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Dan Clark Expanse Headphone Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 8 2.5%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 8 2.5%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 58 18.2%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 244 76.7%

  • Total voters
    318

Azathoth

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I just learned that this is the same person who did all those Fostex mods back in the day.. How time flies. Glad to see where he's going now. Excellent stuff.
 

Phoney

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Yes, rather inefficient and low sensitivity indeed. Not suited for direct connection to a phone.
Still.. a phone that can deliver 1V can still reach 100dB SPL in the bass so one can reach 'long term listening SPL' but no loud or impressive levels.

Sensitivity = 97dB/V (at 400Hz)
Efficiency = 82dB/mW (at 400Hz)
At 100Hz efficiency is 3dB higher

To reach 110dB SPL peaks in the bass (is not equal to 110dBA average level noise !) you will need 3V = 0.4W (0.3W in 32 ohm equivalent, assuming current is available)
To reach 120dB SPL peaks (in the bass) you will need 10V = 4W (3W in 32 ohm equivalent, assuming current is available)

Atleast most of us don't have to account for a bunch of negative pregain in EQ aswell on top of that, like with many other open backs that requires a bass boost for most people. Like the HE6se for example. Might need to boost the highs just a little bit, but not by much.
 

Shadrach

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A great technical achievement especially if the Harman curve pleases your brain.

For me, probably the most important feature I want in headphones is comfort. Less well performing headphones can be made better with equalisation, but comfort is fixed in the build.

To find out if a particular headphone is comfortable one has to try them on and this is the problem I found when considering buying the RT model. I couldn’t find anyone in the UK that sold them.

For me to even consider buying the model reviewed I would want it to be wireless at the current price.
 

BDWoody

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4 grand for a headphone is laughable regardless of how it measures. there is nothing in materials that justifies this cost!

Have you ever run a business?

This isn't a commodity with pricing based on a BOM.
 

solderdude

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Atleast most of us don't have to account for a bunch of negative pregain in EQ aswell on top of that, like with many other open backs that requires a bass boost for most people. Like the HE6se for example. Might need to boost the highs just a little bit, but not by much.

But this one doesn't. Bass levels are already a few dB above Harman anyway. :)
Treble energy boosted by a few dB also does not need much negative pre-amp, if any at all, with music.
 

faheem

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i mean, all hifiman looks like a cheap headphone.. the susvara is the headphone who looks like 600 but its 6000.
I like the look of the Susvara but their packaging is shockingly bad. My box is all scuffed up from just laying in storage and the bag it comes with is so cheap that the material is almost translucent is some parts.

And worst of all, the headphones had that old cheap shoe glue smell. Took over a month to eventually go away.
 

Robbo99999

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The 'poor results in the group delay department' seen on here are most often simply due a measurement set-up that allows open-back headphone measurements to be polluted by uncontrolled environmental noise (and possibly acoustic crosstalk due to using stereo test signals), which has nothing to do with the performance of the headphone. This is quite obvious when you notice that open-back headphone group delay measurements on here commonly exhibit 'mess' above 1 kHz, none more so than the least isolating headphones in the treble as measured by Rtings e.g. the (very) open-back HifiMan Arya, whereas closed-back headphones commonly don't have this mess in their group delay, e.g. one of the most passively isolating closed-back Rtings measured, the Drop + THX Panda. Note that Rtings' own group delay measurements of e.g. the Arya do not show any of this mess, because they actually control for this environmental noise by measuring within an acoustic isolation chamber. As noted by Jude in his review of the Expanse, these headphones are actually quite isolating for an 'open-back' design, which explains the minimal 'mess' in their group delay. Also note that this pollution of the measurements on here by noise is not confined only to the group delay measurements, but also shows up in the frequency response plots as 'fine grass' roughness in the same region above 1 kHz, which again has nothing to do with the acoustic output of the headphones. And even if it wasn't polluted by noise, the group delay plot would still not be fit for purpose, as it's excess group delay that matters for audibility.
Hi GaryH, good to see you again, not seen you on here in ages! I just wanted to reply to one of your points "fine grass roughness above 1kHz" - that doesn't have to come from outside noise, it's possible it's a real trait of the headphone. I know this from measuring various headphones on my miniDSP EARS. For instance I've measured the planar HE4XX, and it has a lot of fine grass above 1kHz, and after doing 10 measurements of each channel (each time taking the headphone off and replacing it roughly centrally) that fine grass even survives the averaging process, which proves that it's not noise & instead a real trait of the headphone.

Following is a pic of all measurements of left & right channel of my HE4XX (20 individual measurements shown in all), and even here you can see that the fine grass is not random, as the high Q variations follow each other from measurement to measurement:
HE4XX miniDSP all measurements.jpg

Following is a pic of averaging all measurements of each channel - thereby showing an average left channel and average right channel - you can see that the high Q fine grass remains and has not been averaged out - which proves it's not noise but indeed a trait of the headphone:
HE4XX miniDSP channel balance.jpg


And finally, other headphones I measure don't have these high Q fine grass variations above 1kHz (see following pic of HD560s as an example), so some headphones exhibit that High Q Fine Grass above 1kHz, and it doesn't have to be explained away by outside ambient noise contaminating the measurements.
HD560s Unit 2 All Measurements.jpg HD560s Unit 2 Channel Balance.jpg
 

Snoopy

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I don't know a single technology whose price is justified by material costs.

