Headphone maker Audeze has made a name for itself in the audiophile world for its planar magnetic headphones, which offer simply fantastic sound. While Audeze began making larger-than-life headphones — with the sound quality to match — the company has take great pains in recent years to go more portable. Now Audeze is taking that technology even further by thinking even smaller, introducing the world’s first planar magnetic in-ear headphones.
Audeze isn’t known for baby steps, so the company is entering the in-ear market full force ahead with three different models, ranging in price from $400 all the way up to $2,500. The very design of planar magnetic drivers, which use a thin membrane excited by a magnetic coil to produce sound, is part of why they’re generally so big. That makes it especially impressive that Audeze has managed to scale the technology down to in-ear size. Despite the technical hurdles the company likely dealt with, the designers seems quite confident that customers will love its new in-ears.
“An avant-garde design without a care for the status quo, this innovation rewrites the rules for in-ear earphones. We are really proud of these groundbreaking headphones as we push headphone innovation,” CEO Sankar Thiagasamudram said in a statement.
Thiagasamudram isn’t exaggerating. The in-ears look a little cumbersome, but that’s far from the only reason they stand out — the webbed design on the housings make them look fit to play back jams for Spider-Man himself, and they’ll no doubt get some serious attention from passers by. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to receive an image of the LCD i3, so we’re currently left speculating as to whether or not it shares the same webbed design as its siblings.
If you’re just looking for some high-quality in-ears to plug into your iPhone, the $400 iSine 10 is likely the model you want, as it’s not only the most affordable, but also the easiest to drive at 16 ohms. The iSine 10 is also the only one that is available in multiple colors, including a black/steel that is exclusive to Apple stores and the internet. The iSine 20, however, offers a longer voice coil for better detail, but at $600 (and 24 ohms impedance) they’re a larger investment.
The flagship as far as Audeze’s new in-ears are concerned is without a doubt the $2,500 LCD i3, which use many of the same materials as the company’s $4,000 LCD-4 over-ear headphones. That appears to have paid off, as the company claims bass response travels all the way down to 10Hz, an extremely impressive feat for in-ears.
One thing all of these models share in common is that, in addition to the standard 3.5 mm headphone jack, they also include a Lightning cable for use with Apple devices. Audeze has offered its Lightning cable design on two different models in the past (including its Sine headphones, and the EL-8 Titanium), but it’s a boon for Apple fans who want a more portable design to see the tech paired with in-ears. That’s especially true considering that Apple’s new iPhone 7 will likely be dropping the traditional headphone jack.
If you’re looking to get in on the ground floor, the iSine 10 is the most affordably priced, even at its $400 price tag. Meanwhile, the near-prohibitively priced LCD i3 isn’t exactly impulse purchase territory, but on the bright side, it’s slightly more affordable than Shure’s life-changing KSE1500 electrostatic in-ears, which we auditioned earlier this year.
All of Audeze’s new models will begin shipping in October, but you can pre-order them starting today from the Audeze website.