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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, the historically huge planar magnetic drivers of yore have been miniaturized into dimensions suitable for a small portable headphone. So it is certainly among the most lightweight and sleek of all Audeze headphones thanks in part to superb industrial design input from DesignWorksUSA.
The look of the Audeze Sine is unflashy in matte black without big graphics or bright cosmetics and just a discrete Sine logo on the earpiece frame. It’s a simple, straight-forward look that bespeaks solid construction with no quarter given to dandified headphone trends. We like it.
The Audeze Sine fit 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 more evenly distribute the headband force. The Sine is well-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 of your head & 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 properly align with the ears for best sound quality. The earpieces rotate and fold 180 degrees for transport and the leather earpads are fully replaceable, a nice plus for extending the use life of the headphones.
Sonically, the Audeze Sine presented us with a dilemma. Using the Cipher 24-bit DAC cable with an iPhone 6, as the volume increased, we detected some low-level low-end distortion creeping in with the Cipher’s DSP that we tinkered with using the downloadable Audeze 10-band EQ app.
But without the Cipher D-to-A or EQ in play, the sound tightens up and becomes more direct and less grainy without the minor digital artifacts we noted using the Cipher cable. Of course, employing high-quality music files or lossless Tidal streaming with the Sine remains key for best performance; compressed files will expose evidence of their audio limitations using the Sine Cipher 24-bit connection. And to complete the Apple iOS panorama for the Sine headphones, the Cipher DAC cable also has a built-in 3-button remote/mic ready for your iPhone chats.
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. Hence, the lively presentation of the Sine can become a bit fatiguing after long listening sessions and lovers of chesty vocals may find themselves wishing for a bit fuller midrange presence at times.
The Sine soundstage presentation is 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 Sine trait is the potent, clean bass response - especially for a small on-ear can - and the excellent treble extension which makes the Sine sound more airy and bright than other portable cans near this price.
It’s also the least expensive headphone in the Audeze line, so music fans wanting a taste of the hallmark clarity and low-end punch of Audeze's upscale audiophile cans have a fair entry point with the Sine.
The Audeze Sine is also available with a standard 'wired' straight headphone cable for $449.