MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Closed

Rating:
4.58333/5,
  1. mg2550arch
    The MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Headphones
    Written by mg2550arch
    Published Apr 16, 2018
    5.0/5,
    The MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Headphones can play in the Big Leagues, the Aeon Open and Closed grabs a considerable chunk of the best of the Ether Flow respectively. The clarity, scale and realism of the sound competes with headphones that double their price. To my ears the Aeon Flow Closed is one of the best sounding close back headphones in existence.

    What I like about the Aeon is that it has a precise and spacious soundstage with a coherent sound from top to bottom without audibly exaggerating any point of the frequency spectrum. Its broad sense of contrast and dynamism comes from what was recorded on the track. This allows you to enjoy the most aggressive climax and at the same time the sweetest moments in the music.

    Some headphones try to get the effect of soundstage by hollowing the mid frequencies or by exaggerating the low and the high frequencies. This polarization can result in a fictitious ‘airy’ feel or a Wow factor that sometimes lacks speed and fluidity. Other headphones do the opposite effect to give us a feeling of fullness that, well achieved, tends to like a lot.

    On the other hand, as often happens in other branches of audio technology, when a certain level of performance has already been reached, further improvements become considerably more expensive. In many cases, the price-performance ratio may no longer seem logical. At this level any improvement requires great effort of engineering and research, higher quality materials and better construction.

    Returning to the Aeon, I think that for certain popular music genres it is easier to appreciate the headphones virtues than is the case with its older big brother. That said, only if you want to have the ultimate performance, tonal layering and resolution should you consider the Ether Flow, which also competes favorably with others twice its price. Regardless, both are highly recommended!


    aeon-flow-closed.jpg
      mrspeakers and volly like this.
    1. ambon
      Nice review, is this for the open or closed version?
      ambon, May 16, 2018
    2. mg2550arch
      My apologies for taking so long to answer. I've been very busy with work. I wrote about the closed and open versions compared to the Ether respectively. Thanks for the question, I think I could clarify the subject a bit.
      mg2550arch, May 20, 2018
  2. almoskosz
    A perfect headphone
    Written by almoskosz
    Published Jan 25, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Lifelike, sub-bass, detail, soundstage and most importantly imaging, perfect treble
    Cons - not huge-sounding but incredibly spacious
    This headphone is truly an amazing experience. I dont think Ive ever heard one that sounds this well rounded. I thought a headphone like this couldnt exist before I found it. It didnt, perhaps in the really high end range. The closest least expensive ones are the more expensive MrSpeakers models, and even they lack in some aspects compared to this can.

    I would highly suggest this headphone to anyone. Be it newcomers or experienced veterans, this headphone will satisfy everyone.

    I am coming from a Hifiman HE400i. I've had both the older and newer version, the older being really nice and the newer unbearable. There is one thing though that I sort of miss on that one. Its that the sounds that the Hifiman could produce were huge. A man speaking really felt like a huge guy standing next to you talking into your ears, and however disturbing that sounds, it was great. Music was a part of the space you were and scaled to it too. In this aspect the Aeons are different, and I can not say they are worse. The sounds it produces do sound smaller compared to the Hifiman, but it compensates with giving them a space, location shape and size of their own. Each different from one another. Whereas the Hifiman filled everything with sound at all times, the Aeons create a space in your head, quite a large one at that, large enough to achieve everything that is possible with placing sounds in space and fills it with an object or almost entity like music. Instrument separation is just amazing. Imaging is stellar, 3 dimensional. This allows reverb to sound infinitely better, believeable. This space is where the cans perform. It is fully in control of it and what happens in there. Texture is another aspect the Aeons are great at. Each sound vibrates and feels realistic, you can feel the air pressure and that amazing feeling of being in front of an instrument. being able to react to and represent correctly the very slightest of changes in position and this level of resolution combined with how dynamic and fast the cans sound can turn any good recording into a live performance-like experience.

    A performance in the confined space of the Aeons. A space where nothing bothers you and everything is as it should be. The very best. Noise doesnt get through to you and not even a hint of tonal imbalance or dips/peaks will disturb your experience.

    This is the world this headphone creates. I could never imagine a headphone at this price range could present a sound like this all the way from the depths of sub-bass, extending ever ceasingly to the point where the barrier becomes the human ear being unable to hear frequencies so low, instead of the cans not extending far enough and dropping off too soon, robbing you of this sweet sensation of a primordial rumble taking over you, to the highest of treble frequencies. Crystalline sparkling chimes or fierce sharp noises, they all sound perfect. Nothing overpowers anything. All sounds are equal and live in a perfect symbiosis and when these two work together and the mid range joins, bringing with it perfect resolution, sweetly textured powerful vocals and strings brimming with life, existing inside your head, or any instrument you could imagine, each as if it was the real thing playing for your soul, then you've found your destination. Your (or at least mine for sure) endgame.

    Lets return to reality a bit. If you didnt notice already, I am deeply in love with the MrSpeakers Aeon flows. I feel like and believe that this is probably the best one you can get before shelling out on something many many times its price. It does everything perfectly. I have arrived. This is the one I will be using for the years to come. I didnt tell you the more physical aspects yet, and honestly, I need not. You wont have any problems with packaging or the cable or the earpads or the overall build of the cans. They are as good as a headphone can get. They are incredibly light, small, beautiful and feature a genius design.

    These are an amazing experience to hold and behold. You must listen to these. And then maybe buy them. Probably. Certainly.

    Source: Audio GD R2R-11, wich I think contributes greatly to this lifelike sound, it being a multibit DAC.
    Music: Everything. From FLAC to Youtube, from electronic through metal and jazz to orchestral. All of it.

    Verdict: This is the most perfect universal headphone. Its incredible for everything. Bass to kill for, treble to be amazed by and mids to... well, it is just flawless. Check it out, whatever your preference, even if it is open cans. You wont regret it.

    It's been Almos and I'm out. Thanks for reading and happy listening to all of you out there.
      natto and mrspeakers like this.
    1. johny5
      Is this review of yours for the aeon flow open, or the closed variant? Thanks!
      johny5, Aug 4, 2018
  3. PinkyPowers
    From the Fumes of Myth – A Review of the Mr. Speak
    Written by PinkyPowers
    Published Sep 28, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Superb timbre and resolution. Comfort.
    Cons - Cable sucks.
    AEON 10.jpg

    ~::I originally published this article on THL. Now I wish to share it with my Head-Fi fellows.::~

    ::Disclaimer::
    Mr. Speakers provided ÆON on loan for the purpose of my honest review, for good or ill.

    ÆON sells for $799.99 MSRP
    www.MrSpeakers.com

    _____________________________________________________________

    I’d heard enough good things about Mr. Speaker’s newest closed-back, and indeed received enough requests for a review, that I broke down and agreed to Danny-boy Speakers’ offer to spend a month or so with a loaner unit.

    So let’s dive right into them, shall we?

    The DUMMER cable is heavy and not as flexible as I’d like. But honestly, it’s not bad. I can deal with this, though it is sort of long for a potentially portable headphone. It’s much less cumbersome than the monstrosity AudioQuest includes with NightOwl.

    Build quality is excellent. You may not see it in photos, but in-person, these exude quality. The finish is glossy and frightfully reflective. You’ll see my Galaxy S6 in just about every photo, because I could not find an angle from which to hide. All the materials and their construction are top-shelf. You never doubt eight hundred dollar worth of headphone rest in your hands.

