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Dan Clark Expanse Headphone Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 6 2.0%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 8 2.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 56 18.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 232 76.8%

  • Total voters
    302

FrantzM

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Have you ever run a business?

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

I am not in the market to buy a $4K headphones but I understand what this one offers...

Business owner here... I had the same thoughts... I spent about a year, trying to solve an issue project and the solution was a diode!!! One simple diode across a terminal, the diode cost was about 25 cents... According to this BOM worldview, I should have charged the client 50 cents....? :rolleyes:
Redefining the State Of The Art, cannot come cheap.

Kudos to DCA

Peace.
 
Last edited:

thewas

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More probably because of deviation from 100-300hz region than 6khz.
But the relatively low score remains also after EQ which corrects that deviations, which is why I think it is rather region above?
 

KxDx

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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?
I paid 4K for my speakers, and that was 1/3 of the new price. Absolutely worth it. If all I used were headphones, I'd spare no expense either. I would never spend over $1000 on a DAC or cable or amplifier, but I would on SOTA transducers, whether they go on the floor or on my head.
 

nyxnyxnyx

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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!
it's like with most things man, we don't "need" it at all but if we love something and can easily afford it then why not.
 

Dj7675

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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!
Such a simplistic, unrealistic view of how things work.. A company …
-decides to develop a state of the art product
-sets a price for the product
-consumers either buy it or don’t
The consumer decides whether said product is “worth it” or not. If they don’t, it won’t sell.
It is expensive but materials don’t really drive cost, engineering, research etc do and could take a lot of time and expense to achieve what has been achieved here. There is nothing wrong with selling expensive things. In this case, you are getting SOTA performance which is not usually the case with things that are expensive IMO. And often times advancements achieved in products like this find there way into lower priced models over time.
 

poxymoron

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Such a simplistic, unrealistic view of how things work.. A company …
-decides to develop a state of the art product
-sets a price for the product
-consumers either buy it or don’t
The consumer decides whether said product is “worth it” or not. If they don’t, it won’t sell.
It is expensive but materials don’t really drive cost, engineering, research etc do and could take a lot of time and expense to achieve what has been achieved here. There is nothing wrong with selling expensive things. In this case, you are getting SOTA performance which is not usually the case with things that are expensive IMO. And often times advancements achieved in products like this find there way into lower priced models over time.
I know, have people not learned anything from this website.
It is an awful lot of money, but Amir and others are repeatedly showing us that expensive does not always mean quality. And I would say that in the world of HIFI that this is more the norm than the exception.
It seems that in this case, expensive does indeed mean quality.
 

Garrincha

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There are several headphones available for around $4k, Meze Elite, Final Audio D8000, Audeze LCD-5, Hifiman He1000se, Focal Utopia, RAAL SR1, Abyss Ab 1266 and some more. It seems obvious that the Expanse outperformes all these on sound quality and overall characteristics (tuning, built quality, low distortion, etc.). The question remains, how much better does it sound than e.g. an EQed Sennheiser HD800 (S) ? Sure, if money is no object it looks like a no brainer, but if it is ?
 

solderdude

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The question that some people ask is this:
Is the headphone 4k$ because of the development, engineering, manufacturing and the fact that not a lot will be sold or...
Is the performance so good that it warrants a high price.
 

Tks

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When the Meze Empyrean released a while back for $3,000 as a non-limited run headphone I thought to myself the industry dun lost it's mind. But at least back then, I could see it because no one was even REMOTELY close to the sort of build quality and look they had going. Nice materials, good enough performance on a subjective listen, etc.. Basically did everything right as a planar headphone except that insane price.

But now we're at $4,000 with this, and there has been a few other headphones at this or higher price. Idk, this is just far too much in my book, regardless of performance. They got driver performance down already form prior offerings, so it's not like the R&D costs are fresh and harsh. I just don't get where this price is coming from besides "I just feel like I can".

Doesn't seem like it mattered if this was 4K or 6K a this point tbh..

There's actually one other downside I hope this would address sometime. The headstrap. Sorry but this needs either porforation of some sort, or a more unique weave. Anyone buying headphones like this either has no time to listen to them (so short listening sessions where the strap doesn't matter) or listens to it all day. If it's the latter, breath-ability and comfort are paramount. They may feel comfy for an hour or two, but I doubt they'll be such much longer. Likewise with the leather/faux-leather earpads. Not sure why at this price, companies aren't looking to Herman Miller or the stuff happening with mesh products. Seems Apple's the only one with a brain on this front. Make me feel like I'm getting $4,000 worth of headphone. And not just simply a good driver housed in some futuristic housing look.
 

Jimbob54

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It does have to be said, the Stealth is a far more attractive looking headphone. The Expanse looks like it was flung together from leftover bits from some military project whereas the Stealth looks more sculpted.
 

Orion76

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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.
Same here! I had no idea, and I am sitting right next to my Mr Speakers Mad Dog / Fostex headphones.
 

Andreas007

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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:
Same you could say about a diamond.
Never understood why anybody is willing to pay thousand of dollars for a small piece of the element carbon.
 

