I recently listened to the Ether Flow 1.1, and what struck me was how fresh and memorable the sound was. There was simply no mistaking it for any other headphone. So, I was very curious to see what MrSpeakers could produce with its new flagship model, the Ether 2. Will it stay indelibly in my mind like the Ether Flow 1.1? Let’s find out in this MrSpeakers Ether 2 Headphones Review.
MrSpeakers Ether 2 Headphones Review
FIT and AESTHETICS
Minimalist, if not downright austere in its design, I’ve never encountered such a bare bones look. At 290 grams, these cans are also fequen’ light. I have a hard time figuring out how MrSpeakers fits all this technology in such skinny earcups. The fit may not feel as luxurious as other MrSpeakers models, which have plusher earpads. But its completely no-nonsense, and stays secure on the head without feeling too tight.
I don’t believe specs anymore. Neither does MrSpeakers. So, they avoid revealing the headphone’s frequency range. What they do disclose is the Ether 2’s impedance, which is at 16 Ohms (though the sensitivity is also not specified). But these planar magnetic cans are damn hard to drive. My colleagues tried to power it with the Beyerdynamic A20 amplifier, and they had a hard time getting enough juice. So, I decided not to freq around and hooked it up to the iFi Pro iCan. Given that it’s a tube amp, I should mention that my review may have been slightly skewed by the warmth it produces. And you might get a tad more transparency when powering these headphones through a solid state amp. With that being said, let’s talk sound.
P.S. These cans are super portable in their hard carrying case. If you have a backpack, you’re good to go.
Overall Impressions: Controlled, tight and elegant.
The low end is unbelievably tight and contained. And while the bass is not notably powerful or impactful, I can’t call it reserved. It’s a uniquely solid feel, generous enough to quench one’s thirst for bass without compromising its entirely disciplined personality. What really impressed me was the super compact and dampened feel of kick drums. The Beatles, for example, sound fantastic on these cans because they lend themselves so well to the muffled character of Ringo’s drums. Listening to the intro of Come Together, the presentation of the bass and drums was so dense, it almost felt compressed. Indeed, this headphone is a major control freak.
A perfectly balanced and forward midrange. The low mids are given equal play here, making rock songs with heavy instrumentation sound full-bodied and expansive. And because the high mids avoid emphasis, vocals sit nicely embedded within the mix. In terms of clarity, the Ether Flow 2 could use a touch more separation in the lower-mids. Listening to Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, the guitar strums in the lower midrange could have been a little cleaner. But once the guitar picks reach the higher frequencies, the Ether 2 conveyed an uncontaminated, and once again, very steady sound. Listening to cellos, these cans presented lots of fluidity, favoring smoothness over texture. But with intricate instrumental arrangements, each musical element felt chiseled and resolute.
Part of me wants to tell the Ether 2 to relax a little. But it’s like sharply dressed New Yorker with perfectly groomed hair. You want to ask him to loosen his tie, but you know you’d be disappointed if you saw him in sweatpants. Meticulous, but in no way analytic or sterile, it’s a reserved richness that borders on erotic.
Listening to strings in this range, the sound was perhaps less detailed than one might expect from a headphone in this price range. When comparing it to more analytical headphones, like the relatively affordable, Beyerdynamic DT 1990, it became apparent that conveying the subtleties of a violin’s timbre was not the Ether 2’s strong suit. But what it lacked in nuance, it again made up for in its smoothness and graceful continuity. It’s an easy and almost luxurious listening experience in this range.
One of my favorite things about this headphone is the soundstage. Like the Ether Flow 1.1, it presents even the most distant sounding instruments with a ton of richness and flavor. The result is a truly vibrant and stimulating sense of imaging that pops with dimension and color.
With the slight lack of transparency aside, there’s nothing I don’t like about these cans. Like a great film that refuses to exceed 90 minutes, the Ether Flow 2 leaves you wanting more. Temperate, yet rich, there’s an undeniable elegance to this headphone. These beautifully balanced cans are not only versatile, but also pretty memorable.
You can find these headphones for the best price at:
Audio 46: MrSpeakers Ether 2 Headphones (Use our promo code, “majorhifi” to get a 10% discount)