This article first appeared in the January 2018 issue of HWM.
MrSpeakers is a boutique headphone manufacturer based in San Diego, California. The company’s founder, Dan Clark, got his start in the headphone business by modifying the extremely popular and inexpensive Fostex T50RP headphones. His modded Fostex headphones were so popular that he soon had the funds required to develop his own headphone from the ground up. The result of this was the Ether headphones, which were available in closed and open-back versions.
The Ether headphones were universally well received, but they were also prohibitively expensive, costing just under S$2,800. To ensure that they can sell to a bigger audience, MrSpeakers has just released a more affordable version of the Ether headphones called the Aeon Flow. The Aeon Flow is available in closed and open-back versions too and they incorporate a lot of the same technologies found in the more expensive Ether headphones.
For a start, the Aeon Flow headphones use MrSpeakers’ V-Planar driver technology, which uses a knurled diaphragm that gives it a couple of advantages over standard diaphragms. According to MrSpeakers, its V-Planar technology delivers better dynamics, higher frequency response, and measurably lower distortion.
In addition, the Aeon Flow headphones also incorporate MrSpeakers’ TrueFlow waveguides. These waveguides reduce turbulence within the driver and allow sound to “flow” more smoothly to the listener’s ears - hence the name TrueFlow. The inspiration of these waveguides came from Clark’s experience in developing electrostatic headphones.
The Aeon Flow headphones are quite unusual looking because of their teardrop or kidney shape. The closed-back version of the Aeon Flow has carbon fiber ear cups, whereas the open version has an attractive honeycomb grille. I’m not entirely fond of the design, but I take solace in the fact that I can’t see them if I’m wearing them on my head.
Speaking of which, the Aeon Flow headphones are immensely comfortable to wear. A large part of this is down to the weight, or rather the lack of it. At under 350g, both the closed and open-back versions of the Aeon Flow headphones are remarkably light. Also adding to the comfort are the high-quality synthetic leather ear pads that are filled with plush memory foam. The final piece of the comfort puzzle is the NiTinol “memory metal” headband, which is super flexible and twists easily such that the ear cups will comfortably accommodate heads of any shapes and sizes. Truly, the Aeon Flows are some of the most comfortable headphones you will ever wear.
Although the overall sound signature of the closed and open Aeon Flow headphones can best be described as neutral, there are actually significant differences in their presentation. The closed-back version of the Aeon Flow is more polite and laid back. Bass response is tight and well balanced and doesn’t muddy the mids. The midrange, in turn, is very liquid and balanced, which gives vocals a great presence. The highs are well-judged and were sparkly enough without ever being too overbearing. Resolution is also very good, giving vocals and instruments great detail and texture. On the flip side, I do wish that the closed-back version of the Aeon Flow slam a bit harder in the bass department as it has the tendency to sound a little unexciting at times because of its neutrality.
The open-backed version of the Aeon Flow is, to my ears, more engaging and dynamic. A contributing factor to this is that the open version of the Aeon Flow has a considerably stronger bass response. This makes it sound more punchy especially when listening to contemporary music. Still, despite the stronger bass response, it remains fairly tight and clean, and only blooms very slightly into the mids. The mids and highs on the open-backed version also sound noticeably veiled. Also, despite the open design, the open-backed Aeon Flow doesn’t really have as expansive a soundstage as I was expecting. Nevertheless, the open-backed Aeon Flow has a warmer sound overall, which I find to be more entertaining and pleasurable.
Users can also subtly alter the signature of the open-backed Aeon Flow by swapping the interchangeable filters that it comes with. I find the default filter most pleasing, but users can make the headphones sound brighter by removing the filters altogether or by using the thicker filters to dampen the highs further.
All in all, the closed and open Aeon Flow are excellent headphones for the money, offering superlative comfort and performance that is quite close to that of MrSpeakers’ much more expensive flagship Ether headphones but at a more accessible price of S$1,099. That's less than half the price of the flagship Ether Flow and Ether C Flow headphones. If you are looking to dip your feet into the world of high-end audio, the Aeon Flow from MrSpeakers is a good place to start.