Introducing the Audeze LCD-R!
Aug 16, 2021 at 1:11 PM Post #841 of 1,235

CoLdAsSauLt

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My impression is that product dev and design at Audeze has stagnated as of late, new offerings are based on the opportunity and packaging.

I do not agree at all with this statement. My impression is that Audeze is working hard searching for the limits of their trusted planar technologies (hence the LCD-R), discovering, mastering and even innovating new technologies (the CRBN with carbon nanotubes), ...

This is not a smartphone company pumping out a new toy each year, with a more recent processor thus always faster and better...

Best comparison is Sennheiser imo: right, they have a huge product range; they really cater to almost anybody.
But the real flagships? They don't get superceded by newer models every year. Hell, my trusted HD650 has serviced the audio world like forever...

And I'm darn glad my multithousand dollar investments aren't obsolete after only a year. Audeze by the way silently does revisions (which makes me feel like I miss out on stuff by the way), so they are constantly trying to improve and re-evaluate...

Audio technology is not chip technology. Things don't go that fast in transducer tech... and even then, I'm amazed at the developments of lately and the pace at which they come firing at us.

You want a different flavour or something in another price bracket? Sure... But at the levels where Audeze has managed to bring their transducer performance, there is not a whole lot more to squeeze out of a headphone I think... the ever diminishing returns...
 
Aug 16, 2021 at 1:14 PM Post #842 of 1,235

cwoo

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Woo hoo! Just got a shipping notification from Audeze for my LCD-Rs. I’m pretty pumped!
 
Aug 16, 2021 at 2:07 PM Post #844 of 1,235

paradoxper

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I do not agree at all with this statement. My impression is that Audeze is working hard searching for the limits of their trusted planar technologies (hence the LCD-R), discovering, mastering and even innovating new technologies (the CRBN with carbon nanotubes), ...

This is not a smartphone company pumping out a new toy each year, with a more recent processor thus always faster and better...

Best comparison is Sennheiser imo: right, they have a huge product range; they really cater to almost anybody.
But the real flagships? They don't get superceded by newer models every year. Hell, my trusted HD650 has serviced the audio world like forever...

And I'm darn glad my multithousand dollar investments aren't obsolete after only a year. Audeze by the way silently does revisions (which makes me feel like I miss out on stuff by the way), so they are constantly trying to improve and re-evaluate...

Audio technology is not chip technology. Things don't go that fast in transducer tech... and even then, I'm amazed at the developments of lately and the pace at which they come firing at us.

You want a different flavour or something in another price bracket? Sure... But at the levels where Audeze has managed to bring their transducer performance, there is not a whole lot more to squeeze out of a headphone I think... the ever diminishing returns...
Completely agree @rudbeard is way off the mark. Audeze has been pushing their planar implementations consistently and in fair performance whilst also creating new markets for them to grow into to bolster the high-end.

However, if you'd like to criticize stagnation or applaud ambitious pursuit, do not simply gloss over how they have continually struggled to show real quality control with their driver reliability which warrants harsh scrutiny.
 
Aug 16, 2021 at 3:16 PM Post #845 of 1,235

eskamobob1

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D8000 Pro vs LCD-R

Ok, so going back and forth between the LCD-R (on jot A) and D8000P (on my best amp for it), I think they are within the same tier but I think the LCD-R just nudges the D8kp out in the majority of technical areas. This is a bit hard to compair purely because they present so differently though.

Detail: I think in raw outright detail the LCD-R wins, but its detail is also quite a bit more forward. Where the d8kp realy shines in the category though is dynamic range. It renders nearly silent background tracks in an almost ethereal manner that makes them far easier to follow than on the LCD-R, but in heavily congested tracks the LCD-R feels like it has an extra level of clarity that allows for more detail to shine though much more naturaly

Stage and layering: the stage size with both of these is a bit hard to pin down. Its neither small nor massive. They tend to fall in a more of middle road with stage size imo, but both do super low level sounds out from infinity quote well. Where these two differ quite greatly is how they use their stage. The LCD-R is a much more arya like experience with hyper clear imaging layering while the d8kp has a very dynamic stage as well (in that it uses its entire range of distances quite well) but presents the imaging in quite a different way focusing more on track cohesion than outright image clarity. This leads to some astonishingly good ambient music with amazing background mixes becoming quite involving and emotional but can struggle with raw detail in congested tracks. On the other hand the LCD-R can sound comparatively sterile at times rendering you each part of the music separately in its own image but truly excelling at detail in congested tracks.

