The Ether CX is a collaboration between MrSpeakers and Drop. They feature a “V-Planar” planar magnetic driver with an ability to tune them with provided filters, they are based on a very well know Ether C from MrSpeakers.
This unit was lent to me by a friend and has since been returned.
In the box
- Balanced XLR cable
- Balanced XLR to 1/8″ adapter with screw in 1/4″ adapter
- Sound filters
- Travel pouch
Build quality and accessories
Starting with the packaging, the headphones come in a plain cardboard box with barely any branding. The cable is quite stiff and originally comes with off-brand connectors which were replaced by the original owner due to their questionable quality. The headphones themselves are quite well built, everything feels sturdy and the headband even though light and “flimsy” doesn’t seem like it will break because of how flexible it is. The cups have a nice smooth finish, the pads are nice and soft.
Both the packaging and the cable feel as if we were dealing with a 150$ product at most.
Fit and comfort
For being quite a heavy headphone the CX is very comfortable to wear. The top suspension headband gives a very even weight distribution alongside an average clamp force. Unfortunately, the pads don’t have much space inside which makes the ears get hot quite quickly. Nonetheless, the comfort considering the size and weight of those headphones is very good.
The Ether CX has a fairly “customisable” sound due to the filters available in the box. They can make them anything from bright to significantly warm. Due to this, I will not focus on the signature but more on the technicalities and other aspects of the sound.
The bass extension is very good, it handles the low end of “Bonefield – Window” without much of an issue. The texture and detail are at an adequate level, there’s no bleed into the midrange even with the bassier filters on. What’s lacking for a planar is the impact, you don’t get the planar bass slam, instead, you get a clean bass response.
The midrange is a mixed bag, the vocals take a slight step back, even though they still present a vast amount of detail they also can feel as if they were muffled because of it. Because of their focus, the background detail is very good, quiet background sounds get brought forward and are much more noticeable which makes worse recorded tracks hard to listen. The timbre is fairly good, across the board. There’s an overall dullness to the sound, everything sounds like a recording rather than music.
Yet again, the treble performance is technically good. The detail and timbre are there so is the speed, but the background is brought too close forward which makes a lot of music hard to listen to. “Victor Wooten – Keep it Low” line-noise is really noticeable and forward whereas on for example Hifiman Arya the same noise is in the background and can be somewhat ignored.
Imaging and Soundstage
The stage is very narrow and closed, it doesn’t expand that much past the cups and always feels quite crowded. However, the imaging is very good, it spans from left to right without any dead spots. Depth is average but allows enough room for instruments to breath and feel separated.
Ether CX left me quite puzzled, from one side it would make for a good monitoring headphone since it brings all the “issues” forward and makes them noticeable with a fair bit of possible tuning with the included filters. On the other hand, it is a very dull-sounding headphone with sub-par accessories and packaging and a premium 900$ price tag. To me they are made for a very narrow audience, their price is also too high considering the accessories and packaging.