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Dan Clark Audio Ether Flow 1.1 Headphone Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 35 20.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 67 39.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 57 33.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 11 6.5%

  • Total voters
    170
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.
Yeah, I don’t mean to say that the headset doesn’t have problems. I was more focused on the point of highlighting how important low distortion can be in the decision process if you intend to apply eq. So, my overall impression is mediocre because of the terrible natural FR and price point. So, I think we agree more than not. That is one horrible FR curve. And I agree 100% with you about the Bass region being more important and most power demanding region. I got caught up in the very low distortion point and neglected to address the problem’s/shortcomings of this particular model.
 
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
But these kind of Open headphones are very easy to EQ them, also you might will run them with a PC as a source..
 
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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.
I didn't say bass. I said lower frequencies:

index.php


You have excellent matching up to 4 kHz. Even beyond there is good matching. See the dip at 10 khz for example and peak above that.
 
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.
You will have a heck of a lot cloudier results by averaging a bunch of measurements than the precise, non-averaged ones I showed.
 
Were the flat pads that came with these headphones actually used in its measurement?
 
It would be super interesting to see measurements AFTER the eq and see how the headphone react in every aspect, as always god tier job :)
Yeah, at least ONCE we have to see it for a headphone like this (low distortion, but requires multiple filters)!
 
Or were multiple aftermarket pads used that confused things? I know Amir asks for stock pads.
The headphones have angled pads, however those are the pads they came with. While I did buy them used I have no reason to believe that they were not sold to me with the stock pads. The only thing not stock on the headphone is the cable; I swapped it for a Hart Audio cable.

This is a late model Ether Flow 1.1. Maybe @Dan Clark can chime in, but I believe minor revisions were made over the model's life including the pads.
 
I know this is a bit left of field but Id love to see a before and after using a bad SINAD amp/DAC. Just to see its effect
 
A bit disappointing coming from the same company that made the Stealth and Expanse.
I don’t think Amir mentioned it, but these came out when they were still Mr. Speakers, back in mid 2018, a small business based/with their roots in modifying Fostex planars.

I’m sure Dan has learned a lot about headphone design since then, and that shows in the recent product measurements.
 
This is a review, listening tests and detailed measurements of the Dan Clark Audio Ether Flow 1.1 open back headphone. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $1,799.99.
View attachment 294132
The Ether flow is an attractive headphone and pretty comfortable to wear. It comes with different set of pads. 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).

Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. Headphone measurements by definition are approximate and variable so don't be surprised if other measurements even if performed with the same fixtures as mine, differ in end results. Protocols vary such as headband pressure and averaging (which I don't do). As you will see, I confirm the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers mostly in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests. If you think you have an exact idea of a headphone performance, you are likely wrong!

It was non-trivial to get the same bass performance for both channels on the fixture. But after some trying, I got there.

Dan Clark Audio Ether Flow 1.1 Measurements
Again, note that the right channel in red has an extra pad:
View attachment 294133
This is a pretty odd response. There is no part of our target curve that is adopted. We also have interesting set of resonant peaks which seem to diminish with the extra pad. EQ will be darn necessary. To that end, here is your guide:
View attachment 294134

On very good news front, there is essentially no distortion even at punishing 114 dBSP!
View attachment 294135
View attachment 294136

Group delay is not revealing of much other than some messiness:
View attachment 294137

Impedance is flat and low:
View attachment 294138

Which when combined with about average sensitivity means it is an easy headphone to drive:

View attachment 294139

Dan Clark Audio Ether Flow 1.1 Listening Tests & EQ
The immediate impression was that of the somewhat exaggerated upper bass/warmth. You could listen to them as is because it is not annoying in any regard. But EQ is mandatory to bring out what this headphone can do. The complex shape of the deviations made it a bit difficult but I managed to get there up to a few kHz:
View attachment 294140

Strategy was a dip for the resonant peak and then two PEQs to boost the whole region. Upper bass was pulled down and low bass pulled up to taste. Depending on good your high frequency hearing is, you may want to play with pulling those resonant peaks down as well.

Me? I was satisfied and was blown away by the incredible fidelity I was hearing with those 5 filters. The track you see on the snapshot of Roon was to die for with amazing resolution and detail. You cold almost feel the strings courtesy of very nice spatial qualities.

The high sensitivity allowed my RME ADI-2 Pro to drive them up to as high a level as I wanted with thundering bass that resonated the cups and my ear! I wish I didn't have to take pictures of the headphone for the review so I could keep listening to them!

