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I just can’t join this drop. I love massdrop for some of its value, but this drop just seams off to me. We are already on Esther 2 Flows and these don’t even include the original flow drivers. I’m out.
The Ether 2 is $2k USD... 3 months ago the Ether C was $1500USD.
I know people in the business, the mark up on audio products is 100%+. The HD 6XX goes for $199 here and the HD 650’s still retail for $400+. This is a parts dump to get their money back, this might seam like a value, but I don’t really think it is. Changing ear pads and dampening matierials costs almost nothing and then saying its been retuned to sound better is just a sales pitch. A real value would be a Massdrop Flow X for $1k which is still way more than what these cost to make... planar drivers don’t cost that much to manufacture anymore. Monoprice is producing closed back high end planar units for $300...
I know "people in the business" as well - not that it matters at all. If someone wants to buy Monoprice M1060/M1060C planars at $300/$330 then by all means do so. I have no problem with the Monoprice headphones, but it is hard to argue they are pretty much just a knock off of Audeze gear. Yes the Monoprice cans are a good value, but would they exist if the Audeze "original" wasn't around? If the time and effort a US manufacturer with US production like MrSpeakers puts into a product isn't worth it to you then buy the knock off. Not everyone is willing to pay the premium for the "boutique" product and is fine with the mass produced version, and that's their choice.
Considering the target for these seems to be transportable reference closed headphone you can take with you the Ether CX seems like a solid offering. If I am like others buying these I will be driving them with portable source gear - not the home gear that drives my Ether Flow 1.1, HD6XX, and others. Keeping that in mind, I don't think what I'm "missing" from the full Flow C will be an issue, and certainly not worth the extra cost for me. Also, Dan has stated that there are no plans for an Ether 2 C in the immediate future, so that argument is out the window.
For what it's worth, I have owned Monoprice planars before (M560) and currently own Ether Flow 1.1 opens. My Ethers started out as the original Ether open, then were upgraded to the Flow, and I just upgraded them to 1.1 level last week. The upgrade cost for the 1.1 update was nominal ($30), but I have no doubt Dan spent hours tweaking the tuning to get it right - that time costs money. That being said, I wouldn't underestimate the difference tuning has made with the Ether CX. The original Ether C was a TOTL closed headphone even before the Ether C Flow was released, so I personally feel that $900 for these with the updated pads and years of updated tuning Dan has done with this platform is a reasonable price.
I understand all this and the labor costs, but ultimately, I just don’t agree. We have a few new releases that just came out that are likely going to give these a huge run for their money. Both the $899 Focal Elegia and $899 Sony MDR-Z7M2 - both of which were just released at same price are utilizing new drivers and technology. I still think these cans need a minor price drop to remain relevent for a close back design. I don’t know, maybe I’m being too hard to on this drop. It’s possibly worth it, but now that Focal and Sony have released updated versions of some of the best closed back headphones, we’ll have to see. Especially Focal, which IMO has some of the best headphones I’ve ever heard. I own the open back clear’s and think they’re the best headphones I’ve ever had. Should be interesting to hear their closed backs.
I am fully aware of the Elegia, but I personally prefer the sound of the Ether planar drivers over the Focal dynamic drivers when it comes to open cans. Newer doesn't always mean better - again, the Ether C was considered a TOTL closed headphone in its own right at its original price. If the Ether CX can improve on that sound at a $899 price point then it will do just fine.
I have no doubt the Elegia will be good, but probably a very different sound than the Ether CX. Different is different, not better. The Eleiga is Focal's first shot at a closed headphone I believe, so it's uncharted territory for them. I am confident in what Dan and MrSpeakers can produce after going through "the Ether evolution" with my opens, so I am fine jumping onboard for the first run of these.
Sure, the Focals are a type of dynamic driver, but they are very different dynamic drivers. Initial reviews from Cnet and a few others have hem comparing and outperforming some planar closed backs like Audeze’s. To each their own I guess. The Focal clears are the best headphones I’ve ver heard personally and like their sound, if they can get that right in a closed back... that will be where my $900 goes. Additionally, the new Sony’s, I’ve got to give them a listen too. Like Focals, they use a very different custom driver that’s very different than regular drivers. I’ve heard the CX’s before and that’s my issue, the sound was very good, but the bass was too light for my tastes.
