The San Diego-based firm MrSpeakers has earned a reputation as a manufacturer of world-class headphones and not – as the name might suggest – loudspeakers. Over the past two years MrSpeakers product design efforts have centred on creating an expanding range of upper-tier (and often award-winning) ETHER-series planar magnetic headphones, which range in price from £1,475 to £1,700. Given this history, we have come to think of MrSpeakers as an upscale brand.
Therefore, the new ÆON from the company came as a bit of a surprise; this closed-back, planar magnetic headphone will sell for just £799.99 UK or $799 US—or around half the price of the firm’s famous ETHER models. Despite its accessible price, the ÆON is said to use most of the technologies and to offer much of the performance of the bigger ETHER headphones, which explains MrSpeakers’ marketing tag-line for the model: “No Compromise Sound & Comfort; Affordable Price”.
In spirit and in practice, the ÆON could be considered the descendant of MrSpeakers closed-back ETHER C and ETHER C Flow models, although the ÆON looks quite different to the ETHER headphones. In particular, the ÆON features attractive ear-shaped ear cups (much like many recent HiFiMAN models do), where the ETHER headphones sport large, circularly shaped cups. And, where the ETHER C ear cups are fashioned from carbon fibre, the ÆON ear cups are moulded using ABS material and finished in a delicious shade of dark metallic grey-blue lacquer, with inset genuine carbon fibre trim panels.
Like the ETHER models, the ÆON provides a NiTinol ‘memory metal’ headband frame, but one fitted with graceful new arc-shaped ‘hinge-free’ yokes that are considerably simpler in construction than those found on the ETHERs. Also like its more costly siblings, the ÆON features a comfortable dyed-through leather headband strap that is suspended beneath the NiTinol frame and attached to a pair of friction-fit, sliding strap keepers that allow adjustments to accommodate different head sizes. Thick, bevelled synthetic leather ear pads are included. Finally, the ÆON ear cups are fitted with MrSpeakers’ traditional four-pin HIROSE push-pull signal cable connectors. The ÆON ships with a set of fabric-covered ‘DUMMER’ signal cables (where the ‘DUM’ part of the name stands for ‘Distinctly Un-Magical) terminated with HIROSE connectors on the headphone end and with a combo 3.5mm mini-plug/6.35 phone plug adapter on the amplifier end.