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A great little planar headphone, Audeze Sine review

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When Audeze introduced the Sine headphone at CES earlier this year, it has caught my attention since then. The Sine became the entry-level from Audeze highly regarded line up of headphones and is the first on-ear from the company.

Like other Audeze headphone, it uses planar magnetic driver, complete with the Fazor elements and Fluxor magnetic arrays Audeze used in their higher-end line.

Unlike the LCD audiophile-minded design, Sine continues the consumer-friendly approach started from EL-8, with option for Cipher cable that connect to iDevices via Lightning connector. BMW DesignWorks is again behind the design of this nice looking headphone.

I have been using Sine for a couple of months now and I can say that I’m quite impressed by the sounds. Mine is the standard option without the Cipher cable though, so I can’t speak on how the Cipher cable improves on iDevices.

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Packaging and build quality

Sine came packed nicely in a quite large package. Opening the box reveal the Sine sitting nicely in the middle of the foam cut out. Included with the package is a standard 3.5 mm flat cable, a 3.5 mm to 6.3 mm adapter jack, a pouch and user guide, along with certificate of authentity signed individually.

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The pouch is made of soft fabric and sealed on the top with magnets. It isn’t a bad pouch, it will do the job well protecting the Sine against scratches. But for a headphone this price, using a hardcase will go a long way protecting your investment. This is the hardcase I went with, which fit the Sine very well.

The build on the Sine is quite impressive. Leather and metal is the main ingredient, giving the classic look and luxury feels of high-end headphone. Headband, while having a minimum padding, is covered entirely in leather. Adjustment is done in a smooth movement, no click or numbering, but once you stop in position you liked, it stayed there pretty well.

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The earcup have leather-like texture, but I’m unsure of what it was made of. It has triangular form and the earpads also follow the same form. Now the earpads is a bit disappointing, it seems to be made of protein leather or leatherette and have a rather thin padding. Wearing Sine for extended period of time is quite challenging, hurting my ear even. Sure, on-ear is naturally uncomfortable compared to over-ear headphone, but a thicker padding could help mitigate the issue.

The clamping force is also quite strong out of the box, it helps the headphone to stay in your head and giving a good isolation, which is decent but not quite as good as a full size headphone. However, the strong clamping can be overbearing and uncomfortable in extended use. This can be stretched out a bit to help reducing comfort issue, but be careful, getting it too loose and it will fall off easily from your head. Finding the perfect clamping force is another challenge itself. Thankfully, with all metal construction of Sine, it is quite easy to stretch without damaging the headphone. That said, still do this carefully, the usual advice for stretching using a row of books and left it for a while should work just fine.

Sine has a detachable cable, with a Y-split design. Each end is connected with a 3.5 mm mono jack to the ear cup, which have a unique 7 shape to it. This 7 shape allow the cable to connect securely and looking seamlessly attached. However the connection is quite deep, so it could be problematic for those that looking for custom cable, as you’ll need a thinner jack that could go all the way in.

The cable itself has a flat style with rubbery feel to it. It is quite thick and could be cumbersome for portable use, especially when walking around. The cable ended with 3.5 mm jack with a decent amount of strain-relief. It is a strong cable and seems to be very durable.

For iDevice users, a Cipher cable option is also available for $50 more. This cable is connected in Lightning port and has a built-in DAC and amplifier, so it should improve the sound compared to connecting it directly to the headphone out on iDevice. It is also perfect for iPhone 7 user that already forgo the traditional headphone jack. The Cipher cable at this time of writing isn’t available to purchase separately, so if you are planning to use the Cipher cable, make sure to go with the package that has one.

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Sound quality

The sound, oh the sound. This is the area that Sine is very competent about. To be fair, my experience with other Audeze product is minimal, so Sine is actually the first Audeze product I owned and listen to extensively. I’m happy to report that Sine sounds wonderful, very natural sounding with above average resolution and details.

Let’s start with the bass. The first you’ll notice is that it lacks the sub-bass a bit, so those that looking for low-end rumble will be disappointed. But looking past that, what we have here is a delightful, very well controlled, tight and punchy bass. There is no boomy, no bleeding bass to be found here. Just a clean, punchy, quality bass and just right in quantity.

Going into the midrange, this is I think the bread-and-butter of Sine. It has a smooth and full bodied midrange, it is quite forward in presentation but sounds very sweet. Vocal, male and female is reproduced beautifully. No dryness I can find in this area, and no sibilance to speak of either. This is the area that I loved the most of Sine.

The treble is somewhat polite, with just about the right amount of sparkle. Details and extension is great. However, polite treble also means that it doesn’t have much energy in it, which some might see it as boring. But relax and listening closely to it, what we can find is a clean, detailed, well controlled treble.

Sound stage is decent and nice imaging too, but this wasn’t the area that Sine is shining. Overall, the sound is again, very natural. The bass is just right, the treble is just right, and the midrange is beautiful.

Now for the drivability, Sine isn’t an easy headphone to drive. From the specification, it has a quite low 20 ohm impedance and 100db SPL/mW sensitivity. Driving it out of my Galaxy Note 4 headphone out is possible, but will need full volume to drive to my listening level, however a high dynamic-range track is out of question. A decent DAP or amplifier is required to drive Sine. My iBasso DX90 works fine with Sine, mid-gain at 210 volume is all I needed to enjoy Sine. I also have a Radius LCH91 DAC/amp, which could also drive Sine easily.

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Conclusion

Audeze Sine is a great headphone, it is a bit expensive for average buyer, with MSRP of $449 for standard cable and $499 to add a Cipher cable. But with that price, what we got is an elegant looking headphone made of high quality material and more importantly, sounds phenomenal. Technically in sound department, I think Sine even outweight my TH-X00 full size headphone, which I reviewed here. However, comparing them is quite unfair even if the price tag is very similar. TH-X00 still excel in what it does, big bass and exciting headphone, while Sine is a natural sounding headphone that can be a bit boring at times, but really nice to listen to when relaxing. A different headphone for different occasion.

Sine weakness however, is mainly in comfort. On-ear design, strong clamping force and thin-padded ear pads all works against Sine in this area. Stretching it a bit to reduce clamping force can help mitigate this, while some is opting to change the ear pads to over ear. Brainwavz angled pads is a popular option, despite a bit large for Sine, many has reported it to fit Sine just fine. Head-fier inertianinja made a 3D-printed adapter that makes Sine compatible with M50 size ear pads that is widely available. Finally, Vesper Audio is also making custom-order ear pads for Sine if you are interested.

And for iPhone 7 users, the Sine is possibly the best headphone you can buy right now that works with Lightning connector. 🙂

You can find Audeze Sine on Amazon here.

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