The iSines, and especially the iSine20, sound more like you’re listening to a speaker which is next to your ear than it is the typical IEM kind of sound. Because of the open design the iSine really sound open, spacious and have that out of your head presentation of sound which is what we all want. There’s no listening fatigue as the sound is natural, smooth and easy on the eardrum.
Tuning of both the iSines is more to the neutral side, but with a smooth delivery with a touch of warmth. Both have a pitch black background and were silent on all of my sources. The musicality factor for the iSines is high but you can also be sure you’ll get all the detail, especially so with the iSine20 as it is richer/has the best timbre. Both models sound clean and clear and have good separation. The 20 is very rich sounding, the 10 maybe is a little dryer in its presentation.
Bass for me has the right amount of body on both models, bass is not really enhanced body wise but it isn’t fully neutral either. It’s quality over quality for what bass is concerned and bass heads might be left wanting more. The quality of the iSine20’s bass simply is the best with the most detail, better layering and timbre. I wouldn’t say the bass is extremely tight and fast, it’s more the type of bass like my old LCD2.1 has with the vegan pads, but from a miniature design.
The mids are excellent on both units with good detail, separation and depth. You get rich mids with good layering and that results in a musical presentation. I would say the iSine10 here is “good” but the 20 again is superior. The mids part probably is my favorite part with both models but the iSine20’s mids are just so much richer, more spacious (also in depth/layering) and even more musical. The upper mids section can sometimes behave a little weird but that’s also because of the soft treble presentation we’ll get to in a minute. I don’t find the mids more forward sounding as some others have reported, they have a natural presentation where both male and female vocals are very well displayed. I have heard more natural and better vocals with both my ciems as well as my flagship headphones, but still this is very good, especially for the price these are going for.
The treble section is very easy to listen to on both models, it’s soft, smooth and very inoffensive. The detail is there but isn’t the most energetic or extended treble and it will leave some of you wanting more. I like my treble and while treble on these certainly doesn’t sound bad in any way, I could have appreciated a more energetic and dynamic presentation with maybe even an edgier, more lively tuning. I don’t expect a Kaiser Encore treble tuning, but the iSine’s treble tuning could have been a little more expressive for my personal taste.
From the Astell&Kern SP1000, the iSines get a lot of clarity and they sound clean, precise and detailed while retaining the musicality and smooth presentation. This has been my favorite source for the Audeze IEMs. With its little brother, the AK70, both the iSine get more bass and mid body and while it might not show al the detail and refinement of the SP1000, it does sound very musical and smooth. My personal preference goes to the more clean, precise and clear SP1000 as I find the iSine and AK70 combo a little thick and warm sounding for my taste, but that’s personal.
With Fiio’s newest X7II with the AM3A balanced module, you get a good mix of bass and mids body and detail, clarity and dynamics. This is my favorite AM module and it performs excellently with the iSine models as well. Bass body is bigger than compared to the SP1000 and it body wise is more like the AK70. With the X7II bass is snappier and more energetic however. The mids are rich, dynamic and precise but they aren’t at the level of the SP1000 either. The treble presentation is more lively and extended than with the AK70 and this is my 2nd favorite DAP with the iSines. The Fiio X5III doesn’t deliver the level of detail and precision the SP1000 or X7II do and you get a softer and warmer sound. Bass and mid body is more on par with these other DAPs, except for that of the AK70 whose body is much bigger, especially in the bass sector.
The entry level, but sublime sounding, Cayin N3 is clean and clear sounding in general but it with the iSine isn’t my favorite DAP. Bass and lower mids are a too big and bold compared to the the mids and treble and while I love this DAP with a whole lot of IEMs, it just doesn’t work for me with the iSine IEMs. With the new Hidisz AP200 (one of the slowest, unresponsive DAPs ever on the actual beta fw), the iSines actually sound good. Bass isn’t too big and upper mids and treble is clear and dynamic. The downside is the level of detail, depth and the spaciousness of the higher end DAPs is missing. If you’ve never heard the iSine with a better source, you’ll probably like this combination: it’s pretty nice but it can be a lot better.
From my Samsung S6 Android phone running Tidal, the bass isn’t the tightest but the overall presentation is clear, energetic and musical. The amount of bass is a little bigger compared to the better DAPs but it’s still very much acceptable. The mids are musical and smooth and the treble is soft and acceptable. I could perfectly live with my phone as a source in case of my DAP battery dying on me, but the I-sines do sound better from a dedicated source. From my wife’s iPhone with the Cipher cable (see above), the iSine20 sounds clear, detailed and very dynamic with great left/right balance. Bass is a tad bigger with full mids and I find the voices to be a little more forward sounding. Treble isn’t the most extended but the presentation is musical and smooth with a touch of warmth.
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