    AEON 12.jpg

    Mr. Speakers provides a really nice carry case. Easily one of the best I’ve seen. I think I may prefer Meze’s a little more, but this is well-above what most companies give you.

    ÆON is comfortable. It’s as simple as that. You put them on, and they fall right into position, displacing their weight so well you’ll think you’re wearing a much lighter headphone. After hours of use, I feel no pain or awkwardness whatsoever.

    AEON 06.jpg

    AEON 13.jpg

    Mr. Speaker’s ÆON is decently efficient, with 95dB/mW at 13 Ohm impedance. I’ve heard it said, in spite of this, they really need a powerful amp to bring them to life. Maybe I have a different interpretation of “powerful”, but I find ÆON to sound just as dynamic out of my Opus#2 as it does from my desktop DAC/Amp, the Audio-GD NFB-28.

    I do, however, suggest a good long session of burn-in. Upon first listen, ÆON sounded rather dull to my ears. Clear and detailed, yes, but seriously lacking in dynamics. Rather boring. So I put them aside for a couple hundred hours running pink noise. I can’t give you an exact time for when they started to open up, as I wasn’t monitoring them that closely. But when I gave them another listen, I really loved what I heard.

    One more note before I talk about sound: I’m not using the included filter you can put between your ears and the drivers. I thought I would, as I love a good warm sound, but it lost too much clarity and transparency, and didn’t add anything I especially liked. So Pinky is running ÆON naked.

    ÆON is a rather flat headphone, with natural, warm timbre. There’s a good amount of air and light on the stage, but ÆON is aiming more for realism and easy listening than bright, hyper analytical tuning. Smooth liquidity is balanced beautifully with clarity and detail, making this a stellar all-arounder. It just sounds right.

    Treble is bubbly and marvelously clean. It possesses that bite which can only be achieved with proper extension, though ÆON is not in its own right harsh or aggressive. A good amount of sparkle gives life to these highs, without overdoing it. The treble, while having a touch of warmth, brings light and great detail to the proceedings… not to mention resolution. The bowstrings of violins are sharply defined, every symbol crash precise. ÆON’s upper registers are some of the very best I’ve heard, and oh so satisfying.

    Vocals, whether male or female, have excellent body. There’s a mild richness, and superb depth. They’re of moderate size, and sat utterly neutral on the stage. Once again, you hear ÆON’s masterful balance of musicality and detail retrieval. All the texture and nuance of the artist’s voice is revealed, swathed in seductive warmth. For me, it’s the mids, particularly vocals, where I can tell how transparent the sound is. ÆON attains high levels of transparency. What warmth there is does not intrude much on the cleanliness of the presentation. A measure of air fills the gaps between elements, giving you a strong sense of how they layer each other.

    It wasn’t until I sat down right now and asked myself, “How is ÆON’s bass?” that I realized there isn’t much. You see, ÆON tricked me! There’s such warmth and richness I took it for granted ÆON must house a full low-end. But it doesn’t. When you play a song you know has dominant bass, ÆON’s poverty shows itself. There is no visceral punch, and only the hints of sub rumble. Black Sabbath’s first song on their first studio album ought to be a powerhouse of low frequencies. Your mouth is supposed to open a bit, as an involuntary sign of awe. You will not experience Black Sabbath with these headphones. Yes, there’s good detail and texturing, blah, blah, blah… but not the soul of rock. ÆON is much better suited for acoustic and classical. Melissa Menago is a glorious treat!

    AEON 11.jpg

    Soundstage is decent but not extraordinary. I do quite enjoy the depth ÆON can create. Imaging and separation is outstanding. Resolution and transparency is high, but not the best. Taken together you have a mighty fine closed-back headphone.

    I only own one Planar headphone, the Audeze LCD-2 v2 Fazor ($995.00), so I feel that would be a fair comparison. Even though they seem to be built for different purposes, one being closed, the other open, one light and portable, the other really not in any way. But their price is close… as is their sound.

    Starting with treble, I find Audeze to extend just as well as ÆON. The LCD-2 is less warm or smooth up top. There is better shimmer, and slightly more detail. Neither headphone is all that aggressive, and they share a lot in common with how they portray their highs. But Audeze does come off a little brighter and airier. It sounds like the ceiling opened up, letting in extra light.

    ÆON’s mids are thicker, LCD-2 a touch thinner. Both have very clear, powerful vocals. ÆON comes off warmer and lusher. LCD-2 is cleaner. ÆON has a delightful roundness, or depth, to the vocals, and in comparison, LCD-2 sounds flatter. I feel ÆON may retrieve details a little better, but LCD-2 is more transparent by a hair.

    Both LCD-2 and ÆON have exceptional bass on a technical level. Planar drivers of this caliber produce some of the lowest sub-bass around, and it’s punchy and well-defined. LCD-2, though, has more body, producing a greater rumble. ÆON’s bass may be quicker, with a finer sense of texture, but only by the smallest margin.

    The LCD-2’s soundstage is a little wider, and more than a little taller. Depth probably goes to ÆON. Imaging and separation is god-tier on both. Though, to my ears, ÆON renders at ever so slightly higher resolution. Very slight. ÆON layers a little better, also. LCD-2’s comfort is one of its biggest detriments. It’s heavy and awkward, doesn’t feel great when worn. ÆON beats it without breaking a sweat.

    AEON 07.jpg

    Now for a more interesting comparison. The AudioQuest NightOwl ($698.75) is a mere hundred cheaper, closed back, and efficient enough to be driven by most mobile devices. I can understand why so many people have asked me for this comparison. However, that is sort of where the similarities end. These two headphones are tuned for two very different people.

    Starting with treble: NightOwl is rolled-off, and does not extend as far as ÆON. For the most part, it makes up for this with carefully placed peaks to bring light, resolution and detail to an otherwise dark set of cans. But there’s no substitute for true extension, and you can really hear the loss when switching between these two. NightOwl’s treble is thick, and surrounded by deep, warm overtones, yet it does a nice job of piercing the gloom. ÆON simply has more light and air and sounds more natural up top.

    Who wins at the mid-range is really a toss-up over personal preference. Both are rich, deep, and detailed, but NightOwl does go that extra mile with its warmth and lushness. If it lost clarity and resolution because of this, it would be an easy matter to decide… but it does not. It keeps up with ÆON surprisingly well, merely taking a different route. Listening to Amber Rubarth’s vocals, NightOwl has a way of immersing you in a more complete way. The vocals are possessed of a little extra soul. NightOwl aims for Romantic over Neutral, and it does it better than any other. Again, whether this is the right choice depends entirely on you.

    Where NightOwl beats ÆON, hands-down, is the bass. Now, I’m sure someone somewhere will bitch about that comment, but this is my subjective opinion, of course. The sub-bass is there, like with ÆON, but there’s serious quantity. Mid-bass, also, is present in a big bad way. We’re not talking loose or boomy, either, but tight, controlled, and detailed. It’s not quite on the level of Planar resolution, but goddamn, it is satisfying, and agile like a mofo! NightOwl and ÆON give you tremendous depth, but NightOwl’s lows are fuller and puts a smile on my face every time.

    Soundstage on NightOwl is wider and taller, though I’d give depth to ÆON. Once again, imaging is stellar on both. I’m not sure I’d give either the edge on that. Yet ÆON takes it in separation and resolution by the smallest amount. And again, layering is ÆON’s forte. In terms of comfort, NightOwl is one of the very best, and even easier on the head than ÆON.

