A MrSpeakers review is a very long time overdue on Inearspace and for good reason. What started off as one man (Dan Clark) modding Fostex T50RP headphones on forums under the handle of MrSpeakers ended up as a fully fledged business making their own headphones from the ground up. It has been quite the journey from strength to strength for Dan and his team and after years of pushing the drivers found in the budget Fostex to the limit he used that as research to build his own planar magnetic driver to go in their first open backed model, the Ether. Fast forward a little further down the line and a result of their research into TrueFlow technology and the Ether had evolved into a new flagship model, the Ether Flow. This is the model I have ended up with and will be reviewing today. While in the big picture of flagship headphones this is no where near the most costly (in fact my pair are sitting next to the Ultrasone Edition 10 and Crosszone CZ-1 that both are circa $3k) at $1,799 they are still a considerable expense.
Before we get to wrapped up into the headphones I want to talk a little deeper into the brand. As an onlooker watching them progress over the last 5 years I have always been thoroughly impressed by the methodology they used and also how they made considerable leaps forward from model to model. That being said one of the biggest things that put me off is their rate of upgraditis, even more shocking than Apple and their iPhone. Their original model the Mad Dog had way too many revisions to remember and even today the Ether lasted less than a year before the Flow variation come along. Of course they are helpful in allowing you to upgrade at a fair price of $349.99 from Ether to Ether Flow but as a consumer what would worry me is how quickly my new exciting purchase would be outdated. Even as I have gone through this review process I have been a little panicky that it may be revised before I had finished! I have no problem with the desire to improve but I think it can be done in a way that is a little more respectful to the buyer. Just one mans take!
Coming in a hardshell pouch that is contoured to the headphones, the package I received was simple. I really like the case, it reminds me of that of V-Moda and is both portable and protective! Also included is their DUM cable. This is a $199.99 option itself and is made up of a 24AWG OFHC conductors. DUM means distinctly un magical. While it doesn’t claim to be made up of anything special they worked with a certain cable designer on this and went through a lot of revisions so that it sounded a lot better that their stock cable. On checkout you can choose what connector you want it terminated in be it balanced or single ended. I requested dual 3 pin XLR for my Questyle CMA800R’s, apparently they don’t do that option, disappointing. The cable is light and fairly flexible with a woven sheath around the metal. It does indeed seem good quality for an included cable. Maybe a little more magical than they let on.
All MrSpeakers cans are not only designed and tested in San Diego, but built there with such confidence in their product they give a two year warranty for parts and labour. I think that is a good start and it continues into everything physical about this headphone. It doesn’t really look like any other models on the market and with this being their first model made completely from scratch I think they have done a very mature job. The suspension headband is light and seemingly floats upon your head and the angled lamb leather pads that cushion your ear have been raged about from day one with good reason. I think that all the small details in the design make the weight distributed very evenly and smartly to make them feel much lighter than they are. However they still are 370g and I feel like my neck has started to take abuse from years of heavy headphones (think HiFiMAN HE-500) and thick cables (DHC Complement 2) because after hours of listening to these I do feel some fatigue in my neck. I am sincere when I say these are some of the comfiest headphones when initially put on and stay like that for a solid period.
Zoning in on one of the cooler parts of the build quality is how it utilises metal throughout for the upmost strength. Even cooler is some smart options such as the use of NiTinol in the aforementioned headband that keep things as weightless as can be. The NiTinol headband really is one of the more intelligent departments of the construction with it not only being tough but also making sure the headband is clamping just the right amount on your head, just an additional reason for them being so comfy. We of course also have a detachable cable albeit via a method that is not utilised by anyone else meaning that you will have to get cables made especially for your MrSpeaker headphones.
Go with the Flow
As mentioned earlier this is the latest Flow edition of the Ether, incorporating TrueFlow technology. TrueFlow is Mr Speakers label for their method of optimizing the motor to have reduced turbulence within. You probably know to some degree that headphone driver incorporates a magnet but the way they are positioned with a right angle they are effecting how the audio waves are passing them. This interrupts the signal slightly, causing turbulence and causing detrimental effects to the sound such as masking low level details. Their fix is simple and not something elaborate and crazy, just practical. They have filled the area between the magnets to have waves flow through a flat surface.
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