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AudioQuest Nighthawk Carbon

Semi-open over-ear headphones

12 Reviews

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Item # 703NHTHWKC

In Stock

Was: $699.99

Price break: -$400.00

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Our take on the AudioQuest Nighthawk Carbon

Out of their carrying case, the sleek, smooth AudioQuest Nighthawk Carbon headphones really glisten in the light. Their earcups are made of liquefied wood and plant fibers, molded and solidified into the best shape for comfort and sound quality, then polished. They really are a sight to see. Plus they feel solid and have the same acoustic properties as real wood.

Audioquest Nighthawk carbon

The semi-open back Audioquest Nighthawk Carbon headphones are designed to emulate the sound of loudspeakers.

Strong first impression

Out of their carrying case, the sleek, smooth AudioQuest Nighthawk Carbon headphones really glisten in the light. Their earcups are made of liquefied wood and plant fibers, molded and solidified into the best shape for comfort and sound quality, then polished. They really are a sight to see. Plus they feel solid and have the same acoustic properties as real wood.

Luxurious feel and effortless comfort

These are large heaphones made for serious music listening. The earcups, metal construction, and leather headband give them a sturdy, robust feel.

But on my head, these heavy-duty 'phones felt like featherweights. AudioQuest uses a patent-pending suspension system that evenly distributes their weight and positions the extra-plush leather earpads at just the right place. During long listening sessions, you don't find yourself constantly fussing around and readjusting the headphones. It's one and done. 

Wide-open sound with plenty of detail

These headphones sound nice out of the box, but really reward repeat listens. After they broke-in, they seemed more powerful and precise, with a nice spread of instruments. They were most engaging when paired with my AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5 headphone amp/DAC.

AudioQuest uses large 50mm high-excursion drivers and a split-gap motor design to optimize imaging, emulating the soundstaging of free-standing loudspeakers. They create a surprisingly wide "virtual soundstage" with substantial bass.

Complex grille created by 3D printing

AudioQuest's outward-facing, open mesh grille controls the flow of air for clean, pure sound. Patterned after the structure of butterfly wings, the complex crisscrossing of metal keeps airflow balanced, cutting down on music-killing resonance. Since it would be nearly impossible to manufacture the detailed part through traditional means, AudioQuest produces it through the modern process of 3D printing.

Product Highlights:

  • over-the-ear headphones made of sustainable materials
  • semi-open design combines a wide soundstage with powerful bass response
  • 50mm high-excursion drivers built to emulate the sound of free-standing loudspeakers
    • bio-cellulose diaphragm is extra-light and strong
    • driver's split-gap motor helps produce tightly-controlled, natural sound
  • we recommend using a headphone amp/DAC like the AudioQuest DragonFly Black v1.5 or DragonFly Red v1.0 for optimum performance
  • unique suspension system evenly distributes the headphones weight on your head for effortless fit
    • quickly and automatically adjusts to your head
  • oversized protein-leather earpads feel soft and comfortable
    • made from biodegradable protein powder
    • replacement cloth-covered earpads included
  • durable "liquid wood" earcups sculpted into acoustically optimized shape
  • 3D printed open-mesh grilles control airflow for purest sound
  • high-performance, durable detachable cable with 45-degree 3.5mm miniplug
    • length: 51 inches
    • high-purity Copper conductors allow for optimal signal transfer with minimal distortion
  • 1/4" adapter with thick Direct-Silver plating
  • foam-padded carrying case
  • cleaning cloth
  • sensitivity: 99 dB
  • impedance: 25 ohms
  • weight: 12.2 ounces
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

What's in the Box:

  • Over-ear headphones
  • Pair of Protein Leather earpads (installed)
  • Pair of Ultra Suede earpads
  • 51" Audio cable with 1-button remote (angled 3.5mm plug)
  • 3.5mm-to-1/4" Plug adapter (installed on cable)
  • Cloth storage pouch
  • Padded storage case
  • Silver polishing cloth
  • Black polishing cloth
  • Headphones Pre-Flight Guide
  • Manual
  • Limited Warranty Statement

Decent sound now. Should get better

Jerry, Stinnett, TX


AudioQuest Nighthawk Carbon Reviews

Average Customer Review(s):

(12 Reviews)

So far so good...

