Drop + MrSpeakers Ether CX Closed Headphones
Drop + MrSpeakers Ether CX Closed Headphones
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Product Description
A collaboration with MrSpeakers, a boutique shop in San Diego, California, the Ether CX closed-back headphones have a lot going for them. For one thing, they sound more like a pair of open-back headphones—clean, open, realistic, relaxed—while retaining the low sound leakage and high isolation you’d expect from closed cans Read More
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would recommend to a friend
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Hivehand
3
Aug 20, 2019
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Great sound, fantastic design
The first planar magnetic headphones I owned are a pair of Audeze LCD-2Cs, which have their virtues, but whose weight and relatively loose fit made bobbing my head while listening to music a risky proposition. The Ether CXs, on the other hand, aren’t unreasonably heavy, and keep a firm-yet-comfortable hold on my skull. As for the sound quality… I’m not saying that the soundstage is stupefyingly expansive. I’m just saying that I turned my head twice while listening to Mango and Shingo Nakamura’s “We Don’t Want To Change”, because it was the only way to tell whether the approaching car was part of the recording, or coming from the intersection behind my right shoulder. Update: These made a good first impression. It’s only getting better with time. The sound is phenomenal. But equally good, and worth calling out, is the physical design. These have the best headband and adjustment mechanism of any headphones I own — so much better than the competition that I wish other vendors would just clone, or at license, the design. Most of my other headphones have set notches, limiting the set of possible size adjustments. Some of them have a looser notch-locking mechanism than I'd like, with the result that they sometimes slide out of their set fit when I pick them up or set them on the headphone rest. Others are self-adjusting, using a spring mechanism that makes some creaky noises when you first put the headphones on, while things settle into place. The Ether CXs use a simple friction mechanism: the component holding the leather headstrap slides along the two frame wires. Their grip is extremely firm, which is exactly what you want: once you’ve set a size, the headphones will retain it. Meanwhile, the sliding nature of the pieces, completely absent of notches, means that you can tune the fit exactly to your liking. The page for the headphones notes that extreme comfort was one of creator Dan Clark’s goals: I can only say that he hit that target squarely.
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Would recommend to a friend.
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Aug 20, 2019
NoelSibs
23
Aug 13, 2019
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Great set of cans period. This is quickly gonna become my all around headphone
I’m about 120 hours into burn in. Right out of the box these things are very very comfortable. So, off on the right foot there. Pad material is quite smooth and plush. It helps the cans disappear which is typical for my limited experience with Mr. Speakers headphones. I’ve tried the Aeon closed and have an Aeon Open. The weight seems just about right and have made this pair really really comfortable to wear. Listening impressions: Detail is quite good and not sibilant. It is quite forward and reminds me of a more laid back Senn HD650 in that sense. But it’s not as “in your face” as the HD650. It has opened up as it’s been burned in but at this point, it still has a forward presence. Imaging is really good. Precise. I think that is a good word for these headphones... Precise. I don’t tend to like extremely detailed cans because they tend to be fatuiging but these don’t seem to do that. They are enjoyable and precise. I haven’t used the tuning pads yet, I’ll try them out when burn in is complete. I’m hoping that it will bring the bass out more because at the moment, the bass is there, but it’s JUST there. It is present and it has good bass detail but it seems to be just an appropriate amount of bass. Not at all boomy which is good for the bass detail. It just feels like something is still missing in the lower frequencies that I can’t put my finger on. It’s not quantity... neither is it quality. In fact it has good very good bass quality. I was worried for a bit during burn in. At around 50 hours, I gave it a listen and there was no bass at all! Kept the burn in going now and there it is. There is the bass but theres still kindo of a gap between midbass and sub bass somewhere. Perhaps further burn- in will improve it. If not, I’ll EQ it in. It’s kinda scary when the sound changes like that because you don’t know exactly how it’s gonna change and if you’ll like the end result. I’ll update this review when this set has settled into it’s groove. To eliminate the “placebo” effect of having new cans, I alternate with other headphones while I’m taking the Ether Cx’s for a spin. Of the headphones I’ve used, the LCD-X seem to be pretty similar to the CX. Sometimes I think that the CX’s have better space and imaging! That’s really cool considering these are closed back. The big difference is that the Ether CX seem more relaxed and easy than the Audeze cans. The timbre and tonal balance are somehow both relaxed yet not lacking in micro detail. Both the LCD-X and the CX resolve quite well and both sound great! So far, in listening, I’ve grooved to Jill Scott, gotten lost in a little Trjnjte Oosterhuis tribute to Burt Bacharach, floated away in a Lionel Richie song and had a really intense Adele and Sam Smith session. In short, a great sounding headphone so far and is light enough to carry around and seems durable enough to travel with. It’s my new all around... a home run headphone for sure... Great job Dan Clark, Mr. Speakers & Drop! Thanks Edit... I’ve gone way past the burn in period and decided to bring these along on a long haul trip. (Over 12 hours flying without my kids.) These are a great set of cans. I brought a big back pack beacuse they’re bulky and not ideal to travel with but I thoroughly enjoyed them on my long haul flight and now that I’m at our destination for a few weeks, I’m loving “ coming home” to them everyday. I didn’t pack an amp, just some DAPS and my phone. I’m running it off of an Onkyo DPx-1, a Hiby R6 and I brought along my well used and loved Opus #1 Dap as well. All of the above have no issues powering the headphones and I’ve been running the headphones out of their balanced outputs with no issues for the volumes I listen at. So, its not difficult to drive with todays more modern gear I’m sure. The sound has fully opened up and developed. It’s good with movies (on the plane) and the bass is finally all there with the tuning pads. I’ve decided on the 2notch white filters like most and I’ve added the black foam inserts as well. I’m quite impressed with the depth and separation without losing detail. Normally, you get a compromise edging towards detail OR depth but I really like the “compromise” that these headphones have reached. In my opinion, it’s just enough detail and just enough depth plus a really pleasant timbre. A great set of all around headphones. I am very happy with my purchase.
