Audeze Sine review: The ultimate iPhone headphones?

£450
Price when reviewed

If there’s a negative to be found, it’s that the low-end is exaggerated via the Cipher cable. Apparently, this is intentional: the Cipher purposely adds a 3dB lift to the bass. This might not be to everyone’s tastes, but it’s surprisingly easy to acclimatise to the Sine’s bass-heavy nature: every other pair of headphones sounds decidedly lightweight once you swap back.

Personally, though, I found it harder to like the Sine’s top-end: where headphones such as my reference Sennheiser HD 580 Precisions have a treble response that ekes every bit of airiness and depth in a recording, Audeze has opted for a far darker sound for the Sines. Thankfully, the Audeze app makes it easy to largely fix the problem – it only takes a tiny treble lift around 8kHz and 16kHz to get the Sines back on track – but there’s no escaping the fact that the Sines closed-back, on-ear design leaves them lacking the wide, airy soundstage of other headphones.

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Connect the Sines via the 3.5mm cable, however, and getting the most out of them is a tad trickier. The first issue is that phones and laptops may struggle to provide enough power to hear the Sines at their best – the Cipher fixes that issue thanks to its integrated amplifier, but my iPhone SE struggled to reach acceptable volumes on some recordings. The second issue is that, without Audeze’s handy iOS app, it’s trickier to fix Sine’s rolled-off treble. That’s easy enough to remedy with iTunes’ Equalizer, but if you listen to a lot of music via YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud and so forth, you’ll need to splash out on a system-wide EQ app, such as eqMac or Boom 2 – and these won’t necessarily play ball with an external DAC such as the Chord Mojo.

Audeze Sine: Comfort

This is by far my biggest gripe with the Sines – and the key reason why I’ve knocked them down to a three-star review. As these are fairly heavy on-ear headphones, the Sine’s soft earpieces left my ears feeling numb after about an hour or so. Rather than taking them off, I found that shuffling them back and forth now and again relieved the pressure on my ears, but this raises other issues. Indeed, one thing I noticed was just how much the character of the sound seemed to vary in different positions: moving them a few millimetres forward, back, up or down was enough to make some very noticeable changes to the sound. Everyone’s ears are different, so your mileage may vary – but I’d definitely recommend trying before you buy to see if you experience the same problems.

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Audeze Sine: Verdict

At £450, these are not a cheap pair of headphones. For this kind of money, there’s no shortage of superb alternatives, in both in-ear, on-ear or over-ear flavours. For instance, Sennheiser’s £90 HD 25’s don’t have anything like the delicacy or precision of the Sines, but if you want a tight, punchy sound from an on-ear headphone, they’re a dramatically more affordable option. And if you’re looking for an exciting-sounding pair of portable headphones, but noise-cancelling is an essential feature, then the likes of Bose’s wireless £290 QuietComfort 35 win out overall.

For all that, though, Audeze has done a great job of delivering a taste of its planar magnetic magic at a slightly-lower-than-usual price, and while the Sine’s unique sound won’t be to everyone’s tastes, there’s no denying that they’re a class act. Thankfully, Audeze offer a 14-day trial period, so if the Sine’s fail to tickle your eardrums – or just aren’t comfortable – then you can always return them and get your money back. Just be warned: it’s highly likely that you’ll end up £400 poorer.

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