Audeze Cipher cable brings in-line DAC/amplifier to Sine headphones


Over the past five years Audeze have inked their high-end headphone reputation with the LCD series of planar-magnetic headphones: the open-back LCD-2, LCD-3, LCD-X and closed-back LCD-XC. One morsel of news dropping at CanJam SoCal 2016 was that each of these models have recently enjoyed a driver revision – a slightly thinner film now brings the music forth. According to Audeze’s VP of Sales Mark Cohen, the change is evolutionary and not revolutionary. Reportedly affording a more-than-subtle improvement to the XC is a fresh filter network that flattens out any hint of mid-bass bump.

Back at CanJam/RMAF in Denver last October, Audeze introduced the LCD-4 and pushed the reference bar higher still. It would be the company’s most luxurious, costliest (and heaviest) headphone to date – US$3999.

The LCD-4 were on display at Audeze’s 16th floor ‘Private Lounge’ at the Westin hotel. The out of the way location a deliberate move to offer a sense of exclusivity to any LCD owner who cared to stop by.

Over refreshments Mark Cohen was at pains to point out that Audeze’s EL-8 line of ‘phones is not intended as a step down from the LCD range but aimed at a completely different market segment — one that Cohen refers to as ‘mass premium’.


Open- and closed-back EL-8 are now sold in select Apple stores across the USA. Perhaps soon we will see Audeze ‘phones in Harrods and Colette?

Cohen also points out that the EL-8 have seen significant re-voicing since their CES 2015 debut and that anyone not hearing them in the last six months “Hasn’t heard the EL-8”.

However, it was the EL-8’s new-found iOS compatibility that stole the show for this commentator in Denver last Fall/Autumn. Here was a headphone company who had jumped the MFI hoops laid out by Apple so that the new Cipher (formerly Cypher) cable could extract digital audio direct from the Lightning port of any iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch – no CCK requited. The iOS device’s audio intestines are bypassed in favour of an in-line dongle that handles DSP, D/A conversion and headphone amplification.

These same audiophile sensitivities will soon be applied to Audeze’s on-ear Sine, an entry-level planar magnetic aimed at the aforementioned ‘mass premium’ buyer. Adding an extra twist, the Sine will soon also get the Cipher digital cable treatment. Cohen explains in more detail in this video:

And if Apple make good on the rumour that the iPhone will soon lose its 3.5mm headphone port then Audeze will have a clear head start in a brave new digital-audio-only world where some listeners might find cutting the cord and going Bluetooth just doesn’t cut it. It’s clear that this previously audiophile-focussed headphone manufacturer is now channeling energy to hopefully capture the ears and dollars of mainstream listeners.

Further information: Audeze



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Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
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  1. I certainly do not agree with you about Bluetooth not cutting it, certainly for portable audio. I have owned TH 900, D7000, HE 560/400i, Z7, Oppo PM3 and quite a few other headphones and switching to the B&O H7 recently has been an eye opening experience. Recently I was driving the PM3 balanced with the ONKYO DP-X1 but I got so sick of cables that I decided to try Bluetooth (XTZ Divine, ATH WS99BT, B&O H7) – all fantastic and I have happily since sold my PM3 and ONKYO and I’m not at all feeling the loss because Bluetooth is certainly up to the task.

    I would be shocked if anybody in a real world listening situation could really find much of a difference with Bluetooth. I don’t think people (no offense meant) who really concentrate on music so hard, listening for minute differences are anywhere near the norm. Not to mention, some of these differences golden ears detect really need some solid multiple, trial, blind listening tests.

    Not trying to give you the business, but people constantly go on about how they can tell the difference when they can’t. Our last headphone meet I did a 7 subject, 4 trial per subject test of 320CBR versus the lossless version it was made from. We used a very nice Holy Cole song, One Trick Pony, everybody used the same equipment, before the trials everybody adjusted the volume to their preference and then left the volume where it was set. I then played 1:30 seconds of the song from the beginning, then I played the other version for the same time. The subjects had no idea what file was what. At the end of each pairing trial they were asked to state if they felt one sounded better than the other, or if they didn’t think there was a difference.

    After all 7 subjects went through this process, nobody picked the lossless version as preferred more than 50% of the time. Two of the subjects were beyond shocked as going into the trials they were convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt they could tell the difference. They couldn’t, nobody could, and I’ll bet the supposed sonic difference with Bluetooth (AptX) and wired in real world listening situations is equally non-existent. I respect your opinion, but my experience certainly does not agree with your assessment of Bluetooth, and there is another very well known headphone reviewer who posts at head-fi and another prominent site who also states he can’t tell the difference between the wired and Bluetooth on headphones. Perhaps we are wrong and you are correct, who knows, but I rather doubt Bluetooth is as bad as you say it is. I suspect you formed an opinion from the earlier days of Bluetooth and never really had an opportunity to challenge it.

    I would be curious to know what the last Bluetooth headphone you listened to was. Not in a challenging way, I’m actually curious.

    • Hmmmmm? I wrote “for whom cutting the cord and going Bluetooth just doesn’t cut it”. I was referring to others who feel that Bluetooth doesn’t do it for them. Clarification added.

      Sure, differences might be small and out in the street the noise floor might negate the benefits of cabling direct to the smart device but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist and some listeners won’t prefer a direct wired sound where zero lossy data compression occurs. (BTW – we can’t yet get an iPhone or an iPad to do aptX).

      Furthermore, it’s not about who is right and who is wrong. If you hear no differences and you’re happy with Bluetooth then that’s all that matters.

  2. Thank you for the clarification, and yes, you are correct, it is not useful for me to reduce the subject to a binary, right or wrong, so I apologize for that language. I think as of late I have been frustrated by the assumptions it seems many people make about the current state of Bluetooth and I think my frustration spilled out in my response to you. So, thank you for responding, thank you for the many excellent articles you publish (I read here when I can) and my apology for the somewhat antagonistic tone I used. It wasn’t meant to come across that way.

    As a related aside, I sent my XTZ Divine headphone to the other well known reviewer I mentioned and he just today e-mailed me back saying that he is really starting to gain an appreciation for Bluetooth headphones. My prediction is that in five years maximum, wired headphones for portable audio will be the exception not the rule, and we may even start to see some very serious Bluetooth headphones designed for audiophile, critical listening at home.