Headphones are very interesting and quite mysterious in their own way. You’ll never know how they sound like or if you’ll like how they sound, not until you tried them. Late last year, I got a couple of new audio gear and was able to test and listen to what I think is the best open back headphone I’ve listened to (so far) – the MrSpeakers ETHER Flow Planar Magnetic headphone. That’s right, today I’ll be sharing to you my experience with this $1,800 headphone. Sound quality and audio performance is simply fantastic and definitely top notch; I love the sound signature and craftsmanship is just superb. Frankly speaking, most of the expensive headphones, specially flagship or TOTL headphones, are expected to have great sound quality and performance. But what sets the Ether Flow unique from the rest is what you’ll find out in this review. Also, if you’re in the market looking for the best open back headphone and budget is not a factor, please continue reading my MrSpeakers Ether Flow review below and find out if this is the right headphone for you.
MrSpeakers Ether Flow Features and Specs
To start off, there are basically several types of headphone drivers that headphone manufacturers use in their headphones. The most common driver is the dynamic driver with moving coil. You can find this type of driver in most headphones on the market. Then, there are the planar magnetic headphones (orthodynamic) and finally the electrostatic drivers.
All of the current MrSpeakers headphone lineup is based on planar magnetic technology. Dan Clark, founder of MrSpeakers, and his team wanted to create a headphone with excellent sound quality, more comfortable compared to their previous headphones and have a “timeless design”. Thus, the Ether headphones were created. The first gen was the Ether and Ether C, open back and closed back respectively. The Ether Flow and Ether Flow C can be considered as a follow up or second generation, providing improvements from their predecessors specially in terms of sound characteristics. I will talk more about the Ether Flow’s sound quality on the later part of this review.
The Ether Flow features MrSpeakers’ V-Planar driver and TrueFlow wave guide technologies. As described by the company: “V-Planar technology pleats the driver surface so as to reduce distortion, improve transient response, and extend the frequency range. The new ETHER Flow headphones feature TrueFlow technology which smooths the path for air moving into, through, and out of the magnet structure* for greatly reduced distortion and improved dynamics.”
Basically, inside every Ether (Flow) headphones, there are four trays with magnets installed on each driver/side. There are holes on the tray, as you can see from the images and video below, allowing a smooth passage of air resulting to a better audio quality.
I’m no sound engineer or electrical/audio engineer; and honestly I’m not qualified to discuss the technology behind the Ether headphones. What I have are my ears and my experience with different headphones and audio gear. In this review, I’ll be focusing more on the headphone itself and its sound quality based on my experience.
MrSpeakers Ether headphones are also built with comfort in mind. There are no thick headbands that could contribute to the total weight of the headphone. The Ether Flow weighs 370g, which is not that heavy compared to high end headphones. The company uses a combination of NiTinol memory metal headband and a piece of Italian leather with micro-suede that sits on the top of your head. Almost all of the materials used on the Ether Flow are metal; including precision machined Aluminum baffles, pivots and gimbals. It also features lamb-leather ear pads that are sufficiently thick and quite comfortable.
The cups on each side measures 2.75″ x 1.75″ and the headphone itself has an efficiency rating of 96dB/mW and an impedance of 23 Ohms. So it’s fairly easy to drive and you don’t really need a powerful amplifier to get the most out of it.
Before we take a closer look on the headphone, you might be wondering why it is called the Ether. “19th century physics had no concept of hard vacuum filling to “fill” the vast reaches of space. ETHER was an imaginary substance that filled the voids between the stars. Since a lot of what makes ETHER fun is the sense of space and the deep quiet between the notes, and ETHER was a bit “magical,” it seemed like a nice name.”
Unboxing The MrSpeakers Ether Flow
The Ether Flow’s packaging is quite simple and nothing too fancy despite being a top of the line headphone. It came with a simple cube-like box with the name and a headphone logo printed on the top front of the box. The box was quite sturdy and thick. There’s a blue sticker on one side of the box providing some information about the contents. The package includes a certification of authenticity, a manual and a MagicFiber cloth for cleaning.
Opening the box reveals an odd looking brown case with a huge MrSpeakers logo embossed on it. It’s not the most attractive looking headphone case I encountered, but it does protect the Ether Flow well. The Ether Flow headphone is already placed inside the case right off the bat.
Above are some angled shots of the MrSpeakers Ether Flow Planar Magnetic open back headphone. It looks gorgeous in my opinion! The matte back surface and the glossy outer ring highlight, plus the honey comb mesh just screams superb craftsmanship with attention to detail. If you take a closer look at the blue ring, the surface is painted with a glossy deep blue or midnight blue metallic coating.
Let’s proceed to the next page for the build quality and comfort.
For US: available at Amazon.com here