Drop + MrSpeakers Ether CX

This is a thread for the Drop + MrSpeakers Ether CX for discussion, pad rolling, tuning, and reviews.

  • Over Ear
  • Planar Magnetic
  • Closed Back
  • 92 dB at 1 mW
  • 23 ohms at 1 kHz

Z Reviews

Joshua Valour

Alright, time for me to start burn-in…

This is a very good headphone. It’s the most comfortable headphone I’ve had on my head, plenty of detail too and doesn’t sound at all like a typical closed back.

This headphone changed considerably after some burn-in time. It opened up, got extended and more pronounced bass and quicker (more detail retrieval). Maybe it’s to do with the materials it’s manufactured from but I have never seen a change as drastic as that in burn-in.

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My original ether c flows also were like that. They really did change after a day of using them and it definitely wasn’t only in my head

I was at 50 hours into burn in last night and the sound has changed quite a bit. Soundstage is beginning to move out of my head with greater depth and separation. Out of the box the Ether CX did imaging well but it sounded like all the detail was stuck in a very small, narrow band on top of each other near the surface of my head.

The bass, probably more so from the tuning pads, has become much more predominate as the double notch pad does give the sound a well mixed warmth. The bass attack and decay are becoming better defined. The treble is starting to relax but is still just slightly out of balance and a little more than what I want for an extending listening period. I think because the treble is mellowing out as separation increases I am able to get more detail than ever.

Continuing with at least another 50 hours of burn-in and see where this takes me. Honestly before this experience with my Ether CX I didn’t think the differences would be so pronounced.

Also found an explanation from MrSpeakers himself on Head-fi’s forum: “Burn in is no mystery at all. We pleat the driver, knurling, which creases both the PET substrate and the AL traces. The PET stabilizes pretty fast but it takes a little while for the AL traces to stabilize, the peaks of the crease flatten a bit relaxing the tension on the substrate.” (Post 187)

Around 100 hours in and the bass has become properly punchy sounding with a clean, clear decay with a feeling of sub-bass rather than a sudden wall of air pressure hitting my ears. The warmth continues to be fairly full giving a pleasantly musical fun voicing. Highs are starting to calm down to a more balanced state and are no longer distracting. Interestingly, the sound stage has moved out to the front and expanded a bit more to the right and left.

The expansion to the front has allowed the imaging and separation to get even better which allows for more detail retrieval. As things seem like they will continue to open up, I am going to continue burning in my Ether CX for an additional 100 hours to see where it takes me. Again, this has been an eye opening experience for me observing a rather dramatic burn-in.

To stay the least, the Drop + MrSpeakers Ether CX at 100 hours of burn-in live up to or surpass the mental sound that I was hoping for when doing my research. Even at this point, if they get no better, then I have to say 9 out of 10 would buy again.

My one complaint is transfer of microphonics from the stock and Periapt cable, but I can live with it.

hmmm… Neumann NDH20 or these?

Anyone that has used them both care to tell me what they think/prefer. I’m looking to get a pair of closed backs (for music, purely for enjoyment. not mixing or anything professional like that) and I’m wondering if the extra $400 for these over NDH20 is worth it?

I haven’t heard the NDH20 but if I had to hazard a guess that if you like dynamic drivers, then the NDH20 is probably a better value to you.

On the Ether CX I have blown my own mind a few times listening to music. Dusty Springfield’s The Windmills Of Your Mind … sorry I just lost my complete train of thought again because I un-paused the music on Tidal and listening to the strings and flute and brass and Dusty with the kind of detail and separation is like hearing things for the first time kind of experience. But I do not think this is unique to just the Ether CX and I would predict it would happen when you are listening to things in that perform very well at their price point and there is a $400 difference.

The headphones that are my daily drivers and currently on a hook to my right are Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro, and they did a similar thing for soundstage and tone when compared to my Westone UM Pro 30’s or my older Westone W4’s. And that difference is only $200 difference, but it was like hearing and experiencing music for the first time again.

But back to things that blew my mind on the Ether CX. Listening to Anne-Sophie Mutter performing Zigeunerweisen Op.20. The Wiener Philharmoniker was hands down fuller sounding on the Ether CX than my DT 1990’s, but if I were only focus on Anne-Sophie Mutter’s performance, then I think they are close but very different. The DT 1990 gave me less distraction with enough details and the expected timbre that I really like. The Ether CX gave me just so much detail and effortlessly presented it with the musical yet honest sound that I cannot help but be more impressed. I can hear the stage size of the stage and microphone placement on both, but I feel the size of the hall from the subtle echos on the Ether CX. …Sorry, I got lost just listening again, so next track.

