Dan Clark Audio EXPANSE - Flagship Open-Back Planar Headphones - Official Discussion Thread

DCA Expanse 1800x1000

This is the thread to discuss the new flagship Dan Clark Audio EXPANSE Open-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones.

EXPANSE Highlights provided from Dan Clark Audio

  • Patent-pending Acoustic Metamaterial Tuning System (AMTS) delivers unprecedented high-frequency detail and clarity for the ultimate in smoothness, tone, and detail retrieval
  • 4th generation v-Planar driver with our largest planar diaphragm to date, delivering exceptional dynamics with vanishingly low distortion for a natural and “easy” listen
  • Improved driver tensioning system creates a driver with incredible consistency across units
  • FEA and CFD optimized motor structure increases driver motor-force uniformity and smooths acoustic flow
  • All-new auto-adjusting suspended strap design makes EXPANSE hassle-free to wear
  • Pre-formed ergonomic strap design spreads weight evenly across the head for incredibly comfortable extended listening
  • Strap quilting improves comfort and reduces heat buildup
  • Composite synthetic suede and protein-leather pads offer a sung fit with minimal clamp, with a pleasant touch on the skin
  • Carbon / aluminum bonded cup design yields maximum stiffness with minimum weight
  • Folding gimbals allow EXPANSE to be packed in a compact case for safe and easy transport
  • Uncompromising industrial design uses aluminum, carbon fiber, and titanium to maximize strength while _ minimizing weight, in a stylish package.
  • EXPANSE is designed and built by hand in San Diego, California, and is backed by quality and support you can count on

Looks like there will be units available at CanJam and Headphones.com will also have a unit so impressions should be coming soon!

What do you think of this new flagship from Dan Clark Audio?


Jesus, these look sick.

We’ll have a pair or two at our booth at CanJam SoCal for anyone going to the show this weekend to try out! All sorts of fun source gear to try them out on including the Zahl HM1!


Nice point! Very excited to see where they put it as well myself.

Those look gorgeous. Hope the sound matches the looks!

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Dan Clark Audio EXPANSE Review: Interview, Measurements, Impressions

We talk with Dan Clark about the EXPANSE, show you measurements (and measurement comparisons), and provide subjective impressions and comparisons.

I need one in red, like the Stealth. I also need the Stealth.

Zach will have his new planar at CanJam SoCal too, I wish I lived down there!

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DCA Expanse is in!

Got it running right now with the Matrix X-Sabre 3>Zahl HM1, so far it has been a notable improvement over the Ether 2. Sounding wider and airier, bass extends deep and certainly is punchier than the E2.

Hovering at around 11-12 o’clock on the HM1.


Few hours listening so far, giving the gold ole a/b with the Ether 2. Ether 2 I personally liked the Perforated Ether 2 pads the best and have them on my pair. And Ether 2 I am hovering around 9-10 o’clock so certainly Expanse is the harder cans to drive.

Impressions so far:
Going back and forth between the two its quite obvious the improvements, Expanse is wider and airier sounding. The Expanse bass has a similar boosted mid bass but it is well controlled and tight, hard hitting so not a slouch in the bass.

Techs really are a step up and next level in comparison. Timbre is improved and instruments are notably more precise sounding. Ether 2 timbre comes off slightly dull especially in the treble in contrast.

Threw the EQ on for a giggle, hit the bass knob to max, turned on a low shelf at 80Hz, slapped on some EDM and we rocking. Ether 2 didn’t seem to extend as deep or hard in contrast so the difference between the headphones really starts becoming quite a bit more apparent. Tried using my test track of Lights Out by Dustvoxx

Transient response, the Expanse is notably quick and effortless for a planar so hats off to Dan for that. Slapped Dream House by Deafheaven since there is just so much happening I like using this song as a reference. The Ether 2 in contrast comes off little smeared in contrast.

Overall I want to say the Expanse is probably the best cans Dan has come out with so far. Don’t have a Stealth here to contrast, just my personal Ether 2. Can’t wait for CanJam this weekend for some more folks to get their impressions in.


What is the grill made of… it looks to be 3d printed…

I believe it is 3d printed but need to confirm that!

Felt metal and sounded like metal grills when I had it!

I finally was able to sit down and have some time with it again - it does feel like machined metal now at second glance. I only had it briefly during the show.

