Audeze LCD-5 Planar Magnetic Headphones

ufospls2

Headphoneus Supremus
Audeze LCD-5 - Full Review
Pros: Detail
Transparency
Speed
Cons: Stock tuning
Upper mid range peak
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Introduction​

Hi Guys,

Today we are taking a look at the most recent flagship planar magnetic headphones from Giant in the space, the LCD-5 from Audeze. Audeze made their name as part of the early planar magnetic headphone resurgence about a decade and a half ago with headphones like the LCD-1, and original LCD-2. Since then, in terms of flagship headphones from Audeze, we have seen the LCD-3, LCD-4, and LCD-5. I have owned the LCD-3 and LCD-4 long term and was really interested in what the LCD-5 was like as it was such a massive departure from both their signature design and past tunings. The original LCD series were typified by their wood rings, heavy build, and usually relaxed and warm tuning (to varying degrees.) The LCD-5 has moved away from that entirely, being much lighter, and slightly smaller physically, with a much more upper mid forward and neutral type of presentation sonically. Tuning-wise, the LCD-5 is very similar to Audeze’s co-flagship headphone, the electrostatic CRBN (which I reviewed a few months back.)

Tuning​

In general, I wasn’t a huge fan of the stock tuning of the CRBN, but found with EQ it became an incredibly enjoyable pair of headphones. Due to the LCD-5 being so similar in terms of stock tuning, this was the case again. The overall sound of the LCD-5 does differ from the CRBN in some ways, but overall in terms of tuning alone, they are very similar. I’ll speak about the tuning in its stock form, and then about EQ in relation to the LCD-5 afterwards.

The low end of the LCD-5 is entirely neutral. No recession, no boost. This is pretty common amongst planar magnetic headphones, and the LCD-5 is no exception. In previous LCD models, the bass was always a strong point, but could at times be slow sounding. The LCD-5 is the fastest and most accurate of all the LCD headphones in terms of bass. Impact/slam is one aspect that surprised me. The LCD-5 isn’t far away from the Abyss 1266TC in this area, and the 1266TC is the best on the market with regards to slam/impact. As with most headphones, I prefer a low shelf of some sort(adjust to personal preference obviously) to be applied via EQ as I prefer a more robust bass response than the LCD-5 has in its stock tuning.

The mid-range of the LCD-5 is incredibly similar to the CRBN and incredibly different from past LCD models. In terms of the low mid-range, it is much more neutral, less warm, and “gooey” for lack of a better term. The upper mid-range is very similar to the CRBN with a massive 3khz peak. This is also a departure from the much more recessed upper mid-range of previous LCD models. The 3khz peak is too much for me, and I adjusted that area via EQ. I think that the perceived overly forward upper mids nature of the LCD-5 is partly due to the 3khz peak, but also due to the much more subdued low end and treble than would normally be paired with such a peak. I found the 3khz area much less problematic if I simply boosted the low end and treble, but overall, preferred if it was slightly lowered via EQ. I think this upper mid-range is down to personal preference, and what is too much for one person might be just right for the next. As with the bass, the overall transparency, speed, and detail of the driver help convey the mids very well.

The treble of the LCD-5 is again, fairly neutral. It isn’t overly boosted or overly recessed. The treble is quite similar to the previous LCD models, perhaps being slightly less pronounced. For me, it isn’t enough overall in terms of level. I think that in combination with the very forward upper mids, it makes the treble come across as being less pronounced than it actually is. Again, this is something that is easily remedied with EQ, tweaked to personal preferences. The treble is very transparent and detailed, as with the rest of the frequency response.

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Technical Performance​

In terms of technical performance, the LCD-5 is a big step forward in most areas compared to previous LCD models, and a step back in some other ways. It is without a doubt the most detailed, transparent, impactful, and clean-sounding driver Audeze has come up with thus far. I even think that it slightly edges out the CRBN in terms of overall detail levels and transparency, which is impressive given the CRBN is an electrostatic headphone. The LCD-5’s soundstage is less grand sounding than the LCD-4, and I feel this is something some people might miss. If I had to come up with an analogy, the LCD-4 is a big cozy armchair that envelops you, and the LCD-5 is a carbon fiber racing bucket seat with a 5-point harness. The LCD-5 is the higher-performing headphone, but there is something to be said for the LCD-4 and other LCD series more laid-back nature. Overall the technical performance of the LCD-5 is incredibly impressive.

As I have mentioned previously, the stock tuning out of the box with the LCD-5 is not personally for me. It is too forward in the upper mids and lacks low-end and treble presence for my taste. The thing is, the LCD-5 has incredibly low distortion and takes to EQ very, very well. I didn’t end up doing anything drastic, and it turned it into a headphone I greatly enjoyed. I just applied a low and high shelf, and slightly reduced the 3khz peak. With these adjustments in combination with the slam and impact I mentioned speaking about the low end, the LCD-5 sort of reminded me of the Abyss 1266TC. In a way, like a more focused smaller sounding 1266TC.

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Build Quality and Comfort​

The build quality and overall design are also a massive departure from previous LCD series headphones. Gone are the classic wood rings, replaced with acetate tortoiseshell. Gone are the big sumptuous leather pads, replaced with fluted leather. The overall size has shrunk, I would guess by about 10%. The LCD-5 does feel slightly smaller on your ears than the previous LCD series headphones. The headband is carbon fiber, to help achieve the weight savings that the LCD-5 has managed. With the LCD-4 you were looking at around 700-710 grams for the headphones, and with the LCD-5 that has been reduced to 420 grams. I feel that 420 grams is much more reasonable, and I haven’t had any issues with comfort over my time with the LCD-5. They are not as comfortable as something like the Meze ELITE (and empyrean) which are still the gold standard in my opinion for headphone comfort, but they are entirely usable for long periods without discomfort. The LCD-5 comes with a very nice and well-made braided cable terminated in 4-pin XLR, with a 4-pin XLR to 6.35mm TRS adapter. This has you covered for most uses, and a cheap 4-pin XLR to 4.4mm Pentaconn adapter from Amazon would round that out nicely.

One thing to mention about the LCD is that it is much different from previous LCD series headphones in terms of sensitivity and impedance. The LCD-4 was a headphone with a 200ohm impedance and a 97db/mw sensitivity, whilst the LCD5 has an impedance of only 14ohms and 90db/mw sensitivity. This is worth taking into consideration as although the impedance has massively reduced, the sensitivity is much lower. It will take some experimentation to find out which amp works best for your uses, and whether or not you will be using it in a portable setting, etc…For example, due to the uncharacteristically low impedance, I ended up having to use the iFi Diablo 2’s single-ended output instead of the balanced output, as I was hitting the current protection and the unit was shutting off with the balanced 4.4mm out, but there were no issues using the single-ended output. This will entirely depend on the gear you are using, so experiment and see what you find works best.

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Comparisons​

In terms of comparisons with the LCD-5 being the current flagship planar magnetic headphone from a juggernaut in the space, it makes sense to compare it to other options.

