This is the official thread to discuss the MrSpeakers AEON Flow Closed Headphones.
Working as a wagie rn before college, but hoping to get these. I tried them at AXPONA and they were absolute stunning. For closed backs, these are totally endgame material. I honestly liked them more than the HD820, especially given the price differential.
I use them as office headphones and love them!
I find them to be a tad mid-heavy but that gives them a nice smooth, natural sounding signature. A slight boost in sub bass would make them almost perfect for me.
That’s what I perceived from listening. If nothing else they’ll give some diversity to my setup since all of my other headphones are more treble-y. Will be nice for classical stuff toom
They are definitely a very natural sounding headphone. They are pretty much what I wish the NightOwl Carbon’s were. I prefer the open but obviously the open can’t be used in the same environments as the closed.
They are also comfortable as hell. That came as a surprise to me because when I first saw them I thought they would have a pretty heavy clamping force.
They look like they’re heavy, but surprisingly not. And they isolate sound pretty well too. Seem to be really well built which is nice.
Ya, eventually I’m going to probably look to sell my NightOwls and upgrade to the AEON closed.
From what I had read on the AEONs, I wasn’t expecting to like them as much as I did. My main reason for keeping the NightOwls around (aside from the fact that I think they are fun) is that they are easily the comfiest headphones I’ve put on my head and I use them for 10+ hours a day in the office. All although the Aeons aren’t quite on that same level of comfort, they are pretty damn close and can easily become my go-to work headphones.
Out of curiosity, what source/dac/amp are you using with the Aeon Closed at the office?
I use the audio-gd NFB-11 with them.
I originally bought the ifi micro idsd BL for the office, and used the NFB-11 in the house, but I liked the idsd so much that I decided to switch between the two.
We’ve had the AEON Closed for a while now and I figured I would give some quick impressions on them. I’ve included my thoughts and test tracks.
They come with a nice black case that has a pouch in the inside for the cable. Very minimalistic which fits in with Dan Clark’s personality. I do wish the case had a handle on it like the Clear or AudioQuest case as it is fairly big to carry around in your hands. Other than that they come with either the 4-pin XLR “Dummer Cable” or the 3.5mm with the 1/4" adapter “Dummer Cable”, some tuning pads, a letter of authenticity and some instructions.
The build quality of the headphones is great. Super comfortable and lightweight. The headphones do have some clamping force but due to the lightweight carbon fibre build, the clamping is not noticeable. The headband is pretty slim and I forgot it was even on my head after a while. The pads are nice and soft but I did find that my ears would sometimes touch the tuning pads if I had the headphones moved around a certain way.
I will mention that the gloss-like finish on the headphones is very prone to fingerprints and smudging so there is some wiping required after a couple of listening sessions.
The AEON Flow Closed (AFC) is very different than most closed-back headphones that I have heard. One of the more natural sounding headphones that I’ve experienced but it’s bass response does leave something to be desired. I used the stock tuning pads that were already inside the earcups when they were shipped as I found they ventured into being too bright without the pads. The set-up I used was:
Macbook Pro --> Roon --> Tidal --> Dragonfly Black
Macbook Pro --> Roon --> Tidal --> Dragonfly Red
Mackbook Pro --> Roon --> Tidal --> SPL Director DAC --> SPL Phonitor X (w/o DAC addon)
I found the Dragonfly Black had a hard time driving the AEON Flow Closed properly. Even the Dragonfly Red I was pushing close to 75-85% for volume.
Treble: Fairly detailed. Without the tuning pad, it definitely came through with greater depth but it got to the point of being sibilant for me. I’m sure there are those who listen to the AFC without the tuning pads and love it but it definitely wasn’t for me. With the tuning pads though, I found it to be just about perfect. Comin’ Home (Live) by City and Colour (Live at the Orange Lounge) really dazzled with Dallas Green’s fingers moving up and down the guitar strings. Little Lion Man - Live (The Road to Red Rocks) by Mumford and Sons is another track that stood out with the quick acoustic guitar strumming at the beginning of the song. It just sounded right. _Elements (Orchestral Version)_by Lindsey Stirling was another outstanding track with my mind being able to see her running the bow across her violin throughout the whole thing.
Mids: Probably the stand-out of these headphones. Incredibly clear and detailed. Listening to live performances really shows just how good the mids are. Jay Malinowski’s raspy voice in Santa Monica is downright incredible while Jasmine Thompson’s piano cover of The Days absolutely shines. Switching over to Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up was a breathtaking experience. When it hit the 3:23 mark when the choir kicks in, it really allowed me to see why people like the AFC. The AFC mids are easily some of the best I’ve heard in a pair of closed-back headphones.
