What is even better is that bass segues very smoothly into a wonderful midrange. Midrange clarity is excellent. Depth is very good. I found the midrange to be quite a pleasure to listen to. If there is a flaw to be had, the upper midrange could pop a bit more. Voices, while clear, don’t leap off the headphones.
That extends to the lower treble as well. A little more sparkle here would be nice. Overall, the treble is pretty inoffensive.
The soundstage is very good for an on-ear. Width and depth aren’t quite what one would expect from a good over-ear, but are definitely solid enough so that the SINE doesn’t feel at all claustrophobic. Things like clarity and instrument separation that planars are known for are alive and well here.
See, I think this reads a bit more negative than it actually is. Whatever little niggles there are with the sound, don’t in any way interfere with appreciating the music flowing out of these here headphones. While writing this review, I was listening to Rachmaninov’s 2nd piano concerto, specifically, the beautiful second movement. It took my breath away. Obviously, Rachmaninov’s brilliant score, and the amazing performance had a lot to do with it, but the SINE was beautifully conveying the heart of the music. This is simply a really easy headphone to enjoy. What’s more, were one so inclined, EQ’ing just a couple a decibels into the upper mids and lower treble, pretty much erases what minor issues there are.
Pitching the SINE against the HE-400i reveled just how formidable Audeze’s new headphone really is. It may be an on-ear, and it may be a little bit cheaper, but I found the SINE to boast slightly greater clarity than the 400i. The Hifiman had better treble, and has a bigger sound, but the SINE more than holds its own.
The Sennheiser HD630 is a technical beast boasting better extension on both ends, detail, sound stage, separation, but due to its tuning and tonality, it can be a really difficult headphone to enjoy. The SINE can be enjoyed with anything, and for someone looking for an easily portable headphone with a touch of hi end, it is the obvious choice.
The real triumph (or failure depending on your perspective) is when I pitted the SINE against Audeze’s own EL-8c. For the record, although I agree with L’s assessment of the EL-8c, I liked it more than he did. I would listen to the EL-8, and think, “maybe I do prefer this to the SINE”, but then I would switch back, and it would be like, “no, this is the one.” Subjectively speaking, they both have advantages. The EL-8 might have slightly better treble while the SINE has a better midrange, but, objectively speaking, the SINE has a better build, a better cable, looks like an orgasm and costs $250 less. Even taking price out of it, I think the SINE is a better headphone, and it isn’t just me. I recently went to a local headphone meet. It was a great group that showed up, and I had a blast. I got to try out some great stuff, shoot the breeze with fellow headphone enthusiasts, and got to let people listen to the SINE (thanks to Audeze for letting me keep the SINE an extra week so I could bring it). One of the other enthusiasts had brought an EL-8O with him (and yes it does sound better than the closed model). Over the course of the meet, I, and a couple others compared the EL-8O to the SINE, and the verdict was unanimous, the SINE sounded better. Not better for the price, or a better value, but flat out better sounding. A Damn fine job Audeze!
The SINE is a very easy headphone to drive. Although it obvious benefits from a good source, it can be driven well from just about anything. My Cayin N6 knocks it out of the park. It even sounds good out of my daughter’s iPad. However…
If you are planning on using this with an iDevice, might I recommend buying the SINE with the optional cipher cable ($499)? It replaces the 1/8 inch plug at the end of the cable with a lighting connector for use with Apple devices. The cipher cable has a DAC/amp built right into the cable. All you have to do is plug it into your device, and it takes over the sound. With the iPad, which is the only Apple product I have about, there was a noticeable boost in the bass, with clarity and midrange depth getting improved as well, over using the regular headphone out.
Upon plugging the cipher cable in the first time, I will get prompted to download an EQ app. It is a pretty nifty one in that the cable will remember your EQ settings, so you can go between difference Apple products and it will keep whatever tweaks you made. Also built into the DAC/amp are volume controls that can also be used to start and stop music tacks on your app of choice, and accept phone calls (there is a built-in mic, too). Assuming you use an iDevice, that is a lot of extra for a measly $50.
What more can be said, Audeze has delivered an audiophile, on-ear headphone at a price that doesn’t completely break the bank. Even taking away the on-ear status, this thing is still a very solid performing headphone at the price point. It can be bought direct from Audeze.com, and they offer a 30 day return policy, so if you don’t like them, you can return them for the cost of shipping. But I have a feeling that won’t be necessary.
Editor’s note: The Sine seems to be sold out for the moment, back orders are open