Employing a tidy sealed-back earcup construction and foldability for ease of travel, the Audeze Sine is a pretty unique headphone in several ways. First off, the historically giant planar magnetic driver designs of yore have been shrunk into much lighter and smaller dimensions suitable for a portable headphone build. So it is certainly among the most lightweight of all Audeze headphones thanks to input from the DesignWorksUSA industrial concept team, the same folks responsible for the BMW automotive look & feel who most recently crafted stylish earphones for top Sennheiser in-ear models.
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 of the earpiece frames. It’s a rugged, straight-forward look that bespeaks solid construction with no quarter given to dandified cosmetic headphone trends. Being rugged Montana types ourselves, we like it.
The Audeze Sine construction is decidedly on-ear and rests directly on the earlobes, making the comfort factor not as excellent as with their larger full-size headphones that can more evenly distribute the headband clamping force. The headphone is well-padded with quality genuine 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 quality of fit, and some folks may have issues getting the Sine to sit perfectly on the head and properly align with the ears for maximized sound quality. The earpieces rotate and fold 180 degrees for transport and the leather earpads are fully replaceable, a big plus for extending the life of the headphones.
Sonically, the Audeze Sine presented us with an unforeseen dilemma. Using the Cipher 24-bit DAC cable with an iPhone 6, as the volume increased, we detected some minor low-end distortion creeping in with the Cipher’s DSP tinkering that we adjusted for using the downloadable Audeze 10-band EQ app. But without the D-to-A cable and the EQ in play, the sound tightens up noticeably and becomes more direct and less grainy without the slight low-level digital artifacts we noted using the Cipher cable (pictured at right).
Of course, employing high-quality music files or lossless Tidal streaming with the Sine remains key for best sonic performance; compressed files will expose clear evidence of their sonic limitations using the Sine and the Cipher 24-bit connection. And to complete the Apple iOS panorama for the Audeze Sine headphones, the Cipher DAC cable also features a built-in 3-button remote/mic ready for all your iPhone telecommunications.
Our headphone.com review team hears the Audeze Sine 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 a musically exciting albeit somewhat colored instrumental sound that places vocals in a darker relief against the music. The forward presentation of the Sine can become a bit fatiguing after a long listening session and lovers of chesty, throaty voices may find themselves wishing for a bit better midrange presence.
The Sine soundstage is fairly well-layered but has a more vertical approach versus a wide-screen horizontal image, a typical sonic quality for most closed-back on-ear headphones. That being said, the most attractive qualities of the Sine was the great bass response - especially for a small on-ear can - and the excellent treble extension which makes the Sine sound more airy and bright than some others near this price. It’s also the least expensive headphone in the Audeze line, so listeners wanting a taste of the hallmark clarity, detail and low-end impact of Audeze's high-end audiophile cans may have a decent entry point with the Sine.
As mentioned above, the Audeze Sine is available in this Cipher 24-bit DAC Lightning cable version for $499 or with a standard wired straight headphone cable for $449. The Audeze Sine packaging also includes a soft storage pouch and the Audeze owner's manual. The free 2-year Audeze manufacturer’s 'repair or replace' warranty remains in place with your headphone.com '100% authorized dealer' purchase.