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.