I just received my pair of the A2c (w/ a 2m Vivo Cable) this morning and I’ve to say that I’m impressed. I’ve owned the Ether Flow C 1.1 and I would take the A2c everyday and twice on Sunday. The most impressive qualities of the A2c are the soundstage being wide for a closed design and the bass slam, extension and it’s well textured. I did a quick a/b test with the Focal Utopia out of the Dave+M Scaler feeding into the SPL Phonitor X and the results were as expected. Detail retrieval, dynamics and pin-point accuracy is not on par with Utopia but the A2c still holds its own presenting a more relaxed and laid back sound without losing dynamics. For analogy purposes, Utopia sounds like you’re right there in the middle of the stage or front row and the A2c sounds like you’re in the 5-6th row. This is very noticeable with vocals where they tend to sound more distant (specially female ones) and you kind of lose that chesty sound from male’s voices. This could be a deal breaker for some but not for me.
The highs are significantly more refined than the Ether C Flow 1.1 without any of the harshness or “sss” that I heard on the Ethers.
Instrument separation is also good but it could also be one of its weaknesses while playing very complex compositions where it loses a bit of its coherence.
As an owner of the SR1a (my reference headphones), Stax 009S and Utopia, I can recommend this to anybody who likes that kind of sound produced by the cans I mentioned. For what it’s worth, I would pick the A2c over Meze Empyrean (Which I sold after a few months) for overall sound presentation and clarity.
I tried it out of my iPad Air headphone jack and it sounds reasonably good but not as good as from the powerful Phonitor X (PX)- it definitely benefits from a powerful amplification which is going to be interesting to see what portable solutions are out there that will do them justice. To understand how power hungry these are, on the PX I was listening to the Utopia with the volume at 10’ o Clock and to get to similar volume level on the A2c I had to crank it up to a little over 1’ o clock. Note that this was with no additional gain on the PX (dip switches off).
I truly believe that this is going to be a rockstar closed back headphones at this price range and if Dan Clark uses the learnings from our feedback (improve detail retrieval and dynamics, isolation without sacrificing soundstage, a little more refinements on the highs and bring the mids a bit forward - specially for vocals), I also believe that the next Ether C could potentially be a great contender to compete against the Vérité Closed.