Compared to the Hifiman Susvara, the LCD-5 is more aggressive and less laid back. It is slightly less detailed than the Susvara but does have more impact, whilst also being more focused sounding with a smaller soundstage. Of the two, I prefer the Susvara, but the LCD-5 is much easier to drive, and also 1500USD cheaper at MSRP.

Against the Abyss 1266TC, there are more similarities than you might expect (if EQ is applied.) The LCD-5 is slightly less detailed but does come close in terms of impact and slam. The 1266TC has a much bigger overall sound and soundstage but is heavier and slightly less comfortable. These are both very different headphones, with a few similarities in terms of technical performance if the LCD-5 is used with EQ. Again, there is a large difference in cost at 4500USD for the LCD-5.

The Meze Elite is the closest comparison in terms of MSRP, with the ELITE being 4000USD, and the LCD-5 being 4500USD. The Elite actually sort of reminds me more of the LCD-4 in terms of tuning, being slightly warmer and laid back in its overall nature. The LCD-5 is more detailed, with more transparency, impact, and slam. The ELITE is grander sounding, with a bigger sonic image and a much bigger soundstage. Comfort goes to the ELITE, but it is a class leader in this area.

Compared to Audezes co flagship, the CRBN, the LCD-5 has an incredibly similar frequency response. It has a smaller soundstage, especially in terms of soundstage height. It is very slightly more resolving and transparent than the CRBN, which surprised me due to the CRBN’s electrostatic nature. The big plus for the LCD-5 is the lack of need for an electrostatic amplifier. I’d be very curious to see Audeze try a Planar Magnetic headphone in the form factor of the CRBN, that could be a real winner.

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Conclusion​

Overall, the LCD-5 is a very interesting addition to Audeze’s lineup and a very big departure from their previous LCD series headphones in general. It is a much physically lighter and smaller headphone, with an entirely different tuning. I am not a fan of the tuning of the LCD-5 in its stock form, with it being too upper mid-forward, whilst lacking low and high end for my personal preferences. However, after applying EQ to make it more in line with my personal preferences, the LCD-5 became an incredibly enjoyable headphone to listen to. It is very detailed, transparent, and has a surprising amount of impact/slam. Overall comfort levels and weight in particular are a big improvement over the previous LCD headphones, but at times I did miss that sumptuous feel that the LCD4 had, for example. In a way, it is like a big comfortable 1980s Bentley Turbo R vs a 911 GT2RS. Both are great, just very different. With regards to the stock tuning not being my preference, I know that there are people out there who love the LCD-5’s stock tuning, so I would highly recommend you give them a try if you are not sure. You may not feel the need for EQ, and the stock tuning might be right up your alley.

I’m really curious about what is next for Audeze, especially with their recent acquisition by Sony PlayStation. The LCD-5 is a great addition to their lineup, but I’d also like to see them continue to experiment with other tunings and form factors (like the CRBN) whilst trying to maintain the level of technical performance the LCD-5 has achieved. Great stuff Audeze!
tamleo
tamleo
The ugliest headphone I have ever seen. With the price I will buy a focal utopia lol
A
alekc
I am really missing MM-500 in this review, especially since ifi diablo has been mentioned. I have been listening to MM-500 and LCD-5 with micro idsd siganture and there was almost no difference in some aspects like detail retrival. Yet the tunning of MM-500 brought me a lot more joy not to mention the price difference. I also disagree with Susvara vs LCD-5 description. On Envy Performance edition LCD-5 are nowhere near Susvarna or T+A both Solitaire versions. Overall thank you for interesting review and nice read :)
YungOmbat
YungOmbat
so many negative opinions on lcd 5 lol

MusicalDoc8

500+ Head-Fier
I spedrun so fast to the endgame I broke the sound barrier
Pros: - DETAIL
- FREQUENCY RESPONSE
- AUDIO HEAVEN
Cons: First models' XLR plug tightness
XLR plug angling
Cups have glue tape in lieu of better systems to swap/place earpads.
My road to the audio summit feels more like a speedrun. Starting off with a BTR5 and the Starfield, i ended up not two years later seeking a summit. I just wanted to skip all the middle men and the trap of marginal improvement, and jump to the summit. Took a while, watched videos, read reviews, and here i am.
Maybe this should have been my first review, but instead ended up one of the latest. Why? Because i feel like every single time i put them on the LCD-5 feel like the first time. The sound, the detail....well spoiler alert i love this headphone and i could let go of all my other headphones and IEM and just keep the LCD-5.

With that out of the way, what did i get my hands on?
Only on a monster of detail, tonal accuracy and (shocking assertion to some) a very comfy headphone.

Let's start right off the bat, detail. I could go all in about how my most loved songs sounded "new", but it's true. You hear something on these, it becomes THE benchmark. If it's in the recording, you WILL hear it. I swear you could find out if a singer had a heavy dinner the night before he recorded when using this headphone.
Instrument separation is phenomenal, every source is laser-clear to the point you can point exactly every source of sound. On a side note, you WILL get accused of using a wallhack when playing online FPS, these make you feel like daredevil had a child with a bat. blind firing in smokescreens because you know where the enemy is, is a satisfaction that will never become old. neither the insults you will receive for such acustic accuracy.
Having such levels of acoustic clarity comes with one "disadvantage", that is either you feed it a clean track or you WILL know every defect of it. I had to delete some albums and find better sources sorely because they were "faulty" when listened to this glorified acustical electronic microscope.
Soundstage is just right, neither something that feels too distant nor in your face. It all sits "properly" where it should. I can't stretch enuogh how this headphone is just a living benchmark to the audio field.
Another point of clarity isn't just how detailed the sound is, but also how everything sounds just "right", no note hangs in the air or lags, no distortion, every single genre i feed it just ends up prosented to me just like it should. Bold assertion but i WILL stand by it.

Frequency presentation is to my ear pitch perfect. Some call it mid forward, but i don't feel it and voices don't kill other sounds, basses are great, highs are just the right level of intensity and clarity.
Bass being great doesn't mean it's a bass-centric headphone. For that i would reccomend the Kennerton Heartland, that feels like a LCD-5 junior with added bass power while keeping almost all the clarity. (seriously, if you have a chance go try those if you want a bass improved headphone that is still very resolving)

I could just end the review here, they are great, go look for a deal on them by some sellers and just buy them and skip the whole grind of spending as much as an LCD5 in 3-4 headphones for just marginal improvements.

But yeah it's a big investment, so I'll hammer home the point of their greatness:

Songs:

Body Company (Club Hit) - You can just close your eyes and you're in a club with this song blasting out, you feel right there, highs don't shrill, bass is always in control, the male voice is always clear and defined.

PAPA PLastic - The guitar intro is just pure pleasure, the female vocal is so intimate it whispers in your hear, the battery is there in the background to hammer home the bass. Bliss with the LCD5.