Explosions In The Sky, Wilderness. I really notice the DT 1990’s not give as good of a performance on the beginning of the song with the juxtaposing staccato picking and legato sound. The abrupt picking really sounded nice on the DT 1990, but then it just got lost a little bit when the synth began the rolling, wandering tones. It still sound good, but I now know that it could be better. This might be down to how they present audio differently mostly because of soundstage. This is most noticeable when the snare comes in and the distortion, the controlled soundstage of the DT 1990’s sounds wider than the Ether CX but the DT 1990 snare presents a sharper sounding snare which I actually prefer more. Then from there through the full climax to the end of the song, I think the Ether CX has a better sound that I again find myself getting lost in without trying.

And sorry for wasting your time not answering your question, but when I watched Zeos in his NDH20 review, it stuck with me his statement that his Ether C Flows 1.1 are now strictly pleasure cans. I just didn’t get it at the time. But now I think I understand a little bit of where he is coming from as you can do more professional work in something like the NDH20 or DT 1990’s and still play with them, but if you have both, then the work tools are for work and the carbon fiber clad cans are free to do what they do best. For myself, if I had to pick one thing to pleasure and enjoyment to appreciate music, then it would be my Ether CX.

Is it worth it? I can’t answer that as I haven’t tried and lived with the Neumann.

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Also, the above post comparing it to my DT 1990 Pro is in service of 150 hours of burn-in for the Ether CX.

At this point I think they are pretty much done, but I will continue to the 200 hour mark just because this has been a fun and transformative experience for me even if I know this only an anecdote rather than data. But right now (or a few hours ago as I stayed up too late again and struggled to find the gumption to hit the pause button and go to bed) at 150 hours I think they quite handily beat my old daily drivers 3 out of 5 times.

So where the Ether CX fall short is more the difference between an open back and close back more than anything else. I still really like the controlled but wider soundstage of my DT 1990 when tracks use it. I really like the almost speaker sound sensation (especially with DIRAC enabled) of my chosen open backs. I think their highs when focused and listening do more to draw me to that one noise I want to focus on. The bass is less but somehow more natural and distortion tracks sound more appealing.

But, for the rest of the 6 out of the 10 times, I will favor the Ether CX for everything else they do in allowing me to enjoy the music with their effortless presentation and addicting qualities. And after 200 hours of burn-in and one more report in, I’d like to think about pad rolling because I enjoy tinkering. If anyone has experience with the Ethers and has a combination to try with a description of the sound change, then I’d like to know. Otherwise, I will probably order Dekoni Elite Hybrids for the TH900 in a few weeks time.

Regarding the th900, try Lawton audio pads, they are really interesting and improve the sound in my opinion. I really haven’t felt the need to swap pads on my ether c flow (guessing pads are fairly similar)

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For my goals I am really just chasing that last bit of soundstage I could possibly gain. Thank your for the suggestion!

The Lawton pads increase the soundstage and make it more defined for me. It seems to preserve the tuning for me as well. Don’t think it’s a huge step up in comfort, but definitely makes them sound wider

Edit: I would also say that you lose a little bit of imaging, but gain better soundstage

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So I wanted to write about what I though changed between the 150 hour mark and 200 hour mark of burn in of the Ether CX and I think it is very close if not the same (and at this point I think it is me changing for the better). I have been using my Monolith THX 788 Desktop for the entire process but it wasn’t until 150 hour mark that I felt I could feed more power and really enjoy the sound. For reference -40.0 dB was used for listening until this point and -50.0 dB for the pink noise and sine waves. I have been able to take it to -30.0 dB and find it pleasant. I think -35.0 dB for listening enjoyment is going to be my sweet spot and -40.0 dB for VOIP, gaming, and general use, mostly because -30.0 dB makes me forget about everything else as I only have the capacity to listen as if hanging on desperately trying to not be just sucked into and destroyed by the noise.

‘Why don’t you just pause the song or turn it down?’ you may be thinking. I cannot; I have been compelled by the Ether CX to listen and enjoy. The sound is addicting enough that I found myself down in front of my computer night after night trying to pull myself away from listening along enough to write these rambling posts because I know if I don’t get the minimum of sleep I just will not be able to sustain doing this the next night. And I just need to consume more music.

