Dan Clark Audio – DCA EXPANSE Review



Make sure you start reading from the beginning of the article, click here to go to the start: https://www.headfonia.com/dca-expanse-review/


This part with the essential comparisons was done with the Nirvana and ENVY amplifier and the Aquarius DAC by Musician. The headphones all were connected in balanced mode.

First up is the EXPANSE’s co-flagship, the closed-back Stealth. While both headphones share the same design language and headband section, they are substantially different in the cups section. The EXPANSE is smaller in width than the Stealth, but they clearly share the same base design externally. Where the EXPANSE uses blue accents, the Stealth uses red ones. Both units use DCA’s 4th gen ortho driver as well as the AMTS tech explained earlier in this article, and they’re both selling for the exact same price. The difference in tuning is in the filtering and waveguide system.

Sound-wise you get the typical open versus closed presentation, though we have to say the Stealth sounds very open for being a closed-back headphone. The DCA Stealth presents your sound more intimate (only normal), with lesser decay and note extension. The upper mids and vocal section stand out more in the Stealth version, though they still sound natural. The bass sections both reach down low and have excellent layering. I would say the Stealth overall is more down to business and focused, while the EXPANSE extends better with an airier and even more dynamic and natural feel to it. I like listening to both versions and I often end up using the Stealth even when a closed back headphone isn’t needed at all.


Another direct contender is the Meze Audio ELITE. Like the EXPANSE it uses a planar magnetic driver and it is selling for $4K. The ELITE on paper (32 Ω & Nominal SPL: 101 dB) is easier to drive than the EXPANSE. The design of both headphones is completely different, but both looks stunning. Comfort-wise both these headphones score well, though I really must give the gold medal to the EXPANSE, as its clamping force is slightly bigger. Listeners with bigger heads might prefer the “looser” ELITE.
The ELITE uses the good old regular mini-xlr connectors, so there’s that. Tuning-wise the ELITE is the easier one to like but that doesn’t mean it’s better. The ELITE has that typical (but very good) ortho tuning we’re used to and which is so easy to like, where the EXPANSE has more character and does things a bit differently. The ELITE is more forgiving and quite a bit easier to drive. Tuning-wise I find the ELITE to sound softer and warmer compared to the overall more neutral sounding EXPANSE. The bass presentation in both headphones is very different. In the ELITE it is lighter, where the EXPANSE shows bigger impact and overall presence. The ELITE to me smoothens out things more where the EXPANSE is energetic and will show you everything that’s there. Vocals on the ELITE blend in more where the EXPANSE has a stronger vocal presence. The treble section on the EXPANSE is livelier and it extends better. So it’s quite a different tuning, and these headphones are more complementary than comparable.


Last in this comparison is the Audeze LCD-5 flagship that was launched back in 2021. It’s selling for $4,500 USD and it has a 14Ohm impedance and 90dB sensitivity, making it more comparable to the EXPANSE. (23Ohm/86dB). The LCD-5 sounds best when you hook it up to a top-level headphone amplifier, but it doesn’t need as much as the EXPANSE to “play loud”. It profits more from the scalability where it with the EXPANSE is more about driving power. Design-wise these two headphones are very different, and I find both headphones to be stunning. While the LCD-5 is one of the comfiest Audeze headphones, it stands no change against the EXPANSES’s level of comfort.

From a tuning point of view the LCD-5 is the more linear, flatter, neutrally tuned headphone of both. The LCD-5 is lighter in presence from top to bottom, with a less impressive bass presentation. The LCD-5 is pure quality over quantity, where the EXPANSE manages to combine both perfectly. The vocals are more to the front in both headphones but because of the lesser body, they stand out more in the LCD-5. The EXPANSE is the more natural, fuller, and even warmer sounding headphone. It’s a lot easier to like. The LCD-5 has the more typically high-end tuning, where the EXPANSE puts more emotion and energy in the delivery. Last year the Audeze LCD-5 won my best headphone of the year award, so don’t get me wrong: it is very good. It’s just very different from the EXPANSE in so many ways.



I am very impressed with what Dan Clark and DCA have achieved with this headphone. The DCA EXPANSE is one of the sexiest headphones on the market, it is it super comfy and it has top notch build quality.

On top of that, the EXPANSE also produces sublime, addictive sound. The EXPANSE is not only very musical but it’s energetic and technically strong at the same time. With that combination, the EXPANSE is easy to like and listen to. For me it is a very easy decision to grant the DCA EXPANSE our Recommended Buy Award, and it is now featured on our Best Headphone list. A strong contender for the end of year award, you say? Yes, indeed.


  • Comfort
  • Design
  • Tuning (balanced, natural, powerful, musical)


  • A high-end price tag
  • Power hungry
  • Not all pairings work as well, especially solid state

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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