Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 Noire

kylebucksot

New Head-Fier
Pros: great sound - something other than neutral - fatigue less listening
ability to tune with tuning pads to your preference
compact design and great carrying case
Cons: comfort issue - these feel heavy and I can't wear for long periods - hopefully with more pad break in it helps
The aeon2 noire is the latest revision to the aeon 2 line. The noire’s all black and carbon fiber styling brings a much more appealing headphone to the aeon lineup. Aesthetics play a big part in why we choose a certain headphone. After all, the first impression is always with the eyes first. Followed by comfort and sound.

options and unboxing
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The options I choose when ordering the aeon2 noire where the 2m 3.5mm with a screw on 1/4" adapter dummer cable. Also included in the package is a small hard carrying case, the headphones, tuning pads, and a certificate of authenticity. The unboxing experience was quiet pleasant with just how small the package was when it arrived. I couldn’t believe a full sized flagship headphone lived inside.

This cable is a definite step up from the previous cable that came with my ether c. The new included dummer cable is softer and more flexible than previous iterations. It feels very nice, my only one complaint with the cable is the length. 2m to me is just too long for my desk setup. I end up with the extra cable in a U shape that falls off the edge of my desk that goes towards the floor and back up to the y split.

The hard case is small and compact. I enjoy having such a small case to be able to throw into my backpack for travel. Taking these headphones on the road and not having to worry about the safety of them in the case is a big plus. The case also has a pouch in the top lid to hold extra tuning pads and your cable. Be sure to put the connectors all the way in the pouch or they could potentially scratch your headphones.

build quality
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The build quality of the aeon2 noire’s is great. Though I did not expect anything different from dan clark audio and the $999 price tag. The use of metals, carbon fiber, and the leather support strap added to that quality feel. With the metal headband, the high quality machined hinges on the folding mechanisms, this seems to check all the boxes. The folding mechanism takes some practice to get used to. Directions in the box state do not fold and unfold the aeon2 one side at a time. It states to open and close the headphones by slightly pressing the ear cups together and pulling it open or closing at the same time. I have heard other state they do not like the 4pin cable connections, however that is not the case for me. I really enjoy the security the connection gives and you know its connected by a distinct click and haptic feedback.

comfort
This may come to a shock to some and to me as well. This is my one complaint with the headphones. There is something about the comfort factor that has me questioning if I am going to be keeping these headphones long term. I am unsure if it’s the pads that aren’t leather, or just the shape of the ear cups and how it applies pressure to my head. The clamping force is good as there is little to no movement on the headphones. This is something that I wanted to make sure of because this set of headphones is such a great pair for mobile use. I have an issue with extended use with the headphones.

Starting off massaging the pads helped out break them in. Wearing the headphones for around 30–45 mins at a time is all about what I can take. The feel starts to feel supper heavy after around 10 minutes. This surprised me to the point to where I brought out my scale. The aeon’s came in at 337g, 3g less than the advertised weight. To compare, my ether c weighs in at a beefy 403g. This however doesn’t doesn’t fully explain why the comfort is off for me. Like I stated previously, I believe it may be due to the shape of the pads and how they put pressure on my head. This may not be how it is for you, but I can wear my ether c for hours on end.

sound
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With the comfort issue I ran into, I can say however, the sound these headphones produce is good. It isn’t a neutral sound at all. There is noticable bass and treble response. Mids seems to be recessed slightly, which gives the noire’s a much more relaxing sound. I believe if it weren’t for the comfort issues, I could listen to these for multiple hours at a time.
Bass seems to come in just at the right time through test sound tracks. There is a slight lack of sub bass from these I did notice. It is consistent in the presentation of bass frequencies and are not muddy or cloudy at all. It seems to be more fluid with the ability to be fast, which I take is the planar advantage.
Mids like I stated seem to be slightly recessed. This give the presences that the bass and highs are boosted. But in fact, it seems to move vocals away from you in space. It seems to me that mids are a little less clear then on the ether c but defiantly gain more sound stage. It isn’t an in your head type sound like with the hd6xx or hd660s at all. During test tracks, with slower paced spread out songs, I was able to get decent detail. The ability to pick out individual instruments starts to fall off once more condensed the music becomes. Male and lower female vocals sound just as they should.
Treble to me sounds a little bit on the bright side. This isn’t to say it is bad, it is actually very welcome. The ability to have string instruments cut through drums and lower ranges helped with the overall enjoyment of the headphones. I liked how crisp and clean the treble was and how female vocals really stood out. I did however start to use and play with the various tuning pads to help with the brightness.
Speaking of tuning pads. The aeon 2 nore’s come with 3 sets of tuning pads. A set of black foam pads, a set of black felt pads, and a set of white felt pads. And in that order, it goes from least to greatest density. I like the fact that dan clark audio gives you tuning pads to customize the sound and fine tune it for your enjoyment. For me, I found that the black foam was the best. It brings down the treble slightly to the point of it still being clean crisp without any fatigue. The black and white felt brought the highs down too much I believe and with the white pads, the bass was huge.

conclusion
These headphones are very enjoyable to listen to. With the new tuning to get close to the harman curve, I believe its a breath of fresh air from all the neutral set of headphones I’ve listened to. These headphones are great for multi media, not just music. I’ve watched movies and tv shows with them and my only drawback is the comfort. With giving them more time, I hope the pad relaxing will fix this for me. I really enjoy the sound signature these have and I haven’t heard anything much like it before. I do believe ordering a custom cable will be better unless a 2m cable suits your needs. With the ability to fine tune the sound, I see myself to use the tuning pads for different applications. These headphones aren’t meant to be mixing headphones. They are built and made to be for enjoyment and they do it very well.
I also tested these for a mobile setup by using my iphone and the ddtc35i which powered the noire’s to an above listening volume.

