MrSpeakers & Dan Clark Audio

MrSpeakers began life, at least with my exposure to the brand, with proprietor Dan Clark’s headphone offerings that were based on a modified Fostex T50RP. Further differentiation was possible with various user-applied, and easily reversible, tuning options.

Since then Dan has developed his own drivers, enclosures, mounts and headbands to produce a series of entirely unique, in-house, designs, in both planar-magnetic and - somewhat unusually - electrostatic, offerings, while continuing to offer in-the-box tuning options for his headphones, as well as retro-fittable upgrades to prior models.

This is the spot to discuss the MrSpeakers brand and products in general.

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I have both the Mad Dogs and Alpha Primes, bought new from Dan about and 5 and 8 years ago respectively…and I love them still. I originally paired the Mad Dogs with the first Schiit Asgard, and they were an absolutely wonderful combination for only about $500. The Mad Dogs were recommended to me by Jason Stoddard/Schiit CEO and lived up his billing as “best bang for the buck in an ortho” and sort of a “poor man’s Audeze LCD2”. They like a lot of power and I enjoy them today on a Lyr2 with NOS Telefunken tubes. (My LCD2-Rev2 sounds great on that amp too.) The Alpha Prime is a great headphone as well. I think of it in terms of my current day Focal Clears–they do just about everything very, very well. Great accuracy, balance, detail, clarity, musicality and punch…in a closed ortho and (like the Mad Dogs) custom modified by one of the pros at MrSpeakers. Back in the day I think Dan’s staff were all professional musicians, who did great mods because they really knew music and sound, and loved music and sound. No two of these headphones sound alike, of course , because they’re mods. And I was lucky with both the Mad Dogs and Alpha Prime’s to get top flight craftsmanship.

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I have to admit the Mr.Speakers Mad Dogs are what got me into wood headphones, I actually thought the MD sounded terrible, but my little tube amp was a big reason why. I had little to no power to drive them an I’m sure the output impedance didn’t help either

still there was something about the MD that I liked, it’s mid range, and after a few days of crawling the forums I purchased an Audio Technica W1000x, which I then modded

That headphone and it’s beautiful tone and imaging are why I continued to default to wood closed backs time and time again, and I feel very thankful for having had the MD as it ultimately lead me to purchase a ZMF Eikon!

That said getting back to Mr. Speakers, I do like his Aeon Flow Closed portable headphone very much! An with the right system I also find my self super impressed with the Ether C Flow as well. Plus getting to meet Dan at AXPONA this year was awesome, as he’s a very knowledge but also approachable person to talk to about audio!

So here’s to hoping I get get some Mr.Speakers cans back into my stable soon!!!

I found the AEON Flow Closed, while needing a decent amount of juice (an actual amp is required in my opinion, but it doesn’t need to be a monster), work well even with relatively modest (price-wise) setups:

Yes, you’ll want to run the Magni 3 in high-gain mode here, but adding power beyond that doesn’t yield large benefits. Which is not to say that the AFC don’t benefit from even better amplification, but that’s a qualitative concern not a quantitive one … and the next step up there is really something like the Jotunheim or THX AAA 789.

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I have the MrSpeakers Aeon closed and had the Aeon open for a short while. Ironically I found the open to be more closed in than the closed. I also felt the closed to be more tonally balanced than the open but the open do have a nice warm, thick sound.

I demoed the Ether C flow and found them to be rather lean/thin sounding. I much prefer the Aeon Closed, which like the Ether C, have a large soundstage that I think competes with many open headphones. This however does not mean that they sound open and compared to the Focal Clear give the impression of being in a much smaller room, even if the soundstage is about the same size.

I like them using the Massdrop THX 789 but I preferred what I heard using Gilmore Lite MK2 as the I found the higher frequencies on the 789 sounded a tad harsh in comparison. Dan Clark sells the Gilmore on his website and has a mini review explaining why he likes it so much.

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I have the AFC too, and chose the closed because that’s a common view across many reviews. I agree with you and them too. The AFC sounds open, while the AFO sounds closed. The AFC was released earlier, so I think MrSpeakers knew they’d hit on a magic formula with the AFC.

