The Ether Flow planar-dynamic headphones are hand-built in San Diego CA and represent a culmination of many years' labor of love for electrical engineer and audio designer Dan Clark. His Ether Flow presents several state-of-the-art advancements in ergonomics and sound quality that catapulted this can into the top echelon of our audiophile selections.
First off, Mr. Speakers patented a new design and manufacturing process that consistently allows for nearly 100% perfect driver matching for every headphone they make - a great feat given the difficulties involved in producing sensitive planar drivers. Their proprietary ‘Vplanar’ driver diaphragm has built-in creases or pleats that allow more of the driver surface to accelerate in a true linear excursion, delivering better dynamics and measurably lower distortion with improved high frequency response versus conventional planar magnetic drivers.
The Ether Flow edition offfers an improved driver structure Mr Speakers calls 'TrueFlow Technology' that 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. The greater air volumes allow the audio wavefront to become more uniform and coherent. The acoustic end result is improved musical detail without stridency. That's a good thing indeed.
We hear the Mr. Speakers Ether Flow as a serious challenger to any headphone at this price level. As a main strength, the Ether Flow manages to be both highly accurate yet also highly musical, a delicate balancing act that not all high-end headphones have been able to competently master. The bottom-end is tightly controlled with just enough presence to deliver solid bass response. If anything, we'd maybe wish for a bit more oomph in the lowest octave at times. The highs sound well-extended without overt grain, splat or grit. Mid-ranges are clearly delineated and vocals sound well-placed and authoritative without ‘shoutiness’ in the timbre.
In fact, it’s pretty hard for us to find any really major faults with this headphone. If we wanted to be picky, we could say the soundstage presentation is not as expansive or wide-screen as some others at this price. Instead, the Ether Flow delivers a more closely ‘up-front’ and energetic image that remains clearly layered, but is not quite as vast as some other reference models. Hence, the dynamic punch of the Ether Flow - while certainly present - is slightly less dramatic than that of the most dynamic headphones available, some of which will cost you significantly more than the Ether Flow.
Mr. Speakers makes every part on the Ether Flow from scratch right down to the sweet fit adjustment screws built into the headband. The new-fangled, super-durable nickel/titanium (NiTinol)) headband contributes to making this headphone one of the lightest ever in the category. In conjunction with the plush lambskin leather earpads, the Ether Flow is a total joy to wear and completely avoids the bulky heaviness of other full-size planar headphones. Folks with smaller heads and those wishing to avoid neck strain after all-day listening will be chuffed. 23 Ohms/ 96dB sensitivity allows this headphone to be effectively used with portable sources with acceptable sonic results - largely a no-go with other cans at this level.
And although poo-pooed by some, we found the hard case included with the Ether Flow to be kind of cool. Yes, it looks like a wrestling ring turnbuckle and could maybe benefit from a strap attachment, but it's solidly protective, fits in your satchel or backpack and is fairly slim-profile given the full-size headphones stowed within. The detachable headphone cable measures a fairly short 6.5 feet and attaches to the headphones with an easy, solid click into the earcups. Free 1-year manufacturer's warranty.