In the last few years, there has been much excitement and hype around planar magnetic transducers, particularly in headphones. Audeze, a company out of California, is the industry leader when it comes to planar magnetic headphones. More specifically, the Audeze SINE Series Headphones. Audeze has developed a similar technology for NASA, so it’s safe to assume they know what they’re doing!
Winning the prestigious, internationally recognized, Red Dot Award for Product Design. Judges had this to say about the Audeze SINE Headphones:
“The materials, workmanship, and technical equipment of these headphones guarantee a unique tonal and tactile experience.”
Unlike most modern headphones, which are designed to be more of a fashion accessory, the Audeze SINE is minimalist and unassuming. If you saw someone wearing a pair of Audeze SINE headphones in public, you might assume they’re just average headphones. You’d be VERY wrong!
The Audeze SINE Series consists of the SINE and SINE DX. The difference between the two models is that the SINE DX are open-back headphones, while the SINE is closed-back. Both SINE models are on-ear headphones, meaning the earcups don’t fit completely over the ear. From a comfort perspective, I do wish Audeze had gone with a full over-ear design instead.
Audeze SINE Headphones vs SINE DX Comparison
|Audeze SINE Headphones||vs||Audeze SINE DX Headphones|
|On-ear, open-back||Style||On-ear, open-back|
|10Hz to 50kHz||Frequency Response||10Hz to 50kHz|
|Planar magnetic||Speaker Type||Planar magnetic|
|97dB (at Drum Reference Point)||Sensitivity||102 dB (at Drum Reference Point)|
Open-Back vs Closed-Back Headphones – What’s the difference?
Most on-ear headphones are closed-back. Audiophiles and headphone geeks will tell you closed-back headphones change the sound delivered from the transducer inside the headphone cup. Sound reflects off the closed-back headphone cup, coloring the sound you hear while the open-back allows sound to travel freely, and thus the audio you hear is considered a “truer” frequency pattern. For most of us humans, this is completely irrelevant and you’ll be hard-pressed to hear the difference between the SINE and SINE DX.
Personally, I don’t like open-back headphones because they end up with dust and other debris inside the back of the headphone. As a sound engineer, I’ve only ever owned closed-back and I’ve rarely come across other sound engineers who use open-back. The difference will be only noticeable in a quiet room doing an A/B test between the two headphones. For general use, barely noticeable. The SINE DX is $100 more, so there is also the price factor to consider.
What are planar magnetic headphones?
The SINE Series headphones use a planar magnetic transducer or speaker. A regular speaker is made up of a cone, voice coil, and a magnet. An electrical current (audio signal) passes through the voice coil interacting with the magnet causing the cone to move and thus a sound is produced. Obviously, there is more to it than that, but for the purposes of this article, let’s keep it simple.
A planar magnetic transducer is made up of a single flexible membrane with a voice coil mounted on it. Two powerful magnets sit on either side of the voice coil, creating a magnetic field. Current from an audio signal passing through the voice coil interacts with the magnetic field, causing the membrane to vibrate which results in sound being produced.
Take a piece of paper, and place it between your hands as if you were praying. If you blow onto the paper, it will vibrate between your palms. This is a representation of what happens inside a planar magnetic transducer.
The membrane on a planar magnetic transducer is a hair’s width (in the SINE’s case, even smaller!) whereas a regular cone speaker is much thicker. This means the planar magnetic transducer will be far more responsive to even the slightest current. For this reason, planar magnetic transducers will produce better detail and clarity across all frequencies, even at low volumes.
The Audeze SINE headphones are a perfect example of this detail and clarity. You are guaranteed to hear the difference SINE planar magnetic headphones deliver compared to your regular headphones.
Audeze SINE Series Features
Audeze delivers a complete package when it comes to the SINE Series Headphones. The aluminum frame makes the SINE headphones both lightweight and ultra-durable. The headband and ear cups are lined with foam which is covered in leather, for an ultra-comfortable fit. You can extend or contract the headband, making these headphones fit perfectly to any head size.
24-Bit Lightning Cable
One of the most exciting features for Apple users is the 24-bit lightning cable option. The 24-bit cable is not only convenient for Apple users but it also comes with some extra features to customize your listening experience via the Audeze SINE iOS App.
A 10-band equalizer allows you to adjust frequencies to create presets. This is great if you need to adjust the sound for specific listening applications like music, voice, movies, games, etc. The lightning cable also has a control panel with a SIRI-compatible microphone.
The SINE’s cable is not permanently fixed to the headphones and can be removed simply by unplugging the connectors from the headphone ear cup. This makes it easy to switch between the 24-bit lightning cable or regular 3.5mm (⅛ inch) cable.
If you are looking for a new set of headphones and have $499 to spend, then buy the Audeze SINE Headphones. If you don’t have $499 to spend, then save up and buy the Audeze SINE Headphones. These headphones are far superior to anything on the market in that price range and compete with headphones triple that price.
If you’re intending to use these as regular headphones and aren’t sure which model to choose, I’d recommend getting the SINE Headphones. The difference between the two models is minimal and won’t have any impact on your listening experience for the average user.