MrSpeakers Ether C Flow Sealed Planar Magnetic Headphone

About a year and a half ago, Mr. Speakers made the bold move of transitioning from a company that modified and remanufactured Fostex T50RP headphones, to a full-fledged manufacturer making headphones from start to finish. Central to the development was a new planar magnetic driver designed with Bruce Thigpin of Eminent-Technology featuring a knurled diaphragm claimed to deliver pistonic movement over a larger surface area than traditional designs. Check out my Ether review for a detailed explanation. I found it an excellent headphone; competitive in its class; but a tad bright.

Shortly thereafter Mr. Speakers introduced the Ether C, a closed version of the headphone. The Ether C had added a bit more bass in its response, which gave it a warmer tone than its open sibling, and I found it to be the best sealed headphone I'd heard to date.

Then, earlier this year, Mr. Speakers introduced the Ether Flow adding TrueFlow baffles intended to reduce turbulence as sound waves passed through the magnetic structure of the driver. You can read my thoughts about the TrueFlow baffles and the sound quality of the headphones in my Ether Flow review. Suffice it to say the Ether Flow, combined with the near simultaneous introduction of the Focal Utopia and Elear, disrupted the state of flagship headphones...and InnerFidelity's Wall of Fame for full-sized open headphones.

In my mind, Mr. Speakers had become a world-class enthusiast headphone maker.

And it was with that mind-set, biasing that it might be, that I eagerly awaited the coming Ether C Flow. My feelings are mixed.

Mr. Speakers Ether C Flow ($1850)
The Ether C Flow is a full-sized, sealed planar magnetic headphone. From its carbon fiber capsule covers, to its Nitinol headband with machined aluminum swivels, to its ample glove-leather ear pads, this is an impeccably built headphone with tasty form-follows-function styling, and is a delight to wear. Externally, the only difference between the Ether C and Ether C Flow is the carbon fiber weave on the new model is finer. If you'd like to read a more detailed description of the headphone construction, build quality, and comfort—which are all superb—see InnerFidelity's Ether C review.

Numerous DUM (Distinctly Un-Magical) cable/connector options are available at time of purchase; after-market cables are available from all the normal suspects. The cable is terminated at the headphone end with www.evalucon.com part number SN-8-4(P) connectors found in this .pdf. These connectors snap into place and provide a mechanically secure connection. These connectors are available affordably ($6.99 ea.) from MrSpeakers. Really nice.

Also included is a molded, hard-side, clam-shell carry case. It's extremely functional and extraordinarily fugly...which might be a good thing as it may prevent pilfering hands.

The biggest difference between the Ether C and Ether C Flow for the user is that the older model came with some tuning pads that allowed you to slightly modify the sound of the headphones. The Ether C Flow has permanently installed damping materials in front of the TrueFlow baffles.

Let's get to sound quality....

COMPANY INFO
MrSpeakers Headphone Products
3366 Kurtz Street
San Diego, CA 92110
619.501.6313
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Dreyka's picture

You mentioned with the Ether Flow that you had trouble getting it to seal which was the reason for the poor THD+N performance. Why is this the case with these headphones.

I don't even think the Ether Flow should be considered an open headphone considering the noise attenuation is like that of semi-open designs.

Apothecary2's picture

There always seems to be people who freak out whenever the M50x is compared positively to more expensive headphones.

von Schatu's picture

Very nice and honest review. I was kind of expecting your mixed feelings when I have first seen the rugged frequency response of the headphone.

Your opinion of the 6k peak of the Ether C Flow reaffirmed my thoughts, that the Harman curve in the 3-10k region is incomplete. I have several good quality sealed headphone at home (M50x, M70x, MSR7, PM-3), and almost every one of them has a smaller or bigger dip in that region. At least the ones that sound good. If you check you see that the Ether C has one as well. The only headphone that I have that tries to follow the Harman curve - albeit with a 10k peak - in this area is the M70x, and it is pretty abrasive to the ears. But when you remove the 10k peak and lower the whole region by 3-4 dB, the sound improves immensely! Therefore I think it would be an area worth researching.

