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Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 Closed, Aeon 2 Noire and Stealth

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nonnyno

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aaaarggggh you're cruel I can feel a return coming on and another 3K being spent. The only track so far I've been disappointed by is the Beatles glass onion. Perhaps I'm just used to the Beyers on that one. Everything else thus far has been miles better. I'm hearing stuff I haven't heard in ages.
 

Snoopy

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aaaarggggh you're cruel I can feel a return coming on and another 3K being spent. The only track so far I've been disappointed by is the Beatles glass onion. Perhaps I'm just used to the Beyers on that one. Everything else thus far has been miles better. I'm hearing stuff I haven't heard in ages.
If you got the money.. go for it.
You would have a close back endgame headphone that is not impossible to drive.

If I had the money I wouldn't think twice about it.

I will keep the noire as portable headphones. Even if by some miracle I will be able to get my hands on the Stealth .

I'm just wondering if we will see some "budget" version of the Stealth In the future .

Aeon 3? Ether 3?
 
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I'm about to start listening to classical. I may be gone some time ;->
If you got the money.. go for it.
You would have a close back endgame headphone that is not impossible to drive.

If I had the money I wouldn't think twice about it.

I will keep the noire as portable headphones. Even if by some miracle I will be able to get my hands on the Stealth .

I'm just wondering if we will see some "budget" version of the Stealth In the future .

Aeon 3? Ether 3?
Tbh I'm dithering about gong up the scale further. Its hard to believe you could improve much on this and I haven't even tried eq'ing it yet. I'm slightly concerned that should I upgrade I'd be disappointed by the scale of the improvement provided by the Stealth or worse still it becomes so analytical it spoils more of the tracks I currently like. I've only heard one I've been disappointed with thus far. Most of what I'm hearing with the Aeon 2 Noires leaves me in the sort of state you'd see a cat that been binging on cat nip looks like.

I'm currently listening to a Telarc Classic recording of the music from prince Igor. OMW its beautiful on these cans.
Folder.jpg
 

majingotan

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Well what can I say. The E50+L50 + DCA Noire turned up. I plugged it in and and and .... Holy ravioli batman wtaf.

I haven't even attempted to EQ them yet.

Why does anybody say these are bland even for electronic music? I listened to "Go Up" by Cassius. Sure the synths (or electronic drums) started a bit recessed and I was about to say mmmm very focussed around the voice and then the rest of it kicked in. I hate to be a prat by talking about PRAT but seriously folks. I'm exhausted. If another bit of me shook, tapped, jiggled or wriggled it would fall off!!! I can finally hear the lyric, cambric shirt in Sound of Silence properly without it being mumbled.

The only mistake I may have made is that I didn't spring for the DCA Stealth. How similar is it in terms of "house sound" and Is it really that much of a jump up. I've got 14 days to return these.

As for the E50+L50 stack I can't believe it gets much better than these. Could you actually hear the difference between these and the D90Se+A90D or A90 combo? It is really worth the GBP 1,100 difference?

Also has anybody got any recs for a tall headphone stand because the DCA's are a bit too long for my current stand.

Finally any advice on setup:
I have the L50 set to medium gain at present.
The Topping D50 is set at 0DB where should it be set?
Windows volume control is set to 100%

I haven't tried the Stealth myself so I'll check it out when I get a chance. Originally, I went to Schiitr to test out what the fuss is about with the Folkvangr amp and test it out with headphones they have over there. Apparently they don't have the unit yet so I'll have to come back there some other time to hear that SINAD abomination myself. OTOH, they have some headphones for me to try and I liked the way the Aeon 2 Open sounded (Schiit mistakenly labeled it as the Noire edition but the honeybee grille gave it away that it was the Open model instead, and that's the rest of the story)

As for the E50+L50 stack I can't believe it gets much better than these. Could you actually hear the difference between these and the D90Se+A90D or A90 combo? It is really worth the GBP 1,100 difference?

You'll get a better feel / premium quality with the D90+A90D but sonically they're the same.

