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The MrSpeakers AEON Flow Open is a Planar Magnetic headphone built using premium materials and technology derived from the MrSpeakers Ether Flow line

MrSpeakers AEON Flow Open

Rating:
4.5/5,
  • MrSpeakers in-house designed headphone, AEON packs all the technology of ETHER Flow headphones into a compact, comfortable and cost-effective design, delivering the best of ETHER Flow sound quality at a dramatically more affordable price point.

    FEATURES
    • All-new planar magnetic driver with our V-Planar and Trueflow technology
    • NiTinol "memory metal" headband with hinge-free design
    • Dyed-through leather headband
    • New DUMMER 1/4" and 3.5mm dual-tip fabric covered headphone cable
    • Includes clamshell travel case
    • 2-year warranty (see terms and conditions for details)
    SPECIFICATIONS
    • Efficiency: 92dB/mW
    • Weight (without cable): 321gr Open
    • Detachable 2m premium dual-entry cable with 3.5mm and 1/4" termination
    • Impedance: 13 ohms

Recent Reviews

  1. IkSak
    MrSpeakers AEON Flow Open:warm, engaging, intimate
    Written by IkSak
    Published Sep 2, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Warm, engaging sound
    Superb comfort
    Carry case included
    Tuning filters allow customizing the sound
    Cons - Could use a bit more soundstage
    Average detail retrieval
    MrSpeakers AEON Flow Open Review

    Hello all!. This is my review of the MrSpeakers AEON Flow Open (from now on, AFO). English is not my mother language, so I ask you all my apologies if you find any typos or grammatical mistakes.

    Before getting into the review, I would like to set a few things clear about myself:

    About me and my music preferences:

    I’m a Colombian guy, I pursued the academic career and I work as a University Professor. I consider myself a music lover and 85% of my listening time is distributed between classic music and Latin genres and the remaining is pop/rock. I’m skewed towards warm headphones, I’m not sensible to treble issues and I’m not very fond headphones/iems with a V-Shape signature. I have two places where I do most of my listening: my private office at work and my home.

    Disclaimer:

    I bought my AFO directly from MrSpeakers and I have no affiliation with them.

    Packing, Design, and Comfort:

    MrSpeakers’ Dan Clark has a long track designing and building headphones and all his experience is present in the AFO.

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    To start, the headphone packing is a testament to functional packaging, coming with a magnetic mechanism. Once you open it, you’ll find a clamshell traveling case.

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    The case feels solid and I’ve used it to transport the headphone in my backpack and in my traveling bag without any problems. In terms of accessories, the headphone comes with a 2m fabric covered cable with your choice of a balanced or a 6.35mm terminated plug. In the latter case, the cable comes with a dual entry 6.35mm and 3.5mm.

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    You’ll also find a certificate of authenticity, with a very concise manual that explains how to connect the AFO cable.
    aeon documentation.jpeg

    The AFO also comes with a set of three tuning filters that allow customizing its sound. The filters exert an influence on the sound by decreasing the treble. The black foam filter has the lesser effect, followed by the white one-notch filter (installed by default) and the white two-notch filter. I’ll come back to the filters in the following sections.

    The AFO has a wonderful design, with a solid construction comprised mostly of metal, leather, memory pads and premium materials. Weighting in a very light (for a planar magnetic) 320gr, the AFO shows great quality when you have it in your hand. The NiTinol headband feels very durable and does a superb job of accommodating even big heads. The leather headband fits very well and does not produce heat, even at 35°C. The cable connects using a simple mechanism that produces a very satisfactory click sound when plugged.

    In terms of comfort, the AFO sets a new benchmark for headphones, regardless of its price. In addition to the AFO, I also own a Sennheiser HD700, an AKG K7XX, a Focal Elex and other headphones. I’ll say this bluntly, the AFO puts all of them to shame. The only one that does a great attempt of coming close is the HD700, however, I remember an afternoon when I was enjoying a classic music session with the HD700, and when I put the AFO I had a sensation of immense relief. So, my message to all headphone manufacturers looking to improve their headphones’ comfort is: get an AFO, take a good hard look, wear it and feel the new comfort standard.

    Sound Impressions:

    Warm, intimate and engaging. These are my three words to describe the AFO sound. As I mentioned before, 85% of my music is classic and latin, so keep in mind that when reading the following comments:

    Classic music listening impressions:

    I’d say this straight away: I did not buy the AFO with classic music in mind. And there are certainly headphones better suited for large orchestral pieces. However, the intimate and engaging character is amazing for small classic groups and orchestral pieces. The AFO is able to make you feel a very live and realistic presentation of classic music when this is recorded in small rooms, providing good detail, instrument crispness and somehow drawing you into the music you’re listening. It is a very good sign when a headphone makes you feel goosebumps with a song you’ve listened 1000 times, and that was what I felt when I listened to a Zombie cover by Brooklyn Duo. The AFO does an amazing job with the piano and cello in this track and you can even feel the breath of the cellist. Imaging for these kinds of tracks is also pretty good.

    I was under the impression that for large orchestral pieces, the AFO makes you feel as if you were very close to the scenario. So, I asked a friend who is a director of a symphonic orchestra to listen to the AFO. He just said that it is very close to what he listens when doing his job, further corroborating my impression.

