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Dan Clark E3 Headphone Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 4 1.9%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 12 5.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 32 15.2%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 163 77.3%

  • Total voters
    211

Acidicfriend

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have the E3's right now, they are beautiful. Easily the most tonally balanced pair of headphones I've ever worn, I cannot believe these are closed backs. sadly, this is the second unit I've had to return, however. Both have had a rattle in one of the drivers - first time, the rattle was apparent when making music at sub-frequencies, now it rattles at around 400hz Such a shame. I didn't think DCA would have so many QC issues, I might just be very unlucky. Anyone have this experience? It was almost inaudible with most music, but once I noticed it, it was more apparent.
 

Rhamnetin

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have the E3's right now, they are beautiful. Easily the most tonally balanced pair of headphones I've ever worn, I cannot believe these are closed backs. sadly, this is the second unit I've had to return, however. Both have had a rattle in one of the drivers - first time, the rattle was apparent when making music at sub-frequencies, now it rattles at around 400hz Such a shame. I didn't think DCA would have so many QC issues, I might just be very unlucky. Anyone have this experience? It was almost inaudible with most music, but once I noticed it, it was more apparent.

I haven't and so far this is the first I've heard of this, but there aren't many user reviews for the E3 yet.
 

lowlou

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have the E3's right now, they are beautiful. Easily the most tonally balanced pair of headphones I've ever worn, I cannot believe these are closed backs. sadly, this is the second unit I've had to return, however. Both have had a rattle in one of the drivers - first time, the rattle was apparent when making music at sub-frequencies, now it rattles at around 400hz Such a shame. I didn't think DCA would have so many QC issues, I might just be very unlucky. Anyone have this experience? It was almost inaudible with most music, but once I noticed it, it was more apparent.
wow... port noise on headphones ? That's a deal breaker.
 
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Chagall

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E3 has finally arrived.

Trigger warning - subjectivism.

The fit
Fit and comfort are very nice from the get-go on my head. Clamping is stronger for me than HD800s and a bit lower than HD600. HD800s is a bit too loose for my taste, so I prefer the clamping on the E3. The headband is a bit stiff, but over time I can see it conforming and softening. I have a complete seal and my ears are in the center of the cups.

The sound
In one word - clear. What I mean is best explained with a comparison between HD800s and E3. HD800s are EQed (Oratory Harman EQ) and E3 are not EQed.

HD800s reproduces all that is in the music, but with it being an open-back, all the various sounds in my room mask the detail and I find myself increasing the volume. On the other hand, E3 lowers the noise floor of the room and the tiny details and quieter background parts in the music are perceived clearly. I don't have to "look" for them. The result is listening at a lower volume is more pleasurable with E3.

Having seen the measurements first, I had a preconceived notion of how E3 will sound. I was thinking the ear gain part of the freaquancy range would be shouty. But it isn't - the tonality is balanced and smooth. If I were to change anything about the response, it would be a minimal -1dB shelf above 5-6kHz - haven't tried it yet. This sort of proves to me that measured FR is a must to have, but in actual listening, E3 sounds different from what I thought it would sound like just by looking at the FR.

With both of them tuned to Harman tonality is similar, but the presentation of the sound is quite different. The thing that stands out is the layering on the E3 and the overall sense of clarity. EQed HD800s is still a great headphone and won't be going anywhere anytime.

Closed-back??
How is this a closed-back headphone? To me, the spatial cues in the music are presented perfectly - something I couldn't believe a closed-back could do. There is no hint of boominess or any other nasty stereotypes assigned to closed-backs (mind you, I have NOT heard a lot of closed-backs). HD800s are wider, but it doesn't matter, E3 is almost there for me. I don't get forward projection or 3D sound on any of them.

Lastly, the isolation isn't on par with truly isolating headphones, this is a minor issue for me.
Anyways, great job @Dan Clark!
 

Zoide

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Has anyone had a chance to compare the E3 to STAX headphones like the SR-007mk2.9 (spring and blu-tack modded) or the SR-L700 (blu-tack modded)?