Ideally the D50 should be at 0dB to get the max SINAD out of it while the L50 is variable where if you want to have more volume control on the knobs, medium gain is perfect. High gain is also perfect but you'll have less play with the knob
 
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nonnyno

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Well the Aeon Noire 2's are just stunning and thats compared with Senn HD800's, Senn HD 820's, Shure 1540's, Focal Elegias Hifiman Sundaras, Beyer DT770's and Shure 530's.
 

asrUser

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As for the E50+L50 stack I can't believe it gets much better than these. Could you actually hear the difference between these and the D90Se+A90D or A90 combo? It is really worth the GBP 1,100 difference?
You could try a Schiit Asgard if you run them SE. The more power the better. Only high volume is nothing, if there is not much power behind it.
 
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I haven't tried the Stealth myself so I'll check it out when I get a chance. Originally, I went to Schiitr to test out what the fuss is about with the Folkvangr amp and test it out with headphones they have over there. Apparently they don't have the unit yet so I'll have to come back there some other time to hear that SINAD abomination myself. OTOH, they have some headphones for me to try and I liked the way the Aeon 2 Open sounded (Schiit mistakenly labeled it as the Noire edition but the honeybee grille gave it away that it was the Open model instead, and that's the rest of the story)



You'll get a better feel / premium quality with the D90+A90D but sonically they're the same.

Ideally the D50 should be at 0dB to get the max SINAD out of it while the L50 is variable where if you want to have more volume control on the knobs, medium gain is perfect. High gain is also perfect but you'll have less play with the knob
I must confess, I find nothing wrong with the quality/feel of the E50/L50 stack and I'm fairly picky. I suppose the front panel looks a little industrial but nothing looks badly made. It doesn't creak or bend and nothing rattles. The volume control could be marginally smoother but this is nit-picking. It doesn't seem to get that hot and thus far I haven't taken the volume past 12 o clock as much beyond that it makes me squint and gives me concussion. I've handled a lot worse at much higher prices. Its cheap enough that if something goes wrong or I get upgradeitis I can do so without feeling guilty about getting rid of very expensive kit.
 

majingotan

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I agree with your comments on the headphones I've also heard, and envy you on the many headphones you have heard that I have not. I gave up the chance to do that when I sprang for the DCA Closed X to Noire upgrade, instead of trying something with different strengths and weaknesses. I did it because I already so enjoyed the excellent tonality, separation and low distortion of the DCA planars.

I've been doing level-matched A/B comparisons -- many of them -- between the Noire and Closed X phones, and am starting to add the HD6XX's to the comparisons. As you may know, the Noire and Closed X headphones are very similar, but the Aeon 2 generation of phones, which includes the Noire but not the Closed X, has a newer planar driver that was developed from the ground up. The closed X's retail for $379-$499 on Drop.com; the Noire is $899 retail or $765 if you are a prior-DCA customer in the DCA Club.

I haven't finished my comparisons of Noire vs Closed X yet but I've got some prelim findings. The Closed X and Noire phones are obviously close kin and sound very similar. There are some specific differences that strike me as unambiguous. ("Unambiguous" = immediately obvious in sound-level-matched bi-directional A/B and B/A comparisons using at least three relevant music selections, albeit not double-blind. So this is still subjective, even if careful. I'm leaving out subtle differences that may not be valid in an A/B comparison. Here I'm also only comparing the headphones when EQ'd to the Oratory/Harman curve. Out-of-the-box, by contrast, there are other differences in tonality. I use Harman primarily to have an objective reference point. In real life, I modify the Harman tuning, touching up the lower bass, and restoring the Dan Clark bass "bump" in the 60-160 Hz region.)

The Closed X headphones don't have much if any soundstage, and the musical image is usually between the ears. The Noire headphones do have a soundstage, especially for well-miked acoustical material. The Noire stage is often shallow and close, between 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock, but can sometimes have some real depth from 10 o'clock to 2 o'clock on well-recorded material. (I've experienced behind-the-head localization on the Noire with a mixing-studio-demo, but not with regular recorded music.) There is a bit of a preference trade-off involved between the Closed X and the Noire. If you are sensitive to soundstage and instrument image, the Noire can sound more natural on acoustic source music -- the sense of an array of instruments in real space with balance between instruments (as if listening from a position in an audience) is stronger, though less often dramatic. However, the "intimacy" of the Closed X headphones, particularly the close-in presence of vocals, can also be appealing, in the same way that closer-miking of a good voice can appeal. In an A/B comparison, it can make the mids of the Noire sound a bit more recessed, even if more balanced among instruments and well-placed in space.

