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Dan Clark E3 Headphone Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 4 2.0%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 10 4.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 32 15.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 159 77.6%

  • Total voters
    205

srkbear

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LOL nothing wrong with that. Just finding some EQ you like is part of the journey.
1708823809661.jpeg


I guess I’m second class.
 

sonitus mirus

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View attachment 352142

I guess I’m second class.

Class 2 with most the music I listen to, and your ChatGPT 4 PEQ settings are fantastic for me with the DCA Stealth. For classical music, I don't know that music well enough to know any better, but it sounds fine with the default Harman Target that the Stealth uses, which would probably be the same for the E3 with me. Having 20 preset PEQ settings, I can probably set up and name a bunch of them and see what I enjoy best.
 

srkbear

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OK I’ve done some experimenting and reading around and this is absolutely not me. I tried going to extremes with the bass PEQ and I can’t get low end from these no matter how much I push them. Doing the same with every single one of my other headphones causes them to dance a jig on my head. With these, even a low shelf at 100 hz at 8db with a wide Q does nada. There’s something conclusively wrong with this unit.

I’ve seen the exact same complaints on Reddit from several owners of Aeon Closed who had to return them to DCA, and when the drivers were replaced the issue resolved. In lieu of that, since these were open box (I’m left to wonder if the first owner had the same issue), I’m going to return them for an A stock item. I’ll follow up here.
 

sonitus mirus

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I was experimenting with the Squiglink site and managed to adjust my headphones using my DAC's 5-band PEQ. I succeeded in increasing a substantial portion of the bass frequencies, yet the difference is only about 3-4 dB at max, which isn't drastically different from the stock settings. I'm also using a Pentaconn connector with about 2.1W for my headphones' impedance, but I don't anticipate significant differences as long as the volume level is satisfactory.

Stealth_Bass_Boost.jpg


Screenshot 2024-02-24 230311.png
 

Robbo99999

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Yep, I mean the graph shown by the other two posts basically confirmed this.
Yep, and also Amir's measurement if you average both channels.
 

Robbo99999

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View attachment 352142

I guess I’m second class.
Ha, who did that table!? In the title in brackets its says "in %", but clearly it should say "in decimal", I can't imagine the original Harman researchers published that.

I'm Class 1 or veering slightly to Class 2 depending on which headphone I'm using. For about 50% of the headphones I own I use more bass than the Oratory EQ or instead just tilt the whole response down linearly by a dB or so over the whole frequency range. This might be down to unit to unit variation and on-head variation rather than being between Class 1 and Class 2. I might be Class 1 in reality, but the imperfections of headphone measurement, unit to unit variation & on-head variance might make it look like I'm somewhere between Class 1 and 2.
 
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Robbo99999

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OK I’ve done some experimenting and reading around and this is absolutely not me. I tried going to extremes with the bass PEQ and I can’t get low end from these no matter how much I push them. Doing the same with every single one of my other headphones causes them to dance a jig on my head. With these, even a low shelf at 100 hz at 8db with a wide Q does nada. There’s something conclusively wrong with this unit.

I’ve seen the exact same complaints on Reddit from several owners of Aeon Closed who had to return them to DCA, and when the drivers were replaced the issue resolved. In lieu of that, since these were open box (I’m left to wonder if the first owner had the same issue), I’m going to return them for an A stock item. I’ll follow up here.
You've been on a roller coaster ride of perception when it comes to these headphones! I did say that comparing headphones & EQ's can be confusing sometimes! It'll be interesting to hear how you get on with the A-stock. It might be worth spending a number of days experimenting with them before you post up your findings as it's not easy to compare headphones and perceptions can change from day to day, so you might find your initial conclusions once you've received them to be inaccurate. If your perceptions/conclusions stabilise over a number of days/week then hopefully that's a good & valid conclusion you've come to.
 

Chester

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OK I’ve done some experimenting and reading around and this is absolutely not me. I tried going to extremes with the bass PEQ and I can’t get low end from these no matter how much I push them. Doing the same with every single one of my other headphones causes them to dance a jig on my head. With these, even a low shelf at 100 hz at 8db with a wide Q does nada. There’s something conclusively wrong with this unit.

I’ve seen the exact same complaints on Reddit from several owners of Aeon Closed who had to return them to DCA, and when the drivers were replaced the issue resolved. In lieu of that, since these were open box (I’m left to wonder if the first owner had the same issue), I’m going to return them for an A stock item. I’ll follow up here.

Would be interesting if you ordered the new pair before returning the others, to see if there really is a difference. Not always an option though, I understand that.
 

srkbear

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Ha, who did that table!? In the title in brackets its says "in %", but clearly it should say "in decimal", I can't imagine the original Harman researchers published that.

