Sound Impressions

Bass

Audeze is known for Bass, plain and simple.  When we all think back on full size Hifi and the higher end headphone models out yonder, Audeze is the name we associate with exceptional bass performance and that sentiment is now no different when it comes to portable market.  Audeze has crafted the only headphone of an on ear variety that I’ve found to outperform the Audio Technica ESW11LTD, which was a headphone that came out neigh 7 or 8 years ago and that has never been dethroned from its title as the portable bass king.  It wasn’t until I received the Sine in the mail from Ms. Heather (who rocks by the way, thank you for the adorable card and letter!) that I’d ever felt comfortable in tucking my 11LTD in for bed time and whispering good night to it…permanently…as I gently smother it with its blanket and watch the life drain from its drivers forever.

True, the 11LTD is very clean for a portable, but the Sine is noticeably superior in overall fidelity.  Planar bass is simply superior to dynamic driver bass, at least that is my subjective opinion on the subject.  Density factor and substance are off the chart great on this Sine, making the ESW11LTD sound oddly thin, lacking and splashy.  There is quite a leap up between the two in clarity, yet I paid more for my used 11LTD than the cost of a new Sine at $449 today.

The Alpha Dog from Dan at MrSpeakers, the HE500 from Hifiman and even their bassy HE400 original kind of falter when standing up to the humble Sine during my testing and comparison phase.  Yes, the Sine sounds pretty much equally as clean as the famed HE500 and audibly superior to the HE400 and even the Alpha Dog’s low end in some ways.  I detect more purity in the Sine than those other two and the HE500 is the only Planar headphone I have that is pretty much on the same road in raw quality. However, ye’ old’ HE500 is simply not as fun sounding, not as vivid, musical or nearly as tasty as the Sine.

When it comes down to it, Audeze tuned the Sine with some musicality in mind it seems, as the headphone doesn’t feel overly pure, nor bloated in the slightest down in its nether regions.  It is right in that golden area of “a little of this, a little of that” which equates to a very musical tone.  There is certainly some elevation occurring, so purists might not want this model in their arsenal for critical listening.  However, if you want something supremely plentiful in quality and quantity for an on ear, as well as something a little colored and intended for musical enjoyability, then this is literally the only headphone you will find at the alter on top of Mount. Musicality.

Impact is a non-issue, so don’t worry about any harshness a ‘la the EL-series models before the Sine.  You’ll never wince or blink unless you go a little crazy with EQ’ing.  By the way, Audeze intended you to EQ this headphone, so feel free to go crazy if you prefer a +5dB boost over the already plentiful low end the Sine offers…I know I’m enjoying the hell out of it.  It seems the driver isn’t at all snobbish when it comes to bass-end alterations over its stock form on a flat EQ: she purrs like a kitten when you want her to and can growl nicely when you bump things even more with your Apple device, or really whatever else you planned to use for EQing.  I normally despise Apple products, so I had to reach out to peers to test with the Lightning cable. The Sine handles Apple’s bare bones iPhone EQ nicely…but it isn’t until you download Audeze’s specialized application that things really start to fly.   Oh by the way, their Lightning cable has a God-damn 24bit DAC and amplifier inside of it…

For giggles, I compared the Edition 5 from Ultrasone ($2000) with the Sine…and it was curtains for the Edition 5.  The Sine obliterated the Eddy5 in every way on the low end. 

5

The Mids

Well into what most would consider forward, but not quite LCD3 or 11LTD forward.  There is a noticeable relaxed positioning occurring here compared to my ESW11LTD and even the LCD3 also from Audeze, but not much.  I consider both of those headphones extremely forward, so I think it is safe to say the Sine is one step back behind them, but still standing in the world of forwardness enough to consider it sufficiently intimate.  Mirroring the low end, the entire vocal/mid experience is lightyears beyond the best portables I’ve ever heard, at least when it comes to raw solidity and density factor.  Yes, this headphone is immaculately lush sounding, thick and weighted feeling in the mid-experience!


Purists who like the HD800 feel are going to hate this, but those who know and like the solidity factor that most Planar drivers tend to bring to the table are going to go bat**** crazy for the Sine.  Why?  Well, because there are no portable Planar headphones really…the Sine is the first of its kind and wow did it deliver on the substance factor.  Emaciation is the name of the game when A/B comparisons are made between the Sine and really anything else portable before it, this headphone makes the Edition M and the entire ESW series from Audio Technica sound watery, flimsy and simply hollowed out.  Sadly, the ESW series made most other portables feel the same way as well, so we are talking supreme density and the yummiest solidity factor in a portable headphone inside this Sine.  Truly, I’ve never been happier…oh my, oh my, Audeze got this right and then some.  Planar density on the go?! Yes, please!!!

