Easily one of the best closed headphones money can buy.
Most audiophiles prefer openbacked headphones for their more natural, open sound. Closed headphones, on the other hand, have always been very tricky to get right. The closed backs of these headphones are great for isolating the listener from the outside world, but at the same time interfere with the way sound behaves. That’s why closed headphones usually sound more boxed in, less natural and uneven.
MrSpeakers Ether C Flow changes all that. San Diegobased MrSpeakers got its head start by modifying the very popular Fostex T50RP headphones. The modified headphones became so popular that MrSpeakers finally had the funds required to develop its own headphone from the ground up.
The result was the open-backed Ether and the closed back Ether C, which used the company’s self-developed V-Planar planar magnetic drivers.
Last year, the two headphones were updated, giving us the Ether Flow and Ether C Flow. The Flow in the name comes from the new TrueFlow waveguides that have been incorporated into the headphones. According to MrSpeakers, these waveguides reduce turbulence within the driver and allows sound to “flow” more smoothly to the listener’s ears. Dan Clark, the founder of MrSpeakers, got the inspiration for these waveguides from electrostatic headphones.
Without hearing the original Ether C, it is hard to tell if these TrueFlow waveguides work. But what I can tell you is that the Ether C Flow is easily one of the best-sounding closed back headphones my ears have had the pleasure of listening to. Its sound signature tends toward the neutral side, but it is certainly not dull or boring. To me, there seems to be a little emphasis to the bass, but only very slightly. Vocals are smooth and articulate, and the treble is airy without being overly bright or harsh. The Ether C Flow sounds wonderfully coherent and the overall voicing is tasteful.
Also impressive is that despite the closed-back design, the Ether C Flow demonstrates exceptional staging and imaging. Yosi Horikawa’s Wandering, a track that I like to use to test imaging, sounded remarkably spacious and wide – more like open-back headphones than closed-back ones.
Excellent sound would mean nothing if the headphones were uncomfortable, but the Ether C Flow also happens to be one of the most comfortable headphones I have ever tried. The leather earpads are soft and cushiony. It is also very light, thanks to the use of carbon fiber for the earcups and Nitinol for the headband.
Nitinol is an alloy of nickel and titanium, and not only is it light, it is also highly fiexible. This allows the Ether C Flow to fiex and twist, allowing it to conform comfortably to the shape of your head.
All things considered, the Ether C Flow is easily one of the best closed headphones I’ve tried. If you are ready to splash the cash on the ultimate pair of closed headphones, you would be doing yourself a great disservice if you didn’t audition the MrSpeakers Ether C Flow.