By any estimation, Dan Clark’s Mr Speakers has come a long way in a short time. Beginning with a successful modification business for the line of Fostex T50RP planar headphones, Clark built upon his background designing speakers to evolve his own proprietary planar magnetic driver concept featuring newer, lighter materials than had been previously used in planar headphones.
Co-designed with planar magnetic scientist Bruce Thigpen, Clark’s unique ‘Vplanar’ driver presents significantly lower levels of measurable distortion with improved extension at both ends of the audio spectrum compared to normal planar magnetic drivers. The polished performance of the Ether C Flow is the result of a unique Mr Speakers-patented technical process for building planar magnetic drivers that creates creases or folds within the diaphragm allowing for 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 a near-perfect tonal balance throughout.
The updated Ether C Flow edition offfers an improved driver structure that Mr Speakers calls 'TrueFlow Technology' which allows for greater amounts of air volume to move freely through the magnetized speaker array, reducing low-level distortion artifacts with improved dynamic range extension and clarity.
Above all else, the sonic signature of the Vplanar driver and the Ether C Flow remains dazzling musical balance - no one instrument, voice, or isolated part of the frequency range slumps over another in the presentation. Instead, we get uncluttered, spacious textures abetted by surprisingly brisk dynamics that make the soundstage seem much more ‘open’ and expansively layered than normally heard in a closed 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. To our ears, the highs are tightly focused with no trace of peakiness even at loud volumes. Midranges are crisp, even-toned and delightfully clear with a very impressive timbral accuracy and a nicely chesty vocal space, especially for a closed-back construction.
Perhaps most notably, the Ether C Flow's bass response defies the typical sealed earcup expectation of a boomy, undifferentiated low-end. Unlike with many other closed cans, our headphone.com review team heard the Ether C Flow 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 bit fuller bass presence in the lowest octaves under 80-100 Hz where we felt the bass underpinning could have actually been a bit stronger at times. With most recordings, there’s no question the lows are pleasingly textured and well-represented albeit slightly laid-back. However, for listeners seeking a clearly articulate sound without demand for hugely extended bass will likely find this headphone one of the most evenly toned presentations available anywhere.
The other cool feature of the Mr Speakers Ether C Flow headphone are the earcup pad/filter inserts included in the package. The addition or removal of the variously colored pads act as tuning filters for the headphones and allows adaptability between different types of music, audio sources and/or listening preferences, so you can optimize the headphones to your personal taste and equipment.
Removing all the pads brightens the tone and might be suitable with darker tube amps and some older vintage analog rock and soul recordings. Using one black pad per side works to slightly soften the upper treble ranges, a nice thing for sharper digital recordings or colder sources. Employing both black pads per side smooths 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 filter pads around should eventually yield the precise 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 simply demolishes the wearing comfort of most other full-size planar headphones out there. The extra-lightweight Nitinol (nickel/aluminum alloy) headband construction in conjunction with the plushest lambskin ear pads this side of an Italian leather sofa render this can among the most comfortable our testers have ever worn. The headband can be adjusted to fit basically any size head without either overt clamping force or too-easy slippage ruining the listening experience; it’s really a laudable work of art in functional design by Mr Speakers. Instead of the heavy wood-framed earcups of other designs, the Ether C Flow has extremely lightweight carbon fiber capsules outfitted in a deep grey matte color. Another huge plus is the detachable 6.5 ft cable which is truly a “quick-detach” cord without muss or fuss and probably our favorite headphone cord system ever. The free 2-year Mr Speakers product warranty comes standard with your headphone.com ‘authorized dealer’ purchase.