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Audeze LCD i4 TOTL In-Ear Monitor Discussion

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  1. ufospls2

    Hi Guys,

    So, I’m a couple months into ownership of one of the weirder headphone/IEM’s on the market. The LCDi4 from Audeze. An open back, $2500USD in ear monitor. Crazy right? Who would buy such a thing? What use does it have? Lets try to figure that out.

    The LCDi4, again, is open back. They really do let in all the sound around you. There is not much isolation going on here at all. It would be tough to use them on the subway, on a plane, or anywhere there is a lot of ambient noise. In terms of a traditional IEM, they are a bit useless. I had to change my thinking about them to understand their uses, and why I might enjoy owning them.

    The LCDi4 is a mini LCD-4 (which I used to own,) that you can put in your pocket. Im sitting listening to James Brown’s Funky Drummer currently, on my own in my basement, and I don’t feel like I’m missing too much from using my full size headphones. Are the LCDi4 as good? Of course not, but damn they are close. I don’t feel like I miss my LCD-4, because I have some of that Audeze house sound in a package I can put in my pocket and bring anywhere. I am probably going to visit my friend for a week in LA soon, and the LCDi4 is all I will bring. Normally I would bring at least one of my full size headphones, but now that I own these, I don’t feel the need. However, I won’t be using them on the plane, and that really sucks. Its a trade off.

    In terms of packaging and what not, they LCDi4 are great. They come in a nice little box and have a nice leather case which holds all the accessories. You get two kinds of ear tips, with small, medium, and large of each. You also get a few pairs of ear hooks, and “ear locks.” I use the ear locks as my ears are weird and I find them the most comfortable. Most other people use the ear hooks. I’m still trying to find the perfect tip for my left ear. At the end of the day, I have to be honest, these earphones are fiddly to get the right fit. They do reward you once you do though, in terms of IEM’s, hell, even full size headphones, these sound great.

    For me, there are two ways to listen to the LCDi4. With the “Reveal” plug in Audeze released recently, or in the stock tuning. I enjoy them both ways, but actually prefer a mix of the two, which I will get to in a second. In the stock tuning, there is a bit of a peak in the lower treble I think, and they are much more mid forward. If you turn on the Reveal plug in at 100% it sucks out the mids pretty hard, reduces some of the treble funkiness, and gives a very slight bass boost. My absolute preference for using these earphones is actually running the Reveal plug in at about a 40% mix level, with another plug in running a more substantial bass boost. I like bass, and these can sure deliver it. Similar to Audeze’s full size LCD range, if you boost the bass, you can feel it, and it is high quality.

    Due to the introduction of the Reveal plug in, more and more people are experimenting with EQ’ing the LCDi4 and its iSine siblings. This sorta muddies the water in terms of impressions, but these do sound “larger” for lack of a better word, than other IEM’s. For an example, I auditioned the CA Andromeda, and while I enjoyed their sound signature, to me, they just sounded like another IEM. Nothing special. Nothing that made me go “wow these are worth $1000.” The LCDi4 made me go “wow, these sound awesome.” Are they worth $2500USD? I think that really depends on your needs and how you will use them.

    Its really hard to comment on the ultimate sound quality of the LCDi4 due to the Reveal plug in and every ones different preferences. However, I think that the base sound quality, once a good and comfy fit is achieved, would impress most people.

    The LCDi4 are a bit more difficult to drive than a traditional IEM. However, you can still use them comfortably from an iPhone or similar if you aren’t looking to BLAST it. However, they do seem to scale with better and more powerful sources (within reason.) My iFi iDSD BL works really well with them. Supposedly the Chord Hugo 2 in combination with the LCDi4 offers pretty much the pinnacle of portable sound quality, but I haven’t heard that particular combo, so I can’t comment. It wouldn’t surprise me though.

    Are these frankly weird IEM’s for everyone? Definitely not. However, I feel that they offer an interesting opportunity for some people. They don’t work like a traditional IEM, but if you change the way you look at them, they can actually be really useful. Almost a full size LCD-4 on the go? Yes please. However, the MSRP of $2500 is a bit silly, and out of reach for most in terms of a non full size headphones. The LCDi4 is popping up on the used market more often nowadays however, and that might be a good way to go. Audeze’s warranty is transferable after all.

    At the end of the day, I think if you can get past thinking that these are traditional IEM’s, and should function like traditional IEM’s, they are a really interesting option for some use cases. If you get the chance I would highly recommend giving them a listen :)
  2. x RELIC x Contributor
    Agree 99.99999%, great little write up!

    My only (slightly) different perspective is that they don’t really scale but rather reveal the quality of the upstream gear. Nothing fundamentally changes in the headphone/IEM as it just responds to what the source is feeding it, therefor the headphone/IEM isn’t really scaling. The better the headphone/IEM then the differences between upstream gear is more obvious, at least IMO.
  3. ufospls2
    Thats a really good way of putting it :)
  4. davidmolliere
    I would be curious about Phantom comparisons :p
  5. dhc0329
    I just received lcdi4 today and no doubt it is a great IEM. Comparing it with my Fourte costing 1K more I prefer
    its bass response as it seems more controlled and evenly spread but on the higher spectrum, treble in particular,
    I find it somewhat unbearable to hear on some songs as it was too piercing.

    I was expecting big improvement on holographic 3d effect of lcdi4 over fourte but it wasn't there. Not much
    of boost there I am afraid. Fourte was just as deep, and lcdi4 being tad bit more opened and wide using SP1000.

    At the end of day I would choose fourte over lcdi4 for its treble response and overall presentation..and of course,
    for its isolation and versatility. But then again, I paid much more for fourte and have z1r for home listening.
    Had I not known or should I say purchased fourte I would have been overly excited with lcdi4. On my brief
    encounter I will say these IEMs are in same league.
    Jimmyf1312 likes this.
  6. chicken beer
    Buying a 2500 IEM is crazy, I hope they do sound that good.
  7. jlbrach
    ridiculous?why?....any more so than any other hi-end purchase?
    lithiumnk likes this.
  8. chicken beer
    Yeah if I had 2500 bucks I'll buy a used sr009. Or I'll just keep the money in my bank...
  9. jlbrach
    I own the I4 and love it....best portable HP I ever heard...so easy to carry around and fabulous sound....take a H2 and I4 with you on a trip and you are all set
    MacedonianHero, sorrick and lithiumnk like this.
  10. chicken beer
    Man I gotta try it! Hard to say I agree with the price but it is really impressing audiophiliacs!
  11. Phronesis
    Could someone who owns both the i4 and LCD-3 provide a comparison of the two?
  12. inmytaxi
    If you have a chance, I'd be very curious how these compare to the iSine 10/20/ or /lx. Thanks for the review.
  13. jlbrach
    I4 is better than the LCD-3....better comparison is the LCD-4......I had the LCD-3 and have the LCD-4
  14. lithiumnk
    You should try lcd i4.... they are worth 2.5k.

    My reaction after listening to LCD i4 with hugo 2 -:ksc75smile::ksc75smile::ksc75smile::ksc75smile:WOW!!!

    My reaction after listening to encore , katana, dita dreams, layla, Roxanne with hugo2 (comparing with lcdi4)- :triportsad::triportsad::triportsad: OK ...Bye. ( reaction based purely on sound )
    junix likes this.
  15. chicken beer
    Oh my god!!!
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