The Denon AH-D5000 headphones were among the first high end cans I ever got my hands on. Notably, the two before it were the AKG K701 and Sony MDR SA5000.

The D5000 impressed me immediately from the first listen 12 years ago, and that was even before I had a proper headphone amp. Their sound signature is pretty spot on with what I want in headphones without needing EQ, which is to say:

  • Deep, punchy bass that goes subwoofer low but isn’t muddy
  • Clear, detailed mids
  • Crisp, slightly bright highs that aren’t harsh or sibilant

With so much focus in the audiophile community on “neutral” headphones, I recently found it a pleasing endeavor to dig my D5000s out again and listen to what is still very detailed, but are clearly headphones meant for music to sound fun and engaging rather than reference neutral.

Denon AH-D5000 worn earpads after 10 years of use

After 10+ years of use, the Denon AH-D5000 have definitely shown their wear in the headband and earpads. The earpads are still fairly comfortable, but seeing the fabric through the pleather is a bit worrisome. And the headband is no longer padded enough to be comfortable for longer sessions.

Denon worn out headband no longer comfortable

The mahogany earcups and the drivers themselves are still in great shape, though.

Could replacement earpads and headband bring these fantastic headphones back to a like-new condition and comfort level? To where I could wear them again every day?

Restoring the AH-D5000 With New Headband and Earpads

Accessory House Global (AHG) happens to sell lambskin leather replacement pads that fit the AH-D5000 and a variety of other Fostex-themed headphones.

Removing the old pads is as simple as pinching the edges where the pad connects to the headphone body and gently yet firmly tugging them out.

Underneath is a plastic ring that snaps into the main body and can be twisted to un-snap. This makes sliding the new pads on much easier since you can slip the leather wrap easily around the plastic ring. Then press the ring up against the headphone body, push down, and twist to re-lock it in place.

Denon AH-D5000 with replacement lambskin pads, thick and beautiful
Rocking the new pads!

The new pads are nice and thick, and extremely comfortable to wear. Since it’s been 12 years since my Denons were new I can’t recall if the original pads started out this thick, but if they did, they haven’t been this lush in many years.

Big improvement in comfort with the new pads, and the sound stage is improved a bit because they hold the driver further away from the ear than before.

And as I’ve noticed in the past with other headphones when switching pads, using thick leather replacement pads, the bass is ample. Not that the Denons’ bass was ever not ample, but it has degraded somewhat over the years along with the pads. The new pads make a subtle but appreciable improvement.

The new headband is about as easy to install as it gets. After removing the original headband by either unscrewing the connector plates at the ends of each side of the headband — or by carefully cutting the leather material off around it — the new headband wraps around the metal band and snaps closed.

D5000 headphones with replacement headband for comfort

THIS is where the biggest improvement to comfort came from.

Not only because of how worn thin the original headband had become, but because I don’t think the original headband ever had much cushion to it.

This headband is noticeably thicker and significantly more comfortable if you’re listening to a whole album at once and not simply a song or two.

While the new headband is definitely not actual leather like the earpads, it seems like it’ll last a good while and packs a nice amount of cushion.

All in all this has been a fun experience, and I’m extremely happy to restore a wonderful pair of headphones I bought 12 years ago that have consistently been among my favorites.

Links to the replacement headband and earpads:

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