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Would recommend to a friend.
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Aug 13, 2019
PrismaticOrb
47
Aug 21, 2019
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I also have a pair of lcdx and had the same personal experience. I tend to grab the cx more often.
Aug 21, 2019
MadHero
2
Aug 9, 2019
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My first pair of expensive cans!
Running them on a Schiit Jottunheim with included DAC. Love these things. Not gonna go into detail, don't have many references at the price range, but the detail is amazing. I have noticed that bad recordings or compressed files are worse in these. But I will listen to anything on these cans, the sound is delicious.
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Would recommend to a friend.
Aug 9, 2019
egglizhen
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Jun 20, 2019
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My Closed-back Endgame
I like to put my conclusion out first: I am very satisfied and this is my closed-back endgame for the time-being. I would say I agree with most of the folks who reviewed these before me (bass is accurate but lacks quantity , mid is smooth and the treble is exquisite, great comfort, etc.), so I will just point-out the couple things I like the most. 1) the Sonic Balance I mostly listen to classical musics and movie soundtracks so I value the sonic balance very much! I own or used to own some expansive closed backs like Sony MDR Z7m2 and Audeze LCD-XC, Ether CX is the first and only pair that really provides a balanced sonic performance. 2) the Soundstage First , Ether CX has a surprisingly large soundstage since it's closed back. This is a very open-sounded closed back. It is actually right up there with some of the highly-regarded open-backs that I own or used to own (DT1990 Pro, Massdrop x Focal Elex, HD6XX, and HD700, LCD-3). Also, the positioning of the sound is incredibly precise. The vocal or the lead instrument is in front of you, with certain distance, while other instruments like bassoons and trumpets comes behind the vocal and lead instrument, perfectly mimicking a auditorium listening experience. PS: when comparing two Massdrop flagship product: Elex vs. Ether CX, I say Ether CX wins. Elex has a more punchy bass but the over-emphasis in mids makes you feel like the vocal is singing right in front of your face. In fact, I sold my Elex because of this. My set-up: Monolith THX AAA 788 dac/amp, or Schiit Bifrost dac - Valhalla 2 amp.
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Would recommend to a friend.
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Jun 20, 2019
egglizhen
41
Aug 11, 2019
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Quantity wise probably not differ too much, but quality wise, Elex wins it all day long. Personally I don't like the tuning tools they provide. Only increase the quantity, doesn't have the fast response, and kinda skew the mid a little. That being said, I still like my Ether CX better because I value its analytical sound signature. Don't buy these if u prefer quality bass.