Either way, let me know your initial thoughts on these compared to the original CX’s. That’s what I’m waiting for and why I havent joined the drop.
My current "good" closed cans are first run TH-X00s in the original mahogany. They have incredible bass, but I find they are tiring to listen to at length - just too V-shaped in their response. Good "fun" but not as good for long term listening. The Focals are some of the best dynamics I've heard, but I just personally prefer planars. If I had to describe the Focals sounded like "hi-fi" while the Ethers just sound like music. I also have Magnepan 3.7i speakers at home, so planars in general seem to be my preference. I also have Gershman Grande Avant Gardes in a bedroom (less space), so I appreciate a good dynamic speaker too - hence my HD6XX in headphones.
As for hearing the CX, I didn't think anyone has yet? They are brand new and it sounds like they didn't make it to RMAF last weekend like planned. According to Dan the CX is the same driver diaphragm as the C Flow, but without the Flow technology in the motor. He also said the CX "has its own rear damping system and the response differs" from the original C. The 1.1 upgrade for the C Flow just changes the damping in front (and port tuning), so if the CX has tweaked rear damping it could end up being a nice step up from the original C. I personally thought the original C was a little too flat for my taste, so if the CX is a "warmer" C I will enjoy it. Dan built a business tweaking the Fostex T50 platform so I have no doubt he worked his magic with the CX. We shall see!
I don’t own the original CX, but my boy from Cali owned a bunch of the Fistex mods and got the CX when they came out so I’ve heard them. I also have the cherry Fostex TH-X00’s, they’re great cans... but agree. They can be tiring after time. My current go to cans are the Focal
clears for everything, however I do enjoy the 660’s and AKG 7XX’s. As far as planets, I got the Anandas recently and they’re pretty amazing. Even though I personally cant stand the company, they do make good stuff.
I own a pair of M1060 headphones for quite sometime and I consider them a good pair to start with but they are not as good as something like LCD-2 or LCD-2C,not even close. They are not even close to the level of my iSine 20. Yes they are good but simply they are not as good as the TOTL headphones out there.
That being said, it’s true that there’s some over estimation when it comes to pricing but I can understand that, giving how much time and money was spent to develop the product..
And also agree on the argument you made about Mrspeakers Ether C and Ether C Flow. Ether C are extremely good and the difference between them and the Flow isn’t that big of a deal.
Ether CX is the new Massdrop exclusive version of the Ether C - nobody has them yet. Based on Dan's comments and measurements the CX is tuned differently than the C. Same basic hardware as the C but with tuning and pad changes.
I can't speak to the CX tuning changes but the new pads alone made a significant difference for my open Ether Flows. I ordered the updated pads when I ordered the 1.1 upgrade and compared the old pads to the newer firmer memory foam - substantial difference. Considering what just a pad and tuning/damping change did to my Ether Flow opens I am excited to hear how the Ether CX improves on the original Ether C.
Agree on all points. The M1060 is a nice option, but some of the more expensive choices are a bit more refined - both in terms of sound and build quality. As far as the Ether C versus the Ether C Flow, I agree that the difference was meaningful but the "base" C was no slouch.
If the Ether CX gives 80-90% of the Ether C Flow performance at nearly half the price I'll be happy! I have heard the closed Aeon before and there is just something I find more "natural" sounding about the larger Ether driver.
Just an FYI, people have heard the CX at RMAF and have put their impressions online. Many have been so gracious as to compare the CX to the Elegia as well. I won't get into the minutia, but the Elegia has more than made a big entrance. So much so, I had to own a pair myself and they quite easily surpass any other closed back I've heard thus far. They have essentially taken a Focal Clear and turned it into a closed back can.
I'm personally still interested in this drop as I would love to own a TOTL closed back planar. I just realistically don't know how much I would pick them over the Elegia or Elex.
