Dan Clark Audio E3 Planar Magnetic Headphones - Official Discussion Thread

This is the thread to discuss the newly announced Dan Clark Audio E3 Planar Magnetic Headphones

The technology from the Stealth and Expanse has now trickled down the line-up into the new E3, coming in at $1999.99 USD.

From Dan Clark Audio

"E3 is our midrange closed-back headphone. E3 delivers a stunning level of performance and value, incorporating all the technological and ergonomic achievements of our flagship headphones, but at a more accessible price point.

Incorporating an all-new 5th generation driver and our pioneering Acoustic Metamaterial Tuning System, or AMTS, E3 delivers a true flagship performance, without the flagship cost."

DMS reviews the E3. I think most people know he wasn’t the biggest fan of the Expanse or the Stealth so interesting to see what he thinks about the E3!


It sounds like a king of closed back. I’d love to hear a comparison between this and the ZMF Verite closed.

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I have bought a pair and have been enjoying them, my only complaint would be the lack of bass and some bass distortion when EQ’d. Other than that they are as smooth as eggs, very natural sounding but suffer more in some bass heavy and attack heavy songs.

Would love to see some measurements on it, or EQ suggestions. The best amp/dac pairing I found was the Shanling H5, really added a lot of punch and liveliness to it, while giving them a tube-like warmth. I tried it with 4 different dac amp combos, none of them were anything like this. The H5 has an output impedance of 4-6 ohms, so maybe that is affecting the frequency curve in a pleasant way


That’s surprising, given that they follow a Harman curve, which has a bunch of bass-lift.

Are you lowering your pre-gain before bringing up the bass levels?

If not, you’re probably getting digital clipping (very audible distortion) rather than actual, physical, distortion from the headphone/driver.


Curves aren’t everything. For example the arya organic, if you look at the shelf there you’d never expect to get the amount of bass you get from that headphone. I would say the bass extension is already at it’s limit. It doesn’t quite clip but it goes from clean to fart/boomy sounds in less than 4 db if you mess with anything under 80 hz, in some songs it does this without EQ.

This could be a trick of the ears due to fast decay and a lack of bass resonance due to AMTS.

Without EQ:

Song examples would be Yonkers by tyler the creator, the bass line is distant, weak, and sometimes a bit distorted. DNA by Kendrick lamar bass line is pillowly and lacks resonance, boomy. MAAD city by Kendrick also falls short.

Basically, don’t use this headphone for EDM, DNB, or Hip Hop.

The Arya Organic, Focal Clear, Focal Bathys, and HD 6xx all performed better on the bass lines for these songs. Rumble is an issue for this headphone. Even though some of these lack the same extension they all handled their renditions better without turning the song into an overdampened mess.

My pre-gain is -12 I think that’s enough, no other headphone I own does this, so it’s definitely the E3. I’ve tried 5 amp dac pairs with 2 different E3’s.

The provide an objective measurement of relative output for a given (constant) input level at a given frequency. Anything else isn’t the response of the driver/enclosure.

Extension refers to how low a frequency is played, you probably mean excursion.

Maybe it’s just a shitty headphone.

The ONLY factor on how much pre-gain reduction you need is the highest level of gain you’re applying (regardless of frequency). If your biggest lift is +4 dB, then pre-gain at -12 dB just means you’re losing dynamic range and limiting your maximum output.


I don’t disagree but I also don’t think that any test dummy has ears as large and a head as small as mine lol. The E3 is especially sensitive to positional variance as well, due to the angling of the inside of the cups. Glasses make notable changes to sound (to my ear)

Good to know! My amp has channel imbalance below 40% volume so I was trying to tone the pre-amp down so I could get the volume there without my ears bleeding.

Lol maybe, at least for bass heavy tracks. Sounds incredible in more natural sounding songs


They do, for me, with some headphones … mostly seems to be pad-dependent … HD820 are very sensitive to this for me.

That makes sense.

Depending on the EQ tool you’re using, it may well be perceptually transparent to do that much negative gain in the digital domain (rather than via analog attenuation prior to your amp’s input).

I’ve not heard it …

But unless you’re listening at high levels to begin with, just increasing the level by 4 dB and getting bass distortion (or, at least, less control) would suggest the headphone itself has very little bass headroom. I say that, as it’d be well within the realms of normal volume adjustment to go +/- 4 dB, even without EQ.

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I will try analogue methods to improve the bass and see how it differs to rule out digital distortion. Theoretically if it is the driver Xbass should preform as poorly as peace EQ did with the bass shelf.

Wish I could get this tested to see if my unit isn’t defective, but it sounded just like the demo model

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I use the EF600, which sounds OK when paired with the in-house HiFiman headphones, but actually performs really well when paired with my DAN Clark headphones in high gain NOS mode.

I also can’t detect the bass weakness mentioned here with this pairing.

The E3 is actually a bit hungry for power and the EF600 delivers.

The Himalaya Pro R2R DAC ensures that the E3’s strengths are also exploited on the big stage.

All in all, a good symbiosis that certainly won’t break your neck financially.


I’ve solved the issue with a better pairing, even though my amp puts out 4 VRMS it was apparently a little anemic, and the other one I tried, the Aune S17 pro was very smooth but also lacking in the bass. Then I tried the monolith liquid spark, wow, what a change. Punchy, smooth, slightly less soundstage but still revealing in it’s detail.

In short, it’s very source chain picky, and lighter on the sub bass capability side than most planars I’ve tried.

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How about a Denon receiver?

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