ETA Mini headphone
Mar 1, 2022 at 2:20 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 45

smodtactical

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https://www.etaheadphones.com/product-page

Thought I would start a thread about this headphone. It is made by a team that believes in very high performance at affordable prices. I have not heard it personally... anyone with experience with it?

Our group Sonic Visions did do an interview with the ETA team and its below:

 
Mar 1, 2022 at 2:35 PM Post #2 of 45
Hi there. I'm Dematted. I'm a long-time listener of the headphones Ev, the head of "ETA", has made. I've owned the Mini for a couple months now, and therefore feel that I have a pretty good sense of their capabilities. The following is what I've written elsewhere, with a few edits:

This headphone didn't really jive with me at first with what Ev called the "bassy" and the "mid-forward" pads. Though it did do many things right, I just couldn't ignore some issues with its tonality: the lower treble seemed very, very hot, giving it a very sizzly, crunchy sound. Lower-mids also sounded scooped, which made the sound as a whole lean and lacking in timbral saturation and richness. To get these headphones to "work" for me at the most basic, tonal level, I had to make several changes:

-Change the pads to stock (which I received a couple days later)
-Change the input tubes of my Quicksilver Headphone Amp to Mullards.
-Change my Pi2aes out for Unison USB.

In short, I think that this headphone does, even in its stock configuration, have somewhat hot lower to mid treble, and a slightly recessed sounding lower mid-range. As a result, for my own preferences, it has to be paired with a warmer chains which have some additional distortion, bloom, and emphasis in the lower-mids and somewhat muted treble. However, when I did end up getting all of this right, the headphone really did begin to "click" for me.

In most technical respects, this headphone does blow everything remotely close to its asking price out of the water, save the classic Sennheiser stuff. It has an overall sonic presentation that reminds me a good deal of a Focal, with snappy transients (not quite as quick as a Focal, but nonetheless legitimately very fast), a generally intimate stage with a great deal of depth, absolutely fantastic layering, and extremely engaging dynamics (better I think than something like a Focal Clear on the micro level, and about the same at the macro level). Its timbre isn't quite as rich or spookily realistic as something like the GenG, Ev's original headphone, or a Sennheiser, and is just a tad on the drier side with images lacking a certain level of saturation and body, but it really is more than acceptable: unlike a Focal, there's nothing that sticks out, screaming "This isn't right!".

The sense of clarity, ability to handle complex musical passages, and resolving capacities of this headphone are up there with TotL stuff that I've heard. Ability to represent textural and timbral nuances is also quite good: There's more "plankton" and texture I hear on this than my 650, and micro-dynamic differences that simply aren't there on the 650 are well-represented on the Mini. It is also much more well extended at each of the frequency extremes: its bass is cleaner and digs deeper, and its treble has much more sense of shimmer and air. As a result, its mid-range tends to lack some of the romance, richness, and forwardness of the 650, but vocals nonetheless have a good amount of presence that I think most people who aren't absolutely enamored by the 650 will find sufficient.

Despite its neutral-bright tonality, the headphone is generally not too fatiguing because the treble is wonderfully textured and non-digital sounding. Nonetheless, for some genres of music the presence of the treble vis-a-vis the mid-range is just a bit too much, and I am tempted to apply some EQ (which comes with its own problems). My main complaints, though, probably have to do with the over-ear design, which to me makes the sound, while quite immediate and engaging, somewhat claustrophobic despite the excellent soundstage depth. I never quite forget that I am wearing headphones, even when I'm having tremendous fun with them.

Overall though, I think this headphone is a remarkable achievement. For half the price of their original headphone, the GenG, this offers dynamic performance and clarity that is up there with TotL stuff while having a tonality that many of those who prefer something more neutral probably won't find bothersome at all, as well as a timbre that sounds, if not euphoric, more than acceptable sounding. Additionally, this headphone eliminates many of the issues people had with GenG's tendency toward "blending" sounds together in a way that occasionally sounds congested.
 
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Mar 1, 2022 at 2:55 PM Post #4 of 45
No, I don't know if there will be a head-fi loaner tour @Philimon. Perhaps some day!