Me Machine - Electronic song, reproduced without a single hitch, bass and highs working side by side, never mixing or overlapping, an excersize in high/low frequency interaction.

Come Fly With Me - Frank Sinatra - You're there, sinatra is on stage, and the orchestra is just behind him. This is how i'd rate the experience on the LCD-5. I think shy of resurrecting him, you'll never hear it better than with the LCD-5

Isn't She Lovely - Chesky Records35th Anniversary - Pair up a monster of mastering called Chesky Records, use the best resolving headphone, and you've got a match made in heaven. If you never listened to their songs do it, and remember to try the LCD5 with those. I literally am sitting there, in front of the band, the singer is singing like a meter from me, on the left i have the bass, on the right the guitar and on the center sitting a little behidng the singer, the percussions. If there are songs that can highlight how much really a headphone can be resolving, chesky's are the ideal. Again, frequency is just perfect every instrument is tuned to perfection, every detail, the position of all musicians, so clearly defined!

Beethoven Symphony No.9 Op.125 Choral - Herbert von Karajan - You're there, in the music hall, and again unless you resurrect Karajan, ol' Wolf Ears heard through the LCD5 is as close as you can get as going back in time and listening to one of his concerts.


Is there A single bad thing?
Oh yes three. First, i got a first edition, and those have a TIGHT xlr connection, requiring you to carefully unplug the XLR end so that you don't over-stress the socket. Bit tricky at first but then it's easy. Fixed on later production models.
Then, the fact that the angle of the XLR connectors should have been slightly more forwad facing. If i tilt my head too much it touches on my SCM muscle.
And the ear cups are glued with glue tape. No easy detach mechanism. This feels like a big oversight that could have been so easily solved it's a mistery how it didn't get solved in planning stage. A magnet or a screw in mechanism would have done muuuch better. Thankfully i don't have to change the pads but beware: you gotta have a strong stomach if you need to change them.

So 9.95/10, and my only gripe are the xlr plug and not too friendly earpads. The rest is just perfect. I hope for a LCD-5 Mk 2 with just those fixes.

PS: They are good when paired with something that has power. They are no crazy-inefficient susvara but i bought an A70pro just to be safe. I had a K9Pro before that and the improvement was marginal, yet present. So don't skimp on the amp section, even more because it's something that right now can be done quite on the cheap with great results. For a dac, i use a E70 velvet because i'm hooked on the AK4499 sound. Yet, i manage to enjoy them on my RS8 (high gain, no turbo) without pushing the sound level. I used them with the R6Pro2 that has way less power, and indeed it felt they were a little choked.
Jonne Haven
Jonne Haven

theodyofil

New Head-Fier
The Video Review



INTRO

Audeze is an American company revered in audiophile circles for their pioneering work with planar magnetic technology. Hailing from the sunny landscape of California, Audeze is not your run-of-the-mill headphone manufacturer. The company's commitment to planar magnetic technology has been unwavering. The LCD series, standing for "Low Current Driver," is their flagship line, known for pushing the boundaries of audio reproduction. The LCD-5 represents the zenith of this pursuit, aiming to deliver an unparalleled auditory experience.

Material Quality and Comfort​

The LCD-5 exudes luxury and durability from the moment you lay eyes on it. The carbon fiber headband is both light and robust, *promising to withstand the rigors of regular use. Coupled with a magnesium housing, the headphones manage to combine sturdiness with a significantly reduced weight compared to their LCD-series predecessors. However, it's worth noting that some users have found the ear pads to be somewhat smaller than expected, which may impact comfort during extended listening sessions. While the real leather ear pads are made of luxurious material that offer a plush feel, which feels soft to the touch, the clamping force can be a point of division among users—some find it secure, while others may feel it's a bit too tight for longer listening sessions. I find it just well, no problem indicators for my ergonomics.

Overall, Audeze LCD-5 is a well-engineered object, where form marries function in a minimalist ceremony. It feels rugged, purposeful, yet restrained. It’s not your flashy diamond ring, it’s your meticulously crafted timepiece.


Sound: The Opera House Inside Your Head​

Let’s dive in to the sound now.

The LCD-5's ability to retrieve quietest details in complex arrangements is quite impressive.

Resolution: The Microscope in Audio​

The Audeze LCD-5 has a knack for laying bare the very essence of recordings. When it comes to resolution, we're in the domain of hyper-realism. You can hear the small idiosyncrasies in a singer's voice and even the hushed tones of a triangle deep in the orchestral ensemble.

While the LCD-5’s resolution is similar to viewing an image at 8K—utterly stunning and almost surreal—it can be both a blessing and a curse. On well-mastered tracks, the amount of detail it reveals is jaw-dropping; you may hear nuances that you never knew existed. Yet, on poorly recorded or compressed music, the LCD-5 might reveal more than you wish to hear, turning minor imperfections into glaring faults. As it should though.

Think of the LCD-5's resolution as the Hubble Telescope for your ears. You're not just hearing sound, you're observing sonic galaxies with your ears now. There's a sense of 'atomic' detail here—the feeling that you're listening to the fundamental building blocks of sound itself. Individual waveforms are almost palpable; you can 'see' the texture of a bass note, the filament-like structure of a high-hat cymbal.

Detail Retrieval: The Fine Print Under the Magnifying Glass​

Detail retrieval is where the LCD-5 goes to great lengths. It will swift through complex passages like an archeologist brushing away the sand to uncover the delicate bones of some ancient creature. The plucking of a harp, the rustle of a drummer adjusting his seat, the faint murmur of backing vocals—each minutiae are exposed and given room to breathe.

In a nutshell, the LCD-5 serves as an almost archival tool for your music—documenting every crevice, every nuance with scientific precision. It's less of a relaxed evening at the opera and more of an intense session under the audiophile's microscope. The detail retrieval here is less a feature and more an expedition. Each listening session feels like a treasure hunt.

Transparency: Can You See Through the Sound?​

The term "transparent" becomes tactile with the LCD-5. You'll be able to slice through layers of complex compositions. You discern each layer. But be warned, this level of transparency can sometimes feel like staring through a flawless but cold pane of glass. You see everything, but you might miss the warmth of imperfections. Like the Sony MDR-Z1R have been doing for example. Or my beloved speakers, klipsch heresy IV.

Transient Response:​

Yet, this razor-sharp timing keep reminds you that you are listening to a top-notch planer magnetic driver. That is not your usual dynamic driver that you use to hear in your everyday life. At first, you may feel it unrealistic in the ocean of hyper-realism. It would pass though, once you get use to see through the music.

Soundstage: The Set Design​

Spaciousness is LCD-5's strong suit. It casts a wide net, pulling you into an expansive auditorium.

The soundstage is roomy.

I quite like it. While instruments often finds a way to excel outwards your head, vocals always feels intimate. A focused experience like the Sennheier’s HD600. Nice!

Think of it as having front-row seats but spread widely apart—you'll witness the action with greater air while still able to focus on micro level.

