It can be hard finding and deciding on a good closed back headphone in the upper echelon category. I do find it to be a bit easier when it comes to open backs. Closed back vs. Open back headphones. There are a lot of great models out there, and deciding on one is fairly easy when you have a rough idea of what you’re looking for. Some of my favorite open backs include the venerable HD600, HD650, Focal Utopia, and Audeze LCD-X.
For the longest time, I couldn’t think of a closed back headphone above $500 that anyone was talking about and really recommending. Because closed backs tend to trap the sound in your head, they can become quite fatiguing after awhile. Also, comfort on most closed headphones is kind of mediocre to be honest. I tolerate it because I like the sound enough, and I need a closed back for travel/portable use when I’m around others and don’t want to disturb them. No one wants to hear you blasting Rage Against the Machine, bro. 😛
I “hear” you! Haha I did a pun. Get it? Because people always like to use the phrase I hear y… never mind.
Anywho, I believe my search is over for the best closed back I’ve heard to date, until I hear another one I like better. Lol. But I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. I love the MrSpeakers ÆON Flow Closed, and I think they did an absolutely stunning job in all aspects with this baby. Pair it with the Chord Mojo and you’ll float to heaven man. Like seriously. If you can handle the Mojo’s finicky nature (and it is quite temperamental), I think the upgrade in sound is absolutely worth it. Hands down the best sound out of an Amp/DAC I’ve heard. I’ve never been able to say this, but there is truly an eye opening difference between this and something in the budget category.
Before we drool on Aeon, let’s get into this issue of trust…
Why Should You Trust Me?
Because I know what I’m talking about. I haz an education!
Lol. I’m being funny but I’m also serious.
I don’t have fancy credentials like some people (and I don’t think that automatically means you’re legit by the way), but like Craig Boyles said about me on his website Mage Audio,
“Stu knows headphones. He’s reviewed over 70 of them on his website.”
I’ve been a headphone enthusiast for as long as I can remember, ever since I had a pair (or 8) of Sony MDR V150’s. I’ve loved music and everything about it for equally as long. I’ve been making and producing music for over 10 years, and have learned a lot about EQ and sound a long the way. I’ve sold beats, I’ve given them away, I’ve collaborated with a lot of people, and I’ve had a lot of fun.
I’ve had plenty of experience with high end amps, entry level ones, and anything in between. I don’t claim to know everything, but do I know what sounds good and what doesn’t. I know what’s worth your money and what can be glossed over and discarded.
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The Main Reason
The biggest reason to trust me is that I’m just like you! I do an exhaustive amount of research before I purchase anything, and don’t stop searching just because I own a product. I keep up with trends, reviews, blogs, and stay immersed in this niche because I’m truly passionate about it and care a great deal about it as well.
My Goal is to Help You
In addition that, I receive emails, comments, and testimonials fairly frequently from people thanking me profusely for what I do here, and for making such great recommendations specific to their need. It’s refreshing to be able to connect with people from all over the world and help them make the best decisions possible with regards to studio equipment and anything music production related! I truly love and enjoy conversing with you all, because I’m passionate about this stuff!
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Accessories: carrying case, foam-pad filters, detachable fabric-covered headphone cable with “Hirose-style” connectors at headphone end and ¼” and 3.5mm dual-tip plug at other end.
Now we’ll talk about sex.. I mean build. Lol.
The build of the MrSpeakers ÆON is absolutely marvelous.
Like Oh my God I know where my money went marvelous.
If there were ever a perfect balance between weight, functionality, and comfort this would be it.
The headphone has absolutely the perfect amount of heft to it without feeling neither cheap nor too heavy like an Audeze, or a real Heffer.
The ear cup padding is a delicious, soft, and supple protein leather (I think) that feels amazing to the touch.
The rest of the headphone is made up of carbon fiber for the ear cups themselves, leather for the headband, NiTinol for the frame, and cast aluminum. Top notch materials for sure. You can tell great care was taken in deciding what to use.
The headband is extremely easy to adjust while it’s on your head and also feels very solid. The two small adjustments remind me a bit of the ones on the 400S and 400i from HIFIMAN, but are made of a rugged rubber type of material (instead of plastic) and slide up and down the two separate rods with ease.
Each cup rotates about 45 degrees inward and it’s very easy to get a nice fit on your head. The cups are also deep enough, and fit the shape of the ear quite nicely. There’s enough room for them inside without touching the padding or the drivers. What is a headphone driver?
Connectors and Wire.
The Wire is made of a weird mesh type of material called a DUMMER cable, a Hirose dual-entry connector system to each of the cups, and a 1/4″ termination at the other end.
