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Audeze SINE Review (Closed Back Headphone)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Audeze SINE closed-back, on-ear planar magnetic headphone. It is on kind loan from a member. I think it came out back in 2016 (?) and cost US $450 then. Seems to be discontinued now.

The metal and soft material feel good in hand but don't look luxurious:

Audeze SINE Review Closed Back Planar Magnetic Headphone.jpg


Specialized angle connectors are used to mate to a short and flat cable. Cable seems to have silicone insulation that keeps it from tangling and feels good in hand.

Being a small headphone, it is rather lightweight:

lighest on ear headphone tested.png


The cup is odd-sized so I did not try to measure its dimensions.

Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. Headphone measurements by definition are approximate and variable so don't be surprised if other measurements even if performed with the same fixtures as mine, differ in end results. Protocols vary such as headband pressure and averaging (which I don't do). As you will see, I confirm the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers mostly in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests. If you think you have an exact idea of a headphone performance, you are likely wrong!

Fitment on the fixture was Challenging. The cups don't cover the artificial ear much so it is a crap shoot as far as seal you get and its impact on bass response.

Audeze SINE Measurements
Let's start with our usual frequency response:

Audeze SINE Measurements Frequency Response Closed Back Planar Magnetic Headphone.png


As noted, bass response is not reliable as there is no way to achieve a seal on the fixture. Past that though, we have surprisingly good compliance with our target up to 3 kHz. This should bode well for out of box sound. Past that we have a dip and that is about it.

Relative response that is better to use to develop EQ reflects the same:

Audeze SINE Measurements Relative Frequency Response Closed Back Planar Magnetic Headphone.png


Distortion in bass is typical but there is also something amiss where we unfortunately have a response hole:

Audeze SINE Measurements THD Distortion Closed Back Planar Magnetic Headphone.png


Audeze SINE Measurements Relative Distortion Closed Back Planar Magnetic Headphone.png


I don't mind distortion were we have excess energy as post EQ, that gets better. Here it will be the opposite. Fortunately the frequency is rather high so the impact won't be too bad.

Group delay is very clean showing little interference:

Audeze SINE Measurements Group Delay Closed Back Planar Magnetic Headphone.png


Planar magnetic headphones usually have a flat response so I was surprised to see a rise here:

Audeze SINE Measurements Impedance Closed Back Planar Magnetic Headphone.png


Finally, here is the sensitivity:

Loudes Headphone Reviewed.png


Audeze SINE Listening Tests and Equalization
Story of measurements directly translate into listening results. We no EQ the sound is pleasant but with little bass and high frequency energy. You could certainly listen this way and be OK. But "OK" is not in our vocabulary so out came the EQ tool:

Audeze SINE Equalization EQ Parametric Closed Back Planar Magnetic Headphone.png


Now there was decent amount of bass and sparkle in highs. Spatial qualities were also lifted and fun to notice from time to time.

Conclusions
Objective faults of this headphone is just limited to two areas that were easy to fix with equalization. Many headphones that deviate from the target do so in such extreme ways that I can't listen to them without EQ. Not so with SINE. It gets a large portion of the spectrum right. You do need EQ however to create a true hi-fi experience out of it.

Being discontinued, it is not a headphone I would go and chase on used market to buy. If you have it, you can use the above EQ to make it sound better (and refine it as needed for your taste).

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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sweetchaos

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To import this PEQ profile into 'Equalizer APO', use:
Preamp: -12.0 dB
Filter 1: ON PK Fc 20 Hz Gain 12.0 dB Q 0.7
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 4700 Hz Gain 9.0 dB Q 4.0
Otherwise, see my PEQ guide.
..................................................................................................................
For those who don't have PEQ-capable app, and want to use GEQs instead:
See my GEQ guide for 10-band, 31-band, and 127-band GEQ profiles.
 
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GWolfman

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Were you able to get a good seal on your head (confirming the bass anemia)? I do see the large boost there, but wasn't sure if this was due to poor seal or just lacking from the drivers.
 

Veri

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These are one of my favorite headphones. I use them with oratory EQ but with less bass than Harmon, since I don't need as much. They just sound neutral and well tuned, even without EQ. I don't hear any distortion issue..

It should be noted that one can use 3D printed hooks to put on third party earpads with more depth. Like the ATH MSR-7 ones which work really well for me. EQ and harman adherence with these earpads: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9obx02o9j8w3z9p/Audeze Sine (MSR7 earpads).pdf?dl=0
 

Merkurio

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It’s funny, every well regarded headphone has a good compliance to a certain target and it’s very noticeable when you look at the unanimous praise of the community.

The SINE was a rara avis in the mediocre scheme of things at Audeze (FR-wise), much like the TYGR 300 R for Beyerdynamic (another unusual highly praised Beyerdynamic which as no suprise, adheres relatively well to Harman target).

