The SINE By Audeze
Value For Money9
9Our Score

I’ve shaken my fist at the audio community for the past 8 or so years, but that prolonged whining got me nowhere.  It seemed like no matter how hard I cried, audio designers and the HiFi community have both insisted that portable audio be voided of musical and fun sounding headphones.  Neutrality and clinical appeal in tonality have taken over for pretty much the last half of the past decade in the portable market…especially so in the on ear variety.  I feel that Audeze has not only created a wonderfully musical headphone with their new Sine model, but also what could be the cleanest sounding on ear headphone mankind has ever produced.

The Extras

I’ll be brief and say the box is just a box, the headphone comes with two cables options (standard 3.5mm or a 3.5mm + an Apple Lightning version with a mic, USB DAC and amplifier inside of it for the $499 package version) and a basic bag for carrying that nobody cares about.   At $450-499 for this headphone, depending on which cable you want, I think we should get a nice carrying case…can I ask for that drop dead gorgeous Audeze Wooden Box back for home storage as well?  I might be asking too much, but I thought a smaller, wooden box like the old LCD2 came with would be pretty amazing.  I’d buy one, let’s make that happen Audeze!


The Design

I want to swear right now, but not for any negative reasons.   Audeze has made one of the most well-built and solid feeling headphones in the portable world that I’ve ever touched…and I think I’ve inappropriately touched hundreds of portables in my time.  This Sine makes my Edition M from Ultrasone ($1100) and my old school cool ATH ESW11LTD ($800) feel like a child’s play thing I’d buy in the clearance section of Walmart.  (Both of these headphones will be referenced often in this review, so forewarning, as they are the best of the best when it comes to on ear portables in the Hifi world).


The Sine oozes quality and there are absolutely no negative points when it comes to the overall build and design. It amazes me that this is the first portable headphone that handles like a down sized full size headphone in density factory: the Sine feels immensely solid not only in the ear cups, but the headband as well.  That “heft” that comes with nicely built headphones is extremely prevalent, which is something no on-ear that I am aware of has been able to offer before.  The headphone is heavy at 230g, so those looking for a lightweight design should shop elsewhere. After all, there is a dense feeling Planar driver in there, so combine that with solid metal frames and cups and you’ve got yourself one of the heaviest and most well-constructed portables available.


The headband is solid aluminum and has a thin layer of padding.  Don’t fret, the lack of pad thinness isn’t problematic and I’ve not had any discomfort when it comes to how the headphone feels on the top of my head and after hours of usage. Real leather pads and authentic leather materials adorn the Sine…but it is with great sadness that I have to report that I think Audeze made a big mistake in using real leather on the exteriors of both earpieces.  The Sine is very prone to nicks and scuffs, as I’ve found that earrings, watches or rings will slice that leatherette easily. Hell, your finger nail will do some damage if you grabbed it at the wrong angle.  Leather cup material over a solid housing is a bold and beautiful idea, but it has no Audeze markings at all!  I want everyone to know this is an Audeze headphone, so I am not fond of the material choice or the lack of a larger logo.  I know that sounds stupid, but I want to show this headphone off and have everything and everyone around me say “Oh man, that dude is wearing an Audeze!”  I took this headphone to a local meet and nobody knew it was from Audeze…



The cables are actually…you know…portable.  So, high five there, Audeze! Thank you for not including garden hoses or a 10ft long cable terminated in a 3.5mm adapter!  Both flat style cables included are of a great portable length and both lack excessive slack length, so that is wonderful news for people who enjoy taking walks or actually using their headphone on the go.  The angular 3.5mm adapters work immensely well and I really adore their slick entry design that keep the cables out of my face.  I recall a time on Head Fi were certain users claimed a designed couldn’t be thought up to best the older LCD-style connectors and how well they kept cables away from my face…it is a shame that witch hunting (calling others out by name and criticizing them) is heavily frowned upon in the reviewer’s game.  Ah well…

Page 2: Sound Impressions

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  • Guy Lamaar

    Hi Michael. Do you think the Sine would pair well with a Bakoon HPA-01M?

