Mr Speakers Ether C is a World Class Sealed Headphone

I need to say this right at the top so it doesn't get missed: If you're an audio pro, you need to give these headphones a listen. It's incredibly rare to find a sealed headphone that is so on-target tonally and relatively open sounding. This will be the headphone I take to trade shows to tryout amps and upstream gear in a noisy environment. A truly awesome tool.

Now that I've spoiled the suspense I'll start from the beginning.

Mr. Speakers Ether C ($1499 and up with cable options)
The Mr. Speakers Ether C is a full-sized, sealed, planar magnetic headphone. Outer capsule housings are gloss finished finished, no bullshit carbon fiber parts. The ample and plush ear cushions are glove leather covered memory foam. Headband is constructed of two Nitinol arcs held in position with spacers near each end and terminated in the swivel assembly. The headband strap is leather and terminates at sliders that move up and down the Nitinol arcs between the spacers and swivel to effect continuous and secure head size adjustment. The new cloth covered cable is much better behaved than the previous "mind of its own", poly-somethingorother woven cover cable. Multiple cable and connector options are available at purchase.

The Ether C has the most bordinary hard-side carry case I've ever seen. (Previous record holder was the case for the original Sennheiser Momentum.) But it's utility and protection is top-notch, and people will be less likely to steal your prized music makers in this butt-ugly case.

Construction materials are exemplary. The only piece of plastic to be seen from outside is the headband adjustment sliders, which need to be a synthetic material in order to have the proper friction and clamping force. A total A+ for build quality.

Comfort and fit is superb. Headband slider adjustment is easy once you get used to exactly where the sliders are; ear capsule gimbals have appropriate range of motion and swivel freely allowing great ease in donning of doffing the headphones. Rectangular earpad openings (62mmT x 40mmW) slightly touch my average-sized ears, but the ear well is deep with plush side-walls and a soft foam bottom. Weight at around 400gr. is about 2/3 the weight of an Audeze LCD-3 and about the same as an HD 800 S. Fit is extraordinarily secure on my head; this is the only full-sized headphone I've worn that easily stays on your head and in place when rising from a pillow. Ergonomically, I find the Ether C a very, very good headphone. A+.

Style is in the eye of the beholder, but I love the look of these cans. Here, form follows function under the watchful eye of a stylist who quite obviously a deep lover of headphones. This is a headphone's headphone...what headphone would want to it matures. A+

Which brings me to Dan Clark. "Why", you say, "does talking about a headphone's headphone bring up Dan Clark?" Well, in my eyes, Dan Clark is a headphone enthusiast's headphone enthusiast. He started his professional career as a hobbyist modifying Fostex T50RP headphones; then sold his creations in flea market fashion; then tooled up production and went into business; then started manufacturing his own capsules; and now Mr. Speakers is making headphones and drivers from scratch and filing patent applications for novel headphone technologies of his own invention. Bloody amazing!

The Ether C evidences this extraordinary heritage by being not only a wonderfully tight and high-performance design, but also in being very judiciously tunable with the included tuning pads—something an enthusiast will find quite attractive and useful. I'll talk more on the next page about using these tuning pads, but for me they speak volumes about Dan, his adventure creating headphones, and how the Ether C so wonderfully reflects the desires and sensibilities of a headphone enthusiast. Dan Clark blending professional technical expertise with his "Doggie Treat" tuning approach to create a headphone's headphone: A+

I need to note there was a small change in these headphones being called the 1.1 Revision. If you remove the earpad on the Ether C you will find some filters fitted into a rectangular well in front of the driver. On the original Ether C there are two white rectangles of felt-like material in the well. On the 1.1 version there is a white rectangle and then a black open cell foam rectangle. You can tell which one you have without removing the earpad by shining a flashlight into the earpad well; if you see anything white behind the fabric of the earpad well bottom you have the original 1.0 version; if it looks dead black you have the 1.1 version.

If you have the old version, you can go here to purchase replacement tuning foam for $9.99. Once in hand, simply remove the earpad; remove one white rectangle; replace it with the black foam par; and re-attach the earpad. Full instructions in the video.

