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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 18.4%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 234 77.0%

  • Total voters
    304

nyxnyxnyx

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The counterpoints about price correlates very little to the actual performance about these headphones. I don't get why some of you keep mentioning it like it's the deciding factor of this product?

I can understand if you guys bash on expensive products that perform very terrible or mediocre, but this one here is one of the class-leading products in the entire market. Besides it's not like nobody knows it's $4000. If you discourage spending lavishly on audio products that's fine, but at least pick something actually terrible to say it.
 

Dan Clark

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Hi Dan. What is the reason for the imperdance jump to 36 ohms around 200Hz? Is it a deliberate impedance change with a passive circuit to lift the bass? As far as I know AMTS is only used to tune mids up.
I’ll just say it’s part of the system design. Everything in the headphone is interrelated.
 

Phoney

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How dare you make a good headphone that I can't afford? Ridiculous! Remove the entire headphone!
 
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Dan Clark

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@Dan Clark
I know how difficult this question can be to answer, since it's comparing two babies:

Voce vs Expanse - what are in your opinion the differences between them? What does one do better than the other?

I'll eschew from asking which you prefer, just want to know where they differ.

Thanks! :D
We revised VOCE a with new pads this spring and it has a midrange and too much closer to EXPANSE a tonally than it used to With the original pad. EXPANSE of course puts out more bass and as a planar can handle higher SPL. VOCE will, with a very good amp, still outperform in the ultimate resolution dept but EXPANSE a an complete on soundstage and offers a more natural tone due to the ability to sculpt the bass.
 

Dan Clark

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Amazing performance! Big congratz to the whole team for this achievement! Had a chance to quickly test Stealth Edition and they were good but something was missing. Maybe it was due that I'm not a huge fan of closed back headphones.

Can't wait to test these sometimes in the future though I don't think that I will ever be able to afford ones.

@Dan Clark Any chance of having a 'value model' with very similar curve?
Alas, we don’t talk about future products. There’s no better way to go out of business than to promote that which doesn’t exist.

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?
Same as STEALTH.

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.
STEALTH and EXPANSE use larger, softer pads that improve seal considerably. The biggest fit issue is glasses that pull away from the face as soon as they leave the ear, this can be improved by resting the glasses on or in the upper part of the pad to preserve the seal. The other issue is having really thick or curly hair, here the best option is to pull the hair back when using the headphone to get the pad to rest on the clear skin behind the ear. Also AEON Aand STEALTH a headphones can be rotated to a large number of different angles to seal around the jaw. It may not fit everyone perfectly but the vast majority of owners have no fit issues. Anyone who does have seal issues can call for support, we can’t solve all issues but we can help with some. Generally the overall number of support calls for this pretty low.
 

RJO

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@Dan Clark will both the Stealth and Expanse be available for demos at the Canjam SoCal this weekend? It's in my neighborhood and I'm thinking of going this Saturday.
 

KiyPhi

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STEALTH and EXPANSE use larger, softer pads that improve seal considerably. The biggest fit issue is glasses that pull away from the face as soon as they leave the ear, this can be improved by resting the glasses on or in the upper part of the pad to preserve the seal. The other issue is having really thick or curly hair, here the best option is to pull the hair back when using the headphone to get the pad to rest on the clear skin behind the ear. Also AEON Aand STEALTH a headphones can be rotated to a large number of different angles to seal around the jaw. It may not fit everyone perfectly but the vast majority of owners have no fit issues. Anyone who does have seal issues can call for support, we can’t solve all issues but we can help with some. Generally the overall number of support calls for this pretty low.
My issues with seal is the larger than average gap between my jaw and neck, below my ear. I've tried your Ether 2 and Aeon Noir headphones and they were super comfy and light but you could tell were durable. They rolled off up by 500Hz no matter how I fit them on my head. The ones with the best seal tolerance I've tried have been the Meze Empyrean rolling off at a low 30Hz with a broken seal and HE-6se which was similarly low. They both have relatively flat bass though, and as I understand it, being able to control the bass shelf and seal tolerance can be a bit of a trade off. For people like me who can never get good fitment, it ends up being a deal breaker. If I have to EQ anyway, I'd rather EQ a bass shelf with an otherwise flat bass than EQ roll off that varies depending on who's head it is being put on.

Again, I recognize the science and engineering skill to be able to superbly tune a headphone like this, it is amazing, but it is disappointing to know it'll probably never sound like that on my own head.
 
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Dan Clark

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My issues with seal is the larger than average gap between my jaw and neck, below my ear. I've tried your Ether 2 and Aeon Noir headphones and they were super comfy and light but you could tell were durable. They rolled off up by 500Hz no matter how I fit them on my head. The ones with the best seal tolerance I've tried have been the Meze Empyrean rolling off at a low 30Hz with a broken seal and HE-6se which was similarly low. They both have relatively flat bass though, and as I understand it, being able to control the bass shelf and seal tolerance can be a bit of a trade off. For people like me who can never get good fitment, it ends up being a deal breaker. If I have to EQ anyway, I'd rather EQ a bass shelf with an otherwise flat bass than EQ roll off that varies depending on who's head it is being put on.

