AudioQuest NightHawk Carbon over-ear semi-open Headphone - Official Thread

This is the official thread to discuss the AudioQuest NightHawk Carbon.


  • Driver: 50mm Dynamic - Biocellulose Diaphragm - 1.2T Split-Gap Motor
  • Sensitivity: 99dBSPL / MW
  • Impedance: 25 Ohms
  • Power Handling: 1.5w
  • Weight: 346g (12.2 Oz.)
  • 1/4-Inch Adapter Included: Yes

I purchased these about a month ago when the selling price dropped to $399. They are detailed and warm (mid/bass heavy). So far I still prefer a neutral (e.g., Sennheiser HD600) profile for most sources, but the NightHawks are good for overly bright or intentionally bass-heavy productions. The NightHawks make it obvious that some masters were never tested with so much bass, as the mid/tops can become quite muted.

Very good value for $399.

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The Audioquest NightHawk Carbon is a unique headphone. I received them for review from the review/loan program. I really enjoyed my time with the NightOwl Carbon but my time with the NightHawk Carbon wasn’t the same.

Quick thoughts, more detail in the video review:

Bass, Bass and more bass
Mids are slightly recessed
Treble is rolled off and lacks clarity
Soundstage is wide
Imaging is excellent
Details are lacking

Overall a dark, bassy sound with laid-back mids and treble and a wide soundstage that lacks clarity but has good imaging. A fun headphone for bass lovers but not a fun headphone for detail lovers.

Here is a link to my video review:

Here are a couple of pictures shot on my OnePlus 6T:




Best response ever :joy: Thank you for the chuckle :grin:

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Pretty much the same reasons why I can’t stand the original Nighthawks. The bass elevation is alright, I like bass, but the way it smothers the midrange without any treble to balance it out is an instant non-starter for me. Surprised you found it lacking in detail though since I thought it was reasonably competent at resolution, but I can see how the “mud” could obscure nuances.

By the by, I very nearly thought that was actually the original Nighthawks in your photos! Reflections on the cups had me fooled, haha. The OP6T should be capable of excellent photos (there’s noticeable grain to your shots), just need some good sunlight to make up for the sensor’s limitations.

Haven’t watched the video, but thanks for the review! I wasn’t planning on going out of my way to try the Carbons, but this served to affirm the idea :))

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Yeah the NightOwl Carbon is better overall. I am not a big fan of the Nighthawk Carbon. The details are just too hidden for me. Bass is way too much with the ultrasuede pads.

As for the picture quality, I reduced the quality and size of the shot to help with the post not causing issues with bandwidth size. But I am no pro photographer to begin with so…anyway.

Thanks for taking the time to read my brief review.

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Hah! The compression is considerate, but I’m just a sucker for photos so was tossing around random offhand comments about them. They’re still good photos, don’t get me wrong, I was just letting my mind wander.

I’m personally just finding it hard to like AudioQuest’s headphones. The original Nighthawks are at the top of the list for me, but even then are somewhat disappointing. Can’t recall my thoughts on the Owls but just based on measurements they’re definitely a step in the right direction, if with an odd midrange. I honestly think it a shame that they stopped making headphones.

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Random off-topic …

The ideal size for forum-post pictures, absent stuff that warrants being able to zoom in on (which isn’t that common), is 1024 pixels wide.


I would have loved to see Audioquest continue making headphones. I think they were headed in the right direction with the NightOwl Carbon. But they do make a good DAC/amp. I hope to get my hands on the Cobalt in the future.

I bought my Nighthawk Carbon’s during the discount phase (and it turns out the close-out phase). Per their website marketing, they put a ton of thought into every single detail and tried to make an ideal product. Some aspects were noteworthy (e.g., the super comfortable suspension system and the out of box experience) while others were misguided or overthought at best (i.e., the goofy factory cable).

In the end, I point my finger at the limitations of their driver technology. This implementation of biocellulose has undertones of wet paper or a flabby rubber blanket. It was their main differentiator but it just wasn’t very good. My guess is that it cost too much to produce and/or couldn’t be improved, and who can truly compete with the 6xx in the $200 ballpark?


Yeah the 6xx/650 at it’s price point is the better option. Even though I am not a huge fan of the 6xx/650 sound signature it is better than the NightHawk Carbon in a lot of ways. But I do like the NightOwl Carbon and recommend that headphone for a fun, relaxing listening session.