Rob from Lexington, KY on 1/5/2019

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Still breaking them in, but they sound very good so far. Very well constructed and includes lots of nice extras like the case, spare cloth ear pads and cleaning cloths. Great value especially at the sale price. Very comfortable, much more than the Grado SR325e that I returned in exchange for the Nighthawks. Crutchfield customer service was fantastic at handling the exchange. Looking forward to getting some hours on these headphones to see how they perform when fully broken in.

Pros: Price, build quality, extras

Cons: Audioquest doesn't have a long history with headphones and it appears they are getting out of the headphone business. Makes you wonder why?

AudioQuest Nighthawk Carbon

Crutchfield customer from Wiloughby Hls, OH on 12/31/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Great headphones. Accurate sound quality!



AudioQuest Nighthawk Carbon

Jerry from Stinnett, TX on 12/19/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Decent sound now. Should get better



Audioquest Nighthawk

Steve from Moody, AL on 12/19/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

So far these are great. I've only got about 15 hours of the 150 hours suggested, but I can alresdy hear the midrange opening up and lows and highs becoming more clear and distinct. Audioquest should keep making headphones!

Pros: The two different ear pads allow you to choose which sound you like better. No distortion, super clear. Super comfortable.

Cons: None so far.

Get them while they last

Stevie from Brooklyn, NY on 9/25/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Love them ... To bad audio quest is no longer making headphones

Pros: Sound

Cons: None

AudioQuest Nighthawk Carbon

Crutchfield customer from Veazie, ME on 6/24/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Just completed my review for the Nightowl Carbon and everything I said applies here. Nighthawks are in the same awesome sound category. I purchased both pair and glad I did. You cannot go wrong for the price. Crutchfield is a great place to do business. PS I am keeping both pair.




shiloh from Springfield, OR on 6/19/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Coming from a grado headphone were the sound is in the middle of your head these sound like the sound is off to the left and off to the right, As if your hearing 2 channel speakers. And they sound very good at low volume if thats what your looking for, Some songs sounded great on these headphones others not so much for me, If you can afford to buy multiple headphones so you have options on what you feel like listening to on that day then why not buy these at there current price, But not a all rounder headphone i would say, And they come in a great case and they feel great you just have to be very careful putting them back in there case its a tight fit,



AudioQuest Nighthawk Carbon

Patrick from Queen Creek, AZ on 6/10/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Absolutely amazing cans, esp. at the discounted price. Honestly these are just perfect headphones for me: neutral, detailed, organic, non-fatiguing, and SUPER comfortable. You won't want to wear these at work or our jogging but for home they are reference-level gear. Can't imagine getting any more without paying 5x or more. Bravo AQ - these rock!

Pros: detail, organic sound, balanced, amazing soundstage and imaging, AMAZING comfort!

Cons: can't think of a one. this is a home-run product.

Warm, engaging sound and very comfortable

Crutchfield customer from USA on 5/14/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

These headphones have a very nice warm sound. It really does take the recommended amount of hours to warm them up (I was able to compare a new set vs one that had about 150 hours on it because one was slightly damaged and had to be returned, so I can tell you that it's not your ears just getting used to it and it's a very noticeable and positive difference once broken in). The low end is just right; not too much and not too light. They are also very comfortable. The earcups feel great (it also comes with a velour set) and the over-the-head band is low-pressure with the way it adjusts to your head and they can be worn for long periods of time with no problem. I have used it connected to my laptop with JRiver and my iphone via the Dragonfly Red that I also got from Crutchfield. The case is excellent and very protective as well.

Pros: Warm and engaging sound, can comfortably turn up the volume more than usual. Very comfortable. Great protective case.

Cons: None

Great for phones/laptops

Karl from Fredericksburg, VA on 5/1/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Overall great headphones for use with portables, smartphones, etc. Sound is excellent from these devices compared to other similarly priced headphones and it seems to me that this is what the designers of these headphones had in mind. Clarity is improved a little with an amp but the freedom of not having to use one often makes me choose these over other headphones I own. They are comfortable to wear for long periods and seemed to be designed to be comfortable for anyone. Only reason I have not given them a 5 is because in the ideal situation (with an amp) they are not quite as good as other headphones I own and tend to pass on noise from the amp (I assume due to the lower impedance). But I will continue to use them regularly when I don't have an amp at hand.

