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Audeze LCD-4

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by matias, Sep 28, 2015.
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  1. jlbrach
    i have owned the lcd-4 several times and keep coming back to it...i just received a pair of barely used lcd-4's and love them...always have..a completely different listen than the TC or susvara or utopia for sure but addictive in many ways....when it comes to rock to me the LCD-4 cannot be beat
  2. jlbrach
    i have always thought the lcd-4 runs rings around the utopia's but that is one mans opinion...i am however a bit nuts with this hobby and my music lol
  3. 801evan
    Been listening to the LCD 4 I bought from Softable and it's amazing. It cleans up the frequencies that was bugging me on the 'lush' LCD 3.

    Though I hate to admit it, it's a sound not that far from the Etymotics er4xr. But no other iem and HP can touch these two so the fact that these two are so close and is considered 'end game', the closeness of their sound quality is affirmation of a quality close to reference than anything else out there.

    I've done something unconventional too that got me understanding about headphone amps. I have the LCD 4 plugged straight into the Hugo 2 and it's 110% glorious. Thing is, it doesn't sound that good on a typical Hugo 2 setup coz I have demoed this before in a e-earphones on a Hugo 2 unit and it was mehhh that time where the highs is crunchy and the dynamics was underwhelming. But in my current chain, I have a 13 stage power filtering system injecting clean power on the front and back end of a Corning USB cable and the sonic qualities achieved is better than a Dave or Hugo 2 tt + mscaler or ifi 3 stack that I've demoed before.

    No wonder there was such a debate on sound quality and if an HP needs to be ampped or not. I was the one praising the Bakoon here previously for it is in my experience still the best HP amp I've heard. But on a fluke session, after adding more power filtering stages, I plugged the LCD 3 straight onto the Hugo 2 and the speed retrieval had me on tears for a good 2 hours. Like holy s*. And sadly it's not something that can shared in words if the other person hasn't experienced such a sound anyways. It's like describing a new color I saw that the other person has experienced. BUT I will try my best. It is deceivingly natural that you can easily lose focus on it no different from a live busier or live music in a hotel.

    I've had a conversation with a store owner and he said while manufacturers can measure a lot of things, the one thing they can't measure is speed. And I was like wow, i cracked it. Speed is correlated to power quality in terms of ripple noise and noise rejection. And this power quality thing is consistent to store that has a Hugo 2 tt and they said the LCD 3 was getting distortions on the HP out. And that's why I thought the Bakoon had the design right. First the Bakoon is battery operated (low noise) and is current mode based. But it was when I was on a 10 stage power filter chain, the Bakoon got 2nd place.

    Catch is I've invested 1200 USD to get this far and going for 2k with more stages.
  4. sahmen
    So how do you rig up this power filtering system and all its stages? Does it involve adding a lot new boxes to your gear?
  5. 801evan
    Mistake entry
  6. 801evan
    It does.

    It's beyond my understanding why this would make a difference on a 5v vbus when it doesn't even use the vbus as claimed by Watts. Also, Watts says such things is useless coz of the amount of filters placed on the Hugo 2.

    Photo of the desk is not the final iteration. But it shows the important components which is the lps 1.2, 2 dxpwr, 2 idefenders, Corning USB. All cables is custom CAT 8 DC cables. Current mod has the CAT straight to a micro USB header.

    The power cables on the floor is 5x Schaffner cables with 3 of them back to back. My mind keeps screaming 'fire hazard'. I also have the hdplex 200w powering the lps 1.2.


    IMG_20190611_003604.jpg IMG_20190718_133441.jpg
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2019
  7. kyle1010
    I think what happens with these reviewers not giving the LCD-4 enough credit is because they review them out of marginal gear and think that’s the end of the line for the 4’s sound quality. Weak massdrop level dacs, underpowered amps, etc, every time. Few reviewers understand how insanely detailed and natural they can sound cuz they don’t have access to top notch gear. The LCD-4s scale waaaay up on stratosphere level amps/dacs. I just took mine to CanJam SoCal and plugged them into a dCS Bartok then a BluDave, and to my ears the Phi TC won via the Bartok but the 4s and BluDave leveled everything at the entire show as far as detail, imaging, and tonality. I get it, a reviewer has to use what they have on hand for dacs/amps, and they’re reviewing based on if they can give a “real world” recommendation on a headphone assuming most people aren’t going to blow 10-20k on upstream gear. So sure, out of mid-tier equipment the 4 is gonna sound so-so vs other headphones designed to operate at full potential out of that same gear. But having owned the 4 for 3yrs and plugging it into every piece of god tier equipment I can at shows, it’s clear as day the 4 was designed and priced to be used with that level of stuff to show its full potential. Reviewing the LCD-4 on anything lower than that is completely unfair to it and invalid to me. They’re seriously underrated kings of headphones. I wish everyone could really hear it.
    RCBinTN and ChijiroKuro like this.
  8. 801evan

    100% and it really has to be called out this way. I've always felt HPs/iem/speakers more than half the time only reflects the quality of the rest of the chain.

    The bass on the LCD3 and LCD4 is not excessive at the moment. If anything, it sounds 'calibrated'. So yea, one can argue if a reviewer talks about the excessive bass on the Audeze, they are really talking about the quality of their source.
  9. 801evan
    I agree! I'd use the LCD 4 as a diagnostic equipment where I can tell what's the problem with the chain. It's that good.