The connections into the cups snap with a satisfying click, but can be a bit hard to line up at times. It seems simple but trust me, it might take longer than anticipated. Just be gentle! 😛
These are very portable for me and would most likely fall somewhere in between fairly portable and very portable for others.
I’m not to picky about that sort of thing, and fortunately these babies pack up neatly into a box for travel.
BUILD QUALITY SCORE: A NUMBAH ONE!!
How about comfort?
These just may be the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever worn, and if they aren’t they are certainly in the top 5 easily.
The tear drop design of the ear cups contour almost perfectly to the shape of your ears as well as the anatomy of your head.
What Dan Clark over at MrSpeakers discovered was that there’s a “ridge” in between the space where your side burn meets your ear. It runs down to your jaw line and if you put your finger in there you can clearly feel it.
He basically designed the ear cup so that it would comfortably rest in this shallow crevice. The result is a comfort factor that’s simply unrivaled in my opinion. These just may be the most comfortable cans I’ve ever worn.
As for the cups themselves..
The cups are fairly deep and I don’t feel like my ears and the material covering the driver are in conflict. What is a headphone driver?
The headband is perhaps the perfect size and isn’t imposing in the slightest. It rests comfortably on your melon and takes a literal back seat to everything else, which is is a nice change of pace from some other more traditional looking and feeling headbands.
I can wear these for long periods of time with minimal to no discomfort. No headphone is perfect, but making adjustments with these is not needed 99% of the time. It’s simply fabulous.
Clamp force is just right as well, as I don’t feel these hug too hard, or reject my ears and head too much. Form factor is perfect, as the headphone tends to be on the flexible side like a gymnast.
You can bend it and move it quite nicely with no fear of breakdown.
Again, MrSpeakers has struck a perfect balance here. Bravo!
COMFORT SCORE: A NUMBAH ONE!!
What about the sound?
Wow is all I can say.
I tend to gravitate towards signatures like this one, and in recent months have really honed in on the type of sound I prefer over all others. It’s a sound with a bass that’s neither boosted or rolled off, a flat mid-range with plenty of clarity, and a bit of a darker treble.
Headphones like this one, as well as a lot of Audeze offerings such as the wonderful LCD-X are what satisfy my desires most, and tend to fall in line with this type of sound.
I suppose my second favorite type of sound signature would be the same, except with a rolled off bass like that of the Black Mage from Craig Boyles over at Mage Audio. There are times when I want a break from that warmer type of bass sound, and when that hankering strikes, I turn to the Mage for all of my juicy, detail oriented desires. It’s good, you like!
I love the bass response on these, as it maintains a nice punch but in no way becomes overbearing or intrusive.
As a former bass head turned mid-head, I can appreciate more what the bass accomplishes here because it knows it’s place. It’s not terribly rolled off nor is it to V sounding. It’s just right.
I love how the bass never gets in the way of the mid-range, as instruments and vocals have this incredibly natural feel to them. Timbre is especially on point here. What is Timbre? There’s a liquid smooth quality to the Aeon that must be heard to be appreciated.
On Matthew Halsall’s “Cherry Blossom” I kept pausing the track to see if the sound was coming from above. I have a really noisy neighbor and I thought he was up to his old tricks again, but I WAS WRONG HOMIE. He wasn’t even home. The strange sound that somehow mimicked my neighbors banging (not sex, although they do plenty of that as well) was coming from the Aeon. Wha?
I couldn’t believe it. This is a closed back headphone. Sure, it’s got planar magnetic drivers which do add a sense of realism, but this is phenomenal. You’ll start to hear the little things going on, but instead of it coming across as very sterile, there’s a certain warmth about the Aeon that’s naturally charming and inviting.
BAYNK and Shallou’s “Come Home” is a prime example of what these headphones are capable of. There’s a sense of fullness and body that the Aeon provides, with a pulsating underbelly of bass that exudes class and elegance. It sounds effortless, as if the Aeon is that pretty girl at the gym who doesn’t have to call attention to herself in the slightest.
The Aeon is a complex woman that needs to be treated gently and with a great deal of respect. The vibe that she emanates is sophisticated and professional, like Mr. Pink from Reservoir Dogs.
Am I the only professional around here?
Realism. Non Intrusive. Natural. Crisp.
These are all words that adequately describe the treble on the Aeon. The detail is there, but it doesn’t become overblown to the point of sibilance in the majority of cases. What does Sibilant mean?
I did find it slightly metallic sounding at times, and maybe just a tad too “excited”. I was kind of taken aback by this, but I noticed it more so with the gain switch on out of the HA2 (for obvious reasons). That said, even without the gain switch ticked you can sometimes feel a sense of bright that borders on too bright. It’s fairly subtle though and a minor nit pick in my experience.