Been getting some solid time with the Expanse the past week since CanJam.As someone who was disappointed by the Stealth, for the expectations I had, the Expanse fixes all of those issues. Between the Caldera, RAD 0, and now the Expanse, I am slowly becoming a bigger and bigger fan of planars.

I’ll have more sound impressions up soon, but have to add - this is an amazing pairing with tubes. I have both the ampsandsound Forge and Nautilus (the latter being on loan with me from Justin), and they both sound fantastic. The Forge pairing is closer to my personal preferences, though I can absolutely understand why people love the non apologetic warmth and gooeyness that the Nautilus provides.

Job well done to Dan and team!


That’s exciting, I’m glad you’re enjoying the experience.

I’d be interested to hear more about your experience of Expanse vs RAD-0, and Caldera for that matter.

I have other ZMFs, and RAD-0 as well. Expanse and Caldera are both on my radar…

Hey Sebastien,

1 other thought re Rosson RAD-0…

If you get a chance to try it with a Burson Soloist GT, I highly recommend it. (The big Burson, or the XL!) I know you’ve been listen with tube amps lately, and you undoubtedly have more listening experience than I do.

But the RAD-0 sounds really fantastic with the GT, it might be my favorite set of headphones with that amp of the ones I own (ZMF Verite Open, Atrium, and Aeolus, plus Focal Clear OG).

I have an Yggy hooked up to the Burson, and the combo just hits it out of the park for me. I do have the SuperCharger for my Burson, and the clarity, level of detail, speed, control, imaging, and dynamics with the Rosson is awesome. Lots of fun bass slam too. I have no EQ applied, just Alex’s stock tuning.

Anyway, if you get a chance, it’s a fun listen!

My impressions after getting some time with the Expanse since CanJam!


Thanks so much for the recommendation. I’ll be sure to try the RAD 0 with the GT when I get the chance.

Until then, I’m very happy with the ADI2 > Forge > RAD 0 combo I have now. Lovely with KT88 tubes!

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I got a chance to spend a good amount of time with the Expanse so I’ll give the measurements here along with some brief impressions, as the full review video is currently being worked on by DMS.

Dan Clark Audio Expanse frequency response measurements on the GRAS 43AG-7 with upright fixture, using RA0402 ear sim and KB5000 pinna.

This measurement was also taken following the instructions provided by DCA in the box to help with getting the positioning right (a nice touch to help people get it to sound its best). This is also very important with this one as the ear pads have a lot of room on the inside, and the positioning does change the sound quite a bit. In short, they recommend having the ear closest to the top back section of the enclosure, and I found this is also what made it sound best.

You can see that the Expanse measures quite well on the rig - and to those for whom target compliance is important, you can feel confident that this one’s got that nailed for the most part. There’s a slight midbass bump and emphasis to the upper mids around 3khz, and I think some may want more treble across the board, but in general this should sound very natural/normal in a good way for most people.

Unfortunately for me it’s just not the case, and I’m not really sure as to why. This is one where what I see on the graph just doesn’t track with what I hear - which is weird because I usually find headphones that get close to the Harman over-ear reference response curve to sound great.

In this case, maybe because of the way it couples to my head, or the metamaterials waveguide in front of the driver that’s intended to even out the tuning and my unique wearing situation and head-shape don’t mix… but regardless, I find myself preferring the sound signature of the Aeon 2 Noire, which has a bit less focus towards the upper mids and a bit more focus towards the treble.

The other thing that I find is a bit odd with the Expanse is the staging presentation. For those who haven’t seen it, Jude did an in-depth review and conversation with Dan about the Expanse when it came out, and at one point they discussed how their closed headphones sound more open than other closed-back headphones, and a bit less so for the open-backs. And, I think this is the quality that I’m struggling with when it comes to the Expanse. Maybe I just expect more ‘openness’ from open back headphones, but regardless, to my ear I find it a bit lacking in lateral definition.

But, I also have to recognize that I’m just one person with a particular head and ear shape, and so this is potentially all just down to a unique HRTF situation that doesn’t work for me, where it will work for others.

So that’s about all I have to say at the moment regarding the Expanse. I really wanted to like this one, as I love the comfort and build quality, but I think it’s just not for me, even though it measures well. I’m also very curious how others find it, and looking forward to DMS’s review.


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