    • 24bit

      That depends on the type of sound signature you like. The Bakoon is rock solid in substance factor and has plentiful everything. Most of us agree that is one of the better amps for Planar headphones. You likely won’t be needing it for power requirements, but it will make the experience sound less colored and vivid on the bassy end. This is a lot like the DX90 vs the L3 DAP combination with the Sine that I was torn with: The L3 sounds purer and has a cleaner sound overall. It feels noticeably faster with less bass bloom. The DX90 makes the Sine feel thicker, less clean but also more fun and musical (even with EQ disabled completely). So it would depend heavily on your tonal preferences.

      • Guy Lamaar

        Hi Michael. Today, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to the Sine through my HPA-01M and your assessment is pretty fair; they sound OK, if a little ‘light weight’ (no pun intended).
        This was a demo pair, that had obviously been on a lot of peoples’ heads and they were a bit loose; this, combined with a fairly noisy environment, did them no favours, so it’s probably unfair to judge. They’re an impressive design though; not as small as the current crop of dynamic ‘on-ear’ ‘phones, but small nonetheless and I have to wonder what Audeze are doing putting an 80 x 70 mm driver; it’s about the same size as that in Oppo’s PM-1, in a headphone this size – I reckon that a significant portion of that area must be obscured by the ear pads.

        • 24bit

          By loose, do you mean the headband felt wiggly or lopsided due to overstretch? Yikes! I felt like the Sine was fairly clampish, so I can’t imagine what it must have been through to feel loose fitting if that is the case. I totally agree about the earpads being an actual physical obstruction.

          • Guy Lamaar

            Not ‘flopping about on my head’ loose, but much looser than my DT-1350, or any other on-ear I’ve tried: they had about as much clamping force as my 20-something year old Stax SR-Lambda Pro. The guy in the store did say that they’d been used in their Pro Audio demo rig for the last couple of weeks, so they’ve seen a lot of traffic.
            I notice that Audeze refer to the “Sine Series” on their website, so maybe they’re planning a circumaural version that will use the same driver(?)

          • 24bit

            Interesting, I’ve never noticed that the term “series” was used. Maybe you are right, I’ve no idea. I would greatly prefer an over ear with a similar sound signature.

  • Michael Gunin

    Michael, how does Sine compare with Oppo PM-3?

    • 24bit

      Hello other Michael! The PM3 is a very good headphone, but I feel it to be audibly outclassed in clarity by the Sine. The PM3 also has a larger sound stage overall. The Sine has a more boosted feeling, thicker and softer bass.The PM3 doesn’t quite have the meatiness in tonality as the Sine and sounds thinner and snappier top to bottom. I spent a few hours with the pair at a meet and the choice is vividly obvious to me with all favor going to the Sine. But, this would also very much depend on the tonal preferences a user may have. If you wanted a more balanced feel, something a bit less vivid and less boosted, then you probably should opt for the PM3. If not and you enjoy something thicker feeling (especially in the bass regions), something not as quick, something more relaxing and smooth sounding with regard to physical impact, then the Sine is certainly the better route.

      • Michael Gunin

        Thanks! I listen to jazz/soul/funk mostly, so Sine seems like my choice. Not sure how it’d pair with my DX50, but glad to hear it works well with DX90.

        BTW, how is the isolation? Is it ok for outdoor use?

        • 24bit

          It would pair pretty much the same with the DX50 as it would with the DX90 for power needs, but I use Rockbox which sounds a lot different from the Stock DX90 Mango OS. I would assume that a Rockbox’ed DX50 would be an improvement over the stock operating system, but I’ve never used Rockbox with a DX50 so I couldn’t say.

