Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 Review
Life is what happens while you make other plans. And hi-fi developers are no exception. Dan Clark’s company MrSpeakers wanted to establish itself first – Surprise! – on the loudspeaker market. Ten years and a good dozen magnetostatic headphones later, Clark’s plan change is also reflected in the company name: With the Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 Closed, Dan Clark Audio is launching its first headphones under a new label. Will the Californians still be true to their sonic ideas?
- Deep soundstage
- Exciting highs
- Weak output
- Headband adjuster
Technology & practice
First impression: Oops, since the Dan Clark Aeon presents 2 Closed but already stable off the Clark’schen scheme to all first sight. According to the official terminology, the color of the auricles is “chestnut.” The color that was previously reserved for the open MrSpeakers models. There is such a thing – the same color – actually also from the Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2.
Elegance and not at all exaggerated – the design
The design of this chic but simple quasi-debut doesn’t step out of line either way. Compared to the steampunk look of the reference magnetostatic Ether 2, the organic drop shape of the Dan Clark Aeon 2 Closed, which is also designed for mobile use, looks much more mainstream. Understandable: You are sometimes in public with him. The discreet exterior matches that with the Aeon 2 Closed. Almost no sound penetrates to the outside. “Closed” actually means closed here.
Like the Ether 2, the Dan Clark Aeon 2 Closed is one of the most comfortable listeners I know, mainly due to the ingeniously simple bracket. Two flexible metal rods lead to a leather strap that can be moved steplessly. Its adjustment range – now and then criticism of the manufacturer – makes the Aeon 2 Closed perfectly portable for my four-year-old daughter as well as for my quite corpulent brother-in-law (who hopefully doesn’t read hi-fi magazines). The 327 grams of this magnetostatics is nothing here.
The Dan Clark Aeon 2 Closed is wired with the standard DUMMER cord that comes with the receiver with a 3.5 mm jack connector and a 6.3 mm plug adapter. For the in-house upgrade cable VIVO, a surcharge is due. A possible compromise comes from Italy. For the test with the Aeon 2 Closed, the entry-level model of the cable specialist Portento Audio, which is still little known in this country, is fresh from the sales department. The slim, flexible, and microphone-free OFHC copper cable is called performance… In the sound section, we clarify whether the extra charge is worthwhile.
Give stuff – the Dan Clark tuning pads.
Also mandatory with the Aeon 2 Closed: the three enclosed pairs of black or white fabric inlays made of felt or foamy material, inserted into the ear cups depending on the hearing taste and theoretically allow fine adjustment of the sound. Practically, however, every pad sounds duller to my ears than the “naked” Aeon 2 Closed – and so the in-lays soon turn into out-lays again.
Outside transport case, inside transformer
Much more convincing: the transport case shrunk to almost half its original size. For the Dan Clark Aeon 2 Closed, the developers have developed a clever folding mechanism à la Transformers: slide the strap up, lower the bracket, fold up the shells in the opposite direction – and a serious magnetostatic can be crumpled to the size of a Big Mac. Audeze doesn’t like that. The better for the remaining baggage.
And technically like that?
But enough of insert discs, carrier bags, and folding options: After all, you are not browsing through brigittesbastelstuebchen.de, but in the technology section of an audio magazine. Finally, a few raw numbers: Inside the auricles of the Dan Clark Aeon 2 Closed, a rather medium-sized diaphragm measuring 62 x 34 millimeters has now been rotated 180 degrees compared to the original “Aeon Flow.” In addition, the magnet of the original Aeon was saved, the driver damping improved – both trickle-down features of the top model Ether 2.
Result: Thanks to the extremely low impedance of 13 ohms and the decent efficiency of 92 dB / mW, at least for magnetostatics, the foils of the Aeon 2 Closed can now be operated at an appropriate volume without an overly powerful headphone amplifier on the smartphone. In theory, of course. Practically – so much in advance – the Aeon 2 Closed deserves better. Therefore, the question of how much MrSpeakers sound is actually in it, where it says Dan Clark Audio for the first time, is investigated with appropriate amplification in the form of the DAC headphone amplifier combination Chord Hugo.
Dan Clark Aeon 2 Closed: Sound Test & Comparisons
MrSpeakers or Dan Clark Audio: the sound DNA of the manufacturer has remained unaffected by the name change. Even the first few bars with the Aeon 2 Closed remind me of the Ether 2, which drove me to the verge of an impulse buying that unfortunately was too much for me in the fair audio test.
This buttery smoothness of the musical performance. This outrageous naturalness of the timbres. This completes a smooth transition between the frequency ranges. Like the Ether 2, the Aeon 2 Closed also plays completely calmly, free of stress and effects from a single source.