Overall, it’s a headphone that won't shy away from showing you both the perfections and imperfections of your music library. **You could think of it as a precision surgical instrument: capable of intricate operations, but requiring a steady hand to wield effectively.

However, this pinpoint transient response and great amount of micro detail retreival poses a question: Are we sacrificing musical gestalt for temporal exactitude? While the attack and decay of each note are impeccably rendered, some may find that this draws attention away from the musical journey and fixates it on individual sonic events.

All told, the Audeze LCD-5 serves up a heavy plate of technical brilliance that might feel like a seven-course meal for the ears, but with a flavor profile(i mean the timbre and tonal balance) that may not be everyone's cup of tea. It's like dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant—extraordinary, yet perhaps too refined for some palates.

Amping and Source Material​

To get the most out of the LCD-5, a quality amplifier is a must. These headphones are unforgiving with poor source material but pair them with a high-quality DAC and amplifier, and they truly come alive, revealing complexities and nuances that are sublime.

I would recommend at least, the Chord Mojo 2. They match nicely.

On the Chord Mojo 2, i raised the lower shelf by several dbs. While decreasing the intensity just a touch on the upper midrange, more air on the upper treble suits to the profile. These are all subjective approaches of course.

Outro

In the end, the Audeze LCD-5 serves as both a revelation and an interrogation of your musical world. It offers an unprecedented level of detail and resolution but also asks you to confront the unsettling clarity it brings. The LCD-5 is not merely an instrument for listening; it's a microscope and a telescope, a journey and a destination, an exploration and, perhaps most compellingly, a question.


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Trance_Gott

Headphoneus Supremus
If you are willing to use an EQ the LCD-5 is one of the best headphones you can buy at the moment!
Pros: Best planar magnetic in terms of speed and resolution
Very light and comfortable
Responds incredible well to EQ
With EQ hard to beat
Cons: Stock tuning could use a little less midrange and more bass for me
Expensive
The LCD-5, together with the CRBN, forms Audeze's flagship series. With both models, Audeze enters new territory in terms of tonality. While the older LCD models are known for their very smooth and warm tuning, the new flagships sound a lot more neutral, especially in the upper midrange. I will describe how exactly the two differ in the following.

The scope of delivery includes an aluminum carrying case, a warranty card with serial number and production date, and a high-quality connection cable. My tested model is a production from the end of 2022, which already has the current headband on board. Audeze had initially delivered a headband with very high contact pressure and then improved this after some time. Since I also know the original model, I must say that the new headband is much more comfortable with perfect contact pressure. The very high quality OCC headphone cable has a 4 pin XLR connector. In my opinion, all manufacturers in this price range should ship such cables with the headphones. I have a few other aftermarket cables to test here, but this included one beats them all! So there's really no need to spend hundreds of dollars on another cable here.

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What is immediately noticeable is the lower weight compared to the predecessor, the LCD-4 and significantly! The newly developed drivers are slightly smaller than those of the LCD-4. The geometry of the ear pads is also fundamentally different. The reshaped, inwardly sloping ear pad architecture reduces unwanted resonance and internal reflections. All in all, it sits super comfortably on the head and the weight does the rest.

The workmanship is typical Audeze absolutely top. Where wood was used before, acetate is now used to further reduce the weight. The design is reminiscent of the colors of a turtle shell, the acetate shimmers in the light, I like it. I think in the future you may even be able to select the colors/design, as is the case with Rosson Audio.

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I tested the Audeze LCD-5 once portable on the Shanling M8 and stationary on my Topping D90SE->Niimbus US4 chain. The LCD-5 is so easy to drive that even the low gain setting of the M8 is quite sufficient.

There are only two words that come to mind for the first few tracks, and they are "clean" and "resolution". The LCD-5 sounds so clean and has a resolution that I think I'm listening to an electrostatic headphone. Transients come out like a shot. Surprisingly, the CRBN as an electrostatic sounds more like a full-blown planar magnetic, whereas the LCD-5 sounds like a straight electrostatic. This is probably not what one would have expected! In direct comparison to an LCD-4, the 5's more neutral playing style is noticeable. A little more in the mid-range, more treble and somewhat more moderate bass range.

The bass has an unimagined richness of details and lets this typical Audeze punch emerge despite a slightly lower quantity compared to the LCD-4. It also goes down really far.

In terms of resolution, you can really hear every detail. This is somewhat reminiscent of a RAAL-requisite SR1 or Stax SR-009. The LCD-5 beats the new Utopia 2022 as well as the Hifiman Susvara in this discipline.

Tonally, the LCD-5 is very reminiscent of the Utopia 2022, but with a bit more forward midrange and a bit less punch in the bottom end. In terms of stage, it offers more illumination in all directions than the Utopia 2022, whose parade discipline this is not exactly. As delivered, I prefer the Utopia 2022 to the LCD-5.

It is a pity that the LCD-5 is technically one of the best headphones that you can buy at the moment, but tonally not 100% as I imagine it at least. A little more bass, less mids then it would be perfect. But I can only speak for my taste and I listen to 90% rock and metal and very little jazz or classical music. With vocal based material, a little more around 3 KHz can even seem more pleasing if a perfect recording is illuminated a little more. Besides, every ear is sometimes more sometimes less susceptible around 3 Khz. Also the bass quantity will be quite enough for one or the other, I'm just a little Bass Head😊. We are not talking about a bass weak headphones here for a long time, not at all! The bass in the LCD-5 is, however, qualitatively so good that I just wanted more pressure in the lower rum in some passages.

Fortunately, the LCD-5 can be easily adjusted with the PEQ without any distortion. This is probably thanks to the technically excellent features it possesses. And now the best part: with PEQ, it plays in the absolute ranks of the top 5 headphones. As a reference for EQing, I recommend the settings of @Resolve. They already fit for many like a fist on the eye. If you like it not quite so neutral and a little warmer, you can try these settings, which I have made based on the @Resolve EQ.

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If you now compare a CRBN with Bob Katz EQ against an LCD-5 with Resolve EQ, you ask yourself again the initial question, who is the planar magnetic and who is the electrostatic? Wrong world! The CRBN sounds like a LCD-4 on stereoids with much better mids and a brilliant low end! The LCD-5 like a scalpel with a musical flow that makes you forget you're wearing headphones. The sound virtually detaches itself from the ear cups. Speed, resolution and nothing but purity! Madness! The CRBN and LCD-5 outperform a Utopia 2022 in terms of stage. The CRBN with an almost unbelievable depth, whereas the LCD-5 is a bit broader. In the bass and in the mids, I see the CRBN slightly ahead, the LCD-5 trumps in the treble and plays there past a Hifiman Susvara and 1266 Abyss TC.

