MrSpeakers Introduces AEON Over-Ear Sealed Headphone

Yesssssss!

I've kvetched quite a bit about the need for some killer headphones in the $500-$1000 price range. Seems like headphone makers just jumped by that price category in an ever more intense race to the top...of your willingness to break your wallet. Looks like we're going to get some relief from MrSpeakers.

The newly announced AEON is a sealed, over-ear, planar magnetic headphone that will be sold for $799. I've only had a couple of days to listen and measure, but I'm impressed. The AEON will definitely get a review.

Again, I've had very little listening time, but the big question in my head is whether or not these cans are actually better than the Ether C and Ether C Flow. I don't know yet, but I can tell you it's close. When I mentioned to Dan Clark, CEO and Founder of MrSpeakers, that I thought the new AEON might cannibalize sales of their more expensive sealed model, he responded:

...we’re committed to pricing based on our COGS (cost of goods sold), I believe this is not only great for the consumer, but also a more aggressive and sustainable platform for our growth, as it doesn’t leave competitors an easy way to undercut us...

EGGGGSACHARY!!!

This is the smart play: Even if you don't have much competition, price your products based on costs and reasonable ratios, and not on what you think the market will bare. This ensures that consumers will share in the profit of the product by receiving high value for their money spent; and will also make it tough for competitors to deliver similar value to consumers at that price point. A competitive market will get you there eventually anyway, why not start there and make it hard for competitors right off the bat. Well done, MrSpeakers!

Here's the measurements:

Blog_AEONintro_Graphs Click on graph image to view .pdf.

The AEON will go on sale today at 5PM PST. In this thread, Dan says that the first 250 units will get a $100 discount and be sold at $699. Might be worth jumping on this one.

Unfortunately, I'll get no more time listening to the AEON as they need to be returned today. Fortunately for InnerFidelity readers in the greater New York area, they're going back to Dan so he can take them to CanJam New York this weekend. Want a listen for yourself? Here's the details for CanJam NYC2017.

Wish I was going. :(

COMMENTS
Three Toes of Fury's picture

Im totally on board for more 'phones in the mid-to-high price range which bring awesome sound to the consumer.

Tyll: when you do sit down with them, if possible, can you provide some A-B comparison to the Oppo PM3? That is the one headphone, time and time again, that i see VERY positive feedback on. Its closed and planar so the comparison is warranted. (thou the cost difference is substantial..Oppo is around 400 and this is 800).

Peace .n. Living in Stereo

3ToF

CarterB's picture

Thoughts on comfort?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
They were comfortable...but I had them for too short a time to be more specific than that.
gibtg's picture

This sounds terrific and kudos goes out to Dan for this move! Absolutely terrific! I couldn't be happier to see emphasis in this price bracket! I'm selling off all my HiFiMAN inventory as I speak ;)

logscool's picture

I may finally have a replacement for my Alpha Primes. Looks like these have a bit better bass kick than the Ether C which were just slightly underwhelming in this area. I was very close to switching my alpha primes for some ether C's but the bass on the Alpha's is just so addictive. Looks like these may bring that back with a more natural and hopefully refined (like ether c) upper mid and treble. This would eliminate the need for the EQing I currently use on my alpha prime.

Any comments on the bass impact vs Ether C Tyll?

maelob's picture

Also a Prime owner that was reluctant to upgrade to Ether because of bass. Hope this deliver same bass performance of Primes. I am onboard, but I will wait until more reviews come out.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Again, not enough time for anything but a cursory listen. Seemed good in the bass though.
Peragulator's picture

Edition X is now in that range.

Long time listener's picture

These look like some of the best all-round measurements I've seen in a long time.

A '70s rock group (Traffic) was once asked if they would appear nude on stage. Their reply was, "Whatever Traffic will bare." It was a pun on the phrase "whatever traffic/the market will BEAR."

ultrabike's picture
This will be one of my top priority listens if I happen to come by it on a meet or so. I like the price, and at least judging by the pic, it looks nice. I really want Dan to hit a home-run. And this might just be it.
Tyll Hertsens's picture
This! My finger are crossed.
Argyris's picture

Well bloody hell, a new headphone that is actually mildly interesting for once. It feels like a very long time since that's happened, as in recent years we've been forced to endure both ludicrously high prices and, in many cases, either nonetheless glaring faults or scant improvement over previous entries to justify the price hike.

Judging by those measurements, the AEON looks like it would be mildly V-shaped, but everything else looks clean. It's not really my signature, and I'm not in the market now, but it's great to see somebody trying to fill in the neglected space around $500-$1000. I'm skeptical that just this one release will serve to anchor the out of control flagship price inflation (of which, it must be said, MrSpeakers has been as guilty as anyone recently), but it certainly can't hurt.

Now we just need something with the HD 600's tonality but better bass extension for under $1,000--that includes the slight upper midrange lift and smooth treble that make the HD 600 so special. You can put it in the box right next to my unicorn and a perpetual motion machine. ;-)

Martin.'s picture

So happy for this! But they look so ugly! I feel I'd be wearing bee eyes. I liked how the Ether C looked, though.