It hit me when I was playing the Pentatonix version of Perfect where Beyonce (the cello) was brought out and was used as the ultimate accompanist to the vocal track. As the song progresses, the dueling pushes the music to these emotional places that are just powerful and the background vocals and the a Capella sound effects are just so precise and punchy, and I am now just rambling about everything in the song because even at very loud listening volumes I still thoroughly enjoyed this experience.

David Bowie’s Space Oddity is a song that I can enjoy when I am in the right mood and while it is something I listened to on my DT 1990’s and UM Pro 30’s, I found myself for a lack of a better descriptor going along with the ride somewhere far above the moon. Amy Lee’s Speak To Me (From “Voice From The Stone”) usually pulls me in anyways, but at the halfway point into the song the complexity that has been building and this time I found myself surprised. It surprised me with the space and separation and tone, and then it is just a piano, Amy Lee, and wispy tones moving about at the end. And I’ve somehow not gotten to this place before where I was so transfixed that this song was over too soon.

To clarify, the Ether CX is not an aggressive sound, but it was able to put me into something like a flow state where the sounds and experience and feelings were happening so quickly and I was so caught up in just the listening to music that it was the only thing that existed for those moments. I know the novel and have read it many times, but it still took my breath away.

My wife really likes Lady Gaga so of course I listen to her music, and the bright tones of a harmonica in Million Reasons near the middle of the track have bugged me before as almost coming out of the track on my DT 1990’s and as becoming a major distraction on my UM Pro 30’s. I can happily say that I noticed it with the Ether CX and appreciated it as a mixing detail nuance morsel to be consumed rather than an out-and-out flaw. And the music of the room used in that song because of the decay and bass presentation and…the Ether CX are just dangerous because I fear where I feel like I may have to go from here if I ever got a whiff that there was more to be had.

I know I said it before but I don’t think these are special for what they can do as far as stepping up the price, quality, and sound ladder, but I know these are special as I’ve now had these experiences and know what I was missing before. I’ve listened to Maria Callas on CD and streamed so many times and her voice and performances always stood well on their own, but the last time I heard Puccini’s aria Oh Mio Babbino Caro like it was somehow completely new to me was when I moved from my Westone W4’s to my DT 1990 Pro as my daily driver for all that is music.

And now I must go jam out to Audioslave with the Ether CX before heading upstairs and passing out.

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So I am back at it again tonight. And I recalled that I have some Dekoni Elite fenestrated sheepskin still in their box from when I was trying out things on my DT 1990 Pro (Dekoni Elite Hybrids made the DT 1990 my daily driver). And wouldn’t know you know, the flat pad fits just fine!

One thing I feared was losing the imaging of the stock pads with changing the angle of the cup to my ear with an angled pad. But I did want some more soundstage if possible without losing detail too. So, I want everything including maybe even enhancing the voicing. You know, not asking for much…

What I have with the Dekoni Elite fenestrated sheepskin pads is a wider and more comfortable pad than the stock MrSpeakers just because I no longer have my ear touching anything. The square hole for the record didn’t both me unless I had to adjust the headphones and then I was keenly aware that my ear was just touching them for a moment until the sound shoved that thought out of my head. Also, Dekoni sheepskin products just have that premium feel that as it comes up to skin temperature just disappears.

I have moved the tuning pads (white two-notch felt and thin black foam are now under the pad just on top of the white driver felt) to under the pads and taken great care to ensure they didn’t shift when installing the pad.

What the round cavity with fenestrated surface did to the sound was smooth out the top end (8 kHz to 11 kHz notably) while still preserving more than enough detail. The bass feels a little more present with the additional space but never feels out of control or boomy. This is sort of what I expected, but the added bonus that I didn’t foresee is it helps out vocals just sit at the fine edge between neutral and warm which has given my Ether CX what I feel may be best musical voicing I could have hoped for.

And to top it all off, these pads do eat some of the sound energy so I can run my Ether CX at -30 dB comfortably. This strengthens the robust character of the sound quite a bit without appearing louder than -34 dB on stock pads. Testing out Echoplex by Nine Inch Nails, the kick drum is stronger than ever as I think the planar drivers can finally interact with more air. It has that punchy, immediate, and full sound that doesn’t go overboard.

On YouTube from the KBSKpop channel, I really like Ailee’s performance of I Will Always Love You and with this combination of tuning, pad, and headphone the tone and vibrato in her voice is just enough to tell my ears that it isn’t neutral because it just has that hint of warmth which livens the listening and watching experience. It really makes me think the word ‘natural’. Maria Callas performing Carmen, Act 1 “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” on Tidal has me feeling La Davina absolutely owning that opera.

