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

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.


DCA Expanse vs. Audeze LCD-5 vs. Meze Elite Planar Magnetic Flagship Headphone Showdown!


Nice write-up as always sir!

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Your impressions of the stage and lack of air in the treble is exactly what I’ve been struggling with. It appears that we’re in the minority, but I’ve had enough people reach out to me over PM (on headfi) that I’m sure we’re not a tiny majority. I am really struggling with the soundstage sounding very L/C/R and not having very good imaging. Maybe it does have something to do with our heads and the headphone. For comparison, I thought the Stealth nailed soundstage and imaging really well. I also really wanted to love these, but they’re just not doing it for me. I’ve listed my pair on headfi and USAudio mart, in case anyone is interested.

Yeah I fully expect that this works for some people, and so to each their own. At the same time it can be hard to know from the impressions of others in various places if a headphone is going to be something you’re after. This is why it’s always best to demo if you can… but unfortunately that’s not an option for many.

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I saw the CanJam video where DMS’s first impressions after listening to the Expanse was, if I remember correctly, “where’s the air?” (here’s the timestamped link: So many NEW headphones! CanJam SoCal 2022 recap - YouTube)

Yep…indeed…there’s no air, it’s a dark presentation for me without that missing upper treble that he picked up on immediately. Looking forward to his full review.

Here’s the DCA Expanse measurements on the B&K 5128.

For those who haven’t seen it yet, we’re using a DF + 8dB slope for our target.



Interestingly, it measures reasonably flat throughout the mids, but I definitely hear this one differently (it sounds much more shouty to my ear). It makes me think there’s bound to be a high degree of variation to how it’s perceived.


That is interesting! Thanks for sharing and hoping for more measurements of all the high end release from the past year on the new rig while time allows!

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I had the Expanse for several days. I ended up returning them. They were excellent with one major exception FOR MY EARS. Being a drummer, they lacked the hi-hat attack in the upper treble region that I know exists in many recordings. I felt like I was missing too much in the 8khz region that I like to be more forward. If one wants a darker tuning these would be great. They just didn’t have “it” for me unfortunately. YMMV!