• 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!

HIFIMAN SUNDARA AND DAN CLARK AEON2 NOIRE

Sean Olive

Active Member
Audio Luminary
Technical Expert
Joined
Jul 31, 2019
Messages
284
Likes
2,550
I've tested some magnetic planar headphones over the past few years (Audeze, Mr. Speakers and Oppo) but haven't tested any lately. So I ordered these units as I was told they are among the best current units out there. I measured them yesterday on my GRAS 45 CA-10 and calculated the predicted scores based on deviations from the Harman Target Curve between 50 Hz to 10kHz. See results below.

Also included is the K371 for comparison, which currently sells for $119.

These are all good headphones, IMO. The magnetic planars have noticeably more HF output, which is a good thing.

I briefly listened to all three last evening and can say they all sound good and neutral to my ears, just slightly different in terms of tonal balance, and some subtle details.

In terms of FR, the differences among the headphones are mostly below 100 Hz and above 10kHz. The K371 and Aeon2 Noire have more deep bass which I prefer. But there exists a segment of listeners (21% of the listeners we have tested) who prefer less bass than the Harman Target so for them the SUNDARA may be a good choice.

I am told by well-respected headphone reviewers that there are different versions of the SUNDARA out there where the pads are different. I have seen measurements on Rtings and elsewhere where the SUNDARA bass extends within 3 dB down to 20-30 Hz. So I will probably order another sample to see if it has more bass.
 

Attachments

  • HIFIMAN AND DAVE CLAR.jpeg
    HIFIMAN AND DAVE CLAR.jpeg
    360.5 KB · Views: 1,698
  • ALL THREE.jpg
    ALL THREE.jpg
    761 KB · Views: 1,949
Last edited:

pozz

Слава Україні
Forum Donor
Editor
Joined
May 21, 2019
Messages
4,036
Likes
6,620
OP
S

Sean Olive

Active Member
Audio Luminary
Technical Expert
Joined
Jul 31, 2019
Messages
284
Likes
2,550

pozz

Слава Україні
Forum Donor
Editor
Joined
May 21, 2019
Messages
4,036
Likes
6,620
OP
S

Sean Olive

Active Member
Audio Luminary
Technical Expert
Joined
Jul 31, 2019
Messages
284
Likes
2,550
Great post. I'm curious what you think about the soundstage of these cans and what you think of rting's approach to passive soundstage. While I love the tuning of the K371, they sound pretty narrow compared to my monolith M570's or HE4XX's.

https://www.rtings.com/headphones/tests/sound-quality/passive-soundstage
Thats a very broad range ;-) I'm mentally inserting an "above" in there .
Thats a very broad range ;-) I'm mentally inserting an "above" in there .
Thanks. Just added Above
 

samwell7

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2020
Messages
312
Likes
248
Location
Victoria, Australia
I've tested some magnetic planar headphones over the past few years (Audeze, Mr. Speakers and Oppo) but haven't tested any lately. So I ordered these units as I was told they are among the best current units out there. I measured them yesterday on my GRAS 45 CA-10 and calculated the predicted scores based on deviations from the Harman Target Curve between 50 Hz to 10kHz. See results below.

Also included is the K371 for comparison, which currently sells for $119.

These are all good headphones, IMO. The magnetic planars have noticeably more HF output, which is a good thing.

I briefly listened to all three last evening and can say they all sound good and neutral to my ears, just slightly different in terms of tonal balance, and some subtle details.

In terms of FR, the differences among the headphones are mostly below 100 Hz and above 10kHz. The K371 and Aeon2 Noire have more deep bass which I prefer. But there exists a segment of listeners (21% of the listeners we have tested) who prefer less bass than the Harman Target so for them the SUNDARA may be a good choice.

I am told by well-respected headphone reviewers that there are different versions of the SUNDARA out there where the pads are different. I have seen measurements on Rtings and elsewhere where the SUNDARA bass extends within 3 dB down to 20-30 Hz. So I will probably order another sample to see if it has more bass.

Thanks Sean!
I've enjoyed seeing your concise reviews show up from time to time on Twitter, nice to see them on ASR now, too!
 

Jimbob54

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 25, 2019
Messages
8,582
Likes
10,467
I find the Aeon Noire a very interesting case. By all accounts @Dan Clark demonstrating you can tune an existing design, within reason, to Harman (or target of choice) I wont ask what he did to the base model to get the Noire but Im guessing the black paint isnt the secret sauce. But is it all in the softer elements of the build (pads, wadding etc) or is it more fundamental do we think?
 
OP
S

Sean Olive

Active Member
Audio Luminary
Technical Expert
Joined
Jul 31, 2019
Messages
284
Likes
2,550
Hello
what do you think about rtings soundstage test ?
https://www.rtings.com/headphones/tests/sound-quality/passive-soundstage
https://www.rtings.com/headphones/reviews/sennheiser/hd-800-s
in my experience, only the HD 800S gives a really different soundstage compared to other headphones
And this is not related to the resulting frequency response (the effect remains after equalization)
Hello
what do you think about rtings soundstage test ?
https://www.rtings.com/headphones/tests/sound-quality/passive-soundstage
https://www.rtings.com/headphones/reviews/sennheiser/hd-800-s
in my experience, only the HD 800S gives a really different soundstage compared to other headphones
And this is not related to the resulting frequency response (the effect remains after equalization)

Reading it right now. Of course, all of this is somewhat contingent on whether the pinnae variations associated with angle-dependent HRTF's measured on the HEAD Acoustics pinnae match yours.