One other note about ETA which I think will be important to some of you who are interested in buying this headphone: they provide a level of consistent, personalized customer service that is probably only possible with a smaller company like theirs. If, for whatever reason, you don't like the way the headphone sounds, they are exceedingly open to spending time iterating with you until you get it right, whether that involves modifying the headphone itself, finding new pads, or something else entirely. And if you have any questions about the headphone (And I've had many!) they are also quick to answer and quite professional. To me, this an impressive part of the product that they offer.
 
Mar 1, 2022 at 4:36 PM Post #5 of 45
Hello @tommytakis . I mispelled your name earlier, sorry about that.

What is E_Schaaf’s handle here?
Will you have an ETA Mini loaner on Head-Fi?
Will you have a new Gen (or Regen) soon?
Is supraaural open foam pad headphones now ETA priority or preference?
If you released a wood cup version of Mini, would Grado’s tears make a sound?
 
Apr 17, 2022 at 8:34 PM Post #6 of 45
I’ll start by expressing my thanks to Evan & Tommy (the “E” & “T” in ETA Headphones) for organizing a loner for one of their newest creations, the “Mini”. This is an on ear headphone designed from the ground up by the minds at ETA, and long story short...it is an incredible listen IMO. There is no greater vote of confidence than purchasing a product, and indeed I have done just that.


Review Info

Currently my audio chain is comprised of various WAV, FLAC & MP3 files played from JRiver on my refurbed HP Elite Desk via USB to a Schiit Bifrost 2 into either my Pro iCAN (1st version) or ZMF Pendant (also 1st version). Since I opted for the 32ohm version I found that the ifi was a wonderful match on low gain and the Pendant was just a bit too noisy, thought the sound out of the low Z tap was quite engaging. Note that my Mini seems to be a rarity, it is 32ohms & has the dots for tuning. On their website, the 32ohm is configured with a larger “bar type” tuning filter. To my knowledge this doesn’t alter the sound, it’s just a different approach.
I also experimented with various DAPs, all of which could drive the Mini wonderfully, including my old diminutive Sansa Clip. By wonderfully I mean without maxing out the volume the Mini has plenty of volume, doesn’t sound strained and the bass doesn’t go all flubba wubba. Obviously this is not the best pairing and the bass isn’t quite as tight as a better suited amp, but it is still an appealing listen. These are very efficient headphones that pair well with a quality dongle or phone, but definitely scale with better equipment.


Comfort, Aesthetics and Build

I’d wager that durability wouldn’t be an issue since build quality is quite solid. They’re currently using a Sony headband, which I find to be wholly unremarkable, but if I’m not mistaken an ETA developed and produced headband is in the works. I find the current headband to be adequate and has a convenient folding mechanism. It’s not particularly uncomfortable, yet it doesn’t disappear on your head either. Clamp force is an issue after an hour or so for me, and I imagine comfort would be different on various sized noggins. The use of foam earpads a-la Grado will be bothersome for some, but not much of an issue IME. Replacement pads will be found for relatively cheap.
As mentioned in other impressions, the build quality may be sturdy, but it is relatively unrefined. However I think this is worth a closer look since there are definitely trade-offs at play here. Visually it still does have a homebrew kinda vibe that does appeal to me, but I can also understand it not being everyone’s cup ‘O joe. It does seem to have a “form over function” philosophy that I can appreciate, but my biggest nit to pick is the exposed wires.
ETA isn’t the 1st company to have exposed wires, but that is the one point that doesn’t inspire confidence for me. Although I haven’t heard any issues from any other ETA users, personally I have had a recurring intermittent static like crackle occasionally intrude on my listening. I have no idea if this is even related to the wires, and it is a brief and sporadic issue, but it seems worth mentioning in the spirit of full disclosure.
I am not a headphone modder myself, but I’ve read enough to realize that anything you put in proximity to the driver will impact the sound signature. Any sort of covering I imagine would color the sound in one way or another, so I do understand the choice, however I feel less confident knowing the wire contacts are bare. ETA has since started including a foam “bung” of sorts for protection when not in use. Some leave it in as they enjoy the alteration to the sound signature, depending on which pads you use.

