Dan Clark Audio AEON 2 Noire
Headfonics 2021

Dan Clark Audio AEON 2 Noire Review

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Dan Clark Audio AEON 2 Open



One is open, the other is closed, that is perhaps one of the biggest technical differences here. Internally, both the open back AEON 2 and the closed-back AEON 2 Noire are the same. That means a single integrated air-free machined FLOW element and planar driver design at 62 x 34mm wide for the diaphragm.

As with the AEON 2 closed-back, the Noire also has a bit of an efficiency bump over the AEON 2 open with a 94dB SPL rating as opposed to 92dB SPL though I have noticed on the new DCA website design the efficiency specs are no longer being published.

Both headphones have a 13Ω impedance rating, however, with the SPL well below 100dB both headphones do like a bit of power and current. Despite their portable form factor, I do find these to perform best with 1W or above in terms of output power.

In terms of DAPs, the likes of the new DX300 4.4mm balanced output and the HiBy R8 Turbo Mode equivalent should provide enough power to drive them but if you happen to have a dedicated desktop with more then they will scale even more.

Dan Clark Audio AEON 2 Open


One is metallic black, the other red, the former is closed-back the latter an open-back design. Aside from that, the Noire is constructed in much the same fashion as the AEON 2 Open with its teardrop form factor, lightweight build quality, and folding half-gimbal structure. 

With the open design, the AEON 2 has a more dominant honeycomb grill faceplate as opposed to the sleek but lower-profile carbon fiber print of the Noire plates. I do like the little silver AEON motif on the open honeycomb grill design and would have loved to have seen that on the Noire plates also. 

Both the open AEON 2 and the Noire actually use the same perforated Japanese synthetic protein leather pads as opposed to the AEON 2 closed non-perforated. The AEON 2 Open though will isolate a bit less given its open-back design.

Both headphones come with the diminutive carry case as well as the DUMMER cable as standard with hirose connectors, 3.5mm terminations, and quarter jack adapters. 


The Noire is somewhat closer to the AEON 2 Open than the AEON 2 Closed in terms of energy with both brighter and further forward in imaging on the upper mids top-end. You can argue that both have a tendency to sound more vivid than relaxed in that regard.

However, the Noire delivers this with FR adjustments that offer a more ethereal quality and a positioning further removed from the front of the stage in most scenarios. That means more of an upper-bass and lower-mids dip to position instruments further back, a stronger upper-mids tuning to stretch percussion forward including some soprano vocals. 

The AEON 2 brings you a little closer so the sound is more front and center. The timbre is a little on the warmer and smoother side with more mid-bass and upper-bass warmth and a slight edge off the upper-mids aggression though not as relaxed as the AEON 2 closed. 

The AEON 2 Open actually has more of a treble peak than the Noire. However, because the Noire low-end is cooler in tone, with less mid-bass or lower-mids warmth you still get a slightly dominant upper-harmonic order so it sounds cleaner with more contrast through the mids.

The AEON 2 low-end warmth counters the 5-6k treble peak a bit more and combined with that softer upper-mids rise soprano vocal and instruments are a little more natural to my ear picking up a little less sizzle. 

Audeze LCD-2 Closed Back



The pricing is the exact same and it could find itself with a similar target audience. However, I actually find these two closed-back planars to be very different propositions rather than outright competitors for a few reasons. 

The AEON 2 Noire technology is all-new or from the most recent AEON 2 release. It uses a single construction driver structure flipped 180 degrees from the original with the magnet and the new machined FLOW structures now out of the direct signal path of the ear. This is combined with a new damping driver design to optimize resolution.

The LCD-2 Closed Back internal is more of a mix of the old and new in terms of legacy tech from Audeze. The larger 106mm driver is the original from the LCD-2, albeit with some minor tweaking.

It does not use any of the newer Fazor airflow technology, however, it does use their Ultra-thin Uniforce™ diaphragm design as well as Neodymium N50 Fluxor™ Magnets in a proprietary dual-sided staggered array around the driver. 

The efficiency of the Noire driver is actually a bit lower at 13Ω but just 92dB SPL compared to 100dB SPL of the LCD-2 Closed Back. The gotcha is the 70Ω of the LCD-2 Closed Back which will need more source voltage compared to the AEON 2 on paper. 

