AudioQuest NightHawk Headphones

I first saw this high end headphone at the Bristol Show. During the time, the NightHawk was some way off going on sale in the UK but its 'liquid wood' earcup building captured my attention. It might seem a flight of fancy as well as a substantial diversification for a brand that's famous for its interconnects, power cables and mobile USB products such as the Dragonfly, but here it is with all of the finesse of a headphone model from a brand with years of expertise in the sector.

The refined one-size-fits-all headband includes a large leather interior band that rests on top of my head and is very comfortable, while the springy alloy outer framework is encased in a woven material.

The 'liquid wood' earcups are injection moulded to its ergonomic ear-encompassing contour and attached to the headband with a suspension technique applying elastomer bands - four per side - symmetrically located around the sound-diffusing grilles.

Soft cushions covered in breathable 'protein leather' wrap around the sides of the 50mm pistonic driver and give comfort levels that are high during extended listening sessions - even in use . Passive noise cancelling properties are not bad, and that I get a decent awareness of isolation from any external sound.

Sound quality

The AudioQuest comes supplied with interchangeable cables geared for domestic and mobile use - one thick and another thin - both are terminated with 3.5 mm jacks, but the thicker one has a 6.35mm adapter for compatibility with full-size hi-fi components. Both cables are utilized during my tests to see if there are differences between them, although on listening at home, the focus of the test is. With the thicker of the two cables fitted, the AudioQuest has a slightly more open sound with greater left and right separation that places the female vocal on Craig Armstrong's Strange Sort Of Love in a central position just outside the very front of my head with all the guitar, piano and strings all finding their particular space inside the soundstage. The frequency response is grand and demonstrates excellent bass detail along with quality levels with Lorde's Royals, delivering it with bags of element and energy that shows off the well recorded track in all its glory.

Midband frequencies are open and expressive with only a slight thickness to lower mid bass, which maybe helps to give the NightHawk more fullness and warmth to its sound, but can sometimes make orchestra strings lacking in resolution and sound thick.

Changing to the thinner cable, it demonstrates a characteristic that is similar but with a tiny narrowing of the soundstage and not as expressive high frequency detail, making the demo fractionally open.

AudioQuest NightHawk Headphones photo

Review price £499 / $748.5