Cons: Easy to be considered boring, took a long time for my ears to get burn in
Backstory: These sat in my headphone cupboard mostly unused for almost two years. Periodically, I pulled them from the shelf, built up some inspirational hope, placed them on my head, and then felt a pull for one of my other headphones.
The Joy: In the beginning the electric bass electrified me, and audiophile recordings for jazz and rock made for sonically pleasing playlists for these, but I never found them able to genre hop - a requirement for my style of listening. Basically, you could find an album that sounded tantalizing, but poke about, and the air went out.
Step Up: I found the overall signature too dark. Without the foam inserts, the treble held too much sway, but with the black inserts, you had great harmonic balance between bass, mids, and treble but I also felt some of that old Sennheiser veil. Music isn’t supposed to be always soft like silk. And certainly, play a low-fi album or one poorly mastered or just an old MP3 and these headphones do fall apart. I always admired how the Sennheiser HD650 could take just about anything and make it all Sennheiser HD650ish. What made those headphones glorious almost always worked. Aeon Flow demands great recordings for great sound.
I got a Ifi Micro Black Label for my other main headphones, and basically shoved these to the back of the headphone cupboard once again. Yet like I have for two years, I pulled them out periodically and honestly, with the pairing with the Micro Black Label, I felt it was a step up from my Chord Mojo. I know, such decadence to have both. Mojo is without question amazing, and I’m sure many folks love the pair with Dan Clark’s headphones. Still, it created a shift.
Do Your Own Work: There is a secret I can tell you now that will increase your listening pleasure by multitudes. I imagine most people may be put off by it. I get that. Still, I’m just saying that if you want to do one thing in your life that will increase your listening experience, it’s this: meditate.
Meditation just gives you one path - I mean there are lots of practices throughout the world that help you concentrate. I am saying though musical experience is as much as about the listener as it is how you listen and what you listen to. Truth is, we could do reviews on how well we listen - and that would tell us as much about our listening experience as a headphone review.
To some extent, we buy headphones that do the concentrating for us. Have ADD or just want headphones to cut through your crap and capture you with music? Do you need that addictive, pounding bass to constantly bring you back to the music? No jazz trio or concerto for you! That’s fine though. Enjoy your trip. I can say with 100 percent confidence you don’t need to buy these headphones.
I don’t think you’ll get the awe of the first listen to Sennheiser HD650. Check on the Internet, you can find so many people disdaining the Aeon Flow Closed, and really, Dan Clark is with you to some extent: he did make a newer, better version. And well, I can’t comment on it because I haven’t heard it, and man, I’m slow when it comes to understanding headphones anyway.
Put in the work of concentration though, and I think these shine.
The Kool-Aid: I think these cans need to be homebound. If you want a politer headphone for the office, it could work. I don’t like polite headphones for the office, but that’s a separate tangent. They certainly leak some sound though, and they don’t really isolate exceptionally well either. The main use though for them is deep listening.
I have scoliosis so my standard for comfort goes beyond what most people want. These truly rest lightly on your head, don’t even way much in your hands. Yes, I’m slightly biased as that I did listen to Hifiman 500 for a couple years - certainly a scoliosis no-no. As I’ve aged, I now must have comfort, and these provide that like a favorite sweatshirt.
With the black inserts, you get a little planar, warm magic, but nothing overrides or pulls you to one part of the musical spectrum. Everything is effortless, comfortable. You don’t have a wide soundstage and you do find yourself close to the action, like three or four rows back if those kinds of descriptions make sense to you (they only do for me once I’ve heard the headphones). You won’t get an endgame experience in detail or separation, but they also don’t compromise on any of that. By having all parts of the spectrum be in balance, they can be boring, especially with the south of neutral, warm sound signature. That boredom though reflects on myself, my inability to engage with the music, to listen deeply. When I am in a mode of concentration, what was once boring now lets me hear it all in a way of intimacy with my ears that I suddenly find breathtaking.
I can get lost in Eddie Vedder’s recent homemade release or I can pull out my morning playlists that often start with classical, move onto ambient, some jazz, a little folk, build up with alternative or EDM, dip into underground rap or some experimental stuff with an edge and conclude with some soul or R&B. With these cans, I can close my eyes for forty minutes and go there.
Want to be seduced by headphones? Dan Clark has lots of other options, but if you want a musical landscape that allows you the listener to engage with the music, these planars do the trick.
