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Audeze LCD-4

Rating:
4.16667/5,
Tags:
  1. Phronesis
    Excellent, but has some issues
    Written by Phronesis
    Published Jan 1, 2019
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Provides the famed LCD sound with a good amount of detail and resolution
    Cons - The problem with tonal balance from the upper mids and beyond renders the LCD-3 superior overall for my ears
    I've been auditioning the LCD-4 for the past few days, as a possible upgrade replacement of my LCD-3. The results surprised me, so I thought I'd write a review.

    I expected the LCD-4 to best the LCD-3 in all categories, and the question would be whether it's superior enough to justify the much higher price. Turns out that I liked the LCD-3 more overall, hence my surprise.

    Don't get me wrong, I do think the LCD-4 is an excellent headphone, at times amazingly good. There's definitely a bit more detail and resolution than the LCD-3, as one might expect, given the technology involved. But I want to emphasize that it's only a bit more, not a lot more. Other strengths are the typical Audeze LCD strengths: excellent controlled bass and smooth mids.

    The main problem with the LCD-4, as Tyll Hertsens and other reviewers here in head-fi have noted, is in the shape of high mids and beyond. There's a pronounced dip from the upper mids to the lower highs, which results in a recessed and distant sound. And then the highs beyond that are somewhat boosted, which gives the LCD-4 an unwanted edge. More problematic, when all of this is combined, to my ears there's a very noticeably unnatural sound to cymbals and snare drums, and for me that's a dealbreaker, especially for a $4K TOTL headphone. By comparison, the LCD-3 has these problems to a much lesser degree, to the extent that it's not really an issue, and meanwhile it retains the positive qualities of the tonality from the bass to the mids. The net result is that, overall, I find the LCD-3 to sound more natural and engaging, and on 9 out of 10 tracks I prefer it over the LCD-4.

    Given this surprising finding, I also compared the LCD-4 with my HD800S. To my ears, the HD800S has a more accurate and natural tonal balance than the LCD-4, and also brings out a touch more detail than the LCD-4 (probably partly because of the better tonal balance). Yes, the LCD-4 has better bass, and the HD800S bass initially sounds weak when immediately switching from the LCD-4, but after giving my ears some time to adjust to the HD800S, I don't find the bass of the HD800S to be lacking at all, and I don't really find myself missing the bass of the LCD-4. So overall, I prefer the HD800S over the LCD-4, and of course the HD800S costs even less than the LCD-3.

    Considering that the LCD-4 is bested by its own younger sibling, the LCD-3, at half the price, and also bested on detail by the HD800S at an even lower price, I can't recommend the LCD-4. But of course, this is all for my ears, and Other Ears May Differ (OEMD).
  2. Rhamnetin
    Perfect bass, perfect mids, problematic treble
    Written by Rhamnetin
    Published Jun 9, 2018
    3.0/5,
    Pros - - Amazing bass performance.
    - Exceptional mids.
    - Outstanding build quality.
    Cons - - Deal breaking treble issues that cause unnatural sound, especially for vocals, even with excellent equipment.
    - Failed suspension headband design. Not fully suspended, you will bear almost all of the weight on your head and this is the heaviest headphone I have ever used.
    - Significantly higher price than almost all other flagships, and many of these others have more natural sound.
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    Or so I would appear. This is my honest review of the Audeze LCD-4. Let's get straight to the point, since that's probably what most of you would want after seeing only 3 stars for this flagship headphone.

    About me: I'm 24 years old, I attend audio shows every year to listen to gear, and I live in NYC and have access to many Hi-Fi shops and more private auditions. So I've listened to all sorts of top of the line headphone systems. Other headphones I have owned or own presently: Stax SR-007A, Stax SR-30, HiFiMan HE-560, ZMF Ori, ZMF Blackwood, Fostex T50RP MKIII, Sennheiser HD 6XX, AKG K7xx, Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro 250 Ohm, Audio Technica ATH-W1000Z, Audio Technica ATH-A900X, Audio Technica ATH-M40X.

    I mostly listen to metal (various kinds), rock (newest being Rage Against the Machine, oldest dating back to the 60s), and some late 90s and early 2000s rap. Occasionally various kinds of soundtrack music and some classical too. So my primary genres are supposed to be Audeze's strength, according to the community.

    My gear:
    • Breeze DU-U8 level 3 Digital Interface (also tried this setup without this)
    • Chord Hugo 2 DAC, no filters used, line level output used, used with 0.5m Kimber Kable Hero interconnects with Ultraplate connectors + Neutrik RCA to XLR adapters
    • Mjolnir Audio Pure BiPolar (aka Dynalo Mk2 or Super Symmetry Dynalo)
    • Norne Audio Solvine balanced 4' cable terminated with Eidolic Rhodium plated 4-pin XLR (2017 model)

    The Case
    Best headphone case I've ever seen. Perfect seal, seems incredibly weather resistant and robust.

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    Inside is a pair of gloves (seriously), a super long hybrid cable terminated in 1/4" that seems very high quality, an owner's certificate, and a flash drive containing the manual in PDF format.

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    No complaints here. 10/10 packaging.

    Build Quality and Comfort
    Carbon fiber top headband, leather headstrap, extremely solid metal yokes and other parts, mine has ebony wood trimmed cups. Super thick lambskin leather pads (very soft). My favorite cable connectors in the business, the usual Audeze ones, and as usual for them they are angled which is very nice. Exceptional craftsmanship on display. I read that the pads are glued on which would be a negative, but I didn't attempt to verify. Size adjustment range is very wide, should fit almost any adult well.

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    It's not very flexible as in it doesn't fold and the cups don't rotate much, as expected for such a big headphone. This is the heaviest headphone I've ever encountered. This would not be a problem with the combination of super thick soft pads and a suspension headband, only the suspension headband design is a failure. It doesn't really suspend, not on my head and not on any size. Only very partial suspension, most of the carbon fiber band still presses against my head so I bare the weight. Most LCD-4 owners (not LCD-4z owners it seems, but I'm not sure) encounter this too.

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    So the weight becomes a problem for me after an hour of use I'd say, or a bit more. Then I feel it on the top of my head.

    Sound Signature
    As Tyll's measurements show and review in general explains, incredibly linear response throughout the entirety of the bass and treble. Planars are typically sort of like this, but the LCD-4 may be the most linear from bass to mids of any headphone.

    Treble is inconsistent, a bit of sibilance (most notable in the form of exaggerated cymbals, can be heard in 'T-' sounds) caused by excess energy in the upper treble region, but lower treble has very notable dips that cause an odd veil. More on this below.

    The overall sound presentation of the LCD-4 is forward, more on the intimate side, not at all distant like the Sennheiser HD 800/HD 800S or HiFiMan HE1000v2/HE1000. At the same time, it is not nearly as closed in as the Sennheiser HD 650/HD 600/HD 6XX, it is more expansive than those.

    The LCD-4, like its siblings, sounds bassier and more full bodied than 99% of high end headphones. But it is no basshead can, this is what I consider neutral bass and mids because it's essentially a razor straight frequency response from 10 Hz to a little over 1000 Hz. But you will notice far more bass presence than even HiFiMan planars, and any non-planar magnetic headphone. The bass is NOT more forward than the mids though. ZMF Headphones planars (Blackwood and Ori, both are modded Fostex T50s) has the closest sound to Audeze from my experience.

    The LCD-4 does much better with detail retrieval than its younger siblings, though isn't the final word on the subject. The treble dips prevent it from being extremely resolving.

    Something particularly impressive about the LCD-4 is its transparency. It has some of the thinnest diaphragms and strongest magnets of any planar magnetic headphone, and comes closer to the transparency of elite electrostatic headphones (Stax SR-007 and SR-009 and SR-009S) on relatively mid tier amps (e.g. KGSS) than any other headphone I've heard. The HiFiMan HE1000 is super close to this though, and I never heard the SUSVARA. Also, while it is close, it is not quite there. And once you get one of these Stax headphones on an elite amp, e.g. KGSSHV or above, their transparency blows away anything else.

    I use the following site for sweep tests: https://www.audiocheck.net/soundtests_headphones.php

    Bass
    Incredible. Nothing else is quite like it. I can hear the bass extend down to around 10 Hz, the limit of the test listed above. Bass slam isn't the most since the LCD-4 makes sure to not have bass bleed over the mids at all, but boy is there sub-bass presence like no other headphone. Breathtaking texture, transparency, detail, very punchy. No issues whatsoever, although not nearly as transparent or detailed as Stax SR-009 bass which makes LCD-4 bass sound two dimensional in comparison.

    Mids
    Linear mids that will sound thicker to those who are used to dynamic headphones. Thicker in a good way, one of the reasons is appropriate heft from the bass region. Bass to mids transition is flawless. The LCD-4 is meant to be slightly mid-centric I suppose, and I can find no flaws in the mids themselves. Extremely even, clear, transparent, pleasant tonality. Full bodied, again unlike so many dynamic headphones.

    I don't think there is any issue with the upper mids, unlike how people feel about other Audeze headphones. The real issues lies in the treble.

    Treble
    Very few non-electrostatic headphones have impressive treble to me. Maybe even none. But even then, very few have treble for which I don't have any major problems with.

    The LCD-4 has two real treble problems. Tyll explained them perfectly in his review, I hear the same exact things he mentioned. The first and least offender is some excess energy above 10 KHz that causes some sibilance ('T-') and exaggerated cymbals. I actually seem to have greatly remediated this with parametric EQ (EqualizerAPO with PeaceGUI) just by dropping 12 KHz and 16 KHz by 0.5dB.

    But the deal breaker for me is the recession in the 4-8 KHz range. This causes a distinct veil, that affects vocals the most. It causes vocals to sound unnatural, as if there is some kind of void or black hole immediately following the voice that sucks up all sounds that should be there. As if there is distinctively no "air" for these vocals, and as if their sound doesn't really travel but gets sucked into some void. I don't know how else to describe it. This is also notable with pianos, and can affect plenty of other sounds. But vocals being affected most is a HUGE problem.

    If only the LCD-4 didn't have these treble problems. It would be phenomenal then. This alone is the reason I deducted two stars from my review, that 4-8 KHz recession is a real deal breaker. Makes it sound worse to me than several sub $1,000 headphones (specifically the ZMF Ori, ZMF Blackwood, HiFiMan HE-500, HiFiMan Sundara since I prefer realistic and natural sound, which this treble dip makes impossible.

    I'm surprised more people don't take issue with Audeze's treble dip, and no it's not just there to make it non-fatiguing. There are headphones with a higher response there but are actually less fatiguing due to lower > 10 KHz response.

    Sound Stage/Imaging
    The LCD-4's sound stage presentation is on the closer and more intimate side. I can describe the sound stage as being centralized. It sounds three dimensional but not stretched out or huge in any direction. Instrument separation is outstanding as is mandatory for any great open back headphone. Imaging is satisfactory but not elite.

    Compared to an extremely open sounding headphone like the Stax SR-009, the LCD-4's sound stage and imaging rate rather poorly. Severely lacking in depth next to the SR-009, and imaging is nowhere near as precise.

    Conclusion
    At $3,995, it costs more than most other flagships. What does it offer for the price? Incredible bass performance (but I find the Stax SR-009's far better), stellar mid range performance (bested by both the Stax SR-007 and SR-009 to my ears), inconsistent flawed treble performance that to me ruins it all (but it obviously doesn't ruin it for everyone), comfort issues, and great build quality so that you don't have to worry about replacing pads or the cable connectors breaking (cough HiFiMan).

    But I cannot recommend the LCD-4. One might find its bass to be the best or 2nd best of any headphone, but that's not enough to justify a $4k headphone. For anyone after this sound, I'd suggest the Stax SR-007 first, especially with the bass port mod.

