MrSpeakers Ether Mods

Discussion in 'Modifications and Tweaks' started by Maxx134, Jan 13, 2016.

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Does stock Ether sound "open" enough?

  1. Yes

    9 vote(s)
    56.3%
  2. Not really

    5 vote(s)
    31.3%
  3. Nope

    2 vote(s)
    12.5%
  1. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Friend

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    Hello everyone.
    I consider the Ether one of my favorite planars,
    Yet since none are perfect, there is always something to pick at !
    So I decided to try to improve upon the issues that bothered me,
    and since being successful on three Ethers so far, I will now post them here...
    Ok so here we go...
    First off ,
    Why mod the Ether?
    1- Because Dan booby-trapped it.
    2- Because we can :p
    Even though the unit itself is booby trapped, by being glued together inside, we don't need to access the rear driver or insides anyways...
    The body itself is highy rigid and built very solid, so however Dan tuned it, I trust it is optimal by the sheer amount of resolution I hear.
    To have details coming out of a planar (and not loosing them out the rear or sounding distant) requires good design and/or proper damping behind the driver.
    So I doubt Ether ever needs mods in the rear (like HE560).
    The issues to deal with are actually on the front side, so this can be adressed. ..
    Namely, the material choice (and lack of ), that is used around the front driver's four sides...
    It is a black self-adhesive foam material.
    In the early photos, it had more, all around the four sides...(a clue)
    *pic*
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    In later units like mine, it has only foam on top and bottom of driver sides..
    *pic*
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    This black foam material is NEEDED to preserve the bass coupling, from driver to ear.
    The problem with this material, is that it also imparts a sense of added proximity and unfocused bouncy bass.
    For an example of , If you compare the Ether bass to an LCD or HE6,
    you would notice that both LCD and HE6 are able to hit/slam at stronger/harder/higher level without saturation or bloom/bump.
    The Ether bass, on the other hand, seems to feel bouncy or saturated, for lack of better description.
    In this mod, we aim to correct these issues of proximity and also lack of bass focus from inner side reflections..
    OK, so onto the mods..
    We will break this into THREE PARTS.
    The individual improvements with each step are subtle but verified and very important.
    So for full effect, all three parts are recommended and advised.
    Step One:
    1-tiny side pieces mod..
    Step Two:
    2- slim side strips mod added over.
    Step Three:
    3-Top & bottom foam replacement mod (maximum soundstage)..

    This is adhesive felt material used:
    *pic*
    [​IMG][​IMG]


    Step One:
    Highlighted in red felt, we see the pieces used for the sides:
    *pic*
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Step Two:
    Then adding another layer, clarifies soundstage further:
    *pic*
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Finish next side.
    [​IMG]


    Step Three:
    Then replacement of top and bottom pieces with four layers of felt material cut same shape, for maximun soundstage.
    *pic*
    [​IMG]

    Primary guidelines to the mod:
    1- keeping the top and bottom materials the same height/ thickness as stock,
    so that it meets at the surface exactly like stock.
    2- do not cover driver holes at sides.
    3- use of material that will not absorb frequencies which change tonality,
    So in this case, felt is used.
    Feel free to improve upon material choice for this mod.
    I now leave it up to others who may want to try and hopefully achieve better results.
    What this mod accomplishes:
    1-Bass more textured and dynamic without proximity effect.
    2-Less overall sonic reflections around driver, giving more spacial clues clarity.
    3- Sense of satisfaction.
    :p
    Another huge benifit is that the soundstage overall improved.
    So It's more open type performance, and the bass will now hit clearer.
    I feel the Ether now gives a nice presentation and I am very satisfied with the results.
    So bottom line is that the stock unit actually can be improved upon.
    Based upon these findings,
    don't be surprised to see future Ether upgrades,
    On the same areas that we are discussing..
    haha
    Also a reminder warning, do not touch those Ether screws...at all.!
    :)
     

  2. Colgin

    Colgin Friend

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    Wow, you are on a roll with the mods today, between this and the PM-2 post. Epic.
     
  3. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Friend

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    Yeah well I see this site as the premier site for headphone mods,
    And since nobody nearby me does it,
    so I feel this is a better place for me to post .
    :)
     
  4. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Friend

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    It is my firm belief that the Ether is not open enough and could have been made to sound much more larger.

    As of now, they sound too magnified.
    The driver sounds clearly superior to the HiFiMan HE560 and HEX,
    but does not seem to be optimize to have a grand soundstage.

    The mods only help partially,
    but I still feel the Ether have too much mid bass and midrange over the rest of the spectrum, and the driver opening should have been more flush instead of how it presently is.
    Otherwise it still is one of my favorite cans..
     