I would add that video-streaming with Noire phones as the audio very frequently has a more pronounced soundstage, perhaps suggesting some kind of ambience enhancement by NetFlix and the other streamers. (If anyone knows more about this, let us know.)

Both the Noire and the Closed X do a good job with instrument separation, with separation defined as being able to distinguish details of timbre and attack/decay among instruments in congested material with overlapping instruments. However, the Noire can sometimes do a better job sorting out the timbre of instruments with a long decay; e.g. a recessed acoustic bass line behind an ensemble of instruments. (I'm still evaluating this; see also the next paragraph.) The Noire does better when "separation" also includes locating instruments in physical space. Again, this is a preference item; some people may not be as sensitive to the physical imaging, or may listen to genres where it matters less.

A difference between the Noire and the Closed X that I didn't expect relates to attack/decay with percussive transients. If you listen to electronica with the very common synthesized drum strikes and rim-shots, these transients often involve a very fast attack and little decay or resonance. With these transients, the Closed X often sounds extremely fast, like a sharp snap of high voltage electricity, while the Noire can sound more like a handclap. If you then compare this to acoustic transients like actual drum strikes and rim-shots, or wood-on-wood sound effects, the Noire does better on picking up the timbre of the drum-strike spreading across the drumhead, or the timbre of the wood-on-metal rimshot, or the resonance of the wood-on-wood. I'm still working on this but the Closed X sometimes feels faster and snappier on percussive transients, and the Noire may be better on capturing the realistic decay of acoustic instruments, including percussive transients. Whether this translates into across-the-board better "slam" for the Closed X vs greater resolution and separation for the Noire isn't clear yet; I will do more comparisons when I can find the time.

It's too soon to finally answer, "does it make sense to upgrade from Closed X to Noire", but where it's heading for me is that if you want bang-for-your buck, the Closed X gets you most of the undistorted bass, resolution and separation of the DCA Aeon series headphones at a much lower cost, especially if you listen to non-acoustic genres or aren't that sensitive to subtleties of imaging and soundstage. On the other hand, if you really know that you appreciate the DCA headphone sound, listen to acoustic sources, and tend to perfectionism even at a cost, the Noire may be worth it, especially if you use the DCA Club discount. Oh, and the portability of the Noire is a real plus if you use them mobile (which I do daily).

Thanks for long post

I figured that I won't miss much with the Aeon 2 with my order of the Aeon X Open today. It's my first planar headphones BTW despite hearing quite a variety of TOTL setups (pricewise) since I can only window shop and don't have enough disposable money on my portfolio for now. Also ordered some 2.5mm TRRS cable since I'll be powering them with my DAP (hopefully it's powerful enough since my demo with the Aeon 2 was with a Schiit Mjolnir 2 amp on balanced and that amp clearly sounds very clean and noise free despite having terrible SINAD. (Originally, I was hoping to hear the Folkvangr if Schiit has them and try out some headphones there) But instead I was very pleased with the Aeon 2 rather. I'd hope they'll have the Folkvangr for demo next week so I can try the Aeon 2 out of that (SINAD that's worse than Vinyl, amp that's meant to drive high impedance headphones, but feeding it with a 13 ohm Aeon 2 instead lol)

I went backwards compared to many young audio enthusiasts where I funded my nearfield setup first before portable audio setup as most go from headphone/personal audio to speaker systems (hence me acquiring a couple of DACs, some are DAC/amp but never bought or owned a dedicated headphone amplifier)
 

