• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Drop Dan Clark Audio Aeon Closed X

OP
TheHighContemplator

TheHighContemplator

Active Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2020
Messages
138
Likes
267
Location
Canada
Since Drop was kind enough to send another unit over for review, here are the measurements of the second sample:
Honestly, pretty darn good if you ask me - albeit a bit concerning to see how different these two units measure. I'm going to wager a guess that this is due to slight pad variation (yes pads do make a difference), and potentially adhesive uniformity for this style of pad connection. As to whether this is the same as the RT I'm still not sure - but here you have two samples of the Aeon X Closed, and thankfully this second sample doesn't have any channel imbalance issues so that could've just been a one-off bad luck the first time around. Here are the averages overlaid:
Here's the on-head response to check bass level on my head, surprisingly there's a bit more there, BUT this isn't to do with a boost from Fs, as it's around 500hz on these headphones with significant damping.
Air gap measurements (and resonance frequency). GREEN = small gap (a pair of glasses with thick arms). BLUE = free air:
Hot dawg! The second sample measures much better than the first. Thank you very much for doing this, @Resolve .

If I were to pay for shipping, would you be able to measure my pair? That way we could have three sets to average, and then, if Robbo has the time to generate an EQ profile for me, that would be just swell.
 
OP
TheHighContemplator

TheHighContemplator

Active Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2020
Messages
138
Likes
267
Location
Canada
Since I can't edit post #1, I'll post all of the measurements here for a quick comparison.

First Drop DCA Closed X sample:
DCA Aeon X Closed.jpg


Second Drop DCA Closed X sample:
DCA Aeon X Closed V2.jpg


Samples one and two overlayed:
DCA Aeon Closed Sample Comparison.jpg


DCA RT Closed measurement by @amirm :
Dan Clark Audio ÆON RT Measurements Closed.png


Measurement from Oratory1990 DCA Closed RT:
DCA ARTC FR.png


For my eyes, sample two measures the best of all four headphone samples.
 

Resolve

Active Member
Reviewer
Joined
Jan 20, 2021
Messages
215
Likes
538
For my eyes, sample two measures the best of all four headphone samples.

I mean... tbh they all kinda sound overdamped to me (here we go again lol) - but I suppose that's what you have to do to get the tuning right with this type of form factor. Although weirdly the Open sounds even more blunted to me (there's no scenario where I'd choose it over the Sundara 2020). With that said, I'm thinking I will put the Closed on my recommended list because for a closed-back planar, I don't think there's anything better at this price.
 

MayaTlab

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Aug 15, 2020
Messages
972
Likes
1,634
Honestly, pretty darn good if you ask me - albeit a bit concerning to see how different these two units measure. I'm going to wager a guess that this is due to slight pad variation

Do the pads have slightly different depths / internal volume ?

Have you tried to characterise the DCA Aeon Closed X's behaviour under varying levels of pad compression ?
 
Last edited:

Robbo99999

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
7,151
Likes
7,075
Location
UK
Since Drop was kind enough to send another unit over for review, here are the measurements of the second sample:

View attachment 157407

Honestly, pretty darn good if you ask me - albeit a bit concerning to see how different these two units measure. I'm going to wager a guess that this is due to slight pad variation (yes pads do make a difference), and potentially adhesive uniformity for this style of pad connection. As to whether this is the same as the RT I'm still not sure - but here you have two samples of the Aeon X Closed, and thankfully this second sample doesn't have any channel imbalance issues so that could've just been a one-off bad luck the first time around. Here are the averages overlaid:

View attachment 157408

Here's the on-head response to check bass level on my head, surprisingly there's a bit more there, BUT this isn't to do with a boost from Fs, as it's around 500hz on these headphones with significant damping.
View attachment 157409

Air gap measurements (and resonance frequency). GREEN = small gap (a pair of glasses with thick arms). BLUE = free air:

View attachment 157411
Thanks for posting back in the thread after measuring that 2nd unit. There is indeed quite a lot of variation between the two samples there. You mentioned that the second sample had good channel matching which indicates that it should be a headphone "as intended" from the company, whereas you say the first sample had bad channel matching, how bad was the channel matching in the first sample.....does one of the channels in the first sample closely match the response of the second sample you measured? If one of the channels of your first sample measures very closely to your second sample then you could probably assume that the first sample you measured was a bad unit "broken" (as in one of the channels broken, the other channel fine), in which case I'd do an EQ of your second sample without averaging the two sample measurements. (Or you could average the 3 good cups into one measurement)
 
Last edited:

Robbo99999

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
7,151
Likes
7,075
Location
UK
Hot dawg! The second sample measures much better than the first. Thank you very much for doing this, @Resolve .