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  5. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Friend

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    Although the Ether is just fine where it is tuned, I
    have a suspicion that I will have a larger presentation with some AlphaPads, so will update later..
    :)
     
  6. Audio Zenith

    Audio Zenith Friend

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    This is a great journey you are taking, but better understanding of acoustics within the coupler may still help. You recommend: "the use of material that will not absorb frequencies which change tonality" and prefer using felt. The thing is felt as well as the original material used in Ether both absorb frequencies, only different ones. Both materials also reflect different frequencies and that is mainly why you might hear changes in sound quality of your mod vs original. Basically you are damping some reflective surfaces within the coupler which is generally a good thing especially when it doesn't change shape of the wavefront. In case of your mod though it most likely is changed, for good or for bad I don't know but it would actually be nice to see FR.

    ps. We all want our ideas to really work and that is why a simple measurement rig can help us stay in good contact with reality. Some can "move mountains", the direction is what matters. Please set up a measurement rig, I know you can ;).
     
  7. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Friend

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    I agree and wonder why the driver was not designed flush so it would not have those reflective surfaces...

    It may be inevitable to setup a measurement rig.
    Yet I recently aquired the Code-X which may supplant my Ether so not sure how long I have.
    But you strike a great point about the materials. .
    I would have liked a better material on the sides,
    But whatever I tried altered the trebles so I haven't been able to find better for that area..
     
  8. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Friend

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    My metholody was to mod one cup at a time, then only keep improvements compared to other side,
    Then take final results to a second set of Ether,
    Then have two Ether owners rate and they both kept the changes. .
    :)
     
  9. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Friend

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    Ok Ill try setup a rig, since you say so!
    ;)


    Woops I just realized there was misunderstanding in my description of chosen materials sound characteristics.
    I was speaking in general, so yes I also picked the felt for its absorbtion properties on the sides.

    What I meant by saying " transparent" , was that the placement of the material in that location (top&bottom) was the most transparent usage, which is what we needed.
    It's primary function is not intended as a pass thru or absorber in that location.

    It main job is being superior to stock foam, in minimizing reflections and preserving bass coupling.
    I encourage all to find better materials.

    Also,
    While the side mod was preferred by me and another Ether owner,
    My Russian friend (who you may remember) kept his Ether without the side materials.

    He has what I would call above normal hearing.
    He explanation was that he liked the punch that Ether gave without any materials on sides.
    That was his preference, and I can agree on this,
    but I preferred more focus/accuracy over bass punch.

    Another point is that he was going to sell his Ether for an Ether C,
    but once he had the mod in, he quickly closed his classified and said , "that's it!"..

    I always consider my friends opinions to validate a mod,
    Especially when they have same unit.

    Yet my goal is still to have Ether with a touch larger soundstage,
    so I will be trying the AlphaPads and Audeze pads on Ether this week.
    :)
     
  10. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Friend

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    Update on testing pads for Ether:

    Tested on:
    1-stock pads.
    2-alpha dog pads.
    3-Audeze LCD 2 leather pads.

    Results :

    1- stock pads overall sounded gerlnerally:
    congested.
    forward.
    aggressive.
    dynamic.
    A bit confusing.
    Overall magnified.
    Font row presentation.


    Next up, AlphaPads :
    [​IMG]

    2- AlphaPads overall sounded:
    created a vague distance
    Lack of bass and punch (!)
    Lack of trebles
    Lack of detailing and depth.

    Overall presentation has lack of cues to have actual placement of where listening point is.
    I was very surprised and very disappointed with AlphaPads because of this..



    3-Lastly, Audeze LCD2 pads:
    [​IMG]

    What a revelation!
    This was what I was looking for..
    Soundstage layering more articulated.
    Sounstage congestion eliminated.
    Agressiveness now balanced.
    Magnified fatigue sound eliminated.
    No decrease in trebles.
    No loss of details.
    More coherent presentation.
    No loss of bass.
    Bass no longer congested.
    Bass punch less condense and more expressive, so more realistic.
    No bass saturarion.
    Overall presentation about 3rd row...

    Looks like I'm going to have use LCD pads on my Ether.
    [​IMG]
    Audeze pads pictured on left has greater opening than AlphaPads on right, which are same dimensions inside as stock pads ..

    The overall sound is smooth and refined with more expresive sonic placement/cues.
    Overall tonality seem same.
    So this will be the last completion part of my mod,
    But need to try the non leather pads last..
    :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2016
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  11. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    I'll give these mods a try when I get back from Seattle.

    I happen to have Ether sample #2 on hand. No, this time around, Ravi did not buy them for the express purpose of me measuring them - which last time I checked, isn't a crime, unless you are Jude.

    A member sent them to me because he thought these sounded too thin and did not agree with my assessment of Ether #1's tonal signature. I found out possible causes: lack of pad seal due to hair, head, glasses, etc.

