With a tidy sealed-back earcup construction and full foldability for ease of travel, the Audeze Sine is an attractive headphone in several ways. First off, the historically huge planar magnetic driver assemblies of yore have been shrunk into much lighter and smaller dimensions suitable for a portable model. So the Sine is among the most ergonomic of all Audeze headphones thanks to build input from the DesignWorksUSA industrial concept team, the same folks responsible for the high-end BMW automotive look & feel.
The cosmetic look of the Audeze Sine is surprisingly unflashy in matte black without any overbearing graphics on the earcups. The Sine logo discretely appears on just one side of the earpiece frames. It’s a rather simple, rugged look that bespeaks solid construction with no quarter to candified cosmetic headphone trends. Being rugged Montana types ourselves, we like it.
The Audeze Sine fit is decidedly on-ear and rests directly on the earlobes for most wearers, making the comfort factor not quite as excellent as with larger full-size headphones that can more evenly distribute the clamping force. The Sine headband is nicely padded with quality leather cushions but the angular earpieces can be hit or miss in terms of achieving a solid comfortable fit - it’s all going to depend on the shape and size of your ears. The earpad seal against ambient noise can also be impacted by the caliber of fit, and some heads may have issues getting the Sine to sit squarely on the noggin and properly align with the ears for best sound quality.
Sonically, the Audeze Sine presented our Headphone.com review team with an unforeseen dilemma. We quite liked this non-Cipher edition; without the Cipher DAC cable or the EQ in play, the Sine dynamics seemed to loosen up with the sound becoming more direct and less grainy sans the slight low-level digital artifacts we noted using the Cipher amp/DAC cable.
Of course, employing uncompressed music or lossless Tidal streaming with the Sine remains critical for best acoustic performance; compressed files will reveal clear evidence of their sonic limitations especially if using the Sine and Cipher 24-bit connection. And to complete the Apple iOS panorama for the Sine headphone, the Cipher DAC cable edition includes an inline 3-button remote/mic ready for your iPhone calls, a nice plus that may seal the deal if you own a recent iOS device.
We hear the Audeze Sine musical presentation exhibiting a classic U-shaped response with emphasis placed at the low bass and upper treble ends of the spectrum with slightly recessed midranges. This tonality creates an engaging albeit somewhat colored instrumental sound that places vocals in a darker relief against the music.
The Sine soundstage is fairly layered but has a more vertical dimension versus a wide-screen horizontal image, a typical trait for most closed-back on-ear headphones. That being said, the most attractive qualities of the Sine was the potent bass response - especially for a small on-ear can - and the strong top extension which makes the Sine more airy and bright than others near this price. It’s also the least expensive headphone in the Audeze lineup, so music lovers wanting a taste of the famous clarity, detail and impact of the Audeze 'house sound' have an affordable entry point with the Sine.