If I were to pay for shipping, would you be able to measure my pair? That way we could have three sets to average, and then, if Robbo has the time to generate an EQ profile for me, that would be just swell.
And/or you could send yours to Oratory, who lives in Austria - are you Europe or USA or elsewhere? Sorry, of course, it's in your profile - you live in Canada! Well USA is closer, doesn't Crinacle live over there, well and Resolve (I think!).....so yes maybe not to Oratory then.....but if no-one on your continent wants to measure them, then you could still send them to Oratory, he's accepted headphones from the USA before & elsewhere.
 

Resolve

Active Member
Reviewer
Joined
Jan 20, 2021
Messages
215
Likes
538
how bad was the channel matching in the first sample
Out of respect for DCA and Drop I'm going to refrain from publishing it, because this stuff often gets taken out of context, but I will say that it was definitely audible in the lower frequencies beyond the acceptable range. I have somewhat of a nuanced position on this - and not everyone agrees - but when it comes to channel matching, in my mind it's kind of a pass/fail situation. Either it's within an acceptable range (or close enough to where there generally wouldn't be any audible issues let's say), or it's not. In a case where it's not within an acceptable range, I'd rather just ask the manufacturer to send another unit, because there's always a chance with any manufacturer that it was just bad luck. I've even had this happen with brands that are known for their impeccably tight QC. Now with that said, if multiple samples show this behavior then that's a problem, or if maybe they tell you "that's within spec", then yeah I'd probably note that haha. But so far there haven't been many bad cases of that.

With regards to the question of how close the two samples are, I suspect this is more a case of unit variation than anything truly being 'broken'. The way these pads are constructed and kind of conform to the head, plus the adhesive method means you've got a bunch of different variables that are difficult to control in a perfect manner. So in short, just because Sample 1 had channel imbalance, that doesn't mean you couldn't end up getting a unit where both channels are closer to the FR of either of Sample 1's channels. But I do get why you'd ask that, I'm just not about to ask for a third sample to check hahah. Sample 2 doesn't have any issues, so my review will be based off that.
 

Robbo99999

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
7,151
Likes
7,075
Location
UK
Out of respect for DCA and Drop I'm going to refrain from publishing it, because this stuff often gets taken out of context, but I will say that it was definitely audible in the lower frequencies beyond the acceptable range. I have somewhat of a nuanced position on this - and not everyone agrees - but when it comes to channel matching, in my mind it's kind of a pass/fail situation. Either it's within an acceptable range (or close enough to where there generally wouldn't be any audible issues let's say), or it's not. In a case where it's not within an acceptable range, I'd rather just ask the manufacturer to send another unit, because there's always a chance with any manufacturer that it was just bad luck. I've even had this happen with brands that are known for their impeccably tight QC. Now with that said, if multiple samples show this behavior then that's a problem, or if maybe they tell you "that's within spec", then yeah I'd probably note that haha. But so far there haven't been many bad cases of that.

With regards to the question of how close the two samples are, I suspect this is more a case of unit variation than anything truly being 'broken'. The way these pads are constructed and kind of conform to the head, plus the adhesive method means you've got a bunch of different variables that are difficult to control in a perfect manner. So in short, just because Sample 1 had channel imbalance, that doesn't mean you couldn't end up getting a unit where both channels are closer to the FR of either of Sample 1's channels. But I do get why you'd ask that, I'm just not about to ask for a third sample to check hahah. Sample 2 doesn't have any issues, so my review will be based off that.
It sounds like I'll do an EQ of the average of the two samples then. But just to be clear before I do that, did one of the channels in your first sample match the 2nd sample frequency response quite accurately in contrast to the other channel? If yes, then I'll just do an EQ of the 2nd sample as that would likely be closer to the truth.
 

