Mr. Speakers Ether Flow Impressions and Discussion
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MattTCG

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This is not so much a formal review, but simply my response to listening to the Ether Flow (open) for the past several days. I expect to edit and add to the content over the next few days as I have time to fully process what I heard. 
 
Ether Flow-
 
Admittedly I’ve been a longtime supporter of Dan Clark of Mr. Speakers fame. I suppose I’m drawn to companies that produce a hi-end headphone experience for guys on a budget-like myself. Also, I like Dan’s house sound as it fits very well with my personal preferences when it comes to sound signature.
 
Dan sends me things from time to time and asks for some direct feedback. Sometimes he tells me about the changes/product he is sending and sometimes not.  Dan recently informed me that he had made a breakthrough of sorts with regard to Ether and offered to send me his latest offering, but didn’t go into any detail about the specifics of the changes. Needless to say, I always enjoy getting a care package from Dan Clark.
 
While I have a fondness for both Ether and Ether C, the original Ether is more suited to my taste. I like open headphones and don’t require the isolation benefits of a closed set of cans. Accordingly, I asked Dan to send me the open version of the Ether with these new changes. On first listen, the new Ether was complexing and confounding to me. I’ve been with Ether since the beginning and while I have appreciated the “tweaks” that Dan has brought to the table for this headphone since it’s inception, this was something altogether different. While it did still resemble the original Ether sound, there was a sense of near instant decay that was way different than any Ether that I’d heard before…different than any planar I’d heard before for that matter. It took me a few test tracks to really get my mind around it. The speed was both dizzying and captivating. It reminded me of something else I’d heard before but I couldn’t quite place my mental finger on it. Now, a few more test tracks. Staging, instrument separation, air…all improved. Bass is super tight punchy and more extended; each area an improvement on the original. Tone is beautiful and very natural sounding. Again, this sounds somewhat like Ether but not quite.
 
Finally the lightbulb went off and it hit me right between the eyes..erm, ears.  What I was hearing sounded like Ether with electrostat qualities. The speed is just nothing like I’ve heard from a planar. Maybe the he1000 is in the ballpark. I’ve heard a few reviewers mention that the he1000 had electro stat like tendencies. That is what I was now hearing from this new Ether…a beautiful electrostatic like decay in a planar magnetic headphone.  And man,  I was loving what I was hearing!  
 
From a personal standpoint, this headphone was somewhat like going to an exotic custom car company and asking for a model to be made just for me. Ether Flow (as I learned it would be called), fit me like no other…planar bass, stat-like decay and beautiful tonality. I have to be honest, my big Cheshire grin seemed to grow wider and wider the more that I listened.  I knew then that I was listening to something special.  You might say that if Ether and the sr007 had a love child, Ether Flow would be the product of that union.  In light of the sports car reference, I’ll take the opportunity here to point out that this headphone comes with improved pads featuring fine Italian leather…nice!
 
Instruments are presented with startling realism at times. I began playing an instrument almost 30 years ago , often with other musicians and getting instrument tone correct is a real deal breaker for me.  Instruments have to sound natural. Also I’m a real stickler about tone in the mids, especially voices. This is another area where Ether Flow shifts into another gear. The subtle detail in a singer’s voice comes through so effortlessly (effortlessly is a key word here as it lead to the name of the product I believe). Live performances showcase Ether Flow’s ability to resolve all the subtle detail and often left me spellbound. I think that maybe the best complement that I can give to Ether Flow is that after  the first twenty four hours I could easily name a half dozen of my favorite albums where listening to them with Ether Flow was the most I have ever enjoyed them.
 
I found two other characteristics to Ether Flow that were reminiscent of stats. First is the overall cohesion of the signature. Treble mids and bass all blend together in a way that I can only describe as “liquid.” This greatly increases the engagement factor for me. There simply is no discernable transition to distract from the presentation of the music. Secondly, dynamics of Ether Flow gets an upgrade. This is an appreciable bonus for those who are low to medium level listeners. Meaning that you don’t need to crank up the volume to get good dynamics with this headphone.
 
Listening to Rickie Lee Jones: I Don’t Want to Grow Up really highlighted Ether Flow’s ability to image and stage the music expertly. There are background vocals on this track intricately layered into the recording. Those vocals sometimes get lost when I’ve listened with other less capable headphones. Ether Flow delivers the background vocals on this track with wonderful resolution and transparency. I had several moments with Ether Flow where I turned my head to see if the sound I was hearing was in the room with me, only to realize that the Flow has resolved the music so well that it delivered something in the song that I wasn’t used to hearing. Effortlessly=Flow.
 
