The Audeze Sine, unlike most other headphones, are ready for a future that actually may not come to fruition. I'm talking about the possibility of a 3.5mm-less iPhone 7 and how Apple's move could signal a big change in the way manufacturers make headphones.
If Apple does decide to juke the decades-old standard, Audeze will be prepared with the Sine. It's the latest model from the renowned audio company, with an on-ear, closed-back design and slick leather details.
While wireless is certainly the trend, Audeze is keeping things analog, or as analog as possible when you're passing audio through a Lightning cable, which is packed with an inline remote that functions as an all-in-one amplifier, digital signal processor and digital to analog converter.
iPhone users who are using anything newer than an iPhone 4S will have a Lightning port at their disposal and, so long as you don't need to charge your phone, you'll be able to take advantage of the features and hearty boost in audio quality gained with Audeze's clever amp-in-a-cord connector.
The Audeze Sine aren't cheap, coming in at $499 (£449, AU$799), which puts them on par in price to the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless, a rival in terms of comfort, styling and feature count. But the Sine are also up against literally every other wired headphone on the market.
For those who own an iPhone, the Sine are a sensible purchase. They sound amazing when connected through Lighting and they are snazzy and comfortable enough to wear around all day. But for everyone else, opting for the 3.5mm-only variation provides a comparably ho-hum experience that doesn't come close to justifying the slightly reduced $449 (£399, AU$699) price tag.
The Sine's build exudes quality, with the sturdy frame and leather capped accents. Starting with the leather headband, it's stuffed on each side with plush cushions to aid in comfort. It fits nicely, even around my plus-sized noggin.
Stretching down, the adjustable arms slide smoothly from inside the headband to accommodate heads of all different shapes. These also operate as a swivel for the earcups to allow for a custom fit on your ears.
Touching on the cups themselves, they are almost completely made up of leather on the exterior. From front to back, these are smooth to the touch and supple when resting against your ears. Their shape cleverly contours, like the Koss Pro4S, to allow your ear to fit comfortably right in the middle.
The backs of each earcup houses a port where you plug in the corresponding cord for the left and right audio channels. Whether you're using the Lightning cable or the standard 3.5mm option, these connectors don't differ.
If you're an iPhone user, you should really be listening to the Sine through the Cipher Lightning cable, which features an amplifier, digital signal processor and digital to audio converter. It houses all of these components because the Lightning port bypasses the iPhone's default audio system, which means that the data coming out of the iPhone to the Sine hasn't yet been converted and processed.
When you first plug the Sine into a Lightning port, you'll be prompted to install the app. This is recommended, as it will keep the hardware up-to-date with the latest firmware and also because it lets you tune two equalizers to your taste. These are stored on the cable and usable on multiple devices.
To get the best impression of what the Audeze Sine is capable of, you really should listen through the Cipher cable. The sound is full of attack, warmth and detail. Everything sounds neatly balanced in the closed-back cup and, to my ears, nothing seemed out of place or disproportionate in the sound presentation.
If you have an Android phone, or are just listening through a non-Lightning port, the 3.5mm cable option is appreciated and totally serviceable, too. But, for as much difference as I wasn't expecting to exist between the two options, Lightning is clearly the way to go.
By comparison, audio coming through the 3.5mm cable sounded more reserved and didn't have the immediacy or the warm quality that I loved from the Cipher cable. Again, it's nice to have, but it's not how the Sine was meant to be experienced.
The Cipher Lightning cable gives the Sine all of the modern powers we love to see in a set of wired headphones. There's a multi-function inline remote that can adjust volume, pick up phone calls and switch songs. It also features a microphone so your phone can remain in the pocket.
Going back to the 3.5mm cable, the Sine really loses all of its interesting functionality. There's no microphone, no music control and a noticeable reduction in sound quality. It's a shame that non-iPhone users are getting the boot here because there's a lot to like about the Sine from a design perspective.
The Audeze Sine are potentially ahead of the curve, with its Cipher Lightning cable, which really boosts the sound over the 3.5mm option. It also enriches the experience with a capable inline remote.
But for non-iPhone users, there's not much to see here other than a set of expensive headphones that fault you for not being an Apple customer. Audeze could easily sell a 3.5mm version of its cable with the integrated controls as amplifier, but, until it does that, keep looking for other options.