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The Sine is Audeze's first foray into the small world of portable audiophile on-ear cans. Employing a tidy sealed-back earcup construction and foldability for ease of travel, the Sine is a pretty unique headphone in several ways. First off, the historically giant planar magnetic driver designs of yore have been newly condensed into much lighter and smaller dimensions suitable for a portable headphone build. So its certainly among the most ergonomic of all Audeze headphones thanks to input from the DesignWorks industrial concept team, the same folks responsible for the high-end BMW sports car ‘look & feel’ and who most recently created stylish earphones for top Sennheiser in-ear models. The cosmetic look of the Audeze Sine is surprisingly unflashy, colored throughout 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 rather rugged, simple look that bespeaks solid construction without quarter given to candified 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 for most wearers, making the comfort factor not quite as excellent as with larger full-size headphones that will more evenly distribute the clamping force. The Sine headphone itself is well padded with high-quality genuine leather 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 folks may have issues getting the Sine to sit perfectly on the head and properly align with the ears for maximized sound quality. The Sine earpieces rotate and fold 180 degrees for easier transport.
Sonically, the Audeze Sine presented us with an unforeseen dilemma. When employing the Cipher 24-bit DAC cable with an iPhone 5, we detected some low-end distortion creeping in with the Cipher’s DSP tinkering that demanded to be EQ’d out using the Audeze 10-band EQ app for the Sine. 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 extraneous digital artifacts we hear using the Cipher cable. 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 Sine headphone, the Cipher DAC cable also features a built-in 3-button remote and mic ready for all your iPhone communications.
Sonically, we hear 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 while and lovers of chesty, throaty voices will 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 cans may have a good entry point with the Sine.
The Sine comes with your choice of straight cable or Cipher DAC cable [add $50]. The packaging also includes a soft storage pouch and the Audeze Sine owner's manual. The Sine leather earpads are fully replaceable, a nice plus for extending the life of the headphones. The free 2-year Audeze manufacturer’s warranty stays in place with your headphone.com authorized dealer purchase.