JanesJr1

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Thanks for long post

I figured that I won't miss much with the Aeon 2 with my order of the Aeon X Open today. It's my first planar headphones BTW despite hearing quite a variety of TOTL setups (pricewise) since I can only window shop and don't have enough disposable money on my portfolio for now. Also ordered some 2.5mm TRRS cable since I'll be powering them with my DAP (hopefully it's powerful enough since my demo with the Aeon 2 was with a Schiit Mjolnir 2 amp on balanced and that amp clearly sounds very clean and noise free despite having terrible SINAD. (Originally, I was hoping to hear the Folkvangr if Schiit has them and try out some headphones there) But instead I was very pleased with the Aeon 2 rather. I'd hope they'll have the Folkvangr for demo next week so I can try the Aeon 2 out of that (SINAD that's worse than Vinyl, amp that's meant to drive high impedance headphones, but feeding it with a 13 ohm Aeon 2 instead lol)

I went backwards compared to many young audio enthusiasts where I funded my nearfield setup first before portable audio setup as most go from headphone/personal audio to speaker systems (hence me acquiring a couple of DACs, some are DAC/amp but never bought or owned a dedicated headphone amplifier)
The Aeon X phones are what sold me on planars and DCA. I can't imagine you won't like them.

I used to prefer open-back. However, I was exposed regularly to gunfire as a kid and have some hearing loss, and now I like acoustic isolation, so I can pick out details from a quiet background without having to turn up the volume much. I like the bass, too. I'm blessed that hearing tests show my hearing loss to be spookily even up and down the FR spectrum up to 10mhz or so ... meaning that I can hear most everything like other people my age, but just have to turn up the volume a bit.

I would like to hear the Audeze headphones, maybe the LCDX. Have you heard them? I don't think a demo at a show would do it for me, since their out-of-the-box FR is not one I'd like. (I see EQ as a nearly-costless gift from the gods of technology, especially with low distortion headphones.) Anyway, I can't afford more phones for a long time. Getting the Noire was a gamble. There's no question that I like it a lot, but there's not a lot of difference from the Aeon X. Doing the A/B comparisons did train me into being more sensitive to soundstage and image, at least.
 

majingotan

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The Aeon X phones are what sold me on planars and DCA. I can't imagine you won't like them.

I used to prefer open-back. However, I was exposed regularly to gunfire as a kid and have some hearing loss, and now I like acoustic isolation, so I can pick out details from a quiet background without having to turn up the volume much. I like the bass, too. I'm blessed that hearing tests show my hearing loss to be spookily even up and down the FR spectrum up to 10mhz or so ... meaning that I can hear most everything like other people my age, but just have to turn up the volume a bit.

I would like to hear the Audeze headphones, maybe the LCDX. Have you heard them? I don't think a demo at a show would do it for me, since their out-of-the-box FR is not one I'd like. (I see EQ as a nearly-costless gift from the gods of technology, especially with low distortion headphones.) Anyway, I can't afford more phones for a long time. Getting the Noire was a gamble. There's no question that I like it a lot, but there's not a lot of difference from the Aeon X. Doing the A/B comparisons did train me into being more sensitive to soundstage and image, at least.

I haven't heard the LCD X since 2018 and didn't realize that there is a 2021 revision that happened. I don't think Schiitr has the LCD X, just a bunch of Grados, Dan Clark Aeon 2 Open, Drop+Ether CX, AKG K7XX, HD6XX. Vaguely remember how the 2018 sounded, but what I only remember was a very well extended deep bass and laid-back imaging. For me, I prefer not to EQ myself since most stores at my area don't use EQ for their store demo so if I had likened a specific headphone from the demo, I already know that I'm happy with its overall sound and would not want to change it at all
 

doug2761

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Thanks for long post

I figured that I won't miss much with the Aeon 2 with my order of the Aeon X Open today. It's my first planar headphones BTW despite hearing quite a variety of TOTL setups (pricewise) since I can only window shop and don't have enough disposable money on my portfolio for now.

I have the Aeon X in my home office and the Noire in my living room set up. I'm using Oratory's PEQ settings for each. I like both headphones and don't feel like I'm missing anything when listening to one over the other. Yes, there are some subtle differences but both are super good. I'm sure you'll happy with the Aeon X and have terrific listening experiences with them.
 

xirtam2005

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How do these compare to the discontinued Oppo PM-3 (older planar-magnetic closed back) head phones. At $400 they were a bargain for what they were (at the time), but wondering how the newer DCA closed backs compare to these.

