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AEON, MrSpeakers' New Closed Back Planar Magnetic Headphone

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by mrspeakers, Jan 30, 2017.
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  1. ai_enabled
    After using MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Closed for 3 months I want to share my experience (I cannot call it a review as I don't feel qualified for that, but I have a lot to tell).
    Coming from AKG K702 and Fostex TH-600 I was initially worried about buying closed headphones. I can say AFC are incredible in many aspects (especially the sound), but the earpads with tuning pads are keeping annoying me (especially considering that I'm using them for many hours every day).
    I'm pairing them with my CEntrance HiFi-M8 (it's a Tyll Hertsens' leave combo. My decision to get AFC was largely made on his review and measurements, but also on other reviews and measurements I've found, thanks to Head-Fi members here!). I'm using a stock cable with a single-ended connection.

    The headphones build quality is great (NiTinol headband, cups, hinges, overall surprisingly lightweight) except one minor detail. Both ear cup connectors are noticeably wobbling when inserted, but the left one is wobbling much more than right. Swapping left with the right cable connector proved the problem is with the socket quality as left earcup socket always resulted in more wobbling for any of the connectors on the cable. The socket itself is rock-stable though...It's not affecting the sound quality in any way and not annoying me during everyday use, probably it could be resolved by using a different cable but so far I'm satisfied with the stock cable. It has an optimal length for my use case (desktop, non-portable), it's light, the microphonic effect is noticeable but it's not annoying (at least for my use case).
    The earpads quality is inconsistent regarding the symmetry as one earpad is noticeably smaller/squashed on the front side while the other is a bit larger on the back side (by "massaging" the pads as suggested I can make both to have similar shape but the result is not lasting longer than a few hours; though I need to mention that the left earpad initially had much serious misalignment of the inner memory foam material which was fixed by "massage"—the foam can be adjusted through the bio-leather to align it as necessary, but there are still some inconsistencies with foam density and outer bio-leather shell stitching). Anyway, as mentioned by Dan Clark/MrSpearkers earlier in this thread, it's not resulting in any sonic difference—but I can say it results in a minor comfort issue in my case (read next).
    Bio-leather earpads shell material feels decent and durable and has much better quality than bio-leather from Fostex TH-600 stock earpads—which started flaking very quickly. Though in case of TH-600 I've replaced them with awesome microfiber (aka Leather-free) earpads from Audeze which kept my ears cold and provided excessive padding (in cost of less bass which is fine for such V-shaped headphones as TH-600 and still it's way more bass than with flaked stock earpads). I'm concerned there are no earpads replacement options besides ordering a similar pair directly from MrSpeakers. Though I can say these earpads are providing superb sound isolation and I understand that different material would affect the sonic properties dramatically, but I really wish to have microfiber earpads as they will never flake and they provide some airflow and can absorb some sweat (so I will not need to wipe dry them after taking off every hour).
    The earpad's inner memory foam material is very light (not dense like in Audeze's pads) and adjusting very quickly to the shape of the head. However, it also causes some vacuum-like suction effect which is a bit weird and some people might find it uncomfortable. Oh, and obviously there is no airflow/ventilation and no sweat absorption...Well, it's an expected price for an air-tight seal to ensure the best sound isolation and good bass.

    What I really hate is the tuning pads. There are four options included (with one pre-installed, easily interchangeable) and while it's certainly an interesting idea, any tuning pads are taking precious space inside the earpads. White tuning pads are made from felt and sometimes I have a very itchy feeling from them (no surprise as they are several mm thick and have almost invisible sticking out fibers so they will touch my ears and annoy me considerably). Black pads (also made from felt) have similar properties though a bit thinner and firm (not as fluffy and probably less itch-inducing than white felt, I'm trying them now but cannot tell whether there is much difference comfort-wise and sonic-wise). Black foam option is useless in my opinion—they're too thick (they compress under my ears noticeably) and providing almost no sonic difference in comparison to no-pads option...Frustratingly, only if I remove the tuning pads altogether I have a pleasant sensation of nothing touching my ears (that's why we're buying over-the-ears headphones, right?), but then the sound is lacking the lower range considerably and with treble being a bit harsh (when compared to the single-notch white felt option).

    From what I've read here, many people are not happy with the tuning pads touching the ears...I wish MrSpeakers will consider making another thin tuning pad option which will have properties similar to white felt pads (single-notch, which were pre-installed in my case) except the goddamn fibers sticking out from it and causing an itchy feeling. I will also appreciate it if anyone can advise me on such material so I can try to find it and cut tuning pads myself.
    Or maybe MrSpeakers can make a 3 mm thicker Aeon earpads? Actually, they can keep the current shape but replace the memory foam inner material with something denser so it will not squash so easily and keep reasonable height (I prefer the firmer inner material in Audeze "leather-free" earpads). Either way, it would be fine for me and I will be much happier (especially if they ship a thicker/denser earpads together with a set of new better tuning pads, double win!).