Overall Sound

Moving on to the sound is where, for me, all sins are forgiven. ETA includes a variety of pads to fine tune the sound to your liking. There are 2 pads from Geekria, the “L” & “S” pads which can be used both “forward” and “backwards”, as well as pads from a company called “Gerod”. Each pad does change the tonality in it’s own way, and I quickly gravitated to the Gerod pads as my favorite: all impressions are with these pads.
Some have referred to the Mini as having a “V” or “U” shaped sound signature. I hesitate to use those monikers because for me there is a connotation of more dips and/or scoops in the frequencies, especially the mids, that I don’t hear exhibited from the Mini. That being said there is somewhat of a pleasing (to my ears) bass accentuation, as well as a less evident treble bump that would make the argument for a (mild?) “U” a valid one.
- Bass is tight & punchy, with good reach. Strong down to about 30hz, audible at least until 20hz. Good sense of slam, tasteful warmth without midrange bleed.

- Mids are crisp but not brittle, very clear and defined. Strings and horns in particular have a touch extra “bite” (a nip?) but never sharp to my ears.

- Treble has never been my strong suit due to hearing loss, but I do detect a good amount of treble energy and air. Cymbals ring & have an appropriate metallic tone.

-Stage is intimate but coherent: not cavernous, but not constrained either. Feels like a good nightclub to me, also very good imaging. No 3 blob effect nor exaggerations in any direction.

- Fast transients, not quite Utopia level. Closer to Verite, maybe a step behind. Quality macrodynamics, great sense of slam & very good microdynamics. Detail retrieval is on par with the HD600/650 if not quite HD800/Utopia. Not exactly a Plankton King, but I definitely didn’t feel anything was lacking.

Some Comparisons

Add it all up and I’m sure you can tell that I found the Mini to be a wholly beguiling headphone that holds up quite well to anything else I have on hand. Which isn’t much in terms of headphones, so I’ll go with these two.
Mini/Aeolus: Aeolus obviously has more of a warm sound signature. Similar bass extension but Aeolus has more of a mid-bass tilt, even with the Verite pads (which are my current favorite). The Aeolus mids are more lush with a few more prominent peaks/dips than the Mini. Treble is similarly extended (I think) but the Aeolus comes off as a bit sharper to my ear. Aeolus has a wider deeper headstage and the transients are slower, more relaxed. In fact, the Aeolus is more of a relaxed listen in almost every sense of the word, being a touch behind on detail retrieval as well. I do enjoy both headphones but they are definitely different presentations.

Mini/Verite Open: This is a bit more of a similar sonic “target” I think. Bass again has similar extension to my ears, with a slight advantage to the VO. VO also sounds to have a more midbass punch compared to Mini. Overall the VO has more contrast in the mids with more dips & peaks being evident. Treble is probably better extended with the VO, but again I’m not the best judge. Headstage is quite different, with the VO sounding much larger in every direction. VO’s transients are just that little bit snappier and detail retrieval would also go to the VO, but not by a huge margin on either point.

Conclusion

The bottom line here is that the ETA Mini is a high performing headphone that is worth hearing and evaluating for yourself IMO. (check out the loaner tour here) At $300 (current MSRP w/no cable at the time of writing) the price/performance ratio is simply off the charts. The design is a bit rough around the edges for my tastes, but I am more concerned about how it sounds, and how engaged I am while listening. By that metric, the Mini more than exceeds my expectations.
 
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Apr 18, 2022 at 1:50 PM Post #7 of 45
- Any comparisons to ETA GenG or Supra?
- What ultimately led to using supraaural open foam pads? I recall Ev was pretty unenthusiastic to that idea originally. What happened? Was it a finanicial or sound quality decision? I know there was keen interest on this specific style of headphone from would-be customers from the beginning. ETA decided to cave into demand?
- How was price able to go down from GenG to Mini? I cant imagine youre making much money. Serious passion project and Im sure the sound quality shows.
- When will the HF tour start? Or would it be better to just buy? How do you know if youre getting new or old style drivers?
- afaik there is really no competition in high end supra headphones other than Grado. Should be a very easy win for you. Grado been mostly stagnant for decades until very recently with flat pads (such innovation).
- Any plans for updates? I recall this was a hangup over past ETA releases. I am not that bothered especially at this price!
- Have you verified a Grado headband will fit? I can test for you. K thx u welcome.

edit: I went to to your store and saw that you can choose between which style driver to order. And I went to that other friendly site for more reviews. Was just wondering if ETA had an opinion on the differences between Mini and GenG.

