AudioQuest NightOwl Carbon over-ear closed-back Headphone - Official Thread

This is the official thread to discuss the NightOwl Carbon from AudioQuest.


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

These headphones are at a fantastic price point. Are they a no-brainer purchase now?

Considering their original pricing, I would be interested in opinions/shootout comparing them to:
(1) MrSpeakers Aeon Closed
(2) Campfire Audio Cascade

Also, what types of music genres do the NO Carbon’s excel, and which ones do they not?

As you can tell, I’m a bit on the fence about a future purchase decision.

They are a pretty dark, laid-back headphone. They handle EDM, synthwave, trance, acid jazz, metal pretty well. They aren’t the most detailed when it comes to treble response though. A common criticism when it comes to the NightOwl is that they sound muffled. If you’ve heard Sennheiser’s HD 6++ lineup you will be familiar with the veiled mids.

The Aeon Closed has a much more natural sound while still maintaining some pretty good low end. The NightOwls and the Aeon Closed are pretty similar in comfort but I haven’t spent enough time with the Aeon Closed to do a true comparison between the two. I have a pair on the way and should be here at the end of the week or Monday though so I will do a better comparison then! Same with the Cascades. The general consensus on the Cascades though is that they do clamp pretty tight so the NightOwls probably win out in comfort.

At $399 I would say that they are fairly priced. At their previous price point, they were definitely too much. They do have a very different tuning from other headphones though so they aren’t for everyone, no matter what price point they are at haha.


Thanks for the impressions and feedback @taronlissimore


I love the darker, warm tones of the NO. I also use these with a Loki Mini and can dial in almost any correction. Comfort is outstanding. I traded these for a decent IEM that I wasn’t using. I also considered the Aeon but these were available at the time. If that warm SQ is appealing, these will not disappoint.

what amp and dac do you use with your NO? I’m using my NO with dragonfly black as dac and o2 amp. i don’t know if this is the right combo or not. im very new at this.
do you EQ it?

I personally prefer the Red over the Black when it comes to the NightOwl as I find the Red has a bright colouring to it and tames the darkness of the NightOwl a little bit. I do listen to the the NightOwl’s with all sorts of DAC/AMPs though. The iFi Nano iDSD Black Label I find to be my favourite as I enjoy the Analog control and I find it doesn’t colour the sound as much as either Dragonflies.


I have NightHawk Carbons, but concur. They do best with brightness and amp clarity.

okay, going to put you on the spot a bit…taking into account the basics…construction…isolation…sound reproduction…comfort level…the ability to loose yourself in their music…how do the NO’s compare to the Shure 1540’s or the DT 1770’s?? All of these are in the price market for me and I already have a good amp in the iFi Black Label. From your experiences, what would be your preference? Btw…thanks lol

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How’s sound leakage on these?

How’s the leakage on nightowl? Would they be too loud for shared office?

I own the NightHawk Carbons – they open headphones and have diffuser grills over the 1.5" circle that’s actually open. They are quieter from outside than any other open headphone I own. I don’t have experience with the NightOwl, but they are surely quieter. The biggest question is how close are you to your neighbors and how loud do you listen.

I personally wear either IEMs or Sony noise cancelling headphones in noisy offices for both isolation and for not interfering with others.

IMO the truly inappropriate office practice is to run a standard desk radio – it used to be more common than today, but it still happens.

Audioquest NightOwl Carbon - my atttempt at a review

I want to thank the Preview Community for the oppurtunity to review the NightOwl Carbon.

I had never held in my hands an Audioquest product until these arrived. Then a subscriber, Austin, sent his DragonFly Red over to the channel. I must say, I am truly impressed with the Audioquest products.

Build/Comfort/Presentation - Excellent

The presentation from the moment of breaking the tape seal to putting the NightOwl Carbon on your head is very pleasing. Audioquest packaging makes you feel like you are opening a premium product.

Build is awesome, unique design and it all flows on your head and ears smoothly and effortless like. Pads are soft and plush, headstrap has just enough tension and the heft disappears when on the head.

The cable is very disappointing. Way too short and has a bad case of the curly cues, not quite as bad as a curly fry from Arby’s. The 1/4" adapter is built beautifully but doesn’t give a good connection with any of my amps.

Sound - Warm, Fun and Detailed

The NightOwl Carbon isn’t a normal closed-back over-ear headphone. Soundstage is the most impressive about them. It has a way of being similar to both the Focal Elex and the MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Open. It is immersive but not intimate, detailed and spacious but not thin sounding. The bass has good impact and thump with decent clarity. The mids are slightly recessed but has a full bodied sound, similar to Sennheiser HD650. The treble is laidback but detailed, very similar to the Sennheiser HD600.

Pairings - Cavalli Tube Hybrid and Monoprice Monilith THX AAA 788

Comparisions - Sennheiser HD600 and HD650 and MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Open

Overall, I really enjoy the Audioquest NightOwl Carbon. A headphone that is fun and relaxing but detailed; excellent for gaming and chilling out. I highly recommend them.

Please watch the videos for more details and comparisions.


Nice review!

I’ve owned the Nightowl for a couple of years now, and I’ve since graduated to much more ‘higher end’ headphones that are technically far superior, I recently had my brother over to compare all the cans I have here at the moment (Nightowl, Aeon, Elegia, Verite, LCD4) and he preferred the Nightowl over all of them. Well actually he preferred the Elegia the most, but said he’d probably end up using the Nightowl more for the comfort.

So as much as we’re ensconced in the audiophile hobby, it surprised me how well the Nightowl stacked up to ‘better’ headphones when evaluated by a someone with zero experience in this subculture.


Thank you for the kind words.

Totally agree, they aren’t my choice for critical listening but for a night of relaxation, gaming or movies then these would be one of my picks. There are way more technical and superior cans but these hold their own in that $200-400 range. They also scale well with better amps, that was a pleasant surprise. Now if these were being sold at the original $700 price not a recommend but at half that price they are a recommend. They are a fun can that is better than Beats, Skullcandy and the similars.

I tried the Elegia at Axpona and loved it. I hope to get a pair in for a review sometime in the near future.

So I’ve been enjoying the NightOwl Carbons - not the greatest tuning, as others have said, but extremely comfortable and well accessorized.

On the topic of those accessories…I’m noticing that the included 1/8 to 1/4 adapter doesn’t fit in my LCX + SDAC - it only makes it halfway in. There’s now a ring of scratches on the adapter - a little scary to think about. Anyone else had a similar experience?

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The adapter is terrible, it wouldn’t fit any of my amps properly.

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Glad to know I’m not crazy :slight_smile: it’s a pity because it’s a very pretty adapter.

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