    Ok, so on the bright side. The sound—it's fantastic! I've never heard so accurate sound reproduction. I've listened to my audio collection (mostly classical and acoustic music but also some electronic and rock/metal like Ayreon) thoroughly and was pleased with everything I heard. It revealed details everywhere, on any volume. And this is very important for me—I really enjoy cranking the volume up on AFC and hearing no distortion at all. It's simply awesome for hearing great orchestral recordings with huge dynamic range and a peak volume sometimes over 100-110 dB—like you're sitting right there!
    Honestly, I didn't know what to expect from the planar magnetic speakers and it was a huge surprise for me. The sound is extremely dynamic and, I'm not sure how to describe it, fast. Like there is an instant accurate response from the headphones following the signal—something I've never experienced before. It's quick and accurate but not in a harsh unpleasant way, it's just "wow that's the live sound!" feeling. However, it also means that if the quality of the recording is poor or has digital issues (like clicks or sound data missing just for a moment) it would sound extremely noticeably. Furthermore, as sometimes I need to critically listen to music commissioned for the project I'm working on, with these headphones I was able to perform a stellar job as they were revealing all issues right on the first listening. I've surprised my colleagues and even the composer as they all were missing these issues or cannot hear them unless they listened to a particular moment I've reported with high attention and/or on a much higher volume (on which listening the whole track would not be viable with their equipment).
    Another surprising thing with these headphones (probably due to the planar magnet speakers) which I've immediately noticed is the reproduction of the sound of the wind instruments, in particular—a bass trumpet. It's throbbing extremely powerfully over my ears. I feel it with the whole ear surface, and I enjoy it a lot (for example, Intrada from The Nutcracker conducted by Valery Gergiev, Kirov or Mariinski orchestra). It's also awesome to listen to pipe organ recordings, though feeling it only with ears is not so impressive but that's just headphones, we cannot ask more from them!
    The instrument separation is the best I've ever heard, hearing every instrument in an orchestra with AFC is straightforward. Also, the soundstage is great—I still cannot believe these are closed headphones! They're better than most open headphones I've heard.
    Besides acoustical instruments, I've enjoyed electric guitar and synth bass, some recordings which I've never appreciated enough before.

    On a closing note, I would say that I had a lot of fun with these headphones while working, watching movies, and even playing some games, but most of all, I still have a hunger for orchestral and acoustic music (even solo instruments like harp performed by Lavinija Mejner or pipe organ by Xaver Varnus) and hearing (feeling!) that full-body sound with an unbelievable accuracy and without any distortion. It's not like my first Hi-Fi headphones or that I'm a classical music nerd, but it's definitely the first time I'm addicted to the stage that I'm happily losing my sleep just for another playback...

    Thanks for reading. Thanks to MrSpeakers for craftsmanship.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
  2. jawks
    Thanks, ai-enabled, for a great review. I've been thinking about getting a pair of closed headphones, and this one has been at the top of my list.
  3. SteveOliver
    I've had a bit of a search and I can't find an answer for my question.

    Can I rewire the DUMMER cable with a 3.5mm plug for balanced use, obviously at my own risk. I would like to modify with a 3.5mm TRRS plug for use with my iFi xDSD.

    It feels like separate L+,L-,R+,L+ conductors are present after the split but I thought I would check before cutting the 3.5mm plug off.

    Thanks in advance for any help with this.
  4. ai_enabled
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2019
    SteveOliver likes this.
  5. SteveOliver
    @ai_enabled thanks for that, just the answer I was looking for, I will get the soldering iron out tonight. :)
  6. LarryMagoo
    Hey Steve,

    You have the same name as one of my favorite musicians...... I replaced the entire cable on my AFC's ....I had to use TWO pair of readers to be able to see and solder the ultra fine HP connecters and cables....Good Luck!
    SteveOliver likes this.
  7. Odin412
    I often use the Aeon Flow Closed when I listen to new amps since it makes it easy for me to hear differences between amps. Last weekend I visited the Schiitr to listen to the new Asgard 3 amp. I was surprised at how great that amp pairs the Aeon Flow Closed, so I picked up a new Asgard 3. The more I listen to this combo the more I like it - deep and juicy bass, open and engaging midrange and smooth and non-fatiguing treble. A great synergy!.
  8. ntbm3
    Love my Aeon’s :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 23, 2019
    LarryMagoo, SteveOliver and tcellguy like this.
  9. Thaddy Contributor
    Has anyone paired these headphones with a Headamp GS-X Mk2 or a Woo Audio WA22? I'm in need of a pair of closed back headphones and these are on my list, and would be interested to hear impressions of those pairings.
  10. mrspeakers Contributor
    Only brief listening to the WA22 so no comment from me, but the GSX Mk2 is nice. Of the GSX family, though, I actually kind of prefer the Mini. It's less pricey and also I felt a bit warmer, in a good way....
    MrSpeakers Make every day a fun day filled with music and friendship! Stay updated on MrSpeakers at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    @funCANS MrSpeakers https://www.mrspeakers.com/ info@mrspeakers.com
    LarryMagoo and Odin412 like this.
  11. Thaddy Contributor
    Thanks for the feedback, and I would agree regarding the GS-X. Compared to my Dynalo it’s a bit more resolving. I suppose there’s only one way to see how the Aeon Flow C’s sound with the WA22!
  12. atahanuz
  13. moriez
    How did that go?

    Two slanting reviews in a month. Ouch. I can't help but wonder if they have a relation to each other, other than the sentiment.
  14. ZappaMan
    Be cool if you list the songs that sounded horrible to see if I can reproduce your results?

    Are you a denizen of the science of sound forum?
  15. will f
    I’ve been eyeing the GSX family for a while, specifically the Gilmore Lite MkII. It’s a very expensive amp so it’s nice to hear that the mini is worth a listen.
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