Pros: Sound great even without an amp Comfortable to wear Great accessories

Cons: Not one of the best I've heard with a headphone amp.

Audiophile Approved!!

Paul from Ravenswood, WV on 4/26/2018

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I also ran music through these at varying volumes for 6 days 24hrs/day. I did listen to them periodically for the first couple of days and then I waited until the end of 6 days. These cans have some heft to them, but are comfortable. The best headphone design I've ever seen.. I will try to describe these in comparison to my AKG K7xx. Before the break in there is a slight darkness in the upper frequency, but this changes after the 6days I put a signal through. These headphones are different. They will and do produce the recording as it was recorded and that means "Garbage in Garbage Out". If there is good bass in the recording there will be good bass coming out of the Nighthawks. Detail retrieval is very good, which is what this is all about. The extension from top to bottom is fantastic. Now let me see if I can put the sound into words. If the AKG K702 is 1/4 inch thick book the the Nighthawks are 3/4 inch thick. They produce a fuller, or thicker sound. Both headphones are great and the detail is there on both, but just different. Overall I prefer the Nighthawks over the AKG K7xx, but both have their place. At this price they are a great buy. They were great at 699, but I think any headphone purchase like these has to have just as good of a source. Even though they are efficient I would not buy these or anything above $100 to run off of your phone. Equipment- Music Hall PH-25.2 headphone amp and music Hall dad 15.2 for my CD and a Oppo HA 2se for the DAC

Pros: After 100hrs resolution,resolution,design,comfort,quality build. Provide good source.

Cons: Short Cable, which is ok, but I wish they included their own (Audioquest) cable extension.

Fabulous headphone

Steve from Mesa, AZ on 6/28/2017

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I ran these headphones for six days, 24/7, following Audioquest's instructions for a 150-hour break-in. Very glad I did. The sound opened up a lot from when they were new. Even using them with a cheap Android tablet revealed musical detail I didn't think possible. Plugging them into a Cambridge Audio DAC and a music server was a revelation. I can't imagine a $5,000 headphone being much better.

Pros: Wonderful sound after break-in. Low impedance and high sensitivity allow use directly with a smart phone. Short cord great for smart phone listening.

Cons: Short cord is NOT great for listening to the "big rig". Fixed that with a high quality Pangea headphone extension cord from another company.


Hands-on research

Features and Specs

Earcup Type Semi-open
Earcup Width x Height 3.555" x 4.245"
Noise-canceling No
Bluetooth No
Mic For Taking Calls No
iPhone Control No
Lightning Connector No
Android Control No
Frequency Response N/A
Sensitivity 99 dB
Impedance 25 Ohms
Weight 12.5 ounces
Cord Length 51"
1/4-inch Adapter Included Yes
Volume Control No
Parts Warranty 1 Year
Labor Warranty 1 Year

Product Research


Overview: The AudioQuest Nighthawk Carbon state-of-the-art over-ear headphones are designed with technology found in many of today's loudspeakers. These technologies have been applied to headphone listening, resulting in an immersive and emotional listening experience. NightHawk Carbon headphones come with two pairs of ear pads, a 51" straight cable, a 3.5mm-to-1/4" adapter, two cleaning cloths, and a luxuriously-padded zippered storage case.

Ear Cups: The ear cups are shaped to follow the general contour of the human ear--rounder at the rear, wide at the top, narrowing toward the bottom. This design provides greater comfort and less stress on the listener's head and ears. It also helps isolate external sounds. The headband self-adjusts when you put them on, providing ultimate comfort for long listening sessions.

Ear Pads: Two sets of ear pads are included in the box. One pair of ear pads is made of Protein Leather, a bio-derived synthetic fabric that is durable, pliable, and soft. Protein Leather ear pads seal tighter for better isolation and improved treble clarity. The other set features an Ultra Suede covering which breathes freer for greater comfort and enhanced bass impact.

