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Headphone Review: Denon MD2000 & MD5000  

2010-03-23 12:42:12|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Take your Denon to a whole new level of performance and musicality!

 

 

 

 

What Is a “markl Mod”?

Named after the internet screen name of its inventor and developer, Mark Lawton (owner/proprietor of Lawton Audio), the “markl Mod” is the most basic and essential service we provide for the Denon AH Series and Lawton Audio phones. The markl Mod is the foundation and corner stone of all the upgrades we provide, and considered mandatory to get the most from your new Denon phone.

 

The highly acclaimed “markl Mod” for the Denon AH series headphones greatly enhances basic performance and corrects the imprefections of the stock phones. These mods consist of two parts: strategic placement of highly specialized damping materials, and careful addition of more stuffing and enhancement to the ear pads.  

 

Different Basic markl Mods for Different Denons

Originally developed specifically for the AH-D5000, the basic “markl Mod” has since evolved into different variations depending on what base headphone is being modified as well as what wood type is employed on those LA Series phones that utilize our custom wood cups. We experimented with a half-dozen different damping compounds on as many different Denon models, until we arrived at the two we found suitable and desirable for our purposes. One is a heavy, thick and quite rigid compound; the other is thinner, softer and more flexible. These different compounds are deployed in different ways depending on the totality of the configuration you have selected to make up your dream headphone. Even the wood type selected for your custom cups can influence which material is used and how and where it is used. The end result, no matter which phone you choose, is a perfectly balanced presentation from top to bottom.

 

Although each different model in our line receives a slightly different treatment, the basic principles behind the mod are as detailed below.

 

Damping, Vibration Control & More

One of the chief complaints about the new Denon AH series of headphones is the way in which the occasionally overwhelming bass response of the powerful 50mm drivers can cause the entire headphone frame and assembly to vibrate and rattle in time to the low bass notes. The bass on these cans is loose and somewhat sloppy, intruding on the lower mids, but this can be corrected in a way which does not roll off or reduce the bass volume in any real way, but simply tightens it up and adds to its tunefulness, all while greatly diminishing the annoying resonances of the assembly. You’ll get more punch and a more solid, directional and musical sound from low bass notes once these resonances are under control.

 

Lawton Audio uses purpose-made vibration damping materials that transform vibrational energy into heat and harmlessly dissipates it away. Through extensive trial-and error, going through any number of Denons, carefully listening to the results and performing A/B tests, we have arrived at the optimum solution for each phone in the line, strategically placing this damping material throughout the headphone assembly.

 

The damping material is placed inside the cups, at points on the rear of the driver, and in carefully selected spots hidden away inside the headphone assembly itself, all nicely out of sight. No one would ever know the phones have been modified, they look like a clean brand new pair of Denons (except for the extra cushioning in the ear pads, see below).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      

 

               Damping of driver front                                        Damping of driver rear                                         Damping of cup interior

 

Better Bass, Not Zero Bass

It is sometimes misunderstood by those who have not heard our phones that our basic markl Mod that damps the chassis also somehow truncates, rolls off, or otherwise castrates the Denon’s bass; this is just not so. Yes, after modification, these once vibration-ridden phones become rock solid, and can disappear while you wear them. But what gets eliminated through our mod process is not actual musical bass information, just the additional resonances and rattles thrown off into the chassis by the powerful driver. Nothing is done to the driver itself, and its wonderful low-end frequency response is not affected. However, by stripping these non-musical resonances away, the bass sound seems to tighten up significantly; the once formless and shapeless “bass cloud” produced by the stock Denons becomes hard, defined slabs of low-end grunt with improved punch, heft and slam.

 

The modified phones with stiffened chassis provide far fewer places for all that bass energy to dissipate or escape into. Because it can no longer release that energy throughout the chassis, the bass produced by the driver gets tighter, faster, more focused, with a more solid impact. In short, we strip away all the flabby fat to reveal the hard sinewy muscle underneath.

 

But the mods are not just about damping bass resonances. As a result of controlling the bass, the once muddy and obscured midrange is allowed to bloom, come forward and snap into focus. The image thrown by the headphones seems to stabilize and become clear and focused, cleaning out the mud and murk. Now you can understand what the singer was singing! You can hear that acoustic guitar, and look, there’s a whole piano part you hadn’t even noticed before! Now you can enjoy all the subtleties and little details on display along with the solid punch and wallop of the Denons, all presented in a non-fatiguing and coherent way. Ahhhhhhhh…

 

More Padding + Tapered Ear Pads = Better Sound

One thing that some of the better-designed headphones show us is that one of the keys to obtaining a proper soundstage is to simply move the driver away from the ear. This allows the soundstage to expand left and right and lends the image a sense of depth and layering, giving the music (and the listener) room to “breathe”.  Many headphones are designed chiefly with looks in mind, and that means providing as slim and streamlined a headphone as possible, whether or not such an approach is necessarily the best to optimize sound quality. We expect our customers are more concerned with the sound of their phones, than they are in looking “cool” while wearing them (although are custom wood cups are certainly stylish).

 

We are all familiar with that disappointing sensation we get from so many headphones of a buzzing little driver pushing air right against the ear drum. This tends to localize the sound inside the ear cups, providing a very closed-in, or “in-head” listening experience. The Denons are particularly bad offenders in this area because they sport such a powerful driver placed so close to the ear drum (thanks to the skimpy and thin stock pads). The effect they can sometimes produce on complex music is that of a “wall of sound” being aggressively injected straight into the ear canal. It can all get somewhat incoherent with everything arriving at the same time, allowing no depth to develop or layering of images, not to mention adding to listening fatigue and burn-out. We want you to listen more to your favorite tunes, not less!

 

Moving the driver away, if only slightly, can have a surprising effect, reducing the physical sensations produced by the vibrating driver and sound waves. Because you can no longer “feel” the little drivers working away, this helps you relax and forget you are wearing headphones; now the soundstage just seems to open up, expanding the image outside the confines of your head.

 

As we know, many headphones can sometimes sound like those early Beatles stereo recordings which isolate two Mop-Tops in each channel left and right, with no real stereo blending in between. In addition to moving them a bit further away, it also helps to place the drivers at a slight angle in front of the ear canal. This causes the sound to be less localized in blobs right beside the ears, instead making it appear to emanate more from in front of the listener in a more natural way as it might at a concert or when listening to a pair of speakers. Angling the drivers has another positive psycho-acoustic effect, in that it tends to close up the usual gap we experience in the middle of the image with most headphones. Now, the left and right images appear to join seamlessly in the middle.

 

We can help achieve this by applying slightly more cushioning to the rear than the front, tapering gently down as it goes. This tapered design helps angle the driver at a more optimal degree of tilt, creating a more continuous and coherent soundstage, all the while adding real layering and depth to the image.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unstuffed pad (left) vs. stuffed pad (right)

 

We do not use any old stuffing material, either. We have selected a special polyester fiber that is known for being acoustically “dead”, and is often used as linings inside of expensive speakers. This material is compacted quite tightly, and helps suppress the transfer of unwanted resonances from the frame/assembly and your noggin.

 

Best of all, another positive side-effect of adding more padding is that most folks report even greater comfort with a slightly more snug fit!

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