    I have the ZMF Blackwood and Ori on hand along with the LCD-4, and the Blackwood and Ori bass are still impeccable even next to the LCD-4. Overall, I rank both of those ZMF headphones higher than the LCD-4 because they sound more natural and less flawed. That's right, I consider both a $700 and $900 modded Fostex T50RP MKIII to be better than the Audeze LCD-4. Sure, the LCD-4 has even better bass (not a huge difference), slightly more detail, better sound staging, and slightly more transparency, but the 4-8 KHz treble dip makes all of that irrelevant since it makes it sound so fake and unsatisfying at the end of the day. Music isn't nearly as engaging with the LCD-4.

    As for driving the LCD-4, it is 200 ohms and not very efficient, so you need a good and powerful amplifier. It gets plenty loud out of a Schiit Lyr 3, but scales with top of the line gear. I've used the LCD-4 with the aforementioned Lyr 3, HeadAmp GS-X MkII, and Mjolnir Audio Pure BiPolar (which Bob Katz used with the LCD-4). The latter two definitely elevate the LCD-4 compared to a mid-fi amp like the Lyr 3. I'm guessing though that the absolute best amp for the LCD-4 would be a balanced/super symmetry Dynahi.

    At the end of the day, the LCD-4 is not a headphone I will keep. Too flawed, for this price you better have it all and the LCD-4 does not. Stax still reigns supreme in the top of the line open back headphone category in my opinion (even the SR-007) and it's not even close.
  3. Dobrescu George
    Audeze LCD-MX4 - Precisely Amazing!
    Written by Dobrescu George
    Published May 17, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Soundstage, Comfort, Detail, PRaT/ADSR, Bass, Precision, Clarity, Build Quality, Ergonomics, Easy-to-drive, Open, All sonic aspects
    Cons - This kind of quality costs, although it is well worth it if you're looking for the best
    Since I wasn't sure whether this fits well here, I also made a page for LCD-MX4, but as things are right now , I also post this review on the page of LCD-4 as they are part of the LCD-4 series, which includes LCD-4, LCD-MX4 and LCD-4Z.

    Audeze LCD-MX4 - Precisely Amazing!


    Audeze released LCD-MX4 as an easier-to-drive, lighter and more studio-oriented version of the highly acclaimed Audeze LCD-4, which was known to stand well even against titans like Sennheiser HE-1. We'll look into what LCD-MX4 brings to the table, and into whether it will be an interesting choice for your next headphone.

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    Introduction

    We are quite honored to be reviewing a product from a company as well-known and beloved as Audeze. Their LCD-MX4 headphone is a newly released model, but they have been in the market for a pretty long time now, and they have been bringing fun and joy to music listeners everywhere for a good while now. Coming from USA, Audeze employs the highest quality of work in designing, producing and selling their headphones, and this standard is kept high as well in providing after-sales service, as they are known to be some of the friendliest company out there when it comes to helping customers with issues, if any shall arise with their products.

    It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Audeze, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by Audeze or anyone else. I'd like to thank Audeze for providing the sample for this review. The sample was provided along with Audeze's request for an honest and unbiased review. This review will be as objective as it is humanly possible, and it reflects my personal experience with Audeze LCD-MX4. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in Audeze LCD-MX4 find their next music companion. This review is part of a mini-tour organized by Audeze to get their product better known to music producers and companies working in producing music.



    About me

    https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.ro/p/about.html



    Packaging

    First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:

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    Starting with the packaging, Audeze LCD-MX4 is here to impress. They don't come in what we'd consider the typical package for a headphone, but instead they come packaged in a solid, sturdy-looking package that we usually see professional equipment being carried in. There's no glamor in the package, and Audeze seems to care mostly about the safety of their products, providing what we can safely name the sturdiest, most resilient looking package we've seen a headphone coming in. The inside of the hard plastic box is padded with a high-density foam to keep the headphones safe during transport, and although there aren't quite that many accessories included with LCD-MX4, you have all your needs checked by Audeze.

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    There is a professional cable, that, we figured is better than the average cable that comes with a pair of headphones. It is braided, a little long, and it is terminated with 6.3mm connectors, but we feel that Audeze went with this configuration because it will be most useful to most users.

    There is a USB Stick with interesting data from Audeze, and there are the usual manuals and papers for he headphones.

    Audeze made sure to include a 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter with their LCD-MX4 headphones, thing which we found very good, especially given their compatibility with portables, and how easy they are to drive from a less powerful source.

    Other than this, we can note that Audeze really didn't include more than it is absolutely necessary with Audeze LCD-MX4, but then we wonder, what else could we desire? Given that those are headphones intended for a professional environment usage, balanced cables probably weren't the most interesting accessories to include with their headphones, and other than that, probably only a secondary set of pads would have been welcome, although given the quality of the one already included, and the high cost of a set of pads, it is understandable that they come with only one pair.

    All in all, we feel like Audeze included all the basics necessary for LCD-MX4, but there isn't a lot of extra included. On the bright side, the quality of the things included in the package is extremely good.



    What to look in when purchasing a high-end Headphone

    https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.ro/p/what-to-lookl.html



    Technical Specifications

    Package Includes:

    -1/4in to dual 4-pin mini-XLR LCD headphone cable

    -1/4" to 1/8" adapter cable

    -Professional travel case



    Features:

    -Planar magnetic drivers for better dynamics and frequency response

    -Premium leather for style and durability

    -Made in our Southern California facility

    -Flux density 1.5 Tesla

    -Large ultra-thin Uniforce diaphragms

    -Double Fluxor™ magnetic arrays



    Technical Specs


    -Style - Over-ear, open-back

    -Transducer type - Planar magnetic

    -Magnetic structure - Double Fluxor™ magnet array

    -Magnet type - Neodymium N50

    -Diaphragm type - Ultra-thin Uniforce™

    -Transducer size - 106 mm

    -Maximum power handling - 15W

    -Maximum SPL - >130dB

    -Frequency response - 10Hz – 50kHz

    -THD -

    -Impedance - 20 ohms

    -Sensitivity - 105 dB/1mW (at Drum Reference Point)

    -Power requirement - >100mW



    Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort

    Let's start with the build quality of LCD-MX4.

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    Well, what can we say. It is bullet proof. They are made out of metal, with metal hinges, and leather earpads. Audeze literally makes those from the highest quality materials around, there's virtually no plastic, the top of the headband is made out of carbon fiber (from our understanding), the part of the headband that touches the head is made out of real leather, earpads are made of leather, everything is simply outstanding. The hinges are also all metal, the highest quality available. There's nothing that we expect to break, all of LCD-MX4 is literally built from the best possible, metal on metal on leather on high quality textile inside the cups with planar drivers, the very definition of a proper high-end headphone.

    The aesthetics of LCD-MX4 actually are much better than they might seem at first sight, those headphone are absolutely stunning in person. The carbon fiber headband gives them an electric, elegant and modern look, while the smooth cups with large size makes the one wearing them feel really stylish. While we don't say this often, we find larger headphones to look better, so LCD-MX4 is one of the best looking headphones there are.

    The cups have a fine metallic mesh woven to protect the drivers from debris, and it does a really good job, it permits the headphone to be open, while it closes down on the debris, allowing for a really interesting sound.

    The fit and comfort is, in one word, one of the best we tested to date. We said it. There's nothing quite as comfortable as LCD-MX4. In fact, we tested LCD-2 as well recently, and they are just as comfortable. LCD-MX4, and the LCD-series in general holds its ground right next to HD800S from Sennheiser, and Beyerdynamic Amiron or higher end Beyerdynamic headphones, all of which are pretty much incredibly comfortable. The only drawback when using an Audeze headphone can be the weight, but that isn't that much of an issue in practice. As we'll explore in the portability factor, we have been using LCD-MX4 while on-the-go a lot, and we found them to be incredibly comfortable in every situation they've been in, including walking at a faster pace with them.

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    The fit is over-the-ear, with extremely large and gentle pads, which, although have a gentle contact with the ear, and provide excellent comfort, will not let your ears touch the inner parts of the driver, so the only thing touching your ears, or the areas around your ears, are in fact the very comfortable parts of LCD-MX4 that you will come to love. The headband is made from two parts, a soft and very flexible genuine leather band which keeps the comfort up, combined with two stripes of carbon fiber which give the headphones a very good structural resistance.

    All in all, we couldn't be more happy with the construction quality, the fit and the comfort of LCD-MX4, and we're sure that you're going to have a lot of people admire you if you ever decide to take them on a walk, so the aesthetics are at a golden level as well.



    Sound Quality

    The sonic signature of LCD-MX4 starts with what we'd call a very well balanced signature. The midrange is very clear, the bass is extremely punchy, impactful and comes through with a lot of energy and size, while the treble is smooth and relaxed, but well extended and reaching up to the highest octaves without issue. Starting to describe the tonal balance, the midrange doesn't quite feel recessed, thing which is interesting, because on LCD-2 (when we tested one), the overall signature was more V-shaped, and even on LCD-4, the whole tonal balance seems to be more V-shaped than it is on the LCD-MX4.

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    Now, Audeze was never shy of using EQ profiles for their products, so we will also get to Equalizing LCD-MX4, but first, we should describe the overall sound without any EQ implied.

    The start, the bass, is probably the thing that made me fall in love with Audeze in the first place, the first time I heard one. I can still remember that day, it was a few years ago, when owning an Audeze headphone was something only the richest and the most distinct of people could do, when owning an Audeze was akin to being part of the highest of society in Bucharest. I was new to this city back then, and the first place I knew I had to visit was AVstore, back when they worked at their older location. Only two models really caught my eyes from their whole array of headphones back then, and those were Audeze LCD-2, and Sennheiser HD800. When I plugged in LCD-2, to their WooAudio Wa22, a beast of an amplifier, I was shocked. The bass of Audeze back then literally made me reconsider what bass should be like in a headphone. Coming back to LCD-MX4, they surely have a bass even better than what I felt back then, the Planar headphones bass in general is just unbelievably deep and impactful, literally visceral and impressive. Those are not very linear in the bass, but you can tell that it is a clean, clear, high-quality bass that is there to impress, to make one ask for more and keep listening to it with every bass-driven song.

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    The midrange is pretty interesting, by default being a little enhanced in the middle point of the midrange, and a little in the lower midrange, and the upper bass, leading to a slightly full, thick and meaty sound that many will surely welcome. To be honest, this makes all male vocals exceptionally fun to listen to, and we truly appreciate the fact that Audeze placed so much care into creating a convincing and realistic reproduction.

    The upper midrange, on the other hand, is slightly subdued in comparison to the lower midrange, leading to a rather comfortable listening experience with LCD-MX4, and since they are aimed at sound engineers who spend many hours with their headphones on, we're glad that Audeze also considered working on a sound that will not cause any fatigue. On the other hand, this also means that the violins and the female vocals are slightly lower in energy than a guitar or a bass guitar, so music heavily relying on female vocals needs a few dBs added to the upper midrange / treble area.

    The treble of LCD-MX4 falls in line with the upper midrange by being slightly relaxed, and while we actually felt that LCD-2 series had more treble expression, the treble of MX4 is actually something we'd recommend for long hours of listening. In a few words, the treble is very well extended, and it reaches the highest octaves, so there is no roll-off, but it is on the smoother side, with no grain and with less impact than the bass, or the upper bass and the midrange, leading to maybe, a bit of thirst for more cymbal-driven metal music. On the other hand, this kind of treble works really well for actually using LCD-MX4 for many hours in a row, and it helps notice finer details in the treble. With the smoother texture of the treble, a wider range of music becomes enjoyable with LCD-MX4, so we feel that those are really good for listening as well as using in a professional environment.



    Equalizing

    Audeze is a very open and professional company, and they are very open about the Frequency Responses of their headphones, subsequently making the Equalizing process much easier and giving us more opportunities to customize and enjoy their products to the fullest. LCD-MX4 is actually one of the best headphones we've seen when it comes to how much Equalizing they can take without having any kind of issues with their sound. They never get harsh, they never sound out of phase, and they never sound bad in any way, even with pretty drastic EQ profiles. It should be noted that we are fans of aggressive EQ profiles.

