MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Open Planar Magnetic Headphones

I'll admit feeling the MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Closed look a bit alien to my eyes when first I saw it. Now that it's been on my desk for a few months I find it quite appealing. Not so much for it's looks—don't get me wrong, I quite like the look—but more because I've come to appreciate the comfort of them. No surprises when the Aeon Flow Open showed up...they were right at home on my head. Good thing too, they'll be spending a lot of time there.

MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Open ($799)
Gotta say it right up front, Dan Clark, MrSpeaker's CEO, has really hit his stride with the Aeon line. It's only when you experience a lot of headphones that you come to learn how many details it takes to get it right. How easy are they to adjust? Do the pads line up well on the subtle curve of the head around the ear? Are the cables noisy? Do they exit forward of the shoulders? Are they durable? There's as much to get right ergonomically as there is to getting the sound right. Both Aeon Flows pretty well nail it in those departments. I do slightly prefer the grill detail of the Open over the carbon fiber of the Closed.

Materials are excellent and used quite effectively. Headband is leather and earpads are high-quality artificial leather. When I asked Dan about this material he said they found that the quality of stitching and ability to hold the pad shape was much better with this material than real leather.

The ear-capsule grill is black powder coated stainless steel with laser etched Aeon logos. Interestingly, the hexagons of the grill are not all the same. Dan said when they tried a regular hexagonal grid it looked odd within the shape of the surrounding trim. See what I mean? A million little details. (Sidenote: in Japan, because of a supermarket chain name conflict, the logo says Flow.)

The baffle plate and gimbal arms are cast aluminum; Nitinol headband arches deliver excellent caliper pressure and headband adjustment. The trim piece around the grill is plastic, but very nicely painted in a very fine metal flake navy blue. The serial number is laser etched inside the upper left gimbal arm; and cables, connectors, and hard-side, clamshell carry case are all brutally appropriate. This is a very well built headphone.

Ear pads are soft, very high grade of protein leather over ample memory foam. Pads are attached to the baffle plate with adhesive tape and should not be removed unless pads are being replaced. Although replacement pads are not currently on the MrSpeakers' site, they will be eventually. Aeon Flow Closed owners may notice the pads of the Open as slightly taller. This was a running change to both products and pads on both current production units are identical.

Comfort is very good, if not great. The unusual tear-drop shape is integral to its ergonomic performance. If you run the edge of your thumb down the side of your head just in front of your ear, you'll find there is a shallow groove running fairly straight down behind your cheek and jaw bone in front of the ear. The front of the ear pad is fairly linear and seals in this groove nicely. If you look down from the top of the pad, you'll see it's gently sculpted to follow the curve of the head behind the ear. Adding the internal foam tuning insert does take up a little space in the earcup. My ears just barely touch them; I found no discomfort, however.

The floating headband pad conforms very nicely to the top of your head providing a secure fit without any hot spots at the top of your head. Friction sliders adjust headband size and (if properly tightened) remain securely in place. The ear capsules tilt up and down on a single pivot at the rear; forward and back rotation is accomplished simply by the flexibility of the two Nitinol bands. A very elegant mechanical solution and not having a second swivel probably makes them more durable.

The driver for the Aeon Flow Open and Closed are identical. The magnet structure is single sided and resides between the ear and diaphragm; diaphragm is rectangular in shape. The Aeon does have the TrueFlow™ waveguide technology that fills the spaces in the magnet structure with a mechanical part that is claimed to make the passage of air through the magnets less turbulent in an effort to reduce distortion, extend frequency response, and improve dynamics.

Like it's sibling closed version and the preceding Ether products, the Aeon Flow Open incorporates MrSpeakers V-Planar driver technology, which uses a pleated or knurled diaphragm in an effort to cause the surface to move in a more "pistonic" manner. You can read more about these two technologies here.

Now to the good stuff...let's have a listen.

MrSpeakers Headphone Products
3366 Kurtz Street

Rthomas's picture

Hi Tyll,

Thanks for the review, finally it looks like we have a reasonably priced upgrade to the classic Sennheisers without any glaring weaknesses. It only took 14 years :D

A few years ago you did an AMA on Reddit where you said the point of diminishing returns was around $300.

Now that 'Mid Fi' has moved up to $500 to $1000 and TOTL cans are at $4000 how close does something like the Aeon Open get to the likes of the Utopia and LCD-4? My guess is that the Bass on the Aeon goes lower than the Utopia and the Aeon's treble is likely to be more even than the LCD4.