Important question before ordering.:
- Do you have measurements of old vs new style drivers? Id like 300ohm (old style) but if the new style drivers (32ohm) have significantly better measurements (frequency response, distortion, CSD) then Id choose 32ohm. Thank you!
 
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Jul 27, 2022 at 12:44 PM Post #8 of 45
Hey @tommytakis ! The Mini page is gone. How to buy? And I never heard back on the measured differences between the old and new drivers.

Any impressions between Mini-semi-closed and Mini-closed?

Im having trouble deciding on which to buy. Impressions are scarce. Are you planning a HF loaner tour? Or would it be much faster to just buy a set?

Id love comparisons of Mini-sc to GenG. They appear more similar than perhaps Mini-open to GenG. I did not love GenG, then would that mean I dont love Mini-sc?

Which pads would you recommend for Mini-sc? Which come stock and are optional pads available for purchase directly from you?

Looks like with Mini-sc that only one driver variant is available so it will be easy to decide which version to purchase this time unlike previous Mini where I didnt purchase because ETA didnt help with questions regarding measured differences between driver variants. Cool!
 
Aug 15, 2022 at 10:48 PM Post #9 of 45
I was working the Schiit Texas room (Magni stacks, Modius stack, Vali stack) at our Austin show. It was pretty quiet in our room and we spent most of our time directing people to the room with the Folkvangr. This lady and her partner came in to our room and she was enjoying the absolute hell out of a new set of Mini S she had purchased at the show. She was listening to this amazingly well-recorded and produced piece of orchestral/choral music. She was so excited that she made all of us come over and listen to her headphones. Folks were very impressed.

Later that afternoon our room became a hang out spot while Jason was doing a closed-door live stream in the two-channel room. I sat down with the guys from ETA for an hour and we just talked about their company and how their startup has been going and we talked about the crazy adventure Schiit has been on over these last 12 years (10 1/2 for me). It was a great time. I ordered a set of Mini S (full price, less the show discount). They arrived today and I'm enjoying a nice evening with Mazzy Star. No comments beyond that, we're Switzerland when it comes to opinions about headphones.

I wanted to share a memory of a great afternoon of music and conversations and wish the guys from ETA success in their journey.
 
Aug 15, 2022 at 11:40 PM Post #10 of 45
I've met E (Evan) and T (Tommy) in person before, and some of you may have come across Evan at Can Jam So Cal 2019. Good guys with an intriguing product like the Mini C which I now own. Hopefully they can get to a Can Jam as ETA at some point.
 
Aug 16, 2022 at 1:52 AM Post #11 of 45
I was working the Schiit Texas room (Magni stacks, Modius stack, Vali stack) at our Austin show. It was pretty quiet in our room and we spent most of our time directing people to the room with the Folkvangr. This lady and her partner came in to our room and she was enjoying the absolute hell out of a new set of Mini S she had purchased at the show. She was listening to this amazingly well-recorded and produced piece of orchestral/choral music. She was so excited that she made all of us come over and listen to her headphones. Folks were very impressed.

Later that afternoon our room became a hang out spot while Jason was doing a closed-door live stream in the two-channel room. I sat down with the guys from ETA for an hour and we just talked about their company and how their startup has been going and we talked about the crazy adventure Schiit has been on over these last 12 years (10 1/2 for me). It was a great time. I ordered a set of Mini S (full price, less the show discount). They arrived today and I'm enjoying a nice evening with Mazzy Star. No comments beyond that, we're Switzerland when it comes to opinions about headphones.

I wanted to share a memory of a great afternoon of music and conversations and wish the guys from ETA success in their journey.
Hey Alex,

Just came back from a long day at work and what a pleasant surprise to see you on this thread! Thank you so much for sharing this and I'm glad you're enjoying the headphones :) Both you and Jason are such wonderful human beings and role models for ETA, we plan on doing everything we can to follow in your footsteps. We will never forget all the advice you have given us that day. Please don't hesitate to reach out to us for anything!

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Happy Listening~
-Tommy from ETA
 
Oct 3, 2022 at 7:05 PM Post #14 of 45
Hi
Can you use the Mini S with a balanced cable?

Thanks
 

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