MrSpeakers Ether C Flow Sealed Planar Magnetic Headphone Measurements

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

Raw frequency response plots show that the Ether C Flow matches the Harman Target Response quite well, and in listening I found this a remarkably neutral headphone. The sharp inflection in the raw response is an artifact of pad bounce—the natural resonance of the pad system elasticity—and is generally not heard in as stark a way as measurements might indicate. I heard the bass of the Ether C Flow as quite good, but not as dramatically impactive as the Audeze headphones.

While the curve closely matches an appropriate response, I also note that it's quite noisy. Definitely more so than the previous Ether C, which I heard as having a somewhat more refined sound.

There is also a distinct peak at 6-7kHz that becomes even more distinct in the compensated plots. As an independant look, I'll point to ultrabike's post here. His measurements show a clear tendance for distortion and ringing between 5-6kHz. The 1000Hz shift in our measurements could easily be accounted for by the differing ear shapes of the measurement systems. When listening to the Ether C Flow for long periods, this feature became apparent.

30Hz square wave shows an odd shape due to pad bounce, otherwise it isn't swaybacked, which might indicate phase change, and remains well above zero over its entire coarse. The bass response I heard was quite good.

Initial transient of the 300Hz square wave is a little to high for my liking, and its shape and that of the second significant peak is quite sharp. In my experience this can be troublesome, though I'd say this is a mild example. The 300Hz square wave of the Ether C by comparison, is more symmetrically shaped, and the following waveform is cleaner. Similar comparisons can be made of the impulse response on close inspection. I did hear the Ether C as better resolving and cleaner sounding.

90dB THD+noise plot is somewhat higher than I would like to see, but still under the 1% that most consider the limit of audibility. If I did hear distortion it would have probably just added to the lack of refinement I mention. I didn't hear these as "hard" sounding. 100dBspl plot being significantly lower than the 90dBspl plot indicates good power handling over most of the spectrum; below 60Hz we start to see some excursion limiting.

Impedance plot shows a nominally 24 Ohm headphone with a flat impedance as expected with a planar magnetic headphone. Interestingly, if you blow-up the .pdf to very high magnification and look at the impedance curve between 6-7kHz you will see a small bump that coincides with the features at the same frequency in the raw response plots.

Broadband isolation of -20dB and the plots show that this headphone is fairly good at keeping outside noise at bay.

With an efficiency of 230mVrms needed to achieve 90dBspl at the ear, this is not a headphone that will be driven well from portable devices.

MrSpeakers Headphone Products
3366 Kurtz Street
San Diego, CA 92110

Dreyka's picture

You mentioned with the Ether Flow that you had trouble getting it to seal which was the reason for the poor THD+N performance. Why is this the case with these headphones.

I don't even think the Ether Flow should be considered an open headphone considering the noise attenuation is like that of semi-open designs.

Apothecary2's picture

There always seems to be people who freak out whenever the M50x is compared positively to more expensive headphones.

von Schatu's picture

Very nice and honest review. I was kind of expecting your mixed feelings when I have first seen the rugged frequency response of the headphone.

Your opinion of the 6k peak of the Ether C Flow reaffirmed my thoughts, that the Harman curve in the 3-10k region is incomplete. I have several good quality sealed headphone at home (M50x, M70x, MSR7, PM-3), and almost every one of them has a smaller or bigger dip in that region. At least the ones that sound good. If you check you see that the Ether C has one as well. The only headphone that I have that tries to follow the Harman curve - albeit with a 10k peak - in this area is the M70x, and it is pretty abrasive to the ears. But when you remove the 10k peak and lower the whole region by 3-4 dB, the sound improves immensely! Therefore I think it would be an area worth researching.

By the way it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on the M70x. They are not the most musical headphones for sure, but for the price they follow the Harman curve like no other, and their sound signature is very close to mastering loudspeakers.

ADU's picture

The Harman curve really only applies to: 1) measurements made with the same head and torso simulator as theirs (Tyll & IF use a different HATS system), and 2) those who prefer Harman's "preferred in-room listening" curve. That was my takeaway anyway from the articles and measurements made in the Harman Reference room.