Have ADI RME-2 DAC FS, but want to compare out of box stock sound before getting into EQ.
 

tomina666

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Dan Clark Aeon2 Noire

I am a music lover, a photographer, a person who, although he has a severe physical disability and I have been in a wheelchair since birth, I try to live to the maximum. And fulfill your dreams. :) feeling I get when I play my favorite jazz or rock music with headphones and strings is priceless. I don't have well-designed acoustics in my apartment or my neighbors', so I enjoy music from headphones the most. I love open headphones, but they are too distracting to the surroundings. That's why I had the Solaris 2020. However, I have now tried the DCA2 Noire and have fallen in love! I love the airy speech and space!!!

I actually borrowed this model of closed headphones as a bit of a joke, since I already have the AK KANN ALPHA.

I'll stop right here... even though the headphones look unassuming at first glance, it's not quite like that. They are less sensitive. If you don't have a symmetrical cable - which I'm waiting for - you have to give the DAPs quite a blow job. Especially if you like loud listening. For me, 110-125 of 150 on high gain.
With balanced it should be better!
The external amp gives them more juice to get going, opens up the headphones some more. But compared to the Alpha, it's not a huge improvement. At least in terms of feel.

The design is great, stackable, classy case and very comfortable on the head. The first day, the top of my head hurt after about eight hours of listening. Then all I had to do was tweak the bridge and ok.
So what bothers me a bit is that if you take the headphones off, you then have to readjust the head bridge - but yeah, Stealth has it figured out. I got used to the connectors somehow. In the end they are actually great, well made. They could have arrows, markings for quick deployment.

Sonically, the Noires have unexpectedly very good space, detail with an airy and neutral sound.
Combined with the A90, I was worried it would be too sharp a combo. Perhaps a slightly warmer amp would have suited them, but I don't see that as a major problém. For me, a brighter presentation is more pleasing than the opposite.

There are also special filters in the package that insert into the earcups to change, slightly modify the speech. Some minimal difference - I could probably feel the attenuation of the treble, but it seemed to take it elsewhere. Maybe a little more bass and dynamics would have suited them.

Overall, these headphones are close to me in their expression - just the way I like it - probably the opposite of the Audez?? And combined with the weight, comfort, they make a perfect combo for closed listening (watch out, they go a bit audible) with open headphone behavior.
Well, of course I'm going to get them - unless I fuck up a second time and go for the Stealths! I'd love to try those then, but I doubt there will be a difference - a shift directly proportional to the price...

Thanks to Audigo.cz for their speed and helpfulness with the rental.❤️ And @Dan Clark for fantastic headphones.

I understand that not everybody will like my opinions, feelings... And that's actually the best part about our music - that it's about perception and making us like it.

5A6A8894-D501-4BE0-9AD7-B964E58EC363.jpeg
77127D45-FE1D-4498-98C4-7E9533B202AB.jpeg
360425FC-6288-4B7A-B873-863B7FB07F61.jpeg
 

majingotan

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I'll stop right here... even though the headphones look unassuming at first glance, it's not quite like that. They are less sensitive. If you don't have a symmetrical cable - which I'm waiting for - you have to give the DAPs quite a blow job. Especially if you like loud listening. For me, 110-125 of 150 on high gain.
With balanced it should be better!

The Noires and my Aeon Open X have exactly the same sensitivity. Not to surprised that KANN Alpha would put those volume levels on the Noires/Aeon X Open. With my SP2000, I have to crank up to 135 for SE, but around 100-110 for 2.5mm balanced. Your KANN should be able to have lots of headroom once you go balanced. Funny thing is that my desktop amp which is SE only doesn't even need to go to 9 am of its max 4 pm to get to over 90+ dB SPL with these headphones
 

Jimbob54

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you have to give the DAPs quite a blow job.

You will have to forgive me for chuckling at this rather excellent (I assume google) auto translation fail.
But I am very glad you get some enjoyment from the set up. I would love to listen to the Noires. DCA do make some excellent headphones.
 