Again, MrSpeakers provides a remedy in the form of the supplied foam pad filters. Insert these babies into each of the cups (make sure to match the shape), and the result is a toned down the treble (just right), while also providing a hint of extra warmth.
Another alternative to the somewhat tizzy sounding peak at around 5k is what Tyll over at Inner Fidelity did. Get the headphones exactly center around your ears. Then nudge them forward slightly and down slightly. That will mellow out the peak a little bit. Just know that my gripe with the treble is very nitpicky but you should still keep it in mind.
This method seems to work for planar magnetic headphones (with angled drivers) like the Aeon, as well as a couple of my other favorites like the HE400i, 400S, and Sundara.
Overall the sound has this immaculate sense of realism to it, but also provides pure warmth and enjoyment. You get the best of both worlds as the two cross over to form an experience of pure ecstasy.
This is about as good of resolution as a closed headphone can provide. I talk a lot about The Law of Diminishing Returns in my articles, but the Aeon is a true representation of what a headphone in this price range can accomplish.
Learn more about the Aeon here by reading some other user reviews!
SOUND SCORE: A NUMBAH ONE!!
Let’s take a breather..
My Video Review!
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Here are some images I took for your viewing pleasure..
Click to see the Aeon!
What about Imaging? How do they stack up against open backs?
As alluded to above, these are fantastic for Imaging as they do a wonderful job of separating instruments, as well as providing a great 3D Soundscape. I wouldn’t say these mimic open back headphones like the MDR Z1R, K553, or even a Status Audio CB1, but that would be doing them injustice because they kind of do. Lol.
The Aeon easily provides this sort of surround sound effect, but don’t think they mimic speakers or anything. It’s just an incredibly open and spacious sound which is impressive considering they are closed.
I mentioned in in the Sound section above, but Imaging on these headphones is quite astonishing when you consider that they are in fact closed. There’s a good sense of depth, but also a surprising amount of width to the image. I was constantly finding myself hearing stuff that seemed very distant and far off, and the effect it had was pretty incredible. I would say without reservation that the Aeon provides a fantastic Soundstage, rivaling even some open backs!!
Will you need an amp for these bad boys?
In a word, Yes. A reviewer on Amazon called it persnickety which is very accurate.
At 93 dB these are fairly inefficient with mobile devices, and are much too quiet out of my LG X Charge. What is Sensitivity in Headphones? Your mileage may vary depending on the quality of your phones internal DAC, but don’t expect these to reach their potential without a combo Amp/DAC of some sort paired with your phone, or a desktop solution for the studio.
Right now I’m running them with an Oppo HA2 and the combination is just short of magical.
What’s cool about the HA2 is you have a gain switch and a bass boost. I’m really digging the sound without the gain but some songs may require a bit of extra juice although the majority of the time you’ll be fine without it. I think the HA2 is a perfect solution for just about all headphones, and something that makes sense for the majority of users.
Just be aware that Oppo has since stopped making products and it’s not available for official purchase anymore. I still recommend you at least try to get your hands on one for a good price, as it’s a unit that will become a mainstay in your studio for a long time.
My absolute go to Amp/DAC for this headphone would most certainly be the Chord Mojo. To be honest, I wasn’t really expecting to be as blown away as I ended up being. My jaw dropped with this pairing, as I believe the Mojo to be just about theend game Amp/DAC for most people.
You can clearly hear a difference between an amp like this one and something in the budget category. It even out performs my HA2 which surprised me. The mid-range was so incredible that it really felt like the artist was singing or speaking directly to me in soft passages as well as the song as a whole. The Aeon really has a way of separating instruments and voices with eye brow raising precision, and the Mojo only enhances that experience to a startling degree.
In my estimation the O2 with the Magic slightly edges a Magni/Modi combo, but it’s almost negligible and the differences are fairly subtle. It’s a $300 combo vs. a $200 one (roughly). Still, there is a reason why they call it the DAC Magic. The conversion is near perfect and paired with the O2 you may just float to heaven. It’s slightly crisper, with a tad better resolution than the Magni 2 with the Modi DAC.
The Audioengine D1 is an incredible piece of equipment and gets my highest endorsement. You can use it as a Gaming rig, to power your studio monitors, or as a headphone amp! It’s incredibly versatile and flexible. I love it! The sound in comparison to the DAC Magic with the O2 was slightly warmer, but with the same amount of insane clarity and detail.
These work well for a variety of genres because they are fairly neutral and accurate.
I enjoyed them with:
These are some genres that I listen to on a regular basis and I would say the Aeon handles them all with ease.
It’s not everyday that I’m impressed with a closed back headphone coupled with Jazz, but the Aeon succeeds marvelously. There’s depth, spacing, and a great Soundscape that becomes stunningly intimate for the duration of your listening session.
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.