Audeze LCD-5 Loaner @ TTVJAudio.com
Feb 18, 2022 at 11:58 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 19

Todd

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Greetings from TTVJAudio!

Today we announce a new loaner program for the Audeze LCD-5. It is fresh off the tour with the Weiss DAC. I had promised a tour with just the LCD-5 and here it is.

audezelcd51.jpg


I request that you are prospective customer to buy one from us to sign up. I am limiting this program to 5 participants and I am going to be strict with this number! I will include a Cardas Clear balanced cable in addition to the stock Audeze single ended and balanced cables. When you order an LCD-5, you have the choice of one of these stock Audeze cables to be included with the headphones. The Cardas Clear is a separate purchase...

Here is your chance if you are considering buying the LCD-5 to hear it for yourself in your system before laying out the cash for it.

Loaner Program Rules:

Send your name and address, telephone number and your Head-Fi user name to me (Todd) at todd@ttvjaudio.com. Do NOT PM me as you will not be included in the program without an email.

You will get the loaner for 1 week to use in your home with your system. After your one week is up, you must send it to the next loaner participant. Email me (todd@ttvjaudio.com) the tracking info so I can pass it on to the recipient.

You MUST write a review and post it in this loaner thread. It must be posted in the same thread as this announcement for the loaner program. Please post the review here first and feel free to post it somewhere else if you like!

Once you have received the loaner, email me to let me know you have it and I will send the address for the next person.

Our loaner programs are USA only. We are restricted from shipping/selling outside the USA on most products.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Todd
 
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TTVJAudio.com Todd Stay updated on TTVJAudio.com at their sponsor profile on Head-Fi.
 
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Feb 18, 2022 at 5:28 PM Post #4 of 19

szore

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I would love to hear this but I cannot afford to buy one. I'll be checking it tho at canjam next week!
 
Feb 18, 2022 at 10:21 PM Post #5 of 19

sennfan83261

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Thanks Todd for putting these back on tour for those of us who missed out on auditioning it last time.
 
Feb 19, 2022 at 8:39 AM Post #6 of 19

tutetibiimperes

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Thank you Todd, just sent you an email, hope I’m not too late on this one. Do you know if your loaner unit has the older or the newer headband by any chance?
 
Feb 21, 2022 at 11:40 AM Post #9 of 19

Todd

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Audeze LCD 5 loaner program participants

gc335

sennfan83261

VOLKOV9

Tutetibiimperes

jb77

I expanded to add a 6th participant. This is now closed. The headphones will ship out tomorrow.
 
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TTVJAudio.com Todd Stay updated on TTVJAudio.com at their sponsor profile on Head-Fi.
 
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Feb 22, 2022 at 11:33 PM Post #10 of 19

Ham Sandwich

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If only I liked writing reviews I'd have put my name in the hat. But I don't like writing reviews. I really don't like writing reviews.

I see that @sennfan83261 has a Liquid Platinum and Liquid Gold X. I do too. So I'll read his review to find out how the LCD-5 pairs with those two amps. I hope the LCD-5 will come with the balanced cable that Audeze has for the LCD-5? Otherwise I hope that he has a suitable balanced cable for Audeze headphones. Balanced headphones make a big difference with both the Liquid Platinum and Liquid Gold X.

The Liquid Gold X is a different sounding amp than the Liquid Platinum. Similar yet different. The traditional Audeze house sound with the LCD-2 and LCD-3 kind of subdues the midrange. There isn't much ear gain present in the headphone sound. The tubes in the Liquid Platinum and Liquid Fire and Liquid Crimson do some magic and somehow add the right style of midrange richness so that the LCD-2 and LCD-3 sound great with those amps. Then I listen to those Audeze headphones with the Liquid Gold X and I'm missing the midrange oomph that that tubes do those Cavalli hybrid amps. Does the LCD-5 bridge that gap and have sonic synergy with both the Gold X and Platinum? Will the extra ear gain of the LCD-5 cause it to sound "shouty" even with the Cavalli liquid style amp sound? I need reviews that answer these question. And I also need to do a demo of the LCD-5 with my own gear and ears. It could possibly be an amazing headphone match with my Cavalli amps and my listening preferences.
 
Feb 23, 2022 at 2:12 AM Post #11 of 19

sennfan83261

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If only I liked writing reviews I'd have put my name in the hat. But I don't like writing reviews. I really don't like writing reviews.