    Now for some quick comparisons with headphones I think are important to this discussion:

    The Sennheiser HD800 (can be found for around $1,000 now.) is significantly clearer and airier. Of course, the soundstage dwarfs ÆON’s. I doubt anyone would be surprised to hear that. Resolution is also noticeably higher on HD800. There is a drier, more analytical quality, whereas ÆON is warmer and has that lushness. But get this, the HD800 has more bass. What the ****?! I know, but it’s true. HD800’s treble is just as extended, and brighter and more detailed. This is also arguably the most comfortable headphones in existence. Not even ÆON can compete.

    The Meze 99 Classics ($309) are not the hard downgrade you may expect. For starters, the mids are even clearer, but also thinner. The soundstage is quite a bit wider. There’s more air and brightness in the highs and mids, but never enough to take away the rich, musical quality. ÆON’s bass is deeper and of significant technical prowess. However, Meze is fuller down low, with more seductive tonality. With stock pads, the 99C is certainly less comfortable, but with the Brainwavz Angled Sheepskin, I find they actually surpass ÆON.

    ÆON’s neutral-warm tuning is the sort that pairs beautifully with just about any device. If it was brighter, a brighter source might make it harsh-sounding. If it was warmer, like NightOwl, then it could turn dark and congested with the wrong gear. But neutral-warm is perfect. Seldom will you find a poor pairing for headphones like that.

    For most of this review, I had ÆON hooked up to my Audio-GD NFB-28, using its single-ended output, since I don’t have a balanced cable for these cans. The 28 is also neutral-warm, or what I call “natural”. It’s spacious and clean, with great dynamics, and seriously high resolving power. Yet unlike many Sabre DACs, there is a wonderful, full-bodied richness. ÆON is right at home. The synergy here is awesome.

    AEON & Opus2 02.jpg

    My Opus#2, by theBit, is a duel-Sabre setup, just like the NFB-28. Also just like the 28, it’s neutral done right. In fact, the audible differences are so negligible, I think of the Opus as very nearly its equal. ÆON sounds full and right from this player. ÆON is at peak performance, with resolution, clarity, and depth to die for.

    For a DAP that compensates for ÆON’s lack-luster bass response, I recommend the Cayin i5. This player is a bass monster. The i5 produces a deep, warm sound, where clarity is not lost, and smoothness and detail walk hand-in-hand. Its enormous low-end energy brings a lot of fun out of ÆON, and has more than enough power. At only 50 on Low Gain, these headphones are exploding with intensity. This pairing may be my favorite of the bunch.

    AEON & i5 01.jpg

    AEON & Opus1 01.jpg

    If you’re looking to squeeze the most transparency and detail out of ÆON, without spending gobs of money, the Opus#1 is my choice. It’s dynamic enough to bring tons of life to ÆON, but neutrality is its prime directive. Unlike i5, which is fat down low, Opus#1 pushes the treble instead. It doesn’t make ÆON bright, but its quality to reveal is impressively high.

    The Shanling M2s is a sick little player for a pittance. It doesn’t quite fill out ÆON as well as the i5, but it comes really close. The soundstage is not as big, it lacks some of the refinement, but the bass is quite fulfilling. Shanling also renders a clear picture, with excellent detail. At this price, it’s hard to fault it.

    AEON & M2s 01.jpg

    I was given the option of buying these headphones at 50% off if I liked them. And I do like them. A lot. Yet I find between NightOwl and 99C, ÆON doesn’t fill any specific need that isn’t already met. And their weak bass unquestionably diminishes ÆON’s appeal.

    Somehow, though, in spite of my lust for meaty lows, ÆON manages to captivate me. When I put them on and play good music, ÆON creates a splendid experience, one where I am not mindful of preference or personal bias. I merely fall into the supreme musicality ÆON champions.

    Yes. I am awfully fond of these headphones. Their technical proficiency coupled with the profound richness and depth makes ÆON the easiest recommendation I can make.

    -~::Pinky_Powers::~-
      mrspeakers, sabinok and jscmd2000 like this.
  4. Aornic
    A Very Comfortable All-Rounder
    Written by Aornic
    Published Jun 29, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Fast, punchy, detail retrieval, resolve, comfort, lightweight, unique aesthetic
    Cons - Slight tonality issues, some treble glare, anaemic in upper-bass without foam inserts

    [​IMG]
    My first impressions of MrSpeakers’ headphones were very positive. I was at Canjam London in 2016 and spent a long time at the joint Cavalli + MrSpeakers + Kimber Kable booth, primarily listening to the Ether C Flow with the Cavalli Liquid Tungsten. I really liked what I heard, despite some shortcomings, like the bass extension not being very deep – and I looked forward to reviewing them someday. Although the opportunity has not come by yet, I have listened to them quite a bit in my local store (Audio Sanctuary in New Malden, London).

    When they first obtained a demo unit, I was a bit confused – it sounded quite different than what I remembered. It was quite resolving and detail-laden, but lacked accurate tonality to the point where I felt some instruments sounded incredibly artificial. I was disappointed, in myself for my old impressions and in the headphone itself. I do chalk up some of the old magic to the Liquid Tungsten, an incredible amplifier that I hope to try again someday, but from various other setups the Ether C Flow just sounded like it was vehemently trying to be a technically impressive listen rather than one I would call natural.

    Enter the AEON, a $800 planar magnetic headphone by MrSpeakers that uses, from what I can gather, trickle down technology from the Ether/Ether C Flow. I first heard one at the Headroom show at Metropolis Studios in London, back in February of 2017, and found it an agreeable listen pretty much immediately. It was plugged into a Schiit Yggdrasil and a Schiit Jotunheim, and it sounded punchy and “fun” without losing some interesting detail retrieval that I heard in its elder brothers. Pre-production version or not, I knew that I needed more time to evaluate it.

    After some weeks of contemplation, I got in on the pre-order ($100 off, so $700) and looked forward to the AEON arriving at my doorstep. Sadly, it took much longer than expected due to some unforeseen delays with packaging – but I finally obtained it a few weeks ago.

    I primarily wanted to know if this was a MrSpeakers headphone that I could get behind.

    [​IMG]
    Build Quality, Comfort & Features

    If nothing else, the MrSpeakers Ether Electrostatic should clue you in to Dan Clark’s philosophy when it comes to build quality and comfort as it is almost feather-light (at least the one at Headroom). While the AEON, which uses magnets, can’t quite be so light – it sets itself firmly apart from my other headphones currently by how weightless it seems – a mere 340g without the cable. This is also because the build quality utilises so much plastic, instead of metal or wood, and carbon fibre. The nitinol headband is both unique (to my knowledge) to MrSpeakers and very springy – and tough as nails to boot. Despite being so light and reliant on its build materials for being so, it does not exude a feeling of being “cheap” or an afterthought. I daresay this looks the part of a premium product that is very deserving of its price tag, if not more so. I don’t foresee any problems with breakage.