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    The main EQ profile we created for LCD-MX4 is pretty simple. Unless mentioned here, all the other sliders should be left untouched, only those mentioned should be changed.

    AMP - -7dB

    31Hz - +6.5dB

    62Hz - +2.5dB

    8kHz - +2.5dB

    16kHz - +7dB

    The changes with this Profile are immediate, things open up more, and there is a whole another level of energy in the treble and the upper midrange. The sound becomes slightly more fatiguing, that's for sure, but we like it better that way, especially for electronic music and metal, which are our main types of music. This includes rock and even old rock, along with pop, electro-pop and all kinds of commercial music. We haven't tested this profile with vocal-centric music, but from our experience with bands like Sirenia, it really brings more life to the female vocals, although we'd like to note again, that it makes the cymbals pretty strong. What is amazing is how good the actual cymbal rendering becomes now, Audeze made LCD-MX4 work well for long period listens, but with this EQ profile they can sound as raw and energetic as a live metal concert sounds like, and with the amazing bass this EQ profile infuses in MX4, they also feel like an entire live metal concert experience.

    We are very impressed when a headphone is able to obtain such excellent results with EQ, as it is an indicator of its already extremely low distortion and excellent technical ability.



    Soundstage

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    The soundstage of LCD-MX4 is something we haven't spoken a lot so far, and the main reason is that it actually deserves a whole section of its own. Starting with the size, the size of the soundstage is big. It isn't HD800-levels of large and wide, but the instrument separation and instrument definition is better, instruments stay well defined from each other, similar to how IE800 handles them, which is our golden standard. The size of the soundstage though, is much larger than a IE800, it reaches pretty far and pretty wide, but also deep. The stereo imaging is top notch as well, things can travel through the sonic landscape and feel coherent on the entire road (like special effects employed by Incubus in their Science album). It is easy to note how great the soundstage is with Incubus's songs because they tend to have a lot of effects that require good headphones to render the transition from left to right, and to actually render the effect of a sound traveling through the landscape. LCD-MX4 passes all tests with flying colors, and it even does so while providing very impressive instrument separation. A soundstage addict will most probably be fully satisfied by the wonders Audeze did with their headphones.



    ADSR / PRaT

    The ADSR and PRaT (Texturization) of LCD-MX4 are quite impressive, and although the price already implied that they will be like this, it still is impressive to analyse them. Bands like Mindless Self Indulgence or Masa Works Design present music with interesting textures and pretty vivid overall presentations, while instruments like guitars and violins sure feels textured and lively as well. It is most interesting to notice how the EQ profile we provided above also improves the PRaT and ADSR of LCD-MX4, the simplest explanation being that increasing the upper midrange and the treble, along with the bass will make small dents in the textures more obvious, combined with the already excellent abilities of LCD-MX4's driver, leading to a top-class experience for those purchasing a pair of LCD-MX4.



    Portable Usage

    We didn't remove this little part form our Beyerdynamic Amiron review, and we won't remove it from Audeze LCD-MX's review either. The reasoning behind this is simple, although both of those are desktop-class headphones made mainly to be used indoors, they still can be used portably with the right resources.

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    Starting with the shape and size factors, LCD-MX4 is rather large and it is on the heavier side of things, even with the weight reduction when compared to other Audeze models. This doesn't mean much for portable usage, as I've been taking them with me on long walks, sometimes in the amounts of five hours trips through the streets of Bucharest, and I never noticed any kind of neck strain. The main reason why they don't come off as fatiguing, judging them by their weight, is because that weight is really really well balanced over the head. There's no hotstop that becomes painful after long hours of usage, the ears don't touch any hard parts of LCD-MX4, and all hard parts are far enough from the head that even walking with LCD-MX4 will feel relaxing, although their weight most certainly doesn't disappear entirely.

    The cable provided by Audeze is a high-quality cable that we recommend you to use, and although it is long for portable usage, Audeze included a 6.3 to 3.5mm adapter, that will surely make LCD-MX4 work with portable sources. The other cable you can notice in some of our photos is for showcase only, although it was custom made, it doesn't provide the same sonic quality as the original LCD-MX4 cable. It is nice for taking photos and for portability though.

    The drive factor of LCD-MX4 will impress most people, as, LCD-4 series are very well-known for their very hard to drive nature and for requiring exquisite amplifiers to be drivel properly. On this note, LCD-MX4 can actually be driven from a portable player. Although we are not sure whether they would work their best straight out of a laptop or a smartphone, they surely sound sweet out of FiiO X7mkii / FiiO Q5, iBasso DX150/DX200 and even the tiny Hiby R6. It is unclear how Audeze managed to keep the impedance so low and the efficiency so high, without sacrificing much sonic quality, but they sure did an amazing job, and we can guarantee that with a little touch of EQ, LCD-MX4 will feel properly driven from a portable DAP and that they will work pretty well even out of a smartphone strapped to a DAC/AMP.

    They leak some sound, that is for sure, and this might be a con for using them in public. If you're listening loud, people are going to also listen to your music, but at low volumes they don't leak quite that much, and we were able to use them fairly frequently at low volumes, even in areas where high noise was not recommended. They still are an open back design and will act as such, we cannot recommend them for portable usage in areas where you'd want to keep the noise at a minimum, but they can be used casually, even in an open-space office, if you keep the volumes fairly low.



    Comparisons

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    Audeze LCD-MX4 vs Audeze LCD-4 - Probably the question that's on everyone's mind is how these compare to the mighty LCD-4 series. Well, we need to mention how practical each of them is. In a few short words, LCD-4 is probably the best headphone we managed to get a personal listen to by the date of writing this review, excluding the mighty Sennheiser HE-1. On the other hand, LCD-4 costs around 4000 USD and they require an amplifier usually at least half of their price, to many times more than their price, to achieve their full potential. This arises from having a very hard to drive nature, thing which makes owning LCD-4 complicated. You can't take them on the street, and most professionals probably don't have a strong amplifier connected to their workstations when mixing and when producing music. This is where LCD-MX4 comes in. Although they have a slightly less appealing sonic performance, with a hair less detail and precision, and with a less V-shaped signature, so with a more midrange forward signature, especially the upper bass and the lower midrange, LCD-MX4 is driveable. It is driveable from portables, it is driveable from any workstation. This is a new thing for Audeze headphones, an entire new horizon of possibility, you can actually hear much better detail in your music, you can spot things at the moment of mastering. All in all, LCD-4 is the better performer for music, but the cost of owning and driving it makes it more complicated of an acquisition than LCD-MX4 which, as a setup can cost as much as LCD-4 costs without any amplifier. IT should be noted that at the moment of writing, LCD-4Z exists, which is a full-fledged LCD-4 but with a lower impedance. We cannot comment yet on how it sounds, or on how easy it is to drive, but Audeze sure is on a roll with their new headphones.

    Audeze LCD-MX4 vs Beyerdynamic Amiron - We did this comparison when we reviewed Amiron as well, but it is interesting to mention it again, as it will help those reflecting on this specific choice. Starting with the build quality, both are well built, and both are comfortable. Amiron is actually harder to drive, and requires more power than LCD-MX4, thing which is surprising. Amiron has much less bass in amounts, with a tighter overall presentation, it has a less present upper bass and lower midrange, with an enhanced upper midrange and lower treble, after which it is a little stronger in the treble than LCD-MX4. Amiron is much more fluid and softer in the transients and overall presentation, where LCD-MX4 is much more precise and harder, with more impact and a better overall revealing ability. For 1000 USD, Amiron is much less expensive, and LCD-MX4 feels more expensive in perspective, but given its technical ability and build quality it sure is worth the money as well, it just is a different headphone made for a different purpose.

    Audeze LCD-MX4 vs Ultrasone Signature DXP - This comparison mightn feel unfair due to the large differences between the two headphones, Signature DXP, a closed back, ultraportable headphone with an open-sound, and LCD-MX4, a fully open-back headphone, with a large size and all-metal build with a very precise sound. Starting with the build quality, Signature DXP is mostly made of plastic, although we admire the fact that Ultrasone included glass insertions in the earcups. The earpads of DXP are much more solid and aren't nowhere near as large as those of LCD-MX4, but Signature DXP is much more portable in perspective, and if you need something portable, and something you can listen to while riding the subway, DXP sure makes a more compelling option than LCD-MX4 which is fully open back. Signature DXP and LCD-MX4 have a somewhat similar bass presentation, with lots of impact, although the punciness of LCD-MX4 is much more touchable than that of DXP. The midrange has more upper midrange emphasis on DXP, while it feels like it has more body for LCD-MX4. The treble is quite different, being rather relaxed and fatigue-free on LCD-MX4, where it feels more vivid, vibrant and energetic on DXP. The overall detail and transient response is fairly better on LCD-MX4, with more background instruments being expressed more lively, more of the underlying textures being shown to the listener, and even more foreground instruments being more obvious in music, but that is to be expected given their price and nature. DXP feels like a very capable portable option for those who want a really awesome sound, similar to LCD-MX4, but with a lower price, and with a different overall shape. Of course, DXP won't be at the same level, but it is roughly one sixth of the price of LCD-MX4, so it still is a very competent headphone for that price point.

    Audeze LCD-MX4 vs Sennheiser HD800S - Two titans, from two great companies, placed against each other. HD800S from Sennheiser is quite the interesting headphone, with the largest, widest and probably most expanded soundstage, the lightest headphone and most comfortable headphone that's been around for ages in its HD800 incarnation. LCD-MX4 comes with a heavier construction, more metal in its body (HD800S is mostly made of plastic, although it is a high quality plastic), and with an entirely different sound. HD800S is pretty much neutral in its bass, with a tight and linear presentation, where LCD-MX4 has more impact, feels more punchy, and goes much higher in quantity. HD800S feels quicker in comparison, but the lesser amount of bass works well for certain types of music, while it doesn't for other types, like say, Electronic and Dubstep. The midrange is quite different, with LCD-MX4 having a fuller, meatier, thicker midrange, where HD800S feels thinner in its presentation. The overall tonality is spot-on for both, but HD800S feels more emotional in the upper registers, with more upper midrange and lower treble emphasis. The treble is higher in amount on HD800S, but both HD800S and LCD-MX4 are similarly detailed in the upper registers. LCD-MX4 has a smoother texture for its treble and it is less fatiguing, but it is also less revealing of the details it has, basically, HD800S brings the overall details forward more than LCD-MX4, especially in the treble, but also in the midrange, where LCD-MX4 is leaner and sounds easier to listen to and to work with, if keeping them on the ears for many hours in a row. All in all, both are outstanding headphones, but for different reasons. HD800S is the king of analytical sound, it is a microscope for your music, where LCD-MX4 is more natural, it is easier to work with, less fatiguing, and will provide much improved bass impact, so aggressive music sounds much more fun and energetic, where HD800S might reveal the aggressive parts of aggressive music more aggressively.



    Recommended Pairings

    On the pairings, please keep in mind that in our tests, LCD-MX4 was not driveable from any of our current smartphones, Mi Max 2, Samsung T580, or our laptop, but it was driveable and with excellent results from FiiO Q5, iFi iDSD Micro BL, Hiby R6, iBasso DX200 and DX150 (AMP5), and from FiiO X7mkii (AMP5). The results with Opus #1s were so and so, but it works well with Opus #2.

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    Audeze LCD-MX4 + iBasso DX200 / DX150 (AMP5) - One of the best combinations there is, imagine driving one of the worlds best headphones from a portable, and a pretty sexy-looking one at that. The levels of power and the sonic signature is extremely similar between DX150 and DX200 when rocking AMP5 for both, so you can consider those results with both. The main headline of this pairing is that it sounds deep, it has a fierce impact, and it presents music with lots of emotion. The PRaT is excellent, the soundstage is sized well, and the overall sound feels well balanced, and expresses music very lively. There are very few other pairings that would work better with LCD-MX4, and we're really happy to note that if you're looking for one of the best experiences possible with them portably, DX200 / DX150 really puts out some power and some detail for your ears.

