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Dan Clark Audio Ether Flow 1.1 Headphone Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 34 20.1%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 67 39.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 57 33.7%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 11 6.5%

  • Total voters
    169

Dmitri

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A lot to like…the lack of distortion saves them for eq…but I’m not a guru like the rest of y’all. I just want to plug and play.…and for that there are better alternatives.
Still…these phones are amazing in their flexibility. I’d just like to see a better base line from which to start.

as always thanks for the review AmIr!
 

Lunafag

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LCD-24 has the lowest distortion measured on ASR if I remember correctly, pretty much ambient noise limited since it's lower at 114 than at 94. But when I tried it IRL it had channel imbalance. A shame.
 

_thelaughingman

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High price or not, the low distortion and the headphones response to EQ make these desirable TOTL headphones.
 

Matias

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LCD-24 has the lowest distortion measured on ASR if I remember correctly, pretty much ambient noise limited since it's lower at 114 than at 94. But when I tried it IRL it had channel imbalance. A shame.
Yes, I forgot about that one. Impressive indeed. It is like a blank canvas waiting for EQ to be applied. :)
That price though... (3.5k usd)

index.php
 

Aperiodic

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Looks like an Audeze or Hifiman. Haven't been looking at any $1800 cans so don't know how it fares against similarly priced competition
Distortion stellar, FR not so much. Better set of problems than the other way around I guess but FR a little shaky for the $; shouldn't need as much help for the $
I guess if you want SOTA across the board you gotta go with the Expense Expanse.
 

ClosDeLaRoche

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Hello ASR community! There are my headphones. Thank you Amir for the wonderful job measuring them.

When I sent them to Amir I guessed that they'd get a "meh" panther with no EQ and a golfing panther with EQ, as EQ does transform them from a wonky sounding headphone to a great one.

I see a lot of comments on the price. I did buy these used for $675. That seems to be the going rate these days and I would call that a little cheap for the performance to be had. A used LCD-X, which people are comparing to these, go for more like $900 to $1000.

I did own an LCD-2 for some time and preferred the Ether Flow. The reason is not sound, but comfort. The Ether Flow's 385 gram weight makes them far more comfortable to wear than an Audeze LCD-series headphone. To those asking why buy this over the LCD-X, try wearing each headphone for an hour. After that time you'll choose the Ether :)
 
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AdamG

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groot

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To some extent, maybe the headphone we want is an extremely low distortion one we can EQ as we need!

I'm reminded of the KOSS ESP95/X Review. Bad native response, but low distortion that allows for lots of EQ headroom. I bought the 950 when Drop was running them out and I am still delighted when I listen to them, even though my "correction" chain is byzantine. They are certainly eclipsed by modern planars, but given that the engineering dates the 80's I think they hold their own.
 

Acerun

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Hello ASR community! There are my headphones. Thank you Amir for the wonderful job measuring them.

When I sent them to Amir I guessed that they'd get a "meh" panther with no EQ and a golfing panther with EQ, as EQ does transform them from a wonky sounding headphone to a great one.

I see a lot of comments on the price. I did buy these used for $675. That seems to be the going rate these days and I would call that a little cheap for the performance to be had. A used LCD-X, which people are comparing to these, go for more like $900 to $1000.

I did own an LCD-2 for some time and preferred the Ether Flow. The reason is not sound, but comfort. The Ether Flow's 385 gram weight makes them far more comfortable to wear than an Audeze LCD-series headphone. To those asking why buy this over the LCD-X, try wearing each headphone for an hour. After that time you'll chose the Ether :)
I have these headphones and was going to send them to Amir for measurement, but never got around to it...so thank you. Yes, they are very light and very comfortable. I picked mine up for $700 used if I remember correctly. I posted the following a while back but may be relevant here:

"When I look on Dan Clark's site, it states that the flat pads are the stock pads for this headphone and the angled pads are the stock pads for the closed version.

Here's what the Dan Clark website says about the Ether angled pads:

This earpad fits ETHER and ETHER C headphones. It is the standard pad for ETHER C, but may also be used with ETHER. When used with ETHER the angled ear pad will create a slightly leaner tone with a slightly more distant soundstage, while preserving ETHER's depth and width of field. In effect, sounds that are closer in the mix will move further out relative to the ETHER flat pads."
 

Robbo99999

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@amirm this bit in your review, am I right in understanding that you're talking about the inserts that you put into the earcup that come with Dan Clark headphones, at first I thought you were talking about totally different earpads (and was about to go off the rails in my comments, ha)!?
"Owner bought it used so was not sure what is default. I am not either :). So I measured the Right channel (red below) with a thick black pad and left the other one the way it was (an open transparent mesh)."

There's a bit of a problem measuring the headphone with insert in one earcup & no insert in the other cup - essentially you don't know if the differences you're looking at are down to channel matching differences or the insert (well they'd be a combination of the two), so would have been better to have measured both drivers with & without inserts rather than just putting the insert in one cup - because you haven't removed the channel matching variable.

Regardless though, it's a bit of a horrible frequency response with those nasty sharp peaks, not a headphone I would choose, looks like a difficult one to EQ, bit of a mess.
 
