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Sometimes it seems that ear canal headphones are taking over the world. Almost every pair of upgrade headphones on the market seems to be of the noise isolation variety and even some MP3 manufacturers are beginning to include them with their players. Whatever happened to quality earbuds? They seem to be rapidly going the way of the dodo. And how about over-the-head cans?
They might seem old-fashioned and esoteric, but don't write them off just yet. The simple fact is that traditional headphones are the best way of enjoying your tunes at home - and better still they can produce incredibly good quality music for the money. I've owned a pair of Grado's SR325i's for some time now, and they're perfect for a bit of late night headbanging when the kids are asleep, or for chilling out to a spot of classical without having to turn the volume down so low you can't hear the quiet bits. And for a mere £280 they sound far better than any pair of speakers you could buy for the money.
This is precisely the market that Denon's AH-D2000's are aimed at. They're expensive - at £250 this is not a purchase to be made lightly - but they are every bit the quality audio component. They're simply beautifully constructed: luxuriously soft leather padding is wrapped around the headband; the ear pads are made from the same soft padding and leather, with stitching a Saville Row tailor would be proud of; and the earcups, though large, are not as heavy as they might be thanks to a lightweight magnesium subframe. Put these on your head and you really feel cosseted - it's like the audio equivalent of travelling in first class, driving a very expensive car or eating out at a Michelin three star restaurant.
Though they don't fold flat for storage, the rest of the design smacks of similarly careful attention to detail. The hinges on the earcups, for instance, are solid metal and they extend from the headband with a satisfyingly smooth clicking action. The cable running from each ear is wrapped in a tightly-woven cloth jacket and there's a generous three metres of it, too - so you can sit a fair distance away from your stereo without having the wires tug at your ears when you move. At the end of this cable is yet another luxurious touch - a hefty-feeling 3.5mm stereo jack made from solid, cold metal. A nice touch - most high-end headphones such as this have the larger 1/4in (6.35mm) type that must then be converted back to 3.5mm for listening to portable players