Torn: Focal Elegia or Dan Clark Audio Aeon Closed X/RT?

Hi all:

I’m looking to step up from my Meze 99 Classics in a closed-back. The Mezes’ bass is just too uncontrolled, too bloomy.

Seeking something with some warmth and a bit of richness in controlled bass, with no bleed or bloom into the mids or treble. I do NOT like hot treble, as a pretty serious case of tinnitus makes me pretty treble-sensitive. Yet, I still want clear, detailed mids and treble. Basically, I seek something on the slightly warm or rolled-off side of neutrality, with good soundstage, detail and imaging.

My extensive research has led me to the discontinued Focal Elegia at $540 on Amazon or the Drop.com special on the Dan Clark Audio Aeon Closed X for $380. I will drive these from the iFi hip-dac, SE with the Dan Clark’s until I can get a balanced cable. I can go balanced with the Focals out of the box since the outstanding Audiophile Ninja balanced cable I have for my HiFiMan HE-400se – LOVE those cans – will work with the Focals.

My primary genres are classic rock, alt-country and Americana, with a hint of blues, hard bop jazz and progressive house EDM.

So, would the Elegia or Aeon Closed X/RT work best for me? Appreciate the advice!

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I demoed the Elegia and Meze 99 Classics a few years ago on the same day. I owned the original AFC at the time and still own it. I too am sensitive to treble and fatigue.

Rusty memories of the Meze 99 and Elegia:

  • The Meze 99 was mid-focused, had boomy bass, and led to very rapid air pressure fatigue. While stylish and compact it’s not my cup of tea.
  • I tried the Elegia when I owned the Elex. At that time I found the Elex too piercing but the Elegia led to rapid fatigue and I did not like it at all. I’d never buy it or use it and would need heavy duty treble EQ to even consider it.

The AFC is one of the least dynamic, least punchy headphones I’ve ever tried. Notes appear as a painting on the wall rather than an object in the room. This is GOOD to my ears from a fatigue standpoint. However, I avoid closed headphones if at all possible. I can wear them for at most 2 hours before fatigue sets in, but I can use some open setups comfortably all day.

My old AFC does not match your tonal preference (i.e., you want warmth and richness), as it’s neutral to bass light. I sometimes run it on the Lyr 3 (tube) or with bass-boost EQ on a solid state amp. I’ve never tried the ACX.

I’d not try to run any Dan Clark on the hip-dac or anything other than a strong desktop amp (e.g., Lyr). With 13 ohm impedance Dan Clark products demand high current delivery to perform their best. My testing of the AFC with a balanced cable and a mobile device did not end well. It seemed to overtax battery, and It sounded awful.

Of your options I’d pick the Dan Clark (as I hated the Elegia), but it may not be satisfactory with your amp.

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Maybe give the Denon 5200s or the Emu Teaks a try too… personally liked those better than the Elegia. Liked the bass better. I think the Denon’s stage a little better than the Teaks.

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I recommend the Elegia, I bought the Elegia as my closed back headphone from: https://www.adorama.com/l/?SearchInfo=elegia&sel=Item-Condition_Used-Items
Adorama sells them for $385 with the Dekoni Elite Sheepskin earpads for $80, This set up gives the headphones a nice bump in the bass and slightly lower the Mid-Highs making them less fatiguing. I love the sound of these headphones, I listen to them on my Topping a30 & d30 Pro stack and also on my IFI Hip Dac 2.
Good thing about Adorama is that they allow you to return open box headphones for refund if your not happy.

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I agree with @Ray_Cabrera, I just sold my Elegias, but the Dekoni pads were a major upgrade

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The Elegia are are one of my headphones (I also have LCD-2, Meze Empyrean and ZMF Atticus) and I love them. They are my travel headphones that I use with my laptop and an AudioQuest Red Dragonfly amp/DAC. The Elegia’s pair VERY well with the Red Dragonfly which really opens them up. I also bought my youngest son a pair from Adorama for under $400.

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