Dan Clark Audio Stealth - Flagship Closed-Back Headphones

Thanks for impressions. If it can’t compete on detail with the big boys, then I’m out.

That said, comparison with VC would be interesting.


Yeah I don’t know what I was hoping for, but “super A2C Noire” wasn’t the description I was hoping for at $4k. Very curious to hear the comparison to the VC as well given I had one and loved it.


How does it compare to, say, the Ether 2? I absolutely adore the Ether 2 with stock pads, particularly when paired with the Gilmore Lite MK2. Completely smooth and relaxing. That combo + Alice In Chains: MTV Unplugged takes me to my happy place.


I actually think it kind of doesn’t have to. A closed-back planar that’s lightweight with this kind of tuning is kind of a crazy achievement on its own. And to have detail close to the big boys… yeah I have no complaints on those aspects. Now, I personally have a hard time with $4k headphones in general, and some of those other ones are even more expensive. But… to the Stealth’s credit, there kind of isn’t anything quite like it on the market.

I can only comment on the VO and Stellia, not the VC. But I think the Stealth is more detailed than both with better image separation qualities (planar advantage), also with a better tonal balance. At the same time, both of those have better macro contrast, so it depends on what you care about.


I need to try the Ether 2 with different pads, because the one I tried way back was very dark sounding. I think maybe he’s updated the pads since then? But, I have one at the studio so I’ll check. But for its other aspects, if you like the Ether 2, you’ll most likely be into the Stealth.

On planar closed-backs with TOTL detail retrieval (I.e., able to compete with TOTL open backs), you’re aware of the Kennerton Rognir, right?

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Awww ): I was hoping this would be the one to change that.

Nonetheless, very impressive fr and some really cool tech to achieve that. Hopefully I’ll get to hear these at a show sometime, and maybe we’ll get to see more of AMTS down the road as it seems quite promising.

I know you had a lot of praise for the 2021 XC - how do you feel about these compared to those overall?

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All of the Kennerton planars I’ve heard so far have been a bit blunted for their microdynamics, and I wouldn’t put them on this level. But, I can’t say I’ve heard the Rognir, so I’ll reserve judgment.

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Actually that will be the most interesting comparison.

At the moment:

Detail: Stealth > XC (but not by a ton)
Tuning: Stealth > XC
Space and separation: Stealth > XC
Macrodynamics: XC > Stealth, although XC is only… okay there.

The other key thing is that the Stealth will simply sound better without EQ. With the XC, as much as it’s an improvement over the previous version, it’s also still just so much better with EQ.


Yeah, the stock pads are dark-ish. The newer pads are the perforated and suede pads, but I’ve never tried them.

There were some very early serial numbers of the Ether 2 that had a flaw that made them even darker (I believe there info on it in the Ether 2 thread here), which is what some reviewers ended up getting to test originally.

The Aeon 2 closed feels very v shaped me, so I’m not as found of those as the AFC (with some eq to increase the bass). I actually find the highs on it harsher than the Stellia. My wife loves them though and she has claimed them for herself.

@Resolve thank you for the initial impressions. I am debating this headphone so it is helpful to read. I have one question if you don’t mind elaborating. What do you mean by macro dynamics or macro contrast? Can you give a practical example of this, maybe by referencing a specific passage in a certain track? I am not too savvy in audiophile jargon so I can’t seem to grasp the downside you’re referring to. Kind of like when people describe something as ‘musical’ - I have no idea what that means, if anything.

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Yeah this is a quality that is maybe better expressed as the ‘liveliness’ of a headphone - or I think Tyll referred to it as ‘punchiness’. Importantly it also doesn’t seem to be correlated with anything measurable, so it’s not related to bass level as some people imagine. You can demonstrate this quite easily though by comparing something like an original HE-6, which has exceptional macro contrast, and one of these DCA’s, even though the DCA’s have a noticeably higher bass level.

Another great example of macro contrast is typically what you get from most Focal headphones.

Again, it’s not something I care that much about, because I’m more of a detailhead myself. But I know some people care about that quality more than detail. And I do agree that there’s a tendency for the absence of it to make things sound a bit compressed.


Thanks for the explanation, that clarifies, appreciate it. Utopia is my primary headphone so I now understand what you mean by liveliness/punchiness, or macro dynamics, which I think Utopia excels at.

Yes, Utopia is one of if not the best headphone I’ve ever come across for that quality.

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curious as some claim the Hedd sounds more expensive than it costs… so how does the Stealth sound compared to the Hedd…

I’d have to try them side by side. They’re very different animals haha.

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Appreciate the impressions! I’m pretty much always at my desk so EQ isn’t a big deal for me. I have an XC coming in later today, so hopefully that’ll help me get a rough idea. Given your initial impressions and my personal preferences, I think the XC will likely end up being the better choice for me considering the large price disparity, but I’ll reserve judgement until I get the chance to actually hear the Stealth.

To be clear… I’d personally take the Stealth over the XC, for all of its positive attributes but equally significant is that the Stealth is like… half the weight haha.


Oh, totally understandable. I also think it’s pretty neat that the Stealth has the flexibility to be a travel headphone as well given its size, weight, folding mechanism, and fr - possibly the first flagship headphone for which that’s true? For people like me who much prefer full sized headphones to IEMs that could be a nice plus.

Just posting a few additional measurements here:

On-head bass response (measured with in-ear mics)

What’s cool about this is that it essentially matches the on-rig results. So the fit is good and I didn’t personally 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.