If you like intimate placement and gooey, velvet-like vocals, you can’t do better.  But, if there is one flaw in the Sine’s midrange, it is that it doesn’t feel as well defined as something like my 11LTD.  Sure, you can get that immensely satisfying heft and solidity factor, but when comparing the Sine to the 11LTD, the latter of the two feels more realistic sounding and like all vocals and instruments have more of a defined shape and more depth, whereas the Sine feels flatter and less prone to allow your ears to define the edge work for each instrument or vocalist.  Is this a problem?  Nope, not even remotely.  I’d rather take the denser, higher quality painting with vivid colors (Sine) than the one that has finer, definable lines and a more blurred canvas behind it (11LTD). Realism is not this headphone’s strong point, but it is still stupidly yummy and satisfying enough to justify the price tag.  I’ve never gotten the feeling of a lacking midrange, despite the Sine lagging behind a bit in its ability to define edges of various instruments and vocalists by comparison to my ESW11LTD.


Treble

I am not sure I can consider this a flaw, but the Sine starts out with a shy upper end.  It is absolutely reserved and underwhelming in quantity, but it clearly was intended to be that way from the get go.  There isn’t even a hint of sibilance or harshness, this headphone was specifically made to be as easy on the ear as possible all while continuing to follow the formula of spectacular density/solidity factor.  What treble that is there on a flat EQ is still ungodly superior to the Edition M and 11LTD by a massive degree. In terms of substance (HE-6/HE500 owners know what this means for treble, that beautiful sparkle with serious heft and weight to it) the latter two portables mentioned here just can’t hope to compete.  Both of them sound like megaphones and extremely thin by comparison to the Sine, but know again that the Sine is much more reserved up top than they are.

That doesn’t really matter, because with proper EQ you can achieve more quantity and still not get nearly as harsh as either.  I’ve gone nuts and tossed on a +7dB on the treble via Rockbox on my iBasso DX90 and still didn’t get to the point of no return or harshness that comes with the flat EQ’ed 11LTD or Edition M.  The same +7dB up top with the 11LTD or the Ed.M created a ball of haze and brimstone up top that makes me want to kill myself.

The Sine is stubborn as hell with treble EQ and is not nearly as responsive as it’s bass is, but the treble will stay clean and clear even on stupidly high amounts of EQ up top.  So, feel free to boost it +3dB-6dB and enjoy the newfound sparkle without it shelling out an overly bright or harsh appeal.  I do not consider the stock and flat EQ’ed Sine a balanced headphone, I am just baffled by others who are saying this about the headphone. Clearly, there is a boosted lower end and midrange lushness that both overshadow the treble just a bit.  Undoubtedly, the upper end of the Sine is well into the world of shy, while the rest of the sound below it is abundant.

Clarity is still excellent and yes, I think the EL8 closed back version is bested by the Sine in terms of clarity across the board, top to bottom.  But, the most significant difference in quality is certainly up top when comparing the two:  Mr. Sine is audibly superior in cleanliness, density factor and is far less prone to ever being harsh or ugly…it just never happens.  I’ve been listening to 128kbps audiobooks from Audible (God almighty, get your crap together already Audible! It is 2016, give up the 320/Flac versions already if you are making me pay $20 for these books. Jeez!) and none of them sound horrendous.  Older tracks sound fine and it really takes a severely, poorly rendered track to sound undesirable…but the Sine still doesn’t harshly portray the treble nearly as bad as the Edition M or 11LTD tend to.

Imaging

This headphone loves Crossfeed, so feed it some.  The result is an even more smoothed out and bassy experience, but without the typical shape change in the imaging experience.  Some headphones totally alter their dimensions (height, depth and width of the staging experience) when Crossfeed is active, but the Sine doesn’t change enough to merit further comment.  The summation of the experience is enhanced beyond the already tasty stock sound of the headphone; it also nicely improves in center imaging prowess over the stock sound without Crossfeed.  A gentle amount of Crossfeed is wise and it is something I refuse to not use with the Sine, so I highly recommend you download the free Bauersterophonic DSP for Foobar2000 and enjoy the Meier preset to the fullest.  You might also want to toss in the realbassexciter DSP and tack on a +2-3dB on the bass end, then use a +3dB treble boost as well…you won’t be sorry.  These EQ settings combined with some Crossfeed make the Sine sing to a level I’d thought impossible for an on ear headphone.