    Audeze LCD-MX4 + FiiO X7mkii / Q5 (AM5) - As we noted in our FiiO Q5 review, the sonic performance of Q5 is very very similar to that of X7mkii when running the same amplifier module, to the point where we feel we could safely say that they sound the same. As for their sonic ability, just like DX200 and its AMP5, everything feels top notch. The depth and impact of all music is unbelievably good, along with the detail presented by X7mkii and AM05. The tonality is also good, and the overall sound is clean. The soundstage is deep and wide, with good instrument separation and clarity.

    Audeze LCD-MX4 + Hiby R6 - While Hiby R6 isn't exactly at the same sonic levels as DX200 and FiiO X7 Mkii, it sure is close and most users might have a hard time noticing the actual difference after applying a little EQ. The most sizable difference is that R6 is quieter than X7mkii or DX200, if either is running their AMP5 units, but R6, even with an aggressive EQ profile, can get pretty loud, and for most cases, loud enough with LCD-MX4. The more fluid UI of R6 (which is relying on a more modern Snapdragon CPU when compared to the iBasso or the FiiO DAPs), feels like a very nice overall experience. Not only LCD-MX4 has a lot of impact and sounds very controlled, it also bears good depth to its music, and has a good amount of detail. The soundstage isn't exactly as deep as X7mkii for this pairing, but it still is very deep and as wide, if not a hair wider than either X7mkii or DX200 (AMP5). All in all, this is also a very recommended pairing if you're looking for a very portable solution for your Audeze LCD-MX4.

    Audeze LCD-MX4 + iFi iDSD Black Label Micro - Here things get a little more interesting, as iFi iDSD Micro BL has a lot more power than either of the DAPs above. In practice, this power will not be necessary, and most of the times, we found ourselves using it on normal power. The one advantage that iDSD Micro BL has, is the 6.3mm connector, which means that you don't require an extra 3.5 to 6.3 adapter, as when using most portable DAPs. Balanced cables and aftermarket cables do solve this little issue, but with the amazing sound of iFi iDSD BL, it is a good excuse to get one. The sound is deep and punchy, with slightly more treble sparkle and slightly more bass impact. The EQ might get a little tricky though, as one needs to make sure that the app and DAP they are using will allow iFi iDSD BL to take in some EQ if you're planning on using any EQ profile with LCD-MX4.



    Value and Conclusion

    At the end of our review, we need to consider every aspect of Audeze LCD-MX4 stacked against their price, which unfortunately is not very pocket-friendly at all. Priced at roughly 3000 USD, Audeze LCD-MX4 is clearly one of the most expensive Headphones we've tested to date, and it clearly also has probably the most reasons to be.

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    First, the build quality is fully metal. Here we're not talking about plastic with metal insertion, but actual metal built quality, from end to end, with carbon fiber insertions in the headband. While adding a little to the weight, Audeze guarantees that they've used an alloy that would reduce the end weight on the user's head compared to their other headphones. We found this to be true, and we managed to keep LCD-MX4 in usage for almost ten hours at once, without any kind of fatigue. The leather headband, and the thick, comfy leather earpads also add to the premium, as even the best other leather imitations can't quite match the levels of comfort and convenience Audeze earpads bring.



    The cable out of the factory is also quite excellent, with the only visible downside to it being the length, and the 6.3mm connector on it, as we'd prefer if it was ended in either a 4.4mm balanced with a 3.5mm single ended adapter included, or ended in 3.5 with a 6.3mm adapter included, for better portable usage. Although, given the intended public for Audeze LCD-MX4, we feel that the inclusion of a 6.3mm adapter with the official cable is not a bad idea at all, as mot professionals will probably be plugging those in a fairly meaty workstation or amplifier, as opposed to a portable player, so they won't feel any disadvantage when it comes to the cables used, and might even agree that Audeze took a very good decision there.

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    Now, the sound. Audeze LCD-MX4 is made for both the music lover who wants one of the ultimate listening experiences possible, as well for the professional working in the music industry and looking for the ultimate music production tool to use in their workstation. For the music lover, Audeze LCD-MX4 presents the music with one of the best impacts, and might require a little bit of EQ to bring up some more detail and energy in the upper treble, but still makes up for an amazing experience, while for the music producer, LCD-MX4 brings a lot of improvements over other, equally amazing Audeze headphones. First, the weight of MX4 has been adjusted so that one can keep working with MX4 for long hours of usage, and the Frequency Response has also been adjusted in such a way that now you can keep working without worrying about auditive fatigue from your work. Although there is a little detail loss when compared to the big boss, LCD-4, LCD-MX4 is much more practical for those who need it in this shape, as a lighter, easier to drive, and leaner headphone for long hours of work. We know that someone using them might keep them on the head for hours on a row, every day of their work, so here LCD-MX4 surely feels like an improvement, just like a higher end DSLR camera feels like an improvement over the mainstream cameras once you get above a certain point of photography.

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    In the end of our review, we're looking at a very expensive, premium headphone that is very capable and which, to a very passionate music enthusiast, or to a professional working in the music industry will surely be worth the asking price. Of course, there are always less expensive options, that sound amazing, even from Audeze, but the mix of technical ability, impact, depth that LCD-MX4 provides along with its other characteristics is undeniably going to appeal to many. The sound can be described as deep, impactful, well balanced, satisfying, well toned, on the smoother side, and very revealing and detailed. Audeze doesn't joke when they make a headphone, and we don't joke either when we say that you surely should check them out if you're looking for a really capable headphone. They're not quite LCD-4, they're intended to be LCD-4Z either, but they surely are LCD-MX4, a headphone made as amazing, by the same company behind those genius level headphones.



    I hope my review is helpful to you!

    Stay safe and remember to always have fun while listening to music!



    Contact us!
    (Click Buttons)


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  4. SOULSIK
    Audeze LCD 4 Review - Soulsik Awarded
    Written by SOULSIK
    Published Sep 21, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - best sound I have ever heard
    Cons - none
    VIDEO REVIEW HERE



    INTRODUCTION


    I have been listening to all of the Audeze headphones. Now I have a real good impression on the potential of each of these headphones. LCD 4 was introduced this year and I was full of expectations as it was their newest top of the line headphone. Audeze’s headphones have been very impressive these past years but I did have a problem with the comfort level. So, coming into this I expected some significant comfort improvements but was not too sure what to expect in terms of sound, as their headphones already sounded outstanding, I was terribly wrong as this review changed my perception of “perfect”

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    ABOUT AUDEZE

    From their website:

    Audeze’s origins go back to 2008 when founders Sankar Thiagasamudram and Alexander Rosson met engineer Pete Uka who developed specialized flexible circuit materials for NASA. They quickly realized the material might be perfect for headphones. That’s when Dragoslav Colich, who has 30+ years’ experience in designing planar drivers, joined the team as CTO to create the LCD-1 headphone.

    Then we created the legendary, award-winning LCD-2 and LCD-3 headphones, and the higher-efficiency LCD-X and XC models. More recently, we made planar magnetic technology accessible to a wider audience with the EL-8 and SINE series headphones. Audeze turned to their strategic partner Designworks, a BMW Group Subsidiary, for the cutting-edge industrial design for the new headphones as well as the Deckard DAC/Amplifier.

    Audeze feature proprietary planar magnetic designs with extremely thin-film driver materials and powerful custom magnets. Planars overcome many limitations inherent in typical cone drivers; our lightweight diaphragms are, for example, faster and more responsive than heavier moving-coil or dome drivers. Planar magnetic diaphragm also have a voice-coil circuit spread across the diaphragm surface. The diaphragm’s voice-coil circuit interacts with the magnetic field to produce an electromagnetic force that moves the diaphragm back and forth creating the sound you hear when energized by an audio signal.

    DISCLAIMER

    This review unit was lent to me by Bay Bloor Radio, for a review. Nevertheless, my review will contain no bias

    Specifications
    Style Open circumaural
    Transducer type Planar magnetic
    Magnetic arrays Double Fluxor™ magnets
    Magnet type Neodymium
    Transducer size 106 mm
    Maximum power handling 15W (for 200ms)
    Sound pressure level >130dB with 15W
    Frequency response 5Hz – 20kHz extended out to 50kHz
    Total harmonic distortion <1% through entire frequency range
    Impedance 200 ohms
    Efficiency 97dB / 1mW
    Optimal power requirement 1 – 4W


    BUILD QUALITY


    The build quality was absolutely superb as expected of audeze. The wood used for this headphone is 30 years old ebony wood ! absolutely gorgeous, although I do prefer the looks of the LCD 3 zebrano wood.

    The pads are back to the black ones (remember they were brown leather on the LCD 3s)
    There is a little gap between the pads and the housing to ensure there is no pressure build up, which may have caused driver failures in old audeze headphones.

    The carbon fiber head band is a significant improvement in terms of comfort

    The clamping force have been significantly reduced, making these headphones incredibly more comfortable

    Another big factor is that, these headphones use the thinnest and the newest planar magnetic drivers that are in theory, thinner than a human’s hair. This allows for much lower distortion.

    LCD 4 is also the first headphone in the audeze line up to have the chrome finished grills.

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    SOUND QUALITY

    I would like to mention that, LCD 4 is compatible and sounds incredible out of tube amps as well. This allows for more flexibility.

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    Lower Frequencies: The bass is grand and extends quite low however it is never too “in your face” or fatiguing in any way. Clean, presented in a fashion that is much like a concert experience. You can hear the drums smacking in, you can almost hear and feel the drummer hitting the drums. The drum presentation before and after in coordination with the decay factor can be heard precisely whether you like it or not !

    Mid Frequencies: Micro details in the LCD 2 and LCD 3 is still presented in the LCD 4 but the vocal presence is pulled back a notch as it was before. The biggest improvement is that these headphones really bring out that natural sound in instruments. Guitars, pianos, violins… you name it, it all sounds so very natural. I have a piano, guitar and saxophone in my house and when I compare the actual sound of these instruments to the headphones, I honestly cannot tell the difference. This is a headphone I would classify as the most musical and natural sounding headphone

    High Frequencies: this is where audeze headphones have struggled in the past. Although it still does in these sets of headphones, it does present it in the most realistic way I have heard before in a set of headphones. incredible… I would not say this range fulls short in comparison to the rest of the totl headphones out there. Just that it falls short in comparison to how well it presents itself in other ranges.

    Soundstage/imaging: The imaging is accurate but not as accurate and the HD800, still very good. The soundstage is the biggest I have ever heard before. Bigger than the HD800. The soundstage seems to be coming outside my room for the most part… which gives me goose bumps and when I close my eyes, I feel like I am in a larger room.

    Overall Thoughts

    I will be giving this headphone the 2017 soulsik reviews award…. no doubt, one of the best out there.
  5. Dillan
    A cold night of flagships: Audeze LCD-4 the warm blanket
    Written by Dillan
    Published Jul 29, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Instrument separation that can't keep me separated • A sound signature that doesn't know the definition of fatigue • Alluring voice reproduction
    Cons - Some might find their weight a little heavy • Not exciting, extremely laid back • Slight confusion in the treble area • Price

    "In a cold world of flagships, the LCD-4 gives me the warmth I have been asking for."

    -Probably someone
     
     
     
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    (photography by Regan Hulvey)
     
     
    I think today is a great day to love headphones. I think today is an awesome day to sit back and enjoy one of the many flagships that we have in the market.. In fact I think I will do just that today while I share with you my experiences with the LCD-4.
     