Cons: Significantly overpriced, any song with more than 3-4 instruments sound miserable, poor dynamics- seperation and detail, practical issues with the case, customer service issues...
I returned my Aeon Flow Closed headphones. The biggest cause of my return is the unacceptable sound quality.
I will go straight into the sound as packaging and other details are just fine and at the end of the day all that matters is the sound quality.
A brief note about comfort: Comfort of this headphone is interesting. It can be comfortable when the right fit is found but finding it is often difficult. After taking the headphone off and wearing it again it takes quite a bit of tries to refind the ideal fit. I think that Aeon is not an universally comfortable headphone, it can be comfy but depends on hair style etc. so you MUST try this on your head before buying.
Sound: Disappointing although not horrible. Certainly doesn't meet the price. Planar magnetic and other cool named technologies are being advertised but as an end consumer I only care about the final sound output to my ears. AFC only sounds like a $200 - $250 headphone.
Tonal balance is decent except the bass being significantly weak in terms of quality and quantity. I don't listen to music with a lot of bass so it doesn't bother me but if you like bass and listen to rock, EDM, hip-hop etc. it may bother you and you may even think that this headphone sounds like a $50 one.
The biggest problem of the sound of the AFC is, any music with 3-4+ instruments or other music elements sound miserable. Instruments solos sound good but the sound quickly gets worse and worse with more instruments. I guess the audiophile term for this issue is "lack of dynamics and seperation"
Piano solos sound good as mentioned. Problems start to occur at string quartets (4 instruments) as the sounds becomes confused and knotty. Violins are indistinguishable from violas, such thing only happens at very cheap head and earphones. Things get even worse at symphonies, the sound gets literally unlistenable as the instrument seperation of AFC is basically nonexistent. The headphone blends multiple instruments instead of representing each indepently.
Modern music with more musical elements suffer even more. Songs with vocals, chorus, bass lines and other things are absolutely unlistenable. Electronic music or music with electronic elements sounded the worst out of all genres I've tried.
Only genres sounds good (they don't sound expectional at all, just better than other genres) on AFC are instrument solos and very simple songs (only a single vocalist and a single guitar). Anything beyond that is absolutely unbearable and I have never encountered this issue at any headphone above $200. I returned my AFC because $800 too much to waste on a headphone where I can only listen to 10% of my music library.
For the curious, my source gear was iBasso DX220 with AMP8 module ($1179). This device was being recommended by Dan and it has more than enough power to drive any full sized planar and dynamic headphones. AFC was loud enough at 40/100 volume, and the DX220 sounds quite fine with other full sized headphones I've tested. I also tested the AFC with an expensive destkop amp once (iFi Pro iDSD) and the same problems were present.
That's it about the sound. This problem cannot be tolerated especially at the price tag of $800. Many open and closed back headphones at the $300-500 range from various brands sound much better with most of the genres.
Another issue worth to mention: The headphone doesn't fit into its case before disattaching the cable. After deciding to take the headphone off and put it into its case. you need to remove the cable (takes quite a bit off time due to weird connectors) and put the headphone and its cable seperately to the case. When you decided to rewear it you need to plug the cable again. This greatly limits the portable usage of the AFC. I have never encountered to this problem at any headphone supplied with a case.
In addition, the customer service of the MrSpeakers is very problematic. They don't response to phone calls and mails and they refused to refund my money back to my card for a very long time. I won't go into details as it would be off-topic since I am reviewing the headphone.
That's my review. I don't recommend buying Aeon Flow Closed headphones, especialy buying from internet before trying it, as the sound simply doesn't meet the price or even half of the price.
Cons: Shockingly bad overall sound, poor mids and highs, very uncomfortable, inconvenient case and cable
Aeon Flow Closed is one of the most overrated headphones at the market if not the most. After reading many positive reviews I decided to buy it but what a mistake! In my opinion this headphone is simply pretty bad. Actually it looks very good but that doesn't help me because I didn't buy this for fashion, bought it for the sound which is unbelievably bad.
Normally I don't use sharp statements like "never buy this", instead I write like " People with X music taste should buy but people with Y music taste shouldn't. However, I can't recommend this headphone to anyone with any taste and preference. So as simply as that: I do not recommended Aeon Flow Closed to anyone.