Thanks
 

Rhamnetin

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Has anyone had a chance to compare the E3 to STAX headphones like the SR-007mk2.9 (spring and blu-tack modded) or the SR-L700 (blu-tack modded)?

Thanks

I've owned the E3, Stax SR-009, and a stock SR-007A but not all of these at the same time. CanJam NYC is coming up though so I may get to do so there, but that'll be a noisy environment making any listening there inconclusive.

No Stax has a frequency response anything like the E3 though: the E3 is considerably bassier than them all and with noticeably more linear treble. The stock SR-007A is pretty dull. The SR-009 has a bright tonality that needs EQ for most people, and there's something very distinct about its upper mid and treble response (for better or worse). The 009 never sounded as bass deficient as the FR suggests though, it had pretty potent mid-bass slam (sub-bass is the biggest weakness).

It's interesting that Stax never fixed that sub-bass response in the X9000. One of the main reasons I'm going to CanJam is to listen to the X9000 and DCA CORINA side by side (not that I'd ever buy them), but I doubt I'll be able to EQ them there.
 

Robbo99999

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E3 has finally arrived.

Trigger warning - subjectivism.

The fit
Fit and comfort are very nice from the get-go on my head. Clamping is stronger for me than HD800s and a bit lower than HD600. HD800s is a bit too loose for my taste, so I prefer the clamping on the E3. The headband is a bit stiff, but over time I can see it conforming and softening. I have a complete seal and my ears are in the center of the cups.

The sound
In one word - clear. What I mean is best explained with a comparison between HD800s and E3. HD800s are EQed (Oratory Harman EQ) and E3 are not EQed.

HD800s reproduces all that is in the music, but with it being an open-back, all the various sounds in my room mask the detail and I find myself increasing the volume. On the other hand, E3 lowers the noise floor of the room and the tiny details and quieter background parts in the music are perceived clearly. I don't have to "look" for them. The result is listening at a lower volume is more pleasurable with E3.

Having seen the measurements first, I had a preconceived notion of how E3 will sound. I was thinking the ear gain part of the freaquancy range would be shouty. But it isn't - the tonality is balanced and smooth. If I were to change anything about the response, it would be a minimal -1dB shelf above 5-6kHz - haven't tried it yet. This sort of proves to me that measured FR is a must to have, but in actual listening, E3 sounds different from what I thought it would sound like just by looking at the FR.

With both of them tuned to Harman tonality is similar, but the presentation of the sound is quite different. The thing that stands out is the layering on the E3 and the overall sense of clarity. EQed HD800s is still a great headphone and won't be going anywhere anytime.

Closed-back??
How is this a closed-back headphone? To me, the spatial cues in the music are presented perfectly - something I couldn't believe a closed-back could do. There is no hint of boominess or any other nasty stereotypes assigned to closed-backs (mind you, I have NOT heard a lot of closed-backs). HD800s are wider, but it doesn't matter, E3 is almost there for me. I don't get forward projection or 3D sound on any of them.

Lastly, the isolation isn't on par with truly isolating headphones, this is a minor issue for me.
Anyways, great job @Dan Clark!
And the bass on the E3 should be a lot better. Do you find? (I know you're EQ'ing the HD800s, but E3 bass should be better).
 

Chagall

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And the bass on the E3 should be a lot better. Do you find? (I know you're EQ'ing the HD800s, but E3 bass should be better).

Yes, a lot better. In comparison, the Senns sound boomy. It's funny that I actually lowered the usual +5.5dB Oratory bass shelf to +2.5dB on a headphone that is already rolled off to get it to sound cleaner / better, more like E3.
 

Zoide

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Any comparisons of the E3 versus the Audeze Maxwell?

AFAIK, both follow Harman closely (and are closed).

Thanks
 

Robbo99999

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Yes, a lot better. In comparison, the Senns sound boomy. It's funny that I actually lowered the usual +5.5dB Oratory bass shelf to +2.5dB on a headphone that is already rolled off to get it to sound cleaner / better, more like E3.
Interesting, I got an HD800 (not S) recently, and it's soft in the bass when EQ'd to Harman, so that's why I asked you about it. I'm not surprised you find the bass in the E3 better.
 