In conclusion, I can say that the LCD-5 is a right and important step for Audeze towards a more neutral tonality. I would have liked a little less midrange and a little more bass out of the box, then it would be perfect. But fortunately, I'm more than pleasantly surprised by what these headphones are capable of delivering after the PEQ adjustment, and it's nothing short of great cinema! So if you are willing to use an EQ, I can highly recommend the LCD-5. Then it is one of the best headphones you can buy at the moment. If you don't want to use an EQ, you should definitely listen to these exceptional headphones. For those who have not wanted to invest in an electrostatic setup, the LCD-5 is a planar magnetic that plays as close to electrostats as any other of its kind.

Many thanks to @AudiophileAri who assist me with the review unit.

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EMINENT
EMINENT
Great job! Thanks for the write up. And, listening while reading too!
Casey’sToneQuest
Casey’sToneQuest
Droool id love to give these a try someday, I’ll have to “settle” for a used LCD-X for now hehe. Thanks for the review

Pansbjorne

100+ Head-Fier
Peak of Reference
Pros: Detail detail
Exceptional vocals
Smooth as heck
Great energy without being too much
Cons: Headband clamp can be uncomfortable
Bass is a bit weak
Introduction

I'm definitely one who'd turn his nose at anything called "neutral. And to be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed when I first put on the LCD-5's. However, giving them a fair shake it becomes clear just how exceptional they are, far beyond what you could sum up in a single word.

Sound Impressions

Honestly, the LCD-5's are a bit hard to talk about. When it comes to sound, I really struggle to find any flaws. It might not excel in particular areas, namely low end, but I definitely wouldn't say it's a poor performer in any category. I'd almost call it a jack of all trades, master of none sort of situation if not for the standout vocals and detail delivery. I'd say the only real flaw is the clamp comfort, which can get uncomfortable after several hours.

Now, the easiest complement I can give the LCD-5 is that they are detail machines. Everything is delivered with exceptional precision. Vocals are also excellent, like a refined HD 600.

However, what stood out to me the most and what I think makes these a standout in the TOTL range is just how smooth everything is. Even the spiciest of treble spikes hit like silk, but still with plenty of life and energy. It's almost magical how well these draw the line just in the right place without ever being sibilant or fatiguing, or on the other hand, being too soft. Seriously, I have never once thought "Ouch!" wearing these (except maybe from the clamp force).

I can't comment too much on EQ, though I did mess around a bit to bring up the low end. Personally, I enjoyed them just as they are, but I can certainly see these being a near perfect canvas to shape the sound to your liking.

On a final note, I feel these really excel with rock. In particular, AC/DC's Thunderstruck has never sounded better to the point where it's all I want to listen to. So if that's your jam, I wouldn't hesitate to pick these up.

Comparisons

Of the headphones I have, I think this comes closest to the DT1990 in terms of sound signature (no surprise there), but without any of the characteristic sharpness and detail turned up to 11.

Price wise, the closest competitor I have is the Verite Closed. Although the VC is certainly no slouch, the LCD-5 wins handily in terms of detail and vocals. I might go so far as to call the VC dark of veiled, particularly in the midrange. However, the VC has far superior low end, both in terms of quantity and slam.

At this point, the price gap widens to the point of questionable merit, but worth mentioning is the Arya V3. Again, the LCD-5's detail and vocals are far superior with the Arya V3 instead having much more low end. In this case I wouldn't say the Arya is strictly better given just how smooth the LCD-5 is; it probably just comes down to preference at that point. The Arya also has wider soundstage, giving that somewhat holographic feel I know I personally love. There's certainly nothing wrong with the soundstage on the LCD-5, but it's not one of it's defining characteristics.

Conclusion

I can definitely recommend these to those looking for high energy, all-rounders or those seeking the TOTL forms of the DT 1990 or HD 600. Personally, I think these are still a bit too neutral for my taste, but would certainly be an excellent pillar in many a collection.
kajetanjazz
kajetanjazz
What have you driving them with and can you comment on the quality of soundstage (imaging) compared to Arya? For example the utopia 2022 had much smaller soundstage, but there were things I’ve never heard before within it in terms of depth and movement

tutetibiimperes

100+ Head-Fier
Setting a New Benchmark
Pros: Unparalleled Detail and Resolution
Best Stock Tuning of any Audeze Headphone
Solid and Attractive Build Quality
High Quality Stock Cable that's Finally Long Enough
Premium Aluminum Case
Cons: Excessive Clamp Force (original headband on review sample)
Cups Smaller than Ideal
Thank you to Todd @ TTVJ for sponsoring the review tour of the Audeze LCD-5. I was able to test the headphone on my home setup for a week in exchange for my honest opinions.

Overview

There's a scene in the 2nd season of the television show The Expanse where an alien intelligence deconstructs an entire space-ship into its individual component parts. The Audeze LCD-5 does this to music, exposing every detail, every nuance, every intricate detail in such a way that's breathtaking.

Associated Equipment

Source - Bluesound Node 2i with Apple Music Lossless and FLAC CD Rips on USB Stick

DAC - RME ADI-2 DAC

Amp - Schiit Ragnarok 2

Overview

Build, Presentation, and Comfort


boxed.jpg


The Audeze LCD-5s come in a high quality aluminum travel case, similar to the previous Audeze Pelican cases, but feeling more premium due to its metal construction. The headphones fit into a beautifully precise laser-cut cutout and are surrounded by copious padding above and below, giving full confidence to take these when traveling without having to worry about the headphones being damaged.

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Audeze has swapped their signature wood rings for an acetate ring finished in a lovely tortoise shell pattern. I'm always a sucker for brown, and in the right light the tortoise really pops. I own a pair of LCD-3s that have suffered from the common cracking of the wood rings around the cable connectors, so going to a most robust material that shouldn't suffer such a fate is a move I fully support.

The adjustment rods are now more rectangular than the older style, but work in essentially the same way. The suspension headband has a leather (or leather-like) strap that touches your head, and a beautiful carbon fiber strap on top. While it's not really that important day to day, the leather on the Audeze headband doesn't smell anywhere as nice as the leather on the Meze Empyrean Elite headband.

headband.jpg



5cups.jpg


The cups are a major departure from previous Audeze headphones, with a concave construction that tapers in from the lip. This was reportedly done to help reduce unwanted reflections inside of the cups to produce a purer more detailed sound. The unfortunate part about it is that due to the high clamp force and smaller cups, my ears were mashed up against the inner surface of the pads. Over my week as the headband stretched a bit they did become more comfortable however.

Sound

The official Audeze LCD-5 thread has had a long-running debate since its inception about whether or not these headphones require EQ. I'm personally in the pro-EQ camp for the majority of headphones that I own, and it's rare that I find one that I feel reaches its full potential without it. In order to give the most well-rounded feedback about the LCD-5 I listened to it for several days without EQ, then with just a bass shelf, and finally with a full EQ profile (in my case Oratory1999's EQ Profile, as I've always been very impressed with his work). While just a bass shelf did improve and enhance them, I felt that the full EQ profile was considerably better, so the following are my impressions stock, and with full EQ.