Harman's calibrated/preferred in-room response (which is also the basis of their target headphone response curve) was the result of subjective tests with both trained and untrained listeners. And it is not necessarily an accurate representation of the steady-state (aka "in-room") response of an anechoically flat speaker.

ADU's picture

"Preferred in-room listening" should've been "preferred in-room _loudspeaker_".

luvmusik's picture

Wish someone might let Tyll borrow a bass heavy version of the vintage Sony MDR-R10 in mint audio shape for him to review. Forgoing their expense, it would really be an interesting review, perspective and historic mark. Iconic closed back biocellulose woody tested in modern times, and probably much fun in the listening process.

Three Toes of Fury's picture

1) Thanks Tyll! always love new cans reviews!

2) The harman curve finding..and that matching closely to the curve isnt necessarily a guarantee of a perfect sounding very interesting. I suppose it helps validate that while there's alot of great data which can be gathered and analyzed for headphones, we arent yet at a place where that data can completely tell us what we want to know.

3) I very much appreciate the comparison to other closed headphones..especially ones in different price brackets. The closed can quest is a challenging one..fraught with the limitation of closed backs....but its good to see what cans sound well in this realm.

Peace .n. Living in Stereo


NickS's picture

Thank you for this review. I had intended to update my Ether C to the Ether Flow C, but will now make sure to give the new model a listen before ordering the upgrade.

Based on the lack of mention in the video and elsewhere, I think you like the Oppo PM-3 considerably less than Bob Katz. It would be interesting for the two of you to explore this more as it might help readers get a handle on your personal listening tastes/biases. (The PM-3 is my second favorite closed headphone, after the the Ether C.)

hanshopf's picture

Bob Katz also raved about LCD-X, which Tyll did not really get warm with. I bought PM-3 as well as LCD-X after reading Bob's insightful articles, but must say that I am disappointed by both of them (to a lesser degree with the Oppo because it's very good for a closed can) and disagree, that either of them is neutral. I am experienced enough to know how an orchestra sounds in the hall and afterwards in the studio, but do not find, that any headphones I met delivers this same degree of naturalness in timbre that I hear in the studio. Bob's writing made me hope that the Oppo and to a lesser degree the LCD-X deliver in that sense. But for me they don't. I tend to believe this has less to do with different views on what neutral is meant to be, but more with different listening experiences due to different HRTF's. Probably the only way to be sure that everybody hears the same with headphones is personal HRTF. I therefore doubt that a discussion between Bob and Tyll about why they experience the PM-3 differently would bring fruitful results.

NickS's picture

That could certainly be one of the topics. I'm not sure why you would not want to put what you "tend to believe" to the test and have them compare with and without a HRTF.

hanshopf's picture

Yeah, right, but I think both of them stated their opinions extensively. I believe there are more fruitful topics to discuss, for example the detailed evaluation of what the measurements tell us, which Tyll made this summer at Harman's studio.

zobel's picture

But not as good as the Sennheiser HD 380Pro. Almost everyone likes the Sennheisers better, especially if you have comfort in mind, and larger ears. They are $150 also, bur definitely better than the ATH M50X. They are audiophile quality with better low bass and better balance across the entire frequency range than the HD600, for example.

mav52's picture

I really enjoy your reviews, but in your listening sessions , why not mention what headphone amp your using.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I always use my reference headphone amp, the Simaudio Moon Neo HA430.
satir's picture

Every iteration of Ether now has Inner Fidelity puffy award. All bruised egos soothed now?

Corsair's picture

A bit negative, but on the money

Andrew452's picture

good Artisto is the fantastic masterpiece art photo and also as well as Chief Executive Officer Alexey Moiseenkova just recently nice.

Rolin's picture

Since getting my LCD-4's in Dec last year, my SRH1540's office headphone, and my SE846 on-the-go IEM's have stopped being enjoyable.

Are the MrSpeakers Ether C Flow headphones the best bet for my new office headphone? Or should I look at the Audeze LCD-XC?
Leakage factor is super important to me, as well as sound quality and engagement.

Sources that would be used is the GOv2 at the office and / or my Onkyo Granbeat DAPhone.

maxmanraju's picture
maxmanraju1's picture