          As for the isolation, it fairs nicely, but this is likely due to the Sine’s plentiful clamp pressure and totally sealed design. I often take walks with it and really don’t hear much of the exterior environment when music plays, so I’ll say it does better than most on ear’s I’ve used that weren’t active NC models. The headphone leaks virtually nothing when they are on someone’s head, so they’ll be great for office use, traveling and generally when near others. These are my “outdoor” headphone now. Ever since I received mine from Audeze, these are the only set I take with me and when I listen around the house. Walks, car rides ect ect, I’ve never really been so happy with a portable before. It fits pretty much every category and need that I desire.

          • Michael Gunin

            That sounds great! I was advised to try Rockbox on DX50, so probably it is a good idea. It seems that iBasso’s more analytical sound would complement well something musical and with a good bass.

          • 24bit

            Fair warning, I don’t find the Rockbox DX90 to be analytical in the slightest. In fact, it is polar opposite and something I find highly musical, vivid, fun, exaggerated and colored. If you wanted analytical/pure tone and qualities in a Dap from iBasso, that is the newer DX80 or their older DX100 (which sound almost identical to each other). The DX90′ stock Mango operating system is a little bit of both, it isn’t super pure, nor is it what I would consider boosted. The Rockbox DX90 is has so many EQ options that you’ll likely be able to achieve your desired setup relatively easily. Again though, I can’t say much about the DX50 with Rockbox, I’ve never used it.

            But thankfully, there is a dual boot Rockbox version that lets you boot up to either the stock operating system, or the Rockbox version. I do this daily with my DX90, when I want to use it as a DAC, I boot to the Mango OS (stock), when I want it as a portable player, I always use Rockbox. Just note that the Dual boot can’t be removed so far as I am aware and last I checked a few months ago, it will stay there indefinitely. I was never able to remove it and the Rockbox support crew on their forums expressed zero interest in helping when I asked for it.

  • YUNoCount?

    When you coming back to r/headphones, you bald-headed bitch?

  • Aleksandr Piskunov

    Hello Michael!

    Now I own Bowers&Wilkins P5 S2 headphones, and I think it’s not the worst option these days to listen to. I understand that Sine will definitely be much better in terms of audio quality, but I wonder how much. If you give 100% of sound quality to Audeze Sine, how many % would you give to BW P5 S2?
    Thank you in advance.

    • 24bit

      I rated the Sine at 90% overall, so I’d rate the P5 at a 55%. I owned the P5 for a short time, so I am going entirely off memory, which is something I rarely like to speak of. I no longer have the P5, so I can’t draw that comparison. The P5 isn’t on the top ten best portables ever made list and wasn’t good enough for me to keep, but the Sine is certainly #1 on that list.

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  • Reachback

    Hey Michael,
    How do you compare SINE to Fostex Thx00? Which one do you prefer?

    • 24bit

      Recessive tendencies in the Fostex headphones, snappy impact level and much harsher treble, thin feeling. While a good value overall, the X00 isn’t nearly as complete of a headphone as the Sine, which has a more dense tone (physicality typical of Planars), a more forward midrange and smoother treble. The Sine is much easier to listen to, but of course the X00 has better bass depth/rumble, much more sound stage and comfort. Sine would win for sure if I had to assign numerical values in a point scoring game. I prefer the Sine, undoubtedly.

      • Reachback

        Thank you for the answer! Now I know which one to get for my next gear lol

  • Orpheus

    Hi Michael,

    Could you please offer your thoughts on a comparison between Edition M and Sine for classical (orchestral mainly, but also chamber) music? Which one would offer a better experience. I would think that the Edition M does, given its wider soundstage. Also, I would think that the Edition M is considerably more comfortable than the Sine, given lower weight and more. Many thanks!

    • 24bit

      I highly recommend you do not buy the M. It is the lesser of the trio of portables I’ve reviewed recently and the most expensive to maintain. The cables are stupidly expensive and have an incredibly high failure rate, and Ultrasone will not freely replace them for you and will force you to pay $250 for a replacement cable that will certainly die soon.

