Just posting some measurements and initial impressions here of the DCA Stealth.
Here are the measurements done on the GRAS 43AG.
This has to be one of the best measuring headphones I’ve ever come across. Fantastic tuning. I think in certain positions it can be just a hair forward in the upper mids, but it’s all well balanced. For good recordings it’s got solid harmonic balance across the board.
Gear used during impressions:
- DAC - SMSL SU-9
- Amp - Vioelectric HPA V550
Very EARLY Subjective thoughts:
Detail - good but not like… Abyss or Susvara level. That said, exceptional structural definition for images and image separation (better than what I was expecting).
Microdynamics - no issues of bluntedness whatsoever. Excellent, ‘resolving’ trailing ends of tones, but once again not quite as clear as the other top tier flagships.
Soundstage - Medium sized, but very ‘open’ sounding for a closed-back. Not the widest but I was initially quite surprised by this quality.
Macrodynamics - Same as Noire and other DCAs typically.
Summary so far: This is basically a super A2C Noire. Or… kind of like a closed-back Arya (or HE1000) with a bass boost (or just EQ’d to be a bit warmer). Similar strengths and weaknesses.
*Edit - let me clarify, because some people seem to get the wrong idea here… I think these comparisons indicate a very good thing!
Other things to note:
Like the other DCA headphones I’ve tested so far, the Stealth has a particularly high driver resonance frequency, somewhere close to 300hz. This is often much lower on larger planar driver headphones (or higher mass diaphragms). Additionally, the driver resonance has an extremely low (wide) Q, which indicates significant driver damping in some fashion, meaning it’s more of a plateau than a boost when you break the seal. The driver damping seems to be one of the tradeoffs for planar closed-backs in general - although I’m curious how much of the tuning was down to the new front material.
In practical terms, this means this headphone’s bass response requires a seal. To be clear, I did not have any trouble achieving this, but it’s important to consider this if for some reason you don’t get the right fit - and this is true for most closed-back headphones in general. In more… theoretical and minimally tested terms, this damping and high resonance frequency may have some correlation to the lack of macro contrast on these headphones. At the moment there’s no conclusive evidence of that - merely examples. But hey, I know lots of people who don’t notice that stuff, and I kind of think it might be impossible to fully achieve in a closed-back planar anyway.
Adding additional measurements of seal effects for those interested:
On-head bass response (measured with in-ear mics)
Matches the on-rig results, meaning the fit is good and I didn’t have any issues with the seal.
…however, should you for some reason break the seal, here’s what’s likely to happen:
Green = small leak, Orange = large leak
So you can see the resonance frequency is around 300hz.
But as I said I didn’t have any issues with getting bass extension, just that if someone reports a lack of bass with these, it’s likely due to seal issues.