And yet: The Dan Clark Aeon 2 Closed is by no means a budget clone with a reduced sound level but sets its tonal accents. If the Ether 2 stood for the high-end solution of the manufacturer, the Aeon 2 Closed flatters with a dosed, enjoyable tuning. In other words: He deviates from the high-fidelity pure teaching charmingly in some points.
Saturated without being fat – the bass
Like most magnetostatic, the Dan Clark Aeon 2 Closed also shines with enormously deep, substantial, and agile bass. A slight emphasis on the transition from the upper bass to the fundamental. However, the Aeon 2 Closed provides that extra pressure and warmth that a reference listener like the Ether 2 can not do. The downside of the blissful tummy: bass attacks do not come as completely dry as dust with the Aeon 2 Closed. Fuzzy, fluffy, springy – these would be more terms that fit the basement of the Aeon 2. But don’t worry: euphemism search for “mud pushing” should not be carried out here. The bass of the Aeon 2 Closed remains articulate, textured, without any “sluggish fits.” It neither pulls “a tail behind it,” nor does it tonally supply the lower mids. Predicate: good in the feed, without being fat and sluggish.
Sounds from umber – the middle
Admittedly, the Aeon 2 Closed is not necessarily one of the hardest-working polishers of the central belt. Its tonal focus is stable on the fundamental tone, while the upper mids drop off discreetly. However, suppose you can live because the music center doesn’t shine like a freshly polished sports car. In that case, you will be rewarded in the long run with slightly dark but all the more saturated, extremely pleasant timbres as well as a wonderfully non-technical “flow” – neither of which is addictive only to voices and strings. Even Grigory Sokolov Steinway & Sons sound on the new live recording of Beethoven Brahms earthier, yes: woodier, but all the more touching than you would expect from a grand piano from this manufacturer. And while men’s voices turn out to be a tad more resonant than “normal zero,” the ladies of Sangessschichtung lose that hyper directly propelling, sometimes nasal note, which all too often impresses many listeners who are trimmed for maximum clarity – and then quite annoying at home.
Subtle yet detailed – the heights
The not only proof of a special character but also an unheard-of feat in the price range in question, the Dan Clark Aeon 2 Closed has ready on its tonal upper floor. Like the presence area, the lower and middle heights are also minimally reduced. But instead of consistently fading out what is happening further up – as one might expect from a pleasure listener – the Aeon 2 Closed accelerates again towards the super-high frequency.
Anathemas: Alternative 4The result is a mild and sparkling, extremely delicately chiseled high tone, which first makes the cymbals shimmer in detail and finally ebbs away into nothingness at the highest frequency, without the auditory nerve in the sensitive area below the super-high tone ever having heard an unpleasant rattle. Even “saw-like” badly mixed metal albums like Anathema’s 2011 milestone Alternative 4 ( listen on Amazon ) are harmless to health without the electric guitars being “wrapped under the blanket.”
Chapeau, Mr. Clark: I thought such a cultivated, creamy top-end was reserved for high-end listeners. To classify: If, for example, Hifiman’s Ananda is a bit over-presented and an Audeze LCD-2 Closed sounds too musty in the heights, the Aeon 2 Closed should be just the right balance of fun sparkle and Find mildness that is suitable for the long term.
Detail work on (almost) the whole line – the resolution
“Properties” foundation, “sonorous” mids – doesn’t that sound suspiciously like a lack of resolution apart from the filigree tweeter? It does, but don’t worry: For its price range, the Dan Clark Aeon 2 Closed also resolves decently below. In the tonal basement, organs or kettledrums with a detailed texture will surprise you. And the mids also offer a dose of details that is typical of the price range. Sometimes you have to listen a little more closely than with “studio-Esque” copies.
Compact class – the space
The Dan Clark Aeon 2 Closed doesn’t do a big show for staging, either. The figure is more manageable in breadth and depth than elsewhere in the price range. The Aeon 2 Closed is, bluntly, more of a jazz cellar than a concert hall. Nevertheless, the intimate coexistence of the virtual musicians never turns into an illegal “corona party.” In other words: there is always enough air between the phantom sound sources, the distances between which are maintained thanks to the strikingly clean contours and stable positioning. The dreaded in-head localization, which I sometimes suffer from when the headphones are closed, was never an issue with the Aeon 2 Closed. For football fans: otherwise, only Lionel Messi can manage to leave more players in such a tight space so cleanly.
Dynamics? But hello!