    [​IMG]
    Comfort is insanely good. Once again, it seems Dan Clark seems to personally hold a vendetta against both weighty headphones (Audeze I’m looking at you) and headphones with poor weight distribution (Audeze I’m looking at you 2x, unless it’s with the LCD-4 carbon fibre strap). The clamp is comfortable and the earpads are large and ear-shaped, providing ample room for my larger-than-average ears. The leather strap that rests on your head makes it so this is a disappearing act of a headphone, unless you are in a hot and humid climate – the earpads can get a tad warm, but I only sensed this in London’s recent heatwave and not since. The leather earpads are very soft, plush and comfortable and devoid of any stiffness that might have fatigued either the back of your ear or your cheeks. The headband adjustment conforms to your head size rather effortlessly, with no incremental adjustments that you need to keep track of. Just pull it over your ears and find your natural fit.

    [​IMG]
    Aesthetically, the AEON is a subtle midnight blue colour that looks quite handsome. However, in certain brighter or even yellowish lighting (kind of like at certain Canjam events), I’ll admit that it takes on a strange look that intrudes on the sheen of the blue and makes it…muddy? This hasn’t happened to me in a home setting, but you can see it in direct sunlight. A reason for this is definitely the glossy finish. Never mind matte, this thing reflects quite easily from every inch of its earcup design – and you will see the fingerprints in the right light. Yes, this is a fingerprint magnet – and MrSpeakers have acknowledged this by including a microfibre cloth in the packaging. Also in the packaging are two foam pad inserts that you can slip into the earpads to increase the upper-bass a bit – but more on that later.

    [​IMG]
    The MrSpeakers proprietary (to my knowledge anyway, haven’t seen these in use anywhere else) connectors are back and are this time attached to a cable that they call the DUMMER cable – the younger brother of the Ether included DUM cables. The DUMMER cable terminates in a 3.5mm jack, but has a screw-on ¼ adapter attached by default. As far as cables go, it is solid and lacking in anything that would draw complaints. I did go ahead and source a balanced cable however, well in advance of obtaining my AEON, from a third-party in the UK.

    Besides the box, the AEON comes with a hardshell carrying case that might just be one of the most welcome changes – to me anyway. Yes, the Ethers came with one too – but this one is black! Why is this most standard of colour choices a welcome change? Well, because the reddish-brown that the Ether carrying cases were just didn’t cut it for me.

    [​IMG]
    Finally, you get a certificate of authenticity from MrSpeakers.

    Sound

    I’ll admit that I was cautious this time around when it came to evaluating the sound of the Aeon. After seeing just how my final impressions of the Ether C Flow did not line up with my initial ones, I took care to try this with a variety of sources. The sound is pretty consistent, so I’m good to go.

    The AEON is a very punchy headphone and has no qualms about transient response. There is no lingering, sluggish or affectionate, in this headphone and it will keep up with whatever genre you throw at it. This is a prime reason that it sounds like a really good all-rounder for its price, and if you consider that along with its comfort and isolation – it might just be the perfect office headphone.

    Let’s briefly touch on the foam inserts. Yes, I feel that they are quite needed. Dan Clark openly mocks those who rely heavily on measurements to draw their impressions, and I must admit that I do share this mentality to a level. Before becoming more active in the community late last year, I never looked at frequency response charts at all and would just speak to what I hear – and I still do that mostly.

    That being said, when I saw a retail-model AEON being measured with a large dip in the lower-mids/upper-bass, I was worried. It wasn’t enough to make me regret putting down money so I could evaluate the AEON without any time constraints that come with a review unit, but it did make me gulp slightly as someone who knows what sound signature they prefer. Damn it, I was actually rooting for the AEON because I felt that I needed something of its form factor to complement my other headphones – full-sized goliaths that they are.

    What I saw, and what was measured, seems to be an AEON without the foam inserts in – and let me just explicitly state that after some time listening to them in this manner that I will not be returning. Without the foam inserts, the low-end of the AEON sounds anaemic and thin – which isn’t a good look in my opinion. Acoustic guitars sound overly sparkly and don’t retain any of the timbre that comes from a good tonewood – and the bass is largely missing. Needless to say, this entire review will continue with impressions that include having them in – and I feel that this is justified as they are both included and not a third-party mod.

    The sonic presentation of the AEON is very much that of a closed headphone. The soundstage is quite intimate, but the imaging is stellar and you never get the sense that you’ve “run out” of space for your instrument tracks in songs. The very forward presentation, along with its impressive detail retrieval, means that I ended up noticing stuff in songs that were not as prominent before in other headphones that I’ve heard from the same price range up to where the Ether Flows are. This includes the Sennheiser HD800, which I would argue has superior detail retrieval but it is wrapped in a presentation that is almost too wide for its own good – if you really want your micro-detail within easily noticeable reach.

    [​IMG]
    The bass of the AEON sets it apart from the Ether C Flow, in a good way, for one simple reason to my ears – texture. One of my biggest complaints with the Ether C Flow is that, along with the extension not going so far, there is a “rounded” effect around the bass notes that makes bass guitars sound too soft in attack and presentation. You’ll hear the notes, sure, but they’re just “there” in terms of feeling and lack the actual information/string rattle/texture that I find quite important personally. Not only does the AEON extend further than the Ether C Flow, but it does so in a manner that retains a good amount of texture around the lower frequencies – which coupled with its fast transient response means that this will consume double-kick drum patterns and fast picked/strummed bass licks quite effortlessly. Would I say that it’s ultra-realistic in this regard compared to TOTL cans like the Utopia? No, but for $800 I have not heard better – and that includes the Audeze LCD-2 2016 revision, which is more laid back but tonally superior.

    While the bass is fast, it does lack a bit of slam compared to my dynamic-driver headphones – but this is probably more to do with the technology and Dan’s tuning philosophy rather than it being an outright “mistake” or knock against the AEON. Bassheads, look elsewhere.

    Even with the foam pads inserted, the lower-midrange is averse to any characterizations of “warmth” that someone might use to describe it. Yes, it does feel more present in this region than the Ether C Flow, but it is still not nearly the level of emphasis that you will hear in headphones by Audeze of ZMF. There is still a small dip that makes male vocals a little distant and electric guitar distortion lack some of the chugging sound that is so prevalent in palm-muting techniques found in metal music. This is, of course, amplified without the pads – but still isn’t quite at the level of something like the SoundMagic HP150, a much cheaper headphone that is absolutely gutted in this frequency. I admit that I could use some more presence here, but I refuse to EQ it in or try to – I’ll leave that to others.

    As stated earlier, the intimate soundstage means that I can enjoy the AEON’s capability to resolve detail quite nicely in a more noticeable fashion. The headphone’s midrange has the ability to separate tracks really well, with vocal harmonies ringing out very clearly in a manner not intruded by conventional complaints of narrow headphone soundstage. Not only that, but the texture of the presentation is also impressive. I don’t get the sense that something is being left behind in the mix, nor do I hear any smoothing going on. This means that electric guitar patterns, even if they don’t sound as true to life as standing in front of a cranked amplifier, will not fail you in how clearly they showcase each and every note. Ever heard a metal song with several noodling simultaneous guitar melodies on top of a frantic rhythm track? This headphone laughs at that – the drums, the bass and each guitar track are on equal footing.

    The upper-midrange is not dipped, as is the case with the Focal Elear – which I would argue has superior tonality with electric guitars and distortion but lacks the AEON’s ability to present everything as effortlessly. Actually, there is a really good amount of texture and air around stringed instruments here - violins and the like do not sound smoothed out or compromised. Female vocals also sound like they retain a lot of body, more so than male vocals on this headphone. Other instruments in this region that I thought sounded quite stellar included saxophones and trumpets – a great big band/jazz headphone perhaps?