Red Hot Chili Peppers Under the Bridge has such detail and that continuous cymbal sound once they get started in the sound that just makes me think that I the sound had such a long and good life that I am sad to hear it fade away at 4:00 into the song. That’s run on sentence and I don’t care!

Then take the wall of aggressive sound that is Fall Out Boy The Phoenix. Yes please, I will have more of that and somehow resist singing along as it is like 0112 in the morning here. Uh, Rush YYZ, I wanted to see if the bells at the beginning still image correctly and found myself floored by the entire epic performance because I couldn’t change songs. Black Label Society Trampled Down Below…ok, ok, ok I will just end with hearing the guitar riff at 3:33 just sounds so immaculately clean and executed…

Ok, this has been yet another rambling mess. Please take away that I really like the Dekoni Elite fenestrated sheepskin with the two notch white felt and thin foam tuning. It has changed midrange vocals to a natural sounding neutral warmth, smoothed out the high end which allows you to power the Ether CX even harder, which allows the bass to really just work you over, and this gives me the little extra soundstage while preserving the imaging. Oh, and it has helped lessen the cable microphonic noise some. To me this is that last 5% difference which makes me love these headphones even more.

My last order of business will be a cable, probably IEM like, to just make me happy and have no further need to spend money chasing what I want for closed back planar headphones, because I will have already have them in my Ether CX.

Were those the Dekonis for Audeze headphones? I don’t see them as an angled version for Beyerdynamic on their website.

Getting my CX’s this weekend… super stoked!

The Dekoni pads I am using are the Elite fenestrated sheepskin for the Beyerdynamic DT series headphones. They are flat pads, not angled. My goal was to keep the imaging of the Ether CX while improving comfort and soundstage. To do so, I keep the pad flat like the stock pad it was designed with to not introduce a different angle between the driver and my ear which has a greater chance of changing the imaging (or at least that is my logic and experience so far).

Dekoni Audio Beyerdynamic DT Series Fenestrated Elite Sheepkin Ear Pad Set https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071FVCYTK/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_J6crDb3DX2SVB

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So I decided to not be lazy and try the Dekoni Elite Hybrid pads I have on my DT 1990’s and ob boy, what a change.

So my linger desires for the fenestrated pads were that it makes things sound more like an open back by letting more sound in-and-out. In this way, the sound does lose some energy which allowed for my to put more power into the headphones.

But then in trying out the hybrid pads, I found the combination to make the Ether CX again sound like a proper close back. What do I mean with that. I mean it retains that energy that bass has and adds that rich warmth through the mids and gives the highs just the right amount of energy to sound detailed but shy of anything that can be called sharp on well mastered songs.

So yeah, I’ll spare you the waxing poetic like I just had to do with the fenestrated pads and just say it was just like it, but with more energy retained through the music and more closed back sound. I think for easy listening I might prefer the fenestrated pads, but 7 out of 10 times I am probably wanting more energetic and vibrant sound from the hybrid pads.

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How much more open does it sound with fenestrated pads? I might be interested in opening up my ether c flows a bit. Also, does the hybrid pad keep your ears cooler?

Hybrid pads have a cooler feel as the section touching your head is velour. The outer most edge that is sheepskin does touch your head as well to provide some sealing, but it comes up to temperature and the feeling disappears nicely. With the Hybrid pads there is no significant air flow out of the pads so I could see it as potentially getting stuffy if you were not in air conditioning. But overall very comfortable.

So the fenestrated pads leak sound quite a bit both in and out. The foam is fairly dense which does cut down on airflow, but none-the-less sound energy does get in and out. The big difference was with the bit of extra depth the pads seemed to give to soundstage where the lower energy background noise, decay, real room echos, and some transients (say quiet string sections where a soloist’s fingers can be heard brushing when repositioning) during quiet sections stood out as different in a good way.

For everything else, the larger pads moved the soundstage out a small amount as would be expected with larger pads and more volume of air around the ear. And again, being fenestrated and with thicker foam inside of the pads, these do dissipate sound energy before it hits your ear so it is possible to lose some level of detail if you aren’t using an adjusted volume or listening critically.

Lastly imaging remains a strong point of the Ether with these pads. Yosi Horikawa Letter and other imaging songs still had defined placement that wasn’t notably skewed.

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LOL, I guess you gave up on waiting for Z to create an official thread XD. The annoying part is he did actually acknowledge he hadn’t been keeping up.