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Dan Clark Audio AEON 2 Noire Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 6 3.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 34 20.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 75 44.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 53 31.5%

  • Total voters
    168

amirm

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This is a review, listening test and measurements of the Dan Clark Audio (DCA) AEON 2 Noire Planar Magnetic closed back headphone. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $850.
DCA Aeon 2 Noire Closed Back Headphone planar review.jpg

As soon as you touch and attempt to pick up the headphone, it immediately conveys a feeling of luxury with butter soft pads contrasting against the glossy finish. When I took off my everyday Dan Clark Stealth and put on the Noire, I felt like I had nothing on my head! It is that much lighter and so much more comfortable (although I wear my Stealth for hours).

Fitment on the GRAS measurement fixture was instant requiring almost no effort including great channel matching.

DCA AEON 2 Noire Measurements
We start with our usual frequency response measurement:
DCA Aeon 2 Noire Closed Back Headphone Frequency Response Measurement.png

I speaking to Dan, he tens to think that hump around 100 Hz is desirable. We saw it in the Expanse headphone review. We do have some shortfall in the 2 to 4 kHz and some peaking past that. From my experience, such a deficiencies robs you of spatial qualities. Again, I think Dan thinks this brings some "breathiness" to vocals. In all, I can see his signature on this headphone, the more neutral response on the much more expensive headphones from him notwithstanding. The rough shape of the graph in the 2 to 8 kHz makes quick and dirty EQ more difficult:
DCA Aeon 2 Noire Closed Back Headphone relative Frequency Response Measurement.png


EDIT: my testing was without any of the pads (filters) provided by the company. See these measurements for impact of that: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-audio-aeon-2-noire-review.46055/post-1643697

Distortion is more than I am used to seeing in DAC headphones but since we have plenty of bass, it is of less concern:
DCA Aeon 2 Noire Closed Back Headphone Distortion THD Response Measurement.png

DCA Aeon 2 Noire Closed Back Headphone Distortion relative Response Measurement.png


Group delay is clean above bass indicating lack of internal reflections:
DCA Aeon 2 Noire Closed Back Headphone Group Delay Response Measurement.png


Impedance is very low and flat which means your headphone amp better have good current delivery:
DCA Aeon 2 Noire Closed Back Headphone Impedance Measurement.png

Combined with half the sensitive of the median headphone, I think a headphone amplifier is mandatory:
Most efficient headphone review 2023.png


My RME ADI-2 Pro was just good enough. I could crank it to max volume at +6 dB to get loud but then I had no headroom left (i.e. ability to drive the headphone to clipping).

DCA AEON 2 Noire Listening Tests and Equalization
The first impression was actually good. There was a warm quality to the sound courtesy of good amount of bass. I didn't listen long though as I wanted to see the effect of EQ:
DCA Aeon 2 Noire Closed Back Headphone Equalization.png


I started with Band 1 filter. You would think reducing bass would result in the amp being less warm. The effect paradoxically was the opposite! The highs were reduced a bit. I suspect what was happening was the reduction of harmonic distortion that was bleeding into the higher frequencies. I then dialed in filter 2. In AB testing against no EQ, it was not clear in my mind which would be better. So I pulled down the one peak, added more to lower frequencies and put that shelving filter. Now we are talking! :) The sound opened up and was no longer closed and bassy. On my reference tracks, I was amazed at the level of fidelity. Detail was superb now and of course, that wonderful bass was there to complement those highs. I wanted to keep listening but had to stop to take a picture of the headphone.

Putting my Stealth back on, it was a more balanced experience with less hyped up lower treble. So perhaps I crave more in that area as reflected in my EQ choice above. What can I say. :) Need to try that with the Stealth...

Conclusions
The Aeron 2 Noire brings expected bass response (and a bit more) but trades some loss of energy in lower treble with some peaking in upper frequencies. EQ by eye is difficult but with luck or skill, I arrived at a setting that produces just marvelous fidelity to my ear. I can imagine many being happy with the stock tuning which made it hard for me to rate it without EQ. With EQ though, it matches my taste perfectly. Combine that with its high level of comfort and luxury, and you have a winner there.

