Dan Clark Audio – DCA EXPANSE Review


Design, Build Quality, Usability

The DCA EXPANSE looks like the Stealth, and at the same time it doesn’t. They of course share the same form factor and unique headband system with the folding gimbals (taken from the AEON 2), but the earcups are very different.

The EXPANSE is also a slimmed down version compared the Stealth, and it this time features a very sexy grill. EXPANSE to me looks modern, stylish, and sexy. Expanse is a special headphone in design, and I really dig it (especially the blue touches). The Nickle-Titanium headband, carbon fibre baffle and gorgeous grill are unique and exciting. The grill – for a truly unique and stylish look – was designed based on mathematical functions derived from the principals of generative design.

“Design” is a keyword when talking about the DCA EXPANSE. Folding gimbals allow the headphone 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. The black leather headband features fine blue stitching to create a quilted head-strap that’s not only gorgeous but is also functional and comfortable. The embroidered EXPANSE logo adds a dash of color to EXPANSE’s all-black aesthetic.


For me the DCA EXPANSE is an example of the perfect marriage between design (aka looks) and technological evolution. The only thing I’d change perhaps are the Hirose connectors, as the mini-XLR connectors are the most used ones, and as such I can’t use all my fancy aftermarket cables with the DCA headphones.

 Fit, Comfort and Isolation

The DCA EXPANSE (and stealth for that matter) is one of the most comfortable full-sized headphones I ever had the pleasure to use.

It weighs a healthy 418g but the fit is perfect, the weight is perfectly distributed, and the side pressure is just right. Gone are the mechanical sliders for fit adjustment; Dan Clark Audio has designed a stable “self-adjusting suspension system” that seats the headphone just right, with no muss or fuss. Together with the comfy pads (pleather, Hybrid velour contact area, no heat build-up and super soft) they make the EXPANSE probably the best full-sized headphone on the planet for what comfort is concerned.

Isolation-wise the EXPANSE for an open headphone doesn’t leak a lot of sound. Sound comes in and music goes out, as you’d expect, but it’s nowhere close to the levels of most other open back flagship headphones. It’s a lovely headphone to use at work. You can hear when you’re needed, yet you don’t disturb anyone with your music.

I’m seriously impressed so far. Time to find out how it sounds.


Sound Intro

The DCA EXPANSE arrived with DCA’s standard VIVO cable, terminated with a 6.35mm single ended plug. Next to that I have been using a 16×22(0.05) strands 8N OCC single crystal copper silver plated balanced cable I got online. Depending on the amp used, I switch between both cables.

Featuring Dan Clark Audio’s all-new 4th generation planar-magnetic driver and our breakthrough Acoustic Metamaterial Tuning System, EXPANSE delivers a stunningly smooth presentation to bring new depth and breadth to all your favorite music.

I am fully homeworking, so I was easy for me to use a multitude of sources and amplifiers with the EXPANSE. I have a few favorite amplifiers I keep going back to, but we’ll get to that in a bit. The part on sound is a summary of how the EXPANSE sounds with a multitude of amplifiers.

According to DCA, the EXPANSE’s planar magnetic driver delivers incredibly low distortion throughout the listening range with levels of detail heretofore found primarily in the top-of-the-line electrostatics. Unlike many headphones where “detail” is created through exaggerated high-frequency energy, EXPANSE’s AMTS delivers industry-leading resolution without fatiguing highs users may be used to. Together, our 4th-generation motor and AMTS deliver a sonic performance best described as “effortless.” From a delicately plucked string to the most intense dynamics of an orchestra, or the weight and attack of a kick drum to the overtones a decay of a crash cymbal, EXPANSE delivers an amazing balance of delicacy, nuance, and punch. EXPANSE is all enveloping and can compete with any open headphone in depth, width, and imaging, with instruments occupying a correct volume in space instead of being rendered as “points”. EXPANSE’s effortless sense of space and instrument placement allowing the headphone “disappear”.

As you can see, DCA promises a lot. Let’s find out if their flagship open-back headphone lives up to it.


Sound – General

In all honesty it took a while for my ears to adjust to the typical tuning of the EXPANSE, but it has grown on me fast. Tip: don’t forget to burn-in the headphone when you buy it new. Even 10h of burn-in changed the EXPANSE quite a lot compared to straight out of the box.

The EXPANSE is not your typical neutrally tuned flagship headphone, but it is balanced in presentation, close to the Harman curve. It’s a full (but not heavy) sounding headphone and it does great with many types of music, my favorite being metal and electronic music. The DCA EXPANSE is a technically strong performer with an energetic and engaging character.

Clarity, speed, precision, and control are four key characteristics that you’ll notice right away. At the same time, I find EXPANSE to be expressive, with a bit of softness and warmth in the delivery (mids) and some extra bass lift. The EXPANSE is an open back headphone, and it sounds spacious and airy, though not at HD 800 levels. The sound stage is wide and deep and especially the layering is impressive. At the same time, we must admit the sound stage is not the widest for an open back headphone, but the spaciousness and airiness make up for that.


EXPANSE’s dynamics are good, but they do strongly depend on the amp you’re using it with, this headphone is transparent in this regard. What I absolutely love is the positioning, 3-dimensinonality, stereo imaging. It’s natural, realistic, and precise. In fact, I find EXPANSE to have an overall very natural feel, with a musical and energetic delivery. It’s very addictive. There also is a bit of vocal forwardness but that works perfectly in this specific tuning. The note extension and decay in the mids is exemplary, as well as the mid and bass layering. The top end is lively and exciting without ever becoming too much. Tube amps do help here if that’s one of your difficult points, though I never found the EXPANSE to spicy on top.

This headphone likes a bit of power, deliver that and you’ll be impressed by how effortless the EXPANSE sounds. EXPANSE is musical, energetic, and technically strong. It’s everything you expect from a flagship headphone, and then some.

The part on sound continues on the third 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 - (125 votes)

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.


  • Reply December 6, 2022


    Great review! As usual!

  • Reply April 9, 2023


    Amazing review! Nicely written

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