Tidal Force Debut: Premium HDMI Cables & Wave 5 Planar-Magnetic Headphones

Tidal Force Headphones and HDMI cables

Tidal Force is a new brand that aims to be a disruptive force in the AV industry. Its debut is marked by the introduction of premium certified HDMI cables in three lengths, as well as a pair of planar-magnetic headphones: Tidal Force Wave 5.

Certified HDMI cables in three sizes

First up are the HDMI cables. Simple stuff, the company promises these cables deliver full 4K Ultra HD bandwidth and they carry Premium HDMI Cable certification. They are shielded against EMI (protective PVC Jacket, copper braid shield, 95% aluminized mylar foil), feature twisted-pair construction, and have gold-plated connectors with thick contact pins.

These certified HDMI cables are available now. A 1 meter cable is $15, 2 meters costs $20, and a 3 meter cable sells for $30.

Planar-Magnetic Wave 5 headphones

On most days, when I get a press release about a new audio or AV product, I write it up and post it without adding any reporting. But the Tidal Force Wave 5 ($300) planar-magnetic headphones are an exception. When I opened the email, I instantly got a sense of déjà vu from the product photo of the Wave 5 headphones, they somehow looked familiar. Moments later, the advertising copy triggered my hyperbole detector, and I decided to test a hunch. But before we get into that, here’s the product info on these new cans.

Tidal Force Wave 5 is the latest example of a relatively affordable planar-magnetic full-size headphone. The company says of this transducer type: “Typically found in headphones that cost three times the price, the Wave 5’s planar-magnetic drivers are like a crossbreed between dynamic diaphragms and electrostatic drivers.

These open-back headphones use a Neodymium magnet and a 56mm planar-magnetic driver to deliver a specified frequency response of 16 Hz to 50 kHz. “Maximum SPL” is listed as 100 dB/1mW at 1 kHz—I’d bet good money a mistake, it sure does look like a sensitivity spec—more on this later.

According to the release, total harmonic distortion is less than 1% at 1mW, 1kHz and impedance is 42Ω +/-10% at 1kHz. Finally, these headphones weigh 480 grams.

A bit of déjà vu

While I’d have to listen to a pair to pass judgment on the Wave 5s fidelity, I feel it’s only fair to report an observation. These headphones are dead ringers for Monoprice Monolith M560 planar-magnetic headphones ($200). The primary difference being the Monoprice model offers the option of open-back or closed-back operation, and a wood-grain finish instead of industrial black. One look at a photo comparing the two makes the physical similarity self-evident:

Tidal Force Wave 5 on the left, Monoprice M560 on the right.

Now, the Monoprice cost $100 less and the frequency response spec is slightly different—16 Hz to 40 kHz. But, the specs from Monoprice include the same exact (and peculiar) “Maximum SPL” spec, not to mention the exact same driver size (56mm) and impedance (42Ω +/-10% at 1kHz) and distortion specs. I reached out for a comment and hope to hear back about differentiating factors between these planar-magnetic headphones—a redesigned diaphragm perhaps?

My other comment here would be that you can buy full-sized planar-magnetic headphones from HiFiMan for $300 (HE400S) and $400 from Oppo’s PM3. Even Audeze has an affordable planar-magnetic option with its iSine 10. I’m not saying Tidal Force’s take on this headphone type is not a winner, I’m just noting there are other options in its price range, including one that appears to be close to identical at a lower price.