Aug 11, 2019
maks_off
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Aug 11, 2019
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Thank for response, really helpful
Aug 11, 2019
AllegroMaestoso
92
Apr 14, 2019
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I notice the Massdrop x MrSpeakers Ether CX headphones have just dropped again. Lots and lots of users requested these after the first drop ended. I said some nasty things about these cans on the discussion page, and I meant them at the time. Now that I've had more time to get to know these excellent phones, I hope my comments here will help others make an informed decision before shelling out a lot of cash on something they probably haven't listened to before. Ok, here goes. Visual appeal, construction quality, and comfort. The carbon fiber cups are absolutely lovely. So good looking. The synthetic protein Napa leather earpads are sumptuous, just pure luxury. The cables: meh. I'm thinking Periapt or Ursine a little bit later down the road, something that flows and drapes more smoothly and not so crudely as the included DUM/DUMMER cable. (Someone please remind me which one comes with the CX.) These are some heavy cans, and they clamp a little much for my taste, although that force is probably necessary for a good closed back seal. These factors cause me some physical fatigue after a while, but please note that I have not experienced any listening fatigue. The one bad design decision was to leave the underside of the head strap unfinished. The rough leather pinches and musses my hair. I call it the MrSpeakers Noogie. I agree with everyone else regarding the packaging. Very unimpressive. I'll leave it at that. The Great Burn In Debate. After some coaching and encouragement from friendly Massdroppers, I went full steam ahead with burn in. I used two adapters (the included XLR-1/4" and a Sennheiser 1/4"-3.5 mm) to connect the Ethers to my FiiO X3 2nd gen, playing pink noise at first, then switching to a long playlist on repeat at low-to-moderate volume. I let them run around the clock for a few days. I wonder if burning them in under powered amplification would have sped things up, but I wasn't set up logistically for that procedure. Did burning them in improve the sound quality? I must grudgingly admit that yes, it did. Do they sound like $900? Hmm. Errr... Well... Does my hesitation speak volumes? More later about the very important question of these being worth the money. What ticks me off is that MrSpeakers does not burn in the headphones before shipping them out. We waited a LONG time for these headphones to ship. Another week for the factory to burn them in would have made their arrival and first listening so much sweeter. This feels like a mind game: "We're going to send you an unfinished product. Please don't criticize it until your buyer's remorse wears off and you've gotten used to how unremarkable it sounds." The case could be made that it can be enlightening and exciting to listen to your headphones evolve, but to me, it's just tedious labor. Sound quality. Ok. These are headphones for the connoisieur. The seasoned, sophisticated, savvy listener. They take some effort to reap their rewards. If you're like me and want totally ready to go, plug and play satisfaction, you won't find that here with the Ether CX. They are not an instant gratification machine. The sound is thick, dark, and dense. Almost - but not quite - sluggish. Full. Rich. Strong. You get all the music, just not in stunning detail. To me, they are the audio equivalent of vaseline on the camera lens. Tastefully blurred. Softened. Reduced glare. We are spared potential ugliness that may exist in the music. This is why I haven't experimented very much with the included tuning kit. It seems like it would just be adding more vaseline to the lens. I plugged my Ethers into my Massdrop x Cavalli Tube Hybrid amp and did extensive A/B listening with my Focal Elex, Beyerdynamic DT-880 Premium 32 ohms, and Audioquest Nighthawk Carbons. The breakthrough moment I had was with Avicii's "Levels." Even in mp3, this was an immersive, transcendent musical experience. It was like the Ether CX were made for this music. In contrast, Richard Strauss's Duett-Concertino was disappointing. My Elex gave this piece a lively, natural, engaging performance, with better bass and balanced cohesion of the different instrumental parts. So yes, these headphones will probably work better with some genres than others. I suspect that they may demand more from other devices in the signal chain as well. Something Zeos Pantera has said more than once in his recent YouTube reviews is that he had heard and enjoyed certain favorite headphones, but never really heard them until he paired them with the right DAC/amp combo. I'm waiting for the THX AAA 789 to drop again. I have a feeling this amp might really take my MrSpeakers phones to the next level. Conclusion. Are they worth $900? I can't tell you whether to bet it all or play it safe. I can only tell you my reaction. Like another Massdropper, I sold my Fostex TR-X00s and replaced them with the Ether CX. I never developed a connection with the Fostex, but I am coming to love the Ethers. They are growing on me, in spite of my bad attitude. I will not be selling these headphones anytime soon. I would happily pay $500 for a headphone of this quality. Which implies that I unhappily paid $900 for these ones. Live and learn. As much as I lusted after these and as thrilling as it was to be in on the first drop, it was a risk to buy something that no consumer had ever heard before. I hope to attend expos in the future, so I can actually experience stuff before making purchase decisions. As I get to know my MrSpeakers, I am learning things about myself - how I listen and how I think about and enjoy music. I thought I knew these things pretty well before, but this experience has shown that the old cliche about how we never stop learning actually has a lot of truth in it. If you buy a pair, maybe you'll learn something about yourself, too.
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Apr 14, 2019
devolutionary
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Jul 3, 2019
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Surprisingly comfortable; balanced frequency response.
