Dan Clark Audio Stealth - Flagship Closed-Back Headphones

Finally got around to watching all of the video posted. Hats off to Dan for all the engineering effort he goes through with designing this as well as driver matching for this and existing headphones. Highly recommend watching it.

Maybe @Resolve or someone from the Headphone team could do something similar? Like an AMA video with Dan to talk about the Stealth (or some other future product from DCA).


Yes. With my recent return to speakers and in-store demos, I found that one can now achieve relatively decent performance for below $500 (plus amp and DAC). Speakers can be quite good for $2K to $4K. This is for room-filling sound that images well and that competes with Sennheiser’s or Focal’s headphones, and that has a genuine “in front” sound stage (e.g., KEF’s, B&W’s or Focal’s $1K to $2K speakers).

Performance mainly comes from the drivers, and headphones are small tight tolerance products with (typically) one full range driver. Costs remain high because of their fussy designs and because only a relative handful of people are willing to pay thousands of dollars for any headphone.


Agreed. I went down the 2-channel speaker rabbit hole years ago, and for a lot less than $4000/pair you can achieve great sound that’s better than any flagship headphone I’ve heard (thus far); and that includes taking room modes and reflections into account. Everyone’s situation is different though, so to each their own.


Heck I’ve had a 2 chl system since the 60’s. And I just kept moving up the tier in gear. And I agree, headphones as a comparisons, not there, but I do like my headphones. After all, music can be listen to and enjoyed in so many ways.


Totally agree. Headphones are a different presentation but still highly enjoyable; it’s also far more practical in my opinion.


I would like to hear your thoughts comparing the Noire and Stealth.

I like DCA products. I have the Noire, Ether CX, Ether 2, and original AFC.

The $4K MSRP does seem a bit steep. Being a prior DCA owner, the price drops 15% if purchasing from Dan Clark direct. I’m sure most retailers would honor that. $4K is heading toward Abyss territory.

Resale on DCA is much weaker than ZMF. You see E2 in the sub $1500 range from time to time. Used A2 in the $500 range.

That’s correct. As a DCA club member, you can get that pricing from any authorized Dan Clark Audio dealer, not just from DCA direct. Just send them an email or forum message and they will honour it.

Our Stealth should be here on Monday! It was supposed to be here on Friday but FedEX decided our office address was incorrect. So should have impressions up soon :smile:


Indeed. I do know this as an AFC owner who checks its resale value (original cost $700-$800, but now perhaps $350-$400). “Maybe the Stealth will turn it around and they’ll never depreciate at all.” Ha, ha.

Seriously, ZMF pushes hard toward the art, style, and limited edition end of the market. The ZMF model may not scale up, and the market may not support more than 1 or 2 ZMF-like vendors.

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Stealth is here. First impressions just on build is it feels quite nice. The folding mechanism on a closed-back flagship is a bit of a game changer.

Also, I know there was a ton of concerns over the “gamer” headband stitching but the the red is actually quite muted in person.

Sound impressions should be coming shortly before @Resolve snatches them like a thief in the wind.


I personally don’t think the stitching looks “gamer;” for those that do, take a look at actual gaming headphone and be happy they don’t have RGB LED’s everywhere. :smiley: With that said, the stitching would have looked nicer had it been silver/gray IMO.

I look forward to your impressions.

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Nobody expects the Resolve inquisition… and the thieving of headphones.

Actually, I guess you should expect it by now.


I’d honestly just rather it not say “STEALTH” on the headband altogether. The stitching doesn’t bug me at all - the overt branding on it does though. Having said that, I’m not even crazy about the leather indentation branding on ZMF leather headstraps so maybe I’m just hard to please/curmudgeony haha


NASA’s “worm font” logo:

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Very excited to hear impressions on these. The innovations in these and the CRBN have piqued my interest for the first time in awhile. In the past I’ve always heard that DCAs tend to lack dynamics so I’m curious how these will fare on that front.

I’m also in the camp that isn’t really a fan of the aesthetic design but I’m happy to look past that if the sound is good.


No, I think you’re right - I’d rather it not be present at all as well. The branding isn’t so “stealthy,” is it!?


Im imagining a comical cartoon setup for most of the heists.

Like you dig a tunnel below his parcel drop off area, then a comically large saw up through the bottom of the box, and the postman drops the Stealth in, falls down into your wooden cart.

Then Taron gets a wind of this and grabs the next delivery in person and drops down a stick of TNT. You suffer minor sooting of the face and messed up hair. The kids laugh, unaware of what would actually happen standing that close to TNT.


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.


Ahhh shucks.

I know some don’t have this as important, so this will probably impress.

I find I need it in abundance, so the Noire wasnt me jams.


Thanks! What are your subjective thoughts comparing it to other TOTL closed-backs such as the Stellias and VCs?