JanesJr1

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Dan Clark Aeon2 Noire

I am a music lover, a photographer, a person who, although he has a severe physical disability and I have been in a wheelchair since birth, I try to live to the maximum. And fulfill your dreams. :) feeling I get when I play my favorite jazz or rock music with headphones and strings is priceless. I don't have well-designed acoustics in my apartment or my neighbors', so I enjoy music from headphones the most. I love open headphones, but they are too distracting to the surroundings. That's why I had the Solaris 2020. However, I have now tried the DCA2 Noire and have fallen in love! I love the airy speech and space!!!

I actually borrowed this model of closed headphones as a bit of a joke, since I already have the AK KANN ALPHA.

I'll stop right here... even though the headphones look unassuming at first glance, it's not quite like that. They are less sensitive. If you don't have a symmetrical cable - which I'm waiting for - you have to give the DAPs quite a blow job. Especially if you like loud listening. For me, 110-125 of 150 on high gain.
With balanced it should be better!
The external amp gives them more juice to get going, opens up the headphones some more. But compared to the Alpha, it's not a huge improvement. At least in terms of feel.

The design is great, stackable, classy case and very comfortable on the head. The first day, the top of my head hurt after about eight hours of listening. Then all I had to do was tweak the bridge and ok.
So what bothers me a bit is that if you take the headphones off, you then have to readjust the head bridge - but yeah, Stealth has it figured out. I got used to the connectors somehow. In the end they are actually great, well made. They could have arrows, markings for quick deployment.

Sonically, the Noires have unexpectedly very good space, detail with an airy and neutral sound.
Combined with the A90, I was worried it would be too sharp a combo. Perhaps a slightly warmer amp would have suited them, but I don't see that as a major problém. For me, a brighter presentation is more pleasing than the opposite.

There are also special filters in the package that insert into the earcups to change, slightly modify the speech. Some minimal difference - I could probably feel the attenuation of the treble, but it seemed to take it elsewhere. Maybe a little more bass and dynamics would have suited them.

Overall, these headphones are close to me in their expression - just the way I like it - probably the opposite of the Audez?? And combined with the weight, comfort, they make a perfect combo for closed listening (watch out, they go a bit audible) with open headphone behavior.
Well, of course I'm going to get them - unless I fuck up a second time and go for the Stealths! I'd love to try those then, but I doubt there will be a difference - a shift directly proportional to the price...

Thanks to Audigo.cz for their speed and helpfulness with the rental.❤️ And @Dan Clark for fantastic headphones.

I understand that not everybody will like my opinions, feelings... And that's actually the best part about our music - that it's about perception and making us like it.

View attachment 219914View attachment 219915View attachment 219916
Two thoughts: (1) you mentioned having to re-adjust the head strap frequently. Just so you know, if you put the sliders at the best-fit location and tighten the little phillips screws on the sliders, they will stay put; and (2) a good number of us DCA users prefer to use equalizing over using the earpads, to support better resolution, and to support an open soundstage (esp. with the Noire). I was new to this last year, but have been delighted to learn how to do it well (and for free) with Equalizer APO (equalizerapo.com). You can find plenty of guidance both on ASR and at that website if you want to give it a try. Other users of this thread have also provided coaching when needed. EAPO works best for desktop DAC& Amp or PC-with-dongle; there are other solutions if you do most of your listening from a phone.
 

tomina666

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You will have to forgive me for chuckling at this rather excellent (I assume google) auto translation fail.
But I am very glad you get some enjoyment from the set up. I would love to listen to the Noires. DCA do make some excellent headphones.
Uppps! Sorry :)
 
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tomina666

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Two thoughts: (1) you mentioned having to re-adjust the head strap frequently. Just so you know, if you put the sliders at the best-fit location and tighten the little phillips screws on the sliders, they will stay put; and (2) a good number of us DCA users prefer to use equalizing over using the earpads, to support better resolution, and to support an open soundstage (esp. with the Noire). I was new to this last year, but have been delighted to learn how to do it well (and for free) with Equalizer APO (equalizerapo.com). You can find plenty of guidance both on ASR and at that website if you want to give it a try. Other users of this thread have also provided coaching when needed. EAPO works best for desktop DAC& Amp or PC-with-dongle; there are other solutions if you do most of your listening from a phone.
The balance cable arrived today and so I am happy. :)
Maybe a warmer amp might have been more interesting, but I was going for the experience from before and also wanted to save some money because I got a good deal. But I may want to move it up in time. I'll be glad for any tips.

