About the Dan Clark Audio EXPANSE
Flagship open-back planars with linear sound and strong bass
Flagship open-back planars with linear sound and strong bass
The form-fitting DCA EXPANSE headphones feature larger planar drivers for a spacious sound with linear tuning.
From a distance, the Dan Clark Audio EXPANSE looks like the open-back "version" of their closed-back STEALTH headphones. And they are constructed very similarly. But closer examination — and certainly listening sessions — reveal some profound sonic and design distinctions.
These planar magnetic headphones are slightly slimmer and the open-back mesh grill serves as a vent to the earcups, versus a completely open design. Company founder and lead designer Dan Clark said they took cues from mathematical function in nature when designing the layered grille structure — and it took them more than six months to get the intricacies just right. The overall earcup design leads to deeper bass impact than you might expect from open-back headphones, while still offering up a more spacious presentation.
Patented tuning smooths "peaks and holes" in upper frequencies
The EXPANSE headphones use the company's largest "V-planar" diaphragms and a version of the patent-pending "AMTS" damping filter, originally developed for the STEALTH. AMTS stands for "Acoustic Metamaterial Tuning System," and it's essentially a slope shape baffle between the driver and the ear. This helps expand the soundstage and smooth out harsh high-end frequencies.
Think of the ear cup like a listening room with a set of speakers that can introduce unwanted reflections and resonances. Dan Clark says this kind of effect often happens at higher frequencies inside headphones, perceived as distortion and harshness. The AMTS features grooves in its sloped baffle, each targeting specific "problem" frequencies to address potential sharp sonic spikes and sudden, distracting dips.
Incredible build and comfort
For the EXPANSE and STEALTH, Dan Clark borrowed took some of the design touches that made his AEON 2s so popular, and plussed them with even more premium materials. The vented teardrop-shaped earcups are built from ultralight yet sturdy carbon fiber and aluminum and the grille has a striking look and feel.
A simple adjustment of the leather inner headband quickly positions the teardrop-shaped earcups on your head. The nickel-titanium outer headband is strong, extra-flexible, and it helps everything slide into place. It's designed to be a snug one-and-done fit with no moving around.
A distinct take on planar magnetic headphones
Planar magnetic designs can get complex, but the basic physics behind them are pretty simple. You have a super-sized diaphragm moving lots of air, resulting in spacious sound with better dynamics. The diaphragm is covered with a flexible circuit and trapped in a magnetic field. It moves when the circuit receives an audio signal.
Dan Clark Audio added a new wrinkle to this traditional design. Or perhaps more accurately, a few creases. Rather than using a completely flat diaphragm that can bounce back and forth rigidly, the company's V-Planar drivers use a more fluid-moving pleated diaphragm. This accordion-like pattern helps it start and stop quickly, pushing more air. You can really hear the extra presence on tracks with complex bass.
Lightweight and efficient
To move a diaphragm this large, most drivers have a magnet array on both sides. That's why planar magnetic headphones sound great, but are usually heavy and bulky. The V-Planar drivers use a single-sided magnet design, so they are relatively lightweight and very efficient. Though I still highly recommend driving them with a robust headphone amp — so you can really open up their dynamics and hear their gorgeous imaging.
- open-back design offers spacious, transparent sound
- vented earcups help reinforce low-end for stronger bass impact than most open-back headphones
- grilles constructed from layers of design elements found in nature
- collapsible folding design for easy storage
- planar magnetic drivers offer enhanced dynamics and rich, detailed sound
- voiced for a linear frequency response
- patented Acoustic Metamaterial Tuning System (AMTS) helps eliminate standing waves
- precisely designed baffle widens soundstage and smooths out high-frequency inconsistencies
- features a complex series of waveguides, diffusion controls, and Helmholtz resonators
- designed, built, and tested in San Diego, CA
- large 4th-generation V-planar diaphragm starts and stops quickly for clear, articulate sound
- fabrication process ensures drivers have consistent tension and are carefully matched
- built-in TrueFlow™ V2 technology helps reduces turbulence of air moving through the driver
- enhances dynamics and extends frequency response
- a separate headphone amplifier is required to properly power these headphones for optimum sound quality
- durable metal frame
- earcups made of lightweight carbon fiber and hard plastic
- thick "D-shaped" memory-foam earpads lined with synthetic suede and protein leather
- self-adjusting suspension nickle-titanium headband for easy fit
- synthetic fabric headband lining with dual slider for easy adjustment
- feels lighter on head than most over-ear planar magnetic headphones
General info and specs:
- 79" detachable, fabric-covered VIVO cable with a 1/4" headphone plug
- connects to left and right ear cup with 4-pin Hirose push-pull connectors
- micro-fiber cleaning cloth
- hard-shell carrying case
- sensitivity: 87 dB
- impedance: 23 ohms
- weight: 14.7 ounces
- warranty: 2 years
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee
- MFR # EX00-1
Thanks for submitting your review
This review was collected as part of a promotion
More details on the Dan Clark Audio EXPANSE
Features & specs
|Earcup Width x Height|
|Mic For Taking Calls||No|
|Voice Assistant Access|
|Frequency Response||Not Given|
|Parts Warranty||2 Years|
|Labor Warranty||2 Years|
Overview: EXPANSE is Dan Clark Audio's flagship open-back planar magnetic headphone. It takes much of its design from the closed-back STEALTH headphone. EXPANSE features the same 4th-generation driver and the proprietary AMTS (Acoustic Metamaterial Tuning System). It also utilizes the same self-adjusting suspension and collapsing gimbal for more compact storage. The open-back design provides significant soundstage advantages over closed-back headphones. The EXPANSE headphones are hand built in San Diego, CA, and come with a 2-meter (79") VIVO super-premium cable and a zippered carrying case.
