ETHER 2

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by Ice-man, Oct 3, 2018.

  1. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    Well, this is the secret that I've been keeping for quit a while now. I wrote some stream of consciousness thoughts to share. Feel free to ask questions.

    This headphone will likely strike a chord with many around here. It’s a headphone with beautiful tonality, exceptional transparency and some of best smile inducing, holy shit, audiophile bass response that I’ve heard in long, long while.

    “Just how long Ice-man,” you ask. Well, you’d have to venture back to lcd-2 prefazor. And that’s not so much of a direct comparison as a general one. More of a comparison of the overall sense of impressiveness that the bass response gave me. That was the first time I knew how good bass response could actually be with headphones. Because the bass response with the ETHER 2 is better. It extends further (10 hz) with more realistic texture.

    ETHER 2 has better balance from top to bottom across the spectrum. It does nuance and micro detail better and is the most comfortable headphone that I’ve ever owned or auditioned. Even more comfortable than my warm blanket hd650 with a set of well-worn pads. Impossible you say and how could this be? In fact, the curb weigh on the e2 comes in at a shocking 288 grams. That’s right, 288…fuck you Audeze and your pound and a half bricks that send me to the chiropractor…never again.

    The sound signature of this headphone is different than the previous ETHERS, very different. There is more body and richness from top to bottom. Sounds much more like a lcd-4 than an hd800. In fact, lcd4 is not a bad analogy. It’s a similar signature with better build quality, better driver matching and reliability and nicer fit and finish. Hopefully @Hands will chime in about the signature. He was involved in the tuning of the headphone.

    Looks are always a subjective matter. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they like to say. Personally, I always liked the retro look of the lcd headphones. I could just never get used to the pain in my neck. The grill design and overall aesthetic of e2 is very much borrowed from Voce. Take Voce and just substitute a slick automotive matte black paintjob (think evil Spiderman) and you’ll have the look of ETHER 2. I like the look a lot but again, appearance is a purely subjective matter. I’ll post a few pictures shortly.

    The single pivot point hinge is borrowed from the Aeon and was a factor in being able to reduce the weight. Pads are super plush, comfy and also feature a redesign. The suspension strap is identical to Voce and I like the way it relieves any potential for hotspots with the pattern of large perforations. The cable design is borrowed from Voce and redesigned for e2. And it is one that I’m finally happy with. It lays flat and offers NO tendency to curl up like a pig’s tail like old ETHER cables. Thanks God for that. The old cable did in fact drive me a little nuts. The new cable cures me from my desire to purchase an after market cable completely.

    Let’s go back to the bass for a minute. There are no tuning pads offered or necessary for the signature on the e2. This is a COMPLETE driver redesign from the ground up. There was considerable R&D with the new driver and therefore there is a price increase. You can decide for yourself if what’s being offered justifies the price. Now, onto that bass response. If you use some sine sweeps and target the sub bass, you’ll find that the e2 bass is ruler flat down to about 10 hz. This will be immediately evident when you cue up any music that has true sub bass. Electronic music is usually a good test of sub bass for me. I will get into specific musical examples in a later post. The bass does not muck up the mids here at all. In fact, the mids are some of my favorites. The signature is quite coherent, and the bass is linear to the source material. ETHER 2 doesn’t punch up the bass artificially like say, the th900. But the e2 may very be an audiophile bass (head) wet dream. The bass response is more easily compared to speakers than headphones because I’m having a hard time thinking of another headphone that does bass in this manner. I have not heard the Abyss line though, so there’s that.

    X-Factor (not the tv show)

    You can look at graphs and talk about mids, bass and treble all day. But at the end of the day, for me, it’s as simple as plugging in the headphones, cueing up my favorite music and gauging how much I enjoyed listening. Did I have an emotional connection to the music or did I spend more time niggling about little technical problems and or comfort issues? I have a strong emotional connection when listening with hd650, Andromeda and now, ETHER 2. I spent hours and hours listening to music with e2, often getting lost and forgetting to evaluate. Often finding myself murmuring the word “wow,” over and over. So, does the e2 have the x-factor? You bet it does. I’m too old to stay up till after 2:00 am listening to music. And yet, I did…several times.

    Am I excited about this headphone? Hell yes, I am. I have waited for a long time to own this kind of signature coupled with exceptional comfort level. And then backed up by build quality that makes me feel the outlay of cash is not wasted on the likes of hifiman disposables. I’ve owned loads of headphones. At some point I’ve modded and or used EQ on ALL of them. The ETHER 2 is the only headphone from memory that needs no tweaks to just sound sublime. Plug it in and enjoy. I like this.

    Who will likely enjoy ETHER 2?

    1. If you appreciate the effortlessness and tone of the hd650 but wish for much better bass response, then e2 could be your next headphone.
    2. If you have ever admired the sound signature of a TOTL lcd headphone but hated the weight, the price and the driver issues, then e2 might be for you.
    3. For anyone who just wants an excellent planar magnetic headphone with exceptional build quality and comfort, then ETHER 2 should be on your list.
    Who may not like ETHER 2?

    1. If you think that the hd800 on a Magni 3 has plenty of warmth and bass response, then e2 might not be for you.
    2. If you are not a fan of the “planar sound,” that probably won’t change for you with this headphone. Some people are drawn to the sound of a dynamic drivers. I can appreciate both.
    3. To point out the obvious, this headphone will be out of budget for many. This is a lot of money for a headphone, no doubt. I do know that Dan and his team make every effort to keep sticker prices affordable.
    TOUR Possibilities

    I’ve asked for an sbaf loaner to circulate among a group of friends. I have not yet got an answer. If there is no offer for the tour, I will offer my own pair to a very select group here. I paid for these from my pocket and would like the mini tour to be 4 or 5 people with Marv getting the first shot and rite of refusal. The only contingency for the loan is that you take the time to offer some detailed impressions in this thread.
     
