Audeze iSine 20
You could roam the halls of the internet far and wide and never find a product as uniquely and wild designed as Audeze’s iSine headphone series. The iSine 20 in particular, with their laser-cut edges of glistening gold and copper-colored webbing. This looks very much like earbuds designed to amplify the spidey senses of Peter Parker’s web-slinging alter ego.
On concord, just as intriguing as the exterior design is what’s inside these funky buds. That includes the serpentine circuitry of miniaturized planar magnetic drivers and some very powerful magnets.
The iSine 20 offer brilliantly balanced and precise sound that’s extremely organic.
For those unfamiliar, planar magnetic drivers are ear candy for audio geeks. We often see in home speakers and traditional lightning headphones, planar magnetics use ultra-thin sheets of transparent film with very flat wires running through them, unlike the conventional piston-style drivers. These film sheets are placed between magnets. The film moves creating sound when current runs through the film’s embedded wires. This is also highly functional, the engineering isn’t easy, planar magnetic drivers are loved for their extremely high accuracy and low distortion.
Audeze headphones make some of the greatest lightning connector headphones in the world. It has perfected the planar design like no other brand. You would only find planar magnetic tech inside larger on-ear or over-ear headphones until today. Audeze has produces a remarkable pair of in-ear planar magnetic headphones with the iSine 20.
We can attest that they aren’t a parlor trick or even a signal that Audeze is a one-trick pony, after spending some time with the iSine 20. Instead, these open-back in-ear headphones represent a new genre. The sound they reproduce is something truly magical while these babies aren’t the most convenient in-ears on the block.
Out of the box
You realize you’re in for something totally outside the norm from the moment you open the iSine 20’s packaging. Pulling away the book such as cover reveals the buds set apart in thick foam. Distinctly, this looks as superhero-esque, and also reminiscent of oversized true wireless in-ears. Pulling them out is the wildest part. As the powerful magnets within draw the buds together on your desktop.
The robust, magnetically sealed case below is loaded with accessories. It includes two types of clips designed to connect either around or inside your ears in multiple sizes. Three sizes of ear tips, a cable clip, a removable cable and a cleaning tool. You can add an Apple Lightning cable with built-in DAC and amplification for $50 more. Each cable connects to the buds via tiny gold forks. That looks delicate, but feel fairly solid when pressed upon. We would wager it’s here if there is a weak point in the iSine 20’s durability.
Assembling the buds feels a bit such as working a jigsaw puzzle. On concord, we ended up settling on using the over-ear clips. We never bothered trying the in-ear variety that snaps on with relative ease, and the smallest available ear tips.
Features and design
The iSine 20’s sound tubes are a close second, stretching from the earbuds interior face such as miniature horns of plenty on the shells while the webbing is the oddest design trait. The tubes aren’t just long. They are also quite girthy, and even with the smallest ear tips available. We had trouble fitting them in our ears correctly.
Though we were surprised how well they kept the buds in place while moving around the house, the ear clips feel precarious. Even shaking your head back and forth won’t free them. The earbuds are lighter than they look at just 20 grams. It also helps to keep them secure. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt, that they look pretty odd, and it also takes a while to get used to putting them on.
The iSine 20 boast miniaturized planar magnetic drivers as Audeze’s home page states isn’t small feat as mentioned above. Audeze and others have worked to shrink the technology for massive headgear once reserved. Resulting in products like 2016’s excellent Sine on-ear cans.
The incredible sound d of the iSine 20 does a lot to make up for the discomfort and strange fit. Audeze’s motives to create an in-ear planar headphone initially while we have questioned. Really, there is nothing quite such as the sound of open-back in-ears. The entrancing, airy space offered by traditional open-back headphones mixes with the solemn intimacy of hi-fi in-ear monitors to create a sound that’s unparalleled elsewhere in the audiophile realm.
As the powerful magnets within draw the earbuds together, so pulling them out is wild.
You’ll lose a lot of the little nuances the iSine 20 so brilliantly reproduce to ambient noise. Those nuances include effortlessly clear and pure instrumental attacks, detail for days, the dimensional sculpting of instrumental timbres, and excellent separation of each recorded track.
It should come as no surprise that the iSine 20’s performance borrows heavily from predecessors such as the Sine headphones apple and EL-8. All of which offer a precise and well-balanced sound that’s also extremely organic, seeming to trace each song just the way it was recorded in the studio.
Some of our favorite instruments include dirty bass licks and saxophone. As it’s plainly evident how well the iSine 20 let the music breathe and expand to hit your ears just right. Extremely, they’re also talented in crafting high notes with virtually zero stridence or distortion, the upper register. Through the ear tubes, strings flow fluidly. Violins soaring like a leaping-water fountain in a European palace. Cymbals and Bell sounds, ring honestly and clearly seeming to almost gleam at the edge of the upper harmonics.
The lower register more restrained for bass lovers than many of today’s in-ears premium or otherwise but the frequencies are all there. When the bass is called upon it’s firm, bold, highly musical. Really, there’s nothing the iSine 20 don’t do well.
Audeze offers a limited two-year warranty on both the iSine 20 and the cables for any defects related to “manufacturing, parts, materials, and workmanship under normal and accepted use.” Additionally, the headphones come with a 30-day trial period to confirm they’re the right choice for you.
- Light yet durable construction
- Unparalleled purity of sound for the price
- Incredibly expansive and immersive soundstage
- Effortlessly pure and clear instrumental definition
- 24-bit Apple Lightning cable included
- iPhone-friendly Lightning cable option
- Brilliantly precise detail from top to bottom
- Organic, golden sound signature
- Poor noise isolation
- Open-back design limits use cases
- Spider web aesthetic and ear clips take getting used to
- A very tight fit for smaller ears
- Impractically large for in-ear headphones
- Would benefit from a hard case
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