MrSpeakers Ether 2 Headphones Lab Report

Lab Report

A crop of low-sensitivity planar magnetics have come our way recently, and the Ether 2 is another. MrSpeakers offers no specification for sensitivity, perhaps because of this, but we measured 107.7dB for 1V at 1kHz, averaged for the two capsules. This despite the low measured impedance of 19.7-19.8ohm across the audible frequency range, albeit rather higher than the quoted 16ohm. Compare this with the state-of-the-art Audeze EL-8 open-back [HFN Oct '15] which achieved 115.2dB despite an impedance some 50% higher. But there is a payback with the Ether 2. Planar magnetic headphones tend to be heavy because of their arrays of bar magnets – the EL-8 tipped our scales at 530g – but the Ether 2 headset weighs just 291g, which is unusually light for any audiophile circumaural headphone, let alone a PM one.

In other respects, the Ether2 is typical of the breed, as the uncorrected frequency responses show [see Graph 1, below]. On the plus side, bass extension is prodigious, extending below 20Hz (–6dB re. 200Hz). Less positively, there is only a mild response peaking around 3kHz – insufficient for a neutrally balanced presence band. This is illustrated by the corrected frequency responses [Graph 2] where the diffuse-field corrected result [green trace] indicates a shelved-up lower midrange and bass below 1kHz, and shelved-down treble above 1kHz.

In other words, the Ether 2 has a warm perceived tonal balance with accentuated bass and denuded treble – just like most planar magnetic designs. This is with a good earpad seal to the head because, unlike many competing open-backs, the Ether 2 is sensitive to this bond being disrupted. Indeed, my response measurements taken with the artificial head fitted with spectacle frames and artificial hair showed the output falling away below about 130Hz and 700Hz respectively. So the perceived tonal balance may vary quite widely in normal use. KH


Unequalised responses (L/R, grey/red; ave. 3rd-octave, black) show a very extended bass but a limited boost to the presence region [see below]


Third-octave freq. resp. (red = Harman corrected; cyan = FF corrected; green = DF corrected)

Sensitivity (SPL at 1kHz for 1Vrms input) 107.7dB
Impedance modulus min/max (20Hz-20kHz) 19.7ohm @ 5.0kHz
19.8ohm @ 8.7kHz
Capsule matching (40Hz-10kHz) ±9.4dB
LF extension (–6dB ref. 200Hz) <20Hz
Distortion 100Hz/1kHz (for 90dB SPL) <0.1% / <0.1%
Weight (headset only) 291g
Price £1900
San Diego, CA, USA
Supplied by: Electromod, Bucks, UK
01494 956558