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Review: Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2c – Sleek and Stunning

A side view of the Aeon 2c headphones unfolded.
A side view of the Aeon 2c headphones unfolded.

A true pair of reference closed-back headphones that fit in your bag!

I purchased the Aeon 2c from Moon Audio at full MSRP.

Hello fellow audioheads! I’m Josh, and I’m new to Headphonesty. I hope you’re ready for a new perspective that is all about being relevant to you and your journey through quality audio!

In this review I will showcase the Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 closed-back headphones, but before we dive into the details, alllow me to share a little bit about myself and my approach to audio reviews.

A side view of the Aeon 2c headphones unfolded.
Bottom Line

The Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 closed-back planar magnetic headphones are well-engineered, comfortable, easily transportable, and (most importantly) deliver tonally accurate sound and tell you the truth of your music. Some bass heads might find them lacking in the low end but this is simply because the Aeons are tuned more neutral rather than being V-shaped or Harman-curve tuned. They perform well from both headphone outputs on phones and laptops and scale up to exceptional performance when paired with a quality amp and DAC.

What We Like
  • Accurate tuning
  • Comfortable
  • Highly detailed
  • Easy to power
  • Transportable
What We Don't Like
  • Lack of bass slam and pressure
  • Sibilance with poor recordings
  • Might not seal with thick glasses temples
  • Expensive for most people
  • More neutral than “fun” sounding for some

I grew up classically trained on piano, and my father was a concert-level pianist. I learned how to play most music by ear alone as well as from sheet music, and even dabbled in writing songs in high school. My dad introduced me to HiFi at a young age and we used to go to the local audio shops and demo “the good stuff.”

Fast forward about a decade and a half to the present and I find myself with an amazing component stereo centered around a pair of JMLab/Focal speakers as well as a varied collection of entry, mid, and high-end headphones and IEMs, and quality DACs and amps to power them all.

Company Overview

Dan Clark Audio (DCA) is no stranger to the headphone scene. Originally known as Mr. Speakers, the company was founded by Dan Clark in 2012, who has an outstanding track record as an audio engineer. DCA started by modifying existing headphones (the Fostex TxxRP series), which brought a new level of refinement and consistency to DIY.

Mr. Speakers first headphone, the Alpha Dog, has the claim to fame of being the world’s first 3D-printed pair of headphones, and captured the ears of listeners worldwide.

Now, DCA is a true heavyweight in the headphone arena, with entry, mid, and summit-fi level offerings that have continued to be innovative, superbly engineered, and, of course, sound amazing.

Technical Specifications

  • Driver: 62mm x 34mm planar magnetic
  • Driver matching: +/-2dB to target curve, channel matched to 0.5dB weighted 30-8KHz
  • Form: Over-ear, closed-back
  • THD: Less than 0.3% 20-20KHz, 0.1% 100-8KHz
  • Headband: Nickel-Titanium (Nitinol) memory metal with genuine leather headband
  • Baffle: Carbon Fiber
  • Earpads: Japanese Synthetic Protein Leather
  • Impedance: 13 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 92dB/mW
  • Cable: 2m “Dummer” cable with Hirose mini-XLR headphone terminations and 3.5mm/6.35mm source termination
DCA Aeon 2 product box.
DCA Aeon 2 product box.

Packaging

The Aeon 2c come packaged in a simple, flip-top open box that features branding on the top and a brief description of the headphones on the side. Opening the box reveals a semi-hard, clamshell-style case with a zippered closure and the DCA logo on the lid.

Inside the case are the headphones folded up compactly with a block of medium density foam inserted between the ear cups to help protect the drivers from being damaged. There is also a mesh pocket attached to the inside of the top of the case with velcro that can be used for the cable.

The included travel case.
The included travel case.

Next to the case we’ve got a magnetically-clasped, open-ended “box” that houses the stock cable, as well as the quick start guide, certificate of authenticity, microfiber care cloth, and a tuning kit that consists of a set of very fine point tweezers and 3 sets of tuning pads that alter the dampening of the headphones.

The purpose of the tuning pads is described on the label affixed to the plastic parts bag. By adding and removing the pads you can change the damping of the headphones and tailor the sound to what you find most pleasing.

I haven’t tried playing with the tuning kit yet as the stock tuning is very satisfactory for me. Perhaps that will be an update in the future.
DCA Aeon 2c box contents
DCA Aeon 2c box contents

In the box

  • 2 meter (77 inch) long, single-ended cable with 3.5mm termination and Hirose terminations with the right side marked in red
  • 6.35mm screw-on adapter (¼ inch)
  • 3 sets of tuning pads
  • Certificate of authenticity
  • Microfiber cleaning cloth
  • Quick start user guide
DCA Aeon 2c stock cable
DCA Aeon 2c stock cable

Cable

The 2c stock cable is fairly basic but of good quality. The Hirose connectors click into the headphone cups snugly and the nylon jacket is not microphonic and is resistant to kinks and tangles.

The length is more than adequate for home use but some might find it on the long side when using the Aeons on the go. The 6.35mm adapter screws onto the 3.5mm inch plug. I personally feel a screw-on adapter is not necessary but you can still use a non-threaded 6.35mm adapter without problem if the original goes missing.

DCA Aeon 2c certificate of authenticity.
DCA Aeon 2c certificate of authenticity.

