Audeze isn’t a very old headphone maker, but it’s one that has made a quick impact in the short time that it’s been around. Considered by many to be the best headphone brand in the world, Audeze’s products are widely acclaimed. However, this is also one of the most expensive headphones brands in the world, and some of its top-end products are priced in excess of Rs 100,000. However, recent product development has seen the brand appeal to somewhat more affordable segments, although you’re still paying a decidedly not-affordable Rs 34,990 at the very least. Also Read - HIFIMAN HE400se open-back planar headphones launched in India: Price, specifications
Today we’re reviewing Audeze’s entry-level product, the Rs 34,990 Sine headphones. As is the norm with Audeze, these headphones use expensive but capable planar magnetic driver technology, and are touted as the world’s first on-ear planar magnetic headphones. We have high expectations from the Audeze Sine; find out how the headphones fared in our review. Also Read - Xiaomi Mi True Wireless Earbuds 2C headphones launched in India
Audeze Sine On-Ear Planar Magnetic headphones design and specifications
Audeze’s earlier products have been significantly different when it comes to design, with the most notable aspect being the preference towards an open-back design. Although the Audeze Sine isn’t the company’s first closed-back headset, it is the most ‘everyday-friendly’ product built by the American company. It’s meant to appeal to users who may want to use their headphones even while commuting or in the office, where previous Audeze models have for some reason or the other been limited to home use. Also Read - Sony WH-1000XM4 noise canceling headphones launched; check price, features, and specifications
Apart from the obvious advantages of the closed-back design, the Sine headphones are also designed to be comfortable and portable thanks to the on-ear fit. The design is something that appealed to me immensely, with an elegant combination of leather and steel. The shape of the ear casings is also interesting, and the use of metal as the base with the leather wrap around it is as great to feel as it looks.
The headband also uses this same combination, with stitched leather padding surrounding a metal frame. Although the headphones don’t fold for storage, the ear casings do swivel 180-degrees, and the adjusting mechanism allows you to extend the length of the headband to fit properly. The liberal use of metal makes this a heavy headset, but this doesn’t affect comfort too much.
The cable included with the headphones is a detachable flat option with a 3.5mm connector pin, but you can also purchase the Audeze Sine with the CIPHER cable. This Lightning-port compatible cable has a DAC and amplifier built into it, letting you use it with various Apple devices, including the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus that don’t have a 3.5mm jack. The Audeze Sine headphones have a frequency response range of 10-50,000Hz, with an impedance rating of 20Ohms and a maximum sensitivity of 120dB/1mW.
While the use of planar magnetic drivers usually limits headphones usability due to the need for enhanced amplification, the Audeze Sine is tuned to work well even with the basic amplification that a typical smartphone provides. Of course, enhanced amplification is ideal here to get the best out of the Sine, but the headphones aren’t impossible to use without amplification.
Audeze Sine On-Ear Headphones performance
I tested the Audeze Sine primarily using an Astell & Kern AK300 high-resolution audio player, as well as with my OnePlus 3 and a Windows laptop. Focus tracks for the review were The Eagles’ Hotel California, Massive Attack’s Teardrop and Maroon 5’s Sugar.
Starting with the classic rock track Hotel California, we were immensely impressed with the tonality and neutrality of the Audeze Sine headphones. From the guitar riff at the beginning to the point when the drums kick in, there was a strong sense of dimensionality. I was able to individually concentrate on different aspects of the track, including the instrumentals, beat and vocals. The quality of the tone, and the sheer effect of every element of the track is clearly audible. Additionally, the headphones can get incredibly loud with proper amplification, without losing any fidelity or capability.
Moving on to Teardrop, I could hear just how capable the soundstage of the headphones is. It’s wide and clean, giving an effect that is far beyond the actual stereo channel separation. Sonic imaging is fantastic and accurate, as softer parts of the track are able to play at just the right volume to be able to be heard, yet hold their proper place in the track. Of course, this level of detail and accuracy is only possible when good equipment is paired with the headphones, and uncompressed audio files are used. When played with my phone, although still fantastic, it was clear that the headphones weren’t being used to their full potential.
Coming to Sugar, I was able to listen to the neutrality in the frequency ranges, with the headphones sounding good with all kinds of sounds. While the bass certainly isn’t the thumping, aggressive variety that can be expected from some popular premium brands, it’s definitely tight, controlled and strong in its own right. The mid-range feels equally strong, as does the treble range. The entire range works together on equal footing, with no particular sound powering beyond and giving the sonic signature a flavor. It’s a beautiful sound that remains focused on tonal superiority and gives you a clear idea of what you’re listening to.
The Audeze Sine On-Ear Headphones are expensive, and there won’t be a lot of people that are looking to buy a pair of headphones that cost as much as a decent flagship smartphone. However, if you are looking for a very high-end pair of headphones, and sound quality is of utmost importance, the sub-Rs 40,000 segment’s best option is the Audeze Sine, for the capability that comes with its planar magnetic drivers, and absolute tonal superiority.
This is a fantastic pair of headphones that certainly sounds its price, and has the brand name and reputation to go with it. There are a few other options at around the same price, including the HiFiMan HE400I, Sony MDR-Z7 and Oppo PM-3, but Audeze’s superior brand name, reputation in high-end audio and take-with-you design will give it a significant advantage over the others. It strikes a good balance between audiophile grade and portability that makes this among the best headphones you can buy at under Rs 40,000.