Looks, Comfort & Isolation
I think the iSine10 and iSine20 look gorgeous. Yes, like so many of you, I do still link it to Spiderman but at the same time I think they look unique. The grill design is gorgeous and the mesh plate behind it is so sexy, especially the copper mesh from the iSine20. The iSine10 with the black mesh has a full black design which is pretty as well, but I personally like the contrast with the copper color more. The beautiful “A” from the Audeze logo on the faceplate, if I can call it that, is the cherry on the cake. A beautiful design and for me personally Audeze gets the top score in the “looks” category. I actually prefer the looks of the iSine20 over that of the LCD-i4.
Both the iSINE10 and iSINE20 headphones are engineered for superb long-term comfort and deliver an immersive, dynamic music experience.
In the beginning you, comfort wise, really have to get used to the iSines. The “speakers” if I can call them that are floating next to your ear and their long canal stretches out to your ear to make the seal it needs. To keep the iSine in place you have to use the ear hooks and/or earlocks that come delivered with the units. The ear hooks are nothing new and we’ve seen them before in design such as the PortaPro, but for me it was new for what IEMs are concerned. The feeling is a bit weird in the beginning and you need to get used to it, but once you know how to place the iSine and hooks on/over your ear, the system actually becomes very comfortable. Seeing the iSines weigh almost nothing (11g/piece), it’s easy to keep them in place and the cable (and gravity) doesn’t pull down the earpieces. You can also opt to use the earlocks which also make the iSine stay in to place. The locks however are not over your ear, but inside your ear. These are typical locks people use with earbuds and while they work, I personally prefer the over ear hooks. So in the beginning the iSines might feel a bit weird but once you’ve gotten used to the hooks and found the ideal placement for your ears, they become very comfortable. It’s also important to note that you don’t really have to shove the tips in your ear canal. You can set them against your ear, as long as the seal is there. The canals are fairly big as well, so I probably couldn’t even manage to shove them up my ears.
The iSines come with a series of silicone tips which fit my ears perfectly. You’re of course free to user different brands of tips although Audeze doesn’t recommend using (Comply) foam tips: they will fit, but Audeze prefers you do not use them, as they will reduce some midrange response and make the iSINEs sound a little darker.
The iSine design is fully open, meaning they have an open-back design. The advantage of that is that you get a lovely sound stage with an open presentation and clarity but it also means sound will leak outside. The guy next to you on the train will be able to enjoy your music free of charge and you in return will hear every outside noise as if you weren’t using IEMs. Isolation is almost non-existing but it does benefit the sound quality.
Price & Accessories
iSine 10 : $349 – $399 (Cipher cable)
iSine 20: $549 – $599 (Cipher cable)
Personally I find the price really fair, especially looking at the unique design and the sound quality you’re getting from these IEMs. On top of that you get a nice box and carrying case with a good number of free accessories:
- Certificate of authenticity
- User guide and warranty
- 1.5m audio cable, 1/8” stereo plug input to 2-pin plug output
- 1.5m Cipher cable, Lightning plug input to 2-pin plug output
- Selection of hooks and earlocks
- Range of silicone tips
- Shirt clip
- Cleaning brush
- Fabric/leather pouch
Style In-ear, universal fit
Transducer type Planar magnetic, semi-open
Magnetic structure Fluxor
Magnet type High-grade neodymium
Diaphragm type Ultra-thin Uniforce
Transducer size 30mm
Maximum power handling 3W
Maximum SPL >120dB
Frequency response 10Hz – 50kHz
THD <0.1% @ 100dB
Impedance iSine 10 = 16 ohms / iSine 20 = 24 ohms
Cable type non-microphonic
Dimension 31mm x 35mm
Weight 11g (per side)
While the iSines on paper are easy to drive, I had to up the volume quite a lot coming from the Noble Kaiser Encore. The iSine10 is easier to drive than the iSine20 as the numbers show, that’s easily audible.
Audeze’s innovative planar magnetic technology delivers astonishingly clear and accurate sound wherever you go.
The difference in sound between the iSINE 10 and iSINE 20? Because Audeze kept getting this question, they put up the following statement in their FAQ: Because the impedance of the 10 is 16 ohms, and the 20 is 24 ohms, then technically, the iSINE 20 should have a little more resolution.Customers have told us they think the 20 has a little smoother midrange. The bass response (below about 600Hz down to 10Hz) is identical.
I’ve had a very long time to listen to both the 10 and the 20 but for me, the 20 easily is the best one. I thinks it’s an underestimation of Audeze when they state the iSine20 technically should have a little more resolution, I myself find the difference very obvious. The iSine20 clearly shows better extension, richness with improved timbre and layering. My ears easily and quickly chose the iSine20 as my favorite and I have to admit I’ve been using the iSine20 ever since I compared both in the beginning.
In general I think it’s safe to say that the iSine in all categories is good, but the iSine is better and more impressive. In example the sound stage: both sound very open and clear but the 20 sounds wider, more spacious and deeper with better layering. Resolution: while the iSine10 is good, the 20 adds a layer of detail with better decay and precision. Simply put the iSine20 is the improved iSine 10. It’s not that their sound signature is any different, it’s just that the 20 is the better performer in well, everything.
My focus will mainly be on the iSine 20, simply because it’s the best of both and because the difference in price between both is limited (+$200USD). If you are planning on buying an iSine and you can afford the $200 extra, I fully recommend going for the iSine20 as it’s just so much better. I do agree with Audeze that the iSine20 in example doesn’t have more bass of mid body than the iSine 10 has, it’s more a fact of better quality, not quantity.
More on sound can be found on page Three of this review. click HERE or below