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Dan Clark Stealth Review (State of the Art Headphone)

brandall10

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It's helpful when you are criticizing someone's article to provide a link so we can see exactly what was asserted so no straw man arguments are made.

That said, if there is a reviewer suggesting that the Stealth is lacking in dynamics, I would suggest his amplifier is lacking in power. They're Dynamic.

It’s not reviewers, it’s attendees from CanJam, the main thread at head-if, and some reports at SBAF. It’s pretty much for certain very few of these situations are underdriven, esp any rigs at CanJam where the criticism is most acute.

I don’t think any professional reviewer has made this claim. But it’s pervasive in discussion threads. I don’t think I’m exaggerating to say at least a few dozen people have said something along these lines.
 

Malaj

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The Stealth is slightly quieter than the Aeon RT at the same (max) vol on my friend's tube amp. They feel similar but frankly, I am thinking an Aeon 2 will get me most of the way there.
I have the same issue with noire, ether c, ananda, t50rp and lcd 2. Believe its a magneplanar issue due to lack of ability to push large amounts of air or something in conparison to some dynamic headphones. They have other advantages though. That said they are waaaay better in that regard than ananda which I sold due to this but nothing is best at e erything. Also better then I recall the lcd-2 but that was some time ago. But still its a bit polite compared to the kennerton magni with similar response curve.
 
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amirm

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QuadDiffusor

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*Dear Amir - I hope the "ad" below does not breach any ASR Forum rules. Thank you in advance, if it's OK to post it. If not, please let me know*

Dear Fellow Headphone Audiophiles,

As one of the first people in the world to place an order, I received Singapore's first pair of DCA Stealth headphones exactly one month ago.
Unexpectedly, they're not my cup of tea, so they've available for sale!
Prospective buyers located in Singapore and Hong Kong are preferred, for ease of contact.

Mint condition, with an estimated playback time of (just) 24 hours, worn for less than 1/4 of that time.
Comes with a length of standard 2.0m balanced 4.4m cable, and another longer customized 2.5m length of 4-pin balanced XLR.
Please send me a personal message, if you're interested.

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tifune

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Has anyone heard both the Stealth and the Shure SRH940? I have the latter which is considered very neutral, flat and has low distortion. I'm considering an upgrade but I'm not sure how big the difference is. Additionally, I can drive the Shure with an E1DA dongle properly, and I'd have to invest in a desktop setup for the Stealth.
I've not heard the Shure you mention, but just FYI i do use the E1DA 9038S Gen2 and volume stays around 80% with my Stealth. The FiiO BTR5 on high gain can also do the job for most recordings, although you can't use the EQ with LDAC. I use Wavelet, so for me not a big deal but Apple users may be put out.

FWW I do think the E1DA sounds better than the BTR5, but I have no hard data to prove it. Presumably someone more astute than me can compare power output and tell me if it's placebo of wired vs wireless?
https://www.l7audiolab.com/f/measurementreview-of-fiio-high-fidelity-bluetooth-amp-btr5/
 
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brandall10

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Oh they have:


An unreliable subjective comment was made and that was all that was needed for it to take flight as fact....

By professional reviewer, I don't mean people posting their impressions on forums or youtubers. Although this person appears to be affiliated w/ Headphones.com it's not used as a promotional vehicle of any sort. EDIT: I stand corrected - https://www.moon-audio.com/dan-clark-audio-stealth-headphone-review: "As I listened to other tracks with lots of low-end impact, I determined that bass on the Stealth is defined, punchy, and controlled, but lacks the visceral impact that some may crave on more bass-centric tracks."

I don't know if this was simply an idea that caught fire but it seemed to be made roughly around the same time (within a few days of posting your review) on head-fi and sbaf as well - I think it was first made in the latter. So we have 3 forums. And it's a complaint not unique to the Stealth but seems to have applied to earlier DCA. So if we're talking about this notion being meme-tastic, sure, that is something to heavily consider.

That said, there are a lot of comments of people complaining about the bass not being present or hitting in the way they like that don't throw the term macrodynamics out - ie. they seem to be somewhat ignorant to these claims and simply trying to explain a frustration they have. Of course in those cases maybe they're underdriven, or maybe they're used to more distortion down low... to me it's common enough, whether group-think or not, to be concerning enough to not make a blind purchase.
 
