The open-back MrSpeakers AEON Flow headphones deliver a smooth sound with solid, detailed bass.
Open-air version of an underground hit
The closed-back MrSpeakers AEON Flow headphones are one of the best sealed-back models I've ever tried. This open-back version is just as special. It features the same look, build-quality, and cutting-edge planar magnetic drivers. The big difference is the stainless steel grill that allows more air to move in and out.
My first impression
I've just started listening to this open-back version, but like what I've heard so far. While they don't offer the isolation of the closed-back model, they do offer a slightly more spacious sound. The bass is also surprisingly strong and detailed for an open-back headphone.
Who is Mr. Speakers?
I met company founder Dan Clark — THE Mr. Speakers — at CanJam NYC 2018. Dan is an interesting guy. His passion for headphone-making is only rivaled by his love of music. He's as quick to drop a story about his favorite band as he is to break down his patented TrueFlow™ technology (more on that later).
He told me that while he uses the latest technology and measurement instruments available, he also takes a more "gut-feeling" approach to his craft. "I don't consider myself done with a set of headphones," he said, "until I hear a familiar song through them, and it moves me in a new way."
The origin story
Dan is a longtime audio engineer who made a name for himself by modifying other manufacturers' headphones. Hardcore headphone enthusiasts appreciated his semi-"outlaw" approach, and really loved Dan's sound improvements.
Capitalizing on the buzz, Dan started his own brand, MrSpeakers. He gathered some talented people, and they began building headphones from scratch in their San Diego shop. Those early MrSpeakers planar magnetic headphones earned rave reviews, and their reputation has only grown.
The company's latest top-of-the-line ETHER Flow and ETHER C Flow headphones are on many "Best of" lists. Those two models informed the design of these AEON Flow headphones. They use the same specially designed planar magnetic drivers. Modern manufacturing techniques like 3D printing helps them deliver premium high-end performance at surprisingly low prices.
A new take on planar magnetic headphones
Planar magnetic designs can get complex, but the basic physics behind them are pretty simple. You have a super-sized diaphragm moving lots of air, resulting in spacious sound with better dynamics. The diaphragm is covered with a flexible circuit and trapped in a magnetic field. It moves when the circuit receives an audio signal.
MrSpeakers added a new wrinkle to this traditional design. Or perhaps more accurately, a few creases. Rather than using a completely flat diaphragm that can bounce back and forth rigidly, their V-Planar™ drivers use a more fluid-moving pleated diaphragm. This accordion-like pattern helps it start and stop quickly, pushing more air. You can really hear the extra presence on tracks with complex bass.
Lightweight and efficient
To move a diaphragm this large, most drivers have a magnet array on both sides. That's why planar magnetic headphones sound great, but are usually heavy and bulky. The V-Planar drivers use a single-sided magnet design, so they are efficient enough to plug directly into a phone. (Of course, they'll really shine when you drive them with a more robust headphone amp.) Plus they feel lighter than any other over-ear planar headphones I've ever worn.
Smoother airflow around the magnets
MrSpeakers also includes their TrueFlow™ waveguides on either side of the magnet array. These special baffles help reduce turbulence in the airflow. This lowers distortion and makes for effortless, natural sound.
Airflow around planar magnet arrays can get messy...
... so MrSpeakers added the TrueFlow waveguides to reduce turbulence.
Incredible build and comfort
The six-foot, soft-fabric-covered cable connects to each earcup using a heavy-duty locking system. A simple adjustment of the leather inner headband will correctly position the teardrop-shaped earcups. The nickel-titanium outer headband is strong, extra-flexible, and it helps everything slide into place.