    No, we don't hate Dan here.
     
  12. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Friend

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    Excellent news as the mod is extremely simple and can use a more experienced hand.
     
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  13. Mshenay

    Mshenay Rando

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    I was eye balling the Ether C seeing as it's got less mid bass body, and more down in teh sub base, but I might have to opt for a modded Ether, it feels wrong of me to own a stock headphone! And that felt mod looks very simple, also great to hear how the Audeze [Leather or Pleather] pads change the sound

    how would you compare the modded Ether to an HE 6
     
  14. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    The Ether is one I would be curious to hear with some mods, assuming there's anything that can give them better extension and body. I can deal with spot in the treble that is a bit emphasized (and, yes, I do mean just a bit - not bad at all), but I'm assuming that too could be tweaked.

    I'm still waiting on someone to send me an Ether for extended listening and measurements. Anyone? ;)
     
  15. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Friend

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    I have ordered and should recieve the non-leather Audeze (vegan type) pads tomorrow to test.

    It should be noted that nothing is actually wrong with stock Ether,
    as that is its targeted signature sound.

    This mod is not to take away anything from the beautiful stock Ether, but to provide an alternative sound.

    Yet I prefer and wanted a bigger more balanced sound,
    which is what I feel has been achieved.
    It is very close to Code-X in perspective now.
    I need more listening to verify.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2016
  16. velvetx

    velvetx Gear Master West/Vendor Spotlight Moderator

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    Great work man. Looking forward to hearing your findings as this is one headphone I have been interested in and now that it seems like you might have something that matches my sound signature I might have to pick this up and send it your way for modding :)
     
  17. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Friend

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    Update on the Audeze "non-leather" pads...
    Update as of 2/3/16:

    Subjective , brighter presentation due to more even tonality over mid-focussed Ether .

    Bass has different larger spaced bass over the closer "wet kiss" of bass that the leather brings.
    The sound overall is a bit wider and spacious & articulate , getting even more close to a moded hd800 we had on hand.
    Overall sound was of a slight brighter shift in tonality, with much dimensionality.
    This is with full mod (inner red felts) in place.

    I had previously preferred the leather due to it having a bit more intimate sound mids.

    But the non-leather is recommended for approaching HD800 type spaciousness.

    The leather seemed to be more sensitive to needing the middle mod in place.
    Yet the non-leather also benifitted by gaining added dimensionality.

    The main advantage of using either pad, is that the Ether sounds as if it was meant for a bigger pad.. (!)

    It should be noted that the non-leather are very soft pads, and both pads are a substantial improvement over stock pads, and AlphaPads. .

    I will post pics soon:
    [​IMG]
    They look really really nice and feel like maybe some kind of suade, not velour.
    They are the latest type as I just bought new, and I don't know much about pads, or what others may fit on Ether..
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2016
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  18. Dominus Sinister

    Dominus Sinister Rando

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    Maxx,

    I was wondering if you had a chance to try your mods with the Ether 1.1 upgrade. What was your experience? Do the upgrade and the mods play well together? What about your Audeze pad switch? How would you order the three mods in influence on sound quality?
     
  19. Maxx134

    Maxx134 Friend

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    Yes to all above.
    1.1mod eliminates almost all I found wrong with Ether problems , giving a more clear midrange.
    Probably due to dampening of whatever reflections and resonances there are...

    The downside, is that there is an annoying lack of treble presence, or "air"..

    The sound has more depth and takes on a thicker tonality like an LCD3.

    Switching back to original materials with 1.1 foam,
    Lead to more closed in messy sound.

    Switching to stock pads with 1.1foam,
    These pads give an absolute clostraphobic sound, in comparison to any other pads tried.
    Just horrid, for me...


    So how do you gain the foam depth of field clarity, without this annoying lack of air?

    I found that hifiman pads are an exact fit, and WAY superior in both clarity and openness of sound.
    Music testing with Piano sounds more real and grand over stock pads.

    I cannot stress enough the fact that the stock pads are holding back the Ether,
    Both in openness and clarity.
    It booms the sound to your ear.

    That being said, the most clear sound I achieved was using the 1.1 foam with the HiFiMan Velours,
    But bass levels dropped to BELOW neutral, and presentation became more forward with both hifiman pads..

    The pleathers worked great for best compromise of clarity and bass level.

    Both hifiman pads sound more alive than the Audeze pads which have a bit recessed midrange to make them sound more relaxed.

    I will be testing a foam that is about half the thickness of the 1.1foam.
    If results are positive, I will post.

    I have not tried the better angled hifiman pads
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2016
  20. velvetx

    velvetx Gear Master West/Vendor Spotlight Moderator

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    Interesting I will have to test these out and see for myself at CJ. Maybe HD800/S is going to be next headphone.
     

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