Bass: Definitely the weak-point of the headphones. If you enjoy boomy bass, these are definitely not the headphones for you. The bass is tight but it is certainly not punchy and it won’t make your head shake. They do have decent bass extension and I find they reach deeper than the Oppo PM-3 or HifiMAN HE400i. Matoma’s Old Thing Back didn’t quite have the rumble I was looking over. Matt Lange’s Testarossa (while sounding great) just didn’t elicit the same visceral response that the Campfire Audio Cascade did. I would say the bass is refined but will disappoint those looking for some more thump.
Soundstage and imaging: The AFC has a decent soundstage. I didn’t find it incredible but it certainly wasn’t bad. For a closed-back headphone, I would say its definitely in the above average category. I found the imaging and separation to actually be quite good. Listening to The Unforgiven by Metallica was pretty fantastic.
Passive Noise Isolation: Very good. Andrew tried yelling at me a couple of times while doing this write-up and I could not hear a thing. Due to their shape, if you wear glasses I could see some leakage happening but I had no issues. If you’ve used the AudioQuest NightOwl the noise isolation is on par if not a little better.
Test tracks used (with a brief description for each)
Santa Monica - Jay Malinowski Wonderful acoustic guitar and he has a unique raspy voice that really stands out with certain headphones
The Unforgiven - Metallica One of my favourite songs. As I said in a previous post, if the headphones make this song sound bad I don’t bother with them.
Testarossa - Matt Lange Electronic track with a lot going on. Offers a very unique listening experience.
Weapon - Matthew Good One of my favourite Matthew Good Band songs. The guitar work in this song is incredible and the vocals really shine.
Little Lion Man (Live) - Mumford and Sons Back when me and Andrew were younger and going to school, we used to frequent a pub in our neighbourhood. Every weekend the live band would play this song and it just kind of became a staple in my playlists.
Elements (Orchestral Version) - Linsdsey Sterling Pretty riveting piece of music, great for testing the highs, mids and lows
The Days - Jasmine Thompson Wonderful female vocals in this song along with some soothing piano. This doesn’t normally fall into my normal listening but I am a fan of Jasmine Thompson.
Swing Life Away - Rise Against
Comin’ Home (Live) - City and Colour Dallas Green is a very talented artist and his voice is downright incredible. Between the sliding of his fingers on the guitar strings, his vocal range, and the emotion in his voice, this song can easily send shivers down your spine. (The fact that he is also singing about wanting to return to Canada also helps!).
Mr Jones - The Counting Crows Song full of interesting dynamics. Very fun to listen to with good headphones.
Flower Dance - DJ Okawari DJ Okawari make some excellent electronic chill piano tracks. Flower Dance is one of my favourites.
Smoke - Brian Fallon Brian Fallon is the lead singer for the band The Gaslight Anthem and his solo work is great. He also provides some very raspy vocals.
Two Weeks - All That Remains This metal song from All that Remains has some incredible double kicks in it. The drums in this song are super energetic.
I must say that my opinion actually changed on the MrSpeakers AEON Flow Closed as I am sitting here with them on my head. Initially, my write-up was going to be more negative. We had both the Campfire Audio Cascade, the Aeon Flow Closed and the Audeze LCD-3 in for a while and I found I never reached for the AFC. I had initially put them on my head for a while and took them off and kept reaching for the Cascade or the LCD-3 instead. Simply because they were more fun. But after listening to them while I write this, my opinion on them is different. While I still find the Cascade to be the more fun of the two, I actually find myself leaning towards the AEON Flow Closed if I was looking for a closed-back office headphone. The detail and clarity of the Aeon Flow Closed is much better than the the Cascade. The reason that I will probably go with the Cascade for portable end-game over the AEON Flow Closed is the AFC is so much harder to drive.
Overall I think the AEON Flow Closed are one of the most detailed closed-backs I’ve heard. Music does sound natural through them and live music in particular really shines with the AFC. However, if you a fan of booming bass or you are an electronic music listener, I would definitely look at the Campfire Audio Cascade instead.
Does anyone have experience with the AEON Flow using XLR/balanced versus the standard cable? A store nearby has both the open and closed models to demo, and am planning a visit.
I took the plunge and bought as set of AEON Flow Closed. These were meant to be a closed compliment to my open Focal Elex. They arrived yesterday.