Based on Dan's own comment below in this thread it sounds like the Ether CX didn't make it to RMAF:
" Sorry to those who visited us at RMAF to hear the CX. We had a double failure, I left the unit on the measuring rig before leaving for the show, and then it got shipped for Saturday delivery and didn't show up. "
There are a few references in on here to people who supposedly heard them at RMAF, but nobody on HF or SBAF has posted feedback yet. Unless somebody else brought them to RAMF I don't see how anybody has heard the Ether CX yet?
Regardless, as is the case with most things in the audiophile world, this will come down to a different and not necessarily better discussion. If you like the sound of dynamic drivers you will probably prefer the Focals - if you like planars you will probably prefer the MrSpeakers. I have not heard either the Elegia or the Ether CX yet, but my preference tends towards planars, hence me taking the plunge on these unheard. Based on lots of well documented Ether C reviews I suspect the Ether CX will be at least equal to anything else in their price range. At the very least they probably won't have the initial quality issues a couple of Elegia owners seem to have encountered.
Interesting, as their are people stating impressions of the CX: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/canjam-rmaf-2018-impressions-oct-5-7-2018.890427/page-7. The same individual and some others have been sharing their impressions between the two as well. I enjoy planars and have a couple, I was just sharing my thoughts on the situation since I was in the same boat and ended up with the Elegia in the end. I'm also certain these will drop again since we didn't hit the cap so I'd rather have the Elegia now with my $900 and get the CX after Feb when they'll actually be avaiable.
Not trying to start a pissing contest but I was just sharing what others have heard and our impressions. I'm listening to the Elegia now. I had Aeon Flow Closed's in the past (which the CX has a lot in common with) and much prefer the Focal's.
Also, I'm unaware of any issues with the Elegia that aren't anecdotal. They've literally not even been out a week and I am having a hard time finding any info on this with my weak Google-fu.
Again, unless someone else brought them to RMAF I don't know how they would have made it there if Dan wasn't able to get them to the show. Based on Dan's comments in this thread the Ether CX is a step above the AFC. Going off my own experience on Ether vs Aeon that wouldn't surprise me. The Ether platform is a much larger driver and ear cup size. Kind of like a modded Camaro vs a Corvette... Yes the Camaro in certain trim levels can approach (and even surpass) the performance of the Corvette, but the Corvette is better starting point from a performance perspective and has more headroom to grow.
I appreciate the sound of the Focals I've heard from a technical perspective but I personally am not partial to their sound signature. There is no denying they are a great headphone, but for whatever reason my taste seems to tend towards planars - T50 MK3, M560, Mobius, and my EFO1.1. Regardless, until there are comprehensive reviews of the ECX it is hard to make an absolute judgement that headphone X is better than them. I will say from a purely aesthetic perspective I prefer the ECX to the Elegia. To me the carbon fiber back of the ECX looks nicer than the dimpled plastic of the Elegia - again, personal preference.
As for Elegia "issues" noted here:
I know this is so off point.... I just picked up an open box M560. I’ve only had it for one day, and the only word I can describe it so far is “odd”? Is this what planars sound like? What did you think?
This is an Ether CX thread so I'll be brief... I bought the M560 (Monoprice) for the fold flat form factor. I liked them, but only in the open configuration - the magnetic backs to make them "closed" were clearly an afterthought IMO. I will also say they took at least a week of 24x7 play time before they sounded good. That all being said, they sounded decent open, broken in, and with modest amplification.
Yup off topic, thanks for taking a minute!
I dont got any issues with my elegia.
Mark up is more like 1000%
I have to agree that value isn’t there. Much of the cost of bringing product to market is during R & D. When these “collaborations” with MD gets put on after they had run their production cycle, manufacturers have already recouperated their initial investment in time and R & D and made nice profit From normal sale. These collabulations should be costing much less for these outdated products and MD and manufacturers could still make good money. Let’s be frank. They are not offering ground breaking new tech, and cost of manufacturing old model would cost only small fraction as they probably already have production Line set up with molds and what not. I have fallen to buying few of these collabulations myself, but I just don’t see much benefit unless they cost much less than normally offered here.