Chagall

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Interesting, I got an HD800 (not S) recently, and it's soft in the bass when EQ'd to Harman, so that's why I asked you about it. I'm not surprised you find the bass in the E3 better.

I think the bass is bleeding into the lower-mid area making it sound boomy or muddy. Never noticed that or it didn't bother me as much until I heard E3.
 

Robbo99999

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I think the bass is bleeding into the lower-mid area making it sound boomy or muddy. Never noticed that or it didn't bother me as much until I heard E3.
Unless it's bass distortion that is creating boomy/muddy, do you listen at loud levels? I only say that because I don't think you'd get the frequency response wrong in the HD800s within that 100-300Hz area that can create muddiness - it's supposed to be a low unit to unit variation headphone and the Oratory EQ shouldn't end up giving you excess 100-300Hz. If you listen loud then maybe harmonic distortion is causing added harmonics in the 100-300Hz zone thereby creating muddiness. And I'm assuming you like the Harman Curve given you got the E3. So far I found the HD800 bass lacking some impact and definition when EQ'd up which is why I used the word "soft", but it didn't create muddiness, but I don't listen at loud levels so I wouldn't get distortion issues, so that's why I was asking if you listen loud?
 

Chagall

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Unless it's bass distortion that is creating boomy/muddy, do you listen at loud levels? I only say that because I don't think you'd get the frequency response wrong in the HD800s within that 100-300Hz area that can create muddiness - it's supposed to be a low unit to unit variation headphone and the Oratory EQ shouldn't end up giving you excess 100-300Hz. If you listen loud then maybe harmonic distortion is causing added harmonics in the 100-300Hz zone thereby creating muddiness. And I'm assuming you like the Harman Curve given you got the E3. So far I found the HD800 bass lacking some impact and definition when EQ'd up which is why I used the word "soft", but it didn't create muddiness, but I don't listen at loud levels so I wouldn't get distortion issues, so that's why I was asking if you listen loud?

Yes, guessing it's the distortion because I do listen a bit louder. A lot of noise in my living room. I'll do more comparisons this weekend and give some more thoughts about the bass.
 

majingotan

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I think the bass is bleeding into the lower-mid area making it sound boomy or muddy. Never noticed that or it didn't bother me as much until I heard E3.

Do you believe what this guy is saying that you're underpowering the E3 if you perceived it as such at high SPL?

 

Chagall

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Do you believe what this guy is saying that you're underpowering the E3 if you perceived it as such at high SPL?


Think you misunderstood me, I was talking about HD800s bass sounding muddy/boomy compared to E3's clean and clear bass.

I don't know what to say about the video, always the same old tired rhetoric "2k headphones require 2k amp"...L70 has enough juice to drive E3 plenty loud and it sounds superb.
 

solderdude

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Consider that the 'soft textured bass' (as in not tight/punchy) is always present, even at low level,s so it cannot possibly be caused by distortion.
 

ObjectiveSubjectivist

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Any comparisons of the E3 versus the Audeze Maxwell?

AFAIK, both follow Harman closely (and are closed).

Thanks
I did not try E3 but I did own Stealth and compared them to Maxwells.
Very similar in tonal balance. Maxwells having more bass overall and not as much clarity and spatial effects as Stealths.
But for the price and wireless capability I was impressed.
I'm seriously considering buying Audeze.

Hope that helps
 

Robbo99999

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Consider that the 'soft textured bass' (as in not tight/punchy) is always present, even at low level,s so it cannot possibly be caused by distortion.
Except he was talking about muddiness caused by the bass boost which I didn't equate as the same thing. What he was describing sounded like too much 100-300Hz, which I thought might be caused by harmonics from bass distortion because he listens at louder levels. The "soft bass" that I was describing, I'm not sure what exactly causes that in the HD800 for me, but I don't think it's distortion as I listen at low levels, so it's something else I think. But either way, what he was describing & what I was describing I see as two seperate things. I agree with what you say though re HD800 and "soft textured bass (as in not tight/punchy)".
 
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abdo123

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waiting for Dan Clark to release an affordable headphone

1707586698406.jpeg
 
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