ETHER Flow compared to hd800/hd800 S: 
 
The hd800 and S variant are very good headphones, so let me cut right to the chase. Ether Flow came out on top of both 800 and 800S both technically and musically. I tested the 800 specifically with and without EQ against Ether Flow. Although EQ does help the hd800 quite a bit it still falls clearly short.  I invited a friend to hear the Ether Flow. He is a huge hd800 fan and has owned the hd800 for many years. After hearing the Ether Flow he marked, “well, I guess it’s time to sell the hd800.”
 
ETHER Flow compared to hd650:
 
This one is more difficult. I think that people will be of two minds on this one. I was hoping that the hd800 and later the hd800 S would be my successor to the hd650. Neither of them was able to achieve what I was looking for, although I did end up of keeping the hd800.  The hd650 remains a great bargain and will remain in my collection as my “warm blanket” headphone.  That being said, Ether Flow now becomes my personal successor to the hd650. Not that it sounds like an improved hd650 but that it’s now my everyday headphone that I want to listen to first and foremost.
 
Criticism:
 
I’m still not a big fan of the flexibility of the DUM cable, although the sonics with it are top notch. I’d like to see something softer and more flexible.  I teased Dan a bit about Ether Flow being heavier. It’s a measly 20 grams extra according to my kitchen scale. I didn’t even realize it was heavier until I weighed it. As I mentioned in the beginning of the review, I have a healthy respect for companies that deliver top notch products at reasonable prices. The Flow delivers on the value proposition and does it with authority.  A headphone this good coming in at $1799 serves notice to the rest of the market, particularly products costing $2000, $3000 and even $4000. To the makers of those products, consider yourselves notified the game has changed!
 
Conclusion:
 
Make no mistake about it; this is a stunning offering from Dan Clark and the team from Mr. Speakers. The improvements are not subtle and certainly take this already impressive headphone to a whole new level of both performance and enjoyment. Ether Flow is indulgently addictive. I just keep listening to track after track way past my bedtime.  And I have a strong suspicion that soon, you will soon be doing the same.  
I try to be sensitive about “hype” and FOTM. And at the same time feel that it’s important to convey passion and excitement when you come across something truly special. Ether Flow is just that kind of experience. If you don’t own an Ether and are wondering if you should get a standard Ether or Flow, get the Flow. It’s more than worth the modest difference in price. If you currently own an Ether and are wondering if you should upgrade to Flow, absolutely.
 
Equipment used for testing:
 
Amps: Schiit Mjolnir 2 NOS tubes, Questyle cma800r stack (dual mono), Headamp GS-1
Source: Schiit Gungnir MB
 
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FredrikT92

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How is the slam/punch/whatever you want to call it in the bass/mid bass? How are the dynamics? 
Good for electronics music & EDM? 
 
 
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Bass is an upgrade over the original. Goes deep before rolling off. Dynamics are a bigger upgrade over the original. Listening to Alt-J, Daft Punk, Infected Mushroom is a real treat with EF. So EDM is a great fit for me. 
 
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MattTCG brought the Flow over yesterday and I am mightily impressed by the sound. On my ECP Dac + Headamp GS-1 (dynalo +) module, I prefer them over both the hifiman HEK and Senn HD-800. I found them to be very fast, dynamics, and immensely enjoyable with a good soundstage. I am usually not easily impressed by newer headphones, but I have to say this one got my serious attention. I actually wish I can own one right now. Still, I think that the gap between the three phones maybe closer on my home balanced setup consisting of the yggy + susy dynahi / ECP audio DSHA-0. On the GS-1, the Ether Flow was simply a better sounding headphones to my ears by noticeably margin. I usually find the HD800 to scale better than most headphone hence the comment on my home balanced setup.


 
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My impressions are on the original thread but ill link it here so that its easier for the new people coming into this thread to access:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/814156/mrspeakers-ether-flow-and-ether-c-flow-inspired-by-electrostatic-headphones#post_12721434
 
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@MattTCG So MJ2 can drive the ether Flows good?
 
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MattTCG

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  @MattTCG So MJ2 can drive the ether Flows good?
 
Yes indeed. Even on low gain I'm getting only up about 1:00 on the dial with hi-res music. Good synergy too when using tubes. Mjo2 with tubes makes a good choice for Flow. 
 
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I was eagerly awaiting a chance to demo the ETHER Electrostats.  Now this comes along.  The other thread is subtitled Inspired by Elecrostatic Headphones.  For those of you who had the opportunity to demo the ETHER Flow and also the Ether E prototypes, please provide a comparison if possible.  Moving to the ETHER E would require a separate amp purchase so if the Flow is similar in sound signature?  Please chime in.
 
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you guys are making some huge claims here. I know it is mentioned as being preferred but you guys said better. That is a tall order. I am contemplating what I will sell for it if it is that good. 
 
