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Dan Clark E3 Headphone Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 4 2.1%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 10 5.3%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 29 15.3%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 147 77.4%

  • Total voters
    190

amirm

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This is a review, listening tests, and detailed measurements of the Dan Clark E3 closed back headphone. It was sent to me by the company and costs US $1,999.
Dan Clark E3 Closed Back Headphone headphone review.jpg

As you see, the E3 has quite large cups which makes fitment on your ears quite easy. I used the headphone for about 2 weeks with good comfort. Compared to the Stealth, I thought it felt a bit heavier. On the looks, I find it kind of simple compared to the complex geometry of Stealth/Expanse headphones.

Let's measure it to see how it responds.

Dan Clark E3 Headphone Measurement
I expect compliance with our target and that is exactly what we have:
Dan Clark E3 Closed Back Headphone Frequency Response Measurement.png

Indeed, it seems to comply a bit better than Stealth (as if those small differences matter!). Relative response then doesn't leave much to EQ:

Dan Clark E3 Closed Back Headphone relative Frequency Response Measurement.png


There is some distortion at low frequencies but then quiets down quite well:
Dan Clark E3 Closed Back Headphone relative Distortion Response Measurement.png


Dan Clark E3 Closed Back Headphone Distortion Response Measurement.png

As you see, distortion is very low where our hearing is most sensitive (2 to 5 kHz).

Group delay was very clean indicating lack of internal reflections:
Dan Clark E3 Closed Back Headphone Group Delay Response Measurement.png


Impedance is flat and low:
Dan Clark E3 Closed Back Headphone Impedance Response Measurement.png


Sensitivity is improved compared to Stealth/Expanse making the headphone an easier load to drive:
Best headphone review.png

You still need a high-performance of headphone amplifier.

Dan Clark E3 Listening Tests
When Dan sent the E3 to me, he asked that I not measure it and just listen and that is what I did. The first impression was a familiar and accurate sound I am used to in both headphones and studio monitors. I then spent good amount of time swapping between Stealth and E3. There were audible differences to be sure but none that I could quantify other than the E3 having a bit more highs resulting in slightly more spacious and satisfying sound. The switchover between headphones was just too long to give you quantification beyond this.

I then spent the next 10 to 14 days using the E3 as my everyday headphone. I enjoy it every bit as much as my Stealth. I did find that my neck got a hair tired. Dan tells me it is a bit heavier but it may be weight distribution as I am used to wearing heavy headphones.

Conclusions
With E3, Dan Clark once again exemplifies complying with the latest research into proper frequency response of a headphone while at the same time innovating with design and performance. The headphone sounds accurate while being very enjoyable. With the cost being half of Stealth and sound potentially even more pleasing (combined with ease of drive), the E3 is even a more exciting development. Yes, you do give up some in looks department in my opinion but heck, you don't watch yourself in the mirror as you listen! :)

I am happy to put the Dan Clark E3 on my recommended list.

------------
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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amirm

amirm

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Manufacturer Specifications:

Weight. 455gr
Impedance. 27ohms
Sensitivity. -90 dB/mW
Frequency response. Yes, it has one
Distortion. < 0.1% ref 80dB White Noise
 
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Grotti

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If I ever have to part with my speakers due to neighbours complaining, this is the final solution for me. And yes, I know from equalising my AKG to the Harman curve that I prefer listening this way. Thank you for this particular review and DCA for sending it in.
 

Geert

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Impressive piece of engineering.
 

Robbo99999

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The distortion levels in the bass look very similar to those in the Stealth, and especially given that you're already at Harman levels of bass then it's unlikely that you'll need to use much EQ to boost the bass, which means you'll probably be operating at the 94dB blue line or below in the following graphs (which is totally fine), so yes very similar bass distortion between the two headphones:
index.php


index.php


I like the look of the frequency response in the E3, and its uses the same "metamaterial system" (according to DCA website) that the Stealth uses to help tune the frequency response. I really like the fact that it is a smooth frequency response which is often hard to achieve with planars - it's only really DCA planars that seem to not have this "fine grass" high Q sharp variation in frequency response, instead the DCA planars exhibit this smooth frequency response that is normally the characteristic of dynamic driver headphones. In my opinion this smoothness of frequency response (lack of "fine grass") is beneficial for sound quality. The fact that the E3 is more affordable than the Stealth is a major bonus, and it's good to see. I'm probably not about to drop $1900 on headphones, but I'd like to see some more trickle down into more affordable models - just like has already happened from Stealth down to E3.

Nice headphones, I do really like what DCA are doing, I hold them in high esteem even though I don't own any of their headphones yet! (Did nearly buy the Drop DCA Open X for $399 during Black Friday though! (importing to UK re VAT and exchange rate tipped me the other way though, combined with pad replacement cost/process which would be an ongoing occurrence through the life of the headphone))
 
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Doodski

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Announcement was 12:00 pacific so they went live same time I did. Takes a bit for the search engines to catch up.
When I Googled I found your's @amirm within 3 search results. It was Dan Clark that I was addressing before regarding no search results upon a Google search. :D
 

LearningToSmile

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If it was half the price, I'd be ordering one now. As is, still a bit too expensive for me, but definitely a step in the right direction(and definitely something I'll be scouring the used market for in a couple years). Impressive that there really don't seem to be any compromises.
 

SuicideSquid

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If it was half the price, I'd be ordering one now. As is, still a bit too expensive for me, but definitely a step in the right direction(and definitely something I'll be scouring the used market for in a couple years). Impressive that there really don't seem to be any compromises.
Same, but at least we have a good response for all those folks who make new accounts and one post: "What should I buy as an 'end-game' headphone".

If you want something accurate and you're willing to pay for it, here you go.
 

paudio

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I haven't tried any of the more expensive products than the Aeon 2 Noire. I do like the more matte/satin paint and the textured cup surface as it won't be a fingerprint magnet unlike the Noire. Don't think I can stomach $1999 USD when I already have the Noire though. The tuning and measurements look really good. Looks like a very good product that is made very well. Not a fan of the headband stitching but I am one of those people that like stealthy, unbranded and not flashy products. I'd definitely like to give DCA more of my money in the future and I like what they're cooking!
 

Robbo99999

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I haven't tried any of the more expensive products than the Aeon 2 Noire. I do like the more matte/satin paint and the textured cup surface as it won't be a fingerprint magnet unlike the Noire. Don't think I can stomach $1999 USD when I already have the Noire though. The tuning and measurements look really good. Looks like a very good product that is made very well. Not a fan of the headband stitching but I am one of those people that like stealthy, unbranded and not flashy products. I'd definitely like to give DCA more of my money in the future and I like what they're cooking!
I'm not really a fan of flashy products either, but I like the stitching on the various DCA products like The Stealth, The Expanse, and the E3 here. Flashy products tend to look cheap or chintzy to me, but I don't get that impression re the DCA products, they just look polished & well finished to me.
 

usern

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Does the port improve ventilation? How hot the ears get with these? Honeycomb pattern on the cups is just for visuals?
 

Doodski

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I'm not really a fan of flashy products either, but I like the stitching on the various DCA products like The Stealth, The Expanse, and the E3 here. Flashy products tend to look cheap or chintzy to me, but I don't get that impression re the DCA products, they just look polished & well finished to me.
I'm looking at Sennheiser headphones with a chipped and frayed vinyl headband and wondering about a refurbish/rebuild. Apparently Dan Clark offers parts. For how long?
 
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