Audeze is known for their innovation in planar magnetic headphones. Following up on the uniquely designed, technically impressive open-back iSine and LCD-i series earphones, the Audeze Euclid is the latest in Audeze’s planar magnetic in-ear headphones. With its more standard, closed-back IEM form factor, the Euclid is the most “normal” looking one yet. Can the Euclid fit the technical prowess and performance of its predecessors into a more traditional, accessible design?
The Build and Design
While it certainly isn’t as large as the LCD-i series in terms of size, Euclid is still pretty big for an IEM. Despite the size, it’s quite lightweight and while I initially had some trouble orienting the IEMs properly, they proved to have a comfortable fit with an easy to achieve seal. The build is largely aluminum with a carbon fiber faceplate featuring the logo. The somewhat bulbous design of the shells might be a little large for smaller ears, but it doesn’t have any corners or edges which are often the source of discomfort.
The outer packaging is a little thin for a $1299 earphone, but the box includes a nice transparent Pelican case as well as a selection or eartips ranging from standard silicone to SpinFits and Comply Foam, which should help listeners find a good fit that matches their preferences. The included cable is a black braided wire which generally has a good feel, and seems about on par with other IEMs in this price range.
There’s a slight, soft v-shaped nature to Euclid’s tuning, being mostly neutral with some emphasis in the bass and treble. The speed and responsiveness is one of the big highlights, with tight attack and decay that lends to a strong sense of layering and separation. While the treble comes out more prominently at first, due to the nature of the planar magnetic drivers, using a balanced output or a more powerful device adds a little more slam to the low end. That said, Euclid is generally relatively sensitive and can be adequately driven by even the lowest power devices.
Euclid’s bass is tight and physical, with deep extension into the subbass, and punchy but coherent midbass. The character of the bass is definitely very much planar-magnetic, but, for obvious reasons, it can’t deliver the level of slam that you get from the larger drivers in planar magnetic headphones – or even the aforementioned LCD-i Series headphones.
The mids are strong with good cohesion and layering. Vocal presence is generally good, though some vocals particularly in the male tenor range lack weight. Midrange instruments on the other hand, have excellent presence, with guitars feeling particularly realistic and textured.
The treble is prominent but the main emphasis is in the upper-mid to lower-treble range. This helps provide some of the weight to instruments like violins. While the overall response and timbre is natural, there’s a touch of tinniness that comes out in the treble, particularly in the upper ranges of instruments like pianos or acoustic guitars.
The soundstage and imaging are two places that Euclid demonstrates its technical excellence. Euclid exhibits a massive sense of size and scale from what is essentially a tiny closed back planar magnetic headphone. The depth and height are strong, but the width is definitely the strongest aspect, with a strong feeling of realistic space extending well off to the left and right in front of the listener. The imaging and general sense of positioning is solid, if not exceptional in this price range.
“Rose Rouge” off Blue Note Re:imagined provides a demonstration of Euclid’s deep, textured bass as well as its fast response. The drums, keys, and horns are nicely layered at the top, with the requisite sizzle in the hi-hat and ring in the ride cymbal. The saxophone solos come through fast and smooth. At the bottom, the upright bass and kick drum move together with both a powerful sense of impact, but also a good sense of color and texture.
On the Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” there’s a significant weight and presence to the kick drum at the start of the song. The guitar has a highly realistic, natural presentation, like you’re in the room with Andy Summers playing along. The bass has a similar feeling, but Sting’s vocals feel a little floaty by comparison. The instrument presentation is transparent, lifelike, and natural with a good sense of space and positioning, but the vocals sort of bounce around the room without the same definitive feeling.
The vocal presence and positioning was much stronger in the context of the band on Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.” Lindsey Buckingham’s lead vocal is strong and well positioned, coming at you right down the middle, and when the harmonies come in on the chorus, there’s a tight blending, almost giving the listener the perspective of Lindsey and Stevie Nicks sharing the mic to belt out that iconic chorus. The rest of the band is well layered and positioned, with a good balance between the acoustic and electric guitars on the right and left respectively, which the drums beating a tight powerful rhythm down the middle.
Listening to Pentatonix cover of “Mad World” to get a better feeling of Euclid’s vocal delivery, both the layering and sense of space were extraordinary. The lead vocals were intimate and tactile, while the various background elements – whether traditional harmonies, or vocals simulating instruments – put you in a cathedral and filled it with sound. While the vocal performance felt inconsistent on some other tracks, here Euclid provides the technical prowess necessary to deliver the emotional vocal performance.
Comparison: Noble Zephyr
The Noble Zephyr was released late last year, and is a three driver hybrid design. While Euclid is a single planar magnetic driver design, the two have more in common than you might expect. Listening to the two side-by-side you could really hear how the characteristics of the planar magnetic IEM driver are almost like a hybrid of balanced armature and dynamic in a single driver. On the one hand, you have a level of speed and response that’s closer to balanced armature drivers, but on the other end you have a greater degree of driver movement which gives you something closer to the physicality of a dynamic driver.
Both IEMs have a generally neutral tuning with some small elevations in the bass, and treble that’s more “smooth” than “bright.” In the bass, the Zephyr demonstrates excellent extension with a deep rumble, while Euclid has a tighter more focused punch. In the mids, Zephyr provides a more consistent balance with the vocal presentation – with Euclid sometimes being a little floaty – while Euclid provides a strong sense of layering and separation with an imminently coherent midrange. The treble presentation is similarly smooth, though Euclid has a little more bite at times.
While Euclid has some stronger characteristics in terms of technical performance, Zephyr has a more natural presentation, with a better reproduction of acoustic instruments. The timbre of the Euclid is more natural than many fully BA based IEMs, but doesn’t quite have the smooth, realistic feeling on some instruments as the Zephyr’s hybrid design.
Euclid and Zephyr also provide a well-crafted 3D image. Zephyr’s soundstage is a little smaller and more rounded, with the height, depth, and width being all about the same. Euclid has good height and depth with somewhat exaggerated width. Euclid has a more holographic sense to its imaging, but Zephyr still provides a strong sense of positioning.
The Bottom Line
While Audeze is best known for its over-ear headphones, the iSine and LCD-i Series made it clear that they have some great ideas in the in-ear space as well. Euclid is Audeze’s next step, with an IEM that provides excellent technical performance and balanced, engaging tonality in Audeze’s best earphone yet.