Dan Clark Audio Aeon Flow 2 Op

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by Phantaminum, Dec 22, 2019.

  1. Phantaminum

    Phantaminum Friend

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    Aeon Flow 2 Open Review
    Gear: PC —> Bifrost 2 —> Saga + —> Oblivion Amp

    Headphones:
    Verum One
    Hifiman Ananda
    Aeon Flow 2 Open

    [​IMG]
    Build:

    The new iteration of Dan's Aeon Flow build falls in line with all of his previous headphones. They're all well made, they're light, and personally look great. Both Aeon Flow 2 models have the collapsible hinges that make it go from a full sized to being very portable. I'm surprised at how much smaller the case that these headphones came in compared to the original. It is easily half the size of the Aeon Flow Open case and can be tossed in your back pack's small pocket. The case itself is sturdy enough to protect it from bumps and scratches. I think the one thing that I was really happy about is that the earpads felt like they were better built. That seriously irked me from the previous model is that the right earpad would deform constantly and I could not get a proper seal. I would have to massage the foam back to shape of the pleather weekly. After about 75 hours of total listening (100 hours of burn time) the AF2O earpads were as good as day one. My only complaint is that there wasn't enough space inside the case to comfortably fit the headphone cable. You'd have to do some pretty good finagling to get it in there while making sure the metal connectors don't scratch the cups.

    [​IMG]

    Sound:
    The tonality of this headphone tilts warm and somewhat dark. It's warmer than both planars that I'll be comparing it to with a roll off at the top end. This is with my chain of course, and it could be that an amp like the Gilmore Lite MK2, which I've successfully used with the Aeon Flow Open, can add that extra bit of treble sparkle. It's a forgiving headphone that puts lipstick on Youtube music videos and makes badly recorded music palatable. Transients are rounded but still give a satisfying thwack while instrumental timbre is good. Instrumental notes have some real weight behind them in comparison to either the Ananda or Verum One. I think out of all of three headphones the Verum One resolves small details the best while the other two trail behind it with the exception of bass texture. The HD650 beats all of these headphones in micro dynamics but the AF2O beats them all in macro dynamics. The sound really reminds me of the AirPod 2s but in planar form.

    Sound Stage:
    In the first few hours of putting on the headphone you'll notice 2-blob headstage. Left ear cup that extends out around the size of a baseball, ditto with the right, and then a line connecting the two right between your eyes. It's a bit jarring at first before any burn in has happened. Fortunately, after 50+ hours the sound stage opens up more, the line between your eyes moves forward to in front of your face and both ends connect in a more rounded fashion. It sounds much more natural at this point and I never gave it another thought. There's a marked improvement in the sound stage going form the AFO to the AF2O. It's bigger, breathes better, and does not feel as claustrophobic as its older brother. Bass feels foward compared to the other frequencies while the rest of the frequency sits a bit further back. It's not as laid back as the Ananda but around the same as the Verum One.

    Depth/Layering/Imaging/Separation:
    There's two parts to it's depth - depth from each earcup and depth in front of your eyes. The depth in each earcup goes from behind your ear to the front of your face. Instruments placed in either left or right earcups have great depth and layering. You'll hear deep into the sound stage here and can place where each instrument is relative to each other. Then an instrument is placed in front of you and it's all kind of on the same plane. So if a reverb goes from the front to the back, you'll hear it move along with plenty of space. If you have a reverb that is close to the front of the stage and moves to the front it then abruptly stops in front of your face. One thing that did surprise me is its separation. Even with the headphone being warm there was never an instant that I recall where the bass drowned out another instrument or melded instruments together to where it made anything indistinct. Really, every note popped and felt distinct. The Ananda, as well as the Auteur, at times can meld instruments together in busy passages while other times it's not as noticeable. The AF2O just makes it easy to follow each instrument. Each image of the instrument displays great texture especially bass. Each instrument also feels rounded out almost 3D in the place they occupy.