      The M is certainly lighter and more comfortable, but neither are suited for classical music. I’d opt for the Sine for Classical because it is in fact superior in quality everywhere over the M. But, what it has in quality, it loses out in sound staging. The M is more spacious and deeper sounding for sure. Stay away from the M. Right now it is stupidly overpriced and has too high of a failure rate. It also isn’t as good as the Sine in quality overall.

      For portable on ears, you should opt for a used ESW11LTD or Sine. If you like more forwardness, the 11LTD is the wiser choice. If you like a more relaxed and dense feel to the presentation, The SIne is the wiser choice. Right now, nothing in the portable on ear world is as clean sounding as the Sine and the ATH ESW11LTD. The M takes a distant third and it’s so much more expensive than the rest, also has a cable failure rate that is absurd. You’ll not find a wide sound stage in portable on ears. If you want that, opt for the Flare R2Pro instead and go iems because no on ears have a sound stage that satisfied me fully.

      • Orpheus

        Many thanks for the words of wisdom – they convinced me not to go for the M! I am looking for a pair of closed backs to complement my IEMs – I have the K3003 and IE800 already. Latter is stellar in my view, especially when paired with a Mojo, but has the fitment issues everyone knows about and am looking for a headphone to use when I simply not in IEM mood….I might try the Sine, or else wait for the T5P 2nd Generation to be available at reasonable prices. Have you had the chance to try the latter?

        • 24bit

          I didn’t know there was a 2nd gen T5P. Interesting. Heard the original, did not like it so odds are good I’d also not like the new model I think. As for the Sine and as far as on ears go, it is the top dog closely followed by the ESW11LTD overall.

          But, again you can’t get great sound staging on an on ear, nobody has made a great imaging on ear yet and even the Sine takes a back seat to the Audio Technica ESW11LTD in staging properties.

        • Daphen

          If possible, I would really appreciate it if you make an update if you do try out the Sine, especially compared to the K3003. I know it’s on ear vs in ear and all that, but if you have access to both, which headphone do you end up reaching for the most and stuff like that. I have the K3003 as my primary office phone at the moment, thinking about getting the Sine but it’s still a lot of money so I would want it to feel like an upgrade if I do end up getting it. The K3003 is almost twice the cost so I’m not sure it would be an upgrade at all.

          Anyways, would be interesting to see if you, or anyone else that own both, think about the “matchup”.

  • canali

    guess toss a newly released dragonfly black or red with them and you have an alternative to the cypher cable.

    must also ask please: how does it compare to the sony mdr 7520…sure it’s a studio monitor, so is balanced and detailed…but is also lightweight to be portable…and soooo easy to drive.
    would love to see how it compares.

  • canali

    does the beyerdynamic dt1350 portable still hold up well against this new sine?
    half the price, but still gets good reviews (for rock, blues, jazz)

    • 24bit

      This is one of the headphones out there that I really hated more as time progressed. I was unlucky and could not get a proper seal, due to the headphones absurdly poor earpad design for such an expensive headphone at the time it was first released. The tone was sterile, very clinical and the bass lacked depth and heft, offering a more purist approach. Plenty clean, of course, but boring to me beyond belief. It holds up and is more than good for pure clarity only at the current price of $120US used. Right now, it is an excellent deal on the used market. The ESW9 being the exact same price and offering much more musicality, bass depth, better heft and solidity, potential to mod and repair/replace parts as needed. Two sides to the same coin there, polar opposites.

      The decay was quick on that 1350, so I never found it suitable for Blues or Jazz genre’s which I listen to most. That is subjective though…hard to say. The ESW9 has a closer tone and setup to the Sine than the 1350 does. That DT1350 couldn’t be more polar opposite and it didn’t last in my collection at all after I reviewed it. The ESW9 did though and I’d recommend that over the 1350 if you want something “Not clinical” in the sub $150 range for an on ear. The 1350 has a very good stage for a small on ear and also seals very well if you can actually obtain it. It is one of those headphones that will break the great seal if you move in the slightest, so my tunes would go from sounding nice to sounding megaphone-ish for a moment as the seal breaks on the pads, then I readjust and get it nice again, then I smile and it breaks again…ugh, just recalling that nightmare…*shudders.

