Audeze has always said the iSine earphones would sound even better when used with a dedicated amplifier, so let’s try a couple.
One of my favorite portable amps is the Cypher Labs Picollo but with the iSine20 I most of the time find the iSine a little dark sounding and I’m missing a little bit of the energy and dynamics. The Bakoon HPA-01M has an excellent reputation with planar magnetic headphones so this combination was expected to work wonderfully together. The iSine, especially on the voltage output, sounds precise, lively, energetic and dynamic. Bass is excellent, tight and punchy. The mids are rich and layered and treble is lively and playful. It does get loud very quickly however and with the channel imbalance the Bakoon suffers from, you best have a source that allows adapting the output volume.
One of my favorite setups when listening to the Audeze Isine20 is the AK SP1000 connected to the Chord Mojo via optical. The get a more neutral, yet very detailed, precise and rich sound that remains musical and very engaging. Bass is tight, not overly present, mids are rich and layered and treble is very energetic and dynamic. A superb combination. When replacing the Mojo with the Hugo 2, you get even better precision, detail and dynamics than with the Mojo. I especially like the sound without any filter activated and without any cross-feed applied. With the Hugo 2, the iSine does everything more effortless than with the Mojo, but I at the same time kind of like that slightly more aggressive presentation of the Mojo with the Audeze inears.
With the Auris HA2-SE, an amp I don’t usually hook up IEMs to, you get a very musical and dynamic sound from the iSine20. This might be the best sounding iSine20 I have heard but it’s kind of hard dragging the 15kg amp around with you on the go, and at home I very rarely listen to IEMs. I unfortunately haven’t been able to reproduce the sound signature of the Auris & iSine20 combo with any of my portable amplifiers. But if you do ever get the chance to listen to it, it’ll will be hard to stop listening.
Audeze has created a revolutionary new range of IEMs with their iSine-series. While the look and feel of the iSines might not be for everyone (I love it), it’s hard not to notice the really great sound quality of these inears. While the iSine10 is a good entry level IEM, the iSine20 really is the one that performs best. The excellent sounding iSine20 isn’t only best of both but it also sounds better than a lot of the universal IEMs in the same price range.
If you’re tempted in getting one of these, I would suggest saving up for the gorgeous iSine20 as it (look and) sound-wise is impressive. It’s so good in fact that I’m giving it a spot in our recommended universal IEM list, and that means a lot. Well done Sankar and the Audeze team.
If you have even more cash to burn you can save up for the even better LCD-i4, which is the IEM version of the famous LCD-4. That one however will set you back like 5 times as much USD, but the jump in SQ really is impressive.
Some say the iSines are only to be used with OS devices and the Cipher cable, but I personally don’t agree to that as my review makes clear (see sources & amplification). The iSine simply can be enjoyed with a lot of sources.