To keep things in perspective, bear in mind that the AH-D5000 is all about serving up a sound characterized by rich and vivid tonal colors. The minor sonic excesses I’ve described above may well be the price you pay to enjoy the concomitant richness and vividness—a tradeoff many listeners will, I suspect, happily embrace.
The other issue that I’d raise is that the 5000s have a slight tendency to divide music into Bass/Midrange/Treble segments. Each region sounds good (mostly), but overall this presentation isn’t entirely natural. Classical lovers may notice this more than lovers of other musical styles.
The 5000s present an interesting contrast to the Sennheiser HD-800s, which I also review in this issue. The Sennheiser's major in naturalness (errors don't call attention to themselves; relaxed and smooth), but have some subtractive errors that mean they aren't the most vivid (fresh; intense; alive) headphones on the market. The HD-800s are good in the vividness department, but not great.The Denon's, on the other hand, are quite vivid, though at the expense of naturalness at times. The Denon's colorations are small enough that you would say they are good but not great on the naturalness scale.
On Mary Black’s song “Trying to Get the Balance Right”, from By the Time It Gets Dark [Gift Horse], Mary’s voice is very clear. The accompanying acoustic guitar is plucked emphatically on the initial beats of the chorus, and the treble edge I mention above results in the guitar sounding a little more metallic than it should. You can hear a similar, slightly unnatural effect on Alison Krauss and Union Station’s song “Maybe” [Alison Krauss & Union Station – Live, Rounder/UMGD]. The 5000s handle the voices transparently, but the chorus of that song has a multi-part harmony where the difference in voices yields too much overtone ringing.
By contrast, though, I found that on Paavo Jarvi’s version of the Beethoven 3rd Symphony [RCA Red Seal] the Denon’s had a very listenable treble presentation with good clarity. The cellos were, however, under-emphasized a bit. In this case one might say the sound was a little cool, though thanks to the strong bottom end, the sound isn’t thin.