with Zebrawood cups and Denon styling. I purchased this headphone directly from Denon during a sale, however it retails for $699 USD.

I have owned and tried a few of the Fostex headphones including the Mahogany, Ebony, and TH900, as well as using Emu Rosewood cups, along with a prototype PhilPhone. This is the first of the Denon branding that I've played with.

The Denon version comes with a brown colorway to match the dark brown zebrawood cups. The headband yokes are different than the Fostex versions, with a more sturdy and better built silver-colored alunimum split and a headband that has a better padded, and leather-like top. The pads also feel much softer and comfortable to wear compared to the Massdrop X00 versions.

The other major difference is that the Denon model, like the Emu ones, use 3.5mm connector jacks on each cup. This makes using an alternative cable much easier to source. The included cable is alright, but I've opted for my own DIY cables for use with the headphone.



Sound Impressions

The D5200 has a warm, semi-V-shaped sound signature, that's probably better called a U-shape. It has a lot more of a neutral sound signature than I was expecting from a well-known consumer brand name and coming from a series with a more V-shaped signature. This one has a warm but punchy bass section, and forward mid-range, and a somewhat tame treble, sans a small spike in the lower treble that can sometimes be sharp on some amp pairings.


The D5200 plays best with rock music for me. I enjoy the elevated bass tilt and punchy sound and relaxed treble. There are rare moments where an electric guitar can come off slightly sharp due to the peak at 6KHz, but I found it's not an issue always. It goes totally away with my tube amplifier, but is rearing its head a little bit with the new Schiit Jotunheim 2.

Bass notes are punchy and a little one-noted at times, but the quantity level is really nice. I think the Rosewood cups provided the best overall bass decay response for me, while these are perhaps on par with the Ebony. 

The mid-range on this set is pretty forward, especially compared to the rest of my headphone staple. It's roughly on the same plane as the Sennheiser HD600 in this case, though the slight recession in the upper mid-range does give it a little more breathing room for female vocals, which aren't nearly as forward as the male counterparts in most songs I've played.

In an overall sense of just pure tonality and timbre, I think the Denon is pretty strong, like many of the headphones using this same series of Foster drivers. They all present a natural sound and tonality and when paired with their corresponding wood cups, they can provide an organic and life-life decay that is similar to how I would hear in a live setting. The Zebrawood cups here are perhaps a little faster and duller in this case, but still sound pleasant.

Resolution is average. It's not what you get these headphones for. Sure, it's good, but there are much better headphones, specifically planars, which will provide top notch resolution at this price point. Imaging is also along the lines of "average" as well. I can't really say its good because it doesn't handle the busiest of tracks well, but it's not horrible either. I think the intimate and forward sound plays a big role here.



Wrap-Up


I don't think the D5200 is my favorite of the various Foster-headphones around. Its tonality is perfectly fine and surprisingly decent. I think the wood's inherent properties may be limiting its overall technical performance, especially when I've experienced other wood cup models. I really like the Rosewood cups from Emu the most of all the ones I've tried. 

That's not to say the D5200 is not good. I really enjoy it. I listen to it pretty often when I want a little more isolation than my typical open-backs, and I have used it in the office the couple days I've gone in during this pandemic to work. It provides another nice alternative 

Comments

  1. I'll admit my impressions don't align perfectly with yours on this one, but my impressions overall are fairly similar. The bass was surprisingly one note and lacking in slam compared to what I was expecting out of one of these models. I found it a bit lacking in rumble and precision, and that's the main reason I feel that one would want a headphone like this. The timbre was definitely an issue for me, coming across as strained and dry. The overall tuning is not all that bad, but not it's not a special headphone in any one area. Attenuation rings may help the problems I had with the bass but I haven't bothered to get them.

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    Replies
    1. I should have noted that I got two sets, one for a friend and one for myself. They measured slightly differently. One was brighter and one was bassier. I agree its not special especially compared to the other Emu models.

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    2. Could be some unit variation too then, mine definitely doesn't (to my ears) have the bass shelf that crinacle's measurements call for on it.

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