The Dan Clark Audio AEON 2 Noire planar headphones feature metallic black paint as well as a perforated ear-pad option for a ‘Harman Curve’ friendly sound. It is priced at $899.
Disclaimer: The Dan Clark Audio AEON 2 Noire sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion in this review. We thank the team at Dan Clark Audio for giving us this opportunity.
To read more about Dan Clark Audio products we reviewed on Headfonics click here.
Note, this review follows our new scoring guidelines for 2021 which you can read up on here.
The AEON 2 is probably one of the coolest planar magnetic headphones out there with its incredibly lightweight foldable design. I can’t really think of a smaller form factor outside of the LCD-1 from Audeze and even then that’s a supraaural and not a circumaural design.
True to Dan’s nature, however, there is always a late-night party after the main show which makes this new Noire version rather aptly named.
The guts of the Noire are pretty much the same, this is an AEON 2 on the inside 100% but on the outside, we now have a new shiny black metallic finish and some new perforated earpads to replace the original non-perforated versions.
Why the change? Well, customer preference for one thing with plenty of requests to push out a black version as opposed to the original red. The second is a tonal flavor that Dan Clark Audio claims to be that much closer than the original to the ‘Harman Curve’.
This is an FR that many believe is closest to being a common consensus as being the most enjoyable tuning overall for a set of headphones. And the price of the Noire? The same, $899, no change there thank you very much!
For those of you coming to the AEON 2 for the first time then there is a fair bit to talk about regarding what is going on inside the AEON 2 Noire.
The AEON planar design was quite a radical departure from the previous Prime and Alpha Fostex mod creations back in 2017 with that very comfortable lightweight design. It also allowed DCA to drop down some of their ETHER technology into a more affordable price tier such as V-Planar and TrueFLOW.
The AEON 2 series ‘shrunk’ the design even further with that very cool foldable system and case to match for enhanced portability. Internally, DCA also upgraded the driver design over the original AEON.
The AEON 2 driver structure was flipped 180 degrees from the original AEON configuration with the magnet and FLOW structures now out of the direct signal path of the ear.
The FLOW elements and drivers are now much more integrated and simplified as a result of a single construction rather than the older pieced together design.
Gone is the original AEON injection molding and in comes a machined FLOW structure that is more precise than before. This removes all the tiny air gaps that may have formed on the original design.
The final element is a new damping driver design using new materials that are purported to improve resolution and subsequently enhance the frequency response of the AEON 2.
Despite the portability element, the AEON 2 Noire is very much a closed-back circumaural headphone with a cup size and shape that comfortably clears the ear during use. The external form factor is much the same as the AEON 2 with no physical changes save for the distinctive metallic black paint job.
I think the color is going to be a preference thing for many and black will be a popular choice with its more ‘executive’ aesthetic though it seems a bit more fingerprint friendly than before. I am told a quick coat of car wax will sort out those prints in a jiffy since the paint is similar to that used in automobile finishing.
The original AEON 2 red is a legacy color from DCA’s previous headphones the Ether 1/FLOW, Alpha, and Prime, a ‘louder’ color yes but one which I am quite fond of on a personal level.
All other areas are largely unchanged with the very lightweight NiTinol headband design, leather headband strap, and elongated or vertically tall ear cups with matching pleather pads. The subtle reposition of the venting position and new filter material found on the AEON 2 also remains the same.
Articulated Folding Design
The innovative gimbal design also folds just as easily and smoothly as before which is one of the highlights of the build.
This is made possible via an articulation of the original AEON joint in the gimbal of the AEON 2 and Noire editions allowing you to push from the top down to basically cut the size of the AEON 2 in half in one clean motion.
The Noir Edition also retains the existing high level of cup swivel from AEON 2 so, combined with that super pliant and strong NiTinol headband, this is a very flexible portable headphone.
Comfort & Isolation
The AEON 2 Noire, like the original AEON 2, is one of the most comfortable circumaural planar magnetic headphones in the market right now, period. Weighing in at 327g with those elongated cups and lovely pressure balance you will be hard-pressed to find a comfier fit than the Noire.
The Noire uses the same comfy headband strap as the AEON 2 under the NiTinol frame for comfort and balance and added adjusters on either side for fitting purposes.