Resolve

Active Member
Reviewer
Joined
Jan 20, 2021
Messages
215
Likes
538
It sounds like I'll do an EQ of the average of the two samples then. But just to be clear before I do that, did one of the channels in your first sample match the 2nd sample frequency response quite accurately in contrast to the other channel? If yes, then I'll just do an EQ of the 2nd sample as that would likely be closer to the truth.
The other channel did not, but... Why not just try an EQ for both and see which you prefer?
 

Jimbob54

Baby Modder
Moderator
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
11,254
Likes
15,068
It sounds like I'll do an EQ of the average of the two samples then. But just to be clear before I do that, did one of the channels in your first sample match the 2nd sample frequency response quite accurately in contrast to the other channel? If yes, then I'll just do an EQ of the 2nd sample as that would likely be closer to the truth.
Why do an eq of hradphones you don't own averaging 2 measurements that are quite different, one of which may be a bad sample? You can't validate it.

The resulting eq will still sound better than stock to anyone that uses it, but it's compromised. An EQ for both letting end users pick which works best would be better as Resolve mentions
 
Last edited:

Robbo99999

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
7,151
Likes
7,075
Location
UK
The other channel did not, but... Why not just try an EQ for both and see which you prefer?
Why do an eq of hradphones you don't own averaging 2 measurements that are quite different, one of which may be a bad sample? You can't validate it.

The resulting eq will still sound better than stock to anyone that uses it, but it's compromised. An EQ for both letting end users pick which works best would be better as Resolve mentions
Ah, ok, thanks for the information. In that case there's not really any reason to believe one headphone sample is more correct than the other, in which case an average is more representative. Obviously the more samples you measure then the average becomes more representative of the headphone as seen in the wild, but even two headphones measured is better than one!
Why do an eq of hradphones you don't own averaging 2 measurements that are quite different, one of which may be a bad sample? You can't validate it.

The resulting eq will still sound better than stock to anyone that uses it, but it's compromised. An EQ for both letting end users pick which works best would be better as Resolve mentions
I might do an EQ of the second sample too, as well as the average, so that people can try both (just in case the first sample was indeed a bad sample). I'll post it up when I'm done, I'll probably do it tomorrow.
 
Last edited:

Disco

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2021
Messages
7
Likes
10
Welp, I was actually dead set on getting either the X or the RT before I read through this thread lol. This is the first place I've read of them sounding "overdamped", which is concerning. And I wonder if the there's any chance the RT has more consistency sample to sample?

I was debating between the DT1990 and the Aeon RT or X. I was hesitant to go with the 1990 because of the dreaded "treble spikes", and now I'm reading that the Aeon X's sound overdamped. Not sure where to look now for around $500
 

Robbo99999

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
7,151
Likes
7,075
Location
UK
Welp, I was actually dead set on getting either the X or the RT before I read through this thread lol. This is the first place I've read of them sounding "overdamped", which is concerning. And I wonder if the there's any chance the RT has more consistency sample to sample?

I was debating between the DT1990 and the Aeon RT or X. I was hesitant to go with the 1990 because of the dreaded "treble spikes", and now I'm reading that the Aeon X's sound overdamped. Not sure where to look now for around $500
I think this whole talk of "damping" is a bit obscure, and I'm not confident that it can be relied upon....however you can rely on the frequency response measurements which show some slightly disturbing unit to unit variation, especially at this price point....so if I were going to latch onto a negativity associated with this headphone then this would be it. We may need further measurements of different samples to really know how bad/good unit to unit variation truly is, but it's not a great start.
 

Jimbob54

Baby Modder
Moderator
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
11,254
Likes
15,068
I think this whole talk of "damping" is a bit obscure, and I'm not confident that it can be relied upon....however you can rely on the frequency response measurements which show some slightly disturbing unit to unit variation, especially at this price point....so if I were going to latch onto a negativity associated with this headphone then this would be it. We may need further measurements of different samples to really know how bad/good unit to unit variation truly is, but it's not a great start.
Well, it should also be noted that the Aeon shape and pad style has been known to give rise to seal issues which in turn might show as varied FR between cups on the same unit and also possibly different units. So I'm not sold on the "you can rely on FR measurements" line either.