I've thought before about what Tyll terms "smart play", but having never seen it implemented in business I just thought there was something wrong with that business plan, something I didn't know about. Would be nice to be proven wrong.

ktmracer's picture

What!?! I think they look amazing! Replace the blue ring with a red one and I'd have a hard time finding a better looking headphone. I really like the PM-3, the Sine, P7's, MDR-1A's and the H6. I believe a red Aeon would compete with any of them.

Martin.'s picture

I agree with you on all the headphones you name, though I'm not too keen on the MDR-1A's looks. However, I still can't agree with you on these cans. I haven't seen them on my head, but from the picture, I'd rather be seen in public with Aviators or Fidelio X2. Just my opinion, though.

jesuguru's picture

Heard of any plans to offer up an open-ear model? Need to fill that gap in my arsenal.

GNagus's picture

These headphones seem to isolate very well

choccoyote01's picture

The measurements looks exceedingly good for the price! I hesitated to make the purchase, thinking to wait for measurements from you, and here it is. I will hesitate no more. Thanks Tyll for the measurements all along and Dan for making a stand in producing awesome products priced at justice.

canali's picture

Ty...any eta on reviews for these, as well as the audeze isine 20?

anson's picture

Who makes that cool headphone stand in the pic?

FullBright's picture

Blue Microphones has just released the ELLA.
Similar Headphone.
Interesing.

Sherry342's picture

good After bluestack has actually been set up, Mobdro for Windows Actually Mobdro TELEVISION app is an android great.

Neward Thelman's picture

See that frequency response curve?

See that spectacular, drops-like-brick response after 1 Khz?

EGGGGSACHARY!!!

That's pretty much the curve of any and every ultra-low fidelity device from the 1950's and before. Or, for you by now lard-lugging baby boomers and Millennial trailer-trash, 1960s thru 1990s era juke boxes.

No highs.

No treble.

No mids, either.

And, that's pretty much EGGGGSACHARY!!! how every headphone which I've auditioned - with a very few solitary exceptions - sounds.

Billowing, elephentine, bloated, booming, gangster-rap-ghetto-blaster bass. Bass Bass BAss BASs BASS BASSS BASSSS BASSSSSS BASSSSSSS

Of course, the average listener today absolutely demands that kind of headphone sound. A whole company has been built to produce that kind of sound [that being uh - Dr. Dre].

But - here's the sting. Here's the 'paper cut on your eye'. You here - all of you - the writers and reviewers, the you "listeners" [if you knew what I think of you] - all of you're supposed to be AUDIOPHILES.

To prove that, you're all shelling out hundreds of dollars for --- headphones. Headphones. Look at this article - lauding the value of $500 - $1000 ---HEADPHONES.

So, what do you get for that cool kilobuck? What do you get for wearing those giant, ultra-dork planar or electrostatic, uncomfortable clamps on your God forsaken skull?

You get sunken in a giant pickle barrel, juke-box-bass, pounding cRap sound. To make it all even worse - that's the kind of sound you like. It's what you demand.

The irony of the guy with a $10,000 system - and even the guy with a system built around his $20,000 speakers - is delighting and demanding the most inaccurate sound in the world. The whole world.

Any I-phone speaker sounds better.

Unlike the rest of you, for $500 I demand a flat response curve. Nothing less. Oh, and a humble, low-respect 1985 Sony Walkman in-the-ear phones deliver that. Exactly that. I'm really resisting the urge to insert a Richard Pryor expletive right about now.

Where's the Koss Pro4aa when you need it? Amazing how far we've fallen in the last 50 years.

Rock on, bass boys.

Spy's picture

lol

most retarded comment i've ever read on this site.

You see the raw FR-curve? It goes up after 1 khz darling.

How old are you? I think you have serious hearing damage, like everything over 2000 khz probably sounds 50-90% lower in volume than the average 20-30 year old dude :)

solrage's picture

Neward, I think you need to do some research on the science behind headphone measurements and perceived sound. There are many links about this around this very website if you care to look, or if you want go to Google and type in "Olive Harman Headphone Response." The frequency response of this headphone is about as close to the ideal "neutral" curve as I've seen. The "falling treble" isn't actually what our ears hear. If the treble was "flat" rather than "falling" the sound would be piercingly bright. Similarly, slightly elevated bass is made to mimic the effect of how speakers behave in rooms ("room gain") where bass is omnidirectional and thus a "flat" on-axis response will be "elevated" at the main listening position.

Other than the elevation at 3kHz due to the shape of the ear canal, any in-room speaker measurement will exhibit a similar falling frequency response if the speaker is neutral because the microphone picks up both the direct sound from the speaker plus reflections, and sound becomes increasingly directional at higher frequencies and more omnidirectional at lower frequencies.

