Dan Clark Audio AEON 2 - Open & Closed - Official Discussion

As I wrote in the “Thank you!” Thread I had a problem with my Aeon Noire cable.
Andy from DAC has been so kind to chat with me at the phone and find out what the problem was and send me for free another cable.
I have to say that apart from fixing the electrostatic problem I had the new cable (Summer one, the same in quality as the original one) working properly has changed SQ and did it for the better.
The high response from the Noire was sometimes improper to my ears and the mids weren’t as good as I hoped.
Probably due to the electrostatic interference.
Even with a ultrasonically washed vinyl I was experiencing clicks and pops when my cartridge encountered the smallest grain of dust. This was highly affecting the highs reproduction.
With the new cable the Noire sound to my ears extremely balanced with full, pleasing basses, mids much more present and smooth and highs no more hurting or distractive from listening.
I wrote in a comment about Focal’s Célestee that miss aren’t the best thing with the Noire (in comparison to the pleasant mids of the Célestee).
With the new cable the Noire totally changed and mids are now perfect to my ears.
The whole sound is now less fatiguing, much more relaxed and fun to listen to.
I use these headphones a lot for my University reaseraches about Alvin Lucier’s psychoacoustic music.
These sound can be fatiguing in long period listenings.
While with the defective cable after a two hour listening I was experiencing the need to stop listening for a while now I’m in the middle of a 5 hours listening with no fatiguing at all and no need to take a break for my ears.
I hope this can be useful for the community and for those who are looking at the Noire.
Enjoy.

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People at Dan Clark Audio are great. They are in San Diego about an hour from my home. Went to their place to have a quick repair on my Ether 2s. Got a free DCA shirt while they were fixing the headphones,.

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They are the kindest person I had the pleasure to deal with.
A really good experience.

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I auditioned the Aeon 2 Closed with an A&K S25 and found the S25 held up well, though just barely. I was comfortable at 135 out of 150 on the S25, which was loud but not earsplitting.

By comparison, my new Focal Celestees seems to be handled better by the S25 - more room for more volume.

Anyone considering the Aeon 2s for use with the S25 should be happy, I’d expect.

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For what it’s worth, I’ve found that the Aeon Flow Closed (1st generation) performs relatively poorly on anything less than a powerful desktop amp. Its delivery scales up with increased current delivery. My AFC sounds shaky, compressed, and cloudy on a weaker amps.

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I’ve put some time into measuring the Aeon 2 Noire (with both pads). My findings are essentially that this is just a straightforward improvement over the Aeon 2 Closed with non-perf pads. I know these are technically ‘options’, but I see no reason to go for the non-perf pads over the perf ones. For anyone with an A2C, just get the perf pads and it should give you this same improvement.

Perf Pads:

Pretty good to be honest. The mid-treble dip shows up there and it’s a bit uneven in the upper mids, along with a mid-bass bump. Subjectively it sounds most of the way there, far more agreeable than the non-perf pads.

Perf pads vs Solid Pads:

Filters:

With the Noire (perf pads), there’s basically no reason to use the filters, unless you want a warmer response. The problem with using them however is that while they do smooth out the 5-6khz bump a bit (as well as the upper treble), they’re also incrementally destructive for microdynamics/microdetail, blunting the sound overall.

Where it was somewhat essential to use one of the tuning filters with the non-perf pads to find the balance between blunting the detail and getting an agreeable response, it’s not at all necessary with the perf pads, and more of just a subjective choice - one that I do not enjoy. Personally, I’d much rather use EQ than front-damping.

In any case, I found some other curious stuff with the Noire, the resonance frequency seems to be somewhere around 500hz. You can see this with the below air gap behavior.

Air gap behavior:

For this test, different air gap degrees were introduced, the more substantial the gap, the more significant the drop. To be clear, I’m literally lifting the pad off in certain places - and this is NOT to measure seal, merely to identify a unique characteristic of this transducer. For example, this is very different from what you see with both HiFiMAN and Audeze planars, both of which show the drop much lower (HiFiMAN’s usually also show a bump where it happens).

Distortion (calibrated):


Nothing particularly weird as far as THD goes. Keep in mind that’s at like… 90dB to make these plots more readable. That bump in the bass won’t be audible at normal volumes (please do not listen at 90dB).

Lastly, I wanted to point out that while the Noire measures with good bass extension on the test rig, it seems to roll-off in the sub-bass slightly when being worn on the head. This is entirely to do with the unique coupling and contours to the side of the head, and the way the pad conforms/compresses. So someone else may get a different response there if the contours are different. For this test, do not evaluate it for mids/treble. This is only to test bass and coupling. (This is because we’re only getting pinna/concha effects for the measurement)

In-ear mics, bass level:

I also noticed that it changed a bit when wearing glasses (remember the air gap behavior), but not as significantly as I thought it might. Still, glasses with thick arms should probably be avoided for closed-back headphones that heavily depend on seal for bass extension, like these ones.