    Let's talk about a few things. So I have always been a lover of high end products. Although I don't really own any watches, I always respected how Patek Philippe can have a small mechanical city somehow living inside of a tiny metal housing. I think exotic cars are some of the sexiest things in the world and I think I would give my right arm to own a million dollar yacht. Although I am fairly certain the LCD-4 doesn't float, I do believe it is a yacht in the headphone world. "So what is all of this talk of warmth anyway?" Well technically I believe the term "warmth" in the audiophile dictionary refers to some form of distortion, however you can see by many measurements that these headphones measure extremely well with very impressive (almost nonexistent) distortion throughout the entire frequency range. To me I describe warmth as something lush sounding with a tolerable treble and a slight emphasis in bass and the midrange. My definition of warmth is basically the opposite of something like the HD800 by Sennheiser. I owned and respect the 800's very much, but to me they are the definition of a cold flagship. Exaggerated, sometimes piercing treble and bass with great detail but without the oomph that we like to get smacked in the face with sometimes when listening to an exciting track. Believe me, I'm not here to hate on other headphones - but the HD800 is so analytical sounding and mixing that with the treble spike gives me a good thing to compare the LCD-4's to because they are just so opposite of each other in so many ways.
     
    I like to describe a lot of my music experiences with other real life, unrelated experiences. This can give readers a little better understanding of what it feels like to listen to music through these beautiful chrome plated cans. Or it could just confuse them even more - either way! The first thing that pops into my head when I put them on and play a song is walking inside from the snow and taking off my boots and sliding underneath a blanket that has been warmed by the fireplace. The downside to the LCD-4 is it might encourage you to fall asleep under that very blanket.
     
    This headphone is not "loud", it is not "exciting" and it does not have the V shaped sound signature that you bass loving treble heads might thirst for. Compared to the EL-8's (an amazingly underrated headphone also by Audeze): I found these to be actually somewhat boring in comparison when first swapping back and forth. The problem with a lot of headphones - like the fun sounding EL-8, the referencing sounding HD800 and even the wonderfully detailed SR009 - is that after long periods of listening.. I just simply get burnt out. My ears physically hurt: audible fatigue is causing me to take breaks in between songs and I almost feel like I am putting in an effort just to listen to music. Now I love all 3 of those headphones, but I have to give it to Audeze - They made one of the very few flagships that I can wear for hours on end and not feel forced to put it down. Some could argue the weight might cause neck cramps or the leather might create a sweaty ear environment, but personally I find them very comfortable and I would rather my ears or head be ever so slightly uncomfortable than have the hair on my eardrums singe off due to an unforgiving sound signature. These babies are inviting, enticing and smoother than a mother's soothing words.
     
    Before I get any further let's go over the gear with which I have been enjoying alongside the LCD-4.
     
     

    Weapons of choice

     
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    (From top to bottom: Zenbook running JRiver on Linux, Vi Dac Infinity, Pyle PS900)
     
    I love this setup and it's currently the rack I use to test and enjoy all of my headphones. This is definitely one of my favorite mixes of gear I have used (I tend to swap it up a lot). Clean, consistent power goes through active EMI/RFI filtering and into the Vi Dac Infinity, which processes my FLAC/DSF files from Jriver on Ubuntu 16.04.
     
     
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    (Plussound audio Echo+ 8 wire balanced)
     
    My experiences so far with Plussound have been amazing. Quick build times, great quality cables with attention to detail and superb customer support. I have never been a huge cable advocate, but out of my experience, Christian has taken care of me much better than anyone else has.
     
     
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    (Nordost Blue Heaven AC Power)
     
     
    For how laid back and already warm the sound signature of the LCD-4 is, I chose to pair it with a solid state amplifier/dac. The Vi Dac Infinity is very impressive and retails for about $5000 USD. Fully balanced architecture (both DAC and amp) with a Class A amplifier utilizing 4 pin XLR. I do enjoy the musical distortion of some tube amplifiers, but like I said I find this pairing is better matched. My collection of music right now for this setup consists of lossless flac files at varying bitrates and a few DSD albums and the small collection was chosen based on quality of the recordings along with my musical taste. I have taken careful consideration into everything in the audio chain and for this review no DSP was used for my impressions. I just let the headphones speak for themselves.
     
     

    How did they put a driver thinner than a white blood cell into these headphones?

     
    Quite frankly I have no idea, but it scares me a little. The exact width is a secret they aren't willing to share with us, but honestly it could just not exist in the first place. The sound I hear from them may just be pouring out from my own soul and into my ears.. They may as well be with that diameter (less than .5 microns thick). Audeze love their magnets, their thin drivers and their patent pending Fluxor technology. And so do I!
     
    Audeze's Fluxor technology is roughly double the magnetic force as compared to regular neodymium magnetic structures and in the LCD-4 we get double Fluxor technology. This amounts to Audeze creating the world's most powerful (1.5 tesla) flux density in existence today. What do you get when you pair extremely powerful and consistent magnetic force with a diaphragm that's 1/200th the size of a human hair? You get control, accuracy and impressive detail.
     
    So what exactly is this Fluxor and Fazor you speak of?
     
    I'll try not to get too much into the technical details of the driver technologies, nor will I post graphs, but I can explain the basics. For more details go to Audeze's website (www.audeze.com).
     
    Fazor: Audeze introduced these new technologies long after the LCD-2 shook the world and even a good bit after everyone became obsessed with the LCD-3. I won't lie, my initial thought process when it was announced (I believe Fazor was first with the X line, while Fluxor was first implemented into the EL-8) was that it was marketing hype and they were messing up an already good thing. Sounds harsh, but sometimes I am afraid of change! Luckily I think it is a great sound and technical achievement in all of their headphones including the EL-8's which made the Fluxor technology famous (one of my personal favorite headphones of all time). I believe the addition of Fluxor and Fazor technology also improved the efficiency of these headphones and now they require slightly less juice.
     
    A Fazor configuration basically boils down to a less varying sound wave force with precisely placed and shaped magnets and thus fewer disturbed wave lengths. The shape and distance of the magnets have been altered in a way that perfectly balances each other out as to not conflict with each other in an acoustically unpleasant fashion. It fully utilizes the diaphragm output force of the magnets that are implemented thus synergizing well with their Fluxor technology which I will get to in a minute. If you think about a singer in a crowded noisy room you can kind of picture what they were trying to alleviate. Overlapping wavelengths cause disruptions and distortions in the ultimate sound that reaches our ears. With Fazor elements added, we get a more symmetrical acoustic load. The magnets themselves are topped with these Fazor elements which bring them almost to a point. This precisely placed arrow shaped magnet configuration has the optimal strategic positioning and shape to create a seemingly flat wave of force to our ears as opposed to normal overlapping patterns. There are small forms of disturbance with normal non Fazor configurations and with their new lineup of headphones we have a more even field of utilizing the diaphragm which leads me to their Fluxor implementation.
     
    Fluxor: The Fluxor technology is even more impressive and harder to implement correctly. Their simple goal of the Fluxor was to reduce weight and create consistency across the entire diaphragm, as well as increase magnetic force. If looking at standard magnet/driver relationships, we see a driver that doesn't move exactly back and forth in unison (fixed by their patent pending Uniforce implementations) and has varying magnetic force across different points of the diaphragm. This lack of consistency is where you'll find lack of control and ultimately is what Audeze wanted to fix. Having a single Fluxor configuration means on opposite sides, you put a flow of north/south magnets in a row that sort of push and pull the sound in between the two fields. However with the LCD-4 we have double Fluxor technology which takes that to another level. Basically one side, you put north and south magnets beside each other at an angle that synchronizes perfectly with the opposing magnets on the other side. Wasting less magnetic force and creating 3 times the tesla that the LCD-3 had. By looking at diagrams on Audeze's website we can see that it sort of "recycles" the otherwise wasted force that you'd normally have by positioning the magnets strategically in an array. I believe these technologies working together in particular are what has helped the LCD-4 become the best headphone in regards to instrument separation that I have ever heard. More on that in the sound portion of the review.  
     
    From what I can see, Audeze's goal with these new technologies was to simply have much more control and consistency. Planar magnetic drivers are a tough beast to tame and Audeze seems to be really pushing the envelope on what's possible with planar technology. The LCD-4, like the sound or not, is probably the most technically impressive planar magnetic headphone that has ever been made. Objectivists go ahead and rejoice at this beautiful creation. It makes competitors look lazy in comparison and for that I commend Audeze for this amazing technical feat.
     
    Specs from their website include a frequency range of 5hz to 20khz extended out to 50khz and and total harmonic distortion equal to less than 1% throughout the entire frequency range
     
    I haven't measured the frequency response, but looking at charts from those who have would suggest an impressively flat response until a big dip at 8.5khz and a sharp rise afterwards. This is something that many reviewers have problems with, but I find even with concentrated listening I cannot hear exactly what the charts would suggest. I do find treble on the very high end to sometimes sound piercing, but the rest of the sounds emitting from the LCD-4 are so enveloping that it sort of cancels this out. However I could potentially see music that focuses in that area sounding slightly unnatural. I hesitated before mentioning FR response, because I know some people will really study a chart before doing critical listening and this can introduce expectation bias. I never find myself "looking" for anything specific in my listening after looking at measurements or reading reviews. In fact I try my best to avoid that stuff before listening in the first place.
     
     

    The Build and the Box

     
    IMG_6181.jpg
     
    Before jumping into sound let's take a quick note of the build quality, the unboxing experience and the accessories.
     
    Inside the cardboard box wrapped in the Audeze logo, I found another box. This box however was much more sturdy and pretty looking. Audeze ships the LCD-4 in a black pelican case that seems MORE than capable of keeping your precious headphones safe during your traveling. A very hard plastic with 3 different locking mechanisms and a sturdy handle that puts the case on its side when walking around with it. Opening the pelican case reveals a gorgeous pair of headphones laying there in all its wooden glory. Exotic Cocobolo wood wraps the ear cups, while a polished chrome sits as the outside grille. Holding this partnership together on top of your head is a carbon fiber headband resting on a black leather strap for the top of your scalp. The earpads are also a black leather by default and are made of Italian lambskin leather. Soft vegan pads are also an option for those who are interested. Orders placed after June 1 2016 will be given the salt and pepper looking "Premium Cable" that come standard with the LCD-4. Before that date, buyers were given a thicker blue cable. The new cable is what came with mine and it seems like a beautiful looking product. (Sold separately for $699) It comes as single ended 1/4" termination, but by requesting ahead of time you can get a balanced termination free of charge. I chose to keep mine SE as my Plussound cable was going to be balanced already. Booklets, warranty information and a hand written note with your serial number is bundled at the bottom. No adapters or converters were shipped. One thing I would like to mention is my love for the mini xlr plugs on the headphones themselves. They are extremely sturdy feeling and give a satisfying "click" when cables are plugged into the headphone. I really love the ease of cable swapping and the robust feeling of where the ports are, plugging in a custom cable feels even more satisfying and secure with these headphones.
     

    What does a warm blanket sound like?

     
    So how do these headphones sound?
     
    Bass: To me it is fitting to describe the bass first, because it is the first thing I noticed when playing music. I have owned a few HiFiMan products, but this was my first door into the high end planar building. I have listened at shows and meets, but nothing does something justice until you sit down in a quiet place and listen to your own music on your own gear. No these won't vibrate your eyeballs, but they certainly let you know they are an Audeze headphone. Compared to the SR009, the Audeze's have more bass impact and quantity, but to me slightly lower quality. The SR009 is one of the most detailed headphones on the planet so this may not come as a surprise, but my personal preference would trade a very slight portion of bass detail for bass depth and impact. While listening to Master Blaster by Stevie Wonder I got insane drum impact and accuracy. It sounded extremely raw and passionate which I like very much. To me the two best things about the LCD-4 is the drum reproduction and the instrument separation. When you mix those two together I found myself absolutely loving tracks with drums the most. Compared to the HD800 I find the HD800 actually having much less impact and roughly the same detail and accuracy. All 3 of these headphones have excellent control, nobody was a standout there. If the bass on the HD800 is a nice salad, the LCD-4 would be the steak. No distortion that I can tell and quality extension until you can't hear it anymore.
     
