Just got the word that AudioQuest is refreshing their headphone line.
NightHawk isn’t all that long-in-the-tooth, but advances and refinements wait for no … something something something. Ahem. Long story short — they’ve went ahead and made them and made them better. Score one for the Californians!
The most notable — and obvious — change is that NightHawk is no longer alone in the AudioQuest headphone lineup. NightOwl will be the name for the fully closed-back, circumaural cans — which is a very clever zoological reference, because you see, owls fly silently. Which is just creepy. But if the kids are sleeping, or the train/plane/automobile is crowded, getting your Steve Bug on while your stuck in the middle of it is a sweet thing.
Also on deck is the NightHawk Carbon. This headphone is purposefully still framed within the overall/original design brief — so, I’m thinking of it more of as a “hefty update” to the NightHawk than a whole new thing.
I’m looking forward to checking these out at the next show.
In the meantime, here’s the release from AudioQuest:
Offering a unique combination of unsurpassed comfort, state-of-the-art design, and naturally beautiful sound, AudioQuest’s first headphone, NightHawk, has been lovingly featured in the pages of magazines and websites as far-reaching as Stereophile, Rolling Stone, CNET, Wired, Head-Fi, Digital Trends, The Verge, HomeTheaterReview, Sound & Vision, and many more. This is evidence of the intensifying convergence between the high-fidelity and high-technology worlds, and testament to NightHawk’s uncanny ability to captivate and inspire a diverse audience of thinkers, builders, engineers, and, of course, music lovers.
While NightHawk’s many innovative design elements—Liquid Wood earcups, biomimetic sound-diffusing grilles, and high-performance solid-conductor cable, to name just a few—have impressed listeners worldwide, many have expressed interest in different paint finishes, more versatile cables, and closed-back designs.
AudioQuest takes the first of many steps toward satisfying those interests with two new around-the-ear models: NightHawk Carbon and NightOwl Carbon.
The closed-back NightOwl Carbon further advances the state of the headphone art, replacing NightHawk’s sound-diffusing grille with an intelligently designed aperiodic damping system for excellent isolation of external noise, ensuring privacy for the listener and those nearby.
Hidden beneath the central circular portion of NightOwl’s earcups, a vent runs along the perimeter of each dome and exits through a hidden airflow-resistive port. Thus, unlike other headphones that use a sealed enclosure, NightOwl is designed to effectively relieve the buildup of pressure, allowing the drivers to breathe freely, ensuring that any impulses quickly return to an innocuous resting state—with no ringing, oscillation, or resonance.
Further, we’ve implemented several closely related acoustic, ergonomic, and cosmetic refinements, each of which seamlessly complements the whole, delivering improved performance while elevating the overall user experience.
· Modified internal parts: Tighter tolerances reduce air leakage for improved airflow and lower distortion
· Two sets of earpads: Protein Leather Pads seal tighter for better isolation and slightly enhanced treble clarity; Ultrasuede Pads breathe freer for greater comfort and slightly reduced bass impact
· Improved plugs: High-purity Tellurium Copper (TeCu) base metal for smoother surface, higher plating quality, better mating contact, and, consequently, less noise
· Improved headpad: Genuine leather headpad with stitched detailing for enhanced comfort, more luxurious look and feel
· Improved cable: Shorter (4.25ft) length for easier use at the desktop or with mobile devices; flexible, non-braided jacket increases durability, eliminates kinking, minimizes microphonics; robustly engineered and rigorously tested strain relief further increases durability; discrete microphone and smartphone controls enable phone calls and playback functions (Play, Pause, Skip) without compromising sound quality
Note: Cable can be terminated with balanced connections or customized to various specifications.
· Luxurious finish: Carbon Grey Metallic high-gloss automotive paint meticulously applied via multistage process
· Improved inner presentation: Includes microfiber pouches for headphones and accessories for safer, simpler travel
Meanwhile, NightHawk Carbon is a more sophisticated, more mature version of the original. It boasts the same exciting refinements found in NightOwl—improved performance, greater comfort, two pairs of earpads, a far more durable cable with discrete mic and smartphone controls, enhanced look and feel (detailed above)—all while retaining its predecessor’s remarkably low distortion and fatigue-free sound.
Of course, all of the advanced design elements that made the original NightHawk such a success are carried over into the improved models: NightHawk Carbon and NightOwl Carbon share their predecessor’s pistonic drivers with biocellulose diaphragms, compliant rubber surrounds, and true voice-coil formers. The patented split-gap motor remains unsurpassed in its ability to reduce intermodulation distortion. The earcups are fabricated from the same revolutionary Liquid Wood material, affording acoustically optimized support beams and carefully applied damping. The patent-pending suspension system allows the earcups to move freely, accommodating heads of almost any shape or size, while effectively decoupling the earcups to counteract resonances.
Thus, NightHawk’s exceedingly low distortion, unrivaled comfort, and naturally detailed sound have been enhanced in several meaningful ways. With the new semi-open NightHawk Carbon and closed-back NightOwl Carbon headphones, AudioQuest hopes you’ll listen longer, later, and with greater pleasure, enjoying even deeper immersion in your favorite music, movies, videos, and games.
NightHawk Carbon ($699 US MSRP)
· Around-the-ear semi-open design
· 3D-printed biomimetic sound-diffusing grille
NightOwl Carbon ($699 US MSRP)
· Around-the-ear closed-back design
· Aperiodic damping system for excellent isolation of external noise
NightHawk Carbon & NightOwl Carbon Features
· Acoustically superior, sustainably engineered materials
· Patent-pending suspension system with freely articulating earcups counteracts intrusive resonances
· Pistonic driver with biocellulose diaphragm and compliant rubber surround
· Patented split-gap motor dramatically reduces intermodulation distortion
· AudioQuest cable with improved strain relief; non-microphonic, kink-free jacket; discrete mic and smartphone controls
· Carbon Grey Metallic high-gloss automotive finish
NightHawk Carbon & NightOwl Carbon Specifications
· Impedance: 25ohms
· Sensitivity: 99dbSPL/mW
· Power Handling: 1.5W
· Weight: 346g (12.2oz)
· Driver: 50mm Dynamic | Biocellulose Pistonic Diaphragm | 1.2T Split-Gap Motor
NightOwl Carbon & NightHawk Carbon Cable
· Long-Grain Copper conductors
· High-Purity Direct-Silver Plated TeCu plugs (3.5mm TRRS à Dual 2.5mm mono)
· Highly durable, non-microphonic jacket
· 4.25’ (1.3m)
AudioQuest NightOwl Carbon and NightHawk Carbon headphones will begin shipping to dealers in November 2016. Additionally, Carbon-model earpads and cables will soon be available separately, so that owners of the original NightHawk can customize their headphones.
For more info, visit personal.audioquest.com.