I am most concerned about the tonality. I find the newer MrSpeakers stuff after the Mad Dog to be a bit bright and lean for my tastes. How is the treble quantity compared to the HD800S? is it more or less?
 
Is it brighter or darker than the Ether?
 
what about the soundstage compared to the HE1K?
 
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  you guys are making some huge claims here. I know it is mentioned as being preferred but you guys said better. That is a tall order. I am contemplating what I will sell for it if it is that good. 
 
I am most concerned about the tonality. I find the newer MrSpeakers stuff after the Mad Dog to be a bit bright and lean for my tastes. How is the treble quantity compared to the HD800S? is it more or less?
 
Is it brighter or darker than the Ether?
 
what about the soundstage compared to the HE1K?
 
It's brighter than the Ether but you can use tuning pads.
 
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  you guys are making some huge claims here. I know it is mentioned as being preferred but you guys said better. That is a tall order. I am contemplating what I will sell for it if it is that good. 
 
I am most concerned about the tonality. I find the newer MrSpeakers stuff after the Mad Dog to be a bit bright and lean for my tastes. How is the treble quantity compared to the HD800S? is it more or less?
 
Is it brighter or darker than the Ether?
 
what about the soundstage compared to the HE1K?
This is an area where the Flow is clearly superior to the HE1K.  It also sound more "open" and less "diffused" compared to the HE1000. 
 
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  you guys are making some huge claims here. I know it is mentioned as being preferred but you guys said better. That is a tall order. I am contemplating what I will sell for it if it is that good. 
 
I am most concerned about the tonality. I find the newer MrSpeakers stuff after the Mad Dog to be a bit bright and lean for my tastes. How is the treble quantity compared to the HD800S? is it more or less?
 
Is it brighter or darker than the Ether?
 
what about the soundstage compared to the HE1K?
 
It's brighter than the Ether but you can use tuning pads.
Awww man!!!! Ether is def bright...
 
Can the tuning pads make it darker than the original ether?
 
 
  you guys are making some huge claims here. I know it is mentioned as being preferred but you guys said better. That is a tall order. I am contemplating what I will sell for it if it is that good. 
 
I am most concerned about the tonality. I find the newer MrSpeakers stuff after the Mad Dog to be a bit bright and lean for my tastes. How is the treble quantity compared to the HD800S? is it more or less?
 
Is it brighter or darker than the Ether?
 
what about the soundstage compared to the HE1K?
This is an area where the Flow is clearly superior to the HE1K.  It also sound more "open" and less "diffused" compared to the HEK1000. 
wow... I have got to hear this thing. 
 
 
Lastly where would the bass quantity sit in the comparison below. 
Could be wrong this is just to get an idea based on what I have experience with. 
 
LCD-X=OMNI=/>LCD2>LCD-3=HEX=HE500=HE6(all close just some slam harder than others.)>>HEK>HE560>HEK>Ether>HD800S>HD800
 
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  Awww man!!!! Ether is def bright...
 
Can the tuning pads make it darker than the original ether?
 
wow... I have got to hear this thing. 
 
 
Lastly where would the bass quantity sit in the comparison below. 
Could be wrong this is just to get an idea based on what I have experience with. 
 
LCD-X=OMNI=/>LCD2>LCD-3=HEX=HE500=HE6(all close just some slam harder than others.)>>HEK>HE560>HEK>Ether>HD800S>HD800
 
The tuning pads affect only the treble and they tone it down different amounts depending on the pad combination.  If you want to darken the treble, you will have no problem doing that with the tuning pads.  For an idea of how it affects the sound, check out the Ether C thread.  Lots of discussion in there about people's preferences.  (For the record, I liked one black pad with the Ether C 1.1 and no pads with the new Ether C Flow.)
 
I can't answer your question on the bass.  I decided a long time ago that your perception of bass subtleties far outstrips mine.  lol
 
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  you guys are making some huge claims here. I know it is mentioned as being preferred but you guys said better. That is a tall order. I am contemplating what I will sell for it if it is that good. 
 
I am most concerned about the tonality. I find the newer MrSpeakers stuff after the Mad Dog to be a bit bright and lean for my tastes. How is the treble quantity compared to the HD800S? is it more or less?
 
Is it brighter or darker than the Ether?
 
what about the soundstage compared to the HE1K?
 
I don't hear the Flow as "brighter" than the original. To my ears, it resolves better, can offer more detail but it doesn't need to be "brighter" to accomplish that. I would say that it's probably more neutral than the original and more transparent. Some headphones use extended treble to offer more sense of detail, Ether Flow doesn't. It is just able to offer more detail based on the design. If forget where I heard this:
 
"Ether Flow doesn't do anything to the sound. Music just seems to breath from it." 
 
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