But hey, preference research (in form of Harman or another neutral-ish targets) is “bullshit for the masses” and “every headphone must have their own character”. :rolleyes:
 

solderdude

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My Audeze Sine (fitted with VA over-ear pads) with good seal and seal broken.
Seal breaking with the original pads has the exact same effect and given the small pads it is nearly impossible not to break seal with this on-ear headphone.
seal.png


Looks like a seal issue.
index.php


Reason is the horrible pads. There are over-ear alternative pads that alleviate these problems.

Below how it measures on the flatbed without pinna so with a perfect seal which is not possible on most ears.

fr-stock.png


Below on the left the Sine with Vesper Audio over-ear pads fitted, on the right on-ear original pads.
pad-difference-1.jpg

My not so big ears fit snugly in the larger pads on the left.

@amirm : missing the sensitivity plot. Specs mention: 97dB/mW (so 114dB/V) which makes it very sensitive for a Planar.

Indeed the impedance hump is strange and with various output R's has an audible effect.
0.2 ohm, 10 ohm, 32 ohm, 120 ohm

r-10-32-120.png


For me there is no need to EQ other than remove the 10kHz treble peak on the VA pads. Bass is right where I want it (Harman-ish)
 
Last edited:

Maiky76

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Audeze SINE closed-back, on-ear planar magnetic headphone. It is on kind loan from a member. I think it came out back in 2016 (?) and cost US $450 then. Seems to be discontinued now.

The metal and soft material feel good in hand but don't look luxurious:

View attachment 159826

Specialized angle connectors are used to mate to a short and flat cable. Cable seems to have silicone insulation that keeps it from tangling and feels good in hand.

Being a small headphone, it is rather lightweight:

View attachment 159827

The cup is odd-sized so I did not try to measure its dimensions.

Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. Headphone measurements by definition are approximate and variable so don't be surprised if other measurements even if performed with the same fixtures as mine, differ in end results. Protocols vary such as headband pressure and averaging (which I don't do). As you will see, I confirm the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers mostly in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests. If you think you have an exact idea of a headphone performance, you are likely wrong!

Fitment on the fixture was Challenging. The cups don't cover the artificial ear much so it is a crap shoot as far as seal you get and its impact on bass response.

Audeze SINE Measurements
Let's start with our usual frequency response:

View attachment 159828

As noted, bass response is not reliable as there is no way to achieve a seal on the fixture. Past that though, we have surprisingly good compliance with our target up to 3 kHz. This should bode well for out of box sound. Past that we have a dip and that is about it.

Relative response that is better to use to develop EQ reflects the same:

View attachment 159829

Distortion in bass is typical but there is also something amiss where we unfortunately have a response hole:

View attachment 159830

View attachment 159831

I don't mind distortion were we have excess energy as post EQ, that gets better. Here it will be the opposite. Fortunately the frequency is rather high so the impact won't be too bad.

Group delay is very clean showing little interference:

View attachment 159832

Planar magnetic headphones usually have a flat response so I was surprised to see a rise here:

View attachment 159833

Audeze SINE Listening Tests and Equalization
Story of measurements directly translate into listening results. We no EQ the sound is pleasant but with little bass and high frequency energy. You could certainly listen this way and be OK. But "OK" is not in our vocabulary so out came the EQ tool:

View attachment 159834

Now there was decent amount of bass and sparkle in highs. Spatial qualities were also lifted and fun to notice from time to time.

Conclusions
Objective faults of this headphone is just limited to two areas that were easy to fix with equalization. Many headphones that deviate from the target do so in such extreme ways that I can't listen to them without EQ. Not so with SINE. It gets a large portion of the spectrum right. You do need EQ however to create a true hi-fi experience out of it.

Being discontinued, it is not a headphone I would go and chase on used market to buy. If you have it, you can use the above EQ to make it sound better (and refine it as needed for your taste).

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/

Here are some thoughts about the EQ.
Notes about the EQ design:
  • The average L/R is used to calculate the score.
  • The resolution is 12 points per octave interpolated from the raw data (provided by @amirm)
  • A Genetic Algorithm is used to optimize the EQ.
  • The EQ Score is designed to MAXIMIZE the Score WHILE fitting the Harman target curve with a fixed complexity.
    This will avoid weird results if one only optimizes for the Score.
    It will probably flatten the Error regression doing so, the tonal balance should be more neutral.
  • The EQs are starting point and may require tuning (certainly at LF).
  • The range around and above 10kHz is usually not EQed unless smooth enough to do so.
  • I am using PEQ (PK) as from my experience the definition is more consistent across different DSP/platform implementations than shelves.
  • With some HP/amp combo the boosts and preamp gain need to be carefully considered to avoid issues
  • Not all units of the same product are made equal. The EQ is based on the measurements of a single unit.
  • YMMV with regards to the very unit you are trying this EQ on.
OK L/R match.