    Going past the upper-midrange gave me my second taste of what sounds like it may be a dip to me – in the presence region. Once your ears accustom themselves to the AEON, I don’t feel that this will be too noticeable to anyone but the most discerning of treble purists – and I admit that I only came across it after switching to the Focal Utopia after a few hours of evaluating the AEON. Suddenly, I felt that the music breathed more. I think this is intentional however, and not just a side effect of a closed headphone versus an open one, as the ZMF Eikon has more presence to my ears. That being said, it may be because of this that the AEON is a more forgiving headphone than the Eikon and certainly the Utopia. I can listen to pop trash on this and not feel put off by over-processed vocals or phoned-in mastering techniques. This actually furthers my belief of the AEON being an all-rounder and a good office headphone as you don’t really want to be switching between headphones in a cubicle, dependent on genre – do you?

    After this, there is definitely a bit of sharpness to the treble. It is not like the Beyerdynamic T1 or stock Sennheiser HD800 in this regard, but there is a distinct feeling that you may encounter some glare depending on the source material. It is not overpowering however, even to a slightly treble-sensitive person such as myself – and I will happily take it if it means that the rest of the AEON can sound how it does – with cymbals and their patterns sounding both precise and quick. Many a time will I put on a song and immediately think “huh, that cymbal pattern is definitely holding its own relative to everything else” – especially in frantic recordings. Here is a region that headphones like the ZMF Atticus and Audeze LCD-2 do not do quite as well – with cymbals being buried in their presentation compared to the AEON. The snap of snare drums is also quite prominent in the mix, but I would argue that it lacks a bit of the impact that a headphone such as the Focal Elear or Focal Utopia can muster.

    If I had to sum the treble up, I would say that it is a somewhat comfortable bookend to how the rest of the headphone sounds. Yes, it’s a bit dipped in lower frequencies/the presence region, but once you have the AEON on for a while – you won’t notice that as much and will definitely enjoy just how delicate the balance is between it and the rest of the headphone.

    Amping

    Despite being 13 ohms, the AEON has an efficiency of 95dB/mW and definitely needs ample amping. While it may not be as power hungry as, say, an Audeze LCD-4 200 ohm – you do want to properly amp this if you want the full extent of the bass response without any distortion. My portable Venture Electronics RunAbout Plus amplifier, which can power a Utopia with no qualms if need be, can’t manage the AEON quite so well. My Schiit Lyr 2, Venture Electronics RunAbout 2 Balanced and Audio-GD NFB-28 devour it however and give me the sound as intended.

    Comparisons

    Despite my personal belief that the AEON is a proud performer at its price range, I do feel the need to compare it to other headphones around this region. Ultimately, while I feel that many of these headphones outdo the MrSpeakers’ headphone in one or two regards, they might not be able to retain as much balance as the AEON – making it the all-rounder winner if you like the sound signature. I’ve selected headphones here that I would consider to be other all-rounders, and it should also be noted that the AEON is at least $200 cheaper than these headphones.

    I will also only talk about sound and not build quality/comfort concerns.

    [​IMG]
    Audeze LCD-2 (2016 Revision)

    I can’t think of two vastly different sound signature gaps in the audio world than MrSpeakers and Audeze. The former tends to rely heavily on technical prowess and detail retrieval at the cost of natural tonality, while the latter emphasizes just that along with a laid back and pleasantly warm sound.

    While the LCD-2 may sound far smoother in its midrange, it lacks some texture compared to the AEON. Where the presentation of vocals might sound so gorgeous on the LCD-2 with all the weight and body required, the AEON will counter with the exposing of vocal layering in a more intricate manner.

    The AEON is also far faster in transients than the LCD-2, which goes for a more laid back approach. The climb to the treble is also an area where the AEON might dip some but then come back with force, while the LCD-2 seems more even in its ascent before being comfortably rounded off in a very Audeze manner. The soundstage width on both is similar, despite one being closed and the other being open.

    [​IMG]
    ZMF Atticus

    The Atticus is a punchy headphone with a lot of weight in its low end. It, like the LCD-2, emphasizes a natural tonality – but might have some difficulty with certain genres of music where the bass might overwhelm the midrange a bit. This is alleviated substantially through the use of a fat-trimming amplifier like the Schiit Lyr 2 – but it is definitely a knock against it compared to the AEON, which can sound like itself from most setups.

    The sheer force of the bass slam in the Atticus is breathtaking, and the AEON can’t counter it in that regard at all. It is far faster though, and even though the Atticus is more dynamic and punchy than the LCD-2 – it can’t match the AEON’s planar-driven speed and transients. Kick drums may hit harder on the Atticus, but on the AEON they are surgical strikes and are felt no matter what’s going on in the rest of the track – something a bit more consistent than the Atticus I must admit.

    The AEON does, however, lack the lower mid bloom that makes the Atticus such a warm headphone with body. Acoustic guitars sound quite a bit more lifelike on the Atticus than on the AEON, which is sharper but (because of the lower-midrange dip) does not have the weight behind each strum. The midrange, in general, on the Atticus is very liquid and smooth – but it lacks the texture that the AEON or elder brother Eikon provide. The Atticus also has a slightly wider soundstage than the AEON.

    The AEON also retains more air and upper treble than the Atticus, which like the LCD-2 is more towards the “comfortably rolled off” side of things.

    [​IMG]
    Focal Elear

    If I had to choose either the AEON or the Elear as an all-rounder, it would actually just come down to setting and personal preference. If I needed to be mindful of others around me, I would choose the AEON for it has far superior isolation. It is also easier to wear for extended periods due to its design and it being substantially lighter than the Elear. If isolation wasn’t a concern, and I was chained to my desk with an uncompromised audio chain – then I would take the Elear. What the Elear does can’t be reproduced by the AEON, simply put. This needs a little explaining however.

    The AEON is fast, but the Elear is similarly fast. What it comes down to is the surgical presentation of the AEON versus the impactful presentation of the Elear. The AEON might be able to replicate each kick drum and snare hit with precision, but the Elear doesn’t lag too far behind and brings with it a bombastic signature that makes everything sound larger than life. It’s really interesting, and a fulfilling moment in this hobby, where you can hear the clearly audible difference between a snare drum just being hit and it holding on for dear life from the same audio track – just because of two different headphones.

    The AEON does seem to be the cleaner sounding headphone overall however, with the Elear having a shouty midrange. The AEON is also more even throughout the frequency chart, while the Elear has a pronounced upper-midrange dip that can render female vocals rather distant. The Elear has more mid-bass and lower midrange presence however, making electric guitar distortion sound incredibly lifelike (also due to the shouty midrange no doubt) and not smoothed over. The separation between tracks is superior on the AEON however.

    When it comes to soundstage, the Elear’s somewhat narrow presentation actually edges out the AEON’s in width.

    Genre Pairing

    As I’ve used the term “all-rounder” so much in this review, I don’t feel like I need to add much here. Yes, this headphone will keep up with pretty much any genre you throw at it. Will it ever be the best at that genre? No, it simply won’t be – but the fact that it can just be so consistently good with so many is a big plus point.

