AudioQuest NightHawk headphones
A super-comfortable, well-crafted pair of over-ear headphones that are a joy to listen to
- Excellent sound
- Excellent comfort
- Appealing design
- Semi-open design means those around you can hear what you're hearing, so don't use them in an office
Price$ 895.00 (AUD)
When you tell people that these headphones cost $895, people look at you sideways and dismiss them as a waste of money. A $100 pair of cans can do the same thing as these, surely, is what they'll claim. Yes, and no. What sounds good to some people, doesn't sound good to others, and audiophiles are a particularly fussy bunch by nature. That audience, as well as people who simply enjoy finely crafted products, is who AudioQuest is targeting with the NightHawk headphones.
They are not the type of headphones that you will use out on the street, or when commuting on public transport. They aren't even the sort that you could use at work. They are semi-open at the back and sound leaks out. This will earn you judgemental looks from your coworkers. They are the sort of headphones with which you'll find comfort in your favourite chair, plugging in to your favourite amp, and perhaps closing your eyes and letting the music take you away.
Their sound is impeccable, at least to this reviewer's ears, with all sorts of musical mess coming through loudly, clearly, and, most importantly, enjoyably. We could listen to these headphones for hours on end without getting tired; at least not tired of the headphones, but of the music, perhaps, when we repeated test playlists.
We plugged the headphones into a Rotel RA-11 amplifier, and played a mixture of FLAC and 320kbps MP3s through a WD Live TV media streamer that was being fed the files from an Asustor NAS device. The files were ripped from CDs. We favoured rock music from the likes of Pearl Jam, Rage Against The Machine, and Iron Maiden, but we also threw in jazz from Herbie Hancock, disco from the Bee Gees, various flavours of hip-hop (mainly from an artist called Kno, due to his heavy, yet atmospheric beats), and plenty of electronica from The Chemical Brothers and some other artists no one else has probably ever heard of.
For all the genres we tried, we revelled in the crispness of the delivery. At times, we felt as though the music was perhaps too crisp, but in a good way. The headphones gave us a glimpse of every single note being played, from the softest strum to the harshest thrash, and the bass was neither left behind, nor overdone. Smooth basslines, sharp kicks, and lots of 'boom' were all expertly handled. Vocals were natural, highly defined, and didn't succumb to the background.
It's hard to fault the sound of these headphones. As we've already said, they just produce an output that is enjoyable to listen to, even at loud volume. You don't get a sense of struggle from the drivers at all. The only thing we'll note here is that if you are listening on a computer or a mobile device, you might be left wanting a little more oomph. An external amplifier would be a wise investment, but if you're considering these headphones, you probably have one already.
AudioQuest is a company that has built its reputation making high quality audio cables for enthusiasts and professionals. It also makes the USB-based DragonFly digital to analogue converter (DAC). The NightHawk is the company's first pair of headphones, and it's not a product that it released on a whim.
Talking to AudioQuest, you get the back story about the philosophy behind these headphones, how long it took to refine the design of the drivers and the earcups (triple digits worth of revisions were made over a couple of years), the materials that have been used to create the headphones, and some of the innovations that have been made to produce a product that can perform with minimal harmonic distortion.
The main goal was to incorporate the elements of loudspeaker design in a pair of headphones. A good pair of loudspeakers uses a rigid enclosure that's dampened and tuned to produce minimal distortion and maximum performance for the large drivers that are installed. The NightHawk headphones are inspired by these traits, and some of the latest manufacturing methods have been used to bring them to life.
The speaker enclosures themselves have been made from 'liquid wood' (arboform), which is a material derived from the waste of paper manufacturing. The liquid wood material ends up with stiffness that is sought after in speaker design, for such purposes as dampening the sound and minimising distortion. Furthermore, the way liquid wood can be moulded means the earcups can be more easily shaped in a specific form.
For AudioQuest, this has allowed for an earcup to be shaped in such a way that the speaker driver sits at an angle, firing sounds directly into the ear canal. Another tidbit about the design concerns the lattice on the rear of the headphone, through which air is designed to escape the enclosure. This part has been 3D printed.
AudioQuest gave us a bit of a rundown on the speaker drivers inside these headphones, too, which is something we rarely get from representatives of more mainstream brands. It was refreshing to hear a company rep talk so openly about the speaker diaphragm being made of biocellulose, rather than the more common mylar, which, we're told, is more prone to distorting the sound at high frequencies due to its flimsiness. The biocellulose diaphragm is 50mm in size, holds its form better, and is attached with a rubber surround.
The magnet is also different from the norm, with AudioQuest claiming a patent on a new magnet design to drive the diaphragm. This patent concerns a gap in the 'motor' around the speaker coil, and it is said that this gap reduces distortion further. The science of all this is beyond us, but it is rather interesting to hear what goes on behind the scenes.Read more: Plantronics BackBeat Sense Bluetooth headphones
When you look at the earcups, you'll notice that they are not directly attached to the structural supports of the headphones. They reside on rubber supports instead, and this ensures that vibrations from the speakers don't travel up and around the structure. In fact, playing loud, booming music on these headphones didn't cause the earcups to noticeably vibrate or move around. They felt rock solid as the bass was pumped.