Punch & slam: tbh, neither can realy shines here but the d8kp hits a bit harder while the R feels snappier and faster. Over all their bass is quite equal in quality just slightly different presentations and stagings.

Texture: this one is a bit of a toss up over all. I think the mid texture is subjectively more to my preference on the d8kp but the bass texture is objectively better with the much faster driver. Micro details in the bass abound on both, but the R just does it ever so slightly better.

Timbre: the d8kp is no slouch but it has to go to the LCD-R here. Its seriously is in a leage of the highest tier in this area.

Complaints: both these buttmunches like to drive ice picks into my brain from time to time. Seriously wish I could find a darker can at this level....

Overall: they are quite different and, imo, fit will side by side in a 3-4 can collection but in a 2 can one thy are too similar simply due to the FR similarities alone
 
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Aug 16, 2021 at 11:30 PM Post #847 of 1,235

rudbeard

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I do not agree at all with this statement. My impression is that Audeze is working hard searching for the limits of their trusted planar technologies (hence the LCD-R), discovering, mastering and even innovating new technologies (the CRBN with carbon nanotubes), ...

Best comparison is Sennheiser imo: right, they have a huge product range; they really cater to almost anybody.
But the real flagships? They don't get superceded by newer models every year. Hell, my trusted HD650 has serviced the audio world like forever...

Let me add a little more context and see if that resolves the difference. The development of the product as someone consumes it has slowed to a standstill. Audeze is not solving customer pain points, improving QC, or creating new products; Audeze is making technological improvements and launching exhibition headphones as monetization for R&D + marketing. I appreciate the refinement of the LCD-X, I am intrigued in the Euclid despite some of the reviews. I appreciate the improvements Audeze does, I think their iterations on the LCDX have been vital to its success and are some of the best arguments against my assertion. The LCDX is the exception and Rosson has been able to compete by making the LCD4 with fun color rings, but they have no answer. Let's talk about Sennheiser. I'd use this exact example to show the difference. The HE-1 is not a product, it's a showcase; Sennheiser releasing the 560s is product line evolution, the 6XX is product development, the wireless options I wouldn't ever buy are product line and product growth. I know literal phonebook and physical media companies with more active product development Than Audeze's iterations. They could stop gluing pads on and we'd treat it like a new headphone..

I'd argue that the cause is Audeze being run by the business guy after the product guy left; the primary form of product growth is going to be in either repackaging (business) and invention (tech), not in product or product design (e.g. Cook after Jobs, innovation is tech's domain and sometimes the tech improvements don't land). I'm not demeaning the innovation. Offsetting the R&D with a limited edition is not product development, it's recovering R&D as a matter of accounting. It is more about extending the technical and the material tech work being commodified to a line item. We can guess from the price and the scale of their other products like the LCD-4 to assert that the CBRN is all but a product line that's prototypes/one-offs. Apple making two sizes of iPhone is not R&D, it's product dev (Sennheiser making the HE-1 is marketing). If you want to get simplistic, I find things like the CBRN and "planar ribbon" tech demos from a company that can't be bothered to make their headphones lighter or more accessible much less develop complete use-case products. I wouldn't be surprised if we got an LCD-3 tier LCD-R with plain wood rings or something down the road because at 67 units what they're releasing is primarily novelty. Understandable, not every company wants to work at large scale, and Audeze needs vast QC & customer support improvement before it is wise to scale; Audeze needs to make consumable, purchasable products. Look at the other two USA planar headphone companies for comparison.

