Every now and then a company comes out with a “world first,” which is getting a little rare in the headphone world these days — companies seem to be innovating with the tech that’s already there rather than by inventing all new tech. Audeze, however, has gone a different route. Introducing the Audeze iSine 10 in-ear headphones.
So what’s so special about the iSine 10’s? Well, they’re planar-magnetic — and in-ears. In fact, the iSine line is the world’s first planar magnetic in-ear headphone. But are they worth it? Yes, they are.
The first thing to notice about these headphones is their design, and boy is it an interesting one. The “world first” label is complimented by an alien design that does away with conventional in-ear designs that we’ve seen over the years. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — just a different thing.
Of course, there’s a reason they have the design that they do. Because of the way planar magnetic headphones work, shrinking down the technology into super-thin 30mm drivers is already a feat of engineering, and as such, considering the fact that they need to be at least slightly large, these in-ears actually look pretty good. They boast an all-black look with a cover that looks kind of reminiscent of Spiderman.
You can kind of tell that the larger outside basically just funnels sound into something that fits inside of your ear, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing — the funnel design fits with the rest of the in-ear pretty well.
In the box, you’ll get the in-ears themselves, a carry case, two detachable cables (one 3.5mm cable and one Lightning cable), a few different earhook styles, and a few different eartips. You’ll also get a sleek-looking USB that contains the user manual — a very high tech way to deliver the manual.
The whole package is put together beautifully, and it’s clear that the people at Audeze want the iSine 10’s to be a seamless experience from start to finish. The box is nicely packaged, everything is easy to understand, and the case is clearly of the highest quality — although it’s not a hard case, so don’t put too much weight on it with your precious headphones inside.
In general, while we would have liked a somewhat smaller in-ear, technological limitations mean that we won’t get it yet, but knowing that the Audeze iSine 10’s look absolutely awesome.
You might assume that the Audeze iSine 10’s are a little uncomfortable because of their size, but they’re a lot more comfortable than many other in-ears we’ve tried.
First up, it’s true that the headphones are a little heavy for in-ears, but that’s to be expected. You’ll definitely want to use the ear hooks with the iSine 10’s — otherwise you’ll most likely face them falling out regularly.
When it comes to fit, the eartips actually aren’t that bad. They’re certainly big, which can get slightly uncomfortable after long periods of listening time, but not abnormally so, and not much more than other in-ear headphones.
Ah, the all-important sound — something that can make or break a pair of headphones.
First up, the Audeze iSine 10’s are open-back, meaning that they let plenty of outside sound in and let plenty of what you’re listening to out. Now, we’re a little torn on this. The open design certainly helps improve the sound quite a bit, but the point of in-ears and earbuds is portability — to take out on the road. You definitely don’t want to be hearing the sound of the bus on your way to work. If you’re buying headphones for home use, then you may as well buy the full-sized Audeze Sine headphones, which we reviewed and absolutely loved.
In any case, the fact is that the Audeze iSine 10’s are open-back, which is something to keep in mind.
The bass on the Audeze iSine 10’s is pretty solid, though we felt there was some super low bass lacking — which could be owed to their smaller size. Most will be happy with the bass offering despite that, but those who like really boosted bass might want to look elsewhere — these are a little more natural sounding.
When it comes to the mids, it seems like there’s a slight boost in the lower mids, which gives the Audeze iSine 10’s a bit of warmth — which is kind of nice. The higher mids seem to have taken a slight hit because of the lower mids boost, but there are still plenty of high mids to go around.
Last but not least are the highs, and there are a good amount of highs here too. Like the bass, it seems as though there’s a slight roll off when we get into the really high frequencies, but most won’t notice that — vocals are still nice and clean while guitars still have plenty of bite.
Frequency ranges are important, but on the Audeze iSine 10’s it’s almost as if they aren’t. The first time we put them on was a weird experience — they sound like over-ear headphones. They sound wide, and open — which is likely owed to the open-back design. It’s an interesting feeling, and while we do have a bit of a hard time finding a use case for the iSine 10’s, we love that the tech makes something like this possible — and it’s exciting to think about the future of planar magnetic headphones.
The Audeze iSine 10’s are a home run for Audeze — but they’re not for everyone. We like how they look given the fact that they need to be as big as they are, and they’re generally comfortable despite their size. Not only that, but they sound great despite a few frequency bumps along the way.
While the Audeze iSine 10’s unique approach makes them difficult to review, as there’s no other planar magnetic in-ears to compare them to, Audeze is innovating and that’s an important consideration. Do you need these? Probably not. But those looking for a great-sounding and portable in-ear with an open design will love them.
|Frequency response||10Hz – 50kHz||Active noise cancellation
|Driver size||30mm||Noise attenuation||Unknown|
||Planar Magnetic||In-line controls||Only on Lightning cable|
||Open-Back||Microphone||Only on Lightning cable|
|Total harmonic distortion
||<0.1% at 100dB||Water resistance||No|
|Rated input power
|Maximum input power
||3.5mm, Lightning||Case type||Soft Case|
||Yes||In-the-box||Case, 3.5mm cable, Lightning cable, 4 pairs of ear tips, 4 pairs of ear hooks, Instruction USB, Certificate of authenticity|