Two years in the making, and many long nights have gone into creating a very detailed, natural and organic sound. No question: ETHER is Mr Speaker's best work to date.
On the comfort front, ETHER weighs in at 370 grams (13.1 oz) making it the lightest full-size planar on the market. To cut weight without sacrificing performance they invented an industry-first headband made of NiTinol “memory metal.” NiTinol is super-light and ultra-cool because it’s very flexible for a great fit with minimal clamp.
We also designed a new flat ear pad that reduces the size of the headphone, provides a great seal, and since it’s made from our signature lamb-leather, can be worn for long sessions without fatique.
We think it looks pretty nice, too.
So why name the headphone ETHER? 19th century physics had no concept of hard vacuum filling to “fill” the vast reaches of space. ETHER was an imaginary substance that filled the voids between the stars. Since a lot of what makes ETHER fun is the sense of space and the deep quiet between the notes, and ETHER was a bit “magical,” it seemed like a nice name.
We love ETHER and if you try it we hope you’ll enjoy it too. On behalf of the team, we look forward to hearing your impressions.
Innovations in the ETHER headphone
It is an all-new design that makes use of several technology and manufacturing innovations to improve performance. ETHER is built around MrSpeakers designed single-ended planar driver. To optimize performance the planar has been processed using our patent-pending V-Planar technology.
ETHER also uses a NiTinol "memory metal" headband to reduce weight and improve comfort. NiTinol is Nickel-Titanium alloy that is heat-treated to a geometry we set that's ideally mated to our ear-ads to deliver a quality seal with minimal pressure.
V-Planar Driver Processing
Simply stated, a conventional planar driver is usually assumed to move as a flat surface. In reality, this is not possible as the driver substrate is inelastic and “locked” at the boundaries so the driver will move more as an arced surface then a flat plane, as conceptually illustrated in Figure 1.
FIGURE 1: Conventional Driver Motion
Over the years, different approaches have been developed to address nonlinear planar motion and the artifacts it can cause. Fostex patented their RP technology, used on all their drivers used in our headphones, to reduce panel nonlinearities. Another approach, known as knurling, was patented in 1997 by Bruce Thigpen, founder of Eminent-Technology and pioneer of numerous planar magnetic speaker technologies.
MrSpeakers' felt it would be possible to improve on the solutions available to date, so we collaborated with Bruce to develop V-Planar knurling technique (we filed for a patent with Bruce as a co-inventor). In simplified form, V-Planar technology addresses nonlinear driver motion by more deeply creasing the diaphragm to increase compliance. Much as pleats allow an accordion to expand and contract without stretching the fabric, the creases in the driver "open" slightly during larger excursions as illustrated in Figure 2. When the driver is processed, the resultant peaks and troughs are deep enough to maintain more of their physical structure even after the driver has been tensioned.
FIGURE 2: V-Planar Driver Motion
Increasing the driver compliance allows it to behave as a more idealized planar surface and also improves it's acceleration. With more of the driver surface in linear motion, V-Planar can not only push more air at low frequencies, but with greater acceleration also delivers better dynamics, high-end frequency response, and measurably lower distortion. The Sound MrSpeakers' is committed to is simply magical sound. They are trying to avoid too much "marketing speak," and deliberately avoiding a lot of prose and to simply say they love the sound of their drivers post V-Planar processing. They do sound more natural and engaging to us as well.
InnerFidelity Review by Tyll Hertsens - Nov 2015
Digital Audio Review by John H. Darko - May 2015