The big news coming out of Audeze was all about Sine — their new $449 on-ear fold-flat planar magnetic headphone. Another partnership with BMWDesignWorksUSA, the Sine is a sexy little beast and incorporates Audeze’s latest thinking around Fazor technology, Fluxor magnet arrays, and Uniforce diaphragms. This is what “trickle-down tech” looks like, folks, and it’s fiiiiiine.
The headphones sound great, which wasn’t surprising. No, what surprised me most was the cable.
Tyll Hertsens over at InnerFidelity has been banging on about Apple’s controversial and probably immanent change over from a 3.5mm audio jack to an all-digital/only-digital output on their upcoming iDevices — like the iPhone 7, perhaps. I’m with Tyll — the change is coming. The problem, however, is what that means for headphones. Right now, all the amplification and digital-to-analog conversion circuitry required to make the iDevice make actual sound are on the iDevice. Dropping the 3.5mm jack in favor of a Lightning connector means that the iDevice in question can save space and, probably, save power (i.e., improve battery life), but all that “making it make sound” stuff still has to happen somewhere. Enter the Cipher Cable.
I have no idea if this is the wave that will bring the future into the now, but Tyll makes a compelling point — if audio is to evolve in ways that will be interesting (i.e., monetizable) for Apple et al, pushing more and more tech into the ecosphere (e.g., headphones) is a great way to go about it.
What else is new at Audeze? Well, how about everything?
I spent a few minutes talking with Mark Cohen of Audeze, and he mentioned that we’re now about 3 months into a whole new LCD Series revision, one that applies across the line — LCD 2, LCD 3, LCD X and LCD XC (the LCD 4, interestingly, already has these updates — and is likely the source of them). The changes are incremental, according to Cohen, substantial enough to warrant the move, but hard to discern without direct A/B comparisons.
Except for the XC. That one you might be able to hear directly. There’s a new LC filter network in the XC that addresses the mid-bass boost that can has (due to it’s closed-back nature), which brings the newest XC’s much closer to the sound of the open-back X. And by “closer”, Cohen means, “almost indistinguishable”.
Also new — the EL-8. This headphone suffered a bit on launch, at least on Head-Fi (and in the press), especially due to the expectations that were not precisely set. To wit: the EL-8 is most emphatically not a cheap LCD. Different can. Different goal. Different sound. With that out of the way, the EL-8 as it’s currently shipping, has an entirely new connector, with better magnets (and a latching mechanism to hold them in place), as well as a new diaphragm and magnet structure. The difference between this EL-8 and the one I have? Cohen says: “It’s not night and day. More like mid-afternoon and night.” Well put!
Also on deck, the magnificent LCD-4, with a massive magnet structure and gorgeous tonal texture — and, perhaps even more importantly for melon-headed freaks like yours truly, a headband that doesn’t actively squeeze snot out of my head. Look, it’s still snug, but while the new headband looks a lot like the old, that new carbon-fiber arrangement really takes the pressure off without sacrificing the seal. For die-hard fans of the Audeze house sound, I think the high-price tag for the headphone ($3,995) may well be worth it for the fit alone.
Also on Deck was the Deckard and The King, both of which we’ve covered elsewhere.