They've done no subjective validation to show that this metric actually predicts subjective results,. So that is a big question mark for me.

https://www.rtings.com/headphones/tests/sound-quality/passive-soundstage
 
OP
S

Sean Olive

Active Member
Audio Luminary
Technical Expert
Joined
Jul 31, 2019
Messages
284
Likes
2,550
@Sean Olive

a little bit off-topic, but i'm really curious to know what headphones are your 'daily drivers'. From one forum member to another ;)

I have several. For travel AKG N700 ANC (see measurement below), at work or home, currently AKG K371. I also have a pair of AKG N5005 for in-ear with Comply Foam Tips.

I have access to lots of headphones at work I can bring home and listen to as well (see photo).

But I mostly listen to loudspeakers: Salon 2 in my living room and Revel Performa in my 7.2.4 home theater
 

Attachments

  • Headphone Wall.png
    Headphone Wall.png
    326.5 KB · Views: 651
  • AKG N700 DV sample.png
    AKG N700 DV sample.png
    79.7 KB · Views: 647
Last edited:
OP
S

Sean Olive

Active Member
Audio Luminary
Technical Expert
Joined
Jul 31, 2019
Messages
284
Likes
2,550
I find the Aeon Noire a very interesting case. By all accounts @Dan Clark demonstrating you can tune an existing design, within reason, to Harman (or target of choice) I wont ask what he did to the base model to get the Noire but Im guessing the black paint isnt the secret sauce. But is it all in the softer elements of the build (pads, wadding etc) or is it more fundamental do we think?
I like it quite a lot. Maybe the best magnetic planar headphone I've heard to date.
 

dresler

Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2019
Messages
9
Likes
16
I find the Aeon Noire a very interesting case. By all accounts @Dan Clark demonstrating you can tune an existing design, within reason, to Harman (or target of choice) I wont ask what he did to the base model to get the Noire but Im guessing the black paint isnt the secret sauce. But is it all in the softer elements of the build (pads, wadding etc) or is it more fundamental do we think?

I think it's just a pad swap. The Noire measures nearly exactly the same as the Aeon 2 Closed w/ perforated earpads.

Harman 2018-Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 Noire-Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 Closed (Perforated Earpads).png


Certainly within the margin of error.
 

solderdude

Grand Contributor
Joined
Jul 21, 2018
Messages
11,699
Likes
26,035
Location
The Neitherlands
They've done no subjective validation to show that this metric actually predicts subjective results,. So that is a big question mark for me.

Actually they have (talked to Sam about it, who now left Rtings b.t.w.) but was not thoroughly researched but they somewhat documented their reasoning. Sam found the the HD800S (one of the first headphones he measured and listened to and I agree) to have an excellent sound stage.
Also he was impressed with the Edition X. As I measure pinna less and we compared measurements he also decided to measure pinna less and look for the differences. The question (I may still ask him about it) is if he just removed the pinna and left the existing cavity as is or filled it up. In any case he looked for pinna effect differences and see if he could correlate.
This is why is 'target' is very close to that of the HD800S and Edition X combined as that to him was the reference.

Anyway.. if it was FR related (the dip at 10kHz) and one would EQ up and down that specific part of the FR then changes would occur in soundstage.
This of course does not happen (I tried).

Of course we know how each pinna changes the FR between 1kHz and 20kHz and that different artificial pinna and ear canals react differently especially to angled headphones. As all different HATS and fixtures measure differently surely not a single one will be 'correct'. They all will be correct-ish at best and some maybe more than others.

It was a fun attempt from Rtings to get 'a metric' but it is no more than that but they wanted something they could rate based on measurements only.
Angled drivers + even not too tilted response is a recipe for better 'imaging' or being ability to 'pinpoint' (more sharply define location of) instruments in a stereo image IME.
 
Last edited:

fieldcar

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 27, 2019
Messages
496
Likes
716
Thanks for adding @solderdude . That was going to be my next question. I figured that the HD800S was a reference of sorts. The other thing was if EQ'ing to a target was possible. I wouldn't be surprised if just like pinna gain on an over ear target is just for neutrality sake, whereas in reality there is some HRTF timing and phasing that is somehow passively re-created by some of these cans with wide soundstage. Though, maybe it's maybe just the lack of closed back's sealed in nature acting like a sealed in and highly resonant space rather than a driver that's designed to leak out of phase sound out the back in a free field(anechoic) type way. As Sean said, its very likely very dependant on the users ear shape, so it would be really tough to establish an accurate and universal target/goal for passive soundstage. It was pretty cool that rtings tried to take a crack at illustrating the phenomenon with a graph and a score. I would love to see a bit more of this investigated for future ASR headphone reviews.
 

solderdude

Grand Contributor
Joined
Jul 21, 2018
Messages
11,699
Likes
26,035
Location
The Neitherlands
The biggest issue with soundstage is that it not only is pinna dependent but above all brain dependent.

For instance. I can't hear the sounds in front of me. Not even using binaural recordings. With spatializers I can hear a very unnatural effect.
However, with some of the better headphones I can much easier 'pinpoint', quite sharply, in position in the stereo width 'line' inside my head, I can easily separate instruments when tonal balance is flat.
With angled drivers this increases. It never goes 'forward' or out of the head for ME though.
In some very rare recordings where recordings are made with, as an effect, someone calling from afar I do perceive it as if someone does this from the room that appears not to be in the recording (but is)
I call this 'imaging' instead of sound stage or with headphones 'head stage'.
Other can hear sound in front of them. How would one capture this is numbers ?

Stranger still with good (in my case stats) I can perceive depth and width easily, even height for some obscure reason. So it is not that I can't hear it. Just not with headphones. Also my ears look rather 'average' so it is unlikely my pinna differs very much from many others.

For this reason I never looked into this aspect as I cannot hear and thus verify this effect... a brain thingy.
 
Top Bottom