• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

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

PeteL

Major Contributor
Joined
Jun 1, 2020
Messages
2,659
Likes
2,741
Yup, he definitely puts in that 80Hz bump to enhance "slam". His overall thinking is that low distortion headphones need that in this area as that area is not reinforced by 2nd harmonic distortions that lesser & more distortion prone headphones add harmonics to that area (of course those harmonics are obscuring detail, but they do add to tonality - he's modifying the target curve because he believes the target curve was created with more distortion prone headphones in mind).

EDIT: although thinking about it, 2nd harmonic distortions would "cloud" rather than "slam" drum hits wouldn't they.........I'm just going off his reasoning for including the extra energy at 80Hz, which he said was included due to the low distortion of his drivers. (Maybe it's a win-win: you get the same tonality balanced out, but with the bonus of the defined "slam").
Not wanting to get into too much of his rationale, I haven’t heard it in detail, but wheter it clouds or add slam, It would enhance it, get your focus on it. It’s a bit in the same vein that this new « trick » in production. Since music nowadays has to get trough Iphone speakers that basically don’t reproduce any bass, If you listen all modern basslines have some distortion added to them, so you do hear some more harmonics and it allow to perceive a bass line when really the fundamental is absent on a phone speaker. No it’s not the same but same idea, The extra harmonics will put emphasis on the content.
 

juliangst

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 11, 2021
Messages
394
Likes
321
i mean, all hifiman looks like a cheap headphone.. the susvara is the headphone who looks like 600 but its 6000.
I wonder why Dan Clark can make nearly indestructible headphones at 500€ (Aeon RT) and Hifiman can’t even get QC with their 6K € Susvaras right.

Isn’t Hifiman a way bigger company that should have access to all resources to improve build?
 

BrokenEnglishGuy

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 19, 2020
Messages
1,411
Likes
807
I wonder why Dan Clark can make nearly indestructible headphones at 500€ (Aeon RT) and Hifiman can’t even get QC with their 6K € Susvaras right.

Isn’t Hifiman a way bigger company that should have access to all resources to improve build?
I had that exact same question about 5 years ago and now, i don't know !
This is from the HE1000, 3000 USD.. the wood work is... HMM
index.php
 

BrokenEnglishGuy

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 19, 2020
Messages
1,411
Likes
807
I have a question to dan clark, is not worthy to make a driver of these but for speakers? mid-highs driver? the lowest hz xcrossver possible for the driver?
 

Dan Clark

Active Member
Manufacturer
Joined
Oct 21, 2020
Messages
129
Likes
1,031
Location
San Diego, CA
I have a question to dan clark, is not worthy to make a driver of these but for speakers? mid-highs driver? the lowest hz xcrossver possible for the driver?

We've played around with this and they do make a nice tweeter. But we don't want to make speakers, not the right business for us. We use them for our personal projects... Crossover point would be very dependent on the design, pretty hard to answer generically without knowing SPL and related drivers, horn loading, etc.
 

BrokenEnglishGuy

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 19, 2020
Messages
1,411
Likes
807
We've played around with this and they do make a nice tweeter. But we don't want to make speakers, not the right business for us. We use them for our personal projects... Crossover point would be very dependent on the design, pretty hard to answer generically without knowing SPL and related drivers, horn loading, etc.
I guess one of the options and also cheapers is do something like Buchard, they did a BuchardxPurifi speaker
I also think having too many busnisses can be very problematic and not worthy
A new trend (?)
1611-copy-1652772103750.png
 

Twx

Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2022
Messages
10
Likes
2
I was ready to pull the trigger on Hifiman HE1000 v2 because of the reduced price + 3 year warranty and okayish cables (3)… quality of build is like a bamboo house v.s., granite on these. I just can’t justify 4000 for headphones right now. So I am praying that there’s an update coming to the open end version downstream shortly. As I’ll gladly give my money to a company that seems to build quality and make changes to both sound and quality over time - building an almost perfect product. Some of the other 4-5K headphones might look better, but they can’t even be transported outside your house unless you wrap them in plastic wrap
 

