Denon AH-D340 over-ear headphones review
Denon has a good range of headphones. No matter what you're looking to spend, the firm has something that will fit, and we're honestly yet to find a pair that don't sound great - even at the lower end of the price range. The AH-D340 over-ears are no exception.
We recently tested the AH-D600 headphones, which were supposed to cost £500. By the time we published our review, however, you could get them for near to the £200 mark. And that interestingly leads us to the AH-D340s, which cost £180. And that's a cause of some pain for us, because it means that these headphones have to be staggeringly good in contrast to their bigger brother.
Like all Denon headphones, the D340 cans are nice to wear. They fit over our ears, meaning there's no pressure on our shell-like ears - this is good, as it means they're more comfortable than on-ear types, and can easily be worn all day long.
The headband is easy to adjust, and the ear cups didn't make our head or ears unduly hot and sweaty. They are really comfortable - something that we have to say is more of a problem with headphones than you might think. They don't lack grip either, and stay on when you're doing elaborate 80s dance moves around your kitchen to Tiffany or are sat stationary in a seat in the living room.
You get a slip case in AH-D340s box that's made of tough material and should keep your headphones safe from scratching and other minor damage. It won't stop them getting broken in a bag though as it's not a hard case, so be a bit weary of that if you're travelling a lot.
We're also pleased to report that the headphone cable can be replaced. This means that when you snag it on something and destroy it - think of aeroplane seat disaster, that we've experienced all too much - or it dies through being wound up, you can spend a few quid getting a new one without needing to replace the entire headphones.
We love the D600 cans, but they're not designed for going out and about - they're very much headphones for listening to music at home, or watching TV with. They come with a big, thick cable that's long and heavy and they're heavy themselves. Too much movement and they'll slide off your head too.
On the flipside, the AH-D340s are light, have a short and thin cable with iPhone controls and a microphone built in. They're not great for music at home or watching TV because the cable is too short and they clamp down on your head more.
So, while it's easy to draw conclusions based on these headphones' price points, it's also a bit like comparing apples to oranges. If you want headphones to travel with, then the D340 is a good shout, especially if you're an iPhone user. If you're a home user then the D600 is the best bet.
Denon makes a lot of fuss about how its headphones offer a clear, flat sound response. That means if you're listening to music with a lot of bass that you'll get a lot of bass, but they won't adjust the rest of the sound in any way. This is likely to appeal to some, but not others.
One thing to consider though is your phone or portable music device. Does it have an EQ and is its sound clean with little extra processing? This is an important question, because you may find that if your phone doesn't have any EQ options then there will be tracks that just don't sound right. Perhaps because of the way they were mastered, encoded or because of how they were intended to sound. These are all issues for headphones with a flat sound, and we do think it takes some practice to listen to music in this way. We've found that although music has less bass in most cases, when you do get some nice low-end you appreciate it a lot more.
Not to mention the range on these headphones is amazing. So you get a level of detail in the sound that is missing on many headphones. Although, at this sort of price, you'll mostly be buying cans that have a similar ethos to these Denons anyway - a pure sound, and one that is true to the original.
However you look at it, the AH-D340 over-ears sound lovely. We tested them with music from our vast library of tracks, both as MP3s and using lossless audio formats. We used our phone as well as a £700 DAC and we found them to be stunning throughout.
Apples and Androids
One thing we note - and that Android phone owners will probably find too - is that a lot of phones now significantly limit their audio output. They do this to help prevent hearing loss, and to appease the French who got uppity about it in the late 90s. What this means is that on headphones like these you won't get enough sound to drive them to significant volume. In a quiet environment that's no problem, but get on a train and things can become more bothersome.
Of course, listening loudly is bad for your hearing, but at the same time these headphones take more to drive them than cheap in-ear headphones. This is a problem we see time and time again with good headphones, and it is annoying because the volume limiter can't take the type of headphones into account. We used a headphone amp to get around it and then the DH-A340s sounded amazing wired up to our Galaxy S4 smartphone.
READ: Samsung Galaxy S4 review
We would urge you to investigate this loudness issue before you buy any high-end headphones - not just this Denon model - because it might make your experience less than it should be. We've asked iPhone users about this, and they report that device can go louder.
Our only real problem with the AH-D340 is that the D600 cost almost the same price. We prefer the latter headphones overall, but mostly because they suit our home-based usage more. The D340 sound nearly as good though, and for those who want to take their headphones out and about they are perfect.
The truth is, for the price they're great. We suspect that given a reasonably modest time there'll be a further price drop. Once that happens, they go from being a great set of headphones to being a must-own pair.
However you look at it, these Denon cans are a joy to use and will go down well with anyone who really cares about how their music sounds.