MrSpeakers Ether 2 overview: true high-resolution headphones

There’s a black-and-gold Hello-Res Audio sticker that you just’ll absolutely have seen many occasions by now. It typically exhibits up on the bins of low cost headphones as a result of producers need to give their merchandise an additional sheen of efficiency claims. Licensed by the Japan Audio Society, the Hello-Res Audio standing is bestowed upon headphones and audio gamers that cross a technical take a look at. In my expertise, it has little to no correlation with devices that produce sound you’ll be able to acknowledge as having excessive decision. Hell, what does that even imply within the audio context?

Properly, MrSpeakers’ newest top-of-the-line headphones, the Ether 2, have given me a useful alternative to clarify the notion of high-resolution (or high-definition) sound and why, regardless of many firms abusing the time period, it’s not mere advertising and marketing communicate. True high-res audio is an instance of the factor that draws us to observe the progress of non-public know-how: turning technical and engineering advances right into a pleasurable expertise. It doesn’t come low cost, and also you’ll should swallow exhausting to recover from the $1,999.99 asking value, however after weeks of testing these headphones, I can let you know with certainty that they ship one thing you gained’t get anyplace else.


Verge Rating

Good Stuff

  • Clean, correct sound with out a trace of harshness
  • Reveals essentially the most intricate of sonic particulars
  • Lightest headphones of their class

Unhealthy Stuff

  • You’ll want a beefy amplifier to get pleasure from them at their finest
  • Will expose the entire ugly bits in your favourite music

Most of us are used to considering of decision in relation to TVs and shows, and we choose it by reference to pixel density: smaller, extra quite a few pixels have a tendency to provide the sharpest potential image. Audio decision doesn’t fairly work the identical method as a result of there’s no “nonetheless” piece of audio; it’s all temporal. That’s why impulse response turns into paramount with sound copy: how briskly does a headphone’s inner speaker or diaphragm return to a standstill after making a sound? All headphones have a measure of further, undesirable ringing after enjoying a notice (as a result of physics), and the perfect ones exhibit their excellence by controlling that as a lot as potential.

Right here’s why I discover the MrSpeakers Ether 2s distinctive on this entrance. Their decision is so rattling exemplary that I initially thought they’d a fault. Listening to music with them, I’d hear peculiar buzzing noises and ringing and imperfections that appeared to be lacking from different headphones. I attempted utilizing a special cable (MrSpeakers is sweet about utilizing the identical connector throughout all of its headphone fashions thus far) and totally different sound sources, and people little flaws and resonances have been nonetheless there. Finally, I took the pair to Dan Clark, the titular MrSpeakers, who’s the designer, engineer, chief marketer, and CEO of the corporate. Clark plugged them into his workplace setup, listened to the offending tracks, then flipped the left and proper channels by plugging the cables into the “improper” ear cup, and, certain sufficient, I heard the issues within the music change sides.

Merely put, the Ether 2s do such a clear job of reproducing the artist’s intentional musical creation that they go away air and time for a few of the crap within the background to be heard as properly. I wrestle to imagine I’m saying this, however they accomplish that even higher than Sennheiser’s HD 800 S, which have lengthy been regarded (together with by me) as the top of extremely resolving, infinitely detailed headphones. So sure, I’m impressed, however MrSpeakers is charging greater than Sennheiser does for its flagship open-back cans, so being higher ought to in all probability be a baseline expectation reasonably than a shock.

Apart from being fantastically agile, the Ether 2s are additionally tuned with an knowledgeable ear. Neither their bass nor treble overwhelms every other a part of the music, which works a great distance towards exposing all the things {that a} sure recording has to supply the listener. They nonetheless have the deep bass extension required to totally re-create an album like Quarter Turns Over A Residing Line by Raime, which is launched by a label referred to as Blackest Ever Black and is even darker in its tones than “The Lengthy Evening” Sport of Thrones episode. In order for you a sampling of various bass textures, haunting vocals, and sparse instrumentation, I like to recommend it. The Ether 2s convey all of the unease that that recording is meant to evoke.