Planar Magnetic Drivers: EXPANSE uses a 4th generation 76mm x 51mm single-ended planar magnetic driver with V-Planar Technology™ and 15 magnets per channel (30 total). V-Planar knurling deeply creases the diaphragm, which enables a larger percentage of the driver to move as a flat surface. The driver moves more air at low frequencies, giving it better dynamics, high-end frequency response, and lower distortion. An improved driver tensioning system delivers unprecedented consistency in the drivers across the entire line. The drivers are matched to +/- 0.25dB between 20Hz and 10kHz. The new drivers provide higher resolution and a much larger soundstage. Total Harmonic Distortion is < 0.03% 20Hz-20kHz, ref. 1kHz at 94dB.
Burn-in Period: For optimum performance, the drivers require a "burn-in" period to enable the headphones to reach their full potential. Burn-in requires the continuous playing of audio through the headphones for several days. During this period, the internal parts of the drivers are "exercised" so they can settle in to their respective places in order to deliver optimum audio performance. The recommended burn-in period for EXPANSE is 50 to 100 hours.
Open Back Design: EXPANSE's open back design makes the headphones sound more like a pair of speakers in a room than do closed-back headphones. The soundstage is deeper with a more intimate focus, putting you closer to the performance. Typically, open-back headphones offer very little blockage of external noise, and some of the audio may be heard outside of the headphone. Because of DC Audio's planar magnetic driver design, EXPANSE allows less ambient sound in and leaks less audio out than most open-back headphones, yet the headphone still provides the soundstage advantage of an open headphone design.
Acoustic Metamaterial Tuning System (AMTS): AMTS is a patent-pending device that is located in between the transducer and the ear. It features waveguides, diffusion control, quarter-wave, and Helmholtz resonators that eliminate standing waves that are harmful to the overall sound. Standing waves in the higher frequencies can make vocals, strings, cymbals, and other instruments sound harsh and fatiguing. The AMTS acts like a filter to smooth out the midrange and high frequencies to give you better accuracy and clarity.
Construction: The ÆON 2-inspired teardrop-shaped earcups are constructed of bonded carbon fiber and aluminum which provide maximum stiffness, while being lightweight. The plush padded earpads are covered in synthetic protein leather with a soft synthetic suede that reduces heat and moisture buildup when worn for extended periods. Two thin NiTinol memory metal bands hold the ear cups together, and provides the right amount of pressure on the head. NiTinol is a Nickel Titanium metal alloy that returns to its original shape, even after being severely bent.
Self-adjusting Suspension: EXPANSE features a unique self-adjusting suspension system which includes a wide synthetic headband that comfortably spreads the weight evenly across the head. The stylish blue stitching creates a quilting effect that reduces heat buildup and improves comfort. The headband is connected to the headphone via elastic straps that automatically adjusts to the size of each individual user for a perfect fit.
VIVO Cable: The included 2-meter VIVO super-premium headphone cable is made with silver-plated OFHC (oxygen-free high conductivity) copper. Its carefully designed geometry that makes the cable light and flexible and maximizes sound quality. The braided fabric jacket prevents contact sound from transferring from the jacket to the headphones. The VIVO cable connects to the left and right earcups via 4-pin Hirose push-pull connectors, and terminates into a gold-plated 1/4" (6.5mm) plug.
Collapsing Gimbal: The EXPANSE headphones feature a new collapsing gimbal suspension borrowed from the ÆON 2. The earcups fold inside of the headband, so you can store them in the supplied compact zippered case.