When I speak about meeting Dan Clark of MrSpeakers I often talk about buying his original Mad Dog headphones without even listening to em! I was at one of our Los Angeles Head-Fi Meets a couple years ago, and my friend Jude Mansilla (Founder of Head-Fi.org) went to his booth and bought a pair. All I needed to hear was that the MD were a pair of closed-back planar magnetic headphones - and since Jude bought em on the spot, I figured they were good. Well, Jude was on as usual. Not only did Dan Clark give me a wonderful gift: The planar magnetic headphones experience without bothering others around me - they're also a damn good pair a' cans! I still love em - and rock em often, especially with electronic music. Love dat' BASS! Then the Audeze LCD-XC came along, and those became my favorite/reference closed-back planar cans. The XC had a soundstage that sounded far deeper and wider than any closed headphone had any right to! Maybe it was their new Fazor technology, who knows. The XC sounded bigger, it had way more air, and it was more engrossing than the MD to my ears. Now, I also love my MrSpeakers Alpha Prime: The first headphone Dan introduced with his own laser-printed ear-cups and a further modified driver (both the Mad Dog and Alpha Primes were built around a Fostex T50RP). Dan made his name modifying T50RPs. That was the origin of MrSpeakers.
However, once I spent a bunch of time listening with the Alpha Primes, I started to realize something: I wanted to hear a pair of headphones that Dan built himself from the ground up. Why would such a thought occur to me? To be honest: I never liked Fostex T50RPs. We've all got our own tastes and biases, and that models sound never grabbed me. But, whatever Dan did with them, he not only made them tolerable - his modified versions are a blast to listen to! So, I figured, if he could squeeze that much musicality out of those things - I thought damn, I bet he could design and build a killer pair of headphones if he was freed from that particular models physical and sonic shackles. Mr. Clark must've been thinking the same thing about his own headphone wizardry, because here we are: Only a couple years after my first MrSpeakers experience (the Mad Dog - a modded Fostex T50RP) and I'm rockin' this SICK pair of planar-magnetic headphones designed from the ground-up by Mr. Clark and his small dedicated crew at MrSpeakers Ether, is an absolutely stunning sonic achievement. But that's not all - Ether sports a fresh, modern aesthetic and weighs in around 370 grams (I forget actual weight, BUT DAN CAN CORRECT THAT HERE :-) so while it sounds insanely dynamic and engaging, the headphone itself is so damn light it's a genuine pleasure to wear. Big sound, planar-dynamic drivers, a comfort strap (which I love: The strap is affixed to the headband, with attachments that slide, so you can adjust the headband for a perfect, snug ft. As I already mentioned above: It's also got a sexy design (oh shit - I said it, I equated audio equipment with "sexy"). I may have a problem, but that's for another Sonic Satori column. In the meantime: They say a picture is worth what? Well, here's why I managed to conjure the word sexy when describing Ether:
Now that, to me, looks tough, sophisticated, modern (and contemporary) and just downright fuckin' cool. The greatest thing about it however, is the way it reproduces MUSIC... Almost any decent engineer (even a lowly mix engineer like myself) will tell you planar magnetic speakers are mostly about SPEED. And, like the Audeze LCD-3 with it's ground-breaking LOTUS diaphragm before it - ETHER is a master of speed when it comes to immediacy and transient attack. MrSpeakers has achieved a grand accomplishment in ETHER. Further thoughts coming - but I feel obligated to admit right now: ETHER have become my new all-around Reference headphone. This is a TEASE, thus far, and you have my utmost apologies for that - but, I'm on the road (as stated below)! I will cap my thoughts on ETHER here for now: ETHER has become my Ultimate Reference for recording studio use, and for my listening pleasure. Audeze's LCD-X still has a spot there too - because of various lower-midrange stuff it does that I love - but ETHERs lightweight, and sheer window-like transparency has, IMHO, ascended MrSpeakers to designers and builders of the true high end headphones level. For me, since I got my review sample (only difference is my pairs still have ear-pads that swivel - more commentary on that comin' - hopefully by Mr. Dan Clark himself) - ETHER is the headphone I reach for when I need a meditative music experience...
still doin' my OccupyHifi On-The-Road thang!!
BUT: DID U CATCH HOW WERE GONNA MONETIZE HERE AT OCCUPYHIFI??? YOU, THE READERS WILL HAVE ALL THE POWER!!!