Considering these factors are these outrageously priced TOTLS $3200 better or $200 better at the most? :D

MattTCG's picture

I see my name referenced at the end of this well written and accurate review. I like this. Makes me feel fuzzy and warm:-) This is a great time to be in the hobby. I hope to see more manufacturers putting out sub $1k products that offer this level of performance and enjoyment with the build quality to back up the purchase.

veggieboy2001's picture

A great review as always Tyll, thank you!

was curious of your take on how easy these are to drive...Most planars seem to crave power, are these best with a beastly amp,or can you get away with less juice? I'm sure the scale well with the better you feed them.

Thanks again!

coastman25's picture

If the nearest rival to these phones in terms of sound quality are the HD600's which currently sell at $240.00 ie a third of the price of the Mr Speakers then a better case than this review needs to be made to justify buying them!
I still do not understand your obsession with reviewing either exotic or expensive headphones. I could never justify spending more than $300.00 myself on a pair of headphones, because to enjoy hifi quality listening you do not need to.
Others will have either a lower of higher bar but there are loads of good quality headphones within the more affordable range of $100 - $500, which you seem to ignore these days.

Vinhcomputer's picture

HD600 is $400 MSRP though the street price is much lower and this Aeon Flow is $800 MSRP with much better bass extension, look, material, case included, blah blah with some trade off. Let's wait and see what street price for these Aeon will be. Besides, HD600s are mass produced in a much bigger scale than these just released Aeons.
But right now, HD600 is a no-brainer choice in street price and Aeon Flow is mostly for enthusiasts.

seppukusword's picture

I have both headphones you mention along with the Monolith M1060 all running custom cables with XLR balanced connections to a Jotunheim and I find it intriguing how someone can compare the sound from two completely different approaches to the end result. The Aeon Open outperform the HD600 in every possible way, except for perhaps soundstage. The HD600, for example, have zero bass capability vs the AEon's. Do you have both as well? Interested in your thoughts.

What ae you powering your cans with to do the comparison?

Vinhcomputer's picture

(somehow my previous comment only show the subject after saving so here I'm posting it again).
The HD600 is $400 in MSRP though the street price is (much) lower than that, and the Aeon is $800 in MSRP with much better bass extension, better look, material, case included, etc. with some trade off. Let's wait and see what street price will the Aeon be.
Besides, HD600 is mass produced in much bigger scale than the just released Aeon Flow so if the Aeon is well received by customers then its cost will be lower.
However, right now, the HD600 is a no-brainer choice due to its street price/performance and the Aeon is only for enthusiasts with fat wallet.
What people hope to see soon is maybe a Massdropped Aeon :).

Core's picture

“I still do not understand your obsession with reviewing either exotic or expensive headphones.”

InnerFidelity is for audiophiles by audiophiles. There will be twenty-two open circumaural headphones on the wall of fame—including the retired ones—that InnerFidelity labels as $299 to $5 250. The number of open circumaural headphones less than $299? A big fat juicy zero. So your chances of convincing Tyll to review more headphones that cost $100 to $298 are about the same as my chances of convincing the Nobel Foundation to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Kim Jong-un.

coastman25's picture

I did not know being an audiophile had a price tag that is because it does not!
Even the great Tyll, Nobel Prize pending has often said that the audiophile headphone world for him starts around something like the HD 600 combined with a bottleneck amp total cost just over $500!!! Others may have either a lower or higher starting point. I am happy to agree with Tyll.
In regards to the “Wall of Fame issue” Tyll said this in his blog dated, Mar 30, 2016.
“My general principles so far is that for each category page I need one or two headphones in each price range that I feel are the best performers. Generally speaking, I see the price ranges as: Under $100; $100-$300; $300-$600; $600-$1000; and $1000+" and
“Another problem with this WoF page is that it's missing any headphone entry for headphones less than $299, and there are no headphones between the $399 HD 600 and $1499 Ether”
He then made a plea to readers for suggestions “what headphones do you think I should consider for these empty price ranges?".
I along with many others I responded. There are plenty of audiophile quality headphones available in these price bands I think you will find.

Core's picture

I agree that there are good open circumaural headphones that cost less than $300. But I still believe that Tyll is mostly interested in reviewing the ones that cost about $800 or more. But even if Tyll reviews a steady stream of headphones that cost $2000 or more, I shall not be upset. Because this site is for audiophiles.

You may not believe it, but being an audiophile does have a price tag. That tag might say $300 or $100 for you. But for many other audiophiles, that tag is more likely to say $2000 or $5000 or—O my sweet Jesus—$55 000. And I do not think Tyll has an obsession with reviewing expensive headphones. I think Tyll might be reviewing headphones that he believes many visitors to his website might be interested in buying.

coastman25's picture

The innerfidelity website is owned by TEN: The Enthusiast Network part of the Sports & Entertainment Home Tech Group. Tyll Hertsens is merely a contributor.
You can believe what you like, whilst the rest of us live in the real world.

SoapBox Sound's picture

Yes, I totally agree with you.

