The Etherial Mr. Speakers Ether Flow Measurements

Click on graphs image to download .pdf for closer inspection.

Raw frequency response plots show the Ether Flow as fairly insensitive to movement of the headphones on the head. But I have to add that I did spend quite a bit of time when repositioning the headphones in order to get a good seal each time. I would say these headphones are fairly sensitive in the bass below the pad bounce at 60Hz to the quality of seal achieved.

Bass below 60Hz drops off about 4dB and then extends well. I'm not sure I heard the headphone this way; I don't hear any odd disjointedness that one might expect from this sort of measurement. Upper-bass emphasis appears to bleed into the midrange to about 400Hz. I did hear this but it didn't seem as bad as what the measurements might imply. I found the bass strong, but simultaneously bouncy and lithe.

The midrange suffers from too much emphasis from 200Hz to 400Hz, and then some lack of emphasis between 800Hz and 2kHz in the presence region. While I would say this is the biggest problem with the tonality of the Flow, I also think it gives the headphones an impression of space and may contribute to the very pleasant somewhat etherial quality in the listening experience.

Treble response from 2kHz and up is pretty much right on target, but the withdrawn presence region make the mid- and upper-treble seem just a little hot.

30Hz square wave response is a bit mishapen from the pad-bounce, and not as well extended as some other planar magnetic headphones.

300Hz square wave a bit too much ring after the leading edge transient, but it's a clean ring without raggedness, and there's very little subsequent noise. Waveform top is fairly flat indicating good treble balance.

Impulse response likewise has a bit too much ring, but is otherwise fairly smooth and noise-free.

Okay, now we get to the THD+noise. I've measured the pre-production Flow, and then two subsequent production units, and all of them had this strange curve that seems to have too little noise to be real. My guess is we're seeing some sort of noise here. My first guess was that as air moved back and forth through the layers of pads on the ear side, the pad would gently bump against each other creating a low-level noise. Dan and I talked about this and even tried a couple of experiments, which were inconclusive. The other thought I had was it might be the NiTanol headband wires ringing, but I damped them and found it didn't matter. My last thought is that there's some sort of interaction between my tast chamber and the sound coming out the back of these headphones. Anyway, I do occasionally see weird anomalies like this in the distortion measurements and it baffles me. Dan said his measurements are much more like Jude's measurements in this post. Bottom line: I don't hear these headphones as distorted at all; all I might be able to safely say is that the true distortion curves probably live below these lines shown.

Impedance plot is flat showing a 23 Ohm impedance with very litte features at all but for a slight roughness between 600Hz and 9kHz.

The Flow is an ostensibly open headphone, but isolation measurements show a modest -7dB reduction in outside noise from 60Hz to 2.5kHz. It seems the ear chamber itself is sealed and the various damping materials in front and behind the driver are providing some attenuation.

Needing 155mVrms to achieve 90dB at the ear, the Flow will only play moderately loud from a smartphone or portable device. Hook it up to a good amp...it's worth it.

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COMMENTS
TMRaven's picture

I don't think there's much of a guess of who's getting knocked off the wof. There's only 2 other headphones up there at the top to get knocked off. Judging by Tyll's commentary, seems like the Utopia will replace the HE-1000, the Ether Flow will replace the Ether, and maybe the HD800 S would get knocked off-- though it seems strange that a headphone such as the HD800 S-- whose strengths are unmatched by the other headphones-- would get knocked off.

TMRaven's picture

Also it's spelled Ethereal.

Elen Kras's picture

Great review!Now we think in the same style;)
HD700 is also about character and balance...that's why they are worthy of review.

Elen Kras's picture

And about technology of course.

Magoo's picture

Tyll,

You spelled NiTinol correctly the first time but the second time not so much...A little education??... I have worked with this material for quite a while you should know that the word stands for the Alloy description.

NiTinol...is a Nickel Titanium Alloy Ni for Nickel Ti for Titanium and it was developed by the Naval Ordinance Lab

Now you are edgimacated....;-)

tony's picture

As I read NiTinol, my brain keeps substituting 'sleep' aid.

Funny, how the brain works. Probably explains some of my failures in life.

The word 'Planar' gets replaced with 'needing powerful amp'.

This headphone only needs 1 Watt for 120db. Still, the Mojo won't have enough oomph but the Modi Multibit probably will.

I'd like to know who makes these things and where. Folks that sell stuff but don't reveal the 'back story' are worrisome. Mr.Speakers lives in a pricy 4 Story Office Building that is not Zoned for Manufacturing. ( it is approved for 'some' warehouse use )

Tony in Michigan

Maybe's picture

Hey Tyll,

are you aware of Blauert's directional bands?
Apparently peaks and dips at certain frequencies can create the impression of directionality and/or diffuseness.
Your findings regarding a depression in the mids creating distance also seems to be a factor contributing to a bigger image.

Would explain why the HD800 has this big-sounding quality since it has a dip in the mids and a peak at 6kHz which is associated with things being displayed in the front.
In contrast the Utopia with it's peak-free, slightly rolled off treble and good mid presence sounds more "closed in".

Therefore it could be argued that the HD800's presentation is mere artificial tuning rather than technical superiority.

drm870's picture

...I'd rather have a guy who really knows his stuff on headphones - and the technicals behind how they work - reviewing these cans than a generic journalist who spells everything right the first go. :P (Not to knock that type of reviewer, but let's face it, there's a reason we go to enthusiast-oriented sites like this.)

Long time listener's picture

Tyll certainly does know his stuff about headphones. But he still needs to learn where and what the presence region is: "In my Focal Utopia review I posited that depth of image may actually be an illusion created by reducing energy in the presence region—say 800Hz to 2kHz." I've never seen 800Hz mentioned as part of the presence region, and I've usually seen 2kHz mentioned as about the lower end of that region. Here's a few random examples; many more can be found, particularly in the speaker measurements of John Atkinson at Stereophile:

"Of particular importance for vocals in any rock style is the 3‑5kHz region of the spectrum (often called the 'presence' region), which is the range that typically helps them sound clear, upfront, and aggressive." (http://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/mix-rescue-mixing-metal)

"4kHz-6kHz -- The range usually referred to as presence. This area affects how close the sound seems and can help separate a sound from the rest of the mix. Defines much of the clarity and definition of voices and instruments." (http://www.mikfielding.co.uk/EQ_Sound_Frequencies.shtml)

"...the tonal balance of the headphone seems skewed in a midrange-forward direction with particular energy in what some might call the “presence” region; that is, the upper midrange band where mids transition into highs." (http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/krk-kns-8400-professional-monitoring-he...)

There seems to be widespread agreement on this.

Johan B's picture

Baffles design, Pad design. Hmmm seems that there is a turn in design history, The drivers are all very good and it seems that secondary aspects are being treated now. This is good news because it means that within the next years the prices can come down significantly as none of this stuff is expensive with 3D printing tech. This will proably mean that some of the exotic brands will go out of business.

MarvinC's picture

Good i'm sick of companies overpricing their headphones for the sake of luxury. This ether flow looks like the best value i've seen in a while, just like the Oppo pm-3. I look eager to trying a pair in the near future.

Hattrick15's picture

Tyll,

Did you change your EQ settings for the Ether Flow compared to those you posted with the original Ether review? If so, will you post your new settings?

Thanks!

vang's picture

How do these compare with the LCDs and which ones would you go for now? Does it depend on sound signature still or are the Flows just superior?

MarvinC's picture

Can i use these for mixing? I'm looking for a high end, end game headphone for my mixing and music listening purposes. Supposedly something that sounds like the oppo pm 3 but with a more open sound.

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