Stock

Bass:
Light in impact, but with extremely deep extension, and the most detail I've ever heard in the bass of any headphone. Some rumble and a bit of slam on tracks that were mixed heavy in the bass, but on others with a more neutral production the bass often felt somewhat lacking in quantity. At no point did the bass ever bleed into the midrange or cause any problems for any other area of the frequency response.

Midrange: Hands down the best midrange of any Audeze headphone ever, and in easy contention for the best stock midrange of any headphone I've heard at all, perhaps falling a bit to the HD6XX/650 in overall tuning, but easily besting it by orders of magnitude in detail and speed. Voices come alive with proper harmonics and richness.

Treble: I'm not a treble-head, so it's hard for me to make direct comparisons, but it seemed very detailed and was never sibilant or over-emphasized.

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With EQ

Thankfully my RME ADI-2 DAC makes it very easy to apply EQs to various headphones, and to also switch between full-EQ, no-EQ, and just bass boost, all while still listening through quick hot-keys on the remote, so I could switch multiple times per track to really make sure I was hearing what I was hearing.

Bass: With EQ these slam and rumble with the best of them, easily matching or exceeding my LCD-3s, and maintaining the level of detail and accuracy without any bleed even with a copious amount of boost. The texture of the bass in Bela Fleck's Flight of the Cosmic Hippo came across perfectly, hearing nuances I'd never heard before, even on $200,000 speakers at audio shows. Switching to some electronic music Propellerhead's Bigger? showed off the bottomless extension and ability to rattle one's cheeks. HA:TFELT's Ain't Nobody is a track I love to test headphones on because it has both deep bass that should slam and punch that occurs at the same time as a yearning vocal line, a great headphone will make that sweet bass feel like it's suffusing your entire being while not letting it intrude on that vocal line, and the LCD-5s pass with flying colors.

Midrange: While the stock midrange performance is strong, with the Oratory EQ it's rounded out without being reduced, giving a bit of boost into the 5-6khz range and into the lower treble, making for a more fulfilling presentation with more bite, edge, and detail. Sara Bareilles' Live at the Variety Playhouse is one of my favorite live albums, and the LCD-5s did an amazing job reproducing her vocal tone while maintaining the sound of the live venue in songs such as Brave. As a long time fan of Mamamoo and their individual works, I'm intimately familiar with all of Solar's Gamsung releases, so reached for Alone People to test timbre and was richly rewarded with a holographic presentation that sounded like she was singing directly into my ears, plus the panning Hammong Organ at the beginning of the track gave a very cool effect with the LCD-5s. Turning to some male vocals I broke out one of my favorite rock albums, House of Freaks' Tantilla a beautiful exercise in how amazing music can be created with minimal production. With When the Hammer Came Down every bit of the stripped-bare rock goodness came through crystal clear.

Treble: I always feel at a loss trying to describe treble. Where does midrange end and treble begin? With the EQ applied the treble is more present and the transition from the midrange into it smoother. Elevations in the lower treble helped provide more intensity that I personally enjoy. I turned to Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 (the Royal Philharmonic recording conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras is a favorite of mine) as it's a piece I'm intimately familiar with having listened to it many dozens of times and performed it in community orchestras in the past. The violins sounded properly airy, the trumpets properly piercing and brash, and the celeste in the final moments of the first movement had the proper sparkle.

Soundstage and Imaging: I personally prefer a more intimate soundstage but with precise imaging, and the LCD-5 is right up my alley in that regard. The soundstage isn't small by any means, but it's not artificially wide as with some other headphones, things are kept inside the head or just outside of it. The imaging is top-notch, rivaling or even exceeding my previous imaging champ, the Beyerdynamic T1.2. Not only can the LCD-5 place sound properly within a single horizontal plane, there's a lot of depth forward and backward, plus top and bottom, it's capable of truly three-dimensional triple-axis placement of music, which combined with its amazing detail retrieval creates some breathtaking moments listening into the mix. Going back to the Propellerheads their song 360 Degrees (Oh Yeah) begins with a skateboarding sound that pans back and forth across the head. With some headphones it just appears on one side and then immediately appears on the other, with the LCD-5 I could hear it cleanly transitioning in three dimensional space around my head.

Comparisons:

Meze Empyrean Elite:
The Meze is a beautiful headphone with impeccable craftsmanship and astounding comfort. When it comes to sound however it's rather relaxed and reserved, not coming close to the LCD-5 in terms of detail and precision. The tuning on the Empyrean is more laid-back compared to the more forward LCD-5, which some people will undoubtedly prefer, but during my time I couldn't help but feel it was lacking due to that smoother tuning. Audeze could learn a thing or two from Meze when it comes to comfort, however.

Audeze LCD-3: My first higher-end Audeze that I've owned (I do have an old pair of EL-8 Titaniums). Stock to stock the LCD-5 takes the LCD-3 out behind the woodshed. IMO the LCD-3 absolutely needs EQ to not sound dead and dull. EQ'd close to Harman and compared head to head the LCD-3 is still more lush and fuller sounding in the lower midrange, and (though I generally hate the term) 'organic' in that it smooths things out a bit, details are obscured, but because of that it's also more forgiving. Comfort-wise, I do prefer the LCD-3 to the LCD-5 even with the LCD-3s extra weight. The large earpads and lighter clamp make it a headphone I can wear for hours without ever having to readjust.

Hifiman HE6se V2: While comparing a $600 headphone to a $4,500 headphone may seem unfair, the HE6se can more than hold its own in a specific niche. Stock tuning to stock tuning the HE6se is somewhat similar to the LCD-5 in that it has a forward midrange, though the peak is a bit higher on the HE6se, and it scoops the mid-mids around the 1-2khz region. You don't buy the HE6se to listen to it stock however (at least I didn't). The HE6se is a headphone you buy to swap on the Hifiman round velour pads, and then give it great heaping gobs of bass boost. With a Harman EQ from 1khz up and 12db of bass boost below 105hz the HE6se becomes a hysterically fun and brutal monster of a headphone, providing bass slam that I've never heard anything else come close to matching, including the LCD-5. On the other hand it doesn't match the LCD-5 in terms of details in that bass, nor anywhere else in the frequency response, and sports built quality that's far more in line with its $600 price. Still, it's an amazingly fun headphone for when I want to get all about that bass.

Conclusions: The Audeze LCD-5 comes super close to being the perfect headphone for my tastes, with the biggest issue being the comfort from the extreme clamp of the stock headband. Thankfully Audeze is now shipping them with a larger headband that from reports greatly improves comfort. This is one that I really didn't want to let go at the end of my review tour. Because of that, and I suppose this is my ultimate vote of confidence, I called Todd and placed an order for one for myself.

closecup.jpg


(this one is still Todd's, but I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of mine so it can take its place. I just left it there long enough to take the picture, I didn't want to scratch it up, I should probably get a headphone stand).
wolfstar76
wolfstar76
Good review, you successfully convinced me to keep trying to mod my HE6SE V2 (still in original stock setting, swapped the pad and removed grill before only to see no difference so far and went back to stock)

FullBright1

Headphoneus Supremus
Beautiful Sonic Microscopes
Pros: Timbre.... FR.....Musical Presentation....Linearity..... Fit & Finish
Cons: No Balanced cable included. Cup Clamping force.
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Lets just get right to it.

