Closed Back contrast advice?

Happy Saturday everyone,

So I recently asked a question to the community if the Clear MG or Auteur would be a good contrast to the Arya V3. Pretty much the answer was not really considering the tunings were fairly similar though both a bit warmer.

So that brought me to dig deeper into my research to where I’m now thinking of getting my first high end closed back. I love the Arya…loved the MG Pro when I had them…so that’s why I’m sticking to high end for now.

I’ve kinda narrowed it down to the Focal Radiance or DCA 2 Noire. Though the LCD XC also looks good…I don’t care to own something that heavy for longer sessions…at least not at this time. Also I don’t really care to EQ, which I know would be needed for the xc.

Did I miss another headphone in this range? My musical preferences are pretty wide but I will say the more punchier genres are what lack on my Arya. Hence the reason I’m looking for contrast. Punch and Slam is not my only reason for looking too…as I know the Focals excell at that already. Rock, Metal, hip-hop and rap, Electronic…and always gaming would be main genres, however I do love to chill with Acoustic with great vocals. Probably the only genre I don’t get into is country.

I know I watched recently that DMS got the Radiance and enjoys them. Chrono got the Noire…that was kinda my jumping off point to dive in.

Love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this.

they may have similar tuning but that does not mean they will sound the same, especially being the Arya are planar and the Clear (as the chosen contrast) are dynamic. that alone tells enough they will nit be the same. so there could be similarities, but still very different.

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Oh agreed. The MG Pro definitely hit harder and was a smoothed out treble compared to the Arya. That’s why I thought radiance as a closed back isolated option may work out. Or the Noire… Or the _____

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any headphone you try will not be a mistake. you may not like a headphone but it won’t be a mistake because you experienced something and learned more about what you like, dislike, as well as the sound profiles of the assortment of gear you used those headphones with.

so you can be disappointed and annoyed, but you made no mistake.

one good reason to buy used as that drops the cost of your education as if you decide to flip whatever you got you likely won’t lose money, mebe even make some if you scored a deal. :wink:

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Audiotechnica ATH-AWAS might be right up your alley - it is regarded as having the bass that AWKT reputedly lacks, but at the cost of being less technically able than the AWKT.

Fostex TH900 Mk2, and Denon AH-D7200/9200 are closed backs at a similar price range to Radiance, which have a rather good reputation (especially with the Lawton mods).

I’ve not heard any of the above, but I keep reading and watching reviews and comparisons, still trying to get a handle on my own next move.

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I just got a used pair of the DCA Aeon 2 Closed with the Noire fenestrated pads – so, basically a Noire.

I haven’t tried the Radiance but have tried the Celestee and owned the Elegia, which I just sold and replaced with the Aeon 2 Closed with the Noire pads.

For me, it’s no contest. The A2C are a LOT better than the Elegia for rock, alt-country, alt-rock and the psychedelic bluegrass than I enjoy.

The A2C have much better tuning for those genres than the Elegia. Not nearly as mids-forward, with no treble stabs, either. Rich, warm bass that doesn’t seep into the mids. Not as much punch and slam as the Elegia, but more balance when bass punch isn’t called upon.

Granted, the Elegia have considerably better detail, but I’m willing to trade that for slightly blunted treble that doesn’t lead to fatigue and better tuning, period. The Elegia have a metallic timbre I could never wrap my head around. There’s still ample detail and musicality with the A2C.

I know I’m not comparing apples to apples, as the Radiance are not the Elegia. But I find the A2C with Noire pads to be a much more enjoyable listen with rock and alt-country – my primary genres – than the Elegia.

If I wanted a closed-back dynamic for classical, strings and piano jazz, the Elegia would be the pick. They’re wonderful for those genres. But they were the most genre-specific, position-on-head-sensitive headphones I’ve owned, so the A2C have been a fine upgrade for me.

The Celestee didn’t impress me much at all during an extended listen last fall in a shop with top-level gear in Seattle. Then I walked across the street and tried the Focal Stellia TOTL closed-back at another shop, and it remains the best headphone I’ve heard.

