MrSpeakers AEON Flow Closed - Official Thread


I’m wondering if the connector you’re using for the balanced output with your Q5 isn’t somehow slightly misaligned. There’s not really a concrete specification for the spacing/sizing of the connections on a 2.5mm TRRS connector (well, there is, I supposed, but it is not well followed).

I know, for example, that the 2.5mm output on my QP2R is fussy about cables (specifically the connector). In one case I have two different copies of the same cable and one works fine and the other doesn’t work at all - yet both work without issue with both of my A&K players.

Could be that there’s some shorting or inconsistent-connection issue there that a different connector might fix.


Yes, it could be as I certainly have experience with wonky mobile connectors. I’m not sure if that’s the problem here. The overall sound on balanced has sharp and peaky dynamics and is less rounded overall. Current delivery issues with the mobile battery?

See this page for the Q5’s tech specs. The output impedance goes from 1.4 ohms (single ended) to 2 ohms (balanced), and the recommended headphone impedance is 16 ohms+:

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The battery in the Q5 should be capable of far more continuous power-output than you’d need. Lithium chemistry cells are really good for that, with very low internal resistance, and very high allowable discharge rates.

It’s possible that the impedance of the AFC/AFO is so low that, at the current it needs to draw, it is exciting some instability in the output stage on the Q5 and oscillating etc. And if so, it’s possible that a similarly low-impedance IEM might not exhibit the same issue due to having much less current requirement (due to higher sensitivity).

It’s hard to say.

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Great review! Your AFC thoughts are pretty much inline with mine. If the AFC didn’t require so much draw it would pretty close between the Elegia and AFC for my portable every day. Although Astell&Kern’s Billie Jean IEMS have snuck in there on days when over-ears are not appropriate.

I do really need to get an extended listen with the AFOs as I pretty much skipped over them entirely whenever I visit the MrSpeakers booth at shows.


@Torq, @taronlissimore and @generic have provided great reviews and impressions that appear to be for the most part in agreement with each other and with my impressions as well. There is nothing of significance for me to add, just a few trivial comments.

I would say that the AFO in comparison to the AFC are rather creamy sounding and that once you adjust to the sound of the AFO they can be very enjoyable, especially for rock, pop and recordings that require more forgiving gear. As others have pointed out, paradoxically I found the AFC to be more closed, claustrophobic and in-your-head than the AFC, which is the main reason I sent them back. Otherwise they could have been a rather fun headphone to own.

Regarding the perception that the AFC are lifeless, I do agree that they require more juice to sound their best then one would assume based on specs, which put me at odds as to whether or not I should keep them as a portable headphone because they are so light and comfortable to wear as well as being very good at noise isolation. They are also a very sturdy headphone and do not seem prone to scratching or to being easily damaged. They sound fine out of my LG phone at almost full volume but properly amped they sound really great, especially out my Phonitor x. On other amps, such as the THX 789 I find that the Focal Clear are quite a bit more dynamic sounding and in comparison the AFC do sound flat but that difference is smaller out of the Phonitor. I assumed that it was due to the Phonitor’s 120 V rails but @Torq identifies current as the juice the AFC need.

A friend of mine uses the AFC on-the-go and gets the juice he needs out of a Vorzuge Duo II. He says it does the job very well.

When the Focal Elear first came out I was immediately impressed with how dynamic and punchy they were but after a bit of time I found that I had to constantly adjust the volume as on some passages I really felt as though they could punch a hole in my head. When the Clear came out, I found their dynamic energy to induce the same exhilaration but with just the right amount of politeness so as to not feel the need to constantly have my hand on the volume control. For me, the dynamic energy of this line of Focal headphones were a clear departure from any other headphone I had heard. In comparison the AFC are somewhat flat sounding and lack the sharper and more clearly defined transient edges of the Clear but that also makes them a more relaxing listen and in my view more appropriate for background music listening while working, whereas the Clear demand too much of your attention.

@generic mentioned that he found the Elex to be brighter and more brassy up top but that is not what I hear with the Clear, although being over 50 and having been exposed to a lot of loud music I can’t hear anything above15K.

Because the AFC are great at isolation, lighter and more comfortable than the Clear and have a texture that in comparison is smoother and more relaxing, while also being technically almost as competent, I find them to be a great compliment to the Clear and would recommend them as a sealed/closed-back addition to the Clear/Elex.

One note on the question of the filters; the AFO came with, I think, 4 different kinds but my AFC only came with the black open-cell foam filters, which I prefer to having none. In his review @Torq said he preferred the AFC with the white 2 notch filters. Were those the ones that came with the AFO or have others received them with their AFC? I think the 2 notch provide the most damping so I am curious as to why @Torq preferred them.


The white 2 notch were the ones that were pre-installed in the set that we got to the office but it also came with the other tuning pads. I left the 2 notch in as I found it to be the best for my personal tastes.


Thanks, interesting. I wonder why mine not only came with the open-cell foam pads installed but without any of the others. When I ordered new ear pads they also only came with the foam pads. I will write MrSpeakers and inquire.

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There has been some changes in their shipping department so depending on when you ordered it could have been affected by that. I would definitely reach out to them though. Their e-mail will generally get back within an hour or two and takes care of stuff pretty fast. Their customer support is definitely up there with Audeze.


Both the AFO and the AFC packages I had for review included all three sets of filters in them.

From what I’d read previously, the set of three filters was a later inclusion as a part of the standard package. So it may just come down to when you bought them.

Because that’s how they sounded the most natural and enjoyable for me.

The trade-off between the default 2-notch white filter and the 1-notch white filter was a small dip is bass and sub-bass levels to get a smoother top-end and presence region.

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That must be it. I purchased mine not long after they were released. I never thought to try the other tuning pads on the AFC when I had the AFO. I know there were problems with the tuning of the first batch of the AFC - I purchased mine after that was resolved - but I wonder if later releases of the AFC had a different tuning once again to warrant the inclusion of the extra pads.

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I say they have ‘mid-high range glare’ and ‘exaggerated dynamic intensity’–but not conventional brightness. They can be extremely brassy on a noisy amp, but are not too different from the Clear on a good system. My ears reach about 16.5K but with a few peaks and valleys.


Pairings. Is there a portable amp that will drive these? It sounds like the DFR struggle with them. I have a DFB but if I go all out for the AFC I won’t have much left for a headphone amp.


Sure, but it won’t be in “dongle” form.

I was pretty surprised at how current-hungry the AFC were. They kept getting better as more current was available. Impedance-wise they’re deceptively easy to drive, but they don’t “do their thing” until there’s reasonable power on tap.

The DFR is definitely not up to the job. It’ll run them reasonably loud, but the bass will be flabby and overall they’ll be somewhat incoherent. It’s not much better with the iFi Nano iDSD BL.

If it’s just an amp you need, then the iFi xCAN is probably the best, current, portable bet. The older RSA stuff would do it too, but I’m not sure where those sit today in terms of availability and support (for what it’s worth I loved my Intruder, but that’s well outside your budget, even used).

FiiO probably have something in the under-$200 range that will deliver suitably good technical performance and enough power, though it’s been a while since I’ve looked at that stuff.


I have the AFC and do not recommend them with portable amps. For my portable closed needs I use Sony WH1000XM2 rechargeable Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones. As @Torq indicated, the AFC are really current hungry. With my FiiO Q5 ($350) on single-ended output, they were congested but “okay.” They were downright horrible using the portable balanced output. It seems portable batteries generally don’t provide enough juice.

The AFC would likely sound fine with the JDS Labs Atom desktop amp (~$100).