Audeze LCD-2 Closed Back


This is where that different proposition is, the one I mentioned at the start. Despite both being classed as circumaural which is technically accurate, the AEON 2 Noire is much more portable than the LCD-2 Closed Back. It is also smaller and a lot lighter at 327g compared to 661g with that featherweight NiTinol headband, carbon fiber cups, and half gimbals.

The folding mechanism of the Noire also gives it a tiny form factor which, combined with a tiny case, makes this very baggable. The LCD-2 Closed Back is still very much a desktop headphone in weight and size and I doubt Audeze would really pitch this as anything else but.

The other design difference is the cup shape. On the LCD-2 Classic, it’s a big traditional round shape which is understandable as the driver inside is quite a bit bigger. The Noire goes for an elongated oval design with a pad opening to match.

That elongation allows it to be quite a bit smaller in terms of cup size but still meets the circumaural requirement as it clears your ear in a very comfortable manner. The padding is nowhere near as thick but the elongation does shape and isolate a bit better than the LCD-2 Closed back. 

In terms of comfort and balance well at half the weight with the elongated cups, the AEON 2 Noire has an advantage. Both have a great balance to be fair but the Noire has better long-term comfort.


The Noire delivers more energy with a timbre dipped in plenty of bass/treble contrast but also a slightly leaner timbre and an edgier upper mids and lower-treble percussion overtone. 

You could argue that the LCD-2 Closed Back is the more balanced, the more natural of the two, and in terms of overall staging it certainly has the edge in expansiveness if not quite the gap as before from the original AEON 2.

The Noire is more expansive than the original AEON in terms of height and depth but not quite as wide sounding as the LCD-2 Closed Back. Some of this is simply physics with that bigger cup and driver.

On the low-end, the Noire has a bit more punch around the 80-100Hz area but the LCD-2 Closed Back extends a little deeper with less of a sub-50Hz roll-off. Both have a nice planar tone to the low-end with the Noire perhaps a shade more forward in imaging.

The Noire drops fast and early at 200Hz staying neutral through the lower-mids whereas the LCD-2 Closed Back is gentler on the drop to 300Hz and then starts rising again. You get a bit more lower-mids presence and warmth on the LCD-2 compared to the cooler cleaner timbre of the Noire.

The Noire really pulls your ear further up to the 2-5k region with its abundance of energy and forwardness. Here it stretches the staging a bit more front to back whereas the LCD-2 CB drops the energy in the same area. High pitch vocals and percussion are definitely more vivid on the Noire but also slightly edgier with that elevated 5-7k marker. 

Hifiman HE-R10 Dynamic



This is a step up in price granted but it may present some with a moment pause given its recent launch and the publicity it has attracted. The HE-R10D is also a closed-back headphone but this time we have a 50mm topology dynamic driver as opposed to the Noire’s planar magnetic driver. 

The driver is the largest driver Hifiman has ever applied its Topology technology to but still a little bit smaller than the 62mm single-sided magnet designed driver inside the AEON 2 Noire.

Topology is a nanoparticle coating applied to the diaphragm surface. The reasoning for this nanotechnology is that by using distinct geometric patterns in the nanocoating they can control the final sound signature with far more finesse than with traditional dynamic drivers.

It is also pitched as being able to eradicate or at least substantially reduce typical diaphragm distortions which could again alter the signature necessarily and hinder its operational performance.

That is one of the key differences normally between a dynamic driver and a planar, the level of distortion is normally a lot lower on a planar driver such as the one inside the AEON 2 Noire. 

In terms of specifications, the HE-R10D is rated at 32Ω and 103dB which is a little more efficient or easier to drive on paper compared to the Noire’s 13Ω and 94dB SPL rating. The HE-R10D can also go wireless with Hifiman’s balanced amp Bluemini module. 

Hifiman HE-R10D


The only similarity between the HE-R10D and the Noire is that they are closed-back headphones, everything else in terms of aesthetics and size is quite different between these two.

No doubt the talking point is the homage to the Sony R10 in the way Hifiman have contoured those HE-R10D cups. Whilst the Noire is a tweak of the previous AEON 2 it is hardly what you would call a nod to a past era.

Still, the light grain and tan-colored wooden cups are striking and create a nice contrast to the wide arch matte black aluminum gimbals screw fixed into the similarly colored plastic frame mounting the wooden cups.

The HE-R10D uses spring steel under its synthetic leather headband but the plastic materials for the pivot block and rings do not feel as durable as the NiTinol and leather strap system and aluminum half gimbal design of the Noire.