Source Gear: Sennheiser HDV 820S ($2400) and Chord Hugo 2 ($2700). Let's make this clear so don't ask me if I am trying to run a planar headphone with an iPhone
Cable: Stock MrSpeakers balanced cable
Music: Well recorded lossless music from various genres, they sound quite good with high quality gear.
Packaging & design: Very good, my unboxing experience was wonderful until I wear the headphone and play some music. This headphone is aesthetically perfect but sadly this the least important criteria from an audiophile's perspective
Cable: It sucks! Even the most positive reviewers complained about the cable. Connectors are very unintuitive, connecting a cable to its headphone shouldn't be that hard. Stock cable is too long, microphonic and thick. I would be recommending a third-party cable if I was recommending the headphone in the first place.
Isolation: Sound isolation is solid, obviously better than open backs and better than most of the other mainstream closed backs.
Comfort: Out of many headphones I've tried, Aeon is the least comfortable one. I have very averagely sized head, hair and ears and I find almost every popular headphone (Sennheiser, Beyer, Focal, Sony etc.) very comfortable. But I couldn't find a way to wear Aeon more than 15 minutes. The headband adjustment is very unintuitive and doesn't help you to find a good fit. If you want me to wear this headphone for an hour you need to pay $100 to me, I am not joking.
This headphone has the unique teardrop shape and I doubt that was a good design idea because it is so uncomfortable. If the teardrop design was good, we would see some other headphones with similar shapes, right? There must be a good reason of why Aeon is the only teardop shaped headphone at the 1000+ headphones market.
Sound: Okay guys, this headphone sounds horrible, this is the best adjective to describe it. I paired Aeon with my high-end source gears (Sennheiser HDV 820, Chord Hugo 2) and this headphone sounds very bad with everything, from classical to EDM. Of course not bad for someone who has only listened to Airpods so far but if you have listened to any proper headphones you won't enjoy Aeon.
The overall sound is worse than many cheaper closed backs (any $300 + Sennheiser, Beyer etc.) and even worse than some Bluetooth headphones! People often criticize the bass of this headphone but I find the bass decent but mids and highs are wretched. It seems like higher the frequency worse the sounds gets.
Bass: Bass is decent. This headphone is not a bass monster but if the track has good bass texture it does a decent job. The bass is not impressive but at least not horrible like the following frequencies.
Mids: Things get very messy here, midrange of this headphone is simply garbage.
Vocals are very recessed and screwed. I think male vocals perform better than the female vocals though both are bad. In any vocal-instrument mix, vocals get overshadowed by the other elements and become almost inaudible. Instrumental performance is not good either; strings are decent but guitar and percussion are miserable.
Highs: As I said, higher the frequency worse the sound gets. Treble is the worst part of this headphone without a doubt.
There are usually two types of heapdhones: Some have energetic treble, some have laid back smooth treble. Somehow Aeon is both fatiguing, piercing and unexciting at the same time.
High frequencies are very distorted in general. Highs are not energetic or sparky but very fatiguing and I am not treble sensitive by any means. High note instruments such as violin and flute sound so unclear and broken. I tried quite a bit of EQ adjustments but incresing or decreasing the treble from the EQ didn't help at all.
Soundstage: Honestly I couldn't really pay attention to the soundstage due to how bad this headphone sounds, even a soundstage to the moon would be pointless given the garbage overall sound. What I can say is Aeon's soundstage is average, only as good as a typical cheap closed back headphone.
The overall sound is extremely disgusting... I had many headphones which are bad at certain genres but never had such a terrible overall headphone like this. Again, some much cheaper closed backs sound better. Believe me or not, some bluetooth headphones (I tried my Bose QC 35 noice cancelling hp) literally sound better.
SUMMARY: I ran out of negative adjectives during this review and often looked to the dictionary. Stay away from this headphone. I've never seen such an overrated headphone like this (for a suspicious reason all major audio blogs have good reviews while Reddit have bad reviews of Aeon , ). It is so uncomfortable, again I am not an alien and I have very averagely sized head, and the sound is absolutely broken. I do not recommend Aeon to anyone since there are better alternatives at dramatically lower price points.
Want more Bass out of the AFC's? Run them balanced on a good quality HP Amp....I think their bass is plentiful ....I picked up a pair from Dan a couple weeks ago at the So Cal Can Jam....Listening out of a HeadAmp....the bass and slam sounded weak....but when he switched on his Woo's HP amp....boy...it really allowed them to shine...my Oppo HA-1 Class A amp has that similar power though not those tubes....