Boxermotor

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This is a review, listening tests and measurements of the Dan Clark Expanse open-back planar magnetic headphone. It was loaned to me by the company and costs US $3999.
View attachment 230421
The design takes that of Stealth headphone to another level with nicely done grill on the outside. It is very comfortable to wear, nicely molding to my head. You have a choice of cable connectors (I received the balanced XLR one). The cable itself is quite thick and sturdy but nicely drapes so no complaints there.

Dan Clark Expanse Measurements
Let's start with our frequency response and comparison to target:
View attachment 230424
Prior to measurement company had told me that it complied with the target but that they had dialed in a boost in that 100 too 300 Hz region as you see. We will evaluate this in the listening tests. For now, compliance to the target is the best of any open-back headphone that I have tested. It is only approximated by the company's own closed back Stealth headphone.

If you do want to create an EQ, here is the relative frequency response:
View attachment 230427

Note that measurements above 7 to 8 kHz are generally not accurate but I put a cursor there in case you want to play with that dip. Here is the group delay as areas to avoid (sharp spikes):
View attachment 230428
Vast majority of headphones show very messy group delay indicating mixing of phase due to reflections and or resonances in the headphone. Dan Clark headphones are an exception showing clear attention to keep these factors at bay.

Distortion at two playback levels is exceptionally low:
View attachment 230429

We get a SINAD of 86 dB which is limited by the measurement noise rather than true distortion of the headphone. For a transducer, it is basically distortion-less. There is a hump at 114 dBSPL but note that this headphone requires no boosting in low frequencies so that again, is excellent. Here is our absolute distortion at 94 dBSPL:
View attachment 230431

We have so much margin in the critical audible band of 2 to 5 kHz.

Impedance is a departure from typical planar headphone by showing some variation in low frequencies:
View attachment 230432

So likely some electronic components are in the path to provide the bass response we saw in the frequency response graph. Not an issue though as the variation is relatively small.

Sensitivity is very low so you better have good headphone amplification:
View attachment 230433

On my RME ADI-2 Pro, average listening level was about -6 dB. I could get more volume but even at max volume, I could not get the headphone to distort.

Dan Clark Expanse Listening Tests
The small deviation in bass made subjective testing critical to assess whether that is or is not a good idea. I developed a correction for the filter (initially at -3 dB but later changed to -2 dB):
View attachment 230446

Listening with stock tuning, I enjoyed warmth that it added to my reference female vocals. Defeating it using EQ caused the vocals to stand out more, with slightly more spatial qualities. But the tonality comparatively could be said to be a bit bright. I preferred it without EQ. Moving to other clips, I occasionally would hear a bit of tubbiness which was made better with EQ. This was in cases where the tubbiness was already in the music and the boost in the response of the headphone exaggerated it a bit. Overall, I would say 70% of time of I preferred no EQ. For the others, if I didn't have EQ, it would still be delightful to listen to headphone. We are talking small differences here.

That bit aside, the superbly clean sound with very good spatial qualities and tonality that was right on the money, made the experience super enjoyable. On tonality the sound was familiar as in the sense of listening to a reference studio monitor but with none of the room modes. Low level detail was stunning at times in the way they would stand out with superb clarity.

Conclusions
What more could you ask for when a company delivers a headphone that both objectively and subjectively delivers on tonality, spatiality (instrument separation) and vanishingly low distortion? I know, you want it cheaper. :) But this is the price right now for this unique offering in open back planar magnetic headphones. It is times like this that makes my "job" a delight!

It is my pleasure to recommend Dan Clark Expanse headphone. Delivering on best of audio science matters and matters a lot. Company's commitment to this is admirable.

----------
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/
A guy can dream! My Drop Aeon Open X's are arriving today and can't wait to try them out on my playlist (mainly classical, with a smattering of 70's rock). Would love to hear the Expanses one day. It's great to have Dan on the thread to respond to technical questions. Love what he's creating!
 

someguyontheinternet

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There's actually one other downside I hope this would address sometime. The headstrap. Sorry but this needs either porforation of some sort, or a more unique weave. Anyone buying headphones like this either has no time to listen to them (so short listening sessions where the strap doesn't matter) or listens to it all day. If it's the latter, breath-ability and comfort are paramount. They may feel comfy for an hour or two, but I doubt they'll be such much longer. Likewise with the leather/faux-leather earpads. Not sure why at this price, companies aren't looking to Herman Miller or the stuff happening with mesh products. Seems Apple's the only one with a brain on this front. Make me feel like I'm getting $4,000 worth of headphone. And not just simply a good driver housed in some futuristic housing look.
This is only anecdotal, but I have not had problem with using the Stealth 10+ hours every day of the week aside from really hot summer days.
 

Snoopy

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Is it really a crazy amount of money for something a potential buyer will probably use nearly every day? Probably for hours per Day?

Dropping that kind of money on a homecimema projector wouldn't be different. Or nice set of stereo speakers.. or 3-4 generations of new iPhones. As long as. It brings enjoyment to the owner :)

Plenty of shops offer to pay something like this in installments.. sometimes at 0% interest.

Paying a headphone like this off in 12 months... I could see myself doing that.

Might just sell my aeon 2 Noire in the near future and look for a nice offer .

We only get older and our ability to hear gets worse along the way.
 
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