The winds of change: Audeze’s iSine IEM at Fujiya Avic Autumn 2016

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hpfes2016-200Wait – can you hear that? On the lip of the wind, a change is coming. Audeze’s iSine are like no other IEM before them; they contain no balanced armature driver and no dynamic driver. What gives?

The Californian company have shrunk their planar-magnetic technology down to a 3cm diaphragm, added patented single-side ‘Fluxor’ magnets and associated ‘Fazor’ waveguides – plus some other “special sauce” (still under wraps) – that feed a wider-than-average output nozzle.

Unlike other IEMs, a tight in-ear seal is not required for the wearer to get in touch with the lower frequencies. Also unlike other IEMs, the iSine 10 (Black, US$399) and iSine 20 (Brown, US$599) are both open-backed designs. They leak a very small amount of musical information to the outside world and they also allow some of the outside world in. That makes the iSine listening experience more environmentally dependent than your average IEM.

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I wondered how the iSine might play out on the Tokyo subway where phone calls are heavily frowned upon and hears nary a peep from fellow travellers. Would Japanese customers be prepared to swallow these compromises in order to tap the iSine’s talents with squeegee-clean transparency, presence and rhythmic agility? I know I would. Central Park’s safety-conscious joggers might also. Others I spoke to at the Fujiya Avic headphone show displayed a more tempered enthusiasm.

One thing we agreed on was that every listener, even those who don’t ordinarily take to IEMs, should audition the iSine as soon as they begin appearing in-store over the next few weeks. As Audeze’s marketing man Mark Cohen says in the video below, the iSine are for IEMs for people who don’t like IEMs.

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Cohen also reminds us that the digital Cipher cable that ships with each pair is Lightning port ready – the heavy implication being that a secondary DAP or DAC/amp isn’t mandatory to get the best out of Audeze’s first in-ears. Plug ’em right into your iPhone or iPad to tap Audeze’s own bespoke D/A conversion and amplification (as well as onboard, customisable DSP). That’s smart squared.

Further information: Audeze

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Written by John H. Darko

John lives in Berlin, Germany. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also a very occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
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5 Comments

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  1. Does the cable’s built-in DAC/amplifier take over for the i-device’s own DAC/amplifier when plugged into the headphone jack (assuming an adaptor is available) or just the lightening jack?

    The reason I ask is that I often use an external battery because my phone’s battery runs down so quickly especially when running apps in the background and if using the phone periodically.

    • Only the Lightning jack. Connecting via 3.5mm will still use the smartphone’s internal DAC and headphone driver.

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