At just 337g, the HE-R10D is also only 10g heavier than the AEON 2 Noire despite being much bigger. A big factor in the small weight gap are those magnets inside the Noire cups. The Noire on the other hand feels more premium in its build quality with a much smaller form factor with that folding articulation.

This is a very portable headphone whereas the HE-R10D is very much a desktop or indoors creation. Granted, you can go wireless with the HE-R10D and it is easier to drive but the size makes this anything but baggable.

Comfort & Isolation

In terms of comfort, the HE-R10P and the Noire of similar weight, and both actually have a very nice pressure balance on the head so they are not going to fatigue that much.

You do get a bit more lateral pressure on the Noire which you can mitigate by adjusting the pressure strap. The HE-R10P is a little looser with the clamp but a little looser on the head overall so prone to a bit more movement.

The Noire design and stronger clamp do mean it isolates a lot better than the HE-R10D. I put that down to a bit more lateral pressure combined with pads that seal better and are less porous than the rounded hybrid polyester and pleather pads on the HE-R10D. 


The HE-R10D offers more ambiance or a larger staging quality but one that is a shade more diffuse in its imaging and not as physical and clean through the mids as the Noire. It really pushes you quite a way back from the stage, more so than the Noire.


Both extend impressively on the low-end but the Noire has a little more physicality, perhaps a better sub-bass response in terms of elevation, and a slightly narrower peak around 80Hz to 100Hz.

The HE-R10D has a very mild bump from 50-100Hz and then a very slow drop to around 400Hz whereas the Noire drops a lot faster to 200hz and stays relatively neutral right up to 1k. I get a bit more warmth from the Hifiman low-end but not quite the same impact, in fact, it sounds a little bit soft in comparison. 

With a neutral upper bass and lower-mids, the Noire is much cleaner sounding for instrumental timbre. It has more contrast, with a good fundamental from the low-end and some clean upper order harmonics pulling in from a peppy treble. 


The HE-R10D bumps the lower-mids bringing in a bit more warmth but also that relative softness in the timbre. It has this dip also around 2k that takes a little bit of presence out and more of a subtle 3-4k rise for vocal presence. This is a smooth delivery, excellent for breathy higher pitching female vocals without a hint of sibilance.

The Noire has a much stronger mids focus with a big jump from 1k to almost 5k, peaking around 3k. Higher pitch vocals are much more to the fore, with a sharper drier tone and a bit more sibilance. The Noire does do better in terms of overall mids clarity with a more forward and vibrant presentation whereas the HE-R10D has the more forgiving smoother timbre.


Treble is brighter on the Noire, smoother on the HE-R10D. Both do have a relative bump from 5-7k but it’s not so prominent on the HE-R10D compared to the Noire. You can throw in the white pads to tone down that energy if you prefer the Noire to sound a bit warmer though I think it dulls the vocals a shade. The black felt pads are a better compromise between stock and white.


Dan Clark Audio AEON 2 Closed

Our Verdict

The AEON 2 Noire should not be considered a small cosmetic tweak on the AEON 2 Closed. Far from it. This is a cleaner, more expansive sounding performance to contrast with the warmer, weighted, and more intimate delivery of the original. A sound signature for those that like a tone with more contrast, more energy through the mids, and a spritely treble. 

It is also a preference thing, something which I know DCA are strong proponents of. The inclusion of the tuning pads suggests as such but even on a grander scale you now have several AEON models with different performances and looks.

There are not many boutique firms with a headphone model that covers as many different preferences as DCA has with the AEON. Also, a model that is thankfully unchanged in price and a welcome trait in today’s audiophile market.

My final tip? Grab the Vivo cable or go balanced if you can and pair it with the DX300 from iBasso. The beautiful articulation and lightweight design of the Noire are begging to be a high-end portable headphone solution. This combo is just perfect for my tastes. 

Dan Clark Audio AEON 2 Noire Specifications

  • Driver: 62mm x 34mm single-ended planar magnetic
  • Efficiency: 92dB/mW SPL
  • Impedance: 13Ω
  • Weight (without cable): 327g
  • Driver matching: +/-2dB to target curve, channel matched to 0.5dB weighted 30-8KHz
  • THD: less than 0.3% 20-20KHz, 0.1% 100-8KHz
  • Headband: Nickel-Titanium (Nitinol) memory metal
  • Baffle: Carbon Fiber
  • Earpads: Japanese Synthetic Protein Leather
  • Cable: Detachable 2m premium dual-entry cable with 3.5mm and 1/4″ termination

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