Do people this days just assume R&D is free? And that stuff gets assembled by magic and not people who get paid?
Chinese companies that copy everything brought the price down for lots of things (smartphones, TVs, DACs etc).. so people expect that for everything from everyone but they forget about R&D costs , warranty and customer service.

:-(
 

Phoney

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But this one doesn't. Bass levels are already a few dB above Harman anyway. :)
Treble energy boosted by a few dB also does not need much negative pre-amp, if any at all, with music.

That's what I'm saying, yes.
 

beagleman

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Time and effort are undoubtedly a factor in the end result and in the price too.

I really do get what you are saying here. And I agree to SOME extent. Lack of mass production, research, profit and labor costs on a very limited production item will raise prices a good bit,......but

With that being said, I just bought a Used Garden tractor for $500.00

I could have bought literally EIGHT tractors like this for the price of this small insubstantial item...!!!

I just do not see anywhere near the materials and labor for what these cost.....:facepalm:
 

tifune

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Hi @Dan Clark, on the Expanse page there's a mention that the headband has been updated. Does that mean, updated from Stealth headband design? Or is it same as Stealth? I'm likely a small minority but I do wish I could tighten Stealth headband as the sound is a little sensitive to fit and even with a XXL head it can slide a bit as I look around the room

Also, what are some key differentiators you could quickly give between Expanse and Stealth? That is, why might someone switch or (for the lucky few) own both?
 
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Phoney

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The big question mark, particularly given the closed-ish front volume and DCA's past headphones, is always going to be : what's the actual response once it's on different people's heads - particularly in the bass region ?
That's the Stealth :

The biggest loss I've suffered in audio was buying the Aeon RT from US to Europe after seeing the ASR review on it. Even with a +10db boost in the bass (which measured 3db below harman), the bass was still weak. Returning it would still leave me with all the losses from customs and shipping, so I figured I might aswell sell it with the same losses. Lost 200 dollars on trying a 500 dollar headphone. I can only imagine those that order the Stealth online from another country (with custom fees) without trying it first, and when they recieve it the bass is not there. I'd rather have a slightly wiggly response (which would probably not be audible) and inaudible distortion rather than being very dependant on seal. Nailing the harman curve is nice and impressive, but also here you have eq. And what does it matter if the bass is gone when you try the unit on your head, while also struggling to get it back with eq. If they have solved the problem with sealing on this one, then I'm sure it's an amazing headphone. But I would surely not dare to buy expensive DCA headphones without having the possibility of trying them out first, or being able to return it without suffering huge losses. There's a reviewer saying that you will not have the seal issue with this one just because it's an open back, but DCA has made open backs that had issues when seal is broken before.
 
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BDWoody

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With that being said, I just bought a Used Garden tractor for $500.00

How does it sound? ;)

I just do not see anywhere near the materials and labor for what these cost.....:facepalm:

Is that a requirement for all of your purchases? I guess your choice is to build them from scratch. Of course, then you'll miss out on the decades of learning and knowledge that went into making them such great performers, but that's not counted in the value I suppose.
 

Jimbob54

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I just do not see anywhere near the materials and labor for what these cost.....:facepalm:

Nor should anyone expect to- interesting piece just today on the whole price vs COGS once you get out of the lower end/ mass market segment of the market. https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...udio-business-you-may-find-interesting.37344/

Likely DCA has a reasonable idea of what price the market will accept for these based on sales of the Stealth plus competitors. Whether these are worth 10 x Aeon RT is for the buyer to decide. Too rich for my blood for sure, but then so is anything above $1000, or $500 even, so my views on these dont count.
 

sarumbear

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4 grand for a headphone is laughable regardless of how it measures. there is nothing in materials that justifies this cost!
They are laughing to the bank though...
 

KiyPhi

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The biggest loss I've suffered in audio was buying the Aeon RT from US to Europe after seeing the ASR review on it. Even with a +10db boost in the bass (which measured 3db below harman), the bass was still weak. Returning it would still leave me with all the losses from customs and shipping, so I figured I might aswell sell it with the same losses. Lost 200 dollars on trying a 500 dollar headphone. I can only imagine those that order the Stealth online from another country (with custom fees) without trying it first, and when they recieve it the bass is not there. I'd rather have a slightly wiggly response (which would probably not be audible) and inaudible distortion rather than being very dependant on seal. Nailing the harman curve is nice and impressive, but also here you have eq. And what does it matter if the bass is gone when you try the unit on your head, while also struggling to get it back with eq. If they have solved the problem with sealing on this one, then I'm sure it's an amazing headphone. But I would surely not dare to buy expensive DCA headphones without having the possibility of trying them out first, or being able to return it without suffering huge losses. There's a reviewer saying that you will not have the seal issue with this one just because it's an open back, but DCA has made open backs that has issues when seal is broken before.
Considering on this and the stealth I was ignored by amir (and Dan on the stealth) for asking that very question, I would hazard to guess they haven't solved that issue, especially since the design choices to do so normally flatten out the bass. I lost interest in this headphone the second that part wasn't answered. The metamaterial is cool and all, so is the skill required to tune like that, but it won't sound like that on my head so why do I care? A lot of negative reviews would mention how DCA headphones lacked this and that but they probably just had a non-perfect seal since they lose so much by not having one. Huge disappointment every time I tried them because they are otherwise excellent.
 
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