Massdrop X MrSpeakers Ether CX: I've owned these for a few months. I may elaborate later on when I'm comfortable weighing the pros and cons. It does require a bit of a burn-in even though I was initially a skeptic to it. Did a very minimal initial listening test and some frequencies sounded off to my ears. After doing a 100-hr pink noise burn-in I haven't noticed anything odd since. In the end, I've preferred the default sound with just the original black pads inserted in. Not a headphone that will appeal to everyone. Definitely not extremely lively or musical but deceptively good detail retrieval in the high treble. If the price was even $100-200 less, this would be a safe pick for Planar all-rounder. It handles most music seamlessly but certain genres will sound better than others. The even response means that even poorly recorded music won't sound offensive or abrasive. Something like the Sennheiser 58X Jubilee or 6XX will sound sweeter and more engaging in the mids for vocals and certain other planars or dynamics may sound more engaging in the mid-bass. But the Ether CX still relays all of that accurately to my ears. However, it will definitely expose poorly recorded or heavily compressed music. Imaging is quite good but you may not notice that unless you listen to a quality source. The sound-stage is surprisingly not bad for a closed-back planar. Nothing amazing, but at least the music feels like it's coming from the edge of the cups and not against your head. The excellent imaging complements this however. Probably the closest thing to a studio reference headphone I've heard in the closed-back planar category. Impact isn't the greatest in the sub/mid-bass but extension is still quite good (easily hear below 50 Hz). However, I haven't heard anything uncomfortable related to sibilance or higher treble frequencies. So at least this won't be a bad choice for those who are treble-sensitive. The only question is whether this is worth $900 + customs/shipping etc. Obviously the presentation is lacking with a packing box that resembles a shoebox or B-Stock product. The balanced cable adapter is a nice touch but I wish Dan had at least provided the balanced version of the DUM cable. The DUMMER cable will suffice but it's very microphonic and while made of good quality, has a very janky feel to shape retention. I bought a Periapt cable which has done the trick as a quality replacement. I'm sure the audio quality is of no difference though. The felt bag is a nice storage bonus but I probably wouldn't travel with it. Feels like an amenity rather than a necessity. While the nitinol bands obviously make the Ether line extremely flexible and deceptively durable, they are a bit awkward to place on your head. But, once you get the cups on, they're extremely comfortable and the only inconvenience is the protein leather pads get a bit warm after awhile. Otherwise, they are surprisingly light with well distributed weight across the cups. You could probably listen to them for hours on end. Testing: I mostly listened in tandem with the THX AAA 789/SMSL-SU-8 DAC, Aune X7S/X1S and XDuoo X20 DAP for mobile use. Not the easiest to drive, but not the hardest either. Review: I would dock a point (4/5) if price is a concern.
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Would recommend to a friend.
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Jul 3, 2019
BigEdMustapha
183
Jul 5, 2019
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Cool, thanks for shedding some light on that a bit. Coincidently, the Ether C Flows and Aeon Closed are on my radar as well, but with all these fancy (Mass)Drop collaborations like these Ether CXs, I was getting too many choices to pick from.
Jul 5, 2019
devolutionary
76
Jul 5, 2019
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I hear ya. Been taking a break from purchases lately.
Jul 5, 2019
gtb75
138
Mar 17, 2019
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Jumping in on the first Ether CX drop was a bit of a leap of faith for me. I wasn't a huge fan of the original Ether C (pre-Flow) when I heard it in 2016 at Axpona. I had purchased the original open Ether the prior year and was thrilled with them, so I was surprised when I wasn't as impressed by the original Ether C . That being said, I have been through the full evolution of Ether tuning and upgrades with my open set (original 1.1 tuning, the Flow upgrade, and now Flow 1.1 with their new pads), so I had faith that nearly 3 years of experience tuning the C would probably end up being a sound I liked - and it is! I currently have about 140 hours on my Ether CX, so I'm right in the middle of the recommended 100-200 hours for burn-in. I suspect they may continue to improve and open up over time, but I am already really happy with the sound considering the cost and the fact they are a closed back headphone. I purchased them to replace my Mahogany Fostex TH-X00 which I found fatiguing to listen to for extended periods. The X00 is a "fun" headphone for shorter sessions, and produces an incredible quantity of bass, but it has a bit of glare in the upper registers - plus the soundstage is pretty much the middle of your head. The Ether CX outperforms the X00 in every area with the exception of efficiency and bass quantity (but the bass the Ether CX has is better quality). The Ether CX has a vastly wider soundstage, is smoother, more balanced, more resolving, and more comfortable to wear. Comparing the Ether CX to my Ether Flow Open 1.1 (EFO), the EFO has an even wider soundstage, better imaging, and is smoother - but the overall voicing between the two is similar. The EFO is definitely the better of the two, but that's saying a lot considering the cost difference and the fact that the Ether CX is a closed headphone. I did the Ether CX vs EFO comparison with both using the DUM cable that came with my EFO which, by the way, is a nice step up from the included DUMMER cable that comes with the Ether CX. I also had the opportunity to do a quick comparison between the Ether CX and my buddy's Focal Elegia. Both are great closed headphones, but I found the Elegia a bit clinical sounding while the Ether CX just disappears and lets you focus on the music rather than the headphone. If anything the Elegia reminds me of what I remember the original Ether C sounding like a few years back - a bit bright and lacking in bass. As far as amplification goes the Ether CX definitely scales well with better power. My "transportable" amp/DAC is a Fiio K3 and I am using a MrSpeakers 2.5mm balanced DUM cable with it. The K3 has plenty of power to drive the Ether CX to adequate listening levels, but you can tell that it really doesn't have a firm hold on the drivers. Moving up to my THX AAA 789 definitely resolves this... The Ether CX really opens up and comes alive on the 789. Going all the way up to my Liquid Platinum is more of the same - with the most noticeable improvement being significantly wider soundstage and more precise imaging. The 789 is a good pairing, but the Liquid Platinum is a meaningful and significant improvement for the Ether CX. In terms of negatives, the only one that really stands out to me is the packaging and box. It is minimal to say the least. My $200 HD 6XX has a beautiful box and others at a similar price point to the Ether CX, such as the Elex, also have much nicer boxes. I get that the box will likely sit in a closet or basement for most folks after they get the headphones, but still. I also wonder if the few reported issues of damage are due to the minimal packaging and box? I would deduct half a star for that if I could, but it isn't worth it in the overall review of these. In summary, Massdrop was looking for a flagship closed headphone with the Ether CX and they got it. Give them the proper break-in time that all planars benefit from as well as decent amplification and you will probably be really happy with the sound. If you want a closed headphone that doesn't sound like a closed headphone, is pretty much neutral, light enough to be worn for hours, and pretty much disappears into the music, these are a great choice!