I see that @sennfan83261 has a Liquid Platinum and Liquid Gold X. I do too. So I'll read his review to find out how the LCD-5 pairs with those two amps. I hope the LCD-5 will come with the balanced cable that Audeze has for the LCD-5? Otherwise I hope that he has a suitable balanced cable for Audeze headphones. Balanced headphones make a big difference with both the Liquid Platinum and Liquid Gold X.

The Liquid Gold X is a different sounding amp than the Liquid Platinum. Similar yet different. The traditional Audeze house sound with the LCD-2 and LCD-3 kind of subdues the midrange. There isn't much ear gain present in the headphone sound. The tubes in the Liquid Platinum and Liquid Fire and Liquid Crimson do some magic and somehow add the right style of midrange richness so that the LCD-2 and LCD-3 sound great with those amps. Then I listen to those Audeze headphones with the Liquid Gold X and I'm missing the midrange oomph that that tubes do those Cavalli hybrid amps. Does the LCD-5 bridge that gap and have sonic synergy with both the Gold X and Platinum? Will the extra ear gain of the LCD-5 cause it to sound "shouty" even with the Cavalli liquid style amp sound? I need reviews that answer these question. And I also need to do a demo of the LCD-5 with my own gear and ears. It could possibly be an amazing headphone match with my Cavalli amps and my listening preferences.
IME, the LAuX adds a little bit more oomph in the low end (i.e. increased macrodynamics) compared to the LP (12AU7 Raytheon 1950's D-getters) while the LP has a little bit more midrange richness than the LAuX (I give you that). There was a great deal with LAuX a few months ago and I jumped on it to cure my tube rolling nervosa. But yeah, I'll be sure to try out the LCD-5 on both of them. And yes, I only listen to the LAuX and LP from their balanced outputs. I doubt I'm going to pull out my 789 from the garage closet. One reviewer recently mentioned how the LAuX and LP sounded compressed compared to the 789, which I totally don't get. To my ears, and the 789 sounds the most closed-in and dynamically flat of the bunch.

BTW, your Liquid Glass is one of the amps that I've always wanted to try out.
 
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Mar 12, 2022 at 11:55 AM Post #12 of 19

sennfan83261

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Thanks again Todd for the follow-up tour of the LCD-5. I received them the other day. As for my initial impressions, coming from my HEKv1 and LCD-3pf, I was struck by the fowardness of the LCD-5's mids, which are shoutier to my ears than my countertop HD600 (new Sennheiser pads from old stock) (chain: Musicbee (FLAC) -> BF2 -> LAuX). While I haven't listened to my HD600 in awhile, I just had to take them out to compare the supposed shoutiness of the HD600 to the LCD-5 (tbh, I never found my HD600 to be shouty to my ears). A good track that reveals this is Siouxsie & The Banshees' "Dazzle" off of their second singles compilation "Twice Upon a Time: The Singles" (GEFD-24492) during the transition from the soft intro to the swirling sounds of the main verse at around 1:15. This transition sounded so smooth and natural on my countertop HD600 (new old stock Sennheiser pads), whereas the transition sounded jarring and jagged on the LCD-5. Additionally, on this track, the rest of the treble on the LCD-5 sounding flat compared to the HD600. I used the balanced cardas cable that Todd (I believe) included with the shipment. The Rean connectors on the stock cable are pretty terrible due to their excessive tight-fit with the connectors. One positive that I found from the LCD-5 is the huge amount of detail they present.

I'm generally not an EQ guy, but Resolve's EQ v2 (set with Peace) greatly helped the LCD-5's out-of-the-box tonality issues (to my ears). I'm going to see later if the milder presentation of the Liquid Platinum will help the LCD-5's stock sound.

20220312_082615_2k.jpg
 
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Mar 14, 2022 at 9:28 PM Post #13 of 19

gc335

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Pros:
Great detail and clarity. Solid build.

Cons:
Bass could use a little more body (probably solved with EQ). Extremely unforgiving to poorly recorded/mastered tracks. Not ideal for all genres.


Introduction
First of all, a huge thanks to Todd over at Todd the Vinyl Junkie for setting up this tour. I have participated in a few of his tours and have enjoyed all of them.

I have been a huge Audeze fan since about 2016 when I really got into this hobby. I started with an LCD2 and was hooked. I picked up a EL-8 Closed shortly after and enjoyed those to the point where I still have them and picked up a second pair to store away in case the first one broke. Still going strong after 6 years.

Packaging
The LCD-5 has moved away from the super heavy duty Pelican style plastic cases and now use a very similar case to the Meze Empyrean. It actually looks like the same brand. While it does not feel as durable as the older cases, it still provides a quality feel and good protection for your investment.

