I’ve met Dan Clarke of MrSpeakers a number of times of the years, mostly at the Tokyo Headphone festivals where one year, funnily enough, his table was opposite that of Fostex, whose headphones he had been modifying. I wasn’t a fan of his mods, but quickly became a fan of his own headphone designs, starting with the original Ether.
The Ether Flow set something of a benchmark for me in high-end open-backed headphones, being that it is able to work well with a wide variety of music types and deliver a good amount of detail. Yet, it is still able to be driven out of even a phone. The icing on the cake was that remarkable Nitinol wire headband that holds just the right amount of tension.
So to discover that Dan had taken that formula and successfully simplified it was a pleasant surprise. With only a single, angled entry point and tear-drop shaped cups, the Aeon looks smaller and neater, though that is deceptive as it is as full-sized as the Ether. However in simplifying much of the design, Dan has managed to get the price down to about half, without losing half the sound quality.
If anything, my impressions during my briefer than ideal time with an Aeon final production prototype was that it really only loses a bit of soundstage compared to the Ether C Flow, and then only noticeably in comparison. Being that it comes with a removable “Dumber” cable, different only in the 3.5mm plug from the DUM cable of the Ether series, which I feel is as good as many of the aftermaket cables I’ve tried, it certainly seemed like it would hit the right mark.
Like its more expensive brother, the Ether C Flow, it loses some mid-bass compared to the open-backed Ether Flow. It was soon after I noted this that Dan offered an insert to bring out more low bass, which was the only thing I felt it lacked. Otherwise there is that even smoothness with plenty of detail and good soundstage.
Having been recently spoiled by the Focal Utopia and HiFiMan Susvara, the main thing I might ask for in the Aeon, as well as the other MrSpeakers headphones would be more dynamics and depth of soundstage. But something I don’t need to ask for is the ability to drive the Aeon out of pretty much anything, as, despite its specifications, it will work fine out of everything from a phone up to high-end amps.
Given its robust design, tossing it a bag with something like Chord’s Mojo or Hugo 2 would make for serious transportable audio pleasure. For some, this would be good enough for an entire headphone listening system. For home use, pick your favourite gear from Audio-gd, Schiit Audio, Chord or iFi to give some examples, and you’d be set.
While it may not be the greatest with any particular genre of music, the flexibility, both in music and gear that it’s possible to use the Aeon, makes it a great pair of headphones and an easy recommendation.
Thanks to Emilai Japan for lending me the headphones.