Audeze's iSine 10 creates a new category of earphones. Most headphones and earphones are minor variations on well-established themes. Audeze's iSine 10 is more "mashup" than "variation." In the iSine 10, Audeze fit an open back planar magnetic driver into an…earphone?
When I reviewed the original HiFiMAN HE1000 Planar Magnetic Headphones about two years ago, I was pretty much bowled over by their performance, looks and sound quality. They were, at the time, the best pair of headphones that I had ever heard and still remain amongst a handful of reference headphones that I would consider as my all-time favorites. Ever the busy little bees that they are, the engineers at HiFiMAN have not seen fit to leave well-enough alone and recently released the HE1000 V2. The updated model is said to incorporate several modifications gleaned from customer feedback along with HiFiMAN’s general desire to keep refining their designs.
Jumping off the success of their top line HE1000, HiFiMAN brings us the Edition X. The X takes much of the goodness of its bigger brother and puts it in a more affordable and easier to drive package.
Touting a number of advancements in both magnet and driver design; the HE1000s are the best sounding headphones that I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. They are the closest I have ever experienced to that "alive" feeling of music reproduction that I look for in speakers, from a headphone product.
The HiFiMAN HE-400i is an updated version of their entry model HE-400 featuring the new design changes introduced in the terrific HE-560 planar magnetic headphones. Believe it or not, at $499 the HE-400i is an absolute steal in the headphone world. Planar magnetic designs are often tricky, with drivers that require strong housings for the magnets which add extra weight along with needing plenty of wattage to drive. HiFiMAN has successfully solved both of these drawbacks with the HE-400i. They are easy to drive, light, and incredibly comfortable and that's just the icing on the cake. These bring phenomenal tonal quality, clarity, and depth to the music they deliver.
OPPO, known for their very high quality universal players, including the latest OPPO BDP 105 Blu-ray player, has now ventured into another arena: headphones. Their first model, just released, is the OPPO PM-1, which is an over-the-ear design, using planar magnetic drivers. At a time when everyone seems to be offering headphones and/or earbuds as part of their product portfolio, only a handful really stand out as top notch performers. The PM-1 is destined to join that group. NOTE: INFO ON THE NEW OPPO PM-2 HEADPHONES IS POSTED AT THE END OF THIS REVIEW - APRIL 29, 2014.
Audeze has been a rising star in the headphone arena for several years, making their name with extremely high quality planar magnetic over-the-ear designs. Their latest model is the LCD-X, which touts a thinner diaphragm for improved transients.