    Mids: The mids on these give me goosebumps. They pull me in like I am playing tug-of-war with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Both male and female voice reproduction as well as instruments in the middle frequencies sound awe inspiring. Insanity by Gregory Porter & Lalah Hathaway completely draws me in with the duet's smooth sounding voices and subtle, but enticing music presentation. These can probably be described as mid forward headphones. In fact I would say if the midrange and bass are your favorite, these are what you've been looking for. Gregory's voice almost sounds effortless from the headphones, but passionate inside your ears. It's like the LCD-4s take the tracks and spits them out in an incredibly musical way for you to almost hear them say "Deal with it". Well I will deal with it and I will love every second of it. My reference track over the last few years has been Adagio in G minor by Gary Karr on the album Adagio D'Albinoni. This track is absolutely a joy to listen to here as it is mid and bass focused. Gark Karr's bass playing really rattles down to your gut and back up to your head. Every single string on his bass can be heard sliding against his bow. He goes down and up the scale and each tone sounds richer and better than the last. The drivers in the headphone actually sound like little bass instruments vibrating as the music surrounds my head. This is a great track for this headphone and a way to really test the impact and detail of these headphones. I wouldn't call the mid frequencies clean sounding though. It is definitely a more lush sound than transparent. The HD800's have sort of a mix between richness and transparency in their midrange to my ears while the SR009 sounds the cleanest. I would say the LCD-4 overall has more of a slight syrupy sound, especially when considering the bass and mids. But keep in mind the mids have sort of this "vibration" that really creates a special listening experience.
     
    Treble: The treble is the interesting part. Subjectively it's good, but objectively it tries fixing a problem that many headphones have. Again, in my real world listening I heard only a very small fatigue in the spike after 8.5khz and most of those tones were coming from electronically produced dance music. Treble is extremely hard to get right in my opinion. The HD650 was too dark, the HD800 too bright. The SR009 also can be considered bright by a lot of people as well. The LCD-4 definitely can be considered a darker headphone, but with a slight zap in the upper treble. It's sort of a balance that I don't mind and is reminiscent of the signature Audeze sound. For me it's kind of hard to explain how the treble sounds, but to be honest it simply just sounds natural overall. I think measurements will be exaggerated by people in saying that the treble is wonky or disorganized, but I think it sounds better than you'd expect with just a slightly annoying zing at the top end. Detailed and fun, but maybe inconsistent.
     
    Transitions: Transitioning in general is sublime. Audeze really made a headphone that can hand off one tone to the next. From the bass to the mids (to my ears), sounded almost non existent in the fact that it's such a warm headphone anyway that the mids just sounded like they were lower frequencies as well. This isn't a bad thing and I do not mean that they "bleed" into each other; but the transition is so smooth and the bass and mids are so "similar" with this dark/warm headphone that richness of the bass sort of melts into the lush midrange like butter. The mids already sound lower toned than they actually are, so this makes a very silky experience. Transitioning from mids to the highs isn't as good. Going from the mids to the treble very much make it sound like the bass and mids are separated from the treble. It's almost like two friends hanging out and not letting the third wheel come around with them. I actually enjoy all three ranges, but transitioning between the midrange to the upper mid/lower treble is not as enjoyable.
     
    Transparency: Extremely transparent. It is like many other reference grade products in the fact that it is aggressively transparent with low quality recordings. I actually thought it was just as apparent as the HD800 and unsurprisingly sounded really really unfriendly with poorly recorded (or transcoded) music. On the plus side, with good recordings and impressive songs - we get to hear a very open and crystal clear version of what we are supposed to. Everything is both rewarded and punished with these headphones.
     
    Accuracy/detail: I think the detail in all Audeze headphones are amazing for planar headphones with a big bottom end. I think with as much slam and impact the mids and bass have, these LCD-4s are no slouch to revealing exactly what the instrument is doing and how it's doing it. I hear every pluck of the guitar and every violin, cello and trumpet in the concert hall. Imaging is just behind the SR009 and HD800's while being slightly ahead of the other Audezes such as the LCD-X and EL-8.
     
    Soundstage/instrument separation: The Audeze LCD-4 has the best instrument separation I have ever heard in a headphone. This might be confusing, because I actually believe the soundstage isn't the largest I have heard. Don't get me wrong - it's definitely wide and has depth - but it's not the largest. For the size of the soundstage though and keeping in mind the instruments inside of that stage, these are unbelievable. I can pick out every single drum and exactly where it is located and compare it to the distance of the next instrument or singer easily and without thinking about it. The amount of distance between each instrument simply blows my mind and is probably the bread and butter of the experience in my opinion. I feel like someone hand picked the different sounds and purposely placed them in a way to trick me into thinking I am watching a concert instead of listening to one. The separation is just. that. good.
     
    Overall sound signature: "A veil, a snare drum and an engaging fantasy" - What do these have in common? They all describe what I consider to be the LCD-4's sound experience. I reluctantly held off on admitting a veil in the sound signature until now, but it does exist. The first thing you'll notice when swapping to other headphones is "Wow these feel like a mask has been taken off the music". There is no other way around it, these are very warm and lush and probably worth calling dark as well. The plus side of this sound signature is that they do not get tiring after hours of listening. These are the sort of headphones that you keep around if you want an ultra top of the line product that doesn't get old and doesn't get cold. If you listen to "V" shaped music with a "V" shaped headphone, you'll find these boring. I like a laid back headphone, so my personal preference aligns well with the Audeze flagship. Saying all of this, the drums in general are just crazy to listen to and the snare in particular is a fantastic thing to hear. I love drums paired with a beautiful singing voice, so again these are right up my alley.
     
    When it comes down to it, you can't help but respect this masterpiece. I think it has many flaws and I was actually pretty forgiving in my review of them. All things considered, I love this headphone and will be keeping it around for years to come.
     
    Considering price I would give this a 3.8/5 and without price in the equation I give 4.4/5.
     
    Thank you Audeze for being a real pioneer in the industry!
     
     
    IMG_6212.jpg
     
    -Written and reviewed by Dillan-
    1. View previous replies...
    2. session76
      How was comfort?  Did it start to feel heavy?   One reason I like the he-1k is its lightweight
      session76, Aug 9, 2016
    3. Dillan
      Comfort is great for me at first, but the leather mixed with the weight does make it a little uncomfortable and hot after an hour of listening. HE1000 definitely felt more comfortable to me, both short term and long term listening. For people that don't have a strong neck or have a small head - I probably wouldn't recommend.
      Dillan, Aug 9, 2016
    4. jollybob
      Thanks for the review
      jollybob, Jan 10, 2017
  6. dan.gheorghe
    The most realistic sound presentation I've ever heard in headphones
    Written by dan.gheorghe
    Published Apr 8, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Superb bass, best midrange I've ever heard, smooth, detailed and natural treble, excellent transparency, real life like sound, excellent transients
    Cons - Slightly recessed treble, the last part of the upper midrange is slightly recessed as well
    [​IMG]
     
    The tests were performed with   MSB Analog DAC  with Quad USB custom lps ,  Audio Gd Master 9, Sennheiser HD800, Sennheiser HD800s, Audeze LCD-3.

    Summary

    Bass

    I think that the bass is the best I’ve heard in any headphones until now. It has tremendous slam, control, detail and textures. On the right songs it managed to swipe the floor with my ears, metaphorically speaking of course, and I meant that in a positive way, of course.
     

    Midrange

    From my perspective these headphones are a wonderful masterpiece because of this region and how it manages to reproduce it.
    I think that the feelings they managed to offer me surpass even the ones achieved with Sennheiser Orpheus at Canjam which were my reference in this section.
    Even though LCD-4 lose some presence on the last part of the upper midrange, in my opinion,  they are the best headphones in the world in this area.
    Every instrument is so lifelike, so well textured, so detailed that these headphones manage to paint the picture of the sound into my head.
    Don’t get me started with the voices. I’m going to dedicate another paragraph just for them.
     

    Treble

    Ok, this might not be in the same league as with the bass and midrange section, but in my opinion the treble is quite smooth, natural and detailed, more so than on previous Audeze models.
    It’s not as present as the other frequencies which didn’t bother me too much but I can see why a “treble head” would like more here.
    I also find it very natural and pleasant overall and even though it’s a little recessed, it  doesn’t take away from the “life like”  experienceLCD-4 is capable of.
    There’s no surprise here for me, LCD-4 kept the Audeze house sound, and even improved this section compared to the older models and not by a little.
    Maybe some that expected a different sound signature would be disappointed, but I however am a fan of this type of sound and welcome it.
     

    Vocals

    The voices with LCD-4 are completely mesmerizing. Only Orpheus managed to impress me in a similar manner and I even think that LCD-4 might have surpassed them. I gave the headphones to my wife on a song from Lara Fabian and I’ve seen tears in her eyes in less than 10 seconds. It was a record! I’ve never seen her so emotionally impressed before and in such a short time.
    She continued listening for more than 10 minutes with tears in her eyes all this time.
    I understand her perfectly. The voices are flowing with incredible clarity, liveliness and textures directly into your soul. You can feel the singer’s breath, the emotion in his voice, leading to a very emotional and sometimes sensual and intimate experience.
     

    Transients

    The transient response is in my opinion excellent. The attack is strong and full of power, followed by very articulated, detailed, fast and natural decay. This leads to a  tactile and energetic listening experience.
    I think that Audeze managed to achieve something very interesting here.
    I’ve had some encounters with electrostatic headphones like 009, 007 and a stax 404 but also with very expensive electrostatic speakers, and I must say that LCD-4 reminds me of them when it comes to transient speed, but manages to keep the impact and slam of a good planar, which is quite amazing from my perspective.
     

    Soundstage 

    The soundstage might not be as tall or quite as wide as with HD800 but it’s very deep, very holographic and natural. On most songs I sincerely feel better integrated in the scene with LCD-4 than with HD800 which sometimes seems to unnaturally amplify the soundstage.
    It’s easier to feel there with the spectators or the singers on the scene when I close my eyes with LCD-4 than with HD800.
     

    Details

    These headphones impressed me in this department as well. The details are quite amazing from the bass area and up to before the last part from the upper midrange and I think that they even manage to surpass HD800 on these parts of the frequency range on many occasions.
    For example the guitar plucks have a more detailed extension on LCD-4 and you can also clearly hear the fingers touching the chords.  The voices are very well articulated and detailed, but you can also hear the singers touching their lips while singing, or the movement of the tongue in their mouth and their breath swooshing inside your ears.
    There are also subtle cues in the scene, like someone moving at the back of the orchestra or the scene, a chair / instrument squeak, someone taking a breath, details that are subtle and very naturally reproduced so that it makes you be a part of the scene.

    Tonality

    The tonality another thing these headphones manages to amaze me with. Everything sounds so natural, so real life like that I often find myself closing my eyes and being transposed in time or teleported into the concert hall.
     

    Imaging

    These are the most technically advanced planars I’ve ever heard. The imaging is considerably better than the previous Audezeheadphones and they  come really close to HD800 in this regard which still hold the upper hand with clearer leading edges overall.
     

    Transparency

    These headphones are a opened window to the music. With HD800 it’s like watching a super resolution 4k or 8k screen, but with LCD-4 it’s like opening a real window and watching the scenery, no sign of grain whatsoever.
    [​IMG]

    Conclusions

    The conclusion is that I absolutely love these headphones as they offered me the most lifelike musical experience I’ve ever encountered until now and from my perspective this is what it’s all about.
     
    I know, these headphones don’t come cheap at all. Are they worth it? Well, this is your decision, but I sure recommend you give them a try. For me, these are the best headphones I’ve ever heard and they might just be the best headphones in mass production at the moment.
     