These adjusters operate within about 2 inches of space so they should cope with most head sizes. The tensioner joint that holds the strap and NiTinol bands retains the AEON moniker on one side and FLOW on the other side consistent with the previous generation branding nomenclature.
If anything, the initial pressure balance has a slight lateral bias with the NiTinol “memory metal” design carrying virtually no vertical weight. However, the slide adjustment spreads the pressure really nicely across the head when in use so you also control the pressure bias relatively easily.
The AEON 2 Noire now comes with Japanese synthetic protein leather pads that have a perforated internal wall. That perforation is a big factor in the new tuning but in regards to comfort and isolation not much has changed from the previous non-perforated version on the red AEON 2.
I swapped around both headphones with a 0.5hp aircon about 2 meters away from me and the level of isolation and clamping factor was relatively unchanged. That is a good thing in my book because the teardrop-shaped AEON 2 pads were killer for comfort and very good for isolation also.
The teardrop design leaves less to chance compared to on-ear pad designs in my opinion. The flatter front line of the pads runs smoother down the side of my cheekbone than the rounded pads of the original Ether series. That ups the comfort as well as the degree of isolation.
As with most AEON pads they could be subjected to a degree of flattening or roundness on the edges due to the mechanics of the supple memory foam inside when heavily used. If that happens simply push and roll the foam from the edge to lift it up and everything should be fixed in a jiffy.
I did not put in any specific cable request as we have the DUMMER and VIVO cables here already which we can test with. The AEON 2 Noire comes with a 6-foot silver-plated OFHC with Kevlar shielding DUMMER (Distinctly Un-Magical) cable with hirose connectors and 3.5mm with quarter jack adapter as stock.
The new SPC wire seems to be an upgrade to the OFHC wiring in the original DUMMER but also it has a completely new external aesthetic.
Normally the DUMMER comes in a nylon jacket but this one came in a black rubber sheath with the same contoured rubber splitter and terminations. Initially, I was slightly disappointed as it’s a plainer aesthetic but once I used it I actually felt it was a better implementation.
A few reasons for that. First, the rubber jacket is softer and more pliable than the stiffer nylon making it a doozy to work with. The second is a slightly smaller dimension and possibly lighter in the process. The final reason, the most important, is microphonics. The amount of physical noise on this wire is lower than the nylon finished DUMMER cable.
You can opt for the VIVO for a premium starting at $200 additional depending on the connection options you choose at checkout. You can opt for balanced or single-ended with the longer 3m 4-pin XLR the most expensive at $250.
Granted, that’s a fairly big jump in total ownership costs for the AEON 2 Noire but the performance of the VIVO is actually a significant upgrade. With the VIVO, the Noire is far snappier, with better dynamic range, and more resolving than the DUMMER.
Packaging & Accessories
The visual aesthetic of the box really has not changed that much from the original AEON or AEON 2 save the insertion of small 2 beside the name and the dropping of the FLOW strapline from the front. To make sure you know it is a Noire edition, DCA has added a purple AEON 2 Noire sticker on the side.
This is a relatively compact box, more so than the original AEON simply because it ships folded inside its smaller hard case. The cable is neatly tucked away in a thin cardboard container to the bottom of the box with the tuning pads, (always tuning pads with a DCA creation), so no additional space is required.
Aside from that you also get a certificate of authenticity which acts as your warranty card and some simple instructions on how to use the tuning pads. They are dead easy to insert and take out with no detaching required.
No Dan Clark creation is ever complete without a set of those tuning pads. They are also the same type of pads that were formulated for the original AEON FLOW. That means a white pad, a black pad, and a foam-type pad, all in pairs.
The white pads are the softest of the three pads supplied. The black pads are made of a slightly coarser and stiffer acoustic material and slightly thinner than the white pads. The final set of pads are a thicker foam-like material.
Love this carry case, it is so dinky and portable considering this is a circumaural headphone. The picture above with the Lotoo DAP gives you some idea of how much size reduction Dan Clark Audio has been able to achieve with the new folding structure.
The size reduction does not seem to come at a cost of construction either. Its hills and valleys inside and outside perfectly form around the folded AEON 2 Noire with just enough space for a cable in a mesh canopy above and the flat mod pads below.
It also feels strong enough to take a knock or two in everyday use so it is good enough to throw into a bag complete with AEON 2 Noire inside.
Click on page 2 below for sound impressions and pairings
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