I've heard the Monoprice planars and high-end is the last thing I'd call them. They're nowhere near as well engineered as the Audeze products they attempt and fail to imitate
Yeah, I personally do not think they’re that great either.
I didn’t say it was uncharted territory, you’re reesponding to the wrong person. I’m looking forward to the Elegia.
Fair enough, I responded to the wrong post with that one
I think it's unfair to say that the Elegia is uncharted territory for Focal, making loudspeakers has given them decades of experience working with sealed enclosures, they're just now applying that knowledge to what they learned by making the Elear, Clear and Utopia
Good points. In my mind, if they are comfortable, then all that matters is how they sound. New drivers and technology don’t matter much to me if they don’t sound better. I also wanted closed back. I would love to hear the Focals back-to-back vs. these. Perhaps I’ll go to Axpona again and make that happen. Do you have HiFiMan HE-4XX? I can’t believe how good they sound for the money.
I have the HE-4xx and elegia. These go head to head paired up with my fiio A5 amp.
Elegia is faster detail in highs,mid and bass, bass comes in when it neeeds to, closer sound stage, good noise isolation closedback, more comfortable, easy to drive, makes some older songs sound crappy because of crappy recordings, pads get warm after 2hrs, expensive price for detailed closebacks(France QC) that almost sound planar for a dynamic driver.
He4xx has sparkly warm highs, great planar wide soundstage but lacks some detail in mids, bass is wider and lacks some detail, easy to drive and makes every genre old/ new sound fun, pads get warm after 30mins, feels heavier, high valve for cheap cost for sound with China QC.
For fun sound, value the he4xx wins hands down. For higher detail sound the elegia wins but is the elgia worth 4.5× the price of 1 he4xx? Hell no to most people but elegia is more superior in sound. For me I would have to say yes and no. I love the he4xx and elegia equally its like apple and oranges. I dont care where theyre both made but both are awesome headphones to get. You wont regret it. You gotta spend a little to live a little. Hope this helps.
Funny that you mention Axpona. That is where I heard the original Ether opens for the first time back in 2015 - and I pre-ordered them as soon as I got home from the show. They were being driven by the Liquid Carbon, and I ordered that as well at the same time. Very good synergy!
I haven't heard the Elegia but the feedback over on Head-Fi about Elegia combined with some of the assessments here is about what I expected for the Focal "house sound". Some of the comments about the Elegia say they sound a bit "forward" or "audiophile". This tracks with my personal experience of the Clear versus the Ether Flow... The Clear was very good, but the Ether Flow was just more musical to my ears.
I definitely agree that the audiophile hobby is one of diminishing returns though. Something like the HE-4XX will probably get you 90% of the sound, and getting that last 10% typically costs exponentially more. If you are coming from the HE-4XX the Ether CX may be more your preference, but both are likely good options. I am definitely looking forward to February and my Ether CX though :)
I have ESS 422h, Sennheiser HD-6XX and HiFiMan HE-4XX. The 4XX are my favorites, but it is a bit of apples and oranges since the ESS are closed back. I am hoping that these sound as good as the 4XX but in a closed-back unit. I use a Schitt Asgaard 2 with my planars and a Darkvoice 336SE with the Senns and the ESS.
I am not familiar with the 422H but they look pretty cool. I have never seen an air motion driver in a headphone before - interesting. I have the HD-6XX and keep kicking around the idea of getting the DV336SE or some other tube amp for them, but the Liquid Carbon (balanced) does really well with them as it is. That being said, everyone says tubes are the hot setup for them so we'll see.
As for the Ether CX, I expect they will be a pretty decent step up from the HE-4XX based on what I remember hearing of the HE-400I (also at Axpona). To your point of comfort, I expect you will be really happy with the Ether CX when you get them. Part of the selling point for me with the Ether in the first place was comfort (as well as being relatively amplifier friendly). The new Ether 2 is even lighter still, but I don't see myself making that upgrade. That being said, I will definitely be trying them out at Axpona in the spring :)
4XX is garbage, non-existent bass
Wrong. Either your pair is defective or your source/DAC/AMP is not a good match.
My 4xx has about as good of bass as you can expect from an open-backed headphone.