Ludwig Goransson’s Oscar-winning Black Panther soundtrack has been certainly one of my favourite albums recently, and it’s a type of information that the majority advantages from a high-end pair of headphones. It simply has a lot happening: contrasting sections of downbeat percussion, rousing orchestral moments, and vocals darting forwards and backwards. You possibly can hear it utilizing any previous pair of headphones, however the Ethers 2s and Audeze’s LCD-4zs are the one headphones that at all times make the hair on the again of my neck arise when listening. That’s what audiophilia is finally about: do you get a thrill, a jolt, a second of bliss, or an escape out of your on a regular basis issues? With the Ether 2s, the reply is a dependable sure.

The thrill of the Ether 2s prolong to how they’re constructed in addition to how they sound. Weighing 290 grams / 10 ounces, these are unprecedented within the extremely high-end headphones market. Most headphone firms really feel the necessity to provide you with a variety of materials in your huge outlay of money, with such monsters because the Ultimate Audio D8000 coming to thoughts. The Ether 2s are virtually as mild because the superb Audio-Technica R70x, they usually have a equally slimline profile. These are headphones with 1000’s of {dollars}’ price of efficiency within the form of one thing informal and lithe. The supplies stay excessive finish, although, with a steel body across the ear cups, a carbon fiber driver baffle, and the identical nitinol headband that may be twisted and turned in all kinds of the way and can nonetheless keep in mind its authentic form. As to creaks, there are actually none. Zero.

I can go a complete day with the Ether 2s on my head with out fear or discomfort. The pads are pretty, smooth, and enveloping, and the webbed leather-based strap on the prime is mild sufficient to be forgettable. “Forgettable,” in accordance with Clark, was a design objective for these headphones, and the sheer minimalism of their last type speaks to that as a precedence. The Ether 2s have the perfect design of any high-end headphones I’ve but examined (and I’ve had virtually all of them on my head, in some unspecified time in the future or one other). MrSpeakers has achieved a degree of consolation and construct high quality that basically speaks to the posh value of the product. And as common for the corporate, there’s a contoured carrying case for storing and transporting the Ether 2s.

Acutely aware that this has been largely a slalom by way of positives, let me tackle the few downsides of the Ether 2 immediately. First, you’ll completely want a strong amp to get essentially the most out of those cans. MrSpeakers’ planar magnetic know-how has been bettering, nevertheless it nonetheless requires loads of energy to attain its full potential. I’ve been utilizing the Ether 2s primarily with a Schiit Jotunheim, which is nearly sufficient, however these headphones have huge reserves of headroom to scale up with beefier elements. In brief: in the event you purchase the Ether 2s, you’re committing to additionally buying a music supply system that’s of comparable value. Like a flowery automotive with a fats insurance coverage invoice, this can be a luxurious merchandise that requires further expenditure past its sticker value.

Equally essential is the problem of whether or not you truly need all that decision. A few of my favourite artists are younger bed room producers, individuals who make music with headphones that hardly value $200, by no means thoughts $2,000. The Ether 2s don’t do their creations many favors, and there’s loads of pop and digital and hip-hop music that, I’m sorry to say, advantages from the smearing results of extra distorted headphones. In the identical method that you just won’t desire a 4K, 50-inch closeup of an growing older actor’s face, it could be the case that you just gained’t a lot get pleasure from listening to most fashionable, dynamically compressed music. On the similar time, that 4K TV is fairly nice to have for nature documentaries, and the Ether 2s are equally excellent whenever you put some well-recorded acoustic or classical music by way of them.

The MrSpeakers Ether 2 are easy. They’re priced like a luxurious product they usually work like a real luxurious product. It’s as much as you determine precisely how a lot you need to spend on a system of electrified magnets that drives a diaphragm to feed vibrations into your eardrum, that are then interpreted into little packets of euphoria and despatched as much as your mind. All I can say is that the Ether 2s are an excellent a type of.

Images by Vlad Savov / The Verge

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