Build
These are so much lighter than the rest of the LCD line. I really like the new build and I’m hoping they carry this build across the rest of the LCD line with future revisions. They just look and feel much more premium.

Comfort
The clamp on the LCD5 is a bit tight but I would not say it’s uncomfortable. It may also be that these are pretty new and will stretch a bit over time. The pads are also totally different from the rest of the LCD line. They are not as flat and have a bit of a point to them. I think that point could create some pressure point for some users. I’m pretty sensitive to clamp force compared to most people. I was able to listen for two hours plus with little discomfort.

Gear used:
Topping D90 ->Schiit Mjolnir 2

Overall sound impressions
This headphone is very neutral and detailed. It’s ability to extract nuances in well recorded music is impressive. Some headphones get detail with an extended treble to give the illusion of clarity. I think a solid driver design is what gives the LCD-5 its clarity.

The LCD-5 will not work with every track and it was really hard to nail down a pattern as to what will sound good and what will not. Some tracks that usually sound good with other headphones sounded flat and lifeless. After a lot of listening I feel like it’s not the fault of the LCD-5 but more the music. Super busy rock tracks where the recording or mastering is poor sounded bland and a bit lifeless. On the other hand, well recorded tracks especially live performances sounded stunning. I thought to myself that some of my favorite test tracks have never sounded better.

Bass
This is not a bass head can for sure. The bass it does have is very well controlled and reached very deep. I enjoy a warmer signature but I never really found myself wanting more bass on most of the non EDM tracks I listened to.

Mids
These are a pretty neutral headphones so I don’t think the mids are forward or recessed. Vocals sounded very natural.

Treble
At no point was there any sibilance on any track I tried. I also never felt that I was missing anything with higher frequencies.

Soundstage
I would call it average. Audeze is not known for stage and these stay true to that. I actually think average is a good thing. My preference is for a more narrow stage because it compliments music that I like.

Test Tracks

I borrowed an Empyrean and LCD4 from a friend for a shoot out. I think these might be some of the other headphones that people will look at.

Keith Don’t Go (Live) - Nils Lofgren
LCD-5: I think this is the best I’ve ever heard this track and I’ve tried this track with dozens of headphones. The speed is insane. The guitar plucks are so impressive. Wow these sound good. I close my eyes and I feel like I’m there. These are so good with well recorded live tracks.
LCD-4: Swapping to the LCD-4 feels like the sound is a bit more congested. The attack on the guitar plucks are less metallic and aggressive. The stage is more forward and flat. The 5 is more immersive. The feeling of the being there live is not the same on this headphone. Still really good but not on the LCD-5 level.
Empyrean: This is bit of the mix of the two. The track is more immersive than the LCD-4 but lacks the speed of LCD5. They is also more warmth to the track with the Meze. The sound is a but more congested. Vocals are also less clear. I still like the sound and feel like it might be better for longer listening sessions.

For this track the LCD-5 is the clear winner.

Yellow Brick Road - Angus and Julia Stone
LCD-5: Again the transients are awesome. This track is mastered a bit on the warm side but I’m not getting that on the 5. It seems to missing some mid bass on this track.
LCD-4: There it is… The male vocals on this track are better with the 4. There’s more warmth and body to all aspects of the track. Again, the sound is less immersive but not the same gap as the last track.
Empyrean: Same thing again. The Meze is a combination of the two. Body of the LCD-4 with the speed and detail of the LCD-5 but it does neither as well.

For this track the winner is the Empyrean. While it doesn’t have have the speed of the 5 it has the warm of the 4 with the detail and speed of the 5. This makes the Meze the most pleasant with this track.

Elements (Orchestral Version) - Lindsey Stirling
LCD-5: Again, I feel iike I’m there listening live when I close my eyes. Very impressive. Lots of clarity and speed. Sub bass reaches deep and is very clean just not vey strong.
LCD-4: Less immersive. Less sub bass rumble. Sound is more in-front than around. It still sounds really good but this track really played to the strengths of the 5.
Empyrean: The pattern continues. It has some of the speed and clarity of the 5 with a bit of the warmth of the 4. Very good sparkle in the treble. Bass reaches deep with more authority than the 4 or 5.

The LCD-5 wins here again. The violin sounds so good with these.


Two days later…


Today i wanted to just listen to the LCD-5 by itself to avoid any brain bias.

I decided to try a track where I thought the LCD-5 would struggle. Hope by the Chainsmokers. I was very wrong. While I’m missing maybe 2db on the sub and mid bass, the sound is very dynamic and engaging. The bass while lacking a bit, is very controlled. Very enjoyable.