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Would recommend to a friend.
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Mar 17, 2019
gtb75
138
Oct 1, 2019
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It was the original C that left me a little cold... I don't think I ever listened to the C Flow (if I did it wasn't for long). You may have misunderstood my review - I have open back Flows (upgraded to 1.1), not closed. That all being said, I think the CX is more than just a C with 1.1 tuning. Based on what Dan from MrSpeakers said the tuning behind the driver is different with the CX as well (where the 1.1 tuning is on the front of the driver). But you are correct, the CX does not have the Flow driver - it's the original Ether driver. Also, the cable included with CX is actually a cheaper cable than the Flow model. I picked up the CX because I was hoping for the overall sound signature of my open back Flow 1.1 but in a closed headphone for travel use. That being said, I feel like I got that... The CX is a really easy to listen to headphone. Lightweight (for a planar) and is tuned in such a way that you can listen fatigue free for hours. Really nice closed headphone for the price.
Oct 1, 2019
9in.5oz
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Oct 1, 2019
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Thanks you for reply. :)
Oct 1, 2019
SurviveD
15
Apr 30, 2019
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Massdrop X MrSpeakers Ether CX... Short Initial Impressions Wow, what a mouthful. Some people were asking what I though about these. Personally, it took me 3 times listening to them at shows/stores to finally actually want a pair. Just a few weeks ago at AXPONA I had a good talk with Dan Clark and he had his own Ether CX with him that he let me listen to. He said that break-in and tuning pads are critical for this headphone, and his set up was awesome. I used my own Hugo 2 at the show and really fell in love with them so I had to get my hands on a pair. Packaging 3/10 - Pretty minimal mark here because it's just a plain cardboard box. Also this pair does not come with the brown MrSpeakers carry case I expected to see. Most shoe boxes have better presentation than this did, but the headphones came to be through UPS to me in good shape so the box integrity was good enough I suppose. Build 8/10 - It's a great build and the carbon fiber ear cups are absolutely fantastic to behold. They look great absolutely stunning. The headphone adjustment is smooth and easy to use. The leather headband is find and the nitinol wire gives decent clamping support and feels like its going to retain the shape intended. Sound 8/10 - This is definitely a touchy subject. I've heard a lot of people say they felt lifeless to them and there's no bass! Well, that's only partially true. First, if you don't believe in break-in, then these aren't for you. That, or this headphone will make you a believer, because it's critical with this pair. I haven't even had mine for long enough to fully break them in. Anyways, I have them tuned with a warmer sound signature, which I love. Definitely adds a little bit of bass. The extension to low frequencies is there but it isn't overpowering. You hear all the notes but without the rumble. I love it, but it took me a bit to understand it. Now I can listen to music and there's not bass notes that seem overpowering making it hard to hear the mids and highs come through. It's an experience for sure, that to me is brand new. It's also the most open/airy sounding closed back I've ever heard. There's a real sound stage, and great imaging. There's nothing I've heard quite like it, and with the benefit of the a Tube amp it adds even more warmth to the whole experience. I've not heard many headphones that can have that warm and inviting of a sound signature while retaining an open and airy sound and being a well isolated closed back so you can take them anywhere. Every time I pick them up it seems to get better and better. Brass instruments sound lovely from big band/orchestra, to a single saxophone that just sounds like your favorite artists are in the room playing 10 feet in front of you. I even like EDM stuff on here just because it's a different presentation than the norm by so much it feels like a different experience and makes me listen to things I already know all over again. Conclusion. I don't think this should be anyone's only headphone. It definitely could be your only closed back if you aren't a bass-head. If you mostly like EDM type music then look elsewhere really. If you're looking for an easy to drive and easy to travel headphone that won't disturb those around you, and you like an even presentation of everything across the board, give these a try. But, give them a fair try, listening to one or two tracks will not do them justice. These took me a good 10-15 hours just to start understanding them, and it was so worth it.
