Ether

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NO SMOOTHING is applied to the shown plots. Most measurement sites have some smoothing applied which ‘irons flat’ sharp peaks and ‘wiggles’. I do not use smoothing because some info about sound quality is lost when plots are smoothed.

Aside from a small correction of the microphone itself also some correction in the lowest frequencies is applied to the plots to compensate for the perceived loss of bass when using headphones. This is described HERE in more detail.
A ‘horizontal‘ frequency response curve on the shown frequency response plots on this website thus indicates a perceived ‘flat’ tonal signature.

ALL measurements are made with a good SEAL on a flatbed measurement rig.
The shape of your head, bone structure, pad size, pad ‘softness,  (compliance), hair or no hair and or wearing glasses may (drastically) change the frequency response of some headphones, so… your personal experience may differ substantially from these plots.

Frequency response (tonal balance) is the most sound-determining aspect of headphones. A horizontal line shows audible neutral response in the plots on this website. Deviations in different severities at different frequency bands have an effect on the sound character.
The bigger the deviation the stronger the effect.

Below an aid to help determining the sound character of headphones with relation to the frequency response.

sound descriptions mine

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MrSpeakers Ether
Ether

The MrSpeakers Ether is an open orthodynamic over-ear headphone intended to be driven directly from desktop equipment. The low impedance, however, also makes it suitable to drive it directly from portable equipment.
It retails for around $ 1500.- which is quite expensive.
For this you do get a modern looking relatively light-weight and very comfortable headphone. The headband may look flimsy but actually it is not. The pads are made of really soft lamb leather and feel pleasant. Comfort is very high.
Isolation from outside noises is of course not there as it is an open headphone. Others can hear quite well what you are playing.
Not all portable equipment may be fully capable of driving this headphone to louder levels.

specifications:

Type: Over ear, closed
Usage: Home, studio
Driver type: orthodynamic
Pads: replaceable, lamb leather
Inner Pad dimensions: depth = 19mm, height = 60mm, width = 35mm
Collapsible: No
Headphone connector: Hirose 4-pin connector
Cable entry: double sided
Cable: 1.8m replaceable,  various options when ordering.
Driver size: 70mm x 45mm
Nom. power rating: unknown (assumed 1W)
Max. voltage: 5V (assumed 1W)
Max. current: 200mA (0.2A) (assumed 1W)
Max. S.P.L.  126dB (assumed 1W)
Impedance: 23 Ω
Efficiency: 96 dB/1mW  (112dB/1V)
Weight: 370 g.
Clamping force: low/medium
Accessories: cable,  clamshell travel case, soft pouch

Sound description:

The bass … higher bass notes sound good but the lower the bass notes become the more they ‘blend’ into a ‘one note’ bass and are harder to distinguish.
Following a nice bass line is a bit ‘difficult’ with the ETHER.
The bass seems to ‘resonate’ at a for me not pleasant ‘tone’ and bass notes around it can be ‘heard’ but mainly because you hear the overtones of the ‘pluck’ or ‘hit’ that tell you … this must have been another note. The ‘basis’ note that follows is low but always seems to sound ‘the same’.

Mids and treble sound excellent. No emphasis and no gaps or dips are heard.
Neutral BUT also a bit Ethereal/fragile and somewhat lacking in ‘body’.

measurements:

Below the frequency response of the Ether (Left, Right)

FR Ether.png

The frequency response shows a slightly warmish tonal response from 200Hz till 7kHz. Bass as well as sub-bas is there and of high quality albeit a bit on the thin side.
The treble does sound detailed and ‘smooth’ and is not lacking ‘air’ and certainly does not sound rolled-off or limited. Treble extension is only up to 18kHz and drops of quickly above that point. Pointless to play files with ultrasonic content on this headphone as it simply cannot reproduce it.
The lack of treble extension is absolutely not audible though. The treble is detailed and airy…. It has a slight ethereal character to it. And don’t worry… hires will still sound hires. The channel balance is excellent.

How the Ether Flow differs from the original Ether is shown below.

Ether vs Ether Flow open

The Ether Flow is (just slightly) less ‘forward’ sounding but is a bit brighter in the treble.
What one prefers is a personal thing. To my ears the Ether is just a hair ‘better’

Loss of seal with closed headphones usually means a substantial loss of bass. With open headphones like the Ether this is less of an issue.
Below the effect when used with thick arm glasses versus a perfect seal.

Ether seal loss

As can be seen seal is important to subbass. Bass levels are already a bit on the low side and a loss of seal lowers bass around 32Hz by 2dB. Bass notes don’t really suffer but 1 octave lower there is a 11dB drop. In the majority of recordings this won’t be audible though.

output resistance / damping-factor

As this is an orthodynamic headphone its impedance is as good as ruler flat so a higher output resistance amplifier will have no consequences for the frequency response/tonal balance/damping. So… no plots as it shows no differences att all.

 

Below the distortion measurements of the Ether (Right channel).

Note that this headphone was measured at ears-unlimited-logo where background noises were present in the demo room. As this is an open headphone the distortion levels and spectrum plot performance may thus be better in reality than as shown on the plots due to ambient sounds being measured along with the headphone.Please ignore the spikes around 50Hz and 100Hz. These are actually mains hum present in the portable measurement set-up.
The distortion levels are low. Below 0.5% in the lows is very good.  The peaks around 150Hz are caused by ambient sounds during the measurement.
The 2nd harmonic distortion is most likely lower than the 0.2% shown in the plots. This is due to the limits of the measurement rig which is being reached.

Dist Ether R

Below the distortion plot but displayed in percentages.

Dist Ether R percent

Distortion is impressively low ! No comments here, flagship quality.

The actual 2nd harmonic distortion above 100Hz may well be lower than 0.2% and above 2kHz even be lower than 0.1%. A shortcoming of my measurement rig.

Below the CSD of the Ether. (Left and Right are superimposed)

CSD Ether

For a planar headphone the CSD is quite good above 3kHz !
Below 3kHz the membrane does not appear to be equally well damped.
Possibly because of the way the driver membrane is made (my assumption).

Below the spectrum plot of the Ether (Right channel) .

Spectr Ether L

It shows some lingering below 2kHz as is also seen in the CSD above.

The step response (Right channel) below shows the sub-bass extension is not great but still extended just not at the same level as the Ether C.

step Ether
The higher frequency resonances directly after the initial rise are short lived and decent in amplitude.
Impulse response is almost at the proper level (-4dB) and shows excellent qualities with an emphasis in the mids.

summary

Fit and finish, comfort, weight (for an ortho) and build quality are excellent, but is the least we can expect at this price.
The Ether looks great and is very, very comfortable. The red rings may not be everyone’s preference. I think it is a nice change from the black or wood seen in most other headphones.
The sound signature is ‘clean’ and ‘ethereal’. Bass extends deep but is slightly on the lean side. Treble is smooth, realistic and present. Not splashy nor sibilant at all and very detailed but. This gives it a highly detailed impression.

An excellent sounding open headphone.
A cheaper alternative for this headphone is the much cheaper ÆON closed.
Build quality and craftsmanship is higher on the Ether of coarse.

There is quite some competition in this price class but the Ether Open certainly is a very good option.

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