    Acoustic guitar music is probably one of the weaker genres, however. While the Ether C Flow, to my ears, relegated acoustic guitars into plastic bodies rather than tonewood – the AEON does manage to fare far better. It is still lacking in the body necessary for accurate presentation, but I don’t think that really matters to Dan to be honest. From what I’ve heard of the MrSpeakers line-up, they really do seem to emphasise technical prowess over musicality. Yes, the AEON is a more fun listen to most than a stock Sennheiser HD800, but it is not eschewing its detail retrieval ability to sound more natural. Unlike on the Ether C Flow, I’m fine with this on the AEON because it does correct the bass texture issue that I had with the elder planar and has a more even frequency throughout.

    Conclusion

    I’d say the AEON is a triumph for several reasons:

    · It is an $800 headphone in a hobby that seems to push upwards in price every year.

    · It takes some of the trickle-down technical prowess of the Ether Flows and merges them with a punchier and more consumer-focused tuning successfully.

    · It is an all-rounder that won’t win any battles in distinct categories but will soldier on admirably.

    · It is remarkably light and comfortable.

    · It isolates very well, which along with its comfort makes for a prime office headphone.

    · It’s definitely one of the most unique-looking headphones on the market.

    That being said, I have glossed over the price a lot in this review – basically saying that they sound really good for the price. I need to ground myself a bit here, because $800 is a lot of money no matter how you look at it and it is totally acceptable for someone to expect a headphone that is stellar in some regard at this price range – rather than a headphone that does many things well instead. If you are able, do sample this and others – but I stand behind my earlier statement that you probably won’t find anything more far-reaching in its genre pairing ability at $800.

    To my ears, this is better than the Ether C Flow. I have not heard the original Ether C, so to me this is MrSpeakers’ best closed can of fully proprietary design. Whatever issues that I may have with the lower midrange, the presence dip or the treble glare do not overcome the sheer amount of good that I hear in this headphone.

    It is so clean in presentation, it’s very fast and punchy and it reveals detail in a manner that actually outperforms similarly priced headphones. It’s light, it’s comfortable and it has a unique design - and thus I find it having a place amongst my four main headphones quite easily.

    [​IMG]
      Dr. Hugo, iano, EagleWings and 10 others like this.
  5. TMRaven
    A headphone that just makes sense
    Written by TMRaven
    Published May 21, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - comfort, isolation, frequency balance
    Cons - lack of upper bass-lower midrange
    Dan at MrSpeakers is definitely a wonderful story. He's taken a hobby of his as means to successfully grow a brand through smart business decisions and a strong, almost personal relationship, with his target audience, and he's done so in such a short amount of time to boot. My first experience with one of his products was the Mad Dog 3.2. At the time of hearing the Mad Dogs my headphone was the HE-400, and I was impressed with the Mad Dog enough to consider it the best overall package one could buy at its price point. Fast forward several years and Dan is making planar headphones from the ground up all in house, and here we have his newest creation, a headphone that actually makes sense compared to many other offerings on the market, the Aeon:

    [​IMG]


    I was one of the few who decided to get the Aeon before Dan could ship it with its intended product box and carrying case, but Dan was kind enough to include the Ether carrying case, which fits the Aeon just fine. The case is almost as small as it can get while still being robust enough to comfortably fit the Aeons inside; no complaints there. The build of the Aeon is top notch: there's only one point of articulation on each side of the headphone, and it's the point where the gimbals attach into the side of the cups. The majority of the headphone is constructed with durable yet lightweight materials; the headband is comprised of two nickel titanium shape memory alloy rods that are responsible for maintaining clamping pressure and adjusting the height of the suspension strap. These nitinol rods are malleable enough to allow for enough fidgeting once the cups are on your head. The gimbals are solid pieces of what looks to be powder coated aluminum, as are the baffles which make up the structure for which the drivers are housed in. The baffles extend to the exterior of the cups and create the black ring along the side of the cups. These rings are what you normally grip when handling the headphone once it's on your head, and their rigidity makes the Aeon feel incredibly solid. The backing of the cups consist of carbon fiber, while the dark blue portions are one of the only plastic components of the Aeon, and they're finished in a high gloss metallic paint. My biggest criticism of the Aeon's build (which I guess can extend to the Ether series) is that there's no visible detents or marks to signify which position the headstrap sliders are on the nitinol rods. This can become a little annoying at times, as adjusting clamping pressure requires subtle movements of these slider along the curvature of the rods, and eyeballing both to match for optimal fit and comfort is less precise of an ordeal than actually relying on some sort of markings. This problem is also emphasized by the fact that the left slider on the headband is slightly more loose than the right, so it tends to ride up a little easier if I'm trying to adjust the fit on my head, causing imbalance. Besides the slight annoyances with the headband adjustment, the build of the Aeon expires confidence in durability, and exemplifies smart engineering and material choices. The overall look of the Aeon is one that looks futuristic, streamlined, yet organic. Its ear-shaped cups are elegantly curved and asymmetric, while its ones-sided gimbals reinforce this aesthetic. I can see this look being highly contentious though, as many might prefer much more symmetrical shapes like circles or ovals-- the sleek and organic curvature is a welcome change for me though.



    Comfort is where the Aeon's choice in materials and engineering really pay off. The Aeon is the lightest planar magnetic I've experienced; its light weight combined with a suspension headband makes for a very natural fatigue free experience for the top of one's head. In its current market of high end headphones, the Aeon is the welcome bantamweight in a grouping of heavyweight behemoths, many of which I find completely unwearable. The ear-shaped cups of the Aeon are perhaps its biggest strength, as they allow the Aeon to be as light as possible while maximizing earpad space for one's ears. At roughly only 2/3 the width of most fulls-sized cups, the Aeon's pads have as much if not more space for your ears to fit into. The pads are graciously deep as well, allowing for a very spacious fit. The pads are not memory foam though, so I worry that over time the pads will eventually compress and cause for a more intimate fit, which is cause for concern, because the pads are glued on for optimal seal. With many headphones today seemingly ignoring fit and comfort for a sole priority in sound quality, it's nice to see a headphone maker seemingly build a headphone around comfort first. The Aeon however is still a closed and well isolating headphone, so your ears will get hot over time, mitigating a completely natural experience. If Dan were to ever make an open-version of the Aeon, and calibrate it to clamp slightly less as it wouldn't have to rely on a tight seal, it would be perhaps the most comfortable headphone on the market, and one that I would surely grab with no hesitation.



    The sound of the Aeon is very balanced with incredible extension down low and good extension into the treble. It has a slight lower-midtreble emphasis around 8-10k, slightly exaggerating s,sh, and z sibilants in certain recordings, but it's more mild than many headphones, as the effect doesn't show on as much recordings as other headphones I've owned through the years. Upper midrange is very robust, with a healthy and smooth rise from 1khz to 3khz, without showing many colorations are aberrations that would otherwise give the Aeon a closed-cup sound. Lower treble from 4-7khz seems to be wonderfully present yet balanced. Most headphones either have too little treble in this area or just just a complete mess. Percussion on the Aeon is rendered with a good deal of depth and tangibility due to the well-balanced treble presentation, while never becoming annoying or hissy. Room ambiance cues are easy to pick out, and vocals have plenty of breath to them as well. The bass of the Aeon extends down to the lowest notes with ease, without showcasing any excess bloat or distortion. I tested the Aeon's bass to extend down to about 32hz before rolling off, which puts it in line with the audeze LCD series. The balance of the bass in the Aeon isn't as exaggerated as I thought it would be given the Harman bass boost in its frequency response graphs. Low to mid-bass is in healthy balance, but the upper bass and lower midrange transition area around 200-400hz lacks the body, heft, and sweetness that I've grown accustomed to from other high performing headphones. I can't tell whether this lack of lower midrange heft is either a tuning choice, or a side effect of the Aeon's closed back nature, as closed back headphones usually lack the inherent inner-warmth that open-backs do. Cellos tend to lose some thickness and bloom to them, while vocals lose a little bit of guttural fortitude, and pianos lose some of their warmth and resonance that usually give them a robust and romantic quality. A slight lack of warmth and weight to its lower midrange aside, the timbral balance of the Aeon remains very good, and it throws a decently sized image with open sound despite being closed back. The Aeon's sound is very focused, with one of its inherent strengths being its instrument separation and microdynamics, allowing many different instruments and elements in complex passages of songs to be followed with ease. However I think it still doesn't compete with the best open-backs for sheer clarity though. Its presentation lacks that last bit of inner warmth and airiness that gives other open-backs an edge when it comes to rendering a believable acoustic performance around you.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]



