CanJam NYC 2022: Dan Clark Audio

Why do the names of some headphone brands sound like they originated with marketing flacks or PR hacks? Some brands have natural, fuzzy sounding names, others a sci-fi bent.

So What do you get from Dan Clark Audio? Obviously, Dan Clark!

In preparation for this show report, I quietly asked for recommendations from my headphone-oriented buddies, from Audiophiliac Steve Guttenberg to physicist-audiophile Miguel Barrio. And of course, Herb Reichert. To a man, they whispered "Dan Clark Audio." So into the Dan Clark Audio room I walked to hear their new closed-back, planar-magnetic Stealth ($3999).

A little tired and out of sorts, Dan Clark Audio's Andrew Regan dealt patiently with my questions, setting me straight and educating me at the same time. Regan spoke of the Stealth's new suspension, which enhances comfort, and its aluminum and carbon cups. The Dan Clark Audio website mentions the Stealth's "Acoustic Metamaterial Tuning System" (AMTS) that "delivers unprecedented high-frequency detail and clarity"; a fourth-generation v-Planar driver with "our largest planar diaphragm to date"; an "improved driver tensioning system"; a "pre-formed ergonomic strap"; "strap quilting" that "improves comfort and reduces heat"; "composite synthetic suede and protein-leather pads" said to offer "a snug fit with minimal clamp." The website also mentions that the Stealth was "designed and built by hand in San Diego, California."

The Stealth looks stealthy; it doesn't draw attention to itself but, rather, charms its way into surroundings. Indeed, on a casual look, only the word "STEALTH," embroidered on the headstrap, clearly distinguishes this model from the Dan Clark Ether ($1799), Voce ($2995), and Aeon ($899) models, which I also heard in the Dan Clark Audio room.

I started with Billie Eilish's "Billie's Bossa Nova," then switched to Sly and Robbie's "Rebel." Playback was via Roon and iPad. The Stealth was plugged in to an AmpsandSound Red October amp. I was bowled over by the Stealth's enormous soundstage and its clear and punchy rendition of Sly's slamming rim clicks and Robbie's loping bass. The Stealth's presentation had separation, air, layering, punch, and that feeling of a live event. But with all that, they sounded relaxed and non-fatiguing.

Anton's picture

Even though I don’t take part in this aspect of the hobby, I love reading about it!

Kudos for great coverage!