15 hr burn in, minimum, and you have to give them a bit of power.
I like them the best with a good Balanced XLR copper cable.


Currently Driving them : FiiO K9 Pro & Questyle CMA 12 : Master Edition.

Audeze SE LCD-5 Cable

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Comfort : 8.0 Out the box the clamp is slightly firm. Headband is good. Headphone weight is comfy.

Leather Cups : These are the cups that the "new" Diana V2 need, and do not offer. So, if you have purchased the "new edition" DV-2 '2021 cups with your Diana V2, then you noticed they are not quite good. Well, the LCD-5 cups, are softer, very similar in shape, but deeper and feel better.

SE Cable : Impressive.... Longer than i like, pretty, upgraded copper and transmits more warmth than you're going to get if you use a Silver/Copper, instead.


SOUND :


Treble : Fatigue Free, clear as a bell, and extended towards precision vs air. This is a treble that is found in no other Audeze Headphones. Its rich, its sweet, and its effortless. Its a perfect extension and compliment to the LCD-5's Bass and the Mids.

The LCD 5's Treble is extremely revealing, yet free of etch, and never rolled off.

Midrange : Lively .....generously provided inside the best sounding headphones that Audeze has thus created.

Some reviewers stated that the LCD-5's midrange is too forward. I'd agree that they are slightly forward, especially when new..... yet overall the mids are engineered to sound very detailed yet not clinical, cold, or dark.

Bass : With Audeze, we have learned that their Sound Sig was designed long ago to be thumpy and powerful regarding the low end. With the LCD-5, they have uniquely retooled the Bass response to be detailed and definitely not the overarching sonic highlight of the Gear. Instead, the LCD-5's Bass is all about balanced presentation and layering with very good extension.
Its not a sub bass canon, and the upper bass is slightly reserved.

Soundstage : How it is presented is much a result of the pads that are not extremely deep. The result is that the LCD-5's SS. surrounds you, yet definitely does not immerse you inside a huge room. Its designed to feel generous vs overtly spacious, and always keeps your ears positioned directly in the center of the music.

Instrument Separation : I'd say it equals the best Tot'l's.

Vocal Clarity : A true highlight of this gear.

Detail Retrieval : Digs deep. Easily achieves the same level as the Hifiman HEKSE

Resolution: If the LCD-5 offered any more detail and resolution, then it would be producing it falsely, vs revealing it wonderfully.

Timbre : Precision Machine Crystal Clean

Recording Studio : Sonically, the LCD-5's will work much better regarding the Mixing process vs the Mastering room.


So, what is the LCD-5?
Its a gear that is first and foremost all about """"Resolution, Transparency, and Speed"", says the Audeze Website, and that is a fact revealed upon hearing it.

What it's not is the evolution of the last 4 LCD's, tho, i dont count the LCD-1 in this group, as that's just a different situation.
This means that if you spend the $4000.00+ USD expecting more of the same Audeze sound, or hoping for the evolution of the LCD-4, then you wont find it in the LCD-5.
The LCD-5 is its own thing going on.
Full stop.

The 5, is a new sonic blue-print, a new Audeze sonic statement, and a quite different Audeze sound.
If i was the CEO of Audeze, i would have given this gear a brand new name....like....>"Zenith", or "Ultra".
Follow me?, as its THAT Audeze, vs a refinement of the previous, or an evolution of the most recent.
It is good, and it is a NEW Sound from Audeze, and does not try to evolve previous Audeze Audiophile sound.

Why is it good?

Its because of its re-designed Audeze tonality combined with its resolution and overall precision sonic balance.
Its extremely detailed, and its Signature Sound, sonically speaking, is clarity.
The LCD-5 is the true redesigning of the Audeze Audiophile Sound... delivered as very detailed, yet never fatiguing.
This is the sweetly lush & balanced Audeze FR that offers you a newly designed Audeze "house" sound.



Final analysis : If Audeze had refined the Abyss Diana V2's sound..... to sound like a "new product" Audeze, then the LCD-5 is the result.

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AlfeedE
AlfeedE
Excellent Review. Thinking about LCD 5 or Diana TC. What is you opinion?
Cactopus
Cactopus
Nice review! However if balanced cable is desired the cable termination can be chosen (either 4pin XLR or quarter inch) upon purchase. My pair came with a balanced XLR cable.
J
jmwant
Excellent review. Answers all my questions.
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corgifall

1000+ Head-Fier
Two sides of the same coin
Pros: Warm detailed sound. New lightweight design comfy for long sessions. Wonderful looks.
Cons: Mid heavy. Requires EQ for best results. Smaller ear pads may be uncomfortable to some.
IMG_6458.jpg


I personally loved pretty much every full size Audeze headphone I’ve had the chance to check out. I got to listen to the LCD-4 a bit back and I liked it for the short time I got to use it. I was excited to check out the LCD-5 when Todd decided to run a tour of the LCD-5 and the Weiss DAC. The new LCD-5 comes in a little smaller and lighter than other Audeze headphones.

Quick shoutout to Todd from TTVJ for sending the LCD-5 to test and review. While I always appreciate the chance to test and review products sent in from manufacturers/dealers, it never affects the rating of my reviews.


The LCD-5 can be picked up from TTVJ at their website below.
https://www.ttvjaudio.com/Audeze-LCD-5-Planar-Headphone-p/aud5555555.htm

Onto the review of the LCD-5! My personal preference is a hybrid/tribrid IEM where I get good hitting bass and have a detailed treble with decent mids. When it comes to an over ear headphone I prefer a spacious sound with a deep low end, the mids to be more forward and the highs to be a little bright with some sparkle. I listen to a lot of genres but I hover in the classic rock, blues and edm music with some rap here and there.


Gear Used​

iFi Go Blu, SMSL SU-9 feeding the SP400 amp and Weiss DAC.

Looks and fit​

These look fantastic. The dark tortoise color scheme really catches my eyes and I liked the way it looks. The black grill gives it a more professional look and I like it over the silver grill from the LCD-4. The headband and new sliders look really good as well. The fit on other Audeze products for me personally is fantastic(though heavy). The LCD-5 is smaller with new pads that use a different shape. That’s the biggest issue I ran into. The pads are too small for my somewhat small ears and end up touching the bottom of the pads. I can adjust it fit via the slider but then the top of my ears get pushed down and it just doesn’t work for me. I would have liked to see the standard sized housing with maybe the new pads. After a few min the irritation goes away and I don’t notice it though.
IMG_6460.jpgIMG_6462.jpg
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Packaging and accessories​

The LCD-5 comes inside a nice looking black metal travel case that has locks on the outside. Inside we get the cable, headphones and warranty card. All pretty straightforward accessories for a full size open back headphone.
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Sound(overall)​


These final impressions were done off a mix of the Weiss DAC, iFi GO blu and the SMSL SU-9 connected to the SMSL SP400. These are what the LCD-5 sounded like to my ears. Things like DAC/amp selection or pad swapping will produce different results and impressions vs what my ears hear on my specific gear.