So, there is some variance in “the Focal sound.” But I’m pleased as punch with my A2C with Noire pads.

Good luck!

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Really appreciate all the feedback so far.

The more video watching I do, more reading I do…the more I am seeing the Radiance as fitting my preference. I’m not done yet however and things can change!

I had not looked into the Audiotechnica very much, so I’ll be looking into those offerings. I had been leaning more towards the DCA Noire simply because I had not heard/owned from that company yet. I need a better reason then that though of course. I’m finding that I may just be more of a dynamic driver preferred listener (though I have a huge love for the Arya).

If only that was within the price range!


I have been on a closed back binge for the last year.

  1. I hated the Audio Technica WP900.

  2. I was not keen on the Beyer T5’s. Bass and not much else.

  3. The T60 Argons are great bang for the buck, but lack ultimate clarity. Also they need some power to run.

  4. THE CFA Cascades are a ton of fun, but have a Horrible headband and, to me, are not an every day headphone.

  5. I LOVE my Focal Elex’s and was hoping for a closed back Elex. The Elegia’s were not it. I liked them, but thought they lacked bass. Bought some Dekoni Sheepskins. They “bassed” it up, but changed the sound. Found a used pair of the now discontinued Dekoni Limited Edition Stellia pads. Wow! The Focal sound with some lower end authority. :+1:

  6. Lastly, the LSA HP-2’s from Underwood HiFi. These are amazing! Articulate, balanced and Very open sounding. If you can afford it, I would even step up to the Gjallorhorn GH50’s. Kennerton also makes the LSA line, if you didn’t know. I was leery on the Gjallorhorns price before so I cheaped out with the LSA 'phones. Kennerton stuff is awesome.

  7. The Focal Elegia is certainly the cheaper option, but requires the Dekoni Stellia pads.

  8. Kennerton headphones are the most balanced headphone I have ever heard. If you are looking for a more upscale closed back, I would look at these. Although there is the war problem…

I have never heard any DCA headphones, but have three comments from my (constant, never ending) research:

  1. The foam in the pad seems to regularly deform and you have to massage it back into place. I believe they even have a YouTube video for it.

  2. The pads are glued on. That is a deal breaker for me.

  3. They use an unusual kind of cable and it will definitely be special order to upgrade, be it HAC or one of the higher end companies. Much like my Cascades. :unamused:

  4. They also take a good amount of power to sound their best.

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I did the same with Dekoni Sheepskins and my Elegia. Didn’t like it, either. Muddied the midrange. I decided to sell the Elegia after that. Something about the tuning and timbre that just didn’t agree with me over about three or four months of use.

Sadly, the Dekoni Stellia Limited Edition pads are discontinued and tough to find.

I thought about Kennerton’s or the Underwood version of them before the war started, but I’m not keen on doing any business with any Russian companies right now.

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I do not like Putin nor any company that funnels him money. I doubt that a small headphone company falls into that category, but of course that is personal choice.

Also, receiving the products in north america might prove pretty difficult too.

Thank you again to everyone for the input. After more video/written research I have finally decided on the Radiance. I’ll for sure post my thoughts on them once I have them and had a chance to listen for a bit. The closed back market is very sparse (in terms of quality) so hopefully these will fit in the way I am hoping.

Seems like the iem market is the real way to go for a true closed back variety…however I am just not a big iem guy.

I was able to add a couple of more HP’s to my list thanks to the recommendations from above which was the entire point of the post.

Hopefully the next CanJam that I plan to attend will have some things for me to listen to.

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I’m just going to leave this here…

In case you decide to stretch the budget a bit - the little I’ve heard about this mod seems to indicate it to be an upgrade over either Stellia or Radiance…

These aren’t mine, btw… I have no dog in this fight other than to say this mod is likely in contention for my own end game upgrade once I get past the wife’s incredulousness at how much I spent on my amp and dac.