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.


The many iterations of the NightHawk earcup prototypes on display in the AudioQuest room.

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 clear—albeit 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.

Seth195208's picture

I want one!

johthor's picture

Built like a butterfly and only $699

Stephen Mejias's picture

The stated price of $699 is incorrect. We were very happy to announce at CES that NightHawk will have a retail price of $599 USD / $599 EUR / $499 GBP.

Stephen Mejias
AudioQuest, VP Communications

JoeHarley's picture

Tyll, considering the fact that you came to see us the morning after your very difficult (and frankly scary) evening the night before, we were both impressed that you managed to soldier through and super relieved that you were OK! Of course we look forward to your auditioning NightHawk under far less trying circumstances!

Joe Harley
Sr. VP Marketing & Product Development

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Actually, my misadventure happened on Tuesday night and I took Wednesday off to recuperate. So my visit to AQ was on Thursday after a day of rest. Thanks for your concern. And yes, I very much look forward to further and deeper experience with these very interesting headphones.
JoeHarley's picture

Hi Tyll,

Ahh sorry for the confusion. When you said you were still feeling out of sorts in our booth we thought it had all happened the night before. The important thing though is that you didn't physically get hurt which is always a possibility with these things. You may have heard what happened to pro golfer Robert Allenby in Honolulu last week. Same thing, drugged and robbed, but he was beaten up pretty bad judging by the photos.

If there's any bright spot to your ordeal it's that you escaped w/o getting hurt!

Hope you never have to deal with anything like this again.


ManiaC's picture

If you make every small details right, product will shine like star. Because in this world small details are deciding everything!

Three Toes of Fury's picture

Thanks Tyll for the report! (all the reports!) Its great to start to see some detail come out regarding Audioquests new offering..including the retail price confirmation. Been eagerly awaiting some more information on these. Cant wait for you to get a pair to test (and maybe, at some point, do a compare/contrast against the new EL-8 and the HD600 for baseline (similar price point and open config)).

Joe H & Stephan M: nice to see y'all are actively involved with sites like this and threads such as this. FYI, Skylar has been a regular poster on the talkbacks here, and always comes with a positive attitude and solid knowledge transfer. He's a good ambassador for your company. As for Tyll..he will absolutely give your product a fair and full listen, analysis, and (pending his decision) a posted review when provided the opportunity, and he'll offer critique and possible improvement suggestions where/when necessary. He's always very up front about show-n-tell environment listening vs comprehensive reviews.

Peace & Living in Stereo