AudioQuest NightOwl Carbon Headphones

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- NOTE - 

AudioQuest does not allow Inner Sanctum Audio (despite being an authorized AQ dealer) to sell the NightOwl via our online store (due to exclusive deals with some other retailers).  Please call 888-237-1628 or email for pricing, advice or to purchase! Available for same day shipping. Thanks.


What we think in the Inner Sanctum:

Yowza. This is some next-level stuff.  AudioQuest made a big splash in the headphone world when they introduced the original NightHawk headphones two years ago. There was immediate praise for their warm, natural sound.  AQ aimed to make headphones that sounded more like speakers than typical headphones.

Reactions were split - many absolutely loved them, while some found them a bit too dark sounding.  Now AQ's second generation of headphones, and the NightOwl in particular, addresses that criticism with a more balanced sound signature that somehow manages to keep the natural warmth and low distortion that people loved, but adds more treble sparkle and airiness.

While the original NightHawk seemed like it might be missing something in the upper-midrange to low-treble, the new NightOwl fills the gaps beautifully and sounds fantastic.  It presents a rich, lush, immersive listening experience.

Super-comfortable, with a sprung suspension headband that self-adjusts and two different sets of earpads (leather and ultrasuede) that each have a slightly different effect on the sound.  Why not come take a listen?



From the manufacturer:


Unlike most headphones that boost high or low frequencies to create a false sense of “detail” or “slam,” AudioQuest headphones are naturally detailed and extended through the entire frequency range.


Moreover, AudioQuest headphones use sophisticated pistonic drivers with biocellulose diaphragms, compliant rubber surrounds, and true voice-coil formers. The driver mechanism will require playing time to reach its peak performance, and the listener may require time to become adjusted to its uncommonly low distortion.


Results may vary, but we recommend at least 150 hours of active play before making any critical assessments. Tough job, huh? Have fun!


The closed-back NightOwl Carbon further advances the state of the headphone art, replacing NightHawk’s sound-diffusing grille with an intelligently designed aperiodic damping system for excellent isolation of external noise.


Closed-Back Design:

Hidden beneath the central circular portion of NightOwl’s earcups, a vent runs along the perimeter of each dome and exits through a hidden airflow-resistive port. Thus, unlike other headphones that use a sealed enclosure, NightOwl is designed to effectively relieve the buildup of pressure, allowing the drivers to breathe freely, ensuring that any impulses quickly return to an innocuous resting state—with no ringing, oscillation, or resonance.


Sophisticated, Loudspeaker-inspired Design for Remarkable Resolution:

Compared to the drive-units commonly used in most headphones, NightOwl’s 50mm dynamic driver much more closely resembles the high-quality drive-units found in today’s most sophisticated loudspeakers—not simply in appearance, but, more importantly, in terms of function and performance. It employs a carefully constructed bio-cellulose diaphragm, voice-coil former, and compliant rubber surround, resulting in quality that is as easily seen as it is heard.

Designed for exceedingly low distortion and high excursion with true pistonic motion, NightOwl’s driver contributes significantly to the headphones’ well-controlled bass, rich midrange, and naturally extended highs. Its combination of effortless clarity and outstanding representation of space produces meaningful, emotionally compelling listening experiences. More than merely capable of providing short-term pleasure, NightOwl is designed to deliver satisfaction that endures.


Comfortable, Fatigue-Free Listening:

NightOwl’s headpad attaches to its outer headband via small, swiveling pins located on either side of the headband’s base, just above the suspension’s yoke. An inner elastic band is concealed by a soft, modestly cushioned pad, which yields and rises when met by resistance or pressure. In this simple way, the headpad automatically adjusts to the listener’s head—no clicking, snapping, cranking, or guessing involved—guaranteeing an easy, comfortable fit, time and time again. Just place NightOwl over your head and let it do its thing. There’s nothing else to do, but enjoy.


All-Natural Liquid Wood:

NightOwl’s earcups are made from a revolutionary material called “Liquid Wood”—actual wood that has been combined with reclaimed plant fiber, heated, liquefied, and processed in such a way that it can be injection molded. While injection molding is commonly accomplished with environmentally hazardous plastics or synthetic polymers, Liquid Wood is a natural material—as sustainable as it is physically beautiful. Moreover, compared to ordinary plastic or wood, Liquid Wood has far superior acoustic properties and provides a seemingly endless array of geometric possibilities. In our headphones, we’ve used Liquid Wood to shape our earcups to more closely resemble the human ear, thereby providing a more complete and comfortable fit, reducing stress on the listener’s head and ears.


Cable - Experience and Care:

AudioQuest has designed and refined high-performance cables since 1980. Our headphones benefit from that experience, including a durable cable designed to effectively control noise and minimize distortion, enabling a deeper emotional connection between listener and music. The cable’s conductors are made of high-purity copper that has been drawn and cast with exceptional care to eliminate as much oxygen content as possible, thereby significantly reducing impurities in the metal that would otherwise exacerbate distortion.


Quality, Versatility, and Convenience:

The cable’s flexible jacket greatly reduces microphonics—the annoyingly audible rustling or thumping sounds that occur when headphone cables come into contact with external surfaces—and its rigorously tested strain relief ensures longevity. The mic and smartphone controls allow the listener to accept and make phone calls, or, of course, play, pause, and select tracks—and our control circuitry is kept separate from the audio circuitry, meaning that audio quality is never compromised for convenience.


Taking Nothing for Granted:

In our quest for beautiful sound, we take nothing for granted. While most plugs are made of nickel-plated brass with a thin outer layer of gold, our headphone cable plugs use a base metal of Tellurium Copper (TeCu), selected for its outstanding purity and superb machinability. Because TeCu is far easier to machine than other commonly used varieties of copper, we can achieve a much smoother plug surface, which, in turn, results in higher plating quality, better contact mating, and, most importantly, improved signal transmission.


An Unending Commitment to Quality:

Our commitment to quality extends to the 3.5mm-to-1/4” headphone plug adaptor that comes with every AudioQuest headphone. Featuring thick Direct-Silver plating over its high-purity copper base metal, our adaptor is far more than merely functional: It lives up to the high standards set by AudioQuest headphones.


Two Sets of Earpads:

Protein Leather earpads seal tighter for better isolation and slightly enhanced treble clarity. Ultrasuede earpads breathe freer for greater comfort and slightly reduced bass impact.

Pick your pleasure.


Cable Functions (may vary with device):

Single-click: Play, Pause, Answer Calls.

Double-click: Skip to next track.

Triple-click: Return to previous track.



NightOwl Carbon Specifications:

Impedance: 25 ohms

Sensitivity: 99dBSPL / mW

Power Handling: 1.5W

Weight: 346g (12.2 oz.)

Driver: 50mm Dynamic - Biocellulose Diaphragm - 1.2T Split-Gap Motor


Cable Specifications:

Length: 4.25' (1.3m)

Conductors: Long Grain Copper

Jacket: Flexible, Non-Braided, Kink-Free, Non-Microphonic

Terminations: 3.5mm TRRS to Dual 2.5mm Mono, Direct-Silver Plated Tellurium Copper (TeCu)

Discrete Microphone and Smartphone Controls

Adaptor (included): 3.5mm to 1/4", Direct-Silver Plated High-Purity

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