Audeze Sine review: This awesome-sounding headphone is ready for iPhone 7

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MSRP: $449.00

The Good The swanky, sturdily built Audeze Sine is among the smallest and most affordable headphones to use planar magnetic drivers. It offers very revealing, spacious sound in a closed-back design. For an extra $50, you can get the company's Cipher Lightning headphone cable, which plugs directly into your iOS device's Lightning port -- making it iPhone 7-ready.

The Bad The headphone's a little heavy -- comfortable, but not extraordinarily so. Included 3.5mm headphone cord doesn't have an integrated remote and microphone.

The Bottom Line The Audeze Sine is a fantastic headphone that will appeal to anyone looking for truly high-end sound that isn't incredibly expensive.

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8.6 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Sound 9
  • Value 8

The Audeze Sine is a special headphone. At $450 it's one of the least expensive headphones that use planar magnetic drivers, which tend to sound very coherent and spacious, with low distortion. If "planar magnetic drivers" sounds Greek to you, you're in good company. Ultimately, what matters is that it's a totally different technology than what you find in nearly all other mainstream headphones. If you want the technical details, check out Inner Fidelity.

But what you should know it that what makes this headphone (and the Oppo PM-3) special is that -- in a world where most planar magnetic headphones have open-back designs -- the Sine has a closed-back design. In fact, it's one of the few planar magnetic models that's optimized for mobile use -- it's being marketed as the world's first "on-ear" planar magnetic headphone.

Open-back models generally offer more open, airy sound, but they also leak sound, which makes them less than ideal for use in the presence of other people.

While it doesn't it sound as rich or open as Audeze's higher end open-back over-the-ear models -- some of which cost in the thousands and are audiophile favorites -- it's one of those headphones that sounds so good you want to go back and listen to your music collection to hear the little details that lesser headphones don't reveal. It's just a great-sounding headphone.

Audeze Sine headphones come in two versions: one with a traditional miniplug and one that adds an Apple Lightning connector.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It's worth mentioning that although Audeze calls this an "on-ear" headphone the earcups fit around my ears -- barely anyway. But I don't have a big head, so the earcups will indeed sit on some people's ears.

Ready for iPhone 7

The Sine is very attractively designed, with a leather covered headband and earcups and sturdy metal parts. It folds flat into an included storage pouch. The thick tangle-resistant flat headphone cord detaches and iPhone users can swap out the standard analog cable for Audeze's Apple-approved Cipher Lightning cable. That creates an all-digital connection and has a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) built into the headphone's remote and overrides the iPhone's internal DAC. It slightly boosts the sound -- and sound performance -- while drawing a little power from your iPhone.

That means if -- as many suspect -- the iPhone 7 that we expect to be announced in September drops the standard headphone jack, the Audeze Sine will be one of the first wired headphones to be compatible with it.

That Lightning cable is included in the $500 bundle of the headphones (along with the standard cable with a 3.5mm plug). Along with the inline remote, the Lightning cable has an integrated microphone for making calls with your iPhone. However, the standard cable with a 3.5mm plug does not have an integrated remote or microphone, which is too bad.

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