Design

The Aeon 2c is fairly light weight at 328 grams. The headband uses a folding design that drastically shrinks the storage space required. Adjustment of the headband and ear cups is precise thanks to DCA’s patented gimbal system and everything stays in place during use.

The design of the Aeon 2c is decidedly modern, with ear cups that are somewhat teardrop shaped. In my experience this helps a fair bit with comfort and getting a proper seal around the ears, especially if your head is on the smaller side. The ear cups have dark, glossy red accents as well as carbon fiber inlay on the faces of the ear cups.

DCA Aeon 2c folded side view
DCA Aeon 2c folded side view

Comfort

Long-term comfort is very good even with wearing glasses, though some listeners may need to adjust how their glasses sit in order to obtain a good seal. This is mentioned in the included quick start guide.

The clamping force is moderate and can be adjusted by moving the comfort band sliders up and down on the Nitinol suspension guides. The head band itself sports a wide leather strap that tapers at the ends and the suspension of the headband is accomplished using Nitinol “memory metal,” which is a combination of nickel and titanium.

The ear pads are made from what is described as “the highest quality synthetic leather,” and compared to natural leather earpads I find them to be quite comfortable. Despite the pads being non-perforated, they do not get overly hot with prolonged wear.

DCA Aeon 2c carry case open
DCA Aeon 2c carry case open

Aeon 2c Sound

The genres of music I listen to are varied, and include metal and metal sub-genres, EDM, classical, modern pop, some rap and rock, and even a smattering of folk metal and jazz. Audio file quality used was 16-24 bit/44.1khz FLAC. Some tracks I used to test the Aeons included:

This is by no means an all-inclusive list of my test tracks but reflects some of the musical diversity that I threw at the Aeons. The headphones are capable all-rounders that many people should find enjoyable to listen to and explore music with.

The Aeon 2c out of the box have a mostly neutral presentation with some minor accentuation in the treble. This can be potentially irritating if you are sensitive to bright and aggressive treble. The treble tonality is accurate and does not have an artificial or compressed feel to it unlike some other planar headphones I have tried in the past.

The Aeons faithfully deliver what is recorded and poorly mastered music or that which is overly compressed or lossy will be plainly obvious.

Paired with my iFi iDSD Diablo portable DAC/amp the Aeons cast a moderately large and evenly distributed sound stage and are not claustrophobic. There is good depth and layering when called for as well as accurate left-right panning and solid instrumental placement.

Female vocals tend to be slightly more prominent than male vocals, although high tenor vocals will be a little forward. Midrange is extremely detailed and blends well with the treble as well as the bass frequencies. The bass itself is a little dry and clinical, sometimes lacking slam and body, but is well-controlled and never distorts.

I also had the opportunity to test the Aeons with the Matrix Audio mini-i Pro 3 desktop streamer, DAC, and headphone amplifier all-in-one unit. While I won’t go into great detail about the Matrix here as that takes a whole review by itself, the Aeons pair wonderfully with it and I find the sound signature of the setup more pleasing and detailed than with the Diablo feeding them.

When fed with the Matrix, the Aeons were more refined and precise, as well as being less fatiguing than the Aeon-Diablo pairing.

In addition to testing the headphones with the stock single-ended cable, I used a balanced 4.4mm custom cable that I had made a while back for both my Aeon 2c and my DCA Ether Flow 1.1.

While the Aeons did appreciate the additional current I cannot say honestly whether I heard an audible difference between single-ended and balanced operation.

If anything, there was perhaps a slight increase in dynamic range, blackness of the background, and separation. That said, your personal experience will likely be different from mine since everyone has varying preferences and requirements from their headphone gear.

Bass

The Aeons bass response is notably linear and might come across as being “light” to some listeners who prefer a warmer tuning or are bassheads. The extension of the low end is very good and well defined but can lack slam and pressure depending on the recording and your amp pairing.

Thankfully, there is no distortion even at high volumes and the bass is never muddy or boomy sounding.

Midrange

Here we have the star of the show, again with a fairly linear response that does a good job of not over emphasizing male or female vocals and has layer after layer of detail and “tells the story” that the artist desires to convey. The upper bass does not bleed into the lower mids which is quite important with modern music, especially rock and metal genres.

Treble

Unlike some planars I’ve heard in the past, the Aeons’ treble tuning is completely unoffensive while remaining incredibly detailed and full of energy. While some amp pairings may result in sibilance with poor recordings this is the exception rather than the rule.

There is a good sense of air and space that at times will trick you into thinking that you’re listening to open back headphones, and there are no unpleasant peaks in the treble response.

DCA Aeon 2c unfolded front angle view.
DCA Aeon 2c unfolded front angle view.

Where to Buy

Wrapping It All Up

The Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 closed-back planar magnetic headphones are well-engineered, comfortable, easily transportable, and (most importantly) deliver tonally accurate sound and tell you the truth of your music. Some bass heads might find them lacking in the low end but this is simply because the Aeons are tuned more neutral rather than being V-shaped or Harman-curve tuned.

They perform well from both headphone outputs on phones and laptops and scale up to exceptional performance when paired with a quality amp and DAC. Whether you listen to the oldies, classical, or more modern music, the Aeons will not fail to give you a truly reference musical experience below the $1,000 USD price point, both at home and on the go.

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