I am not going to recommend the DAC Aeron 2 Noire without EQ strictly based on my personal taste. With EQ, it more than delights me and becomes a recommendation.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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FreaK

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I'm a little bit disappointed with this DCA HP. I think the Drop Aeon X is a much better deal.
If I recall correctly, it has lower distortion, and you can get better results with EQ. It's also cheaper. (don't know if you still can get it new)
(I have the closed one)
 

IAtaman

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Interesting. A relatively large portion of people who recommend Aeon Noire 2 as a great closed-back seem to dislike Expanse, while Amir seems to enjoy Expanse but Noire 2 not so much out of the box. Do you think there is a causal relationship there maybe? I'd be curious to know what other Expanse owners who heard Noire 2 think about this headphone.
 
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amirm

amirm

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I guess that you made measurements without any of filter that came with headphones?
Correct. I didn't get any filters to test with.
 
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amirm

amirm

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I thought you switched to Expanse.
I use Stealth when I am measuring due to fan noise of the AP. And also when my wife is listening to TV. I use Expanse when it is quiet.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Interesting. A relatively large portion of people who recommend Aeon Noire 2 as a great closed-back seem to dislike Expanse, while Amir seems to enjoy Expanse but Noire 2 not so much out of the box. Do you think there is a causal relationship there maybe? I'd be curious to know what other Expanse owners who heard Noire 2 think about this headphone.
My comparisons were against Stealth, not Expanse. Do you mean to say Stealth? If so, I had not seen that observation.
 

ThatGuyYouKnow

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I guess that you made measurements without any of filter that came with headphones?
I was wondering the same thing. The filters work well enough to allow some people to effectively eschew the use of EQ. Personally, I decided to go without them even though some select recordings can sound a bit shrill to my ears as a result.
 

restorer-john

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A very good looking headphone, if it weren't for the 'carbon fibre' plates on the sides. They certainly appear to be comfortable and come with a very decent performance out of the box.
 

kopczas

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The filters work well enough to allow some people to effectively eschew the use of EQ
Yeah, that`s why it`s pity that we won`t be able to see filter impact of graphs. I own DC Aeon 2 closed, without any filtering they much to bright for me. After white combine with black filter, these are almost perfect HPs to my taste.
 

staticV3

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Efficiency seems to be a real Achilles heel for DCA's newest planar tech.

Alongside the HE6, the Stealth, Expanse, Noire, and RT Closed are by far the least efficient headphones that Amir has ever measured, all hovering around 80dB/mW.

The Noire seems slightly better than the rest at 84dB/mW, though that's still way lower than what retailers like Crutchfield, Thomann and co. are listing in their specs (92dB/mW).
 

Snoopy

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Yeah, that`s why it`s pity that we won`t be able to see filter impact of graphs. I own DC Aeon 2 closed, without any filtering they much to bright for me. After white combine with black filter, these are almost perfect HPs to my taste.
I use the white filter and Oratory1990 EQ.
The thin black filter fits in my meze Liric as well. Have been using it there and it's really nice.

But the Noire are really not that easy to drive for a headphone that folds and is supposed to be portable.
I'm happy with both my Singxer SA-1 and SMSL SP400 in high gain but probably wouldn't be using them with a dongle or unbalanced entry level amp
 

Verig

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13Ohm 84dB/mW sounds like a speaker not a headphone. Not really a problem for open back designs as most don't want to wear them in train etc. and buyers of $850 headphones should have a proper amp. However these are small, light and closed so it would be nice to have an easier load to go.
 

sharock

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13Ohm 84dB/mW sounds like a speaker not a headphone. Not really a problem for open back designs as most don't want to wear them in train etc. and buyers of $850 headphones should have a proper amp. However these are small, light and closed so it would be nice to have an easier load to go.
Would the Qudelix 5K struggle?
 
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Cranking the RME to the max?
I must be listening at whisper quite levels, since mine get plenty loud with my phone at 15-20%, which was measured here at 0,5 Vrms (Xperia 5).

I take no issue with stock FR tbh, but voted fine because of the poor 114dB distortion (for those that even get to that volume).
 
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