Me too. I couldn’t figure out why the Ether series cost so very much for worse performance…

I was really hoping to be able to get to try the AFC as they are top of my wish list (I am sort of limited to closed backs and these seem to get the most praise).

However, it doesn’t seem to look like I will get chance, at least not in the near future.

Here they are nearly $1k, which I feel is rather expensive to buy without trying first.

But I am struggling not to order a set…

How do they sound with a tube amp? :wink:

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Okay, I’m running the AFC through my Loxjie P20 hybrid tube amp right now. It’s a nice match, with the AFC’s general neutrality shifting toward thick, rich, and creamy. They are still well behaved headphones and still sound like open backs in an inky void with no ambient room noise. The AFC are never about ultra detail on any system, and the P20 smooths and slightly veils their naturally diffuse/harmonic high end. The harmonic character comes from planar technology.

With only 13 ohms resistance the AFC may not work well on a pure tube amp (I don’t own one).

My hobby spending motto is: "It’s not about how much you pay, it’s about the ease of resale and the residual value!"

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They will be fine on a tube amp using output transformers, but likely very bassy and underdamped on an OTL design.

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Very impressed w the AFC I managed to demo 2 days ago.

Did feel that they could sound boring due to the lack of oomph tho…AFO will solve that problem?

I don’t know what is ‘boring’ to you. Both the AFC and AFO are planar, relaxed, and don’t have the punch of dynamic driver headphones. The main difference between AFO from AFC is that the AFO are tilted toward encompassing and less defined bass. IMO the AFC have tight, deep, and clean bass. Neither approaches the massive dynamics of Focal’s products.

I personally like the AFC for their gentle diffusion, as it’s a good match for closed headphones and reduces fatigue.

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The AFC is a lovely sounding headphone which I can understand some listeners not finding immediately engaging because of its neutrality, but its neutrality is quite fantastic and has a low end which is viscerally satisfying and which I preferred AB’ing with Audeze’s LCD2C.

I eventually chose the AFO over the AFC after a two week demo of both, carried away, as I was, with the AFO’s wonderfully warm and soothing presentation.

Mr Speaker’s Dan Clarke’s recommendation for amping these headphones is the more effervescent Lyr 3 for the AFO and the ever-so-slightly warm Gilmore Lite MK2 for the AFCs.

The Gilmore Lite MK2 is also a wonderful pairing with the Ether 2 (better, I feel, even than the Cavalli Liquid Platinum), which, when paired together, takes some of the warmth of the AFO and marries it with the neutrality of the AFC, with truly exceptional low and sub bass. If Head Amp’s new GS-X mini is the Gilmore Lite MK2 on steroids (specifically with a slightly warm wash) then this will be quite some pairing for the AFC and the Ether 2.

Because of its cathartic warm blanket of sound, and in spite of owning the Ether 2s, I can’t bring myself to sell my AFOs.

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MrSpeakers is changing their name to “Dan Clark Audio”, coincident with the launch of the new “AEON 2” headphones (which now feature a motor based on Ether 2’s technology, a folding headband design, and a more compact case, etc.).

Links now added based on @sealykojac’s post.

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I order the closed version* I’ve been wanting a comfortable closed headphone…

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This makes a lot of sense. Congrats to Dan!

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Wow! This must be very recent. I was on the then Mrspeakers website only a few days ago. I just checked and that web page now does a re-direct to Dan Clark Audio website.
I imagine Sue Regan and her husband are still running the business end?

I still don’t get successful as Dan is changing company names. I find name recognition to be very important in business. Before I retired I couldn’t imagine ever changing name, logo,images or icons. Apparently Dan has good reasons for doing it.

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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.

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What lol how did you get a pair already! applauds I’ve been having a hard time tho I could just order it from Dan’s website direct I guess huh

Non the less I’m really excited about this headphone honestly! @Torq coverage of the original AFC was enough to sway my purchase and I really enjoy the original AFC, heard Aeon 2 at CAF an it was a little drier than I like’d but that may have been an issue with the systems I was listening on

I quite like my HD 800 non S and the Original SR009 so it seems like all sources point to this being a worthwhile purchase for me! I use closed backs mostly when I travel an it seems like Dan himself is in the same boat so I deeply appreciate the work he’s put into making an even more worthwhile closed back over what he already has! That said @MrCypruz thank you for your impressions

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