Less boxy sounding than other closed headphones, with no noticeable internal reflections. However, as closed headphones they are like listening in an anechoic chamber rather than the relaxed pressure and ambient room sounds of open headphones. But, sometimes you really need to block the background noise…
The standard white 1 notch ear pads make the high end too fuzzy and muffled. I removed them in favor of nothing or the black foam pads. I never tried the 2 notch pads, and probably never will.
After breaking them in overnight with M.I.A. “Matangi” on an endless loop (~20 hours of use), they have full range neutrality, are good with the nuances, and good with the dynamics. [M.I.A. involves overwhelming percussion and sometimes drives me crazy, but seemed to be a good way to hit the entire audio range.]
As with my previous solid state versus Massdrop CTH amp comparisons, the contributions of the CTH remain the same. In sum, the CTH (1) adds bloom and warmth to the bass, but loses precision and nuance in the process, (2) adds a faint hazy background of instability that tends toward the Rockabilly/tremolo tone [it works well with some sources], and (3) accentuates transitions or “sizzle”. Most of the time I stick with clean solid state amps.
Focal Elex are brighter than the AFC and a bit brassy at the high end. However, nothing I have compares to the Elex’s dynamic impact. I got the AFCs partly because massive dynamics can be too much with poorly recorded material.
AQ Nighthawk Carbons have a very warm veil, blanket, or coloring versus both the Elex and AFCs. [Using the mouse fur pads rather than the pleather pads with the NCs.] It’s as if someone poured cream into Minestrone soup – not something you want all the time and something you never escape. The NCs also have less detail and flat dynamics versus the other two. The NCs are half the price and remain a decent value for warm headphones.
The NCs are the best for comfort, largely because of their elastic headband and ear cup suspension system. The AFCs a half step behind due to greater clamping force and the lack of suspension features, but are still extremely comfortable. The Elex are heavy and well behind the other two, they are just moderately comfortable.
I’m happy with the AFCs so far.
It’s funny, I used the filters once when they were straight out of the box, hated what they did to the sound and never changed them around again.
I just sold off my pair NightOwls because i bought the Elegia but I would say the NightOwl is still one of the comfiest headphones out there. The AFC beats the Elegia in terms of weight but the AFC clamps a little tighter. I like the pads on the AFC the best out of the three though.
I’m hoping we can get the AFC back in the office sometime soon as I would like to do some back to back with them and the Elegia since I find they are a little closer in sound signature than the AFC vs Cascade although the Elegia has more dynamic impact.
I’ll be ready to send the AFC and AFO back on Monday.
We’re doing a mini-meet in at my place here in Seattle this Sunday, so while I’m done with my listening and picture taking, so I figured it’d be good to have them on hand so a half-dozen others can get a listen - even if only briefly.
And then my review will follow shortly (next up is my tia Fourté review, which will be today or tomorrow, and the AFC/AFO will follow that).
I listened to the AFC for a few days without any filter at all, but eventually determined they reduce air-compression fatigue. So I now keep the black foam filters in place, as they have a negligible impact on tone and quality.
Comfort is the only reason I’ve kept the NightHawk Carbons around, as my newer Audeze LCD-2 Classics outclass them in every other way. I may sell the NHCs soon, as I rarely choose them now.
Focal is all about intensity, clarity, and dynamics. The AFC is about planar punch and gentle diffusion. Both are fine, but they are different products for different moods and sources.
Agreed. I’ve heard both and like my AFC, but would not buy the AFO.
It always bums me out when people describe AFCs as being completely lifeless. I get the impression that they must be listening through some pretty low current amps.
Both the AFO and AFC definitely respond well to having some power behind them. IF they’re sounding lifeless, it’s almost certainly due to lack of current. And the bass on the AFO suffers even more if the available power is marginal.
I think there are a lot of people out there that have become conditioned to only looking at the impedance in their figuring out what a headphone really needs to drive it. If you compare something like the classic HD650 to the AFO or AFC, they’ll conclude that the Sennheiser is hard to drive and the AFO or AFC are easy to drive …
But for, say, 100 dB peaks, while neither needs much wattage (less than half a mW for the Senns, and 6.5 mW for the MrSpeakers) , and both only require about 0.3V, the AFO/AFC need almost 20x the current that the Sennheisers will pull.
Yes, the AFC are not too hard to drive but do require more power than the 13 ohm impedance might suggest. The AFC sound pretty good from my portable FiiO Q5 single-ended output, but very odd and distorted from the balanced output. They sound fine from the balanced output of my desktop amps. This seemingly follows from the current draw or output impedance of the Q5’s balanced implementation.