• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

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 20.5%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 74 44.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 52 31.3%

  • Total voters
    166

doug2761

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 23, 2020
Messages
153
Likes
267
Cranking the RME to the max?
I was thinking the same thing. I use EQ with the Noire (Oratory's EQ) through an RME-2 and get plenty of volume for my tastes without tripping the RME to the high-current mode. Yes, I can listen at that higher volume but seems a bit dangerous to my hearing at those levels. I also have the Aeon X closed that I EQ to Oratory's Aeon X settings . For me the Noire sounds better after EQ than the Aeon X. Both sound really good. Without EQ the Noire sounds much better to me but I don't listen without EQ unless I'm on the go and then it's Truth Ear Zero or Red.
 

Chester

Senior Member
Joined
May 22, 2021
Messages
416
Likes
989
@amirm apologies if you’ve already stated and I missed it, but were these measured using any of the filters inserted or just bare headphones?
 

holdingpants01

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 18, 2023
Messages
582
Likes
841
I never had any problem with volume and I'm using built in output in a macbook air. Also without filters they're too bright, that was the point of filters to block HF, but I'm just using simple -4dB notch at 12k and Q=4 in Fabfilter Pro-Q + Goodhertz CanOpener. Reliability is not too good, but sound is amazing and I never found any problem with midrange, but I also found harman curve too midrangey, so there's that. I also very much don't mind the 100Hz bump, the low end is pretty much perfect to me
 
Last edited:

Robbo99999

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
6,801
Likes
6,611
Location
UK
114dB not Hz.
Except for the 8kHz resonance I don’t see any problems at 114dB either
Nope, I'm referring to the 114Hz EQ Filter used. Read back my post after reading Amir's original review around the part I quoted. (I knew someone was gonna get confused about this, as I'm mentioning 114Hz & 114dB in the same sentence - kind of unfortunate Amir chose the exact same digits to use in his EQ filter, knew this was gonna confuse people in my post.)
 

Robbo99999

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
6,801
Likes
6,611
Location
UK
@amirm apologies if you’ve already stated and I missed it, but were these measured using any of the filters inserted or just bare headphones?
He was sent the headphones without any of the inserts, so he is measuring it & using it without inserts (he said on the first page in response to some other posts).
 

juliangst

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 11, 2021
Messages
942
Likes
952
Location
Germany
Nope, I'm referring to the 114Hz EQ Filter used. Read back my post after reading Amir's original review around the part I quoted. (I knew someone was gonna get confused about this, as I'm mentioning 114Hz & 114dB in the same sentence - kind of unfortunate Amir chose the exact same digits to use in his EQ filter, knew this was gonna confuse people in my post.)
Sorry for my confusion.
I tried Amir’s EQ filters on my Aeon Noires and didn’t like them. I also don’t see the point in the 114Hz filter. It didn't improve anything noticable and the bump itself is intentional anyways (with good reasoning by Dan Clark)
 

Robbo99999

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
6,801
Likes
6,611
Location
UK
Sorry for my confusion.
I tried Amir’s EQ filters on my Aeon Noires and didn’t like them. I also don’t see the point in the 114Hz filter. It didn't improve anything noticable and the bump itself is intentional anyways (with good reasoning by Dan Clark)
That's alright, no need to apologise, I knew it was gonna cause confusion, I thought about putting a note in there to make sure people were paying attention to the Hz & dB, but I figured it would just complicate & confuse people even more, lol. I think a lot of people are gonna end up misreading that!
 

Joel

Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2021
Messages
30
Likes
30
Would the Qudelix 5K struggle?
I got the Q5K to drive my Aeon 2 (non-Noire, but the electronics are the same) and with a balanced cable and max output it is sufficient for my needs even with EQ. Not a lot of headroom but a very workable combo.
 

Jimbob54

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
10,963
Likes
14,542
I can't think that would be the reason as there is no distortion issue at 114Hz,
I think @amirm is speculating that whatever is used to create the 114hz bump is causing harmonic peaks higher up. So presumably 4th (912) and upwards. Bring the 114hz down and you might reduce those.

I have zero idea of that could even be the case, but think that is where he was going
 

juliangst

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 11, 2021
Messages
942
Likes
952
Location
Germany
harmonic peaks higher up
But any of those peaks are hardly audible. Even at 104dB it's well under 1% distortion across the range (except that resonance peak)
 

Jimbob54

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
10,963
Likes
14,542
But any of those peaks are hardly audible. Even at 104dB it's well under 1% distortion across the range (except that resonance peak)
Like I say, I'm not saying he's right or wrong, just trying to explain the original comment in the review.
 

MacClintock

Senior Member
Joined
May 24, 2023
Messages
373
Likes
632
I must say, I expected a better target compliance, especially at higher frequencies. Also this jagged behaviour and not very low distortion (like in the LCD-XC) makes me rethink a planned purchase. Also on the DCA site the price is $899 and it is promised: 'ÆON 2 Noire's tuning almost exactly aligns to the “Harman Curve”', which is not totally fulfilled.
 

enricoclaudio

Major Contributor
Audio Company
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
1,099
Likes
2,110
Location
Houston, TX - USA
Thanks @amirm for another great review. As a former DCA AEON 2 Noires owner, I find the review very accurate and close to my personal experience with the Noires. Unfortunately I’m one of those who wear prescription glasses even when listening to music with headphones and the Noires are NOT glasses friendly in the sense that any minor leak will alter the bass response to the point of ruining their sound signature. So my advice for those who wear prescription glasses is to not buy the Noires. Get the AEON 2 Open instead.
 