Let's get on with the Ether C sound quality.

COMPANY INFO
MrSpeakers Headphone Products
3366 Kurtz Street
San Diego, CA 92110
619.501.6313
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Beagle's picture

Tyll, would you say that the C is a closed version of the original Ether (replicating it's sound) or is it an overall better headphone?

timjthomas's picture

How does this compare to the Ether (open). That review was not nearly as positive.

jerseyd's picture

My customers at Inner Sanctum Audio usually want to audition both the open and closed Ethers, and it does come down to usage context and preference. The open Ether has more mid-bass and sounds warmer, while the C has more sub-bass and is tonally even top-to-bottom. My personal preference is for the open Ether, but Tyll clearly prefers the closed Ether-C. Good stuff!

mithrandir39's picture

This seemed less like part of your job and more of a joy to share this time, Tyll. I tried these out at the Schiit Show last year and Canjam this year and I really liked them as well, with one caveat: they really do need a few db more bass. I'm rockin my LCD-2f's now, but I'd love these as my second, or on the go, pair for work trips

tony's picture

Seems like you have no reservations.

Only needs .6 Milliwatts!

Kinda big driver enclosure but sealed stuff is usually larger.

I and the research NVH ( noise-vibration-harshness ) guys are dabbling with various filters and rear absorption materials ( just out of curiosity for my part ) but those filter materials make a difference ( I found something very special to transform the RS120 wireless 900mhz wireless phones ).

You present a compelling report here, looks like Mr.Clark made it into the big leagues, I wonder what his $3,000 project will be like?

Tony in Michigan

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Yes sir, the planar magnetic guys are new school and not afraid of researching novel damping materials. I know there's some juju going on with some pretty damned interesting materials that have unusual mechanical properties by some makers.

Have you worked on any active noise cancelation devices in you NVH work? I hear that's pretty hard in free-space.

tony's picture

There are some lads working on Active but not the NVH people. Active systems are though to be a sort-of last ditch, hopeful attempt that has not worked out so far.

Active seems to create a surreal environment where everything sounds quite strange almost sci-fi and artificial.

For Safety reasons, Driver Cars need to have a percentage of Accurate Ambient Sounds penetrating the Cabin, somewhere around the 50 db. level.

Driverless Cars won't need to have localized sound perceptions for the driver to interpret, those Car occupants can be further isolated without risking their lives.

The Germans have been pumping Ambient Sounds into their Cabins thru their Sound Systems ( speakers ). I don't know how well it's working out for them.

People driving ultra quiet Cabins tend to drive fast and experience serious miscalculations from lower sonic stimulations. The Acura Legend was as quiet at 140 mph as other cars at 55 mph, Honda had a high fatality rate for that model, it was a superb car that had a shorter service life than it should've.

NVH is only a hobby for me, I know and have access to those people and their workings but I'm a retired DIYer busy on the "Bern Baby Bern", "One Man / One Vote" project. I've pretty much moved on to the Residential Home LED lighting solutions as a hobby. I still collect music but I'm rather settled on the Sennheiser/Schiit stuff.
I follow inner/fidelity because your reporting is so darn interesting ( I can't not-Look ), there are precious few reliable journalists out there worth following, I have you up there with Alex Dykes. ( Bob Katz is not quite active but I follow him too ).

Tony in Michigan

ps. Small Planes have the Bose systems installed but I still prefer the superior Etymotic solution.

zobel's picture

Bit small for really large ears? 79mm tall ears, which I own, probably wouldn't be happy with these. I'll go with the Sen HD800S, so glad those are BIG.
Here are some other pad sizes for those interested;

http://www.basshead.club/earpad-sizes/

Shoooot.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Be interesting to hear your take after trying a pair on for size. The pads are very cushy; they may work fine for you but I really can't tell having slightly smaller than average sized male ears.
OldRoadToad's picture

It is one thing to place a pair of headphones on the Wall and quite another to sincerely want to place them upon your head and keep them there.