Let say that I did not expect to be able to correct the response as well as I did. It was tempting to just write off the headphone and not bother. But owner had told me to try so I am glad I did.

Conclusions
There is no question that the stock frequency response is off compared to what research tells us it should be. Even though the deviations are broad, the stock sound is not annoying so in a pinch you could use it as is. But add half a dozen filters to your EQ datapath and the ETher Flow 1.1 comes to life like nobody's business. Credit likely goes to good bones in the form of incredibly low distortion. To some extent, maybe the headphone we want is an extremely low distortion one we can EQ as we need!

Price is up there though so I can't recommend the Dan Clark Audio Ether Flow 1.1 open if you are going to use them as is. If you can pick one up used and add EQ though, you have a winner there.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
Amir i have these cans, i also have the RME ADE-2 Please could you give me (and probably many others) a brief easy (i am 70)
This is a review, listening tests and detailed measurements of the Dan Clark Audio Ether Flow 1.1 open back headphone. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $1,799.99.
View attachment 294132
The Ether flow is an attractive headphone and pretty comfortable to wear. It comes with different set of pads. 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).

Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. Headphone measurements by definition are approximate and variable so don't be surprised if other measurements even if performed with the same fixtures as mine, differ in end results. Protocols vary such as headband pressure and averaging (which I don't do). As you will see, I confirm the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers mostly in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests. If you think you have an exact idea of a headphone performance, you are likely wrong!

It was non-trivial to get the same bass performance for both channels on the fixture. But after some trying, I got there.

Dan Clark Audio Ether Flow 1.1 Measurements
Again, note that the right channel in red has an extra pad:
View attachment 294133
This is a pretty odd response. There is no part of our target curve that is adopted. We also have interesting set of resonant peaks which seem to diminish with the extra pad. EQ will be darn necessary. To that end, here is your guide:
View attachment 294134

On very good news front, there is essentially no distortion even at punishing 114 dBSP!
View attachment 294135
View attachment 294136

Group delay is not revealing of much other than some messiness:
View attachment 294137

Impedance is flat and low:
View attachment 294138

Which when combined with about average sensitivity means it is an easy headphone to drive:

View attachment 294139

Dan Clark Audio Ether Flow 1.1 Listening Tests & EQ
The immediate impression was that of the somewhat exaggerated upper bass/warmth. You could listen to them as is because it is not annoying in any regard. But EQ is mandatory to bring out what this headphone can do. The complex shape of the deviations made it a bit difficult but I managed to get there up to a few kHz:
View attachment 294140

Strategy was a dip for the resonant peak and then two PEQs to boost the whole region. Upper bass was pulled down and low bass pulled up to taste. Depending on good your high frequency hearing is, you may want to play with pulling those resonant peaks down as well.

Me? I was satisfied and was blown away by the incredible fidelity I was hearing with those 5 filters. The track you see on the snapshot of Roon was to die for with amazing resolution and detail. You cold almost feel the strings courtesy of very nice spatial qualities.

The high sensitivity allowed my RME ADI-2 Pro to drive them up to as high a level as I wanted with thundering bass that resonated the cups and my ear! I wish I didn't have to take pictures of the headphone for the review so I could keep listening to them!

Let say that I did not expect to be able to correct the response as well as I did. It was tempting to just write off the headphone and not bother. But owner had told me to try so I am glad I did.

Conclusions
There is no question that the stock frequency response is off compared to what research tells us it should be. Even though the deviations are broad, the stock sound is not annoying so in a pinch you could use it as is. But add half a dozen filters to your EQ datapath and the ETher Flow 1.1 comes to life like nobody's business. Credit likely goes to good bones in the form of incredibly low distortion. To some extent, maybe the headphone we want is an extremely low distortion one we can EQ as we need!

Price is up there though so I can't recommend the Dan Clark Audio Ether Flow 1.1 open if you are going to use them as is. If you can pick one up used and add EQ though, you have a winner there.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
Amir, Hi, i have these cans & the RME ADI-2 can you give me (and probably others) a brief run through on setting the filters on the ADE, i am nigh on 70 so nice and simple please, i have never done it before. Kind regards, Nick
 
Amir i have these cans, i also have the RME ADE-2 Please could you give me (and probably many others) a brief easy (i am 70)

Amir, Hi, i have these cans & the RME ADI-2 can you give me (and probably others) a brief run through on setting the filters on the ADE, i am nigh on 70 so nice and simple please, i have never done it before. Kind regards, Nick
I will not lie- applying EQ on the RME is a bit fiddly. 2 tips (sincerely) - read the manual as the process is complex and secondly , as a wearer of reading glasses, put your specs on as the display can be hard to see especially the cursor when naming EQ profiles. (EDIT- I am a reading glasses wearer, no idea if you are!)

