CES 2015: AudioQuest NightHawk Headphone
The AudioQuest NightHawk ($599) is a terrifically interesting development. Its design includes numerous unique, or at a minimum, quite unusual features. Their most striking feature is their "liquid wood" ear capsules. The latest high-gloss finish over this unusual material is simply exquisite. The ear capsules articulate at the headband end using a very smart elastic suspension system and ample memory foam angled pads are covered with high-quality protein leather. The NightHawk felt very comfortable on my head indeed.
Beauty is more than skin deep with the NightHawk, however. A split-gap motor magnet strives to keep distortion low even with large, low-frequency driver movements. Great care was taken to ensure radially symmetric acoustic loading behind the 50mm biocellulous driver, and vent holes were tapered using an equitangetial curve intended to reduce turbulence around the driver. Internal bracing, an elastomeric coating, and additional damping material is use within the ear capsule.
There is actually much more to say about this unusual headphone, some of which Skylar covers in the video below, but additional information can be found on the AudioQuest Nighthawk website, and in an article I wrote about it when first introduced.
The sound quality was a bit mixed in my short preliminary listen at CES. I heard them as overly warm, and maybe a bit murky sounding. But I also heard the upper-mids and treble as marvelously articulate and clearalbeit low in level relative to the bass. It seemed to me not quite ready for prime time, but it also seemed to deliver a sound full of promise.
I'm always a bit leery of products freshly introduced at CES. Having been an audio manufacturer myself, I can tell you that the hard deadline of a trade show isn't a gentle mistress. Like the Audeze EL-8, we'll just have to wait and see...and listen, when AudioQuest's NightHawk goes into full production.
Click here if you can't see the video.