Similarly, I wish car magazines would STOP running articles and reviews of Corvettes, McLarens, M-Series BMWs, and the ilk.

After all, my 1981 Dodge Aries was Motor Trend's Car Of The Year; don't tell me that the Porsche 911 GT2 RS that just ran Nurburgring 6:47.3 is better than a K-Car.

coastman25's picture

Speed isn't everything when it comes to cars!
A Porsche 911 GT2 RS is just another car in a traffic jam only burning more fuel.

Core's picture

The Enthusiast Network also owns Stereophile. If you think the headphones reviewed by Tyll are expensive, what is your opinion of the prices of devices reviewed at Stereophile? Is it possible that both of these websites are targeting the same individuals? Is it possible that Tyll’s boss asked him to put a heavy emphasis on reviewing expensive, very expensive, and extremely expensive devices? Just like at Stereophile?

Once in a while, Tyll will review inexpensive or moderately priced headphones. But I think the vast majority of headphones reviewed by Tyll will continue to be expensive, very expensive, or extremely expensive. Real world? No. What the typical audiophile is going to buy? Yes.

Vinhcomputer's picture

@coastman25: Could you please list top 10 headphones/earphones about $300 or less (the street price of HD600/650) that haven't been measured by Tyll so people can vote and help him choose some pairs to measure or review? I'm also very interested in that. Let's set aside build quality for that price tag though.
I believe that true engineering gems can only be found in moderate to low price things since even novice can create somewhat better things in some aspects with exponential increase in price. Masters put full pride in their work so they don't do that kind of thing.

coastman25's picture

I think this is up to Tyll. If he wants he can ask his readers for suggestions. However someone like Tyll who attends many shows and is well versed in the headphone world will have no lack of possible contenders. Its his Blog so up to him and the owners of the site I guess.

seppukusword's picture

I agree 100%. If you want budget headphone ratings, there are plenty of sites for those. It's not worth the energy or time to do a full review and measurements on low quality closed cans we all know do what they do.

I have the Aeon Opens and find it amazing how people prejudice a headphone because of a price. If anyone things the Aeons are overpriced, listen to them on a Jotunheim with balanced XLR cables and you'll no ever say that again!

Martin.'s picture

I wonder how these do against the Elear? Seeing as his review for the Elears was full of praise, maybe they are worth the extra 200 bucks? Maybe the Aeon open are easier to drive?

dpippel's picture

Great review Tyll, and thanks as always for your opinion. Speaking of which, any idea when you'll be getting around to to doing a review of the Sennheiser HD 660S? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on how it compares to the AFO.

JMAX2016's picture

If Tyll says it’s the best sub $1k open headphone, that means it beats the Elear. Right? If so, I have to hear these. I live in PA, any idea where I could hear them? And any idea where I could buy at a discount from MSRP?

seppukusword's picture

there is somewhat of a thriving market in sales and trade of pre-owned Mr Speakers headphones. Just Google around and you're bound to find them for about $400-$500.

I'd never sell my Aeon flow's. They are just that damned good and I've compared them to many, many options.

gixxerwimp's picture

You say in the video (9:00) that you saw the FR curve and thought the bump would adversely affect the sound. But in your "How Tyll Reviews Headphones" video, I recall you saying that you always listen for impressions before you measure so that you aren't influenced by them. Wonder if you can clarify.

Harry Manback's picture

It's interesting to see ads on head-fi for Mr. Speakers headphones with a quote from Tyll and a "wall of fame" badge.

I think that objectivity in reviews are now fair game to question. It saddens me that there are fewer and fewer truly objective reviewers around anymore.

So long I may visit you on occasion, but not regularly any more.

AncientWisdom's picture

It's a chicken egg thing. You're insinuating the ad is the chicken. But I (and I think most visitors here) believe the review is the chicken. If the review is objective and truthfull, what's wrong with Mr. Speakers using that in their advertisement? It's a truly thing in their favor. Something brands always struggle in in marketing is how to convince people that it's not just them themselves that think a product is great, so it makes sense to me to use such an endorsement.

seppukusword's picture

I get a kick out of some comments here where people make definitive statements about the Aeon Flow's vls the HD660's or the M1060's without every owning or hearing any of them. How does one become an expert on something without ever touching the unit?

Being in the position of owning the Aeon Flow's, the M1060, BD 1990 and the HD660s I can definitively say the Aeon Flow and the HD660 are so divergent from one another that comparing them is like comparing a tricycle to a Mclaren.

Spike_Goldman's picture

Whatever you do don't plug these Aeon Open headphones into any decent headphone amp and try to work. Right now I am supposed to be working and Van Morrison's Healing Game has me totally engaged and distracted.

Most money I've ever spent on cans. Worth it.