EQ

This is not an “EQ required” type of headphone - at least not with the perf pads. So that’s good. Still, I did make a few adjustments that help I find:

image

Conclusion:

All in all, I think for the type of device it is, I do recommend it, and its probably DCA’s best headphone so far. It’s a portable, comfortable, planar that has good detail and separation, with a mostly agreeable FR. Of course, this still suffers heavily from lack of macrodynamics (even when EQ’d). So it still has that somewhat ‘dead’ sound to it.

But, thankfully that issue doesn’t extend to the microdynamics and microdetail when not using the tuning filters. In some ways it’s like the difference between multi-BA IEMs and hybrids with a DD in the bass. If you’re fine without the punch, you’ll be fine with this.

In any case, when choosing between Noire and the Focal Celestee, if you want punch and dynamics, go for Celestee (along with a slightly smoother treble response). But if you found the Celestee too intimate/tight, then the Noire does a better job of that. I do find the center image to be somewhat lacking, as pans have an immediate crossover rather than a gradual one. But separation and space are pretty good for a closed-back, so no complaints there. In my mind, you can’t really go wrong with either one, it just depends on what qualities you’re looking for.

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Having tried both DCA Aeon Noire and Celestee and owning a pair of Noire it’s nice to see you pointed out what have been my deciding factors: extreme portability, microdetails and openness.

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could you think of any reason why Oratory1990 would target the same peaks as you but with a 500hz discrepancy?

unit to unit variance or rig differences, placement? Or are you trying to catch the beginning of the peaks and that thats why you come in 500hz early of Oratory’s adjustment?

Have any ideas? im just left scratching my head, i just simply don’t know enough to narrow down the possibilties myself so i wanted to ask you.
Screenshot 2021-03-25 210616

Massive pads = unit variation for these. It’s really common.

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Anyone have feedback between the drop ether cx and the aeon 2 noire?

I have both of those you listed. Also DCA Ether 2 and AFC v1.

The Noire (IMO) is the better choice versus the Drop Ether CX. Both are nice cans.

Noire has a more comfortable fit for me, and it seems “faster” in its response. Purchased the DCA A2 Noires from headphones.com.

The Noire do need a little power at the source. In addition to my A&S Kenzies, and GSX-mini, I’m using them with my AK SE200 DAP. I have a balanced 2.5 cable coming to get a little more juice from the DAP.

Hope that helps.

@Dynamic

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Resolve says the noire basically doesn’t have impact/slam. And reviews of the ether cx are all over the place.

Do you have any thoughts on that?

I still have the original blue AEON Flow Closed. My personal opinions of it are all over the place, per the amp used. It sounds awful on battery-driven mobile sources – rough, congested, flat, and simplified. It comes alive (relatively) on powerful desktop amps. Planar low impedance headphones have demanding amp requirements, so reviewers using what works on other equipment may be disappointed.

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I’m also having issues with my Noire’s lacking impact, unsurprisingly. Do you all have any suggestions for an amp that may help them reach their max potential? I’d figured my SMSL SP200 would be plenty.

My THX AAA 789 is similar to the SP200 on paper, but the 789 is mediocre with the AFC. I bought a balanced cable but found it added little to nothing (nor has balanced mattered with other planar headphones). The Schiit Lyr 3 is the best of what I currently own.

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I’m already running balanced for my LCD-2’s and Noire’s. The LCD-2’s could sound better on something else I’m sure, but they really do sing.

I’ll be at a small meet in a few months, so I’ll have to give some other amps a try.

I might be getting a Bifrost 2 eventually, so maybe I’ll grab a Lyr 3 or something with it.

I like them. No two people will see them exactly the same. Slam is not something I would even try to evaluate. Nothing better than testing them out at your dealer.

If in doubt - purchase them from a place with a flexible return policy.

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Due to an ordering snafu, I am apparently trying the ether cx. Will see!

I wish I had a store that would carry some of the mainstream things. I just don’t. 20 minutes with some of these headphones would answer everything I need to be better informed. :frowning:

The Jot 2 might be an option for you. I’ve not heard the Noire but I’ve had my LCD2-Classic now for a year and a half. I’ve tried these headphones with a bunch of amps but have been consistently disappointed. The planars need, I believe, a lot of power to come alive - or a lot of current (sorry, I’m no electrical engineer and my understanding of this stuff is, at best, rudimentary).

I got to hear the Audeze out of the Jot 2 recently and it transformed them into what I’d always wanted them to sound like.

I wonder if the same could happen with the Noire? I’d look around this and other forums to see what folks are saying about the Noire and the Jot 2. Good luck!

I didn’t test drive my Noires or the CX from Drop. I did so on the Ether2. I drove to Torrance (Source AV) to try out the E2s at a special event where Dan Clark was attending back in Jan 2019.

I only live about 75 miles from DCA HQ in San Diego. They are located right next to the SD Sports Arena (had AHL game tickets that night too). Had to have my E2s fixed one time and they fixed a earphone connector for me within about 15 minutes and sent me on my way with a new T shirt. Probably couldn’t swing that in the COVID era.

They really are a great company. I hope you’re happy with the Ether CX selection and if not, can find a good match with something else.

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