Now, your point about listener preferences RE bass and treble and their age is also well-supported by such science, but perhaps not to the degree you're suggesting here. Here's a link to a study Sean Olive did on the subject: http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2015/11/factors-that-influence-listeners.html

sszorin's picture

In a way Neward Thelman is right. The frequency curve of these headphones indicates a mildly rolled off treble. He just did not consider the 'planar factor'. Because of that he was a bit harsh with his verdict. I have not heard AEON but I am sure that the treble is rolled off. Compared to some top electrodynamic headphones the planar magnetic headphones lack extended treble. Or, to make a relative judgment, they lack treble. This exhibits itself in reduced 3D image [depth of sound field] and in reduced resolution. Audez'e makers tried to fix this problem inherent in the technology. Tinkering with their earlier models produced acceptable but not convincing results.
The electrodynamic headphones have their own peculiar problems and the electrostatic headphones are not perfect as well. Each technology has its own advantages and disadvantages. 'Bang for buck', the top electrodynamics, just two of them, still represent the best value[but the gap is narrowing]. With one exception - for those who have damaged hearing and who cannot tolerate energetic treble, these planar magnetic headphones are an audio salvation.

solrage's picture

I think the key word in your post is "mildly" rolled off treble. If you compare these to the Harmon curve (http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/first-test-estimated-harman-target-...), there is a slight dip in the presence and low treble region (4k-8k), the common 10k spike, but above 10k is pretty ideal. Frankly, I think if the choice is between either a slight dip or slight elevation in those frequencies (ala the HD800), I'll take the slight dip every day. Any elevation in those frequencies renders some music unlistenable and ice-pick bright. Plus, the distortion on these is low enough that the dip could easily be EQed out, and I see less problems elsewhere than on most other $1k+ headphones out there.

Neward Thelman's picture

I've read the links you've thoughtfully provided. The same principle holds true for loudspeakers in 'domestic' rooms, if to a lesser extent. As a separate, tho related, issue, most high end speakers since the mid 1990's have been designed and produced with an elevated treble. Just have a look a the lab tests in any issue of Stereophile.

And, they sound it, too. Every time I visit a high-end store with the hopes of finding a naturally flat response speaker, I'm disappointed. The treble brightness is overwhelming. It makes me sick when I read the self-important Stereophile reviewer honchos throwing around terms such as "hi-fi" as a pejorative, while they approve ultra-bright speakers.

Among the worse offenders are Thiel and B&W; lines such as Proac, Vandersteen, and Sonus Faber at least somewhat avoid that kind of treble elevation.

All of which highlights a particularly hypocritical dichotomy among audiophiles. The same guy who owns a pair of Stereophile approved $200 treble-bright-blasters [which, regardless of how good or bad they may be, received a masturbatory-ecstatic review by one of Stereophile's hipper-than-thou reviewers], or a pair of equally bright $20k Triangle Acoustiques [also approved by Stereophile with exactly the same reactions and language as used for the $200 jobs] - that same guy listens to the dullest, bass-heavy, bass-wallowing headphones imaginable.

If you doubt me, then just read the comments to my post below. Bass bass bass bass bass. It's all about the bass. The average listener doesn't want to encounter the smallest tickle of treble via phones. See posts below.

Therefore, I stand by my post and the conclusions I've posted.

solrage's picture

You're welcome for the links. In my own audio journey I've become increasingly interested in psychoacoustics in recent years, in particular the relationship between measurements and how we perceive sound. I'm with you in always being on the lookout for well-measuring, perceptually flat speakers and headphones regardless of price point, and I try my best to ignore any and all hype, including "professional" audio reviewers who are typically ignorant shills. Tyll and Innerfidelity are a rare light in the darkness in how impressions are wedded to hard data/measurements, analysis, and theory. There was even a series of really enlightening posts a while back between Tyll and Sean Olive about this very subject--something you won't be reading in Stereophile!

As for the differences in treble/bass in speakers VS headphones, it may have a lot to do with how speakers play in typical rooms VS how we hear headphones. With headphones, there's no "room" between the transducers and our ears, so if the treble is bright, there's nothing to dampen in. Compared to rooms where everything from carpets to bookshelves to chairs can "deaden" treble to a certain extent, leading many perhaps to prefer, or at least be more tolerant of, brighter speakers than headphones. I also think it may have to do with the fact that it's difficult to replicate the bass tactility of full-range speakers and subwoofers in headphones, so amping up the bass in headphones is an attempt to replace that sensation you get with speakers. I've just learned in my years that speakers and headphones are their own unique things with different strengths/weaknesses, and it's nice to have both for different times, moods, and music.

As for finding flat speakers, I might suggest you check out some internet direct brands, stuff like Salk, Philharmonic, Funk, and Ascend. Being ID their price is more commensurate with their quality. Ascend even posts their own detailed measurements of their speakers' performances. Great bang for the buck, and frankly if I had my choice of any speakers out there right now I'd probably go with Funk and/or Salk over any of the more popular manufacturers whose speakers cost north of $20k.

jmonfire's picture

dude chill. take it easy. take a breath.

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