The MrSpeakers Ether C is a closed-back full-size headphone and part of the recent resurgence of high-end planar-magnetic cans, including the similarly ‘made-in-the-USA’ Audeze headphones. MrSpeakers began in San Diego with a singular drive to make planar-magnetics that not only sounded amazing, fit superbly, and looked great, but also alleviated the usual planar headphone bugaboos of neck-straining heavyweight bulk. Safe to say, they’ve succeeded on all fronts.
The Ether C is among the lightest headphones in its class and the wearing comfort is simply outstanding. Even during long listening sessions, it's perhaps the most comfortable headphone we have encountered thanks to the ingenious use of new lightweight materials and a proprietary ergonomic design that makes it seem like you are wearing a much smaller, lighter on-ear headphone. Aided by the secure yet extremely light-feeling clamping force of the Nitinol headband, the Ether C stays where you put it regardless of the shape or size of your head. Compared to all the other, much heavier planar-magnetic models currently available, the Ether C wins the comfort contest hands-down without debate.
Sonically, the Ether C’s particular strengths are its open-sounding clarity and the sense of black space around the notes which greatly contributes to its pristine, immaculate tonal balance. The imaging spatiality and the vast depth of field exhibited by the Ether C make it completely unlike any other closed-back can we’ve heard to date; there’s absolutely no trace of closed-in congestion or musically boxy artifacts heard in the Ether C’s presentation. Compared to its open-back sibling the Ether, the Ether C shares a very similar soundstage perspective that places each instrument in perfect relief and makes it easy to envision the space the instruments and vocals inhabit within the recording. Most notably for a closed-back can, the Ether C delivers a revelatory listening experience actually seeming able to hear the room sound and the air move and breathe around the voices and instruments.
Comparing the Ether C to the Audeze LCD-XC planar-magnetic closed-back headphone, we found the Audeze offered a deeper, more authoritative low-end with clearly improved textures and bass heft. However, the Ether C has slightly better brilliance and resolution in the upper highs and, again, the sense of instruments living and breathing in actual deep space with the Ether C is simply unbeatable. Pitting the Ether C against the discontinued DENON AH-D7000 dynamic closed-back headphones (designed/manufactured by Fostex) made for a close competition with the muscular DENON again besting the low punch of the Ether C but lacking the openness and space of the Ether C’s deep soundstage. Interestingly, when compared to the open-back Ether, the Ether C bass response seemed a hair more laid-back and less punchy, an unexpected reversal of our expectations given the typical open versus closed-back results.
In the end, we thought the Ether C to be perhaps akin to a crisp BMW/European type of sound - all clean lines, agile speed, and open, uncluttered space. The Audeze LCD- XC, then, becomes the big American muscle car, full of brawny power and deep torque with a memorable wallop topping off the meaty sound. The Fostex TH-900 Mk II is the one-off Japanese low-rider of the group with a decadent, soulful tone that brings recordings up-close and personal, just like an exciting street bike brings the curves of the road right to you. Naturally, each will have its own adherents and individual strengths but perhaps the best part of the story is how the unprecedented growth of the planar headphone category - and sealed headphones overall - in the last 5 years now caters to an increasingly wide swath of audiophile listener, and not just studio recording pros. So whatever particular sound signature you’re looking for, there’s a killer planar-magnetic headphone waiting for you out there. No doubt, planar magnetics are back and here to stay!
We know its not easy deciding among all these ridiculously awesome headphones, so please feel free to give our expert headphone.com team a call and we’ll be glad to attempt to break it down even further. And keep in mind our easy 30-day return policy ensures you’ll love what your ears hear - or your money back!Read more about MrSpeakers Ether C
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