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Audeze iSine 10 review: Great sound, but at the price of comfort

By Kenny Yeo - 14 Oct 2017

Audeze iSine 10 review: Great sound, but at the price of comfort

The design of the Audeze iSine 10 is striking, to say the least. (Image source: Audeze)

Audeze is one of the most popular brands for high-end headphones. The company specializes in headphones using planar magnetic drivers. In a planar magnetic driver, a thin film with electrical conductor wires is moved to produce sound by magnets on either one side or both sides of it. The theoretical advantages of planar magnetic driver headphones are increased responsiveness, a wider frequency range, and lower distortion.

The downside to planar magnetic headphones is that they are often bulky and heavy because they require larger magnets. However, Audeze’s expertise in planar magnetic driver design means that they were able to shrink their design to a size small enough to fit into an in-ear headphone. 

The iSine is Audeze’s newest range of in-ear open planar magnetic headphones, and the iSine 10 that I have here is the entry-level model in this range. It comes in a nice packaging that includes loads of accessories. Apart from the usual assortment of rubber tips, the iSine 10 also comes with special ear hooks and ear locks. It also comes with a nifty carrying case and a tool for cleaning the headphones. 

The iSine 10 comes with two detachable cables: one that terminates in a 3.5mm jack and another CIPHER Lightning cable designed especially for iOS devices. The CIPER Lightning cable comes with an inline amplifier, DAC, and DSP, that allows users to customize the sound using the Audeze DSP app.

Because of its unusual design, be prepared to spend some time to get the iSine 10 to fit comfortably in your ears. (Image source: Audeze)

The design of the iSine 10 is quite stylish and is bound to draw attention. However, at around 11g per piece, it is quite heavy for a pair of in-ears. As a result, you will need to wear the iSine 10 using either the supplied ear hooks or ear locks. The former is a plastic hook that goes over your ear, while the latter is a piece of rubber that holds the iSine headphones in place using the outer part of your ears.

Because of this, most users would find the iSine 10 to be uncomfortable to wear and also difficult to get a good fit. It doesn’t help that the supplied rubber tips are quite thin. However, with persistence, you will find a way to wear the iSine 10 where the fit is okay and the comfort is bearable. If you do, you will be rewarded with one of the best sounding in-ear headphones available.

Thanks to its planar magnetic driver and its semi-open construction, the iSine 10 has an expansive and wide sound that is atypical of in-ear headphones. Bass isn’t as hard-hitting and deep as Audeze’s full-sized offerings, but it is still good - very tight and clean. The mids and highs are clear, but they also sounded very veiled and laid back. Consequently, the overall sound is one that is detached and lacks intimacy. That said, the iSine 10 certainly sounds more neutral than most other high-end in-ear headphones I have tried, which tend to be too bassy and sparkly.

This article first appeared in the September 2017 issue of HWM.

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