There are a lot of great headphones out there in the $1500 price range. But it’s rare to find one with a personality so unique that it etches itself in your memory for eternity. Today, I’ve encountered one such headphone. Let’s find out what makes these cans so remarkable in this MrSpeakers ETHER Flow 1.1 Review.
No complaints here. You’ve got the classic round shape with rectangular inlets that will comfortably house even the largest of ears. They’re sufficiently light, roomy and unobtrusive. Soft and secure at the same time. Nice.
If you’ve never experienced a planar magnetic driver, MrSpeakers is a great introduction. MrSpeakers describes it as delivering a “sumptuous” sound; This a great adjective because, indeed, there’s a richness in quality that’s difficult to define, but in my experience, seems unique to planar magnetic technology.
MrSpeakers also gives us a thick and super durable VIVO cable. And you can purchase it with any connection you desire: balanced ¼ inch. 2.5mm, 4-pin XLR, etc. For an extra 50 bucks, you can also lengthen it to 10 feet.
The ETHER Flow 1.1 has an impedance of 23 Ohms. So one’s first instinct is to assume they’re very easy to drive. But MrSpeakers doesn’t specify the sensitivity, and I found that I needed something relatively powerful, like the iFi Black Label Micro to give it the richness it needed. Can you listen at a civilized volume from your phone? Sure. But you’ll be missing out.
I should also note that the ETHER Flow comes with a carrying case that’s really solid, but also surprisingly small and portable. Unlike many other open-back headphones in this price range (I won’t name names, but all you folks with neck problems know who I’m talking about), these will fit comfortably in your backpack.
Overall Impressions: Extremely fast with a captivating soundstage and soulful expression. A truly unique headphone.
The bass on the Ether Flow 1.1 is tight and unobtrusive. It has tons of grip and texture, but is almost conservative in its presence. What blows me away is the speed of these things. If you like a snappy pop song, these cans will smack you in the face. I listened to Britney Spears’ Toxic, and it was like crack. (Don’t hate her because she’s beautiful.) In fact, if you just buy these headphones for pop alone, it’s worth the purchase. Clean and beautifully delineated, there’s absolutely no bleeding into the higher frequencies. I usually prefer a warmer and bigger low end (that’s what he said), but these cans might convince bass-heads like me to become respectable audiophiles.
We’ve got a present and very well-balanced midrange here. Listening to rock songs, nothing in this frequency range is left out. And because the upper-mids are not overplayed, vocals are nicely embedded within the mix. The result is a full-bodied sound, minus the warmth of the lows. Because the low-end stays humble, big rock choruses don’t sound particularly expansive. But again, where this headphone excels is in its fast transient response and clean profile. Drums and percussion, like snares, have a freqload of impact and power. And listening to classical music, it becomes apparent that these cans also have a big heart. Cellos sounded airy and fluid, and notes rolled effortlessly and with tons of emotion. It’s a sound that can move you to tears, especially if you’re sleep deprived.
Listening to string solos in this frequency range, Mr. Speakers has gone with smoothness over detail. Perhaps the sound isn’t as nuanced as some other headphones in this price range, but very few cans can do it all at the same time. That being said, for me, the highs were a completely fatigue free listening experience. Miles Davis fans rejoice; you can listen to his trumpet without feeling like a masochist. Buoyant and breezy, these cans will make you want to drink mojitos while flying a kite from your beachside recliner.
Wow. It’s almost impossible to explain this soundstage. I know it’s my job, but how do you describe the ineffable? Incredibly spacious and multidimensional, yes. But the instruments that sit furthest in distance still have such color and richness, that you’re completely saturated by the layering of sound.
Make no mistake. These cans have soul. Perhaps the Ether Flow is not the most versatile choice in terms of genre, but what it does well, it does extremely well with a freqload of charisma. Speedy Gonzales fast, clean and almost ethereal in its nature, few headphones in this price range have such exceptional defining qualities. I’m in love with the Ether Flow 1.1. And it’s not even my type.
Driver: Planar Magnetic 71 x 45mm
Frequency Response: Yes