Somafunk

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Mar 1, 2021
Messages
772
Likes
1,630
Location
Scotland
I want a pair and almost affordable ;)…………… if I sell my Dynaudio LYD 48’s, Dynaudio 18s sub, CXNv2 Streamer, Mojo2 & Poly, Timeless 7hz, Dunu Vulkan and Sundara but I foresee an issue with nothing to plug them into :facepalm:, I think I’d be perfectly happy with a Noire for 80% of the sound quality and at least my mojo would have sufficient power to drive them.
 

muslhead

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
1,179
Likes
1,166
You charge what you can get. Dan Clark isn't selling groceries.
You sir, are correct. Finally, someone with a modicum of knowledge and understanding about marketing speaks up
 
Joined
May 7, 2022
Messages
26
Likes
110
I wish these had come out first instead of the Stealth. I just couldn’t get over the Stealth being a closed back, and though it sounds petty, the red color scheme was a turn off for me.

Had these been available last year I‘d have considered them hard against the LCD-5.
 

KxDx

Active Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2019
Messages
279
Likes
571
Location
Tidewater Virginia
I wonder why Dan Clark loans to @amirm and not the attention getting snake oil magazines/ezines. Dan Clark has nothing to hide with his product and perhaps maybe HiFiMan does?
Dan is sending an eval unit only, and there’s no certified check in the box. ;)
 

don'ttrustauthority

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 10, 2021
Messages
601
Likes
322
I suspect the tradeoff of spatial qualities you get over the Stealth is LOST due to the lower dynamic range resulting from the open back, allowing room noise to interfere. Of course, the Stealth is so quiet that people complain it lacks liveliness. It doesn't. Just need proper amplification. These headphones and this tech is stupid good.
 

m8o

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 28, 2019
Messages
330
Likes
216
The Stealth wasn't for me. But with the rising bass resp all the way down and that boost above the target where we see it ... I think I have to think long and hard if I'll be spending my money next year on cases of wine or the Expanse. (lol)
 

Maiky76

Senior Member
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
356
Likes
2,784
Location
French, living in China
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/
Hi,
I did not see the raw file in your initial post?

Here are some thoughts about the EQ.

Notes about the EQ design:
  • The average L/R is used to calculate the score.
  • The resolution is 12 points per octave interpolated from the raw data (provided by @amirm)
  • A Genetic Algorithm is used to optimize the EQ.
  • The EQ Score is designed to MAXIMIZE the Score WHILE fitting the Harman target curve (and other constrains) with a fixed complexity.
    This will avoid weird results if one only optimizes for the Score.
    It will probably flatten the Error regression doing so, the tonal balance should be therefore more neutral.
  • The EQs are starting point and may require tuning (certainly at LF and maybe at HF).
  • The range around and above 10kHz is usually not EQed unless smooth enough to do so.
  • I am using PEQ (PK) as from my experience the definition is more consistent across different DSP/platform implementations than shelves.
  • With some HP/amp combo, the boosts and preamp gain (loss of Dynamic range) need to be carefully considered to avoid issues with, amongst other things, too low a Max SPL or damaging your device. You have beed warned.
  • Not all units of the same product are made equal. The EQ is based on the measurements of a single unit. YMMV with regards to the very unit you are trying this EQ on.
  • I sometimes use variations of the Harman curve for some reasons. See rational here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...pro-review-headphone.28244/page-5#post-989169
  • https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...pro-review-headphone.28244/page-6#post-992119
  • NOTE: the score then calculated is not comparable to the scores derived from the default Harman target curve if not otherwise noted.
Good L/R match.

Probably does not need EQ.

I have generated one EQ, the APO config file is attached.

Score no EQ: 76.1
Score Amirm: 82.0
Score with EQ: 90.4

Code:
Dan Clark Expanse Open Back Planar EQ [email protected] 96000Hz
September132022-113312

Preamp: -1.6 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 136.12 Hz Gain -3.64 dB Q 1.25
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 2007.92 Hz Gain 1.60 dB Q 2.31

Dan Clark Expanse Open Back Planar Dashboard.png
 

Attachments

Top Bottom