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Hands on: Audeze Sine headphones and Cipher cable

Audeze shows how small planar can get with brilliant new Sine headphones

Audeze has been well established as one of the best makers of audiophile-grade headphones in the world. However, the company’s massive planar magnetic headphones, such as the LCD-3, are well known not only for their vivid sound and achingly accurate instrumental reproduction, but also for being a bit cumbersome — not to mention prohibitively expensive for the average listener.

Last year, the company changed its tune with its EL-8, a $700 pair of cans that is more in line with something you’d use outside of a studio. And this year, Audeze has taken that idea a few steps further with the brilliant new Sine on-ear, a sophisticated set of cans that bridges the gap between everyday listening and audiophile nirvana, with gorgeous sound you can truly take anywhere. And we like that.

A Sine of the times

With their sleek leather coating, the Sine are reminiscent of offerings from Bowers & Wilkins such as the P7. But make no mistake, inside these gorgeous cans is the same planar magnetic technology we’ve come to know and love from the brand, using a remarkably thin membrane excited by a specially-designed magnet to reproduce sound. In fact, Audeze COO Sankar Thiagasamudram tells us that these cans actually have the thinnest membrane yet in the Audeze line, and also employ a version of the Fluxor magnet technology developed for the EL-8.

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Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

The sound is nothing short of what we’ve come to expect from the brand, exposing trickling vocal lines, crystalline guitars, and subtle undercurrents in the music to bring you closer to the sound than anyone should expect from on-ear cans. The Sine are also extremely comfortable, while bringing a chic look that’s understated and classic — which is something we simply don’t ordinarily expect from Audeze. Perhaps best of all, the Sine’s $500 price point is much easier to swallow — it may not be a fire-sale bargain, but it opens up the world of Audeze to a whole new segment of listeners.

Cipher Lightning expands

The other brilliant new development from Audeze this year is the Cipher Lightning cable, which essentially changes the game when it comes to how you plug into your iOS device by offering 24bit/48kHz resolution. The cable was first introduced in the updated EL-8, dubbed the EL-8 Titanium, but Audeze surprised us a little here by showing a new version of Cipher designed for the Sine headphones. This self contained DAC (digital to audio converter) and an amplification system rolled into a cable will likely be for sale, and given that the EL-8 Titanium are $100 more, we’re expecting the cable to sell for somewhere near that price point.

Related: Audeze EL-8 headphone review

All the headphones will still come with a 3.5mm headphone cable, but if the rumors about Apple’s plans to get rid of the analog input are confirmed, this may be a brilliant solution for those engulfed in the Audeze family, and a great reason to get down with the brand.