Many aren’t happy that Apple is set to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack on next-generation iOS devices. Instead, the company is expected to push Lightning-connected accessories. Most detractors worry that their existing headphones won’t work with the new devices. Few have addressed whether the switch would be good for music listeners in the long-term.
Audeze’s SINE on-ear headphones are one of the first on the market that connect using Apple’s Lightning. After using SINE for nearly a month, I’ve come to an important conclusion: Good riddance, headphone jack.
Though SINE is noted for offering a Lightning cable option (you can also buy SINE with a standard cable), it’s also considered the world’s first pair of on-ear planar magnetic headphones.
Unlike traditional dynamic headphones, which use moving coil drivers, planar magnetic headphones spread the voice coil over a large area. As a result, these drivers can dissipate heat effectively that would otherwise build up. In doing so, the sound they produce is punchy, dynamic, and detailed.
Audeze is one of the best-known makers of planar magnetic headphones. Until the launch of SINE, however, most of its products were out of reach for most consumers because of the price. Audeze’s popular line of LCD headphones, for example, range in price from $1,000 to $3,500.
Design and Hardware
SINE’s headphones aren’t small. However, they are relatively light, weighing 230g. They are also pretty comfortable, which is rare for on-ear headphones. I was also impressed that you can fold them flat for easy transport.
With Lightning, you aren’t just getting a new way to connect your headphones to a mobile device. SINE features a thick tangle-free Cipher Lightning cable, which offers a 24bit/48kHZ resolution. Better still, the cable includes a self-contained DAC (digital to audio converter) built into the integrated remote and microphone. This combination gives you a slight boost of sound without drawing power from your mobile device.
(The standard cable doesn’t have an integrated remote or microphone. )
Let’s get right to it: the SINE makes some beautiful sounds. No matter the song, it seems the listening experience is more detailed than what you get from more traditional headphones.
For a more personalized experience, Audeze also offers a free app that features a 10-band equalizer that lets you apply an EQ curve to any music you play. These settings are sent right to your SINE, making them accessible on other devices.
As usual, for my tests, I listened to the following songs via Apple Music:
- “Prologue” by Alexandre Desplat, “Birth (Original Score) Soundtrack”
- “Hey Eugene” by Pink Martini, “Hey Eugene!”
- “Wall of Glass” by Don Ross, “Don Ross”
The Bottom Line
Rating the Audeze On-Ear Headphones
Most music listeners are likely unfamiliar with the sounds produced by planar magnetic headphones. I certainly was before listening with SINE. My advice: Take them for a test drive.
With regards to Lightning, SINE is a great way to hear the journey Apple is about to take us on with the “iPhone 7” and beyond. That’s a journey most will embrace once they get past no longer having a 3.5mm jack on their smartphone.
You can buy SINE through the Audeze website. The Lightning version is $499, which includes both types of cables. The standard version is $449.