The dum-dum wound. Remember Lethal Weapon's hilarious Joe Pesci treatments? If not, revisit them. Anyway, Dan Clark's better cable goes by DUM. That's not one short of dumb but the full stack for Decidedly UnMagical. By poking fun at cable voodoo yet offering a costlier upgrade leash, Dan wants his cake and eat it, too. Even J.K. "never again" Rowling does after Harry Potter. By turning her minor character Newt Scamander into a 3-part movie about Magical beasts and where to find them, she revisits the same Potterish franchise. For DUM, the only claim is that its wizarding contract author has forgotten more about cable design than most of us learnt in the first place. At order time, you find this nonmagical beast as an option to tick off. Or not. That's the extent of this spell. The included micro fiber cloth does go magic but that's simply its brand name.
These photos show fully retracted skull strap position (left), asymmetrical example (middle) and half extended (right).

About the tuning spells, "no pads are nice for classical, darker electronics or for those who prefer a slightly brighter tone. One black pad per side slightly softens the upper range. Two black pads per side warm up the tone a bit more. One white pad per side is for the 'honey midrange' and big bass. Ether C is very revealing of the source. Bright stuff can be a bit hard whilst dark tube gear can be a bit syrupy. These tunings make it pretty easy to optimize to taste and equipment. I’m liking the white a lot with my own gear and I think I’ll make that the default setting. It’s also the most 'fun' tuning." Owners of DAP like my Questyle QP1R or Astell&Kern players can also or instead season with EQ in the digital domain.

In the flesh. When FedEx left, I fitted and finished the goods with eyes and hands. Next they popped onto my noggin for some weight, snugness and comfort feedback. In both literature and science, it's popular to 'stand on the shoulders of giants'. It acknowledges that whatever one's own contributions, they stand upon work done by those who came before. No man is an island. Fondling the Ethers, they improve/refine on what came before. Whilst none of their design cues are unique per se, the execution of melding them all together into a cohesive whole works on a very high level. It's cliché to claim that no detail was overlooked but here such talk wouldn't be caught out. On fit'n'finish, I'd peg these on par with AudioTechnica's equivalents.

On sheer tactile luxury, I've always found the prior range topper Alpha Prime to be one of the very comfiest in my collection. Dan's fix on ear-pad cush has me think that in person, he must be a prima donna of intolerance about even the slightest discomfort when wearing 'phones for hours on end. Both Ethers are epitomes of not counting any peas beneath your pillows; or mustard seeds; or however the old tale had it. For my head, lateral pressure aka clamping force was just right. No wobbles, no slips, no head in a vise. The headband sliders moving on the Nitinol wires felt tight enough to not let go in use. Cushion size surrounds your pink cartilage so there's no question of being on ear. These go around. Branding is a subtle embossing of the head band plus a model name on the skull strap slider. With everything checked off, Dan's homework done, fanfares were blaring. Cue Leoš Janáček's Sinfonietta. Physically and cosmetically, these were fully dialled. They complied with expectations set by price and precedents to simultaneously point at HifiMan's twice-priced HE1000 as unnecessarily dear by contrast. Final's top Sonorous X model from Japan becomes an extreme full-metal proposition in aluminium and stainless, with truly perfectionist machining and two-tone gloss polish. But their X also increases weight to 630g whilst cost and factor rise in lock step. Dan's models don't do that level of flash or cash.

But they are surprisingly light on both neck support and battery appetite. On my QP1R, the C had full lift-off at exactly half mast (30 on its volume of 60 in hi-gain mode, 45 in lo). Ether sat at ~L38. Not only did this mean porta joy, it meant batty bliss. More efficient loads suck less power. Your batteries lasts longer. No premature ejections here. Not that I'd promote wearing big expensive cans in the wild outdoors to give purse snatchers any career change ideas. But in a train compartment, airplane seat, hotel room; on your porch, balcony or in your own backyard... both Ethers are non-fussy loads to perfectly suit DAP-direct drive. The supplied dark burgundy hard cases moulded to minimum dimensions are perfect for traveling and the best such solution I've come across yet. Kudos for going the extra mile on those. Which segues neatly into counting my own mileage to give these loaners time to perk up and shed any sonic new-car smell.

Removing a C's ear cushion shows twin white felt dampers beneath. These calibrate the factory voicing. Adding straight-cut pads to the other side of the cushion adapts subsequent tuning to taste.