I have generated one EQ, the APO config file is attached.
Audeze drivers can take a lot of EQ but caution still applies.
This design might be problematic in terms of fitting on some heads/ears.
Tune the LF boost to your own fit.
Diffused field might be closer to the designed target...

Score no EQ: 72.2
Score Armirm: 83.0
Score with EQ: 94.5

Code:
Audeze SINE APO EQ [email protected] 96000Hz
October182021-143551

Preamp: -12 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 37.69 Hz Gain 12.00 dB Q 0.64
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 3247.19 Hz Gain -3.63 dB Q 3.98
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 5266.36 Hz Gain 7.00 dB Q 0.84
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 7694.66 Hz Gain -3.50 dB Q 4.00
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 12489.87 Hz Gain -6.57 dB Q 3.60

Audeze SINE Dashboard.png
 

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amirm

amirm

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Were you able to get a good seal on your head (confirming the bass anemia)? I do see the large boost there, but wasn't sure if this was due to poor seal or just lacking from the drivers.
It seemed to seal better on my ears than on the fixture. Indeed I tried to put pressure on them to see if it made a difference and it did not. So I assumed it sealed better.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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@amirm : missing the sensitivity plot. Specs mention: 97dB/mW (so 114dB/V) which makes it very sensitive for a Planar.
Oops. Added them to the review.
 

solderdude

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So 111dB/V and 94dB/mW.
That's 3dB below the manufacturer specs, still not bad for a planar magnetic.
 

Billy Budapest

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The Sine was designed to be used with the Cypher DAC/amp/cable which has equalization specifically for the Sine. I have the open back version of the Sine, the Sine DX, and I can confirm that the sound with and without the Cypher cable is subtly different and contains a little bit more fullness in the bottom end.
 

LTig

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AFAIR (but I might be wrong) Audeze used some LRC combination in this headphone. That would explain the impedance quirk.
It would be interesting to measure FR without the LRC combination. There is a small dip between 2 and 3 kHz exactly where the impedance is highest. Could be that without it the 5 kHz dip is not that deep.
 

GaryH

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The Sine was designed to be used with the Cypher DAC/amp/cable which has equalization specifically for the Sine. I have the open back version of the Sine, the Sine DX, and I can confirm that the sound with and without the Cypher cable is subtly different and contains a little bit more fullness in the bottom end.

Yep, the Cipher cable EQs the bass up towards the Harman target on the Sine:

Harman 2018-Audeze Sine-Audeze Sine (Cipher Cable)-1.png
 
Last edited:

Billy Budapest

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Yep, the Cipher cable EQs the bass up towards the Harman target on the Sine:

View attachment 159963
Looks like up to a 4dB boost depending on the frequency. Very good tracking of the Harman curve. Definitely gives me confidence in what I heard. I do know that the Sine DX is a much better listen than the LCD-2 that I used to own. I had purchased the LCD-2 just a few months after they had come out and even at that time Audeze had revised them 2-3 times. Audeze had a blog documenting the revisions.
 

phoenixsong

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Without the Cipher cable and with glasses/spectacles they did sound thin and bright and sharp
 

Acerun

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I use the Vesper sheepskin over-ear pads and the bass is solid. I personally love the sound signature from my SINE. Love the small form factor for a planar as well.
 

solderdude

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Inside the cup there is a cloth 'bag' filled with damping material.
driver Sine rear.JPG


In that pouch there is a filter. When I had to make an educated quess I would say there is a film capacitor (to tune the frequency), a 10uF bipolar capacitor and a 470uH SMD inductor in some shrink tubing.
Very similar to the treble filters I make but these have larger sized inductors and are mounted in a steel tube.

The magnets inside pull the inductor towards the driver.
Sine filter.JPG
 
Last edited:

welsh

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These are one of my favorite headphones. I use them with oratory EQ but with less bass than Harmon, since I don't need as much. They just sound neutral and well tuned, even without EQ. I don't hear any distortion issue..

It should be noted that one can use 3D printed hooks to put on third party earpads with more depth. Like the ATH MSR-7 ones which work really well for me. EQ and harman adherence with these earpads: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9obx02o9j8w3z9p/Audeze Sine (MSR7 earpads).pdf?dl=0
I have this headphone and like the sound, but the pretty much “on-ear” pads are very uncomfortable (I have big ears). Shame, as the frequency response is way better than most of the big Audeze cans. Because they fold flat, they fit in my guitar gig bag, which is where they currently live.
 
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