    Presently, the AFO has a share of my classic listening time, though not the largest one. It is my preferred headphone for those playlists comprised of small ensembles and the new generation of classic instruments performers that play in small groups and create covers of popular songs. I’d like to mention that for these types of tracks, the engaging nature of the AFO makes you forget of time, drawing you into the music. For large orchestral pieces, where detail retrieval and soundstage are the name of the game, I’d recommend other headphones like the HD800/s, HD700, the AKG K7XX and the Focal Elex.

    As I said earlier, the AFO comes with a set of filters to tune the sound. The manual itself (and I second that) recommends not to A/B filters at the beginning, rather you should allow your brain to adjust to a particular one. Nonetheless, after “burning in” your brain to the different sound signatures the AFO filters can give you, I do recommend to A/B them; just think as if you were doing A/B between different headphones. I finally settled down to not using any filters at all for classic music when I pair the AFO with a tube amp (more about pairing in the following section). Using no filters provides more air to the music and a larger soundstage that I find pleasing for classic.

    In this genre, I should mention that the AFO is very forgiving of poorly recorded/arranged tracks; and I do mean it seriously. I listened to a poor-quality track of an instrumental version of Pie Jesu and I was pleasantly surprised of how well it sounded on the AFO. In contrast, listening to this headphone with the MD Focal Elex reveals how poorly sampled the track was.

    Latin music listening impressions:

    This is a genre where the AFO warm and engaging nature shows its credentials. Please, keep in mind that Latin genre includes salsa, merengue, vallenato, bachata, reggaeton, cumbia, and many other subgenres.

    The AFO manages to beautifully portray several aspects of latin music, with the bass hitting hard when needed and its engaging nature make you enjoy and want more of the happiness of this genre. Such is the engaging level that I’ve found myself with my upper body dancing while seated. I should mention that for this genre, I settled to the black foam filter to lessen a bit the treble because some genres have lots of instruments in this range and I wanted to avoid any possibility of an intrusive treble from stopping me to enjoy songs. I must mention that as a consequence of being an intimate (i.e. not large soundstage), the AFO presentation in latin genre is that of a club-like presentation . Here I should say that the AFO does a great job of separating female and male voices, even in presence of the many instruments frequently found in this genre. Without going out offtopic from latin music, I should say that this quality of the AFO is great for pop music. I remember that a friend was delighted when she listened to Hey Jude (remastered version), so much that she listened to the whole album.

    The downside that I can found in the AFO for this genre is that some instrument detail (and micro-detail) is missing in pieces with a large number of instruments.

    Power requirements, amp pairings and headphone complementarity

    The AFO needs power to sound good. Specs wise, it is a 13ohms and 92dB/mW headphone. I tested it using a Schiit Magni 3, a Schiit Vali 2, a Schiit Lyr 2, a Cayin C5 and my iPhone. After amping the AFO, I’d say that you need to stay away from any smartphones, though maybe a Quad DAC LG may fare better, but I cannot ascertain that.

    I used low gain with all these amps at about 70% of their volume and they all have good synergy with the AFO. However, I’ll this pretty clearly: the AFO loves tubes. Dan Clark on the AFO forum elaborates more about this. But as someone who just likes to enjoy music, I must say that once you start listening the AFO connected to a tube, be prepared to sit down and stay there for a while.

    My personal preference for the AFO is the Schiit Lyr 2. It does three good things for the AFO. First, it increases the detail retrieval, second, it widens the soundstage and more importantly, the AFO becomes more engaging and romantic. If you’re on a budget, the Vali 2 is I think the best bang for buck pairing for the AFO. With the Magni 3, the AFO just feels like it is, with its engaging, intimate nature.

    I think the Cayin C5 deserves its own mention. This is a powerhouse portable amp that drives the AFO and any headphone I’ve thrown at it with great authority. The AFO+Cayin C5 are an amazing pair for someone who travels and wants to have great sound quality in a hotel room. Here, the included carry case is superb. MrSpeakers, if you’re reading this, I think you can make this case even better by making the filters compartment less loose for portable amplifiers, so it can avoid them to slide and hit the AFO.

    In terms of complementarity with other headphones, I’d say that the AFO and the Focal Elex are a great pair to complement each other. While the latter is dynamic, detailed and with a nice soundstage, the AFO is inviting, intimate and romantic. They can perfectly coexist in a headphone collection because each one excels in their unique representation of music.

    Conclusion:

    The MrSpeakers AEON Flow Open is a warm, intimate and engaging headphone that draws you into the music. Design, materials and build quality are testament of great engineering judgement and top craftmanship, that find their expression on its superb comfort, which has set the benchmark for full-sized headphones. Soundstage and detailing are its weaknesses, particularly when compared to other headphones that excel in these areas, hence I’m giving them a 4.5 stars rating. All things considered, if you’re looking for a headphone under 1k you should definitively have the warm, inviting and engaging AFO among the top of your list.

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      milkypete, reddog, bidn and 7 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. qsk78
      Thank you for your review. Sounds like it is different from the Closed Version of AEON which was described as neutral and detailed in many reviews. Ineresting.
      qsk78, Sep 5, 2018
    3. reddog
      a very good review
      reddog, Sep 5, 2018
      IkSak likes this.
    4. milkypete
      I really enjoyed your review of the Elex, so was glad to see this one. Another great job!
      milkypete, Sep 6, 2018
      IkSak likes this.

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