      At the end of that rant, I say sure, at $120 used or so that is a very good deal if you like clinical tone and headphones that lack bass heft.

      • canali

        love your detailed reviews..those damned sines have me itchin.
        they’re getting the same accolades as the mojo did when it came out…it can’t lose.
        i’m going to take my ‘clinical’ sounding sony 7520s into my local retailer to do a side by side….thing with the sine is they’re on ear…and i wear glasses…have read of others complaining of pressure after wearing them an hr or so.

        how does the sound compare to the new el8 platinum? is it that far off?( i listen to rock blues and bassy jazz)
        trying to find something fun/muscial with good balance and bass slam for home and on the road (again to compliment my senn 650s…still thinking of those massdrop thx00s too)

  • Emre Oktar

    Hello Micheal, thank you for the excellent review.

    My question is, where would you put the Sine compared to Ultrasone Signature Pros and B&W P7. I already have the P7s but recently upgraded my DAP and now using a Lotoo Paw Gold. Because I live in Turkey I do not have too many options but both Audeze and Ultrasone are avalable through official distributors. As you can guess, I want to go for an audible/apparent upgrade with my new purchase so it will really make a difference compared to B&W P7. I mostly enjoy listening to Jazz, some pop & classic; mostly acoustic and female vocals. Ah… Mobility is also very important for me since i will be carrying all the stuff in my bag…

    • 24bit

      Hi Emre.

      Thanks for the kind words! I can assure you the Sine is superior in clarity to the P7, which I’ve heard many times. I can’t say anything about the Signature Pro, I’ve not heard that. But, I can tell you that I prefer the Sine heaps over the Edition 5 Unlimited, which sounds wonky by comparison and is bested by the Sine in bass quality something fierce.

      Don’t expect great staging with the Sine, you won’t achieve that ever. But, if you like the slower and more relaxed genres out there, I think you’ll be well suited for it. I can’t speak for you, but for those music types I’d want something firm, but not overly pure or bloated, something somewhat mid forward and something dense feeling and solid. The Sine is all of that. The Sine isn’t large, so I don’t think you’ll have any issues with portability. Remember though, it isn’t a neutral sounding midrange, there is some coloration to it and it is not meant for the purist. It is abundant from top to bottom, but not overly so. Just a bit of “Warmth in the bass, mids and the potential for somewhat sparkly treble.”

      • Emre Oktar

        Thank you Michael, your review both saved me time and money. I will go for the Sine =)

        • 24bit

          Still certain it’s the best portable money can buy, at least in the on ear variety. Wrecked the $1100 Edition M from ultrasone, bested the older ESW11LTD as well in some ways, all that for $399 and even less now I think? Can’t really beat that, so far as I am aware. I think you made the right choice.

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  • Michael Aleman

    Good day,

    Can you compare the Sine to OPPO PM-3 ?


    • 24bit

      Hi, other Michael. 😛

      Sure can, but already did below in this comment section. I responded to yet another Michael haha! Check the comments below for my detailing of the two.

      • Michael Aleman


        Thanks for the quick response and not sure how I missed that post!
        Be well,

        • 24bit


  • Hi, thanks for the review.
    Could you elaborate a bit on the matchability in profane terms? Would you mean that a decent smartphone can get a good result out of these headphones? (Actually I am using a Sony NW-ZX2, so I guess it wouldn’t be a concern, but always good to know)
    Also, do you think these headphones could benefit in any way from a TRRS cabling for the stage depth?

