Dan Clark Audio – DCA EXPANSE Review

DCA EXPANSE

In this article we look at the DCA EXPANSE headphone, selling for $3,999 USD.

 

Disclaimer: The DCA EXPANSE was sent to us by DCA directly, in exchange for our honest review. DCA is not related to Headfonia in any way. 

 

DCA

Dan Clark Audio ought to be a familiar name to retuning Headfonia readers and aficionados of high-end personal audio. Hailing from San Diego, California, the boutique manufacturer led by former electrical engineer Dan Clark first made a name for themselves by modding Fostex headphones, and later for developing their own line of planar-magnetic (and later electrostatic) headphones.

If you’re curious about DCA and want to know more about them, you can do so here.

We’ve had the pleasure to review multiple of the brand’s headphones. We covered the good old Alpha Dog and Mad Dog, the Aeon Open and Closed, the Ether 2, the Aeon 2, the Aeon 2 Noire and finally the DCA Stealth. Phew!

The headphone we’re looking at today is the new DCA EXPANSE. Its kind of the open version of their closed-back flagship headphone, the Stealth, but it’s much more than that. The EXPANSE is a co-flagship headphone, together with the Stealth but there are a lot of similarities (and differences) with the closed back version, so we do recommend reading up on that model first. You can do so here:

I love reviewing full sized headphones, so I was really excited for this one.

DCA EXPANSE

The DCA EXPANSE’s dedicated website can be found here. You can buy the EXPANSE directly from DCA there or you can of course get it from one of their resellers.

“Our new flagship open-back headphone! EXPANSE sets a new standard in open-back headphone musicality, soundstage, detail retrieval, and comfort.

The DCA EXPANSE features DCA’s 4th generation planar-magnetic driver and their breakthrough Acoustic Metamaterial Tuning System (see the next chapter). Other key elements are the V-Planar driver processing, which improves bass response and lower distortion, as well as DCA’s TrueFlow V2 technology. The latter increasing the resolution and improving dynamics in general.

The driver inside the EXPANSE is a 76mm x 51mm single-ended orthodynamic one, and the drivers are matched (0,25dB weighted 20-10,000Hz). THD is less than 0.03% 20-20KHz, ref. 1KHz at 94dB. The EXPANSE driver has a 23Ω impedance, with a sensitivity rating of about 86 – 87 dB/mW. The DCA EXPANSE is designed and built by hand in San Diego, California, USA.

The Stealth and EXPANSE headphones in my opinion are super cool and unique in sound, and I hope this review will bring over that feeling. The part on AMTS, used inside the EXPANSE, comes from DCA directly. Feel free to skip to the next part if you’re already familiar with it.

DCA EXPANSE

Acoustic Metamaterial Tuning System (AMTS)

Headphones are subject to standing waves in the higher frequencies, which can make instruments like strings, cymbals, even vocals sound unrealistic and fatiguing. AMTS is Dan Clark Audio’s patent-pending inline device located between the transducer and ear. AMTS integrates waveguides, diffusion control, quarter-wave, and Helmholtz resonators into one compact structure to eliminate standing waves, dramatically improving system performance.

Diffusion elements reduce standing wave formation while resonators act as both precision and broadband filters to smooth and shape the frequency response from the midrange through the highest frequencies. With AMTS the upshot is high frequencies are rendered with a refreshingly smooth, accurate, and detailed delivery across all genres. OK, bad recordings are still bad, we’re not magicians!

If you want to find out more about DCA’s technical achievements, you can do so here.

DCA EXPANSE

 DCA Feature List 

          Patent-pending Acoustic Metamaterial Tuning System (AMTS) delivers unprecedented high-frequency detail and clarity for the ultimate in smoothness, tone, and detail retrieval

          4th generation v-Planar driver with our largest planar diaphragm to date, delivering exceptional dynamics with vanishingly low distortion for a natural and “easy” listen

          Improved driver tensioning system creates a driver with incredible consistency across units for superb imaging and balance

          FEA and CFD optimized motor structure increases driver motor-force uniformity and smooths acoustic flow

          All-new auto-adjusting suspended strap design makes EXPANSE hassle-free to wear

          Pre-formed ergonomic strap design spreads weight evenly across the head for incredibly comfortable extended listening

          Strap quilting improves comfort and reduces heat build-up

          Composite synthetic suede and protein-leather pads offer a sung fit with minimal clamp, with a pleasant touch on the skin

          Stylish grill reduces weight and creates a visually stunning design aesthetic

          Folding gimbals allow EXPANSE to be packed in a compact case for safe and easy transport

          Uncompromising industrial design uses aluminum and titanium to maximize strength while minimizing weight

          EXPANSE is designed and built by hand in San Diego, California, and is backed by quality and support you can count on

DCA EXPANSE

 Price, Box & Accessories

As the EXPANSE is a co-flagship high-end headphone, the $4K price tag won’t be a big shock. It’s also the exact same price as the Stealth.

The DCA EXPANSE comes delivered in a pretty showcase box, resembling the one of the Stealth. On the inside you will find the EXPANSE headphone, a small, sturdy carrying case, a VIVO cable of your choice, a manual and a certificate of authenticity.

The VIVO (in life) cable is DCA’s super-premium headphone cable. VIVO is a fully custom cable made with silver plated OFHC copper with a carefully designed geometry that not only maximized sound quality but is soft and supple, ultra-light, and non-microphonic. VIVO is based on our critically acclaimed VOCE cables and delivers exceptional ergonomics and a super-smooth and spacious sound. VIVO is a cable that is so ergonomic and transparent sounding.

It’s a basic, but nicely presented and complete package.

The article continues on the second page. Click here or use the easy jumps below.

Page 1: DCA, EXPANSE, Features, Price & Box & Accessories

Page 2: Design & Build Quality & Usability, Fit & Comfort & Isolation, Sound Intro, Sound General

Page 3: Sound Basics, Sound Synergy

Page 4: Sound Comparisons, Conclusion, Summary

4.4/5 - (124 votes)
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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

3 Comments

  • Reply December 6, 2022

    MhtLion

    Great review! As usual!

  • Reply April 9, 2023

    maaran

    Amazing review! Nicely written

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