    Compared to the Oppo PM3:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    The Oppo PM3 was gifted to me from Oppo as a thank you for participating in their beta program to help sculpt the final production tuning of the PM3. I didn't want to sell it off to essentially make money, so it was gifted to my brother and I always borrow it in situations like these to compare with other headphones for reference, as I feel that its frequency balance is among the best in the market. Tyll and Bob Katz seem to mirror these impressions as well.

    Compared to the Aeon, the PM3's build holds up just as well, with a bit of luxurious flair to it. Its earpads are memory foam, allowing for a more plush experience, while its headband adjustment is smooth as butter with markings that I find sorely missing on the Aeon. The PM3's headband looks more finished compared to the Aeon's suspension strap as well, while the black and silver finish is more refined looking than the Aeon's blue and carbon fiber scheme. Being more of a portable though, its earpads aren't as large as the Aeon, and its headband doesn't have a suspension strap, so over time it's not as comfortable of an experience as the Aeon. I develop a hotspot on the top of my head with the PM3 after an hour of continuous listening, while the I never develop a hotspot with the Aeon.

    Comparing the two Innerfidelity measurements of the Aeon and PM3, it's surprising how different they sound. While both measure extremely close to the ideal Harman response curve for headphones, PM3 is the much warmer of the two headphones, and its upper-bass lower-midrange is upfront and robust, if not a little bloated sounding, compared to the Aeon. I tend to prefer the PM3's meatiness in this area, but there is no denying that its upper bass is bleeding into the midrange a slight amount, while the Aeon's is remarkably controlled. Coming from the PM3 directly to the Aeon, the Aeon sounds very breathy and slightly sparkly, while the PM3 is more grounded and less airy. The aforementioned bass-bleed makes the PM3 sound more like a closed back headphone, while the Aeon remains more open sounding. Despite measurements, upper midrange around 3-4khz is slightly mellower on the PM3, while less restrained on the Aeon, giving the PM3 a more laid back sound and the Aeon a slightly more crunchy sound. The PM3's bass doesn't extend down as low as the Aeon, and it definitely isn't as controlled or powerful as the Aeon when a song has lots of sub-bass information. On Trentemoller's Into The Trees, Aeon's bass extends into subterranean levels while remaining controlled enough to not haze over the rest of the sound spectrum, while PM3's bass is thicker and hazier, but not as deep. I find the PM3 to present vocals better than the Aeon, with more weight and less sibilants, but slightly less airiness. On Adele's Hometown Glory, Adele's voice is weighty and palpable on the PM3, while it lacks some foundation on the Aeon. This particular recording also brings out some sibilances in her voice as well on the Aeon. Both headphones have faults in their frequency response, but both are remarkably balanced, however I think the PM3 has the less glaring flaws, so I give it the edge in frequency response. Aeon however has more clarity to it with less bass bleed, better microdynamics, more balanced treble, and more focused sound.



    Compared to the Elear:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    After reading Tyll's glowing review of the Elear, as well as getting ran over by its hype train on Head-Fi, the thought of buying an Elear to own for the rest of my headfi journey was a no-brainer. This was the headphone that could do nothing wrong and did everything better than anything that ever came before it... or so I thought. Hype aside, the Elear is an extremely bombastic sounding headphone with clarity and dynamics in spades, but it also has a couple of Achilles heels as well which don't make it quite the sea-change in the world of personal audio.


    The Elear's build quality is tremendous. It is definitely one of the few headphones that has the looks to match its asking price, with a sleek looking gimbal assembly and well padded headband, as well as very plush memory foam pads sporting an almost microfiber type of covering, feeling very nice on the skin. The outer grill screams look at me using polished aluminum and a slick black and silver color palette. The Aeon still holds its ground though with its unique and organic looking presence. The earpads, suspension strap, and lack of headband adjustment markings are still take aways from the Aeon. I mentioned the Elear having a couple of glaring flaws earlier, and its comfort would be one (for me, anyways). Most people find it to be relatively comfortable, but I set my bar for comfort in the heavens. Despite its robust and luxurious build, the Elear is a slobbering behemoth next to the Aeon, and its weight causes for an eventual hotspot on the top of my head after 45 minutes of sustained listening. The clamping force of the Elear is also really high in comparison to the Aeon as well. Its super plush and exceedingly roomy pads to a fantastic job of mitigating its clamp, but you will always feel like you're wearing big headphones with the Elear. Coming off the Aeon, the Elear is just annoying to wear. The comfort is the main reason why I bought the Aeon and am seriously considering selling the Elear. I want my headphone to be a completely natural experience, and the Elear just isn't it.


    The Elear measures to have the least bass of the 3 headphones being compared here, but it actually might have the most. Its prominent feature when compared to the Aeon is its overall bass heft, which brings many recordings to life with such impact and grounding presence. Its tone is dark given its bountiful lower midrange and recessed upper midrange. The Aeon by comparison is rather thin sounding and colder throughout its midrange. Horned instruments in Hans Zimmer's Imagine the Fire are slightly shouty sounding on the Aeon next to the Elear, which renders them with more warmth and depth. On the other hand, the Aeon on the same recording can make Elear's soundstage sound disoriented, with a gap in the upper midrange and spotlighted treble. Coming off the Aeon and listening to the Elear, violins can lose their screeching presence, trumpets can become blunted, and percussion can lose a bit of snap. The Aeon can't compete with the Elear's clarity and dynamics though, as the powerful image the Elear throws is full bodied yet pristinely controlled with natural decay and a dead-black background. The full-bodied lower midrange of the Elear tends to give acoustic performance more tangibility with a natural feel of room gain and resonance, while on the Aeon, instruments become drier and more one-dimensional. With its extremely opened-back nature and ease of dynamic control, the Elear is hard to beat in the specific areas that it excels in, but it has a divisive frequency response that you'll either love or hate. People who love warm to dark sounding headphones like me will suck up every ounce of its baroque-esque sound that it soaks you with, while others looking for more natural and evenly-shaded renderings of instruments and vocals will gravitate toward the Aeon, whose colorations I find less troublesome than the Elear. It has a deeper extending bass, more even upper midrange and treble from 1-10khz, but its troublesome dip around 2-300hz tends to sometimes thin out certain recordings. Luckily, an abundance of bass up to 100-150hz counteracts this effect a little bit.