Apr 30, 2019
Dms1998
2
May 24, 2019
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THX 788 i will buy, su-8 v2 is very good price, but i see VMV SMSL D1 also very strong but this price is hard to accept.
May 24, 2019
cpurdy
4
Aug 14, 2019
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Note: I don't have the MassDrop edition of these; I have the original Mr Speakers edition. Yes, these are light on bass -- I'd say that they are "correct" on bass, i.e. they don't artificially pump up the bass. I really love my Mr Speakers. The Monoprice 1060C headphones is roughly the same voicing as these, but comes with super heavy bass. I have both and have A/B compared them extensively; the Monoprice 1060C is a steal if you like bass and crystal clear drivers at a regular ohms level. (Note: The price is 1/4 as much, and the build unfortunately reflects that.)
Aug 14, 2019
mohfuu
28
Nov 21, 2019
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Good materials used in a poorly conceived way
I'm conflicted about these headphones. On one hand they're the best headphones I've heard. On the other hand, there are a multitude of design decisions made in these headphones that ultimately make me kind of scratch my head. The Good. From most enjoyable qualities to less impacting qualities. Accurate sound, the sound that these headphones introduce to your ears are pristine, crystal clear, I feel like no frequencies in these headphones stick out, I never get tired of listening to them. The bass is pretty weak, again, if you're a gamer, anemic bass isn't all bad. You generally don't need any help hearing the in-game sources that typically produce low frequencies because they get in the way of your awareness, what you want to hear is footsteps, the clickety clack of guns being reloaded and gunshots not grenades or atomic bombs. Otherwise if I had to categorize the music I enjoy listening to on these headphones, I'd say just about any natural sounding music, songs with excessive bass will become unbearably tame - these headphones could do bass better and that's about the extent of my sonic qualms here. I mean the bass is.. well I can't think of an adjective that describes "barely acceptable" but the point is - I can still enjoy a lot of techno or metal and what-have-you.. the bass isn't really bad but a lot of bass heavy songs aren't as outrageous on these headphones as I know them to be and that isn't necessarily a bad thing, 90% of actually good songs still sound amazing, 10% of the bass heavy minority of songs that are a worthwhile audio experience suffer a bad fate in these headphones, I might be able to listen to Meshuggah or Tool on these headphones, but I can't really enjoy it, Primus still manages to feels very flicky and impactful but part of me always wonders how much better could it be (or if at all would be?) with more present bass, but then I imagine scenarios where that bass just gets in the way, like, I'm not overly concerned with bass if I'm listening to Phineas Newborn Jr. or Lubomyr Melnyk, or reloading guns and footsteps.. regardless of how I feel about bass here I can't deny that these headphones have produced some of the most enjoyable sounds I've experienced on a headphone and these also happen to be my currently most expensive headphones. Accurate soundstage, if you're a gamer you might often find yourself correctly locating audio cues that your friends (that you always assumed were competent) might not pin-point as accurately as you do with these bad boys on your braincage, but there are headphones out there that perform that job at a similar level to the CX's which "image" just about perfectly too, though finding them in a closed back design of an overall similar quality-level can prove difficult. Doesn't Bleed, it doesn't bleed sound out of the headphone when you wear it but the moment you open the seal around your ear it bleeds out just like an open back headphone perhaps even with more heft, which really showcases how well it contains all that sound within its closed-back design. Quality Materials and aesthetics, I don't have to tell you that this is made with nitinol and carbon fiber because people can't seem to stop talking about it, sure it's impressive and equally handsome, the headset looks like it's ready to set a record at the Nürburgring and it feels like it would survive any eventual collisions. The Bad. - From most severe to least. Hirose connectors, the metallic connectors that plug into the cans produce an annoying sound when you move around (walking) or even when stationary if you tilt your head or look to your side which is very noticeable at low volumes or during lulls in a musical composition or some other kind of media. I've come to genuinely loathe these connectors, they're like an ex that won't stop calling me, or like sitting down on a stone cold toilet seat in the morning - it has become one of the seemingly unavoidable unpleasantries of my life. This is my crux, these hirose connectors are beyond saving. They generate these noises because of little collisions between the little moving parts of the connector, and the amount of "play" between these moving parts and even the female connector and the headset itself. Nothing short of gluing the male into the female, and gluing the female onto the actual cans will likely stop this noise. Is there a functional benefit to these connectors I'm not seeing here? This seems like an unnecessary compromise, the cost is an occasionally clicking connector but what is the payoff? Even being able to detatch the cable isn't worth this price. Height adjustment clamps, the clamps that adjust the height of the headband will sometimes hop or "skip" along the nitinol bands as if the clamps suddenly lose traction and regain traction, you can imagine yourself dragging your finger across a squeaky clean surface, if that surface is a guitar string connected to a cup and your ear is in that cup, you'll year a little *pop* as the guitar string transmits that energy of your finger doing a little "skip" across that string when it suddenly loses and regains traction. This occurs when I turn my head to either left or right, due to twisting at the cups because of how the trapezius displaces the area around the cup against my ear as the muscle flexes and extends - respective to which side I turn my head. I could go into further details about the likely construction-related causes and possible solutions, but the point I'm trying to get across is that an unwelcome sound occurs. I could see z-axial swivel