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amirm

amirm

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@amirm this bit in your review, am I right in understanding that you're talking about the inserts that you put into the earcup that come with Dan Clark headphones, at first I thought you were talking about totally different earpads (and was about to go off the rails in my comments, ha)!?
"Owner bought it used so was not sure what is default. I am not either :). So I measured the Right channel (red below) with a thick black pad and left the other one the way it was (an open transparent mesh)."

There's a bit of a problem measuring the headphone with insert in one earcup & no insert in the other cup - essentially you don't know if the differences you're looking at are down to channel matching differences or the insert (well they'd be a combination of the two), so would have been better to have measured both drivers with & without inserts rather than just putting the insert in one cup - because you haven't removed the channel matching variable.
They are the inserts that go inside. Channel matching is excellent at lower frequencies indicating that is not an issue. And where there is a difference higher up, it correlates with addition of the pad/filter. It is not feasible to make with or without pad comparison because removing and messing with the headphone, especially in this case, would produce a very different response.
 

Robbo99999

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They are the inserts that go inside. Channel matching is excellent at lower frequencies indicating that is not an issue. And where there is a difference higher up, it correlates with addition of the pad/filter. It is not feasible to make with or without pad comparison because removing and messing with the headphone, especially in this case, would produce a very different response.
Channel matching is not just relegated to the bass, you can't assume that if bass channel matching is good that it will also be so further up the frequency range. Indeed I have units of headphone that I have measured on my miniDSP EARS that have the differences in the mids & treble rather than the bass.

You can get round the measurement problem you mentioned by taking "many" measurements and then averaging them (I do ten for example), then you'd compare the average response of insert vs no insert. That's how you'd get round that problem, but I know that's not your measurement approach, but it would be a valid way of finding out the true effect of the insert. At the moment the information you're showing is potentially clouded by unknown channel matching.

(I also think this robs us of also not being able to see what the channel matching is like in your review, because obviously one channel has the insert & the other does not - so we can't get a flavour for what the channel matching is like in this headphone either).
 
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Thomas_A

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I am certain that these headphones are good with EQ, but I cannot get away with the non-compliant frequency response curve. We do know it can be done with good results. One could think having headphones with different target curves for different purposes, but this one just looks off. IMO.
 

Robbo99999

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I am certain that these headphones are good with EQ, but I cannot get away with the non-compliant frequency response curve. We do know it can be done with good results. One could think having headphones with different target curves for different purposes, but this one just looks off. IMO.
I mean it's certainly not an ideal frequency response as the starting point for EQ - you've got those sucessive nasty peaks in the treble that can't be EQ'd out successfully (especially above 5kHz and to a lesser extent above 3kHz). So it's not like it's got a nice smooth frequency response that can be easily EQ'd precisely to a Target Curve of your choice.

EDIT: I was about to say that at least Oratory's measurement of this headphone looks more smoother & more EQ'able, but he's measured the closed back version of the Ether Flow 1.1, whereas this review is about the open backed version.
 
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Ken Tajalli

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This needs to be said more often. Especially when you take into consideration that we will all have different sound tastes and goals. A low distortion across the audible band makes a headset/IEM far more valuable and the buyer has a much greater chance of enjoying the purchase post EQ. Also means to me anyway. That a headset with low distortion can be easily used for multiple purposes like Music/Gaming and Movies by simply using different EQ sets for each activity use. When you report “incredibly low distortion” I instinctively know that that headset will work for me and should work for anyone able to apply EQ. Then it’s just down to a few key attributes (Comfort, Style and price). Easy to drive is the Cherry on top!
This is very true, low distortion is paramount.
However, since most of sound energy is in the lowest frequencies, the area where most of the distortion also resides, A bass anaemic transducer, would invite distortion after EQing, and given the fact that one also needs to use a preamp cut across the audio band, means one will need more gain from one's amp too.
I would say, a low distortion transducer, with enough bass output, makes ideal.
Remember, in real music, past a few hundred hertz, levels are down by many dBs, naturally!
So boosting this bandwidth by few dBs will not require any preamp cut.
In essence, with such a transducer, you can EQ all you like, and pay no price!
No distortion, no gain loss either.
Hence, why I modded my LCD-XC to boost the low bass acoustically. EQing the rest is a doddle.
 

Thomas_A

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I mean it's certainly not an ideal frequency response as the starting point for EQ - you've got those sucessive nasty peaks in the treble that can't be EQ'd out successfully (especially above 5kHz and to a lesser extent above 3kHz). So it's not like it's got a nice smooth frequency response that can be easily EQ'd precisely to a Target Curve of your choice.

EDIT: I was about to say that at least Oratory's measurement of this headphone looks more smoother & more EQ'able, but he's measured the closed back version of the Ether Flow 1.1, whereas this review is about the open backed version.
In terms of EQ I was mostly referring to the 10 dB swings in the important 100 Hz-2 kHz region. If the manufacturer knows about it and is serious about reproduction, there should be instructions for how to EQ the headphone to at least one of the standard curves around. But then you also imply that the consumer needs to have specific apps or software to do these EQs, or that the manufacturer supply these for free.
 
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doc2c

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So the ultralow distortion, that probably wouldnt be audible if it was multiple time greater, trumps the fact that the frequency response is audibly very poor?

If it was a HT speaker, sure, but a headphone needing this much PEQ touch up cant be praised is not practical
 
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