    • 24bit

      The Sine was made to be friendly with lightning connectors on Apple devices, so it seems very clear that the majority of smartphones would not have issues powering it well. You get what you put in though, the Sine will get noticeably better with more powerful sources that are also of a higher quality. For example, my Cowon Plenue M sounds better than pretty much all current smart phones by themselves. The Sine out of my Galaxy S4 is good. The Sine out of the Plenue M is better. The Sine out of my iFi iDac2 + Airist Audio Heron 5 amplifier is noticeably better still.

      We call that “Scaling up”. Some headphones get better with better sources, some are stubborn and stay relatively the same in quality. But for power needs, the iPhones and popular Droid phones have enough power to get plenty of good quality from the Sine. Your Sony DAP has more power output than the Galaxy smartphones currently, just as an example. So if you opt to use the Sine with a smart phone, you’ll not only be downgrading in audio quality, but power output as well.

      Yes to the balanced option due to it allowing for more power to run into it. No real benefit using standard TRRS. If you can go balanced, this is a set that will benefit from that extra power that comes with a balanced connector, you’ll not hear much of a sound stage difference, the set isn’t strong in that area. But, you’ll hear more firmness, more authority and a higher level of clarity in the bass for sure with a balanced setup.

      • Thanks for the quick reply! Just ordered these headphones, will try tomorrow…

  • So, I owned these headphones for… 1 day and returned them! Why?
    The sound is beautifully balanced, the build quality is awesome, yes, but…
    Matchability is terrible: on a Sony NW-ZX2 DAP, on a Sony smartphone, on an iPhone, I had to push the volume to the maximum to get at a barely acceptable level. When sitting in a quiet room I could go with 90-95% but once outside, no way. As a result, the bass is very far from impressive, and I am no bass-head…
    When in the “portable” category, I would expect the headphones to be fine for usage outside with a normal-sized DAP

    I got back to my hifiman RE-600 iems and the sound is way more dynamic, the sound stage is better, the sound sheer volume is much higher (I don’t go much beyond 50-60%).

    That’s the second time I return a headset that if super-highly recommended on this site (the previous one were the RHA T20, very heavy iems, very aggressive and harsh sound) so I guess we have extremely different tastes and ears… Thanks Amazon for having a flexible return policy!

    • 24bit

      Sorry it didn’t work out for you. 20hom headphones like this are super easy to drive so I am not sure what is wrong. I can go def with the Sine and my Cowon PM, as well as most of my other daps. I don’t get anywhere near 90%. Have you considered a portable amp?

      • Adding a portable amp would make the whole setup super heavy and bulky, so that’s not an option… I tried a variety of FLAC files and a few devices, but every time I needed the max volume to get to a barely normal sound level. Maybe my set had a quality issue?!
        Anyway, I can’t spare too much time getting another one to test again, so I’ll stay with the RE-600 for the moment and go try a few more sets directly in the stores.

        • 24bit

          I spent like 2 hours on the phone with a Sony rep I know tonight asking about your problem. He confirmed the ZX2 is a very weak player and that it was never intended to be used for anything but iems. It swings only 15mw into 16ohm, which is very low output power.

          Sony dap is the culprit here and not the headphone. That Dap does not have the juice to power it. Sony doesn’t make a high enough output smart phone(I assume you are using the Xperia). I can’t speak for the iPhone, depends on the model and it’s output driving power, but iDevices are often on the low end and not built to drive anything but iems and very efficient headphones.

          Anywho, you made the right choice to return it if your gear doesn’t jive. But…it is a gear issue. As mentioned, My Cowon Plenue D, the M, most of the Fiio’s (X1 can’t, but the X3, 5 and 7 can) the Calyx, the Astell and Kerns, the Luxury and Precisions, and the iBasso’s all drive the Sine to potentially dangerous levels of volume. It is just a thing of circumstances that you have a very low output portable music player that can’t swing the energy needed to power the Sine.

          • Interesting and thank you for checking so quickly!
            Indeed I am not planning to change DAP any time soon… so better off with the RE-600 on my ZX2. One day I’ll change the whole setup in one go!

          • 24bit

            Very Welcome

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