I'm Class 1 or veering slightly to Class 2 depending on which headphone I'm using. For about 50% of the headphones I own I use more bass than the Oratory EQ or instead just tilt the whole response down linearly by a dB or so over the whole frequency range. This might be down to unit to unit variation and on-head variation rather than being between Class 1 and Class 2. I might be Class 1 in reality, but the imperfections of headphone measurement, unit to unit variation & on-head variance might make it look like I'm somewhere between Class 1 and 2.
 

srkbear

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You've been on a roller coaster ride of perception when it comes to these headphones! I did say that comparing headphones & EQ's can be confusing sometimes! It'll be interesting to hear how you get on with the A-stock. It might be worth spending a number of days experimenting with them before you post up your findings as it's not easy to compare headphones and perceptions can change from day to day, so you might find your initial conclusions once you've received them to be inaccurate. If your perceptions/conclusions stabilise over a number of days/week then hopefully that's a good & valid conclusion you've come to.
I understand—rollercoasters and me go together, it’s a thing. But truly, I pushed up the bass to ridiculous proportions and the headphones didn’t respond. I keep wanting to like the sound and the PEQ helped a bit, but I still felt uneasy. When I tried to make these cans produce some punch I kept pushing up the gain on low frequencies and nothing happened—there’s no way this is normal. Wish you had a chance to hear for yourself, the issue is obvious. Appreciate your patience, I’ll figure it out!
 

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Robbo99999

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Would be interesting if you ordered the new pair before returning the others, to see if there really is a difference. Not always an option though, I understand that.
That's the best idea, 100% agree.
I understand—rollercoasters and me go together, it’s a thing. But truly, I pushed up the bass to ridiculous proportions and the headphones didn’t respond. I keep wanting to like the sound and the PEQ helped a bit, but I still felt uneasy. When I tried to make these cans produce some punch I kept pushing up the gain on low frequencies and nothing happened—there’s no way this is normal. Wish you had a chance to hear for yourself, the issue is obvious. Appreciate your patience, I’ll figure it out!
I think it's possible to increase bass levels tremendously and still not get "punch", I think it depends on the shape of the whole bass area, but yeah possibly something wrong with that unit you were listening to. If you can hold onto that unit whilst you buy in an A-stock unit then that would be the ideal, because you can compare both side by side. That's alright, you don't have to mention "patience", it's your experiences so it's not something I'm gonna get frustrated about, at least not that incredibly unjustifiably!
 

srkbear

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That's the best idea, 100% agree.

I think it's possible to increase bass levels tremendously and still not get "punch", I think it depends on the shape of the whole bass area, but yeah possibly something wrong with that unit you were listening to. If you can hold onto that unit whilst you buy in an A-stock unit then that would be the ideal, because you can compare both side by side. That's alright, you don't have to mention "patience", it's your experiences so it's not something I'm gonna get frustrated about, at least not that incredibly unjustifiably!
Thanks! Trust me it’s not just punch—it’s the wholesale lack of response to the PEQ beyond a meager range, in the low end. It is like listening to a floor speaker without a woofer—there’s just nothing going on down there. Since I’ve read about other owners of DCA describing the exact same issue with resolution when they sent it jn for a replacement, I’ll give it a go. If I’m mistaken, it’ll be crow for lunch!
 

srkbear

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Ha, who did that table!? In the title in brackets its says "in %", but clearly it should say "in decimal", I can't imagine the original Harman researchers published that.

I'm Class 1 or veering slightly to Class 2 depending on which headphone I'm using. For about 50% of the headphones I own I use more bass than the Oratory EQ or instead just tilt the whole response down linearly by a dB or so over the whole frequency range. This might be down to unit to unit variation and on-head variation rather than being between Class 1 and Class 2. I might be Class 1 in reality, but the imperfections of headphone measurement, unit to unit variation & on-head variance might make it look like I'm somewhere between Class 1 and 2.
It is in decimals, but perhaps the author assumed that those in the know could interpret it in percentages? They should have just transposed it into percentages for clarity—it’s a busy slide. But it served my attempt at wit (and was a useful allegory for my standing among audiophile purists)!
 

srkbear

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That's the best idea, 100% agree.

I think it's possible to increase bass levels tremendously and still not get "punch", I think it depends on the shape of the whole bass area, but yeah possibly something wrong with that unit you were listening to. If you can hold onto that unit whilst you buy in an A-stock unit then that would be the ideal, because you can compare both side by side. That's alright, you don't have to mention "patience", it's your experiences so it's not something I'm gonna get frustrated about, at least not that incredibly unjustifiably!
I will say that based on the comments about channel imbalances in this thread and the similar concerns I’ve seen on other forums, if I end up being right about this we may wish to consider pausing the unmitigated DCA fanboyism for a moment to at least offer a word or two about QC issues. Out of what must be hundreds of headphone auditions I’ve never encountered anything remotely like this! I wish I had a rig to quantify what I’m hearing, it’s truly bizarre.
 

Dan Clark

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For reasons I can’t figure for the life of me, for this open box E3 I purchased I’m finding these E3s unexpectedly anemic in the low end. I’ve reached out to Audio46 to inquire about the reason they were returned.