joint circumventing the issue. This skip-pop sound happens infrequently compared to the hirose connector. Still, there are a multitude of cheap solutions that could have circumvented this. Even notched levels on the nitinol band that the clamps could rest on would stop this from happening, not to mention keeping compulsive users from continuously readjusting the clamp height. Insufficient Pads, the earpads are thin, my ears feel cramped in these otherwise large cans, the earpads have also become noticeably compressed at the bottom area over the course of the eight months of semi-daily use (as of writing this, not bad really, even when the headphone is resting it gets clamped on, so it's pretty much compressed 24/7 from the time it leaves the factory). I don't like the pads one bit, their only redeeming quality is that they can be removed easier than they can be put on. Did I mention they feel clammy, because they do. Uncomfortable, I've established that the pads on these headphones are of inadequate thickness, the clamping force (which is slightly tight but not really "bad") coupled with the already thin earpads, leaves very little ear-space inside the "listening chamber" it feels like my ear is pressed into my head, and my ear is otherwise in contact with the pleather on every facet of my ear. The lack of a secondary axial swivel joint somewhere to add a bit of free articulation means that pressure on the already lacking earpads will be distributed more unevenly. The leather strap is not to my liking, the texture is acceptable when my noggin is freshly shaved, but once my hair grows to a normal length, say an inch or so the grippy nature of the suede along with the rigid and thick nature of my hair.. well this combination seems to dig my stiff hairs into my scalp causing irritation, otherwise grippy and neat when I'm clean shaved though I would like to chamfer the edges of the leather strap, I think a padded and less grippy strap would be better for hairy situations. Like the pads, it gets a little point for being removable, but that isn't an admirable quality in any component. Stiff and coarse cables, the cables due to their rigidity exacerbate (or at least increase the likeliness of occurrence) the unwanted sound the hirose connectors occasionally make (as the cables are stiff, they act with more leverage as the weight of cable causes the connector to rattle) and I can't help but to imagine that the hirose connectors would be less prone to shifting around and slapping around between the male and female, and the female and the cups if it were being acted upon by a more pliable cable with less leverage and weight. A less coarse outer-layer insulation would also result in less vibration from general motion that transmits to the cup structure resulting in noise, I could see a more pliable and lighter cable would also help. Break-in, I don't really feel this is a big issue, I initially noticed artifacts in the form of pops and crackles as the diaphragm shook itself into shape which stopped almost entirely by day 2 but I read the manual beforehand which did briefly mention break-in period and thus I was mentally primed for that break-in period so it didn't really annoy me. The break-in is just a brief transient phase whereas the hirose connectors and lack of Z-axis swivel well.. those are here to stay. Replacing the pads and the cable will at the very least cost you additional time, money or in most cases both. Final Words. So to conclude, I would like to reiterate my first statement, I am conflicted. They sound great. They also make sounds that don't sound so great, so your options are: Sit motionless in a corner. Don't shrug. Don't move your head around. Try not to move the cable around too much (you're gonna have to breathe at some point) Cease being irritated by trifles. or Just crank up the volume to drown out all the little noises. You can get new pads and a headstrap if they bother you, amazing, but should I have to? I haven't done it yet, I don't know if pads will negatively impact the sound, seal or comfort of the product (I'm not an audio engineer, or any other kind) but I guess the great thing is that I can always switch back to the setup that I'm already discontent with, the downside: additional costs but possible salvation. I am reluctant to buy anything else from MrSpeakers but I know they have suede angled earpads. And my reluctance really stems from these headphones, these are my first MrSpeakers headphones and.. they are absurd. This headphone seems like it's trying to deliver greatness and to an extent does, but is also trying to cuts corners in weirdly select and absurd areas and showcases bad decisions, the worst among them would be the hirose connector, the second would be the pads. It looks, sounds and feels like a premium headphone yet it has all these issues that affect the fundamental function of a headphone: producing sound - this headphone produces all sorts of creaking and clattering when it's not producing some of the best sounds I've heard. So when it's clearly so capable, why is it so marred by finicky and entirely resolvable problems? Why does it have a carbon-fiber backplate but a centimeter thick pleather earpad? Why does it have a very advanced planar magnetic driver, but it can't swivel on two axes - making things swivel is not some art long-lost to the ages (although it's been around for a long enough time to be forgotten to history or maybe even pre-history) it's fixable. quite easily fixable. This can't be incompetence this has to be straight up absurdity, right? How can a headphone sound this great, have this great a build quality and simultaneously have such simple issues that seem directly related to its construction? I can't imagine a more absurd juxtaposition, Is this creation meant to troll and enrage? This is the most expensive headphone I've purchased so-far and it met my expectations and then some, but my frustrations with it is growing - it's like a frustration-machine, I love it one day and I hate it the next. I am growing increasingly convinced (along frustrations) that it is not worth 900 dollars, if cash is leaking out of your pockets, well the question of value is entirely subjective and it may very well be worth it to you. I find it analogous to a soured relationship between friends in that this headphone actually makes me resentful at times, and resentment has a way of cycling around until something gets kicked to the curb. Most of these flaws shouldn't exist at all, let alone in a 900 dollar headphone.