At this point, a warm “Welcome back!” To all readers who nervously scrolled forward to this chapter when they heard the words “buttery soft suppleness.” The answer to your question is no. The Dan Clark Aeon 2 Closed does not buy its palatable presentation with compressed dynamics. Coarse impulses come with taste, albeit not with the ultimate blemish, and the Aeon 2 Closed fans out fine dynamic nuances, especially of natural instruments, just as carefully as their timbres.
The rare juxtaposition of dynamic elasticity and organic flow is probably a result of the special earmarking that the Dan Clark Audio developers have devoted to the subject of damping. Like a professionally prepared recording studio, the Aeon 2 Closed coarse impulses give a certain “gentle dryness,” which ensures an extremely “grippy” sound that goes straight to the feet.
the performance with Portento Performance
Let’s change the headphone cord from the original DUMMER cable to the internal sales upgrade version of Portento Performance. I already knew the next higher Italo cable Portento Incanto from various headphone models. I appreciated it very much on some of my former listeners because it managed the trick of playing a little darker than a most upgrade- Cable and at the same time more clarity, focus, and richness of detail served “on the copper tray” as it were.
To cut a long story short: The Portento Performance follows the same line. The suppleness and warmth of the Aeon 2 Closed are retained, but the Italian garnishes them with a pinch of additional details. The dynamics also take another corner compared to the standard cable. The subtle clarification of the mids runs under the heading “A matter of taste,” which allows the Aeon 2 Closed to play more structured but less lush in terms of tone color.
Everything works, not everything fits – choice of amplifier
92 dB / m / W efficiency – no, that doesn’t necessarily sound like promiscuity in terms of amplifier technology. All the more surprising that the Aeon 2 Closed could play out all the strengths described above with pretty much every playing partner at a considerable maximum volume. Nonetheless, if you still have to buy an amplifier, I wouldn’t necessarily use a cuddly tube, but a tonally neutral to even slightly bright and, in any case, crystal clear amp. My most attractively priced mobile insider tip would be the recently tested AudioQuest Cobalt.
Closed some gaps – sound comparisons
Speaking of AudioQuest: Like one or the other headphone enthusiast, while reading this test, I kept thinking of the exceptional AudioQuest NightOwl Carbon while listening to the Dan Clark Aeon 2. The warm timbre, the intimate jazz club stage, the intense colors, and this discreet, musically flowing manner of the presentation without immediately becoming a dynamic sleeping pill – this is exactly what the Aeon 2 Closed offers. Just across the corner and even significantly better in the treble. So if you have been almost perfectly happy with your NighOwl so far: Here you go, your upgrade could be called Dan Clark Aeon 2 Closed.
For all those who – not entirely wrongly – give electrodynamics and magnetostatic the same importance as apples and pears in listening comparisons: The Aeon 2 can also be located relatively easily in the magnetostatic cosmos of the (still more well-known) competitor Audeze despite its special timbre – namely between the Audeze LCD-2 Closed and my closed reference receiver Audeze LCD-XC.
Even more full in the bass, more resonant in the mids, even more subtle in the mid-high range, the “small” closed LCD plays a little more jagged than the Aeon 2 Closed, and its bass control remains unchallenged. The Aeon 2 Closed makes music more brightly colored, supple, and open. Since both listeners don’t care much about the stage, the decision remains a question of taste: Rockers with a preference for kicking bass use the Audeze, classical or jazz fans, focusing on intense colors and high-tone accuracy go for Dan Clark Audio.
A more direct, “lively” version of the Aeon 2 Closed is my LCD-XC reference receiver, which has been available in the “Creator Edition” (without transport case). With a similar basic tonality, this also offers a more spacious room. But since none of these are worlds, the Aeon 2 Closed comes dangerously close – at least in the ears of primarily pleasure-oriented people – to one of the best-closed ones.
With his first headphones under his own (company) name, Dan Clark Audio is not just sending the next mobile magnetostatics that has somehow been bred for “audiophile” purposes. No, the Aeon 2 Closed is unmistakably a tempered pleasure instrument with very concrete ideas for listeners with just as concrete ideas of euphoria.
As one of the few “enjoyable” listeners, the Aeon 2 offers a solid bass range despite its comfortably warm nature and does not close at the top but offers a shimmering overtone spectrum. The Aeon 2 Closed falls out of the ordinary only for fans of larger-than-life stage panoramas or studio hardliners who only have ears for dead straight frequency responses.
In combination with its dosed luxurious look, the drive technology frugality, and its fancy folding mechanism, the Aeon 2 Closed is not only suitable as a discreet companion on the go. The ability to grow to an unimaginable degree with advanced electronics is likely to give Dan Clark’s “Hörkastanie” one or the other regular place at desks or living room tables.