    Pros
    1. Superb bass with excellent depth, control and detail
    2. Excellent design and build quality
    3. Best midrange I’ve ever heard
    4. Smooth and natural treble with more detail than the older Audeze headphones
    5. Haunting life-like voices
    6. Excellent imaging
    7. Excellent transient response with strong attack, articulated / detailed and fast but natural decay leading to a tactile & energetic sound presentation
    8. Deep, holographic and natural soundstage
    9. Excellent details
    10. Excellent transparency
    11. Very good dynamic range
    12. Most natural tonality I’ve heard that combined with other features really creates a lifelike sound
    Cons
    1. Treble could be a little recessed for some
    2. Needs serious amplification to really shine
    3. The last part of the upper midrange is not as present as the rest
    4. Few can afford it
    1. yc1204
      I assume silver cable would improve the treble a lot.
      yc1204, Apr 8, 2016
    2. dan.gheorghe
      There are noticeable improvements on the treble area with the silver cable.
       
      You can find all the details and the full review on headmania .
      dan.gheorghe, Apr 8, 2016
  7. Trogdor
    One of the best sounding headphones on the planet
    Written by Trogdor
    Published Apr 6, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Unbelievable detail and tonal accuracy, the midrange is a bona fide controlled substance, accurate and extremely deep bass, luxurious craftmanship
    Cons - Price, slightly recessed treble compared to the rest of its response

    Introduction


    [​IMG]

    It has been a little over ten years since I listened to Rust In Peace in its entirety through Sennheiser's much coveted Orpheus system. And since then, I have been spending the better part of the last decade trying to recapture that sound.

    If you haven't heard of Sennheiser's much revered Orpheus system, I'm not surprised. Only 300 were made back in the 90s, and each system cost approximately $16,000 dollars a pop, consisting of a pair of electrostatic headphones and matching tube amplifier. I was fortunate enough to listen to one at a local Head-Fi meet where I was given unfettered access to it for the better part of an hour. The sound was nothing short of spectacular. But did it sound $16k good? The answer to that question doesn't really matter since even back then I knew that in the not so distant future there would be plenty of playback chains that would not only surpass the Orpheus, but do so at a fraction of the price. Ironically though, what I and everyone else thought was just a one-off has now actually turned into a real product line, as Sennheiser has recently announced a new iteration of the Orpheus system, clocking in at an even more absurd $55,000 dollars and of course supposedly sounding even better than the original. Peace Sells awaits.

    I only mention all of the above because listening to Audeze's LCD-3 for the first time was another "Orpheus-like" magic moment for me. I remember the experience vividly. It happened right after I had just sold the Sennheiser HD-800 after losing an incredibly infuriating, long protracted battle with it. Don't get me wrong, the HD-800 is a fantastic headphone in its own right, but I just couldn't extract enough low-end grunt out of it nor could I really quell its peaky treble. Not to mention its performance varied wildly depending on how you juiced it. But the LCD-3 was quite another animal altogether, offering truly deep bass as well as having this highly engrossing lush midrange that breathed new life into my favorite recordings. It also sounded great no matter what system I plugged it into. No, it didn't quite reach Orpheus levels of fidelity, but the Audeze house sound was in many respects just as intoxicating, and rekindled my love for the hobby.

    However, like the original Orpheus, the LCD-3 has gotten a bit long in the tooth these days as Audeze's flagship. It has been about four years since it was released, and in that period of time there have been a flurry of top shelf cans that have come out of the woodwork; some of which arguably outperform handily the now venerable LCD-3. Case in point, I myself have shelved my LCD-3 in favor of the latest HiFiMAN flagship, the HE-1K. So when Audeze announced the LCD-4 at last year's CanJam, I was not in the least bit surprised. What did surprise me however, was the price ($3995), which was a full two thousand dollars more than its predecessor and a thousand dollars more than some of its closest competitors including the aforementioned HE-1K ($2995). So that begs the question, is the LCD-4 worth it? Does it sound as good as it costs? Audeze was kind enough to send me a pair to find out.

    Fazors and Fluxors, and Teslas, Oh My!


    [​IMG]

    Not only have we've seen a myriad array of reference level headphones flood the market since the introduction of the LCD-3, but Audeze themselves have developed a slew of new headphones, and with them a number of innovations in that time frame as well. In fact, the LCD-3 itself got a revision bump back in 2014 when Audeze introduced their patent-pending Fazor technology, which eventually trickled down to their mid-tier EL-8 line. This technology introduced a set of Fazor elements that are placed just outside the double magnets that surround the diaphragm as a form of acoustic impedance matching. In English, planar magnetic headphones typically employ two magnets on both sides of the transducer which conductors spread across its surface. When current flows through these conductors, they energize the magnets which in turn creates an electromagnetic force that vibrates the diaphragm and thus produce sound. As you can see from Audeze's diagram above, the Fazor elements act almost like a wave guide, and streamline the sound waves to act more uniform as they exit the diaphragm and not interfere with each other. This results in better impulse response as well as improved phase response, especially at higher frequencies where the energy at these levels tend to interact.

    [​IMG]

    With the introduction of the LCD-4 however, Audeze has upped the ante even further with what they call their Fluxor technology. Getting back to those pesky magnets, even though EMF emanates from both sides of the magnetic array, only one side is actually used - the one facing the diaphragm. So literally half of the magnetic array's EMF is wasted or redirected by steel poles. The good news is that Audeze's original LCD-3 design, which incorporated two magnets per element in the array, still keeps both sides of the magnetic flux uniform. Remember, the goal of these magnets is to not only vibrate the diaphragm but do so in a uniform manner. By keeping the LCD-3's magnetic flux uniform across the diaphragm, even if some of this flux is ultimately thrown away, Audeze is still able to extract better control out of it and thus achieve a smoother response while still maintaining efficiency.

    [​IMG]

    But what if there was a planar magnetic design that could focus the overwhelming majority of its flux towards the diaphragm without wasting any of it? That's where the LCD-4's Fluxor technology comes in. The Fluxor array, as you can see above, uses magnets that are magnetized diagonally and then arranged in pairs touching each other. The idea is that the North and South poles of each magnetic pair near the diaphragm face away from each other which results in a larger magnetic field. But because the opposite sides are positioned so close and their poles oppositely charged, their flux gets nearly canceled out. The net result is a whopping three times the flux in the LCD-4 over the LCD-3 (1.5 Tesla vs. 0.5 Tesla to be exact) as well as an even more uniformly distributed force across the diaphragm. And with more control means ultimately better sound.

    Nano-Grade Technology


    [​IMG]

    The other key aspect of extracting the maximum performance out of a planar magnetic design is the diaphragm itself. The exact specifications of the transducer in the LCD-4 is unknown, which is to be expected since most vendors consider this information proprietary. However, it has been reported that the diaphragm is sub-0.5 micron thick which is insanely thin. Even more interesting is that it takes a little over two weeks just to manufacture a single diaphragm for every pair of LCD-4 made! That's why to some extent, Audeze has not been able to keep up with demand with current lead times somewhere between 3-4 weeks. Bottom line: even if Audeze wanted to manufacture them faster, they simply can't.

    If you have been following the LCD-4 roll out, then you know that Audeze has made an update to its diaphragm after its initial launch. So why did they do this? To make a long story short, while working with their diaphragm vendor to setup a long term production run, Audeze discovered that they could improve both the reliability and performance of the diaphragm through a slightly improved manufacturing process. This updated diaphragm would have a lighter mass and thus a faster impulse response, yet still retain its relatively high efficiency. The only downside is that it causes the LCD-4's impedance to jump from 100 to 200 ohms. That means stiffer amp requirements to properly juice them.

    With all that said, at this price point, I think the overwhelming majority of Audeze customers, current and future, will already have some kind of dedicated headphone amp that should have more than enough headroom to power the LCD-4. In my testing, I had no issues whatsoever using the micro iDSD's normal power mode to reach acceptable volume levels; though I did wound up using turbo mode for most of my listening sessions since it falls more in line with Audeze's recommended power guidelines of 1-4 watts. If you are a proud owner of an early version 1 of the LCD-4, then Audeze will upgrade you to version 2 at no cost. My advice is to do it because the updated diaphragm clearly out performs the old one.

    Down in Cocobolo


    [​IMG]

    Although the LCD-4 retains the basic shape of the rest of the LCD line, everything else has been taken up a notch. The outer wood housing is made out of Cocobolo or aged Macassar Ebony, both of which are extremely limited and quite exotic in their own right. The headband is made out of leather with an additional carbon fiber strap on top of it that provides the actual clamping pressure. The grill has been updated too, and now has a chrome finish to it that is simultaneously both striking and classy looking. I highly encourage you to just hold the LCD-4 in your hands and really give it a once over. It just exudes luxury and high-end craftsmanship across the board.

    Interestingly enough, in terms of weight, the LCD-3 (543g) and LCD-4 (600g) are about the same. Yet I still found the LCD-4 to be more comfortable nevertheless. No, not as comfortable as my HE-1K, but certainly comfortable enough to listen to them for several hours straight without any sort of noticeable fatigue; though I still developed a slight hot spot on the top of my head after a few hours. But overall, I would still rate the LCD-4's comfort factor as relatively high. I also thought the leather/carbon fiber band had enough flexibility to it that it could easily fit a wide range of noggins. So if you are on the fence due to past experiences with the LCD line, at least give the LCD-4 a try. I think you will be comfortably surprised.

    [​IMG]

    Speaking of fit and finish, planar magnetic transducers need a very good seal around the ears for the best low frequency reproduction. And a testament to the LCD-4's technical prowess in this regard, is that it has an incredible low frequency extension down to 5hz! To achieve this kind of low-end grunt, Audeze added an acoustically resistive gasket between the earpad and transducer surface. This not only helps with the seal, but alleviates some of the suction effect when you put the LCD-4 on your head, which can push the diaphragm to an extreme excursion and can cause all sorts of mechanical issues. These gaskets help alleviate these sort of problems when you decide get a little too frisky with your earpads. Hey, it happens.

    Sound of the Beast


    [​IMG]

    Since the HE-1K is currently my current go to headphone, I spent an awful long time comparing it with the LCD-4. For the record, I did initially throw in my original non-Fazor LCD-3 into the mix, but that proved to be a non-starter. The LCD-4 (and HE-1K for that matter) is such leaps and bounds above the original LCD-3 that it's just not even fair to compare the two.

    In any event, I spent a lot time listening to the same track over and over again but switching headphones in between. I know, I know, you feel sorry for me, and you can hear the smallest violin in the world playing in the background right about now. Anyway, let's get to it.


    The very first aspect of the 4's sound that immediately jumps out is its incredible midrange; probably the best I've ever heard out of a headphone including the Orpheus. The acoustic guitar intro of the first track off Agalloch's now seminal 2002 classic, The Mantle, is a shining testament to that fact, with every subtle sonic nuance on full display. Reverb and decay are just phenomenal, which verifies the level of control Audeze has over the 4's diaphragm. However, the 4's overall tonality still remains indelibly Audeze, as the midrange is pushed a tinge forward though still sounds twice as open compared to its older siblings like the LCD-3 and X.

    When flipping back and forth between the 4 and 1K, a few things become immediately apparent. First, the 1K still has a wider soundstage overall, and I got to believe that has to do with the strategic upper midrange hump in its response. This recession has the by product of sounding more open despite being ultimately less accurate. Second, the 4's detail retrieval is truly second to none, and that again has a lot to do with Audeze's class leading control over their diaphragm. Three, the 1K has more energy in the treble department. By energy, I mean cymbal crashes have a more visceral impact to them through the 1K over the 4. But make no mistake about it, the 4 is no slouch either. I'll have more to say about its treble in due time. And finally, the 4's bass goes deeper, has more impact, and sounds even tighter over the 1K, which certainly has plenty of first rate bass to begin with. As I said above, Audeze claims that the bass extends all the way down to 5Hz, and after listening to the 4 for a little over a month straight now, I tend to believe them.