The next track that came up was Old Love (MTV Live Version) by Eric Clapton. This is probably one of my favorite tracks in general and the LCD-5 did not disappoint. It really shines with tracks like this. The piano solo can get a bit sharp on some headphones and there were no issues here. The speed of the guitar is so good.

Up next is Rise by Dominique Fils-Aime. The vocals on this track are really nice and forward with a very nature sound. Insane clarity. The 5 knocks it out of the park on this track.

The Sound of Silence by Disturbed was very disappointing. The instruments seem to be all mushed together. The track just sounds flat and lifeless. I’m not sure why. This was a bit of a surprise to me.

Colour to the Moon by Allan Taylor is another winner. This track has very forward vocals. I thought it might be too much on the LCD-5 but that turned out to not be the case. The placement of the instruments is so clear.

Sub Bass Excursion by Bassotronics reached really low. These don’t have a lot of bass but it what bass it does have has so well controlled.. This track can challenge a lot of drivers. No issues here.

Love by Chlara is mind blowing good on these. I can’t find faults here. This genre really shines with the LCD-5.


Summary:

I seriously enjoyed my time the the LCD-5. It does not have the typical Audeze house sound. I think it is extremely important for people to know what they are getting into. If you enjoy audiophile level recording, the LCD-5 is extremely rewarding and enjoyable to listen to. If you are fans of metal and some EDM you may disappointed especially if you don’t want to EQ. So if you want to get Down with the Sickness, I would look elsewhere.

Bonus Content:

I decided to ask my wife what she thought. I had her listen to a few tracks on each headphone and her winner was the LCD-5. She said she really liked the detail and clarity of the LCD-5.
 
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Apr 8, 2022 at 5:50 AM Post #14 of 19

sennfan83261

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20220323_201203_2k.jpg

(Pictured L to R: HEKv1, LCD-2 rev. 1, LCD-2 rev. 2, LCD-3 , and LCD-5) (LCD-2's and 3 are pre-fazors)

I have to thank Todd again for graciously allowing another tour of the much talked-about LCD-5, Audeze's current flagship released late 2021. As always with ttvjaudio.com's product tours, Todd only asks us to provide our honest opinions on the touring products. Nothing more, nothing less.

Chain: Musicbee (FLAC / WASAPI exclusive) > Bifrost 2 > Liquid Platinum / Liquid Gold X / Bryston 3B-ST (HE-6)
(balanced headphone cables and interconnects used)

Packaging:
The carrying case of Audeze certainly looks and functions quite nicely. However, I rate the Meze's Empy Elite's carrying case a smidge more luxurious. Neither of these cases feel as durable as the old pelican cases.

Build and Comfort:
The weight reduction announced by Audeze certainly was welcomed by the community. Compared to the >700g mass of the LCD-4, Audeze's previous flagship, the 420g LCD-5 was certainly eye-opening. Earcup rings are no longer wood but rather the lighter (and more durable?) acetate. The headband and yoke system has been redesigned. While the earcups now swivel 360 degrees, getting the proper fit takes a little bit more effort than the previous suspension strap headband design. Driver size has been reduced. IMO, the greatest weight reduction seems to have come from removing a magnet array from each earcup, so that the LCD-5 driver sport single-sided magnets now. Also, the waveguide no longer appears to be the pointy-tipped fazors of old, but instead a slight taper. Other changes include the Abyss Diana-esque concave earpads.

As for comfort, there's definitely more clamp on the LCD-5 than my the Audeze cans that I own. Weight-wise, the LCD-5 is fine but to me I found that the heavier LCD-3 (as well as my LCD-2's) felt more comfortable on my head.

The stock cables for the LCD-5, at least what was included in the loaner tour, include two braided single-ended and 4-pin XLR terminated cables. Both had Rean mini-XLR connectors. The reason why I brought up the Rean connectors is because the tolerances with the LCD-5's sockets (now moved further back compared to the older LCD-# models, see pic above) are incredibly tight. As reported by numerous owners, more than a few early-produced LCD-5's exhibited an issue where the socket assembly is pulled out when trying to remove the cable. After experiencing how tightly the Rean connectors fit to the sockets, I can understand how the excessive force required to remove the cables from the LCD-5's may create this problem if the sockets were not properly secured to the earcup housing (from owner photos showing this issue, the glue used was inadequate). Even the tried and true method that I use with my other Audeze cans of initially separating the connector from the socket by wedging my fingernails between the connector and edge of the socket (with care) still required (in my opinion) excessive force to pull the connectors out from the socket fully. The crappy release mechanism from the Rean connectors didn't help matters either. The reason why I have gone about this issue is that while the stock cables are nicely built, the cheap Rean connectors Audeze used are crap (and as a cable builder I already knew of their tight fit), which renders the stock cables pretty useless in my opinion. I used my ZMF headphone cables, which fit the LCD-5 sockets far better than the stock cables.

