By any estimation, Mr Speakers has come a long way in a short time. Beginning with a modification business for the Fostex T50RP headphones, Clark built upon his background designing speakers to evolve his own proprietary planar magnetic driver concept featuring newer, lighter materials than previously used in planar cans.
The polished sound of the Ether C Flow is the result of a unique Mr Speakers-patented technical process for building planar drivers that creates creases or folds within the diaphragm to allow for a more accurate linear excursion and, thus, more precise transmission of the source signal. To oversimplify, the smoother movement of the diaphragm generates a more evenly uniform sound wave which translates to an audibly smoother listening experience without edge or sibilance, along with excellent tonal balance throughout.
The updated Ether C Flow edition has a revised driver structure called 'TrueFlow Technology' which allows for greater amounts of air volume to move freely through the magnetized array, reducing low-level distortion artifacts with improved dynamic range extension and clarity.
Above all else, the sonic signature of the V-Planar driver and Ether C Flow remains musical balance - no one instrument, voice or isolated part of the frequency range slumps over another in the presentation. Instead, we get uncluttered textures abetted by brisk dynamics that make the soundstage seem much more ‘open’ and expansively layered than normally heard in a closed-type headphone.
The overall presentation remains forward and lively, but the Ether C Flow’s coherent sense of space is perhaps the closest we’ve heard a sealed headphone sounding like an open-back can. And unlike many other closed headphones, our review team heard the Ether C Flow's low-end as being tightly corralled without any semblance of bloat or billowy resonances regardless of the music or source.
If anything, we were actually expecting a fuller presence in the lowest octave where we felt the bass underpinning could have been a bit stronger. With most recordings, there’s no question the bottom-end is pleasingly textured and well-represented albeit slightly laid back. Listeners seeking an articulate sound without need for hugely extended bass will find this headphone one of the most evenly toned presentations available anywhere.
A unique feature of the Mr Speakers Ether C Flow headphone are the earcup pad/filter inserts included with purchase. The addition or removal of the colored pads act as tuning filters so you can optimize the sound of headphones to your personal taste and equipment.
Removing all pads brightens the tone and is ideal for darker tube amps or vintage analog recordings. Using one black pad per side slightly softens the upper treble ranges, a nice thing for sharper digital recordings or colder sources. Employing both black pads per side smoothens and adds warmth to the overall tone, but also a tiny bit of murkiness around the low mids. One white pad per side brings a sweet liquidy midrange and a touch more bass presence to the fore. Leisurely experimentation swapping the filters should eventually yield the tone that best suits your ears.
As with the open-back Ether Flow model, the Ether C Flow is a universal champ in the fit and ergonomics department and demolishes the wearing comfort of most other full-size planar headphones. The extra-lightweight NiTinol (nickel/aluminum alloy) headband in conjunction with the plushest lambskin ear pads this side of an Italian leather sofa render the Flow among the most comfortable our testers have worn. The headband can be adjusted to fit any size head without either overt clamping force or slippage ruining the listening experience. Good stuff!