    The reviews talking about how the 4 is too warm or intense bass got me scared on purchasing the 4 but man good thing I went for it. The tonal and space accuracy is so good that I keep getting spooked on tracks thinking it happened inside the room. And that brings in an interesting point. Most of the time I feel there's an imaging issue with the 4 but consistently the spooky realistic sounding stuff is always further from the mic. Which leads me to believe that almost all recordings can be realistic if the singer is not that close from the mic. But then this may be isolated to HP listening (hi, binaural) because the image and presentation is solid and in the middle on 2 channel. Yet, sounds that happens further from the mic is still more realistic on the LCD 4.
  10. 801evan
    Okay got some time to type about the SQ on my different iterations.

    China ebay LPS -> lps 1.2 -> iso Regen
    14 isilencers, ifi mercury v3
    LCD 2c/3 + Bakoon

    This one still had some strong bass. And it has tamed the shouty quality of the Hugo 2 when pre-iso Regen and isilencer. At that time it's the best sound I've heard and the macro dynamics is 'boosted' now that I know better. I always find myself cranking the volume up and down on Sarah McLachlan - Angel and Adele - Hello. In hindsight, I was also hearing this undulation on the volume and dynamics that spans 1.5 secs. There is no real micro-detail as it's hidden by noise and the noise is creating fake micro-details.

    A lot of people say it on LCD4s and there's no other way to say it, it can render the highs and lows when it calls for it. I don't find myself playing with the volume on Sarah McLachlan - Angel and Adele - Hello.

    On Angel, 'there's ALWAYS some reason' is clear and smooth and mostly the same volume. Before it would sputter and fall into whisper.

    'HARD end of the day' doesn't sound compressed and I don't find myself racing to step down on the volume. I always did this before. There's so much resolution, smoothness and delicate information on 'Hard'.

    Adele doesn't sound like a singer with a superhuman voice anymore like that blue opera singer on the 5th element. The softer singing at the start isn't that soft as before while her belting it out doesn't sound as loud too.

    So it sounds like the macro-dynamics were compromised, right? Yet, there is so much air and real micro-detail and reserved highs and bass that it just sells the whole presentation as 'realistic'. But I can also call it as a very calibrated setup. And the super important factor. Zero ear fatigue, where I can only max out at 40mins and needed to take a break before.

    The interesting thing was I hit a point where the sound was holographic, a holy grail for many people but the mind blowing thing for me in my journey is that a holographic sound is actually an anomaly. Why? Simply cause it doesn't exist in real life. But a holographic sound is 'better' vs many other possible sonic signatures.

    I've also took out reclockers in my chain. Why? Simple reason is it adulterates the leading edge and once it does it, there's no way to clean that augmented leading edge. Even the fancy Mutecs does this. Too much noise shaping and I do find myself talking about noise shaping when I talk about that sound, which is the not thing to grab your attention, right? Nowadays, I see myself just talking about mic placement in the albums. Around stage 6 power filters, I was still talking about hearing the studio room in each recording but even that has disappeared now.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2019
  11. astrostar59
    After a few quick opinions. I wanted a few opinions on the Abyss Phi CC v the LCD4 200 ohm model. Preferably from guys who have both. I am trying to understand the benefits of switching to the Abyss Phi, or even having both.

    My setup is pretty solid, Aries Cerat Kassandra DAC which is R2R and tubed, then either the V281 HP amp or my Aries Cerat Genus integrated tube speaker amp, which has a tap at the back for HPs.

    I left the Stax 009 & Carbon amp camp 2 years back, and glad I did. The LCD4 is so realistic and smooth, no fatigue, great bass and mids. The treble is very good, and details are all their. but it is not the fastest on the planet. Finding a HP that does everything 100% is probably impossible?

    So my question is, cost out of the equation, which HP is the preferred, and why? I have heard the Abyss CC at Munich 2018 on the JPS Labs stand, so on their amp. It was difficult to tell but sounded promising. To drill down I think it needs someone who has both at home for the in-depth A/B compares.

    Any help would be great guys.
  12. 801evan

    My recent posts gives an explanation where investing in power quality is the way to retrieve real speed. LCD 4 is as fast as it gets.
  13. JLoud
    I have both and plan to keep both. Very complimentary headphones. The Abyss has the bigger more lifelike soundstage. It’s treble feels more detailed and airy. The faster of the two. The LCD4 has the sweeter midrange. Bass on both is fantastic but different. The Abyss is tighter and faster where as the LCD4 is fuller with greater sense of impact. All of this is my perspective of course.
    RCBinTN likes this.
  14. astrostar59
    So if you were 'forced' to sell, which one would go? Sorry for the hypothesis.
    On comfort, which is best for longer sessions?
    How much more volume do you need for the Abyss (pot rotation)?
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2019
  15. JLoud
    I don’t mind the weight of the LCD4. The Abyss is an odd fit. Probably prefer the LCD4 for comfort. I know I’m in the minority with that. If my main choice was rock or blues the LCD4 would be my choice. If EDM or pop then Abyss. Vocals I prefer the LCD4.
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