True, the 11LTD sounds more aired out in depth of field, but the Sine feels roughly comparable to it in height and width.  For those unaware, the 11LTD is the most spacious sounding portable headphone ever made, so to have a Planar driver…scratch that…the first good portable Planar driver actually compete with a vast sounding Dynamic portable driver is something to behold.  Yep, the Sine also sounds very good in spaciousness for an on ear, but I wouldn’t call it great.

To consider it great, it would need to compare to the 11LTD’s excellent depth of field factor, but the Sine lags behind a little in that department.   You’ll not be let down by the sound stage of this headphone though, so don’t worry.  The Sine is half a step behind the 11LTD in overall imaging prowess…and considering it is a Planar driver, that is really saying something.  Despite the slightly lacking depth of field factor and midrange edge refinement, the Sine easily takes the 2nd best staging size overall in portable headphone that I’ve ever heard.

7

Matchability

Amping

What blows my mind here is that the headphone requires no amplification at all.  Get yourself a good USB DAC with low power output and noise and enjoy, you’ll never need more than what decent powered portable players like the iBasso DX90 or the new Luxury and Precision L3 have to offer.  In fact, when I plug the Sine into my full size amplifiers, the Heron 5 from Airist Audio for example, I am met with a sound that I actually feel to be over-driven…and rightly so.  Even the lowest output setting on the Heron 5 is beastly overkill what for the Sine was designed to be used with, which really was just a cell phone or decent portable music device.  My iBasso DX90 with Rockbox is greatly preferred over usage with my L3 from Luxury and Precision, as well as all of my full size amps.  However, I recently got to hear the Sine at a meet with Cavalli’s Liquid Carbon, which is an amplifier that has a good low output functionality for iems and efficient headphones.  Sufficed to say, the pairing was just silly in terms of how great it was, truly silly.

Sourcing

Stick with a meaty source and avoid the purist amps and DAC’s out there if you want to preserve the typical Planar vibe for substance.  If not, you can lose some of that substance quite easily with amplifiers and DAC’s that are of a more clinical tonality.  For example, my L3 from Luxury and Precision is much thinner sounding and purer than my DX90, it is also noticeably cleaner sounding overall.  Yet, I vastly prefer the Sine with the DX90’s sound and find their combo to be much more musical and yummy than the thinner sound the Sine can take on with certain other “clinical” tone sources.

Final Thoughts

The only element preventing me from issuing the first ever 10/10 score was the fact that the stage depth of the headphone was a bit underwhelming, as well as Audeze’s choice of scuff prone leather used on the ear cups.  Outside of that, I’ve nothing negative to say and really can’t stop gushing over how vivid and satisfying this headphone is.  I’ve waited my entire Hifi life for a headphone that sounds like this, that didn’t require and amp and that had a Planar substance factor that dwarfed all Dynamic portables prior.  This is, without question, the world’s best on ear headphone.  The two previous Lords of Portability (11LTD and Edition M) were both rendered undesirable by comparison to this new kid on the block, much to my shock and dismay.  As someone who cares more for musicality than accuracy, I am in heaven.

6

My one gripe is that I could do without the moderate clamp pressure, but it isn’t severe for me.  Some others are reporting excessive clamp, but I don’t have much of a problem with it.  Audeze hit one out of the park and has satisfied me on nearly every level: emotionally and physically.  Their new Sine is the new top dog for on ear headphone needs, looks good, sounds good and performs admirably for pretty much all genres out there.  Holy cow, Audeze…you guys smashed the two previous best on-ears by leaps and bounds and priced your model far cheaper than they did.

