The world of headphones is full of extravagantly convoluted and obfuscating language. Just witness this paragraph from Audeze's latest press release:
"The SINE headphones feature Audeze’s renowned Fluxor® planar magnetic technology with Fazor® Elements and Uniforce® Diaphragms to provide a highly efficient yet lightweight headphone, with very low distortion, good bass, a seductive midrange, crisp extended high frequencies, and excellent imaging."
What does seductive even mean with respect to midrange? I can't answer that, but I can tell you what planar magnetic technology is. Unlike the vast majority of headphones on the market, which rely on moving voice coils and cones to push air back and forth and thus create sound, planar magnetic cans use just a thin diaphragm. It's still magnetically driven sound reproduction, but the thin film used in planar magnetic models is widely recognized as offering higher accuracy and detail than regular dynamic drivers. But planar magnetic headphones also have a tendency to be huge and hugely expensive.
High-end headphone tech is trickling down to more affordable prices and sizes
Audeze's top of the line LCD-4 costs a whopping $3,995, and last year's CES debutant, the Audeze EL-8, was considered a relative bargain at $699. Now the boutique headphone maker is taking a further step toward a more mainstream consumer with its $499 Sine set. These on-ear cans bring Audeze's planar magnetic tech to the smallest, lightest, and most mobile-friendly form that the company has ever produced, and put it in direct competition with the other leading brands in this field. Oppo Digital, sister company to Oppo the smartphone maker, has the well regarded PM3 headphones, which cost $399, but don't come with the same aesthetic flair and compactness as the Audeze Sine, which were designed by BMW DesignWorks. There's also HiFiMAN, whose HE400S headphones are the cheapest planar magnetic option at the moment at $299.
Audeze is not alone in its efforts to popularize planar magnetic headphones, and it isn't breaking new ground in terms of pricing. But the Sine headphones are certainly a step in the right direction, emphasizing portability and convenience — they even fold flat for easier storage and transport — as important considerations. The Sine will also be compatible with Audeze's fully integrated Lightning cable, which includes a built-in digital-to-analog converter and digital signal processor, ensuring high-quality playback that's tailored to Audeze's particular strengths. The Audeze Sine will be available to order for $499 from Audeze.com and select retailers from the end of January and will begin shipping in February.