    Bass:
    On tracks like Daft Punk's - Doing it Right, the sub bass notes give a nice low end rumble. It's not significant but it's definitely nice to feel it. Sub bass is more neutral compared to low-mid and mid bass. Low-mid bass to mid bass is forward, hits hard, and has great texture. Really, the bass on this is extremely satisfying. Very punchy and tight. This is a great headphones for Jazz, EDM, Hip-Hop, and Metal. Saying that, I feel that the low-mid to mid bass can be a bit too much at times in other genres. As an example - Blues Traveler’s Hook spotlight is on John Popper’s harmonica and vocals. It feels like the bass and the harmonica/vocals are fighting for the spotlight. On the flip side of this coin, songs like Frederick Robinson’s, Kordz’s - We’ve Been are so satisfying to hear from this headphone. The bass in this track really shows off the texture and instrument separation.

    Mids:
    Mids are great almost in all areas except for male vocals. Not sure where on the FR this is but in Daft Punk’s Fragment of Time, it sounds like the singer has a stuffy nose. Other songs that I used for separation like Tennyson’s - 7AM didn’t have this stuffy sound. Kick drums are satisfying to hear but snare drums can be a bit muted to some because of the honey filter.

    Treble:
    Treble is slightly rolled off at the top but female singers like Norah Jones and Miriah Carey sound beautiful. Cymbal crashes still sound great but again with my gear it was missing that extra zing. I think there’s an opportunity here to pair it up with an amp that adds an extra bit of sparkle up top. It’s possible at that point it would give it the needed extra bit of crunch and zing to some of these instruments.

    Headphone Comparison:

    Ananda:

    • Taller and wider sound stage. Instruments may not be as distinct as on the AF2O but they never feel crowded.
    • Similar speed.
    • Doesn’t separate instruments as well.
    • Breathes better. Guitars and vocals sound ethereal on this headphone.
    • Has a more laid back sound.
    • Doesn’t have the weight behind instruments as the AF2O. Pianos, bass lines, and kick drums have a lighter attack and sound.
    • Both have rounded transients.
    • Bass is not as textured as the AF2O. It can sound almost one note at times.
    • Both are very light and comfortable.
    • Not as well built as the AF2O and I feel more confident with Dan’s headphone than the Ananda.
    • Not as easy to transport in its big case.
    • Cable is cheap compared to the cable on the AF2O and the cable fits more secure on AF2O.

    Verum One:

    • Snappier and livelier transients. Very close to sounding like the Auteurs.
    • Both exhibit the same planar speed.
    • Has a more live sound to its presentation.
    • More neutral sounding than the AF2O. Instruments are more forward in both but the bass is more neutral and more in line with the rest.
    • Can be bright with the wrong gear while the AF2O can be dark with the wrong gear.
    • Bass isn’t as punchy as the AF2O nor is it as textured.
    • Not forgiving to badly recorded tracks.
    • Has a bigger sound stage than the AF2O but smaller than the Ananda.
    • Heavier than all the other headphones.
    • The Verum One is nowhere near as comfortable as the AF2O.
    • Not as easy to transport and doesn’t come with a case.
    • Cable is cheap compared to the cable on the AF2O and the cable fits more secure.
    Conclusion:
    It is an evolutionary step forward from the AFO and better in every way. This headphone is fantastic for EDM, Hip-Hop, and Metal. Bass texture is also fantastic compared to any of the other planars and separation is top notch. At this point you have to ask yourself what are you looking for in a headphone. If you want a very well built headphone, that’s very light and comfortable, sweet, has great note density, and is forgiving, then this is a good move. I was hoping these would replace the other two headphones and I could consolidate but that wasn’t the case.I think the pairing with the Oblivion is not the best. Possibly pairing it with a solid state from the likes of Cayin, Auralic, or the bright version of Schiit’s Jotunheim, can really get them in a good place. I still feel that the bass is tipped up too much when it comes to the rest of the FR but it does take EQ well. I find that the Verum One is still a great steal for the price if you pair it up with a more forgiving amp and I haven’t been able to find a planar like the Ananda. It’s a coherent headphone that’s a jack-of-all trades and a master of none.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
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  2. USAudio

    USAudio Rando

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    Thanks Phantaminum!
    Any experience with how these would compare to the Audeze LCD-X?
     