Leiker535

Active Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
Messages
253
Likes
311
13 ohm and with low sensitivity, it might pose a problem for non SOTA amps on the current front.
 

markanini

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 15, 2019
Messages
1,637
Likes
1,685
Location
Scania
I must say, I expected a better target compliance, especially at higher frequencies. Also this jagged behaviour and not very low distortion (like in the LCD-XC) makes me rethink a planned purchase. Also on the DCA site the price is $899 and it is promised: 'ÆON 2 Noire's tuning almost exactly aligns to the “Harman Curve”', which is not totally fulfilled.
The preference score is 90, excellent per Harmans nomenclature. https://github.com/jaakkopasanen/AutoEq/blob/master/results/RANKING.md

Second, from the developer of the the Harman target:
1688246068957.png
 

PeteL

Major Contributor
Joined
Jun 1, 2020
Messages
3,303
Likes
3,827
I find it hard to agree with the following stuff Amir said re this headphone when he EQ'd down the 114Hz bass hump: "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 can't think that would be the reason as there is no distortion issue at 114Hz, and he's not listening to the headphone at 114dB either (because the bass doesn't need to be EQ'd up) so the green line in the following graph is not relevant (and besides there is no distortion issue at 114Hz anyway):

Not sure I agree with the rationale neither, but what else could explain this (reduced highs when dialing down 114 Hz) in your opinion? Amir listen quite loud, we know that by now 114 dB in the bass region is not completely irrational but still too loud.. When you have such a steep distortion peak in the 8k area, it suggest some non linearities up there even if the measurements can't be trusted , or actually especially since the measurements can't be trusted. It's a distortion peak that may be audible, but we don't know from this set of measurements what excites or tame it, or displace it in the spectrum. may be acoustical, mechanical, a flaw in the driver, . Waterfall graph would help, partially, but again an other fixture may give us something else, this is also an area where the concha and ear canal hrtf may interfere. Bottom line, we don't know, it is by definition non-linear, but there is a reason Amir heard what he heard, but this set of measurements can't pinpoint it, I don't think you can just discard blindly that it's distortion. An other point to consider is that this 110ish boost is by the headphone designer admission intentional. What it means in essence is that it's the result of acoustical tuning to enhance that band. When you do that what you do is altering the physics so it is not completely unexpected that these alterations could compromise elsewhere in the form of resonances, and when those resonances happen to be in the "room modes" area of the headphones, or in other words "the highs", well all bets are off for what it does to the response at your eardrums.
 
Last edited:

AudioKC

Active Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2021
Messages
182
Likes
224
IMO one of the best closed headphones sound. I don’t care about that harman headphone curve anymore, after listening this headphone and looking at measurements, harman curve doesn’t make any sense for me (for my preference). It’s seems that I have “my curve”that is much closer to that headphone.
 

Acerun

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 13, 2021
Messages
1,094
Likes
485
Location
San Francisco
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.
View attachment 296049
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:
View attachment 296050
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:
View attachment 296052

Distortion is more than I am used to seeing in DAC headphones but since we have plenty of bass, it is of less concern:
View attachment 296053
View attachment 296054

Group delay is clean above bass indicating lack of internal reflections:
View attachment 296055

Impedance is very low and flat which means your headphone amp better have good current delivery:
View attachment 296056
Combined with half the sensitive of the median headphone, I think a headphone amplifier is mandatory:
View attachment 296057

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:
View attachment 296059

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.

-----------
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/
Not exactly sure how this can be golfing panther... I think we need maybe a different tier now if this gets a golfing panther
 

Dan Clark

Active Member
Audio Company
Joined
Oct 21, 2020
Messages
191
Likes
1,397
Location
San Diego, CA
Hi Amir, and thanks for taking the time to do the review. Two things to add here, the first is that you measured this without using any of the tuning pads, which were pretty much included for the intention to use them for anyone looking for a softer sound on the high frequencies. Generally, I recommend people start with the black filter, or the lighter white filter. That significantly addresses the high frequency emphasis

The second thing is you show distortion at 7 kHz, that is because you have a deep notch on one, likely due to a standing wave with the coupler at that frequency, which means that you have very low fundamental and that makes any distortion or noise relatively elevated in amplitude. You’ll see this on pretty much any headphone when you have a deep notch at some frequency around the coupler. I’ve seen some other measurements you’ve made with other headphones, it’s the same effect.
 
Last edited:
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
44,171
Likes
231,780
Location
Seattle Area
Not exactly sure how this can be golfing panther... I think we need maybe a different tier now if this gets a golfing panther
It didn't get that without the EQ. It got the "undecided" panther out of the box. With EQ, the experience was very enjoyable so I had no choice but to give it that score. To be clear, I am least sure of these ratings than just about any review I have done. Ultimately I just went with my gut, realizing that it may not translate to how others look at it.
 
Top Bottom