If you’re now wondering how the release of a new phone could change how headphones are made, it’s because the next iPhone is believed to lack a headphone jack. Wave bye-bye to your 3.5mm plug. Instead, headphones will plug into the iPhone 7’s Lightning port – and this is exactly how the Audeze Sine work. The company says that the Sine are the world’s first fully integrated Lightning port headphones. This is even though Philips made a pair, the Fidelio M2L, back in 2015.
I’ll leave the companies to argue out exactly who did what first. The important thing here is that all the additional circuitry is built into a housing that’s no bigger than some remote control adapters. In that little bit of rubbery plastic and metal you’ll find the usual remote control buttons plus a mic, DAC, DSP chip and an amp circuit.
If, as rumours suggest, the iPhone 7 does miss off the headphone jack, you’re going to need a cable such as this to use your favourite headphones. And this will work only if the cable is removable. The alternative is a clunky DAC adapter. Audeze isn’t making these cables for just anyone to use, though. While the Audeze Sine’s Lightning cable ends in regular mono 3.5mm jacks, the angle of it is super-awkward, ensuring it won’t fit into anything else. Smart move.
In the more expensive Audeze EL-8, the company uses a flat-out proprietary audio connector that looks a little like a Lightning plug itself. Audeze calls this the Cipher cable, and it uses an integrated piece of silicone that crams together all the components required. I get the feeling the company might have been working on this one for a while. The DAC is 24-bit, of course, making it Hi-Res ready. We’ll be seeing far more of Cipher’s ilk this year. Non-iPhone users will be pleased to hear that the Sine headphones are also available in a version with an ordinary 3.5mm cable. A blessing if you don’t want to stump up £50 for the Cipher cable.
Are they better than the Oppo PM-3? Of that I’m not sure just yet. A brief listen points to a soundstage that appears wider and a little livelier, but whether they offer the same mid-range quality isn’t yet apparent. The Audeze Sine are certainly more stylish than the still-okay-looking Oppos, though. They’ve been designed by DesignworksUSA, the company that Sennheiser teamed up with in 2011 to make the Sennheiser CX 980i and a few other pairs.