Trying Dan Clark Audio’s Unreleased Corina Electrostatic Headphone At CanJam 2023
Dan Clark Audio’s top-shelf selections have never failed to impress me. The Stealth, and especially The Expanse, rank pretty high up in my all time favorites. Needless to say, I was pretty hyped to get the chance to try the Dan Clark Corina, a new high-end electrostatic release from the company that won’t be shipping out until May 2023. I got a pretty good listen in with it – well, 15 minutes, which is about a day in CanJam time for a headphone that people are eagerly lining up to try.
So, what does the Corina sound like? To be fair to Dan Clark Audio, I won’t pretend to treat this like a proper long form review – 15 minutes of listening is unfair for any headphone, especially one with a $4,499 price tag. So instead, I offer my general first impressions as something between a sneak peak and a bragging right.
Look and Feel
It’s apparent that Dan Clark Audio is more-or-less maintaining the physical design of the Stealth and The Expanse for The Corina – something I’m grateful for, as I can say that all three models are incredibly comfortable headphones with particularly well calibrated suspension headbands. The only fit difference is the shape of the cans and thus the pads: unlike the Stealth’s and Expanse’s triangular shape, the Corina is circular and features pads with a rectangular space for a listener’s ear.
Another palimpsest in the Corrina’s design is found in the classy blue stitching heavily featured in the headband – it’s pretty much the Expanse’s headband, that logically enough, has “Corina” stitched on top.
Unique to the Corina is an utterly elegant acoustic grill featured on its open-back cans. If the Dan Clark Expanse looked like some sort of alien tool, the Corina looks like a mandala you would find in an esoteric alien temple.
We see the AMTS (Acoustic Metamaterial Tuning System) featured in the Expanse and the Stealth in the Corina. It also features an 88mm electrostatic driver with consistent diaphragm tension for increased accuracy. If the Expanse and Stealth were the Aeon receiving a royal makeover, Corina makes it clear that it’s the Ether’s turn.
Tracks I listened to in my short time with the Dan Clark Corina: A Slow Dawning of Peace by Melody’s Echo Chamber, New Universe by Szun Waves, Chamber of Reflection by Mac DeMarco. All listens were through a tube amp.
Short form impression: The Corina sounds addictively smooth, heavy, detailed, and big.
Soundstage Spatial qualities in spades. Massive reach over and behind my shoulders. Very wide space between the left and right sides in the stereo field that make pans feel fast and dramatic. Panned placements of dry tracks with their wet reverb signals feel enormous and jarringly realistic. The sort of cloud-of-sound experience, not unlike the Expanse, that I suppose I should start expecting from Dan Clark’s ultra-premium open-backs.
Balance and Timbre Semi-dark signature. My very first impression when listening to “New Universe” by Szun Waves was how thick and full the opening bass line sounded – I’m not sure if I would attribute this to an outright boosted low end, but rather a specialty the Corina seems to have with presenting low ends in high-def detail.
If there was any sort of mid range emphasis, I suppose I would say mild weight was placed on the low mids. This may well be an effect of the tube amp through which I was listening to the Corina, but then again, electrostatic headphones and tube amps are a popular pairing, and it’s likely that many future Corina owners will be using tubes somewhere in their chain. But overall, vocals were sounding perfectly natural and balanced, while acoustic guitars had somewhat weighted tone.
A cautious treble profile seemed to contribute to the Corina’s heavier, darker sound as well. The saxophone that tears through the beginning of “A Slow Dawning of Peace” by Melody’s Echo Chamber exemplified the pros of its high-end: the buzzy reed texture retained its aggressive timbre details while the more harmonically rich “horn” sounding part of the sax’s timbre completed avoided painful low-mid treble peaks. Detailed, tasteful – yes, but more than anything, this is a silky smooth high end.
Though I would generally call the Corina a thicker sounding headphone, this heft is unique and not at all detrimental separation, speed, and clarity. It gave weight to my listens without giving the the signature concrete shoes and throwing it into the Hudson River. What’s more, the Corina seems to be a very eclectic headphone that I can foresee electronic fans enjoying just as much as treble-sensitive jazz or classical listeners.
I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the Dan Clark Corina for a good lengthy listen and a more detailed review. Dan Clark Audio is sitting on something special, again.
Anyway CanJam isn’t quite over yet. Maybe I got one more in me, we’ll see.
Good deals on Dan Clark Audio headphones can be found here at Audio46
Compare the ranking of various headphones, earbuds and in-ear monitors using our tools.
Discuss this, and much more, over on our forum.---
MAJORHIFI may receive commissions from retail offers.