It's not always important to have the best set-up... For me, the most important thing is to enjoy the music and have time to listen and feel the sound.
 

Jimster480

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How do these compare to the discontinued Oppo PM-3 (older planar-magnetic closed back) head phones. At $400 they were a bargain for what they were (at the time), but wondering how the newer DCA closed backs compare to these.

Have ADI RME-2 DAC FS, but want to compare out of box stock sound before getting into EQ.
Well my PM-2 destroyed the PM-3 and the Aeon is cleaner than the PM-2. So this newer Aeon should be better (possibly in every way?) meaning it should be quite an upgrade.
I personally listen to the PM-2 and the Aeon quite frequently and now I have a Hifiman Ananda as well. All are for different kinds of music really...
 

Pandemonium

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Hi,

So I've read the reviews of the DCA Stealth, Aeon RT, Focals and numerous other headphones.

I cannot see the Aeon RT in the UK so my choices really boil down to Aeon 2 Closed, Aeon 2 Noire, Stealth, Focal Elegia, Celestee, Radiance or Stellia for closed backs. I cannot hear any of them in advance bar possibly the lower end Focals.

My music tastes are fairly wide with the exception of Rap and the more extreme forms of metal (A beautiful intro followed by someone with rabies screaming in pain doesn't do it for me ;-> ).

Now here's an observation. I have looked at Jaakkop Pasanens list of headphones:

https://github.com/jaakkopasanen/AutoEq/blob/master/results/RANKING.md

Assuming I've interpreted this list correctly, Amir highly rates the Stealth largely to their adherence to the Harman curve but according to this list they don't conform as tightly to the curve as many others. The Aeon 2 closed and Noire both do far better as do the Beyer DT 990's. The Grado Hemps are just a smidgeon behind, the Sundaras and most of the Hifi man headphones are way ahead. The Focals all score badly bar the Utopias (but I heard the Elegias and they sounded pretty good to me on a quick listen in a noisy shop).

Crinnacle too rates the DCA's much lower than the others and in fact rates the Focals much higher and if you want a purely subjective approach to things Tyll really liked the Focal Clears and the Stellias.

So, what am I and indeed any other potential purchaser to think and make a decision based on? Objectivity (consistent experimental design and method) should provide a relatively consistent, relative positioning of these headphones. That has not occurred! In fact we have ended up with multiple viewpoints based on objective measures which are largely contradictory, which provides little more value than the subjectivists approach beyond the idea that we measured. Do we now need a source which measures the measurers?

I can't try before I buy. I live miles from the headphone specialists so listening is out (beyond the lower end headphones). Common sense suggests that I should not spring for a big budget headphone (£3K plus) like the DCA Stealth as only one objectivist reviewer has waxed lyrical about it (Amir) and returns in the UK are not easy for headphones apart from Amazon who doesn't stock the DCA's in the UK. The DCA Aeon Noire Aeon 2 Closed have not been reviewed by Amir so I have only the Pasanen and Crinacle lists to go on for an opinion on them and these contradict each other as to the Aeon 2/Noire and the Focals. In fact practically the only headphone any reviewers can agree on is the Hifiman Sundara which is open back (I'd prefer closed).

This leads me to conclude that objectivist headphone reviews are really only subjectively objective and that buying a headphone sight unseen is a nightmare. You can ultimately only trust your ears.

I want to make clear that I am not getting at ASR (Amir) or indeed any other objectivist reviewer. The amp and DAC measures do seem to tally with others who take the objectivist approach. I have purchased two items of hardware based on Amirs reviews and was delighted by what I got, especially given the money spent. Lightning destroyed my SMSL M500 and I need to replace it. I'll use Amirs reviews and recs from this site to determine its replacement. Clearly though items which involve a hardware to physical interaction cause issues for objectivity.

I am totally stuck with the decision as to what to do and how much to spend on a headphone.
Perhaps we're reading this list wrong because the Sennheiser HD-560s seems to be ranked 3rd but they're nowhere near as close to the target response as the Stealths.
 
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