  3. Phantaminum

    Phantaminum Friend

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    Never owned them so I can't make a comparison.
     
  4. PacoTaco

    PacoTaco Friend

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but this seems to read like the AF2O is a superior headphone to the Ananda.

    Have you tried any other MrSpeakers products? If you have, how did you feel about them? I've been burned in the past by hoping that "this is finally the MrSpeakers product I like!" The competition in its price bracket is pretty...insane honestly (Elex, Ananda, Ether CX, Edition XX.)

    This sounds like a winner, but I don't know your tastes 100%. Going off your headphone list, it's similar to mine at least.
     
  5. Phantaminum

    Phantaminum Friend

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    It’s a great headphone if you listen to rock, metal, and EDM. It’s much better built than the Ananda and both are very lightweight. I’m the type that if I find a better sounding piece of equipment, I’ll sell what I have. I didn’t keep it and kept both the Ananda and Verum One. Found it too warm (with out filters) and too dark imho.

    I also had the Ether 2s and while technically great, I found them...boring. Could be it just needs a beefier amp (which I’m in the process filling this hole).

    You can’t go wrong with the Verum One, Elex, or Ananda (if you like this sound)
     
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  6. Skyline

    Skyline Double-blindly done with this hobby

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    I loved the original Aeon, but sold it eventually due to the claustrophobic nature and deformed earpad issues you mentioned.

    Can't wait to give these a try.
     
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  7. USAudio

    USAudio Rando

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    Yeah it's my understanding that amps with tube output stages and planars are not the best combination.

    I see you still have your HD650s, does that mean you still liked your HD650s better than the AF2Os?
    I've been on the hunt for an upgrade to my HD650s, but they are such good all-around headphones.

    Thanks!
     
  8. Mithrandir41

    Mithrandir41 Friend

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    Not quite accurate on the tube output /planar thing. It depends on headphone efficiency/amp output power, etc. An ampsandsound Kenzie (~250mw) can drive the piss out of LCD-2s or Ethers of any variety, but not LCD-4 or HE-6s. There are some great transformer coupled amps with plenty of power, just avoid OTLs in general for planars.
     
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  9. Phantaminum

    Phantaminum Friend

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    The HD650 will never be sold or traded. It’s a headphone that you can calibrate your thoughts around and, with the right amp, can beat out some higher priced headphones.

    I compared the AFO2 to the Verum One and Hifiman Ananda. I didn’t find any value in keeping the AFO2 because of how well the other two do their job in my chain. Especially the Verum One. I found the headphone too warm (I’m a closet bass head) and dark. You may like the headphone paired up with a Gilmore Lite MK2 or a bright headphone amp.

    Imho, the closest upgrade to the HD650 that I would recommend is the Auteur with the Eikon Perf pads,
     
  10. AsSiMilaTeD

    AsSiMilaTeD Rando

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    Has anyone else had a chance to listen to these?
     
  11. Ainsworth

    Ainsworth Acquaintance

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    Like USAudio, I have HD650's (actually Drop HD6XX's) and am looking to upgrade. I also have a pair of OPPO PM-3s which I like a lot. I bought the HD's in hopes that the open back design would yield a wider and deeper sound stage. I did not find that to be the case. I still listen to the HD's occasionally, but find for most music (I listen to Rock - old stuff, Jazz, Classical) I prefer the OPPOs.

    I will be paring these with a BlueSound Node2i (office) and a Schiit Magni 3 through Aric Audio Tube Preamp (main system) Like Phantaminum, I am a closet bass head (don't tell anybody). Seriously, I generally prefer an accurate tight bass, but occasionally just want to shake the walls (or my jaw) to bits.
     
  12. will_f

    will_f Friend

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    My experience with the original AFC suggests that a lot of transformer coupled tube amps will struggle with this headphone.

    My Woo WA6-SE delivers fairly anemic bass with my AFC despite a 2 watt rating at 32 Ohms. That should be at least 0.8W at the AFC’s 13 Ohm impedance and more than enough power so I think the transformer output voltage must droop significantly at low frequency and low impedance. My Lyr 3 does a much better job with its hybrid design.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2020
  13. Raimei Templar

    Raimei Templar Almost "Made"

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    I got the Aeon 2 Open a few days ago and I am really impressed with it so far. Phantamiums review is really quite spot on, though for me personally I dont find them to be too dark sounding but I am using them with Creative G6 atm as that is what I have and I am sure that is brighter than his gear!

    The biggest sonic flaw IMO, is that the area from 3-5k is quite dipped which hurts the dynamics of the headphone IMO. I actually prefer a bit of a dip here, HD650 is too much for my taste but this is a bigger dip than even I like. Its easy to fix with EQ and once I EQ it up 2db I really love it. The stuffy nose effect described is very likely due to a excess amount of energy in the 200hz region as its got a lot there and I think it sounds a little too warm at times.

    This is the most natural sounding planar I have personally heard....all of the others have a kind of artifical edge to everything that sounds like hyper clarity. It is sort of like overly sharpening a picture, it looks super clear but there is something unnatural about it. I have been looking at some of the measurements out there for it and it seems like it has almost none of the narrow Q band resonances/ringing that almost all planars suffer from. The armchair engineer in me wonders if that is the reason it sounds so natural to me compared to most other planars.

    Bass extension is also a little lacking compared to some other planars, I find it drops off at 24hz pretty sharply, even with EQ its probably not gonna be rattling your teeth.

    I want to spend more time with it before going into great detail but I am very impressed. Its my first really high end headphone though so I dont have the perspective others do but I am not disappointed by it. Was worried I would be give the price!

    I already made a EQ for it to fix what I find troublesome with the FR but its very small corrections which says a lot I think. I was using the Koss ESP 95/x before and I had a 13 band parametric EQ going with it lol.

    Preamp -3.5
    Low Shelf Filter 70hz +3.5db

    Peak Filters
    200hz Q4 -1db
    4500hz Q4 +2db
    5600hz Q6 -2.5db
    7200hz Q7 -2db
     
  14. TheIceman93

    TheIceman93 El pato-zorro

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    I've had the A2O's for a few weeks now. I haven't been able to listen to them as much as I would like but here are my impressions after 7 or 8 hours of listening.

    Tascam CD200 > Modi Multibit > Lake People RS 08

    So far, I’m on the fence about the sound. My impressions are without the tuning inserts. They are pretty articulate and the bass impact is good. The staging is very intimate and somewhat boxed in. I have a slight hearing imbalance so headphones with wide stages actually bother me because the soundstage feels lopsided. So, this staging is actually my preference but I’m an odd case and if you are used to very open staging, these headphones will probably seem too closed in to you. They are maybe a bit more open sounding than the ZMF Eikon’s I had. If you like the Hifiman's for their openness, these will feel very closed in.

    Things I like - the detail is very good overall. It picks up some little details deep in the mix that my Audeze LCD2C's miss. The soundstage has good depth front to back and it doesn’t suffer from the two blob effect that many planar’s are hindered by. Bass impact is quite good but not as impactful as the LCD2C. That headphone is downright thunderous sometimes. Overall, the tuning is pretty cohesive. Timbre is maybe a hair unnatural and steely but again, this is right out of the gate with no burn-in. (These headphones are said to change noticeably with burn-in. I'm not sure I believe it but I'll keep an open mind and test it out).

    Build quality is stellar, as is the comfort. They are so light and comfortable that I might be willing to ignore some of the tuning funkiness. The Audeze’s sound amazing but after an hour, I have to take them off because of the weight. If you value comfort, the Aeon’s are tough to beat.

    Things I don’t like - at the moment there is some noticeable recession in the mids that causes vocals to seem thin and a tad distant. This is especially evident when songs get busy. Without any tuning inserts, the highs can be a little splashy and grainy.

    The overall signature is a little dark and warm but in a pleasant way. It’s not a fatiguing headphone. The highs are maybe a tad more elevated than my preference but I’m sure the inserts can help to dial that out. I’ll be sure to test the other inserts more. I tried the lightest one (black foam) and I didn’t notice much of a difference.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
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