Liquid Wood Enclosures: The NightHawk Carbon's ear cup enclosures are made from all-natural Liquid Wood. Liquid Wood is made of 100% renewable raw materials, including lignin, natural fibers, resins, and waxes, combined and treated so that it can be injection-molded. The enclosures have support beams that give them structural integrity, much like the internal bracing in a loudspeaker cabinet. Liquid Wood has far superior acoustic properties than plastic or other materials used in headphones, which gives the NightHawk Carbon a distinctive clear and warm sound.

Drive Units: The NightHawk Carbon utilizes 50mm dynamic drivers that resemble the high quality drive units found in the most sophisticated loudspeakers. The diaphragms are constructed of rigid bio-cellulose with a urethane rubber surround, which results in well-controlled bass, rich midrange, and natural highs, with low distortion.

Semi-open Design: Unlike the NightOwl Carbon, the NightHawk Carbon has an open back design to give you a three-dimensional soundstage. The open area is covered by a 3D-printed grille that promotes the diffusion of sound, while preventing sound waves from reflecting back toward the driver, creating standing waves and distortion.

Audio Cable: The NightHawk Carbon comes with a 51" high-quality audio cable. Using technologies found in AudioQuest's loudspeaker cables, the larger 51" high-end NightHawk cable uses high-purity copper conductors with very little oxygen content. The cable's plugs feature Direct-Silver plating over a base metal of Tellurium Copper (TeCu). TeCu is known for it's purity and machinability, which results in better plating quality and contact mating for improved signal transmission. The cable has a 1-button remote on the yoke with controls for music playback and phone calls. The supplied 3.5mm-to-1/4" adapter that also features thick Direct-Silver plating over high-purity copper.

Break-in Period: Like other mechanical devices such as loudspeakers and phono cartridges, the NightHawk Carbon headphones require a "break-in" period in order to reach optimum performance. A suggested break-in period is approximately 150 hours listening to music at safe volumes. A similar "burn-in" period for the NightHawk Carbon cable is also recommended. This can be accomplished by leaving your components powered on, and the headphones plugged in, even when there is no music playing. This allows the molecules in the dielectric to gradually be arranged from a random order into a more uniform order. This process can take approximately 2 weeks.

Warranty: The AudioQuest NightHawk Carbon carries a 1-year warranty. An additional year warranty will be added when you register the headphones with the manufacturer.


  • Maximum Power Handling: 1.5 W
  • Impedance: 25Ω
  • Sensitivity: 99dB SPL/mW
  • Dimensions: Ear Cups: Width 3.555", Height 4.245", Depth 2.318"
  • Weight: 12.5 ounces

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team. They verify what’s in the box, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Q & A

Customer Q&A

Crutchfield asked  
Why did you buy this?

Like audioquest brand and price [ OSVALDO  Dec 19, 2018 ]
Discounted price and good reviews. Also, Crutchfield stands behind its products like nobody else!! [ Gregg  Dec 17, 2018 ]
I'm a headphone junkie, what can I say? These will be sixth pair of circumaural audiophile headphones in my collection. I couldn't pass up the massive price break on these cans from Crutchfield. [ COLIN  Dec 07, 2018 ]
Reviews and price. [ Daniel  Dec 07, 2018 ]
Awesome Price. [ Hil  Nov 26, 2018 ]
Already have a pair of these phenomenal headphones. When the price dropped, I spoke with Rusty and eventually decided to order another pair for primary use with my stage piano. Thank you, Crutchfield, and all your excellent advisors! You've become my source for all things audio/video! [ Dolores  Sep 06, 2018 ]
Couldn't pass on the price [ Paul  Apr 14, 2018 ]
From the expert advice of your customer service staff. Specially, both Dexter and Peyton. THANK YOU! [ Lauren  Feb 23, 2018 ]
I was looking for a comfortable headphone that gives just enough detail to appreciate the music, rather than so much that your listening experience suffers as a result. I also wanted a relatively balanced tuning, without overly bright highs. As I spoke with Dexter via chat, he provided links to multiple headphones that I didn't know existed, despite having felt as though I'd done some research. Thank you Crutchfield and many thanks to Dexter for his patience and experience! [ Lauren  Feb 22, 2018 ]