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  2. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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  3. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Great write-up! I can feel much of your enthusiasm and love toward ether 2.

    So is the ether 2 a perfected aeon open, like (unicorn) lcd 4 as a perfected lcd2c?
    I loved AFO a lot but wanted more technicalities (particularly resolving ability and cleanness). Wondering if E2 would fill this gap.

    Price-wise I bet it will rival susvara or lcd4..
     
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  4. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    @Vtory in a way, your analogy is not very far off. e2 though is a completely new driver, so there is that to consider. But yes, you're analogy works pretty well.

    The price on something like this was never going to be an easy decision. e2 is something special, and it would be easy to slap a price on it with comparable models (susvara and lcd4). Expect it to be WAY less than that. I need to check in with Dan to be sure that I have the price right.
     
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  5. Baten

    Baten Facebook Friend

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    Ahh damn so we have the Ether 1.1, the Massdrop Ether CX, and now the Ether 2.0?

    This makes life all manners of complicated for someone in the market for a planar magnetic headphone (PS that imgur picture looks hella sexy, congrats to Dan of MrSpeakers).
     
  6. EagleWings

    EagleWings Friend

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    @Ice-man , thanks for the impressions. Very much along the lines of what I was looking for; a lightweight LCD 4. Any thoughts you could offer on E2's soundstage?
     
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  7. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    @EagleWings the sound stage is improved with e2. Previous ETHER headphones had a fairly average stage. Not very different than something like the hd650. Stage is now bigger with better decay. I really like the way notes trail off from the front to the back of the stage. Room acoustics and depth cues are rendered nicely. Very convincingly.

    Still, e2 is not an hd800 when it comes to sound stage. But it's right where I needed to be in terms of improvement over previous models.
     
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  8. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    Please feel free to ask me questions, but please do it here on the thread and not pm. This way, the information gets out more effectively to everyone.

    Regarding amping and source. I tested e2 with a variety of amps and a few sources.

    *lyr 3 with a NOS tube makes for a very nice match for this headphone

    *Massdrop Carbon X worked almost as well as lyr3 over the balanced output...almost

    *MD CTH was a little too warm IMO and not the best match

    *Questyle amps are not the best match

    ETHER 2 scales VERY nicely with source. Going from Modi Multibit/EITR to Gungnir Multibit was significant. This was an older Gungnir Multibit. I do have a new version with A2 boards on way soon.
     
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  9. EagleWings

    EagleWings Friend

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    Gotcha. Is it safe to say the overall size is somewhat smaller than LCD4's stage, but slightly larger than that of the LCD 2C?
     
  10. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    Yep.
     
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  11. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    @Hands (probably still asleep or at work or both) knows these headphones very well. He will be around soon to offer his take.
     
  12. k4rstar

    k4rstar Sad on the inside

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    Nice love letter to MrSpeakers. Should we buy now or wait for ETHER 2 OPEN FLOW: FREE BLEED EDITION?

    At least it's a new driver this time.
     
  13. geniekid

    geniekid Almost "Made"

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    I'm curious how the Ether 2 compares to the 650 in terms of resolution.

    My experience with the AFO agrees with Vtory - they're somewhat lacking technically. Everything sounds blurry on the AFO immediately after listening to the 6XX or the Clear (although I've noticed good amps will lessen the gap).
     
  14. westermac

    westermac Friend

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    Aside from being a bad fit for people who like a poorly driven stock HD800, people who hate planar headphones, and poor people, this headphone is flawless?

    EDIT: I see it is entirely black, so at a bare minimum Dan got that right
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
  15. Lyer25

    Lyer25 Too sensitive for SBAF

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    My main complaint with most every MrSpeakers can I've tried, specifically the Ether/C and Ether Flow/Ether C Flow, has been how bodyless they felt; I love the sound of the HEK v2, but that's more a change-of-pace sort of sound for me when I want to relax, minor treble iffiness aside. If these manage to address that lack of weight then I may well be interested depending on price.

    I sometimes wear cans with my glasses on, especially when playing ambient noise while typing stuff— how likely is that to mess with bass response? Getting microdetail out of my current rig is kinda laughable, but I would be curious as to how much detail these dig out of recordings cf. the HD800? Technically the Klipsch HP-3 is my main pair of cans right now but I recall @Ice-man doesn't much care for them, so the treble-happy Senn make make for a better baseline.

    Also, is the headstage contiguous or are there breaks in the tapestry? Vaguely recall thinking that of the C Flow.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
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  16. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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  17. Jinxy245

    Jinxy245 Vegan Puss

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    Much appreciated @Ice-man ...and fucking wow this sounds great. Could you talk a bit about the mids. Curious if this is a similar downward slope from 1k as we've seen from some popular headphone, or is there a lower-mid upper-mid emphasis at all?

    Thx again!
     
  18. BenjaminBore

    BenjaminBore Friend

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    Thanks for sharing @Ice-man. Do they have that ethereal/light quality to their sound one finds with modern thin membrane planars, and even more so with Stax? Is that what you meant by planar sound?


    Looks like that large frame is fitted with a rectangular driver, I think a bit bigger than the Ether 1’s, but unlike the Voce or Verum where they are circular and fill the space.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
  19. Skyline

    Skyline Double-blindly done with this hobby

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    This changed pretty dramatically with the AFO. Perhaps to a fault.

    I'm optimistic that the Ether 2 will thread the needle between warmth/body and technicalities.

    Sadly, the price takes it firmly off the table for me.

    Bummer. :(
     
  20. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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