These are not Star Wars headphones. But, they may have come from a galaxy far far away. The Audeze iSine10 are a high-fidelity pair of in-ear lightning headphones. Outside of their Millenium-Falcon-esque build, their claim to fame is that they’re the first to include planar magnetics into in-ear headphones. Large 30mm planar magnetic diaphragms are built into the buds to deliver a truly incredible audio experience. These beautifully engineered buds come at a cost though….
The iSines are most likely the largest headphones you’ll come across that identify as “in-ear” headphones. They do, in fact, go in-ear. You’ll find they fit similarly to most in-ear headphones and that the large exterior is barely a factor outside of looks. They come with three sizes of silicon ear-tips as well as both ear hooks and ear stabilizers to find the perfect fit. I found the ear tips (including the small size) to be much larger than I’m used to, but this is apparently by design. They buds are supposed to rest just inside the ear canal and have a semi-open design for more accurate bass. The buds aren’t very heavy, but the cord is. My ears needed the ear hooks to keep them situated comfortably.
They don’t look like average buds from the onlooker perspective but they don’t look bad by any means. To us, they like big fancy high-tech earbuds. The detail on the outside of the iSines is incredible. Instead of dynamic drivers on the inside, Audeze managed to squeeze in planar magnets that they call “fluxor”. The patented fluxor magnets allow for a wider range of audio with very little distortion. The buds weigh virtually nothing (20 grams), but the lightning cable has some heft. The lightning cable is actually removable and you can swap it out for a regular 3.5mm audio cable. The flat lightning cable has a large inline ControlTalk microphone with volume buttons and a universal button for controlling phone calls, music, and voice activation. This isn’t just your average lightning cable though….
iSine comes with the “world’s first 24-bit” lightning cable. The cable actually has a built-in amplifier, digital-to-analog converter, and a digital signal processor. It’s much more than a simple inline remote. With it, the iSines bypass Apple’s built-in amplifier and DAC to control the full experience. There’s an Audeze app that allows you to tweak the EQ. Nicely, the EQ saves to the cord, so your EQ preference will work on any iOS lightning device. The app is pretty barebone and there’s no presets currently, but it does support firmware updates, so anything is possible in the future. For phone calls, Audeze sounds great. Callers sound noticeably clearer than other headphones we’ve used, and the microphone was on-par or a slight improvement over Apple’s buds.
Out of the box the iSine20s sound extremely clean and detailed. They’re incredible headphones for experiencing music. You’ll discover subtle details in your favorite songs that you’ve never heard. Audeze did a really great job of producing a very well balanced signature without any EQ tweaking required. The bass is really warm and natural. The mids are fantastically detailed and the voices truly pop. There’s virtually no distortion at any volume. Each genre of music sounded better than the last while we were testing; we couldn’t find a single unfavorable song.
With all that said, there are a few recommendations we have for being able to fully appreciate the audiophile quality. First and foremost, find a fit that works best for you. Even though there’s only three-sized eartips, you need to play with the ear-stabilizers and ear hooks. There’s also a cord clip, if you’re moving at all, you don’t want the inline amplifier pulling on your buds. Clip it to your shirt. Now this may sound a bit silly, but sit alone with your music, close your eyes, and experience it. You’ll swear these are the best in-ears you’ve ever heard. They’re extremely impressive, but if you’re on the move, distracted, or in a loud environment you may not fully realize how extreme the quality is. Next, opt for the best audio quality possible. You can stream lossless music from Tidal, and you may notice it’s a tad clearer than your high quality Spotify streaming. Lastly, Audeze mentions you can really get a lot out of the iSines with an amplifier.
Read on for the Verdict…