testing equipment
Dac — Schiit Modi3 Multibit
Amp — Headamp Gilmore Lite mk2

Test Tracks for sound signature: detail, imaging, sound stage
On the Nature of Daylight — Max Richer, Louisa Fuller, Natallia Bonner
Mountains — Hans Zimmer
Fever — Elvis Presley
Hold On — Amber Rubarth
Lenny — Stevie Ray Vaughan
Resynthesis3d — Max Cooper
Drum Solo Live — Jack Bruce, Simon Phillips

should you buy them
If you have the resources to buy these headphones, I highly recommend them. They are different and very enjoyable. Hopefully with more use, my pads will wear in and won’t have any further comfort issues.
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tcellguy
tcellguy
Any improvement in comfort over time? I'm getting a painful hot spot on the top of my head that I don't get with Aeon 1 (or any other DCA headphones) and can't see to avoid with the Aeon 2.
kylebucksot
kylebucksot
I haven't no. I had to use the apos return on these. I had the same spot on top and then on my jaw. It wasn't even the clamping force, it just feels like all the weight is in 1 single point and then my jaw consistently hurt after use. My ether c feel so much lighter than these.
tcellguy
tcellguy
Thanks. It's the same for me. I can wear Ether C forever. I guess this design works for almost anyone just not us 🤷‍♂️

MattTCG

Headphoneus Supremus
Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 Noire: Black Beauty
Pros: Build quality, comfort, smart refresh on the original tuning, fun and engaging, aggressive intro price
Cons: I would like to see an all carbon fiber cup (think ETHER C) although that would likely be cost prohibitive
INTRO

I like the fact that looking into my inbox today revealed that there was a new offering from Dan Clark Audio. Officially dubbed Aeon 2 Noire, this headphone is dressed all in black and offers a new spin on tuning to be more in line with the Harman curve. The only other change that A2N carries is that the stock pads have a redesigned perforated interior wall. The Noire is offered at a current discount price of $675 instead of the $900 standard retail price. Of course looks are subjective for each person. And personally, I do indeed like the all dressed in black look of this headphone. It strikes me as sleek and sexy and a little Darth Vadar. So yeah, the look certainly works in my book.

I received the A2N just before Christmas and after giving them a quick listen, I cued up a little Infected Mushroom and let them cook for several days.

Now, after a weeks break in how does this new iteration of the Aeon 2 sound? First of all, while the Noire is not what I'd call a direct sibling to the original I'd be comfortable calling them a 1st cousin. The pedigree from the original is certainly there, but the Noire ultimately comfortably carving out it's own unique sound signature. And it's a darn good one indeed.


SOUND

The Noire tuning as verified by Dan Clark Audio is very much based on the Harman curve. And wow, the Harman tuning plays out exceptionally well on the Noire. Basically compared to the OG Aeon 2, the Noire fleshes out a little more bass and treble. This gives the sound of this headphone an effortlessly enjoyable quality. I found myself having to replay my test tracks with this headphone on more than one occasion because I found it very difficult to listen critically. The music just flows and puts me into immediate enjoyment mode and I loose track of listening with a reviewers ear.


MORE SOUND SPECIFICS

I am enamored with the bass response on the Noire. It has that visceral punchy tendency that is just plain smile inducing. Listening to deep notes from an upright bass from a jazz trio, I hear that heavy textured pluck that immediately grabs my attention. And I'm thinking, “man, this sounds so good.” Next, cueing up a bit of electronic music from Scann-Tec I get a true sense of just how well the Noire bass can slam without ever getting out of control. If you are a closet bass-head, this headphone might just make your heart skip a beat or two.

During testing, the next genre I like to sample with new headphones is classical. Not surprisingly, the quickness of the Noire's planar drivers seemed to really excel here. Hilary Hahn's virtuoso violin, floated effortlessly across a large stage with nimble effortlessness. The passion that Ms. Hahn played her instrument was easy to perceive. Cymbal strikes are alarmingly accurate and natural. There is loads of information flowing from the treble region, with no brittleness or stridency (note that I'm self proclaimed treble sensitive).

Staging width and depth get an upgrade over the original Aeon 2. I believe this is mostly attributed to the construction of the new pads with perforated interior wall. While I could be dead wrong on the reason for the improved staging, I'm absolutely certain of the improvement itself. It's not difficult to hear this upgrade. It's easy to forget that I'm using a closed headphone with the Noire...very easy.

If it's not quite clear at this point, let me just say it plainly, “I really like the sound coming from the Aeon 2 Noire.” It's different enough from the original that it sets itself apart with a fairly unique variation on the original turning. In fact, compared directly to the original, I admit that I easily prefer the Noire over the OG. To my ears, the Noire is able to resolve subtle detail more effortlessly and just has that engagement factor that makes listening to music truly enjoyable.


CLOSING

When you add it all up: class leading build quality, all day comfort with the feather weight tear drop cups and a smart refresh on the tuning, I would not be surprised at all if the Aeon 2 Noire becomes a best seller at Dan Clark Audio.
Mainian
Mainian
Did you receive these as a review unit and have to send them back? They were not available until 12/21/2020 and said they would begin shipping until this week, both on their flyer and I was told this on the phone.
MattTCG
MattTCG
These were in fact a review unit and were returned to DCA.
RighteousNuts
RighteousNuts
I bought a set, good quality, really follows the Harman curve. Not quite as much detail as some of my other headphones, almost feels a tad muffled or sibilant. Very light / comfortable to wear and overall pleasant sound.
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