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tifune

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By professional reviewer, I don't mean people posting their impressions on forums or youtubers. Although this person appears to be affiliated w/ Headphones.com it's not used as a promotional vehicle of any sort. EDIT: I stand corrected - https://www.moon-audio.com/dan-clark-audio-stealth-headphone-review: "As I listened to other tracks with lots of low-end impact, I determined that bass on the Stealth is defined, punchy, and controlled, but lacks the visceral impact that some may crave on more bass-centric tracks."

I realize you're not the spokesperson for anyone you're referencing here, but have you read any other comments/reviews where you may have noticed which headphones offer appropriate "visceral impact that some may crave on more bass-centric tracks" ? This part of that specific review is concerning, unless she means "bottom-end weight" in the literal sense: Dan Clark headphones tend to be on the warmer side, so we usually pair them with a Silver Dragon or Blue Dragon cable. However, I chose to pair the Stealth with a Black Dragon Premium Cable because I wanted to add some bottom-end weight. It's a copper conductor-based cable that will add musicality and low-end impact to your headphones. The Black Dragon warms the bass and midrange tones and smooths out the top end without sacrificing detail. The immersive and natural sound of the Black Dragon was a great pairing for the Stealth.

I'm confident most responses will revolve around open-backs, to which I vacillate as to whether that's a fair comparison given how limited their utility is. for example, in my situation if I'm in an environment where an open back is socially acceptable ther'es a 90% chance I can just listen to 2.1+ instead. Between my own experience with the Stellia and Amir's review of the Rognir, the only remaining competitor, in my mind, is the ZMF Verite Closed so really curious how it stands up.
 

brandall10

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I realize you're not the spokesperson for anyone you're referencing here, but have you read any other comments/reviews where you may have noticed which headphones offer appropriate "visceral impact that some may crave on more bass-centric tracks" ? This part of that specific review is concerning, unless she means "bottom-end weight" in the literal sense: Dan Clark headphones tend to be on the warmer side, so we usually pair them with a Silver Dragon or Blue Dragon cable. However, I chose to pair the Stealth with a Black Dragon Premium Cable because I wanted to add some bottom-end weight. It's a copper conductor-based cable that will add musicality and low-end impact to your headphones. The Black Dragon warms the bass and midrange tones and smooths out the top end without sacrificing detail. The immersive and natural sound of the Black Dragon was a great pairing for the Stealth.

I'm confident most responses will revolve around open-backs, to which I vacillate as to whether that's a fair comparison given how limited their utility is. for example, in my situation if I'm in an environment where an open back is socially acceptable ther'es a 90% chance I can just listen to 2.1+ instead. Between my own experience with the Stellia and Amir's review of the Rognir, the only remaining competitor, in my mind, is the ZMF Verite Closed so really curious how it stands up.

I'm right there with you, having owned only a small number of open back headphones due to the lack of utility. Actually had for a couple years the ATH-L3000 which was the top closed back of its day circa 2005. Something like this that effectively neutralizes the issues of closed back phones is alluring and I feel if you need a closed-back, this is absolutely tops - I don't even question that. It's $4k though and at that price if this is a real issue I'd rather get something like the Noire and wait for some revision down the road. I'm not griping just to pee in the punch bowl, I am the market for something like this. My daily drivers when out and about are the KSE1200s tuned to Harman, I have Burchardt A500 for my living room - both not cheap but superlative for their price to the point where I know I will be happy w/ them for years to come... would love a set of closed backs to fill in that void in the middle with no concessions whatsoever.

If we're talking about summit-fi planars, this doesn't seem to be a complaint lobbed at the new LCD-5 despite it having a flatter, non-Harman bass response. It's open though, but the punch of a closed back seems to be its forte in general (check out reviews for the LCD-XC, for instance), so there's something against type in comments like these.
 
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Malaj

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Its even in DCA own marketing. They claim their v-planar design helps this issue with magneplanar drivers. Which appear true there is magneplanars I listened to that suffers more then the ether c for example.

Try listening to tracks that goes from pianissimo to fortissimo. High hope by nightwish is a good example that explodes more in db on some headphones then others :). Also the ether C and noire hit kind of a shelf compared to for example the Kennerton Magni. Very similar response curve to the noire.