SINE Technical Specifications

  • Transducer type: Planar magnetic
  • Magnetic arrays:
  • Single-sided Fluxor Magnet type
  • Neodymium Diaphragm type
  • Uniforce Transducer size 80 x 70mm
  • Max power handling 6W
  • Sound pressure level >120dB
  • Frequency response 10Hz – 50kHz
  • Impedance 20ohms
  • Weight 230g
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51 Responses

  1. George

    Nice article; and good concise answers, even if they are your personal concepts on the topic, that’s exactly what I’m looking for …answers!
    Interestingly, I’ve done a few comparison sessions at various headphone retailers here in Oz over the last few weeks and would sum them up as the cans I’m about to spend a little more on for the very reasons you’ve described. They’re smooth, rich and easy to listen to.
    This being my first ‘real’ venture into headphones I discovered that they all place the stage very much in your head and are scale and space deficient when compared to my home system, even $2k+ phones. Whilst I’ve now concluded that it’s an unavoidable compromise for the convenience of personal, portable sound, gaining an inch more space kinda seems insignificant in terms of which headphone to buy when I trade meters, high and wide and deep, as soon as i put any headphone on. To summarise your review and to attest to my own findings, the Sine’s do a great job of conveying all the music in a highly listenable way. Thanks for the comparisons to models and pairings I haven’t personally tried, I’ll be sure to take them into account for any future meanderings and look to you up again for opinions on other gear.

    Cheers,

    Gee.

    Reply
  2. Jason

    I do not understand the comments about sensitivity. I just got a pair of the SINE and volume is more than adequate. I’m driving them easily with a Schiit Stack (version 1) at 30% volume on the knob, and using the CYPHER cable on an iPhone 7 – absolutely no issues with volume, more than loud enough at 40-50% volume levels. Perhaps some folks have defective drivers in their units, because 90-95% volume level on these headphones would be deafening.

    Reply
  3. Dimiter Petrov

    SINE is, unfortunately, a not very sensitive pair of headphones. That’s a
    common misconception and something Audeze prefers not to talk about…
    there is hardly ever any mention of their sensitivity… I’ve seen a number of 101 dB/mW somewhere which is far from reality, and also 120 dB/mW which is also not true as 120 dB SPL is about as loud as they can go without significant distortion. Having owned them for a few weeks now I estimate SINEs to be somewhere between say 90 and 93 dB/mW – roughly the same as HiFiMan HE-400i but a bit easier to drive due to the lower impedance. And the recommended power of the amplifier that will match them perfectly and drive them to their full potential I think is 400-500 mW … still usable with the top smartphones like Galaxy S7 or iPhone 6 but hardly an ideal match. I also have Audio Technica ESW9LTD which is rated 102dB/mW at 46 Ohm to compare, and it’s, of course, way easier to drive – on my Galaxy S7 I can just put the volume slider somehwere in the middle for ESW9LTD but for SINE I’d have to go to all the way up and this is not a very good thing to do.

    Reply
  4. drew

    Hey guys…. I’ve had the Sines for about a week now. I think they sound great. I am noticing they lack power/volume when connected to my iPhone 7 w/Cyper cable. I’ve tried a few volume booster apps but truth be told they sound like sh?t. Under settings on my iPhone 7, I have my EQ and Sound Check set to off as recommended. Are these headphones not designed to be loud? (no i’m not talking about frying your ears) Most reviews I’ve read have said that the sound quality and volume using the Cyper cable make a big difference. I’m just not hearing it. Unless, I have a defective unit. I’m not sure.

    Reply
  5. Antoine B.

    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!

    Reply
    • 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?

      Reply
      • Antoine B.

        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.

      • Antoine B.

        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!

    • Ian Williams

      I have to agree with this – i auditioned them at my local apple store, and found I had to have the volume at 100% to even have a moderate volume level. Going into the iOS settings and turning “Sound check” off helped a little. I am not sure if they were using the DAC cable, so that may have had something to do with it – but wow.. they didn’t seem at all suited to being driven by the iPod Touch

      Reply
  6. Antoine B.

    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?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
    • 24bit

      Hi, other Michael. :P

      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.

      Reply
  7. 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…

    Reply
    • 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.”

      Reply
      • 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.

  8. 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)

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
      • 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)

  9. 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.

    Reply
  10. 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!

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
      • 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”.

  11. Reachback

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

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
      • Reachback

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

  12. 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
      • STARSTERN

        audeze sine is similar to philips x2 in their sound signature ?
        grado GH2 how compares ?

      • headfonics

        Sorry never tried the Gh2. The X2 is a bit more open than the SINE which is an on-ear planar. SINE is more portable, easier to drive, isolates better and personally have a preference for its bass response.

    • 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.

      Reply
      • 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.

  13. Guy Lamaar

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

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
      • 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.

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