Disclaimer: Both the Mr. Speakers Aeon closed and Aeon open were sent to me by Mr. Speakers for the purpose of this review. They both need to be returned, but they are letting me hold onto the Aeon closed for a little while longer.
Looking back on the last several years, I have realized my greatest audiophile regret: upgrading my Mad Dog headphones. I had the Mad Dog 3.2 from Mr. Speakers, and I loved them to death. Neither the treble nor bass were really well extended, and it was quite warm, but hell, I could put them on and just drift away into my own mind. I simply enjoyed the hell out of them. I got greedy, of course, and upgraded them to Alpha Dogs. Now, the Alpha Dogs were great headphones, and objectively “better”, but I just didn’t have the love for them I did the Mad Dogs. I eventually sold them, and have regretted it ever since. I almost bought another pair before they were discontinued, but stayed my hand. While this is only tangentially related to the review at hand today, I wanted to take this opportunity to get this off my chest.
With the discontinuation of the Mad and Alpha Dog headphones, that left Mr. Speakers without any offerings under $1499. Well, at the beginning of 2017, Dan Clark dropped the Aeon closed into the world. At the price of $799, it was only half the price of Mr. Speakers other headphones; and, while I would like to see them re-enter the $300-$500 range with something new, the $799 Aeon closed does help fill a price point often neglected in this hobby. So, let’s put the Aeon C through its paces.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Aeon closed is an extremely well-built headphone. The headband “pad” is leather, and the arches (headband arms. There is a word for them that isn’t coming to me) are made of NiTinol “memory metal” with hinge-free design. The earcups have a gorgeous midnight blue paint job; and, while some people might not love the look of the teardrop earcups, I have no such problems. Everything looks and feels high-end here. The Aeon is beautiful and extremely well built.
Comfort & accessories
Comfort is another strong suit of the Aeon C. The leather headband does a very fine job of distributing the weight evenly over the head. It takes very little to make the top of my head hurt, so the fact that the Aeon C doesn’t speaks volumes. The cup pressure is just right. It’s enough to create a good seal, but not enough to feel uncomfortable. They never cramped my ears, and the earpads themselves are quite soft and accommodating. There really isn’t anything to complain about here.
The Aeon C comes with a nice hard shelled case (which any headphone at this price level should), a pair of tuning foam inserts, the DUMMER headphone cable, terminating in 1/8 inch plug, and a ¼ inch adapter. The DUMMER cable is a slightly thinner and lighter version of their DUM (Distinctly Un-Magical) cable. For a pack-in cable, this one looks and sounds really nice.
So, the Aeon C is very well built, looks great, and has a solid accessory package. Does the sound bring it home, and make the Aeon C a grand slam? Oh, does it ever!
Weight (without cable): 340gr
Impedance: 13 ohms
The Aeon has a new driver, and utilizes MrSpeakers’ V-Planar and TrueFlow waveguides. To read more about this technology from someone who actually understands it, start here: (https://www.mrspeakers.com/technology).
Sound – Aeon Closed
This is the most neutral headphone I have yet to hear, and I mean that in the best way possible. There almost isn’t a point in trying to describe the sound, as the word even pretty much covers it. However, I don’t think L will let me get away with just that, so I will do my best.
The bass is goes deep, is very well textured, tight and impactful. You should expect nothing less from a good planar. It is very well balanced with no odd bumps in the mid or upper bass. If you are looking for a headphone to add extra bass to your music, the Aeon C is not for you. If they music you are listening to has thunderous bass, the Aeon C will respond in kind. If you music is lacking in the lower frequencies, the Aeon C will not make up for it. The transition between the bass and the midrange is seamless.
The midrange flows smoothly from the bass, again, with no odd humps or valleys anywhere during the sound. There is good body throughout the whole of the midrange. Vocals are well positioned and sound natural. Isn’t it amazing how much easier it is to write about sound when there are real problems to be had? Well, there aren’t any here.
The treble brings more of the same: plenty of sparkle, but nary a trace of screeching. If I could find fault with anything, some might find the treble just a hair bright. They might say it is just a touch more forward than they would like. Personally, I think it is just right. Of course, if you do find the Aeon C a hair’s breadth too bright, you can use the foam inserts. The difference it makes is very subtle, but it adds just a hint of warmth to the sound overall. I prefer the Aeon without the foam, but I like the fact that they are included, should you want to tweak the sound ever so slightly.
The transient response and instrument separation are excellent. The width and depth are very good for a closed headphone. Micro detail is, once again, quite strong. It doesn’t have the merciless resolution of something like the HD800, but with a lot of recordings, that is a very good thing, as the Aeon will play nice with a MUCH wider array of recordings. Dynamics don’t drop the ball, either. For a closed headphone at this price level, there isn’t anything to complain about, and I mean that literally, there isn’t ANYTHING to complain about. My ears have been favoring a more neutral sound as of late, and this plays to that spectacularly well. Unless your music counts on having on part of the frequency range being overpowering, the Aeon C goes like gangbusters with any genre of music you can throw at it.
There are two other headphones that jump into my mind while thinking of Aeon comparisons: the SINE and the EL-8C (it only now dawned on me that these are both made by Audeze). The Aeon C feels like a natural upgrade to the SINE. It offers better bass and impact, with a more balanced lower treble. Of course, the SINE is half the price, and for that, remains an excellent headphone.
The Aeon C is what the EL-8C should have been. It Aeon lacks the EL-8’s hole in the midrange, and offers an overall better, and more musical presentation.
Dragging a dynamic driver into this contest, I will throw the Sennheiser HD650 at the Aeon. Although both are very neutral, the Aeon has more body across the frequency range, and has a more natural and musical tonality.
The Aeon is not very difficult to drive, and should do well from just about any amplifier. While your average smart phone may not quite have the juice to do the Aeon justice, just about any decent portable player or amp should be able to drive the Aeon plenty loud, and plenty good. The Aeon C, of course, does scale up with better equipment.
I might as well not beat around the bush. For what it is, I find the Aeon C to be virtually perfect. If someone asked me “what is the best piece of audio gear I heard in 2017”, I would say the Aeon C without hesitation. No doubt about it, Dan Clark and his team have created an absolutely phenomenal headphone. Also without a doubt, they have created the new gatekeeper for closed headphones under $1000. I don’t see anyone getting past the Aeon C for quite a long time. What more can be said?
The review of the Aeon Open is on the next page, after the click HERE or the jump below.