Your best bet is to see if you can install the very new computer interface which will take a lot of the fiddle out of EQ settings using the physical knobs and dials.


As for the filters themselves- you should be able to apply the same as Amir has used once you know the icons on the RME for the shelf and peak filter types with the manual's help.
 
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I didn't say bass. I said lower frequencies:

index.php


You have excellent matching up to 4 kHz. Even beyond there is good matching. See the dip at 10 khz for example and peak above that.
I still think it's poor practice to assume that the channel matching will be good throughout the frequency range if you've not measured it - which you haven't otherwise you'd be telling me that the channel matching is perfect through the whole frequency range whilst you have the same insert or no insert in both cups - otherwise it's poor practice in my eyes to just assume the channel matching is fine throughout the frequency range just because it's matching up to 2.5kHz. I'm not saying the channel matching will be bad, don't get me wrong, but it's not a good decision to make the assumption you're making, and my point still stands that the graph you're showing there is to some degree clouded by the channel matching variable, which you've not controlled for yet. (And of course we're not able to see the true channel matching of the headphone in this review because you have one cup with the insert included & one cup without the insert.)
You will have a heck of a lot cloudier results by averaging a bunch of measurements than the precise, non-averaged ones I showed.
That's totally not the case, in fact the opposite, I'm super surprised you're saying that - even myself owning a cheap miniDSP EARS rig to measure my headphones I know that what you say there is not the case (well I knew it before I bought the rig too). I'm not sure it's worth me explaining the reasons (because I think it's immediately obvious), but suffice to say if you agree that the headphone will measure a little differently each time you reseat it on the rig then it's just intuitively immediately obvious that the only way you can get the most accurate representation of comparing insert vs no insert would be to take many measurements and average them to nullify the placement variance variable. Don't get me wrong, I'm not being aggressive with you, as that would be wrong, as it's your kit & your website and people are grateful that you do these reviews - just I'm bringing up some points that I know to be correct, it's just logic......and anything that can be done to get people to the "truth of a headphone" through good measurements is a bonus.
 
That's totally not the case, in fact the opposite, I'm super surprised you're saying that - even myself owning a cheap miniDSP EARS rig to measure my headphones I know that what you say there is not the case (well I knew it before I bought the rig too). I'm not sure it's worth me explaining the reasons (because I think it's immediately obvious), but suffice to say if you agree that the headphone will measure a little differently each time you reseat it on the rig then it's just intuitively immediately obvious that the only way you can get the most accurate representation of comparing insert vs no insert would be to take many measurements and average them to nullify the placement variance variable.
There is no such thing. I have explained this extensively. Average is just a low pass filter. It doesn't perform magic that way. Put one bad mount on it and it will skew the results significantly.
 
There is no such thing. I have explained this extensively. Average is just a low pass filter. It doesn't perform magic that way. Put one bad mount on it and it will skew the results significantly.
Well, let's not go over the same arguments time & again as it's already been discussed. I'm not onboard with your views on that one topic, I really don't see how anybody could be, as it just seems so immediately obvious to me, but alright lets not keep going over it.
 
So, a question: A common subjective opinion on these DCA cans is that they seem to have a "compressed" nature to them. Personally, I don't understand what could be causing that given measurements, but it is a recurring theme. What could be the cause thereof? All I can think of is an amp that is insufficient to drive them.
 
So, a question: A common subjective opinion on these DCA cans is that they seem to have a "compressed" nature to them. Personally, I don't understand what could be causing that given measurements, but it is a recurring theme. What could be the cause thereof? All I can think of is an amp that is insufficient to drive them.
Well, 800-3000Hz region is way below the Harman Target, so they should sound pretty dull, maybe that's similar to what people might mean "compressed", actually basically up to 5000Hz they're below the target significantly, and then you've got the excess response at around 200Hz that would make them muddy - they should sound truly awful but whether you can call them "compressed", I don't know exactly what people mean by that, and they probably all mean something slightly different - we can probably agree that they should sound "awful" though - a catchall phrase!
 
It's fun to see one of our early products revisited after so long. This was our second generation of in-house headphones and it was a real step forward for us as our R&D began to level-up.

Ultimately the voicing wasn't on the trajectory we later adopted so we discontinued it, but as noted, it's got good "bones" and it's also worth noting most of them are still in service after up to 8 years...

Thanks for the review!
 
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