Dan Clark Audio EXPANSE Evaluation — Headfonics
In immediately’s function, we evaluate the Dan Clark Audio EXPANSE which is a flagship open-back 4th gen planar magnetic driver headphone utilizing AMTS. It’s priced at $3999.99.
Disclaimer: It is a pattern despatched to us is a pattern in trade for our trustworthy opinion. Headfonics is an impartial web site that doesn’t have any affiliate hyperlinks or standing. We thank Dan Clark Audio for this chance.
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Be aware, this evaluate follows our new scoring pointers for 2021 which you’ll learn up on here.
Dan Clark Audio EXPANSE Evaluation
The Dan Clark Audio EXPANSE is a type of uncommon headphones that may elicit each an emotive response from a purely listening perspective and an admiration for its technical functionality on the identical time.
Balanced pure tone
Stunning design & excessive ranges of consolation
Attractive pairing with tube amps
Wants a whole lot of energy
Not fussed on some solid-state pairings
As certain as evening follows day, Dan Clark Audio has adopted up their flagship 2021 closed-back Stealth headphones with an open-back ‘brother’ referred to as the EXPANSE.
I say ‘brother’ as a result of from afar and on a excessive stage the EXPANSE looks as if a double take of the Stealth. And certainly, each share a whole lot of progressive options similar to DCA’s Acoustic Metamaterial Tuning System and that distinctive foldable type issue.
Nonetheless, that solely tells half the story right here. Fairly other than the acoustical modifications from going open-back, DCA has additionally taken the chance to tweak the tuning of that 4th gen driver to go well with in addition to introduce some very distinctive and nuanced design motifs.
Consequently, the EXPANSE is a really different-sounding beast to its closed-back sibling and a aggressive different in immediately’s burgeoning flagship headphone market.
The Dan Clark Audio EXPANSE is an open-back planar magnetic headphone and one which leans on using that new 76mm 4th gen driver first seen contained in the Stealth final yr.
It is a single-sided V-planar driver and one that’s virtually 20% bigger than the earlier model contained in the Ether 2 and the Ether C Flow. It additionally has the thinnest diaphragm DCA has created so far for its drivers.
It makes use of 11 magnets per channel positioned to the surface of the driving force inside a really closely damped enclosure reasonably than the within of the driving force as was the case with the open-back Ether 2.
From what I’m informed the brand new tensioning system used to assist create that very skinny diaphragm additionally helps to enhance distortion management and driver matching with a decrease tolerance parameter than earlier than.
DCA has said beforehand they measured the Stealth at round 1/4dB or much less contained in the precise headphone enclosure and never free-standing so I’ve to presume one thing related for the EXPANSE additionally.
The driving force is rated with a nominal impedance of round 23Ω with a sensitivity score of roughly 86 – 87 dB/mW so just like the Stealth the EXPANSE goes to thrive on high quality energy.
The EXPANSE additionally retains the Stealth’s progressive AMTS or Acoustical Metamaterial Tuning System which sits contained in the cups one per facet.
Nonetheless, given its key energy when it comes to waveguide manipulation and diffusion management, this is not going to be the very same resonator frequency association because the closed-back model. The important thing to making a pure and immersive soundstage is sort of totally different inside an open-back setting in comparison with a closed-back.
The AMTS secondary technical precept means that it’s going to nonetheless double up as each a programmable Helmholtz or quarter-wave resonator to manage these high-frequency standing waves and resonance by way of the ‘ramped’ formed design. This model begins at 5kHz on the peak of the ramp and right down to 20kHz on the base of the ramp.
Thus, the programmable side of EXPANSES’s AMTS permits DCA to alter the structural waveguides with totally different blocking arrays, and the high-frequency damping ranges are adjusted because of this to match each the modified acoustical setting and the brand new tuning necessities inside.
Dan has typically thought-about these tweaks as a sort of superior stage of acoustical remedy. A system by which to clean out high-frequency unevenness or extra power circulating within the smaller internal cavity of the earpads with none loss in decision.
The glossy elongated half-gimbal type issue from the Stealth has been retained however the aesthetics look gorgeous on the EXPANSE, maybe much more so in comparison with the closed-back visuals.
As with the Stealth, the supplies are a mixture of high-class USA vat-dyed leather-based, vegan suede, and titanium nickel, (Nitinol), for the svelte headband construction.
