Dan Clark Audio introduce the Aeon 2 Open, an open-back circumaural headphone with planar magnetic drivers for use on the move.
The loudspeaker manufacturer MrSpeakers now goes by the name of Dan Clark Audio and they have joined the market as a supplier of headphones. Their product range includes the Aeon series. The Aeon 2 are planar-magnetic circumaural headphones that are available in both closed and open versions. We tested the open version in our practical trial.
The Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 Open arrived in an elaborate cardboard box with a magnetic closure. Inside I found an impressive transport case for the headphones. It has a robust shape and can be closed securely with a zip fastener. The metal manufacturer’s emblem attached to the case implies high quality. In addition to the case and the headphones, a cleaning cloth, a quick guide and three pairs of foam and felt inlays are included in the package. The inlays are used to adjust the sound of the headphones. Last but not least, a hand-written certificate of authenticity with a hologram seal provides you with the certainty that you are holding an original in your hands, not a counterfeit.
Design, materials and finish
The Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 Open immediately catch the eye because of their unique design. However, the manufacturer never loses sight of the fact that headphones must also be practical and comfortable. The distinctive drop shape of the ear cups is stylish, yet functional and space-saving. Headband supports made of titanium alloy ensure low weight and high durability, and the other materials are also designed to save weight. Fibreglass and aluminium parts make a clear statement in this respect. The black headband, which is made of genuine leather, also underlines the manufacturer’s claim to quality. The Aeon 2 Open’s earpads are firmly bonded and made of synthetic leather. There is a perforation in the front of their inner side, which is probably intended to provide ventilation. The exchangeable cable, which is also part of the package, is fabric-sheathed, and uses a gold-plated mini jack plug at one end and two non-gold-plated four-pin M12 plugs with a screw ring at the other.
The Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 Open works with specially developed planar magnetic drivers. Dan Clark Audio have tried to make their converters as efficient as possible, so that smaller magnets can be used, and this makes the headphones lighter. Unfortunately the manufacturer doesn’t specify the audio transmission range of this model. In my opinion, this is a real faux pas when you’re dealing with headphones that cost just under 1,000 Euros. If you buy headphones that cost as much as small used car, you want to know about their specifications before you part with your cash. I really don’t understand the manufacturer’s secrecy about their audio capabilities.
We measured an average impedance of barely more than 12.6 ohms, so on paper the Aeon 2 seem to be a suitable headphones for use on the move. The low resistance offered by the headphones should be optimal for use with most Smartphones, tablets, laptops etc. Our practical test demonstrated the fact that their maximum sound pressure is below 88 dB SPL (according to our measurements). But in the end, the Aeon 2 are all about enjoyment of sound rather than battling for loudness.
Dan Clark Audio advertises the Aeon 2 Open as travel headphones. And indeed, they fold up beautifully to save space and can be stored in a backpack or suitcase. For this purpose, they have given the Aeon 2 a patented bracket system in which the headband is simply pressed towards the ear cups so that it covers the cups. This is as simple as it is space saving. Thanks to the choice of materials, the headphones weigh only 328g net without cables. Accordingly, they do not require too much contact pressure to fit securely. This makes them comfortable to wear for several hours. However, these headphones are not well suited for small heads. They are much too loose to be worn on the move without problems.
My first impression when plugging in the cable was surprisingly good. As described in the Quick Guide, it snapped into place with a slight turn and then fitted totally securely. In order to remove the cable plugged in on both sides, the rotating mechanism of the screw ring on the plugs must be activated when the cable is slightly stretched. This sounds more complicated to do than it was in practice and it was actually quite fun. Up to this point the handling of these headphones was exemplary.
With the genuine leather headband, which is used to smoothly adjust the size of the Aeon 2 Open, you have to get a little involved with the mechanism to find a suitable setting. These headphones can be adjusted much too easily for my taste. As a result, size adjustment has to be readjusted every time you take the headphones off and put them back on again. And the Aeon 2’s transport case is also not quite as practical as it seems at first glance. It is exactly tailored to the dimensions of the headphones, so although small accessories can be stored in the small mesh pocket inside the case, if the headphone cable is also stored inside, closing it requires you to squeeze the lid considerably (!)
Dan Clark Audio promised us that the details of the sound texture offered by the Aeon 2 Open would be as concise as their performance in the bass range. And the dynamics and sound stage would also be in a class of their own. Naturally this self-adulation creates high expectations for our listening test!
First of all, the attenuation of external noise is comparatively high for open headphones. Surprisingly, the same cannot be said about their acoustic isolation from the outside world. But since the Aeon 2 Open are not the loudest of headphones, this is not a problem.
The Aeon 2 Open deliver a clearly contoured bass, but tend to distort even at medium volumes. This happened so early in the normal range that I got the impression that you won’t get very far with these headphones in terms of playback volume, unless you have a high-quality headphone amplifier to fall back on.
However, if you are prepared for the relatively quiet performance of the Aeon 2 Open, you will get first-class sounding headphones, whose treble and super high tones are nuanced and provide a fine subjective signal resolution as well as a great stereo impression. When listening to vocal sounds such as speech and singing, these Dan Clark Audio headphones bring out many production details in the midrange that were previously hidden from the listener. The overall sound of these headphones is open and wide – and I really liked that. Due to the early distortion, however, for me their implementation of programme dynamics, transients and depth staggering could have been expanded upon.
The three pairs of inlays made of foam and felt can be clamped into the ear cups and then provide different sound adjustments. First, the denser felt inlays caused a shift in the tonal focus towards a more mid and bass-oriented sound. The two slightly less dense white felt inlays produced a much less muffled sound and the two thin foam inlays were especially effective in the highest treble range. The use of the inlays thus produces a slightly tamer sound image in three stages, depending on which you choose. All in all, the idea behind these tonal adjustments is good and works well in practice. For me personally, however, these headphones offer the most harmonious sound profile in their pure form, i.e. without inlays.
The Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 Open convinced us with striking looks, well chosen lightweight materials and an impressive package of accessories, which includes inlays for sound adjustment and a transport case. From the planar magnetic drivers to the fabric-sheathed interchangeable cable, you will not be disappointed with their quality. It is a similar situation with their sound. The Aeon 2 Open really deliver a detailed sound texture as promised and their bass performance is also good. However, they are a sensitive instrument. Distortions that start too early don’t exactly allow a lot of electric voltage to be applied. This is why the dynamics of these headphones fall well short of their undoubtedly excellent sound stage, which provides a fine signal resolution and a superb stereo impression. But all this is only true if music is listened to quietly. In addition, the handling of the headband adjustment takes some getting used to and is quite loose.
The Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 Open are travel-ready headphones with average handling, which are suitable primarily for hi-fi listening at low volumes, offering good sound quality in all music genres.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principleplanar-magnetic
- Impedance12,65 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)87,42 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head683 g
- Weight with cable398 g
- Weight without cable328 g
- Cable length190 cm
What's in the box
- Cable (changeable)
- 6.35mm stereo jack
- Inlays for sound adjustment
- Travel case