So it may not be driver based differences and might also depend on users face and ear shape (as well as glasses of course). Not that that helps said user at all.

Whether that begins to explain resolves measurements of 2 units I couldn't say.
 
Last edited:

Robbo99999

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
7,151
Likes
7,075
Location
UK
Well, it should also be noted that the Aeon shape and pad style has been known to give rise to seal issues which in turn might show as varied FR between cups on the same unit and also possibly different units.

So it may not be driver based differences and might also depend on users face and ear shape (as well as glasses of course). Not that that helps said user at all.

Whether that begins to explain resolves measurements of 2 units I couldn't say and one would have thought really doesn't explain the unit with bad channel imbalance (or not to my simple mind)
Seal issues would effect the bass, but not the 800Hz-4000Hz area which is where we are seeing the most difference in the measurements. The bad channel matching of the first sample might be caused by seal issues as Resolve pointed out he could notice differences in the bass areas, but we'd probably need to see the left & right actual frequency response measurements of sample #1 to come to some more definitive conclusions. Either way, I'm a bit disappointed in what we've seen reported in the unit to unit variation as well as the driver matching....otherwise it seemed like it was a promising headphone. We need to reserve a little bit of judgement though as only 2 units measured and the second one had good channel matching which doesn't really seem like an accident! I'm gonna try to reserve judgement, I'll just do the EQ's I promised tomorrow for the average of the two as well as a seperate one for the second sample, then owners can choose one or the other until more units are measured & published on the internet (be it Crinacle/Amir/Oratory/Resolve).
 

Robbo99999

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
7,151
Likes
7,075
Location
UK
@Resolve & @TheHighContemplator, everyone else in this thread & especially owners of this headphone - I've created two new EQ's for this DCA Aeon X Closed headphone now that @Resolve has provided a measurement of a second sample. Find attached at the end of the post the EqualiserAPO config files for both EQ's.

Following see a comparison of the measurements of Sample#1 and Sample#2 compared along with the average curve created from the two (blue line):
Aeon X Closed #1#2+Avg.jpg


Following are the two new EQ's I've created.

DCA Aeon X Closed - Sample #2 EQ:
This one is using just the Sample#2 measurement. Since the channel matching was good on this unit in contrast to the first sample that Resolve measured, then it's probably a little more likely this particular measurement is more representative of any given unit out there in the wild. I've kept Q values for the filters low and not been too crazy about matching the Harman Target with super close accuracy because this is an EQ based off just one measured unit, therefore for other units out there that will have this EQ applied it would make no sense & be counterproductive to use narrow sharp filters - the EQ needs to be more broad ranging, hence wider & lower Q filters.
Adjust the Gain(dB) of the two Shelf Filters to personal taste, one is for bass and the other for air/treble - at 105Hz & 11000Hz respectively.
DCA Aeon X Closed Sample 2 EQ.jpg


DCA Aeon X Closed - Average of the two Samples EQ:
This is an EQ of the Average Curve (blue line in first pic of this post) of Sample#1 & Sample#2. So this EQ is assuming that both samples that Resolve has measured are representative of the spread of units that could be seen out there in the wild. I feel that Sample #2 is gonna be a more accurate reflection of headphones out there, due to it's good channel matching....sample#1 seemed a little faulty in my view.....having said that I'm providing this average EQ in case sample#1 was representative of what could be received by the customer.
Adjust the Gain(dB) of the two Shelf Filters to personal taste, one is for bass and the other for air/treble - at 105Hz & 11000Hz respectively.
DCA Aeon X Closed Average EQ.jpg


Owners of this headphone should feel free to try both EQ's and it would be interesting to see what you owners think to both EQ's in terms of which one you think sounds best or most faithful to the Harman Curve (try to match the volumes/loudness first) - this might provide some elucidation into if sample#1 was somewhat faulty or not. If the EQ for Sample#2 is preferred (not the AverageEQ), then this starts to provide indications that Sample#2 is more representative of headphones out there than Sample#1. Looking forward to hearing your impressions!

