Audeze Sine review: The ultimate iPhone headphones?
The Audeze Sine are an exercise in understatement. Look beyond that classy, almost retro-looking exterior, however, and Audeze has given its latest headphones a modern twist: the Sine comes with an optional DAC and amplifier that connects directly to one of Apple’s Lightning connectors. If the rumours are true about Apple killing off the headphone socket in the iPhone 7, then the Sines are one step ahead of the pack.
Audeze Sine: Design
If BMW made headphones, then they’d probably look like this. There’s good reason for that, though: as BMW Group’s DesignworksUSA has taken the design reigns, it’s no surprise to find that the latest addition to Audeze’s newest family member is oozing understated, classic style. And given that every inch of them is covered in black – black metal, black leather and black rubber cables – I’m mildly surprised to find that they aren’t also endorsed by Kanye.[gallery:1]
As you’d hope for in a £450 pair of headphones, the Audeze Sine feel every bit as expensive as they actually are. The Sine’s skeleton is formed from rigid black anodised aluminium, and luxuriously soft black leather spreads across the earpieces and around the thick, padded headband. The weighty build quality is immensely reassuring, too: the hinged earpieces fold flat to make for easier carrying, yet still feel pleasingly robust.
There are two further things to note about the Sine’s design. First, headphone geeks should note that these are the first on-ear, closed-back headphones to utilise Audeze’s trademark planar magnetic driver technology (Wikipedia is your friend) – given that Audeze’s range previously kicked off with the £600 over-ear EL-8, these are the first genuinely compact, portable headphones from the brand.
Second, you can connect the Sines directly to an iPad or iPhone via Apple’s Lightning connector. Even if Apple isn’t your bag, you can pick up the standard Audeze Sine for £400, but spending the extra £50 means that you get both a standard 3.5mm cable and Audeze’s Lightning-connected Cipher cable.[gallery:6]
The Cipher adds an in-line remote which, thanks to some kind of sorcery, squeezes in a miniature DAC and headphone amplifier in addition to the usual playback and volume controls. And of course, you still get the ability to take hands-free calls or chat to Siri without taking your phone out of your pocket. Nifty.
Audeze Sine: Sound quality
Connect the Sines to an iPhone via the Cipher, and a message immediately pops up prompting you to download and install the Audeze app. The app provides a ten-band graphic equaliser, which allows you to tailor the sound perfectly to your tastes by adjusting each band in 1dB increments. The only minor annoyance is that there are only two user presets, so you’ll just have to tweak the EQ manually if you have particularly eclectic taste in music.
Leave the EQ alone, however, and the Sines are likely to make you wonder where someone’s hidden the subwoofer. These compact headphones deliver brutal, seismic pulses of bass and a supremely detailed, punchy mid-range. It’s the kind of sound that’ll leave you reaching for the most bass-heavy tracks you can lay your hands on, and you’ll be well rewarded – the Sines lap up the deepest bass you can throw at them. In many ways, these are headphones that sound more like you’re sitting right up close to a pair of seriously expensive speakers.
Continues on page 2: Sound quality, comfort and overall verdict