Again, I recognize the science and engineering skill to be able to superbly tune a headphone like this, it is amazing, but it is disappointing to know it'll probably never sound like that on my own head.
The trick with a jaw gap is to place the headband further back on the head, which rotates the point of the pad up onto the jaw, it isn’t always a solve but for many w a very defined jaw line this helps. Thanks for the nice note regardless…
 

KiyPhi

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The trick with a jaw gap is to place the headband further back on the head, which rotates the point of the pad up onto the jaw, it isn’t always a solve but for many w a very defined jaw line this helps. Thanks for the nice note regardless…
I tried with the Noir like you had shown in a YouTube video but I didn't have success with that either. I may just be cursed. I have long hair but it is tied back and rather thin. Facial hair is short and I wear contacts most days but I can never quite get a good seal no matter the headphone. I even resorted to making in ear measurement microphones (calibrated with a know flat bass) to try and find the most optimal position and was unsuccessful. I have struggled a lot trying to find headphones that are comfortable and sound good. Yours are definitely at the top of my comfort list. I even bought ether 2 pads for my Sundara due to the comfort.
 

GaryH

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I doubt it. My measurements are at 94 dBSPL in super near-field. External noise would not have a chance to enter the equation in any significant manner. On Rting, that measurement could very well be smoothed.
@DualTriode observed a significant lowering of measured headphone distortion when he distanced and acoustically isolated (via two closed doors) his Audio Precision analyzer from the GRAS ear simulator, after observing the effect of the AP's fan noise on the GRAS's measured THD with and without a foam plug in the artificial ear. So I think it's plausible such environmental noise could also be affecting the group delay measurements.
 

GaryH

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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:
View attachment 230611

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:
View attachment 230612


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.
View attachment 230614 View attachment 230617
Yeah I was talking primarily about the group delay measurements. As for for frequency response, I'm referring to the 'very fine grass' :D Between around 1 and 4 kHz in your measurements. That's still there on your HD560S. If you've measured using individual left and right single-channel test signals separately, then you've shown that is not due to acoustic crosstalk between the headphone cups, but environmental noise remains a possibility. Oh and if the noise source has a specific constant spectral content, it may not average out. The only other possibility I can think of is that there's some kind of resonance of the test fixture itself between 1 and 4 kHz.
 
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Somafunk

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I tried with the Noir like you had shown in a YouTube video but I didn't have success with that either.

Do what I do, shaved head and clean shaven for a good seal, :), my avatar is a very accurate representation of how I look, although there are more scars on my head.
 

Hipster Doofus

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Hmmm I heard PS Audio was the OEM for Dan Clark…well I think that’s what I heard…

F1716895-9CE4-491F-8785-B2FA43D282E7.jpeg
 
OP
amirm

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@DualTriode observed a significant lowering of measured headphone distortion when he distanced and acoustically isolated (via two closed doors) his Audio Precision analyzer from the GRAS ear simulator, after observing the effect of the AP's fan noise on the GRAS's measured THD with and without a foam plug in the artificial ear. So I think it's plausible such environmental noise could also be affecting the group delay measurements.
AP fan is like a tornado. I can't even think with it on and in the open. No way is it representative of environmental noise. I put the AP in a rack which quiet it down substantially and then moved the measurement gear about 6 feet away from it. This nicely solved the problem. You can see proof of this from my distortion measurements of 86 dB SINAD.

Remember reflections are right in the cup and an inch away from microphone. They have orders of magnitude higher power than ambient noise.

Finally me distortion measurements of Stealth had better score than jude using an expensive environmental chamber.

To be sure there is some impact here but not at all the cause and effect for my testing. Others may not be in the same situation.
 

Robbo99999

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Yeah I was talking primarily about the group delay measurements. As for for frequency response, I'm referring to the 'very fine grass' :D Between around 1 and 4 kHz in your measurements. That's still there on your HD560S. If you've measured using individual left and right single-channel test signals separately, then you've shown that is not due to acoustic crosstalk between the headphone cups, but environmental noise remains a possibility. Oh and if the noise source has a specific constant spectral content, it may not average out. The only other possibility I can think of is that there's some kind of resonance of the test fixture itself between 1 and 4 kHz.
Yes, only one earcup was played the chirp at any given time - measure left, measure right....take off headphone & replace.......measure left, measure right......take off headphone & replace.....etc.

Ha, ok, well it sounds like we're referring to different things when talking "fine grass", lol! I've put red arrows what I was referring to in following pic:
HE4XX finegrass.jpg
but to be honest it is noticeably rougher even using your definition of "fine grass" vs the HD560s, which I admit has a small amount of it between 1-4kHz, but the HE4XX has more. Following is HD560s again, and also HD600 as another datapoint:
HD560s Unit 2 Channel Balance.jpg HD600 channel balance.jpg

I don't think it's outside noise that is causing the differences between HE4XX and the other two, I think it's the headphones. Planar headphones always seem to have more of this fine grass, seen in many measurements throughout the internet. So I'm still of the viewpoint that outside noise is not the main driving factor of "fine grass" that we see in some headphone measurements, instead I'm sure it's a real property of the headphone in question.
 
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