It is said there is nothing new under the sun save that of the honesty, sincerity and enthusiasm of a child and that being regardless of age. Your review was that and more. Wear them well, my friend.

Hopefully my words make sense and not (as so often seems the case) enemies.

The Toad

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Thanks, mate, you're always aces in my book. :thumb
neo's picture

Heya Tyll, It'd be cool to know what test tracks you use to evaluate headphones. Thank you

Tyll Hertsens's picture
http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/comparing-world-class-headphones
stackedactor's picture

I just broke in a pair of Alpha Prime and LOVE them. Can you compare the 2 quick?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
...but they seem a bit uneven to me relative to the Ether C.
TokenGesture's picture

Hi Tyll - longtime reader, just registered to ask - have you heard the new DT1770. REALLY good closed at a fraction of the price, IMHO. Interested in your views.

Cheers from London
Andrew

cbus's picture

The problem with this review, and Tyll's writing in general is that reading his endorsements gives me unbearable FOMO. A careful presentation of the data and candid emotion make this a great read.

bllgrr's picture

Just a quick question regarding the equalizing of headphones: do you basically set points and then in between the modulation curves are interpolated (looks like spline interpolation)? I wonder how the interpolation affects the sound. Is it possible to define what kind of interpolation you want?

wbh's picture

For the graph on the Measurements page, it'd be nice if the Harman "target" curve had also been shown as overlay.

HAE's picture

Hello Tyll, I don't know if you still have access to the SRH 1540. It would be great if you can add a comparison to that headphone as the previous holder of the hall of fame top position in the full size sealed category.

Beagle's picture

...when the "comparison graph" option for FR measurements (similar to Headroom) will be available? Or has that been scrapped?

qurasjovan's picture

Tyll, great article. Loving new EQ settings additions, would you mind sharing if you are using IIR or FIR mode in EQuilibrium and which settings inside of them?

CarterB's picture

Really want to try these headphones now. Thanks!

Which cable did you use?

Also, I hope you send these to Katz as I want to read what he says.

otaku2's picture

Do I have this right? The headphones cost just shy of $1500, and they charge you $10 to bring the foam pads up to the current spec?

mrspeakers's picture

That's correct. We don't like the idea of obsolescence, so when we consider updates to products we look for ways to bring existing customers along at the lowest possible cost. It's obviously not always possible to create updates that are backwards-compatible, super cheap and require no service, but if we can we will.

The majority of our owners paid nothing for the upgrade. We give the 1.1 updates out for free at all shows and meets we go to, and most of our resellers with stores upgrade their customers at no charge, so the small fee is to help us defer handling costs when we have to ship.

mrspeakers's picture

Thanks so much for taking the time to review the ETHER C. Our team obviously really enjoyed the review, but this one quote stood out to me because in one sentence you captured everything I'd hoped we'd accomplish with our voicing: "The Ether C is very hard to evaluate objectively as the subjective experience it delivers is so potent."

For the last two years, I've been voicing our headphones to realize a better subjective experience that was compelling enough that the whole question of lows, mids and highs was rather beside the point. I started thinking this way when I was at a symphony and musing about why the experience was so qualitatively different than audio playback, but it was very difficult to translate the idea to a product, so when I read your comment, you can imagine the smile.

Again, thank you, and happy listening!

Dan

Sean_S's picture

Hi Tyll. Have you had experience with the Audeze LCD-XC? If so, how would you compare the two?
Thanks,
Sean

norb's picture

Hi Tyll, I know, the PM3´s are a few levels downwards in comparison to the ETHER C, but I´m just curious why you said in your PM3 review that they are kind of boring but with the ETHER C you like the super neutral sound, which others described with words like "lean". I just wanted to know if it´s worth to spend extra 1k to purchase the Ether C or if it´s better to invest in new gear and stay with my Oppos?

Thanks ind advance,

Norb

nigelf's picture

Hi Tyll, when you will be ready with Ether C Flow, also wish if there was comparison with LCD-XC.

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