I’m comparing them to my Utopias and HE1000 Stealths. My only objective measure is that for the same tracks, going back and forth and back and forth, for the DCAs I’m having to fully engage the analog bass boost I have on my amp to achieve the same fullness and physicality, whereas with the other two I do not. I’ve compared them over multiple sessions over the last several days. It’s not the sub bass that feels lacking in impact, it’s the mid-bass range around 100-200hz that I’m having to boost to achieve the same fullness and heft I get from the headphones I’m accustomed to, and based on their FRC this makes no sense.

I bought these specifically based on their published FRCs and the ones measured here (along with DCA’s glowing reputation). I’m comparing the FRCs of the Utopias measured here and the DCAs, and based on what they showed on the GRAS I was expecting to be able to eschew any bass customization at all.

Again these were an open box item, and I have read that a few folks have experienced some possible channel imbalances. However, it seems unlikely that both drivers would be flawed. In every other aspect they sound terrific—but there’s just no low end to be found, and they completely lack punch—the effect is so profound that they almost sound as if I was listening to floor speakers without a woofer. I’m truly at a loss.

Other than invoking cognitive bias (which I’m very informed about), does anyone else have any thoughts or ideas? At the moment I’m tempted to return these for an A stock version, although I’m not sure what the yield would be and I’d rather not… @Dan Clark I’d certainly be grateful for your guidance as well…
It sounds like you may not be getting a good seal. If no music is playing rub your fingertips together and circle the cups near where the pad interfaces with your head, if you can hear your fingers you aren’t sealed. Adjust position as needed, in some cases people with small heads may want more clamp force in which case contact our support for a free kit to adjust.
 

Robbo99999

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Thanks! Trust me it’s not just punch—it’s the wholesale lack of response to the PEQ beyond a meager range, in the low end. It is like listening to a floor speaker without a woofer—there’s just nothing going on down there. Since I’ve read about other owners of DCA describing the exact same issue with resolution when they sent it jn for a replacement, I’ll give it a go. If I’m mistaken, it’ll be crow for lunch!
It'll be interesting to see how the A-stock unit performs.
I will say that based on the comments about channel imbalances in this thread and the similar concerns I’ve seen on other forums, if I end up being right about this we may wish to consider pausing the unmitigated DCA fanboyism for a moment to at least offer a word or two about QC issues. Out of what must be hundreds of headphone auditions I’ve never encountered anything remotely like this! I wish I had a rig to quantify what I’m hearing, it’s truly bizarre.
Well, yeah, your experience is your experience so it should justly appear in this thread, it doesn't have to be unmitigated fanboyism! Re getting a measuring rig, especially if you're gonna be spending big bucks on expensive headphones (& more than one pair) then it's almost a no-brainer to get something fairly affordable like the miniDSP EARS rig (I think they're a couple hundred dollars, which is small fry in comparison to even one / two or three expensive headphones). Yes, you'd be able to check channel balance as well as response to your bass PEQ to validate that the driver is responding properly to the PEQ, which in your case with your DCA E3 you can't hear it responding - so it would allow you to check if the drivers are functioning correctly.
It sounds like you may not be getting a good seal. If no music is playing rub your fingertips together and circle the cups near where the pad interfaces with your head, if you can hear your fingers you aren’t sealed. Adjust position as needed, in some cases people with small heads may want more clamp force in which case contact our support for a free kit to adjust.
I think he posted earlier that he's tried the finger rubbing technique, as well as pressing down on the earcups when music playing (& no change in bass observed), but lets wait for his reply.
 

srkbear

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It'll be interesting to see how the A-stock unit performs.

Well, yeah, your experience is your experience so it should justly appear in this thread, it doesn't have to be unmitigated fanboyism! Re getting a measuring rig, especially if you're gonna be spending big bucks on expensive headphones (& more than one pair) then it's almost a no-brainer to get something fairly affordable like the miniDSP EARS rig (I think they're a couple hundred dollars, which is small fry in comparison to even one / two or three expensive headphones). Yes, you'd be able to check channel balance as well as response to your bass PEQ to validate that the driver is responding properly to the PEQ, which in your case with your DCA E3 you can't hear it responding - so it would allow you to check if the drivers are functioning correctly.

I think he posted earlier that he's tried the finger rubbing technique, as well as pressing down on the earcups when music playing (& no change in bass observed), but lets wait for his reply.
Thanks again. Given that these were open box I think I’ve lost confidence in them and I’ll always wonder why the first owner returned them. Fortunately Audio46 is willing to send me a brand new one for 10% off with no tax or shipping costs, whereas the open box was 15% off—so I’m still getting quite a deal, and these count towards loyalty points with their store for future purposes. If it turns out that these are simply their sound signature at least I’ll have learned something about comparing FRCs too carelessly! Really appreciate all your feedback. I’ll let everyone get back to the topic now…
 
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