Type: circumaural, open-back, planar magnetic
Test sample supplied by: Electromod Ltd, UK distributor
Reviewed in: Hi-Fi News, July 2019
You might suppose that the Ether 2 behaves in a similar fashion to its cheaper stablemate, the (Dan Clark Audio) Aeon 2 Open - but actually they are significantly different in various respects. Siblings, yes; identical twins, no.
So far as sensitivity goes there isn't a lot to choose between them. The Ether 2 is a little more sensitive, recording 107.7dB SPL for 1V at 1kHz, but that's not enough to lift it into the rarefied group of planar magnetics which broadly match medium-impedance moving coil models in this regard. As in the Aeon 2, this is achieved in significant part by the use of low impedance, although it's not quite as low as the specified 16 ohms.
Uncorrected responses are quite different in the two models. Whereas the Aeon 2 Open has gently rising output below 600Hz, to a ~4dB plateau at 100Hz, and a strong, ~9dB peak at 2.5kHz, the Ether 2 has essentially flat output below 1kHz and manages only a paltry ~4dB peak at 3kHz. So the Harman 2017 correction shows much less lower-midrange peaking at 200Hz for the Ether 2, as a result of which its Harman PPR scores are altogether better at 54/42 ≡ 47%/36% (L/R).
Like the Aeon 2 Open, the Ether 2 is sensitive to earpad sealing, losing lower-midrange and bass output in our spectacles and 'hair' leakage tests, but this actually improves the PPR scores to 58/49 ≡ 50%/43% and 61/62 ≡ 53%/54% respectively. So it you find the Ether 2's tonal balance too warm, try deliberately compromising the earpad seal.
Time domain performance is mostly good. Apart from a few high-treble modes, the Ether 2 is free of the diaphragm resonances that afflict many PM headphones. Its impulse response decay times are faily good too at 3.7ms and 2.7ms to below -40dB, and might have been faster but for the band of structural resonances visible in the acoustical crosstalk test between 100Hz and 300Hz.
Its near-constant impedance means, of course, that the Ether 2 is spared any significant modification of frequency response when used with signal sources of finite output impedance.
While the Ether 2 provides more high-frequency isolation than many open-back designs, it is less effective in this respect than the Aeon 2 Open and offers only moderate attenuation of intrusive environmental noise.