Comfort is a big issue for big headphones, and a design challenge that AudioQuest has tackled with great success. The exterior of the padding on the earcups is perhaps as soft as it gets; it's made using a blend that includes egg shell protein. The earcups sit over your ears, not on them, and they are suspended from your head by an elastic headband that gives a perfect fit almost anytime. It's a band that applies virtually no pressure to the head. Separation is present between the band and the structure that holds the headphones in place.
At 337g for the headphones alone, they won't weigh you down. You can attach either a lightweight or heavy cable, as both are supplied, with the heavier cable being more advanced in its composition, but these don't affect the overall weight too much in a typical, seated environment. It's not a stretch to say that these are among the most comfortable headphones we've ever donned.
These headphones are about appreciating the finer things in life, and are a piece of audio gear that can invoke as much emotion in the owner as the music that's listened to. They are not a purchase to be taken lightly, especially if you are an aspiring audiophile, but they are also by no means the most expensive headphones in their field.
Join the newsletter!
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-55EZ950U
WD MY PASSPORT™ Gaming Storage
Apple iPhone X
Dyson Supersonic™ Hair Dryer Fuchsia/Iron
Bang and Olufsen BeoVision 14
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-77EZ1000U
cloudandco Smart Cane
Nespresso Creatista Coffee Machine
Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44
SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™
Toys for Boys
Onyx Smart Walkie Talkie
Lego Mindstorms EV3
Propel Star Wars T-65 X-Wing Drone
Ubiquiti Network’s Front Row Camera
LaCie Rugged USB-C Portable Hard Drive
UBTech First Order Stormtrooper Robot
Leica M10 Digital Rangefinder Camera
Bose SoundLink Micro
Google Daydream View VR Headset
Panasonic Hi-Fi - SC-UA7GS-K
Nest Protect Smart Smoke Alarm
Belkin Pocket Power 10,000mAh
PETKIG Go Smart Dog Leash
Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K
Toffee Bags Commuter Satchel
WD MY CLOUD™ HOME Personal Cloud Storage
Dearear Endear In-ear Wireless Earphones
Xbox One X
iRobot Roomba 980 Vaccum Cleaning Robot
Amazon Echo Bluetooth Speaker
Lexon Flip Alarm Clock
Tile Pro Bluetooth Tracker
3SIXT 3-in-1 Smartphone Lens Kit
Panasonic Portable Splashproof Fun - RF-D20U
Kogan Bluetooth Soundbar
Logitech Doodle Collection Wireless Mouse
Urbanworx Full HD Action Camera
Fallout Geeki Tikis
Raspberry Pi Starter Kit
Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse
Ikea NORDMÄRKE Wireless Charging Pad
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Mate 10 Pro Review: A solid winter flagship that cribs from the best
- 2 Google Pixel 2 review: not quite 'pixel perfect' but damn close
- 3 Google Home Mini review: a welcome addition to the smart speaker family.
- 4 Huawei Nova 2i review: Flagship features get smuggled into the mid-tier
- 5 Moto X4 review: This is what a world without MotoMods looks like
Latest News Articles
- Sony Offer Some Hush in the Christmas Rush For Chatswood Shoppers
- Harman ANZ relaunches AKG into the consumer market with new range
- Plantronics Expands its Award-Winning BackBeat FIT Family
- Google marries AI, hardware and software with Made By Google
- Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixelbook, Google Home Mini & Max: Everything Announced At Today’s Google Event
PCW Evaluation Team
I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.
It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.
Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.
The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.
The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.
The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic
- LG V30+ review: The videographer's smartphone arrives
- Fitbit Ionic review: Impressive but not quite iconic
- Xbox One X review: Brave new world
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
Product Launch Showcase
- FTSolution DesignerOther
- CCWintel Team LeadWA
- FTInfrastructure Designer - Citrix/AWSOther
- CCBusiness AnalystNSW
- FTSenior Digital Producer/Digital Program ManagerOther
- TPFrontend Developer - AngularNSW
- FTSenior Android DeveloperOther
- CCChange specialist OR Junior Change managerNSW
- FTTest ManagerACT
- FTSenior SAS DeveloperOther
- FTCommunications ManagerOther
- FTSecurity Business Analyst - $850 per dayOther
- FTIT Project Coordinator | Gold CoastQLD
- CCNetwork Data AdministratorWA
- CCExstream DeveloperNSW
- FTClinical Support Specialist - PermanentQLD
- TPIT Technical WriterNSW
- FTInsights AnalystOther
- FTEngineer Control Systems SpecialistSA
- FTCyber Security Program ManagerNSW
- TPSolution Architect | eDRMS | 2 PositionsQLD
- CCHelpdesk Support AnalystNSW
- FTDigital ProducerQLD
- FTOperational Support Engineer - Linux & CiscoOther
- FTBusiness Transformation - Business AnalystOther