Disclaimer: The Audeze iSine10 and iSine20 were sent to us directly from Audeze in exchange for this review. We have to apologize to Audeze for not having published this double review sooner.
Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave for the last decade, the Californian Audeze no longer needs an introduction. Audeze are experts in the field of orthodynamic headphones and with the LCD-2 they easily conquered the headphone scene. Every single model in their line-up sounds great and all of them received positive reviews from all over the world. Now Audeze is back with a new project: orthodynamic inears!
I first listened to the Audeze iSine at the Munich High End show in 2016 when the iSines were still in their prototype/non-production version. The Audeze booth was tucked away in a far ugly corner of the hall but when Sankar let me listen to the iSine and I closed my eyes, it was like listening to the LCD-2 for the very first time: magical.
You can find out all about the iSines on Audeze’s website here:
The iSine in theory is an in-ear monitor or IEM as we like to call them but to me they’re more of mini speakers that hover next to your head/ears, and that’s exactly have they sound too. Of course Audeze is using the planar magnetic technology they’re famous for and the iSine are considered to be the first full planar technology in-ears in the world.
When Audeze showed the iSine to the world everyone was stunned. No one had ever seen an IEM design like this before where the “speaker” is outside of your ears and where the size (for an inear) is considered to be huge. I’m pretty sure the discussion is still going on today somewhere on Head-Fi but I personally – since the beginning – like the concept, looks and most of all the sound of the iSine series. Sure you might find them funny looking but believe me, when you hear how they sound, you really won’t care about looking a little funny. The concept was and still is revolutionary but everyone will get used to it, if they haven’t so already. Nowadays the iSines are fully accepted as IEMs and with the LCD-i4 Audeze even has one of the best IEMs on the market. We’ll get back to the LCD-i4 in a separate dedicated article soon.
On the inside of the iSine- series you’ll find fluxor magnets and large 30mm planar magnetic diaphragms that deliver precise control and fast response times without distortion so music always sounds alive. The low level of distortion is impressive and some will even find it incredible when looking at the measurement results. What Audeze has done simply is very impressive.
The new iSINE Series barely weighs 20 grams, contains all our exclusive patented technology including power enhancing Fluxor Magnets that nearly double the magnetic driving force on our large, ultra-thin diaphragms with patented Uniforce voice-coil technology that delivers the most accurate in-ear headphones experience ever. The distortion (THD) is less than 0.1% overall even at high volumes, an amazing achievement for in-ear headphone designs.
The difference between the iSine10 and iSINE 20 is not only in the looks. The iSine20 is one step up from the iSINE 10 featuring an even longer Uniforce voice-coil that covers the ultra-thin diaphragm to a greater extent, enabling better control and responsiveness for better bass, clarity, and improved imaging.
Another unique thing of both of these models is that they come delivered with Audeze’s unique Cipher lightning cable. The Cipher cable is specially optimized for the iSINE Series and delivers 24-bit digital audio from iPhone/iPad/IPod to the headphones. The Cipher cable contains a high-quality inline amplifier, digital-to-analog converter and DSP, all in one. Of course with the latest iPhone models no longer having a 3.5mm output jack for audio, this is the perfect solution to get great sound from your iDevice.
Customize your sound
On top of that Audeze has developed an app for iOS which lets you customize your sound in real-time. The DSP app features two presets to personalize your music playback and it features a 10-band equalizer that changes EQ in real time. It will in example allow you to refine the bass levels and tamp down the highs on peaky recordings you still love.
Of course you can also use the iSine10 and 20 with a normal 3.5mm cable on all of your other devices, and that’s actually how I used it most being an Android fan.
Packaging & Build Quality
The iSines come in very nice box that folds open and which has a lot of information printed on all sides. The unit and all the accessories are protected by and displayed under a thick plastic, removable cover.
When designing the iSine-series, Audeze worked closely with their strategic partner “Designworks”, a BMW Group Company. Every part of the iSINE is designed to bring the typical Audeze sound to a global market in a smaller, lighter package. Great care has gone into the design of the iSINE series, from the housings that minimize reflections and diffractions to ensuring a comfortable, secure fit. At 20 grams, it is the lightest planar headphone ever made.
I personally really like the look of the iSine-series, and the iSine20 and LCD-i4 in particular. The build quality of the pieces is great and Audeze really has an eye for detail. The cable connectors are strong and even though the earpieces are very light (11g), they can take a beating. The only downside to the whole design are the plastic hooks you use to position the earphone and make it stay in place. As these are plastic they will break depending on hard you handle them. Audeze is aware of that however and you do get an extra set in the box. You can also buy these separately from Audeze and if I’m not mistaking, they go for like $10USD a bundle. The iSine-series are engineered and handcrafted in the California factory.
The cable used is finished in standard 2-pin termination and is user replaceable which is logic seeing you can either use the cipher or analog cable that come with the unit. It also means you can use aftermarket cables from the boutique cable shops.
The review continues on Page Two, after the click HERE or the jump below