As for the headphones themselves, I feel that they are nicely built but overall they do not feel like a $4500 pair of headphones in my hands. The previous flagship felt closer to that mark in my opinion.

Sound:

While my ears adjusted to the stock sound after my initial impressions, I still found its stock tuning to be too mid-forward and in your face for my tastes on my Liquid Gold X and Liquid Platinum. I don't even consider my countertop HD600 to be shouty (new old stock Sennheiser pads), while the LCD-5 definitely fits that descriptor to my ears. I have to give credit to the LCD-5 for its great detail retrieval and a surprising amount of slam for a single-sided magnet array planar (I haven't heard the 1266 yet). The LCD-5's focused, more pointed slam is more similar to that of my HE-6 4-screw than the blunter slam of my LCD-2's and LCD-3 prefazors. However, I found that the slam from the HE-6, LCD-2's, and LCD-3 exhibited greater impact than the LCD-5 and more body.

As luck would have it, I was on a Siouxsie and the Banshees kick when the LCD-5 arrived and my initial impressions were formed from their track "Dazzle" off of their second singles compilation "Twice Upon a Time: The Singles" (GEFD-24492), a good track that showcases my complaints about the LCD-5. During the transition from the soft intro to the swirling sounds of the main verse at around 1:15. On the Liquid Gold X and Liquid Platinum, this transition sounded so smooth and natural on my HD600, whereas the transition sounded jarring and jagged on the LCD-5. Additionally, on this track, the rest of the treble on the LCD-5 sounded flat compared to the HD600.

Some reviewers mentioned how great the LCD-5 is with drums. They sounded fine with Jeremy Soule's pounding "March of the Legions" from the Guild Wars 2 soundtrack. A lot of detail and texture. However, when listening to Nirvana's "Breed" off of Nevermind (DGCD-24425), David Grohl's frenetic drumming on the track sounded a bit restrained on the LCD-5, while his drumming sounded absolutely feral on my HE-6 (different amps driving the two cans: Liquid Gold X and Bryston 3B-ST respectively). The bass rumble on A Tribe Called Quest's "Check the Rhime" (1418-2-J) sounded strangely muted on the LCD-5 compared to the LCD-2/3 and HE-6. Not all was bad, as the softer, more spacious acoustic number "Can't Find My Way Home" from the short-lived supergroup Blind Faith's remastered self-titled EP (UIJY-9025) sounded great, but the track also sounded great on the HEKv1 and the LCD-2/3's. However, when it comes to rock/alternative songs with busy passages, the LCD-5 seemed to stumble a little bit on my setup.

I'm generally not an EQ guy, but Resolve's EQ v2 (set with Peace) greatly helped the LCD-5's out-of-the-box tonality issues (to my ears), but still the sound was a bit thin and, ultimately, a little boring to my ears.

During the week that I auditioned the LCD-5, I asked myself repeatedly whether I would reach for them over my current daily drivers (HE-6, HEKv1, and LCD-3), and my answer was no. I am a bit disappointed because I really wanted to like Audeze's new flagship planar.

Overall, the LCD-5 is a detail monster. However, to my ears it is more for the sake of presenting detail that highlights the detail a little too unnatural when it comes to the song. I mean, do I really need to hear a background triangle of a track shoved into the foreground of the mix? I heard the same triangle with my HEKv1, but it seemed to be presented more organically and properly with the HEKv1 in the context of the song than the LCD-5. For my listening preferences, my gear is supposed to serve my music library rather than the other way around. Using one's music library for the sake of enjoying the technical capabilities of one's gear is perfect fine, but to me finding enjoyment in my favorite songs is paramount and I tend to disfavor gear that diminishes this aspect to my ears.

In the end, I did not feel that the LCD-5 warrants any further upgrades or side-grades in my gear to chase any elusive ideal synergy that it may have with other gear.

Again, just my opinion and personal preferences.

Siouxie and the Banshees - Dazzle:


Jeremy Soule - March of the Legions:


Nirvana - Breed:


A Tribe Called Quest - Check the Rhime:


Blind Faith - Can't Find My Way Home:
 
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Apr 20, 2022 at 8:23 PM Post #15 of 19

tutetibiimperes

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Audeze LCD-5: Setting a New Benchmark

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




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.



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.






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.



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 Hammond 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.



(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).
 

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