Andy Regan, called me to ask if I would review the new AEON 2 Closed-back headphone. The changes Dan Clark made to the original AEON are extensive with a new driver and a revolutionary new industrial headband. The driver structure that was flipped 180 degrees and the magnet removed.
The new driver design streamlined the flow elements converting them to a single construct. The new AEON 2’s superior driver damping increased resolution and frequency response to improve clarity and performance.
Much of the new design of the AEON 2 was a product of all the development work Dan did on the ETHER 2, making the AEON 2 a sort of baby ETHER 2. He also acknowledged that the AEON was bulky for traveling and due to his personal extensive traveling, he knew he wanted a design that would be less cumbersome, sound better and ultimately achieve his goal of greater portability.
The AEON 2 is the first new product from the newly christened Dan Clark Audio. The name change decision dealt with the fact that Dan has not been designing speakers nor are they currently in consideration for the near future. The company’s focus is on personal audio and headphone design and made more sense to use the new branding Dan Clark Audio. The Press release we linked at the bottom of this review explains the reasons behind the name change.
The package arrived from Dan Clark Audio, and I unboxed the prototype of the new AEON 2. The kit has the new headphone tucked into the carrying case neatly, and outside of the case were two cables and the black and white felt patches Dan includes to let users tailor the sound to their individual needs. The AEON 2’s maroon color is a bold and exciting color and beautiful to look at. The fit adjustments of the new design are easy to use and comfortable to wear for long listening sessions.
Using the supplied cables, I decided to use headphone amplifiers that I had on hand for review during my listening sessions. The dCS Bartok is a reference piece of gear that during my audition had significantly stepped performance with other brands of headphones during long listening sessions priced at $15000 and the Schitt Asgard 3 with the multibit DAC a $399 Amp/DAC. I also listened to the AK240 and the iPad Air. All of this was rounded out with the Auria Headonia 2A3 amplifier.
The $899 AEON was up to the task using any of these excellent AMP/DAC products as well as the Marantz DSA10 DAC. I heard the familiar musicality that I have heard in every Dan Clark designed product and immediately noticed a tighter more comfortable fit with the new nitinol headband. The fit was super comfortable using the soft upscale leather pads. The AEON 2 had better isolation from outside noise that the previous AEON. The new design made the listening session more personal. The AEON 2 had less leakage and the music was more focused with the eliminated interference during my listening audition.
The sensational transparency coupled with excellent textured bass and extended treble that was never fatiguing and completely free from any noise or harshness. Horn recordings and drum cymbals always were pristine in delivery and musical and vocals whether I using female or male recordings were remarkable in clarity and never had any sibilance in the sound. The transparency was remarkable and made the listening sessions exciting and enjoyable.
Playing Melody Gardot’s “Over the Rainbow” from “Live in Paris” with the Asgard 3/multibit DAC was synergistic and the musicality was exceptional. Melody’s sexy voice was reproduced with vivid transparency rarely found in headphones in this price range. The lyrics were all sibilant free and the imaging of her with an acoustic guitar was defined in a 3D soundstage and had exceptional detail.
Switching to the dCS Bartok I was curious to see how far the AEON 2 would step up in performance as I had experienced with other headphones while reviewing the Bartok. I was not totally surprised by the AEON 2’s level of performance. The sound stepped up significantly with a better soundstage with a better focus of her, Melody, with more air and she was in her own space while her acoustic guitar had more definition, with the instrument’s strings and body better defined. The level of performance reached a higher level but the Asgard 3 never embarrassed itself competing against a product that cost significantly more money.
Using the Auris Headonia 2A3 amp, symphonic classical recordings showcased the AEON 2 soundstage and ability to recreate performances without compromising sound quality. The outstanding clarity in Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” on RCA with Fritz Reiner is a classic and legendary performance. The Chicago Symphony is layered and the entire performance was layered with each section visible but what kept popping up in my head was the speed of the AEON 2 driver while playing the different sections of the performance. The ability to stop and start quickly made this a terrific transducer for large scale performances. The AEON 2 was up to the task of reproducing the symphony with both speed and finesse making the sound live and exciting.
The Auris Headonia was able to extract more detail from instruments without compromise and the sound of music was alive with exceptional clarity. The AEON 2 had a wide soundstage with more air and definition. The combination of the Headonia and Marantz SA10 was able to get more detail and inner resolution of instruments and was an exciting listening experience.
Kirk Whalum’s new album “Humanite” streaming from Qobuz is a new exciting jazz recording with excellent vocals by various artists. The vocal presentation from Mi Casa on “Don’t Get me Wrong” was an extraordinary performance and showcased the AEON 2’s ability to deliver the performance masterfully. The clarity of the vocal was exceptional and the tonality of the instruments were reproduced beautifully.
The AK240 and IPad Air are my travel companions that I use on flights and during summer months at my place in Cape May on the Jersey Shore. The AEON 2 was right at home, playing tunes from Tidal on the Ipad and the digital music files loaded on the AK240.
I was again treated to a stellar performance with the AEON 2, that while similar to the AEON was undeniably new and fresh with more detail and the speed of the transducer in AEON 2 which appeared much faster than the previous model. The efficiency of the driver was appreciated and driving them using either of my devices was easy and musical.
The new nitinol headband design makes it easier for storage in a backpack or travel suitcases for those long flights. Whether you are on a plane, listening at the beach or in your home the AEON 2 is a great choice for listeners on the go and less cumbersome and gives you a better experience than other portable designs without any compromise in high-end sound delivery.
The Dan Clark Audio AEON 2’s new portable design is exciting to look at and easy to use. The headband folds straight up and down, making it much easier to take on flights and make them part of your everyday lifestyle.
The new design is also lovely for using in your office and will not distract others near you with any leakage. The soft leather pads are comfortable and use excellent materials ensuring long term wear. The included tuning felt pads let the listener adjust the sound to their individual preferences and do change the sound and some may find the difference is subtle but noticeable with two slight different presentations. One felt pad offers a wider soundstage and the other makes the AEON 2 more intimate.
Isolation is excellent. The sound leakage is minimal making the AEON 2 perfect for when you just want to listen to music and avoid any distractions. The closed sound on this planar design is magnificent and does not restrict the soundstage and has an outstanding midrange with a pristine treble and extended bass that is accurate and tuneful.
Dan Clark has come a long way in the last 10 years. Starting out as MrSpeakers, he built a reputation for creating new headphone designs that led to the creation of AEON 2. When the original design was first introduced I asked Dan how he was able to develop a product in this price range that would compete with his Ether designs and told him that this may eventually become his biggest selling product and Dan told me that his goal was to deliver exceptional sound and performance to more listeners at a more affordable price that created an exceptional listening experience.
The creation of the new AEON 2 is another achievement in design with the fold-down headband and further shows Dan’s commitment to making his products the best they can be. Dan Clark Audio’s new portable AEON 2 is innovative and well thought out and designed for listeners to use in any listening environment. Dan Clark continues to develop new designs for music lovers that are groundbreaking and revolutionary. The new AEON 2 continues the tradition of MrSpeaker designs and a great beginning for Dan Clark Audio.
The gifted designer continues to push the boundaries and create new benchmarks in personal headphone design. Customers who know the man know that he is always looking to get better and with the AEON 2 he once again has created a product that will amaze listeners with their level of transparency and offer terrific value for the money.
AEON 2 is a sensational headphone for anyone on the go or the enthusiast looking for the ultimate experience in using a closed headphone. Highly Recommended.