I’ve heard a few Audeze sets over the years and I’ve owned the GX, older LCD-2, 2C and I’m picking up a new set of the LCD-2 Closed to review soon. All the sets I heard I really enjoyed, except for the LCD-5. I’m not sure why I have a hard time connecting with the LCD-5 but let's get into my impressions. The set is warm sounding overall with a huge focus on mids. I personally don’t like mid-focused IEMs for all the reasons I’m about to get into but these LCD-5 remind me of some Sennheiser HD series headphones with less treble. The lows do have good extension down low but they lack any real impact when I expect to hear some thumps on certain tracks. It isn’t boosted in any way so we get no bleed into mids which is fantastic. The mids are overly boosted to me. It wasn’t bad on the first day of listening but after a few days I wasn’t impressed. Mids that are boosted tend to sound hollow to my ears and that's what I get here. They feel hollow and lifeless at times, other times it's fatiguing. The vocals do come through fairly well but the rest of the mids just don’t mix well with me. The Treble pulls in good details when the mids aren’t getting in the way. Things are still too relaxed and almost dark. I had to struggle to really listen for details up top. There is a decent amount of air when listening though. This could all be easily solved with some EQ, but I don’t like EQ and outside of iFi hardware xBASS/xSPACE. I simply don’t use software EQ. I got the best initial results sound tuning wise off the iFi GO blu using it’s bass/treble booster which made me realize these headphones could be solved with EQ if some effort was put in by the owner. I did play with a little EQ thanks to Resolve’s EQ profile from the HP.com team via the Weiss DAC. I got really good results and the set did end up sounding much better over stock tuning but since normally I review headphones with no EQ, that's how this set is gonna be rated overall.

Soundstage/Imaging​

Staging was weird for me. It felt a little closed in for an open back that leaks so much sound. It was on par with the Meze Elite which I thought was also small in terms of soundstage. I did notice that cleaning up the tuning with EQ did help with staging width but it might be a byproduct of less mid fatigue for me personally. Imagining was really good without the need for EQ. One of the better open back imaging sets I’ve heard recently.

Stock cable​

The stock cable included with the LCD-5 is really nice. I like the braid and color scheme they went with. I also like that they give you the option to go with single ended or 4pin XLR balanced for the cable when you purchase the headphone. The cable is on the longer side but I think it's a good compromise for those that use a setup not near their amp. 100 percent of my headphones usage is usually within 3 feet of my desk or my source gear on my nightstand next to my bed.
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Full size headphone comparisons​


Meze Elite​

I don’t really do full sized headphone reviews often so I don’t have any sets on hand usually to compare(working on this for future reviews) but I had the Meze Elite in at the same time as the LCD-5. The Meze Elite and LCD-5 have polar opposite tuning. The Elite has a more lows and highs focused tuning but both headphones lack any real sparkle up top. The Elite has a slightly elevated bass but it's very balanced and detailed. It also has good slam/impact over the LCD-5 which goes for a neutral tuning in the lows. The mids are way better balanced and slightly relaxed on the Elite vs the LCD-5. Vocals come through better on the LCD-5 but the mids are simply more enjoyable to my ears on the Elite. The treble is a little clearer and has a little more energy on the Elite. The LCD-5 feels tamed and goes for that “neutral” sound up top which I personally don’t like. I liked the design of the LCD-5 over the Elite but the comfort and sound tuning goes to the Elite for me. If I had to choose which headphone to get without ever using EQ, it would hands down be the Meze Elite.
IMG_6455.jpg

Amping Combinations​


iFi GO Blu​

I love the GO blu and of course I wanted to see what it would do with the LCD-5. The little GO blu managed to get the LCD-5 to good volume via balanced but the real magic came from using the xBASS and xSPACE. I had both features turned on and that really brought the tuning to a more enjoyable sound with a little more life. This is when I realized EQ might be the thing to turn these headphones into something I like. While the GO blu did the job, I didn’t quite get the same detail that I did with the desktop amps and I felt the stage was a little too closed in on the GO blu.
IMG_6387.jpg

SMSL SU-9/SP400​

My go to desktop DAC/amp did well with the LCD-5. I was able to achieve a decent sound with the pairing. The lows still were a little too relaxed in terms of impact but the details in the bass were still really good. The mids were still too rough for my tastes but the ESS sharpness helped with the treble in my listening with the LCD-5. Staging was a little wider and deeper vs the GO blu and I was fairly happy with the pairing. I would still EQ the LCD-5 if I was gonna keep the headphones personally though.

Weiss DAC​

The Weiss DAC has been a really great experience with everything I paired it too. It still wasn’t able to bring the LCD-5 to my preferences stock but it has so many EQ options built in, that after playing around I got probably the best results from the LCD-5. With the little EQ I did, I was able to get a more lifelike presentation from the pairing. Width and depth were fantastic as well and I was very impressed and I can see why Todd likes the pairing so much. I think the SMSL stack I use was totally fine but if you have endless money, the LCD-5 does scale a little.
IMG_6456.jpg

Overall thoughts​

I mentioned having a hard time connecting with the LCD-5 in my review and I still stand by that after finishing up this review. Playing around with EQ made a big difference for my thoughts on the LCD-5. I loved all the Audeze headphones up till this point. For those who don’t software EQ headphones and like to use headphones with the stock tuning like me, I can’t recommend the LCD-5 unless you like a warmer mid-heavy sound. If you absolutely love to EQ headphones and don’t mind fine tuning the LCD-5, I think you will be well rewarded and I can give the LCD-5 a recommendation for those users. The LCD-5 is a pass for me personally but one headphone I don’t like from Audeze won't stop me from absolutely loving the brand and their other offerings.

Overall rating note​

So I had to compromise on my star rating because I have two ratings for the LCD-5. For the stock tuning I would have to say its a 3/5 rating due to not liking the sound out of the box. That may seem low but the tricky part is that when EQ’d, I was really impressed. So much so I would call the LCD-5 with the light attempt at EQ a 4.5/5 star rating. As such, I met myself in the middle and went with a 3.5 star rating. Thanks for reading!
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seonghyunc
seonghyunc
Thanks for your review. Really helpful, since I have wanted to get either the Audeze LCD-5 or the Meze Elite. I am now more leaning towards the Meze Elite.
5
536129
whats the power output for headphones on a Weiss Dac?
BowWazoo
BowWazoo
I have to completely disagree with "warm" sound. To me, the LCD-5 sounds extremely analytical. Neither with the EQ, nor with harmonic distortions, could I bring his aggressive nature to an acceptable level. I've been trying for weeks...
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