Nonetheless, the very first thing you’re more likely to touch upon is the brand new open-back cup concave grill visible which is shaped from intricate generative design patterns based mostly on mathematical formulae.
Meaning these undulating round formations are very distinctive, and doubtless unlikely to be duplicated with ease. In addition they really feel fairly sturdy to the contact so I might not be too involved about their potential to snap or crack.
DCA has additionally retained the Stealth’s wider padded protein leather-based adjusting strap however modified the aesthetics to extra of a blue tone than pink this time round. With out the necessity for limiting adjuster blocks, these Nitinol rods are wider spaced in comparison with the narrower AEON bands additionally.
Tied in with the teardrop form, these built-in hirose connectors and that elongated anodized aluminum grill body give the EXPANSE a little bit of a mecha vibe. Much more so while you fold the headphones right down to half their dimension.
I actually don’t assume there’s a flagship planar headphone on the market that articulates fairly in addition to the EXPANSE does in that regard.
Having used the Stealth for over a yr now I form of knew what to anticipate with the EXPANSE consolation ranges. I wasn’t disillusioned can be an understatement as a result of it’s proper up there with the likes of the Meze Elite and Empyrean as a few of the most comfy headphones on the market.
Sure, at 415g it’s not the lightest on the market, not even in comparison with the older ETHER 2 at 380g. Nonetheless, the ovoid cup form mixed with the wonderful vertical and lateral stress steadiness makes this a really regular headphone that simply clears your ears and supplies tremendous consolation within the course of.
Regardless of the cup weight bias, the EXPANSE clamping compensation shouldn’t be overly noticeable as a result of comfy pad design mixed with that self-adjusting large stress strap. You’ll not get any scalp hotspots with the blue thread quilted padding design beneath nor really feel any pointless downward pull on the highest of the ears.
Add the hybrid velour end on the contact floor of the ear pads into the combo and also you additionally lengthen the listening time with none annoying warmth or sweat build-up within the course of.
One thing I don’t usually discuss with an open again is isolation however I’ll make an exception right here. The EXPANSE isolates higher than your common open again with an surprising diploma of attenuation on background noise. To not Stealth ranges however in case you are pitching it in opposition to one thing just like the Susvara you’ll discover a distinction.
DCA sticks with the angled Hirose connector system and throws within the VIVO Tremendous Premium cable as inventory with the EXPANSE. The VIVO Hirose connectors are additionally a setup from the DUMMER cable variations noticeable by their very exact connection clicks in comparison with the marginally mushier-sounding DUMMER lock.
The VIVO cable is a silver-plated OFHC copper wire obtainable in 1.1m, 1.8m, and three.1m lengths with the three.1m size carrying a $50 premium. The VIVO makes use of a greater geometry than the DUMMER to attenuate each capacitance and inductance so it’s a larger cable general. Nonetheless, it is extremely pliant with no reminiscence retention, (kinks and twists), and 0 microphonics.
The weaved material jacket stays the identical on each nevertheless the Y-split divider is far improved with an aluminum alloy barrel in comparison with older heat-shrink rubber from older cable generations.
The connection choices for the VIVO are wide-ranging. DCA despatched me the 4.4mm model for this EXPANSE pattern however you may have 6.35mm, 2.5mm TRRS, 3.5mm TRS, and 4-pin XLR, relying in your wants.
Packaging & Equipment
The format for the EXPANSE packaging is identical because the Stealth however I can’t assist however really feel barely disillusioned by a reversion to shaped cardboard for the outer field whereas the Stealth has a really cool leather-finished show design.
I imagine rising manufacturing prices (like every little thing in 2022) put paid to that Leather-based field. I might have beloved to have seen a blue stitched model of the leather-based field to finish the visible. As soon as unboxed although the expertise could be very related.
The headphones are of their folded place inside a bigger extra refined model of the diminutive AEON hard-shell case with a nylon exterior end and the EXPANSE emblem on high. To guard the drivers, DCA has positioned a substantive foam layer in addition to a stopper between the 2 earpads.
This case is then neatly inserted right into a protecting show tray with the cable and guarantee playing cards neatly wrapped in matching coloured cardboard on the base of the tray. Merely slide it out and open it as much as entry the cable.
Click on page 2 below for sound impressions and pairings.