Nov 21, 2019
zenbert
92
Apr 7, 2019
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I'm broken in just 2 days into it. And the impedance rating on this can was worthless; it's not how easy this thing can be driven but rather how hard it can be driven. Hold the press, this is officially my new can of choice for daily use. It arrive on the 4th in a box that felt suspiciously light. After opening I realize there was no carrying case and the cable was TRS and not XLR. It comes with a XLR adapter to TRS. I'm like WTF. The inner box was intact but the band around the cup was warped. I try to put it on and realize what was going on. A couple of twists on the rings and all was good. I'm putting the CX through its paces using my Gustard X22+WA22 setup, and I can step up at least a notch from what the HD820 and LCD3 can take in terms of the volume. Granted the CX produces music differently. The soundstage is wide; notes are clean, fast, neutral, clear. (the default tuning pads) I forget this is a planar when I received it, looking at the closed cups. First couple of hours of listening I'm thinking it's pretty fast and clean. Not fatiguing to wear but definitely not the exaggerated 'disappearing' feel. Pretty light on the head. Easily better than the Audezes and slightly better than the Senneheiser despite feeling just a tad more noticeable but fits better. Good ergo design. After wearing for several hours and reading the obvious print that this is a planar, I'm like oh yea this is planar which explains why it moves the notes fast. It is smoother than Audezes but tuned less on the bass. Compare with the LCD3, it's more even keeled but warmer than the HD820. Benching against LCD-X, Elex, Fostex TR-X00 (Ebony) which I consider as the cans in the same class, the CX is easily the one that scale more linear with the WA22 amp, able to take more power with predictable incremental juice input. The CX is not as clinical as the Elex but tune with similar resolving ability, it is equally smooth as the Fostex but a tad faster and cleaner, and not as neutral as LCD-X. Compare with the LCD-X, it has slightly more personality but not as archetypical as the HD820 or LCD3.
  • Elex - the overachiever that tried to excel across the range on dynamics and clarity - neutral and excellent resolving through the range. seems to need a tad more punch in the low but nothing to sneer at.
  • Fostex (Ebony) - rounded sound with tight bass, good dynamics and range . Easy to wear and listen to. This is the can you want the bass and can stand on its own across the range
  • LCD-X - neutral without being clinical. clean and fast. the one that Audeze tried to produce for the studio but isn't a natural thing with audeze sound signature
  • CX - the one with the acute neutral personality that seem to do a lot real well without being pretentious of being good at it all. Seems to be good at it just as is
Let's see -- CX so far: -- fast with good transition, excellent dynamics, not as beefy as Audeze on the bass but good attack on the low, closer to the Sennheiser than the Audezes on the highs, able to resolve the highs clearer, wide soundstage without compromising the mids. Well tuned. The one page instruction says 100-200 hrs to break in, so let's see where this goes. At the moment and at the price point, I would rank this as the most versatile can based on the balance of soundstage, dynamics, speed, and ergo (weight/wear). Wow. MrSpeakers is a funky name but the result is fantastic. I need to buy a XLR cable and may be a smaller case for this that will set me back a couple of hundred bucks, but I like how the XC is made and the resulting experience. It's rocking.
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Apr 7, 2019
robo24
75
Apr 15, 2019
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Very much so, thanks! We have similar setups--Also have the Elex and WA7 and the small soundstage is the biggest disappointment for me. 820 on planes has been ok, but my spouse next to me complained about them being too loud when I had them at volumes I needed to to drown out the noise, so it's been back to noise cancelling cans when flying.
Apr 15, 2019
zenbert
92
Apr 15, 2019
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You must fly the A380 or dream liner on elevated class :-) . I think the CX is definitely distinct in that it has a personality with the tuning but is more subtle than the HD or the LCD(3). I like it a lot. One final note, where the HD NEEDS more juice, the CX can do without a beefy amp. It doesn't hurt though as I learn it can handle more power, linearly and usefully. Cheers!
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Apr 15, 2019
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