Now maybe they are overdamped being closed backs to fight resonances would like to listen to the open ether 2 and see how that goes :)

I am still considering paying twice as much as I ever bought a headphone for with the ether c though so still like it.

And to be clear haven´t heard the stealth 5x is just way to much to even consider listening to it :p
Part of me thinks that the whole discussion around dynamics is really a psychoacoustic meme. People expect to hear weak dynamics, so that's what they hear when they listen to the Stealth.
 
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amirm

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High hope by nightwish is a good example that explodes more in db on some headphones then others :).
You mean this specific track?


If so, its highs get so loud that I can't crank it up much. It doesn't seem to have much dynamics and little sub-bass.
 
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ra990

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Please try Max Richter's "Cradle To the Grave", from the Hostiles OST. If you encounter distortion in the bass at your desired volume, you need a more powerful amp for the Stealths. This track has extremely deep bass that makes the Stealth move an incredible amount of air while remaining very clean and true to the source.
 

Malaj

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You mean this specific track?


If so, its highs get so loud that I can't crank it up much. It doesn't seem to have much dynamics and little sub-bass.
I have the cd version. Very dynamic and no issues with the mix :) but my ears are not sensitive to treble.
 

tusing

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Currently using these on a vacation with the Qudelix 5K's balanced out. It's perfect.

The Stealths are proving to be everything I wanted them to be. A portable TOTL listening experience. I can't get over how clean everything sounds, how correct the tonality is, how deep the bass goes. It's amazing!
 

budje

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The DCA arrived earlier today!!!
Huge props to https://www.lumous-audio.co.za/ for sourcing them for me!

Some unbox therapy below




The DCA-Stealth's are a bit of a Power Hog tho. 1 O'Clock on the Cayin HA6-HA for 'normal' volume.
The LPGT does drive them okay; sounds AwEsOmE
It's bonkers to me that you can see the twisting of the foam under the pads already on a brand new model, the same irreversible affliction of the Aeons. Expand the in-box image, you can see the twisting on the right pad near the top of the image. How can a $4,000 headphone have pads that irreversibly twist out of shape so quickly? Previous posters asked Dan if he would change the pad design to avoid this, I guess not. I don't plan to pick up a pair until padgate is resolved.
 

TunaBug

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It's bonkers to me that you can see the twisting of the foam under the pads already on a brand new model, the same irreversible affliction of the Aeons. Expand the in-box image, you can see the twisting on the right pad near the top of the image. How can a $4,000 headphone have pads that irreversibly twist out of shape so quickly? Previous posters asked Dan if he would change the pad design to avoid this, I guess not. I don't plan to pick up a pair until padgate is resolved.

You can fiddle the foams back into place. It's irritating, and I wish they would change the design, but "irreversible" is just not true.
 

budje

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You can fiddle the foams back into place. It's irritating, and I wish they would change the design, but "irreversible" is just not true.
Only sometimes and if you catch it early. I'm on my second pads and no amount of fiddling undoes the twisting. Other forum members have confirmed the same.
 

tusing

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It's bonkers to me that you can see the twisting of the foam under the pads already on a brand new model, the same irreversible affliction of the Aeons. Expand the in-box image, you can see the twisting on the right pad near the top of the image. How can a $4,000 headphone have pads that irreversibly twist out of shape so quickly? Previous posters asked Dan if he would change the pad design to avoid this, I guess not. I don't plan to pick up a pair until padgate is resolved.
Yo I just noticed this on my Stealth! Especially on the left pad. I've only had it a month!

@Dan Clark are there any plans to fix this? Can you offer replacement pads without the issue?
 

tifune

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It's bonkers to me that you can see the twisting of the foam under the pads already on a brand new model, the same irreversible affliction of the Aeons. Expand the in-box image, you can see the twisting on the right pad near the top of the image. How can a $4,000 headphone have pads that irreversibly twist out of shape so quickly? Previous posters asked Dan if he would change the pad design to avoid this, I guess not. I don't plan to pick up a pair until padgate is resolved.
Yo I just noticed this on my Stealth! Especially on the left pad. I've only had it a month!

@Dan Clark are there any plans to fix this? Can you offer replacement pads without the issue?

I'm staring at these photos, staring at my Stealth, looking back at the photos, but I don't understand what you're looking at?
 
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