The headphone engineers at MrSpeakers have hit some home runs with their modest line of high-end audiophile headphones in the past and now headphone fanatics are eager with anticipation to get their hands on their latest creation… the MrSpeakers AEON Flow closed-back headphone. This interestingly shaped headphone has the attention of audiophiles worldwide because it’s a planar magnetic headphone that promises comfort and low impedance for under $800. But the big looming questions remain. How does the AEON Flow sound? And is this headphone worth the money? I’m about to run it through some serious tests and find out.
IN THE BOX
The MrSpeakers AEON Flow comes in a handsome black box with a very familiar looking case inside. The carrying case has the trademark MrSpeakers aesthetic and the heavy duty cable is designed with audiophiles in mind. The cable uses the split (or Y) design which brings the audio to each earphone at the same time. You get an optional 1/4″ (6.3mm) connector that screws on/off and the 1/8″ (3.5mm) connector underneath feels nice and sturdy. You’ll also get a certificate of authenticity, quick start guide and 2 filters designed to be inserted inside the ear pads for a boost in the upper bass. Overall it’s everything you want in a nice headphone.
Checking out the design of the MrSpeakers AEON Flow headphone, the first thing I notice is the handsome blue/black color scheme and the ergonomic ear cups. The dark blue trim adorning the outside of the headphone is truly one of my favorite colors and the black diamond-shaped ridges add a nice touch to the sleek look of this headphone. The ear-shaped ear cups are a brilliant idea. I’m a big fan of the Sennheiser 500 Series headphones for the shape of their ear cups and the AEON Flow headphone is an even more trimmed down version of this concept.
The headband initially had me concerned as it reminds me of some other headphones that I don’t like but as it turns out this leather band holds in place quite well. Headbands can be a total buzzkill for me especially if they dig in or don’t sit right. The AEON Flow headband is perfect. It has plenty of surface area and the size adjusters work without slipping out of place.
The 4-pin headphone plugs on the AEON Flow gave me a little trouble at first. There’s a special socket that only fits one way for each side which was difficult to line-up. But thanks to the AEON Flow quick start guide I discovered it’s much easier than I thought. By simply pressing the plug to the connector and slowly twisting you’ll find it slides and locks properly into place. It’s a really nice “no headache” headphone wire design.
The comfortable fit of the MrSpeakers AEON Flow headphone is simply something you have to experience. I’ve tried on more headphones than I can possibly count and there have been very few with such a nice fit. The ear pads sit gently over the ears and the leather headband keeps it all in place with grace and ease. And although this is a planar magnetic headphone I’m shocked at how light it is. This just adds to the incredible comfort of this already well designed headphone. So far I like what I see and feel.
HOW DOES IT SOUND?
If you flat out asked me how the MrSpeakers AEON Flow headphone sounds I’d be obliged to tell you “It’s complicated”. First of all MrSpeakers doesn’t like posting specs because it tends to give listeners a preconceived idea of how this headphone will sound without actually listening to it. I understand that and I think for the most part they’re right. The frequency range specification on the MrSpeakers website for the AEON Flow is “Yes”. I have a lot of respect for that because these guys have a real sense of humor and they also don’t want you judging their headphone before you hear it. But they’ve also put a peculiarly low number in the specs for impedance. According to MrSpeakers this headphone has a whopping 13 Ohms of resistance. This clearly proves their point because now I expect this headphone to be louder than most headphones but it’s quite the opposite. Well played MrSpeakers.
If you look at all the product photos of the AEON Flow closed-back headphone on the MrSpeakers website you’ll notice it’s often pictured with an amplifier. Take this subtle hint and don’t bother trying to use the AEON Flow headphone without a proper amplifier. Personally I recommend an amp capable of handling at least 300 Ohms. I also highly recommend an amplifier capable of warming up the sound a little like a tube amp and and equalizer or bass boost option will also come in handy. After trying many amplifier options myself I ended up using a HiFiman EF 100 tube amplifier and then an iFi iDSD Black Label amplifier. I’ll explain why next.
Using the AEON Flow without any EQ I found this headphone to be balanced, possibly even dialed back a bit, in the low bass frequencies. This is good. It’s like the audiophile Holy Grail in fact because having too much bass in your headphone can be disastrous. Adding bass to your headphone mix via EQ is always easier and better for your overall sound than trying to EQ it out. The circuitry in the iFi iDSD Black Label did an excellent job of warming up the sound in the AEON Flow and the trademark XBass switch in the iFi Black Label was a nice edition to the mix if I wanted some extra push. The foam inserts provided by MrSpeakers in the package were the icing on the audio cake.
The mid frequencies on headphones are often a point of contention for audiophiles. Some listeners want more and others find that it can be too harsh if it’s boosted too much. The MrSpeakers AEON Flow headphone has a pleasing frequency response in the mid-range. I found vocals, guitars and other mid-range instruments to be very clear. The pleasing part is the AEON Flow seems to have an almost analog effect in the mid range. Add the warming effect of a tube amplifier or the circuitry of the iFi iDSD and it’s a match made in audiophile heaven.
I imagine best part about not publishing your specs is getting to read what reviewers are guessing is the top end of the frequency range. The problem is you can have a frequency range of up to 100kHz like the Sony MDR-1a but it’s likely got some sort of roll-off eq or attenuation. Plus a majority of digital recordings still don’t accurately capture frequencies that high anyway. So the best I could do is take some of my favorite tracks in .WAV format (directly from CD’s) and give the AEON Flow closed-back headphone a serious listen. I tried this with and without the inserts and found incredible results with them in. I won’t speculate what the frequency range is on the AEON Flow headphone but I will say that I tried them aside the Audio Technica ATH-MSR7. I know the MSR7 claims to top off at 40kHz and the AEON Flow spared no presence in the high frequencies against it. I did find however that I liked the sound signature of the AEON much better. The Mr Speakers AEON Flow managed to have the same “warm” effect in the high-end that it did in the mids.
After digging in for hours with the MrSpeakers AEON Flow closed-back headphone I found it to be a surprisingly comfortable and sonically flexible headphone. It’s priced at just under $800 and it’s definitely worth the money if you’ve got it. If you want a straight-up flat sound signature with dialed-back bass… you got it. If you want to boost the bass in your equalizer and push the SPL hard with some ground shaking rock’n’roll… you got it. The only thing you need to do is find the right amplifier. I call it the “Hidden Planar Magnetic Sound”. For me the iFi iDSD Black Label made the AEON Flow hit that sweet spot. If you’re going for a more portable setup on a budget, the Audioquest Dragonfly Red will work.
I’m certain that audiophiles are going to be falling all over themselves to lay down an opinion on the frequency range and impedance of the MrSpeakers AEON Flow but the reality is it’s got a lot to offer. It’s a clean and balanced sounding headphone but take my advice on an amp and EQ. You’ll find that it’s a very cool planar magnetic headphone that works with many types of music and audio file formats.