EDIT: if you add boost to the Shelf Filters during your customisations then make sure you cover the extra boost by increasing the Negative Preamp (making it more negative), otherwise you will get digital clipping.
 

Attachments

  • Aeon X Closed 1+2Avg.txt
    606 bytes · Views: 233
  • Aeon X Closed Sample 2.txt
    690 bytes · Views: 399
Last edited:
OP
TheHighContemplator

TheHighContemplator

Active Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2020
Messages
138
Likes
267
Location
Canada
@Robbo99999 , you are too awesome! Thank you very much for doing this. I still have to reach out to one of the folks you listed before for sending in my Closed X for measurement. I am going to try all three of the EQ profiles you've created to see which agrees with my Closed X and brain. I'll post my findings when I'm done.
 
OP
TheHighContemplator

TheHighContemplator

Active Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2020
Messages
138
Likes
267
Location
Canada
I spent the last hour going through the three profiles @Robbo99999 created based on @Resolve 's measurements. I volume matched each by ear. Sample 1 sounds veiled or "damped" compared to the other two, which is funny because my brain had gotten used to it and I enjoyed listening to music with it active. Between Sample 2 and the combined profile, there was very little difference that I could discern. I think the combined profile sounds as if the mids are a ever so slightly recessed compared to Sample 2's profile, but it is so small a difference, I have a hard time trusting myself. In the end, I'm going to use Sample 2's profile now. It sounds pretty damn open. Both of you guys have helped me out so much with these headphones and trying to get the most out of them. I can't express my gratitude enough.

Here is a screenshot of my playlist to compare the profiles:
Screenshot from 2021-10-08 14-58-15.png
 

Robbo99999

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
7,151
Likes
7,075
Location
UK
I spent the last hour going through the three profiles @Robbo99999 created based on @Resolve 's measurements. I volume matched each by ear. Sample 1 sounds veiled or "damped" compared to the other two, which is funny because my brain had gotten used to it and I enjoyed listening to music with it active. Between Sample 2 and the combined profile, there was very little difference that I could discern. I think the combined profile sounds as if the mids are a ever so slightly recessed compared to Sample 2's profile, but it is so small a difference, I have a hard time trusting myself. In the end, I'm going to use Sample 2's profile now. It sounds pretty damn open. Both of you guys have helped me out so much with these headphones and trying to get the most out of them. I can't express my gratitude enough.

Here is a screenshot of my playlist to compare the profiles:
View attachment 157946
I'm glad you've found a profile that sounds more accurate/better to you. I think it makes sense what you say, because the Sample #2 EQ keeps the most energy in the 2kHz+ zone as well as boosting the bass less, so all things being equal it would sound less muffled - whether or not that means it's more accurate & closer to faithful reproduction of the Harman Curve in the case of your particular unit is not too possible to say. However, on average if there was too much energy above 2kHz and not enough bass then it would sound too bright & harsh, and if you're not experiencing that with the Sample #2 EQ then there's a good chance that your headphone is closer to the frequency response of Sample #2, which would fit with my hunch that Sample #2 is the more representative measurement of any Closed X headphone out there in the wild (Sample #1 seemed a little faulty in my view). If you can be parted from your headphone for a few weeks (month+/-) then send it off to be measured by Oratory to be sure, or maybe Amir would measure it, or Crinacle, (Resolve didn't respond to you, it's probably out of his remit to become a source for measuring headphones direct from the community).

EDIT: one extra point, yes, it would be normal that your ears eventually got used to the Sample #1 profile even though you've realised now it sounds veiled - our brains quickly adapt to the sound of a headphone to normalise it......that doesn't mean you can't get better sound by using a different EQ, it just means you have to compare them side by side in a listening session to find the one that sounds the best, and then that's the one to use. (If you've got some anechoic flat reference speakers to listen to as well then that can help you realise the intended tonality to aim for too on your well known tracks, albeit it is quite hard to compare headphone tonality with speaker tonality on a practical level, but it's another data point.)
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom