Dan Clark Audio E3 Review

Dan Clark Audio E3 Review by MajorHiFi

There’s a new closed-back headphone from Dan Clark Audio that has just been released. Their last premium closed-back headphone was the Stealth, which sits at a high price and is some audiophile’s endgame headphones. With the E3, Dan Clark looks to offer a new pair of headphones that sits in between the Stealth and their AEON series. The E3 is priced at $1999, joining another big closed-back audiophile favorite, the Meze Liric. Can the E3 meet the standards of other premium closed-back headphones?

What You Get

  • E3 headphones
  • Carrying case
  • Choice of 4-pin VIVO cable
  • Drawstring bag

Dan Clark Audio E3 headband

Look & Feel

Nothing has changed with the basic structure of Dan Clark Audio’s headphones here, and I don’t think anyone will mind that. You have the same yokes and suspension headband as many other headphones from Dan Clark’s lineup. These materials have worked for almost all headphones in their catalog, and I can see why there would be no rush for a redesign.  The E3 looks as if someone flatted out the Stealth and added a glass surface. It brings a gloss to the earcups makes the E3 stand out from every other headphone in this price range, but I can see it being easy to scratch if you’re not careful. In terms of comfort, you still have ear cups that completely seal your entire ear, offering isolation with minimal pressure.

Dan Clark Audio E3 above


The E3 houses some innovative technology with its planar driver. With the E3, Dan Clark uses a 5th generation planar, combined with a new tensioning system for its diaphragm. This configuration aims to eliminate noise and enhance efficiency. It also uses Dan Clark’s Acoustic Metamaterial Tuning System, which was introduced with the Stealth. AMTS is a separate device that is a part of the E3’s configuration, and it helps regulate the signal by controlling diffusion, and more aggressive high-frequency information.

Dan Clark Audio E3 side


When the E3 was announced, Dan Cark Audio made sure to mention that they wanted the E3 to have an open-back soundstage in a closed-back headphone. After listening to the E3, that statement feels completely accurate to my experience with these headphones. The E3 is one of the best closed-back soundstages you can get. It’s able to display a large stereo field that feels way outside of your head. Nothing about the soundstage appears to be limited to the closed-back principle of the headphones. That goes for how the sounds operate from left to right, as well as up and down.

Just like some of the best open-back headphones, the E3 surrounds you like a holographic sphere of sound. The spatial imaging makes the music feel floaty, but properly distanced into clear patterns. You don’t get precise positioning, but the sonic environment does a phenomenal job of immersing you in its layered performance anyway. With how much expansion you get in the top and middle layers of each track, I don’t mind missing some pinpoint localization as long as I’m still going to be engrossed by the performances around me.

Low End

I think the bass does exactly what Dan Clark Audio was going for with their Dual-Mode design. While I wasn’t too impressed with its overall presence in the sound signature at first, the response started to win me over the more I listened. This isn’t a low-end that will immediately strike at you with conventional punch and impact. The main goal of these lows is to give you a great balance of tone and detail with leveled gain. This results in more dynamic bass instruments that resonate cleanly, offering smooth frequency content throughout the low-end spectrum. There’s just enough of a sub-bass rumble that gives you a satisfying vibration. It crawls up and supplies enough body to the bass that everything always feels full.


A great amount of midrange detail comes across as incredibly lush and expressive through the E3. You get a sense that each instrument in the mix is individualized and shaped with great transparency. There’s a spike in the upper mids that helps underline these sound elements, but it comes across smoothly. The timbre of the mids comes across as easygoing, with notes that take their time resonating in their roomy space. You don’t get that sense of velocity to the performances, but the relaxed timbre is welcomed with its serene detail.


While not the most easy-to-digest treble at points, the highs still grant you an enjoyable waft of detail. With some of the more expressive parts of the region, the highs seem to have a bit more amplitude to them compared to the rest of the frequency response. This can cause some peaks, but they still come across as controlled and realistic. That relaxed timbre in the lows and mids isn’t heard here though, and it makes the tail end of certain of certain instruments feel crisper. It’s not so much a texture as it is more gain to the accents of the sound.


I set my expectations for the E3 very high, as I think more closed-back headphones in this price bracket are necessary. Nothing about the E3 felt disappointing, even when it lacked texture in some areas. The design is pretty immaculate, with its glass plates in addition to the compact structure that Dan Clark Audio is known for. Everything about the headphone’s sound and design is exactly what Dan Clark Audio set out to do. The execution has never been smoother, and I can’t wait to see how Dan Clark Audio uses these new driver elements with future headphones.

Major Hifi Silver

The Dan Clark Audio E3 is available at Audio46.

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Alex S. is a sound designer and voice-over artist who has worked in film, commercials, and podcasts. He loves horror movies and emo music.