The Californian (and not only because it is based in the city of San Diego but also because all its products are designed and manufactured entirely there) Dan Clark Audio is without a doubt the most exciting addition in recent years to the ultra-competitive universe of high quality headphones. This is clearly demonstrated by the brand new Aeon 2a new starting point for the brand and which, through the combination of its exclusive improved planar magnetic transducer technology and a powerful cast of engineering tricks, manages to shatter the current records in terms of quality/price ratio within the achievements of its category, offering an agile, transparent and very relaxed sound.
And also with the addition of a particularity that at the moment only offers Daniel Clarke: the possibility of choosing between a version with fully closed helmets and another with cases open for its posterior area. Without a doubt, a luxury… and also affordable!
Planar magnetic transducers: a technology with almost half a century of life
As with the loudspeakers, the ones that headphones They are in a way a “scaled” version; the vast majority of headphones on the market use electrodynamic transducers. But, also as happens in the world of speakers, in the world of headphones there are alternative technologies, the best known being the electrostatic and planar or “planar” magnetic speakers. If we look in a little detail at the operation of each of the transduction systems mentioned, we will immediately observe that the formal difference is marked by the fact that in the electrostatic and “planar” models the speaker diaphragms They are not only substantially larger than those of their electrodynamic counterparts, but also completely flat. What we have just said has direct implications on parameters involved with our sound perceptionin principle superior transparency and aeration.
But it also entails engineering problems related to the technical intimacies of the speakers. electrostatic and “planar”, which substantially penalize a fundamental parameter for the vast majority of fans: the price. In the specific case of electrostatic models, this penalty is even higher, as dedicated electronics are needed to properly excite the transducers used. It is true that the result in terms of pure and simple musicality It may be sublime – there are the Dan Clark Audio Voce to prove it – but, on the other hand, its use is also limited to “stationary” High Fidelity applications, as portability is almost unfeasible. Hence the interest of the “planar” technology to provide the possibility of enjoying the spatial presentation offered by electrostatic models and the well-known practical virtues of designs based on electrodynamic transducers, read stuck in bass, portability, “attackability” (thanks to its high sensitivity and, although not always, a manageable impedance, read less than 100 ohms) by a wide repertoire of devices and, of course, price.
At this point, we must keep in mind a key fact related to the “planar” headphones: Contrary to what happens in electrodynamic headphones, in which a magnet vibrates a diaphragm to produce sound, in a planar magnetic transducer it is a flexible panel which is located in a sandwich structure between two magnet grids. Unlike electrostatic headphones, also designed based on a membrane surrounded by magnets, the membrane of the “planar” speaker is covered by tiny electrical wires. This system allows creating attraction/repulsion effects by opposing/attracting the magnets used depending on the current that passes through them. These magnets, or stators, are cut in a very precise way so that they make vibrate the membrane –the flexible panel we just referred to- uniformly. To achieve this, the pole to pole magnetscreating force fields in such a way that when a current runs through the electric conductors of the membrane, the aforementioned force fields are modified and cause it to move.
This operation allows a very precise control since only certain areas of the membrane are activated and not all of it. Likewise, the adjustment of the magnets influences harmonic distortion and linearity, providing each design with its own sound “signature” in which the rotundity and the control of the bass response.
Aeon 2: making a difference thanks to ingenious technology
What we have just said takes us directly to the product that is the star of this Blog: circumaural headphones Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2. Made in the USA and available in version with closed helmets (“Closed”) or with open helmets Due to its rear area (“Open”), the Aeon 2 has the exclusive planar magnetic transducer “V-Planar” its key differentiating element, as it allows to substantially reduce distortion, improve the response to transients and extend the frequency response curve with respect to designs based on the same concept. The explanation for this size of achievement is found in the fact that the “V-Planar” technology folds the diaphragm, making it become a kind of accordion when you need to make the high displacements required by the lower notes.
The more folds it has, the more an accordion can expand and contract without stretching the material from which it is made, thus allowing the folds of the transducer diaphragm to “open” slightly during the most important movements. In this way, the “V-Planar” Not only does it displace more air in the low frequencies, but it provides a dynamic and superior high frequency response, as well as lower distortion. Thanks to the incorporation of engineering solutions developed during the creation of the “planar” reference model of Dan Clark Audiothe sensational Ether 2, the Aeon 2 They include a new generation “V-Planar” transducer designed from scratch, which uses their magnetic motor, whose structure has been inverted 180 degrees to eliminate flow elements from the diaphragm to the ear. Its creators have also simplified the flow elements concentrating them in a single construction, eliminating empty air spaces to improve internal air flow.
On the other hand, flow structures With high precision machining, they replace injection molded components, while the superior level of transducer damping has allowed for improved resolution and dynamics, as well as smoothing the frequency response curve. Specifically, it is necessary to highlight a warmer tonal expression and complete for the version with closed helmets, a slimmer middle/lower area for the version with open helmets and a sound scene much wider for both models. Added to all this is a portability of a very high level – highlighting the “metal with memory” headband, alias NiTinol covered in dyed leather – which, despite the moderate price of the Aeon 2has been achieved without sacrificing performance, reliability or comfort of use, the result being a exclusive design folding materialized in a particularly attractive mechanism that manages to noticeably improve the structural integrity of the whole.
A disconcerting fluidity, analytical capacity and spaciousness
The 13 ohm impedance and moderately high sensitivity of the Aeon 2 (92 dB/mW for the open version and 94 dB/mW) for the closed version, provide much freedom when associating them with a certain source, since it can be both portable and stationary.
In combination with a portable “Hi-Res” player Astell&Kern SA700, the Dan Clark Audio dazzle with the honesty of their sound both in terms of overall presentation and their ability to analyze micro-information and, very importantly, dynamics. But we also have such a perception with both the version Closed as with the openwhich means that the creators of the Aeon 2 have managed to fine-tune the design both of the transducer “V-Planar” like that of the headphones so that the sound differences between the two possible options are only those comparable to each system, meaning more punch in the bass and insulation from the outside in the case of the Closed and more ventilation in the Open, all this while maintaining a very similar feeling of physical presence of the performers. For the rest, we are looking at headphones tremendously comfortable -barely 350 grams- that invite long listening sessions.