    Here's a funny story: I'm a Type-O Negative fanatic. I've seen them over a dozen times, and even was fortunate enough to see the band play live right before Pete died. Well one day I made this revelation abundantly clear to a colleague at work, and it turned out that he too was a big fan. He then proceeded to ask me to name my favorite Type-O record. Simple, right? Well, I just couldn't do it. I love them all. Lame, I know. But he could. He instantly rattled off Type-O's 1999 doom epic, World Coming Down, and ever since, I've had a new found respect for this album. I also think its title track is a great tune to test headphones with, since it moves at a funeral doom pace allowing you to absorb everything as it's happening.

    I spent a lot of time again switching back and forth between the 4 and the 1K, and after a while, I felt that each time I went to the 1K it was a step down. There is no question that the 1K is very engrossing with its pleasant, laid back sound, which makes it an absolute joy to listen to over long periods of time. But it doesn't nearly resolve as well as the 4, nor does it have the tonal prowess of it either. Moreover, the 4 just has a level of instrument separation and impact that really earns the end-game headphone moniker. Pete's bass simply sounds monstrous throughout. Kenny's guitar driven fuzz is crystal clear, and lingers in the ear as each note decays. Every hit of Johnny's snare is viscerally felt, not just heard. The last time I heard this kind of clarity was when I owned a pair of Sony Qualia's ($2700 back in 2004) driven through a very expensive DIY balanced chain setup. Ah, sweet memories.


    So let's talk treble, since that seems to be the elephant in the room when it comes to many online discussions around the 4. The Dave Brubeck Quartet's 1959 classic, Time Out, is one of the greatest jazz records of all time. And ironically, their most famous tune off of it, "Take Five," was actually designed to be a glorified drum solo, which means it makes perfect source fodder to test treble (and transients for that matter). If you aren't familiar with the track, take a listen and you'll hear what I mean. Morello rides that hat for a good bulk of the song, and his midflight solo is filled with transients galore. What's also nice is that Time Out's mix has the cymbal and hats all panned to the left, with the piano to the right and the bass and sax front and center, which means it's very clear where all the frequency content is emanating from.

    The main difference in treble between the 1K and 4 is again, energy. Neither are dark by any stretch of the imagination, but the 1K feels hotter upstairs and in a good way. The 4 certainly sounds more articulate. with the 1k sounding a tinge muddy compared to the 4. But there is no doubt in my mind (or ears) that the 4 could benefit greatly with a little EQ and smooth out the upper midrange to treble transition to give it more high-end oophm.

    Note that treble is very difficult to do right because the human ear is very sensitive to it. Moreover, everyone has their preference on the amount of treble they prefer. So even if a headphones measure "right" with respect to frequency response, it may still not sound natural to you. For example, I find the HD-800 to be piercing, same goes with the AB-1266 (though in the Abyss' defense I did not get formally fitted which I'm told can make a big difference). Some vehemently believe just the opposite. Bottom line: I find the LCD-4's treble to be absolutely spot on with the caveat that it doesn't have the same impact relative to its full bodied bass and midrange response. Your mileage may vary.

    Conclusion


    [​IMG]

    The LCD-4 not only embodies the state-of-the-art in planar magnetic headphone design, but it is by far and wide one of the most thrilling headphones I've have ever had the pleasure to listen to. In fact, its only real downside is its price. At $4k, the LCD-4 is way outside most audiophile's budgets, but is admittedly on the high-side even within its own target segment. Its closest competitor is the HE-1K, which though overall is clearly less accurate, has a wider soundstage, more energy upstairs, and costs a thousand dollars less. And those who of you who are looking for LCD-4 like performance without the LCD-4 like price should consider MrSpeakers' Ether, which offers a superlative musical experience and costs over half as less, as well as Audeze's own LCD-X, which is more neutral sounding than the 3 yet still retains that wonderful Audeze house sound. The bottom line is you have to have deep pockets to justify the cost of the LCD-4, otherwise there are better options out there that offer more bang for the buck. Truth be told, if I did not know the LCD-4 existed, I would be more than happy with my HE-1K.

    Yet with all that said, the LCD-4 is still a stunning achievement nonetheless, and may very well be the best mass produced headphone on the planet right now. So its high barrier to entry is somewhat justified given its marvelous performance both inside and out. And if you have the cash, I can think of no better option. Highly recommended.

    This review was originally featured on Metal-Fi.
      Anjolie, dvidos, ViperGeek and 9 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. gab840
      A Gr8 review!!
      gab840, Apr 11, 2016
    3. TheMiddleSky
      Great review there! Easy to read and not boring at all.
       
      If I may give suggest, maybe should throw some asian songs there to compare. Back when I compare H1K and Abyss in high hend set up, usually HE1K win over Abyss in asian songs (Susan Wong, Mona, Yao SI Ting, etc), wherea Abyss could lead in western songs (Diana Krall, Norah Jones, David Munyon, even wetern pop songs)
       
      Thanks and enjoy your glorious experience there with 2 headphone beast! :)
      TheMiddleSky, Apr 11, 2016
    4. Sp12er3
      Thanks for the great review! and introducing me to Time Out Album... listening to it with my Grado right now...
      Sp12er3, Apr 11, 2016
  8. Psalmanazar
    The smoothest ever.
    Written by Psalmanazar
    Published Apr 3, 2016
    2.5/5,
    Pros - Liquid smooth and grain free. Zero clamping force.
    Cons - Headbanging is impossible.
    I was very excited to try the LCD-4 after hearing about the improvements to the sound Audeze has made and reports that it is the best of the line yet.
     
    Comfort:
    The headband is great and clamp-free for those that despise clamp. However the cups are still very heavy and I feel it needs a tiny bit of clamp to not be in danger of falling off my head should I stand up or reach over to change the volume. Of course headbanging is impossible.

    Bass:
    Very smooth and well extended. Perhaps the smoothest I've ever heard. Smoother than the slicked up floor of a surgical ward. So smooth that it lacks texture and especially impact. The lack of impact compared to almost all other Audeze headphones and dynamic driver cans is huge. The LCD-4 never boxes your ears. Slayer and Suffocation were so laid back, my brain was never in danger of being caught in a brutal mosh pit between the cups of the LCD-4. You know how Shure claims to have "liquid mids"? The LCD-4 has liquid bass.

    Mids:
    Once again super-smooth and grain free. A pleasant improvement over the other Fazors which can be somewhat grainy. The upper mids are recessed but clean, the Audeze house sound.

    Treble:
    The treble is vanquished. The LCD4 succeeds in pleasantly rendering the brutal cymbals of Blasphemy's Fallen Angel of Doom and the ultra-clipped snare samples of modern hip hop. Unfortunately, the metallic percussion of Philip Glass and the Kronos Quartet was presented as tiny bits of distortion above the other instruments rather than cymbals, snares, triangles.

    Audio Quality: 5/10 The LCD-4 is good at what it does.
    Comfort: 7/10 Comfortable but needs to be more secure on the head.
    Design: 5/10 Audeze clearly meant for the LCD-4 to fit and sound like this.
    Value: 2/10 If you can afford the LCD-4, it has its place.

    Conclusion:
    The smoothest ever. I prefer the LCD-X myself as it's a bit livelier but the LCD-4 has its place. The LCD-4 is recommended for those who do not wish to deal with any potentially unpleasant viscerality from their chosen recordings.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. glassmonkey
      I heard the LCD4 out of the Questyle CMA600i and feel this reviewers comments are accurate. I found it lacking in lower end detail, and that the treble just disappeared on Hotel California. I really disliked the sound, but I'm open to a new listen on different equipment. Since the CMA600i is very neutral and has about 2W of power, it should be able to drive these and show what they really sound like, but maybe it doesn't. I just know that the Ethers on was awesome and the oBravo EAMT-3A ($2000) IEM sounded way way way, I can keep going, way better. 
      glassmonkey, Jul 30, 2016
    3. grizzlybeast
      whoah this has the exact opposite of what I treasure most. What a pity. LCD-X is prob the most 'visceral' in the line up then. 
      grizzlybeast, Aug 30, 2016
    4. Gamergtx260
      I understand everyone is entitled to their opinions and heres mine, I totally disagree. Seems like it was written after a 5 min listen without giving details on the setup and maybe he likes a more neutral headphone. 
      Gamergtx260, Nov 19, 2016
  9. adzent
    Audeze LCD-4's are the best studio headphones ever
    Written by adzent
    Published Sep 30, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - amazing clarity and sonic image
    Cons - heavy and hot
    These LCD-4s are beasts! (sonic beasts) I was psyched to have the opportunity to test these professional over the ear headphones in the Adzent Music studio last month, and I was not disappointed. The new LCD-4 headphones from Audeze are a joy for someone like me, who has an annoyingly good ear and who has been classically trained (but don’t call me an audiophile). I have been using the EL-8s in the studio for a while now, for a variety of tasks from mixing and mastering comparison, to recording and monitoring, and have become totally reliant on them. I expect them to sound even, and to reveal detail that I occasionally miss in the room, and they’ve never let me down, their accuracy is unparalleled…until I heard the powerful LCD-4s.

    I’ve had the honor and pleasure of testing an advance pair of the new LCD-4s and I just don’t want to take them off my ears.  I certainly don’t want to give them back, but my wife is annoyed that I’ve spent so much extra time in the studio the past few days. I keep telling her that this is work. But then I ask myself, is it really?

    The sound. It’s all about the accuracy of the sound. The dimensions of the sound. Well, the detail and spacious clarity of the LC-4s is something I’m not used to hearing in a set of headphones. Don’t get me wrong, the Audeze EL-8s are great too, and I’ve produced some killer music and sound design with them.  In fact, they’re so great that I’ve already upgraded a lot of my mixing chain to get more sound clarity out of my in-room studio set-up. But the LCD-4s are the best sounding headphones I’ve had in the studio to date. Is it some sort of sonic technology breakthrough? I don’t know. What I do know is that I like it.

    These performance headphones are next level. The detail across the entire sonic spectrum is amazing. They are not hyped in the low end, they are very true across the mids, and I don’t hear any harsh top-end. I can listen to them for hours. They sound great on higher resolution recordings, especially 96k and 192k recordings. I think they are pretty future proof. 

    The cons, they are heavy, and they are big.  These aren’t traveling headphones. These phones are built to be worn in an environment with really good source material, really good convertors, and a high-end amplifier. Whatever you put into them you can trust that the playback is as pure as it gets. They seal very well on my head, but you will have to try them to make sure that you have the same experience. But be ready, the cons of that great seal is that your ears are gonna sweat (I never knew that was even possible before these things).

    In a head to head comparison of the LCD-4s and the EL-8s, the new model is warmer and deeper, and everything is closer and wider, as well as higher and lower, in the sonic picture. The reverb is clearer and truer, and they reveal sonic details that you may have missed on other headphones.  I’ve used them on records that I know really well and am noticing parts of the recordings that were previously masked.  I am inspired to go back and remix a lot of material. 

    These are premium headphones, so they are certainly not inexpensive. If you add in the cost of a really high-end amplifier you’re going to really knock it out of the park. That being said, investing in the LCD-4s and a killer amp is significantly cheaper than building a listening system in your room that matches their clarity and evenness. If you can swing it, these headphones, which are nearing sonic perfection, will rock your world. I give them a thumbs up.

    [Mod Edit: After concern from members, I've talked to the poster and he told us that these were a pre-production unit. Audeze asked him (maybe unwisely given he is unknown here) to post his impressions on Head-Fi. He states he does not work for them. I'm sure everyone is sensible enough to make up their own mind about reviews so this review will stay as is.]

      dvidos likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Mr.Tom
      Pretty minor review for such a major headphone. But thanks for sharing, as it's better than nothing.
      Mr.Tom, Dec 10, 2015
    3. Mr.Tom
      Pretty minor review for such a major headphone. But thanks for sharing, as it's better than nothing.
      Mr.Tom, Dec 10, 2015
    4. asymcon
      Major headphone?? In which aspect, not considering the price? They're heavy, huge, hard to drive and not comfortable for long sessions. Why would anyone want them? 
      asymcon, Dec 10, 2015