By the way it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on the M70x. They are not the most musical headphones for sure, but for the price they follow the Harman curve like no other, and their sound signature is very close to mastering loudspeakers.

ADU's picture

The Harman curve really only applies to: 1) measurements made with the same head and torso simulator as theirs (Tyll & IF use a different HATS system), and 2) those who prefer Harman's "preferred in-room listening" curve. That was my takeaway anyway from the articles and measurements made in the Harman Reference room.

Harman's calibrated/preferred in-room response (which is also the basis of their target headphone response curve) was the result of subjective tests with both trained and untrained listeners. And it is not necessarily an accurate representation of the steady-state (aka "in-room") response of an anechoically flat speaker.

ADU's picture

"Preferred in-room listening" should've been "preferred in-room _loudspeaker_".

luvmusik's picture

Wish someone might let Tyll borrow a bass heavy version of the vintage Sony MDR-R10 in mint audio shape for him to review. Forgoing their expense, it would really be an interesting review, perspective and historic mark. Iconic closed back biocellulose woody tested in modern times, and probably much fun in the listening process.

Three Toes of Fury's picture

1) Thanks Tyll! always love new cans reviews!

2) The harman curve finding..and that matching closely to the curve isnt necessarily a guarantee of a perfect sounding headphone..is very interesting. I suppose it helps validate that while there's alot of great data which can be gathered and analyzed for headphones, we arent yet at a place where that data can completely tell us what we want to know.

3) I very much appreciate the comparison to other closed headphones..especially ones in different price brackets. The closed can quest is a challenging one..fraught with the limitation of closed backs....but its good to see what cans sound well in this realm.

Peace .n. Living in Stereo

3ToF

NickS's picture

Thank you for this review. I had intended to update my Ether C to the Ether Flow C, but will now make sure to give the new model a listen before ordering the upgrade.

Based on the lack of mention in the video and elsewhere, I think you like the Oppo PM-3 considerably less than Bob Katz. It would be interesting for the two of you to explore this more as it might help readers get a handle on your personal listening tastes/biases. (The PM-3 is my second favorite closed headphone, after the the Ether C.)

hanshopf's picture

Bob Katz also raved about LCD-X, which Tyll did not really get warm with. I bought PM-3 as well as LCD-X after reading Bob's insightful articles, but must say that I am disappointed by both of them (to a lesser degree with the Oppo because it's very good for a closed can) and disagree, that either of them is neutral. I am experienced enough to know how an orchestra sounds in the hall and afterwards in the studio, but do not find, that any headphones I met delivers this same degree of naturalness in timbre that I hear in the studio. Bob's writing made me hope that the Oppo and to a lesser degree the LCD-X deliver in that sense. But for me they don't. I tend to believe this has less to do with different views on what neutral is meant to be, but more with different listening experiences due to different HRTF's. Probably the only way to be sure that everybody hears the same with headphones is personal HRTF. I therefore doubt that a discussion between Bob and Tyll about why they experience the PM-3 differently would bring fruitful results.

NickS's picture

That could certainly be one of the topics. I'm not sure why you would not want to put what you "tend to believe" to the test and have them compare with and without a HRTF.

hanshopf's picture

Yeah, right, but I think both of them stated their opinions extensively. I believe there are more fruitful topics to discuss, for example the detailed evaluation of what the measurements tell us, which Tyll made this summer at Harman's studio.

zobel's picture

But not as good as the Sennheiser HD 380Pro. Almost everyone likes the Sennheisers better, especially if you have comfort in mind, and larger ears. They are $150 also, bur definitely better than the ATH M50X. They are audiophile quality with better low bass and better balance across the entire frequency range than the HD600, for example.

mav52's picture

I really enjoy your reviews, but in your listening sessions , why not mention what headphone amp your using.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I always use my reference headphone amp, the Simaudio Moon Neo HA430.
satir's picture

Every iteration of Ether now has Inner Fidelity puffy award. All bruised egos soothed now?

Corsair's picture

A bit negative, but on the money

Andrew452's picture

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