    In conclusion, the Aeon is a damned good sounding headphone with very few glaringly obvious frequency response problems and comfort that's second to none, on top of being one of the most isolating full-sized closed headphones on the market that's built exceptionally well. With so many assets at its disposal and coming in at under 1000 dollars, it's nice to see a company put such an effort into a headphone and refuse to follow the current price-gouging trend of today's high-end market. However it's not the perfect headphone; while its treble balance and presentation is perhaps the best I've heard on a planar magnetic to date, it lacks the lower midrange-middle midrange balance that most other planars are known for, with a mild depression in the 200-400hz range that causes many sounds to lose their heft and warmth. I would ideally like to see an open version that could somehow retain the same control and balance of the bass and treble, while reworking the midrange to be more full bodied while still retaining the general smoothness yet precision of the Aeon. All things considered, this is a headphone that just makes sense, which is something that's hard to come by these days.
      Currawong, bearFNF, filo9s and 6 others like this.
  6. MattTCG
    A truly tasty closed back portable
    Written by MattTCG
    Published Feb 8, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Beautiful tone, comfort, easy to drive, value
    Cons - More transportable than true portable
    MrSpeakers ÆON
     
    Intro:
     
    This is a great time to be in the headphone hobby. The science, materials and passion for the hobby seem to be converging at the right time and manufacturers are producing products that take headphone performance to all new and captivating levels.  As hobbyist, we have more choices and offerings than ever before.  Unfortunately, not everything in the hobby is trending in such a positive direction. Prices for new headphone products are gravitating upward and onward. Some manufacturers seem to tack on another zero to what used to be a fair price and see if the market will bear it. Ever see someone fling a moist piece of spaghetti against the wall to see if it will stick? Boo, hiss…bring out the torches and pitchforks!
     
    This is admittedly an expensive hobby, but we all have a budget to work with and no one wants to feel taken advantage of when we buy a new headphone. In fact, I like to feel that I got a good value or at least that I paid a “fair” price for the headphones I choose to add to my collection.  End rant.
     
    Enter the MrSpeakers all new from the ground up ÆON (introductory price $699). “Value” has been a big component of the products from MrSpeakers, from the first Maddog through the ETHER flagships. I’m happy to say that ÆON holds true to that tradition and offers incredible value for the price/performance. At the introductory price of $699, you might not feel like you stole it, but it will be close.
     
    The first thing that you notice when you take the ÆON out of the box is that its constructed somewhat differently than its flagship siblings the ETHERS. In fact, there is only one pivot point per side on the whole headphone, with the Nitinol band acting as the primary hinge. Nice! Now that’s smartly engineered. The purpose of the new design was to increase an already class leading build quality found in the ETHERS. This “overbuilt” level of quality will also lend itself well to the ÆON’s portable nature and ensure its long-term durability.  You’ll also notice that the DUM cable is now even DUMMER! The cable has been re-worked for more flexibility and the gauge in not quite as thick, lending itself for better portability.
     
    Thoughts on comfort:
     
    If anyone is worried about a high level of comfort with the ÆON, just don’t. This headphone is one of the most comfortable that I’ve ever had the pleasure to adorn my medium sized noggin. Slip them on and it feels like sliding into a pair of expensive Italian leather loafers…ahhhh.  In two minutes, I’ve forgotten that I’m wearing them. I believe the comfort level comes from a combination of the light weight (339 grams), elongated cup shape and near perfect ergonomic fit and clamp. For those of you who know me, I am self-proclaimed to be hyper-sensitive to weight when it comes to headphones. That being said, I find the ÆON perfectly comfortable and can wear them for hours without fatigue. 
     
    Tone:
     
    If a headphone passes my comfort test, the very first thing that I listen for when I cue up music is tone. If the voices and instruments do not possess a natural tonality, then it’s a fail for me. No matter what other amazing and astounding sonic abilities a headphone may offer, if it doesn’t get the tone correct then I’ll never love it. I’m happy to report that the ÆON reproduces a beautiful tone of both voices and instruments. In fact, mid-range vocals may be the star of the show here.
     
    Overall, I find the signature of the ÆON is more friendly and accessible than the ETHERS. What I mean is that ETHERS have a reference sound and a very honest one. Also, ETHERS have a high level of resolution and transparency, revealing exactly what is coming from the source. Some hobbyist will prefer a warmer and somewhat more forgiving experience. I feel that this is just what the Aeon offers. In fact, I can see that some will choose ÆON over ETHERS for this distinction alone regardless of the substantial price discrepancy.
     
    To my ears, the ÆON has a touch more mid bass, whereas the ETHERS offer more true sub bass frequency response. Most music that we listen to doesn’t offer much in the way of true sub bass unless you tend to listen to a lot electronic music. The difference in frequency response gives the ÆON an overall warmer overall tone. 
     
    The overall signature of the ÆON is what I would describe as “cohesive.” The parts of the signature blend very well together with no peaks to distract from the experience.  The elongated and naturally shaped cups seem to add to the sound stage especially along the y-axis. So, for a closed headphone the ÆON sounds quite spacious.
     
    Also, ÆON isolates sound quite well. You won’t disturb your spouse in bed, nor will you be disturbed by ambient noise like the tv, dishwasher, kids, nagging wife/girlfiend etc. To have a headphone of this sonic caliber, comfort in a closed version is really a rare feat. For many of us, listening to open headphones just isn’t always possible in a home or work setting. And the high level of isolation will be a blessing for those not wanting to disturb co-workers and still be able to use a world class headphone that can be powered pretty decently even from a smart phone. This brings me to my next consideration.
     
    Amping:
     
    My testing with amps show the ÆON to high a highly efficient product. It can be amped and enjoyed from any modern smart phone. Stepping up to my Dragonfly Red or Fiio x5ii gave an obvious improvement where the tone was richer and more natural, with better staging and PRAT. Finally, the ÆON sounds tremendous on my desktop amp.  Most planar magnetics respond well to power and Aeon is no exception. How nice it would be to take the Aeon to work with a modest DAP or phone even, only to bring it home in the evening and unleash it’s potential on your desktop amp.
     
    Conclusion:
     
    Most of the time when I unbox a new headphone and give it a listen I have one of three reactions. I hate it, I can live with it or I love it. ÆON was an instant hit for me. The comfort makes them nearly invisible. The signature is friendly, but resolves well without any harshness or stridency. And the price is easy on the wallet given the current state of what the hobby is offering. Maybe the best complement that I can give the ÆON is that I often times found myself picking it when the house was quiet and I could have chosen one of my open headphones. The signature is inviting, additive and I feel confident saying that the MrSpeakers team has another winner on deck. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see ÆON as the best seller at MrSpeakers.
     
    Scores:
     
    Value: 9.8
     
    Comfort: 9.5
     
    Tone: 9.0
     
    *disclaimer-I was part of the test group that listened to the prototypes of this product and offered feedback on the design and tuning of the Aeon. The headphone that I reviewed here was not a shipping version but did have final production level tuning. Also, I reserve the right to return to this review and add commentary on direct comparisons to other closed headphones that I own or have owned if time permits.
      iano, juanix, bearFNF and 17 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. VintageFlanker
      @MattTCG

      Great review! But, what about isolation and leakage?
      VintageFlanker, Feb 19, 2017
    3. saxophone
      How would you characterize its soundstage?
      saxophone, Mar 6, 2017
    4. Denmark
      @MattTCG
       
      Thanks for the great review. Could you compare the bass to some other headphones? Is it on the lean side?
      Denmark, Apr 20, 2017