Editing to include comments from after I wrote this:
However, if you'd like to criticize stagnation or applaud ambitious pursuit, do not simply gloss over how they have continually struggled to show real quality control with their driver reliability which warrants harsh scrutiny.
I'd agree with 3/3 here. I see product dev stagnation in the vacuum of the product leader leaving, I am impressed by a throwback to early planar innovation they can still bring, I'd love it if they would work on the deficiencies you mentioned as that's a core part of the product experience. Making quality products that people can buy and use is a core part of product design after you grow out of boutique custom work. I am not just complaining about Audeze to have an internet argument, I am asking them to do better for use and for them. It would be nice if my MX4s that didn't have a 30% channel imbalance on a pair that's months old and it would be lovely if I could get them repaired under a warranty experience that wasn't measured in months. One of the things that makes Apple a strong brand and a good product company is their after-sales support and control over the business ops. The iPhone is a product with clear generational uplift, the Grado SR80 is a product, Swiffers are a product; The LCD-24 and MX4 are more or less branded product release versions of R&D. I'm hoping for a better Audeze as I'm asking for better from Audeze.

I think they should repackage them in some other style of wood or metal housing and make them available to everyone.
This.
 
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Aug 16, 2021 at 11:37 PM Post #848 of 1,235

cwoo

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That would be the sane, rational thing to do. But given the approach taken so far, I wouldn't assume Audeze would do this.
I would imagine they will do some kinda LCD-R release... with all the positive reviews and Audeze watching this thread, I can't imagine they wouldn't add this headphone to their collection. The question would be as to whether it is built the same way, includes a Jotunheim-A, and is priced the similarly.
 
Aug 17, 2021 at 12:02 AM Post #849 of 1,235

boxster233

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We still don’t know the how or ehh of the limited release. If it’s supply chain limitations or recouping r&d costs or the product guy left. Assumptions don’t help us. If this tech is successful and well regarded enough and financially sustainable for Audeze and Schiit, we’ll no doubt see that in the future.
 
Aug 17, 2021 at 12:03 AM Post #850 of 1,235

cwoo

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We still don’t know the how or ehh of the limited release. If it’s supply chain limitations or recouping r&d costs or the product guy left. Assumptions don’t help us. If this tech is successful and well regarded enough and financially sustainable for Audeze and Schiit, we’ll no doubt see that in the future.
Totally agree, but they just released two brand new headphones within like a month of each other. You never know!
 
Aug 17, 2021 at 3:49 AM Post #851 of 1,235

M3NTAL

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A retro solution for a modern problem.

IMG_1235.jpg



My original pair of LCD-2 were purchased at their release, which was CanJam IIRC. They had the original grill that did not have the now infamous "A". The second pair (pictured) are a very end of the line 2.1. It includes all the revisions that I had made to my original before regretfully selling it to help fund my electrostatic setup.

I think the naysayers are going to eat their words when they realize how awesome a self powered reference headphone with ANC is going to be. Please @Audeze send me an e-mail for the flash sale on those! (NO, THERE IS NOT A PRODUCT THAT EXISTS that I know of - Just hoping my intuition is right)
 
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Aug 17, 2021 at 11:49 AM Post #852 of 1,235

chargedcapacitor

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Here's another one of my amateur headphone comparison review, hot off the press!


In the Challenger's corner, we have the ZMF Verite Open powered by the IHA-6 Amp.

Initial impressions

I just received this headphone Saturday, and have only spent a few hours with it. Right off the bat, most of my time with it has been playing with the EQ settings. This headphone, to my ears and taste, seems to have multiple frequency deficiencies between 1.5 and 6khz. After trying to tune it by ear, I gave up and checked out the many different FR graphs in order to speed along the tuning process. I ended up settling on a standard sub bass boost, and a few tweaks at 1.5khz and 3.5khz.

Once I had the tuning completed to the best of my ability, I spent a few hours just listening to music. Without directly comparing to the LCD-R, I knew immediately that the Verite has a louder leading edge percussion rendering. That is too say, initial sounds from drums and claps are a bit more "in your face". In most cases I found this to be a bit harsh and unrealistic sounding. But I'll get more into that on the direct comparison section!

The Verite sounded spacious enough, but I had a hard time enjoying certain vocals, even after EQ. Overall, I found it to be in between LCD-4 and Focal Clear levels of enjoyment. It had that certain sound to it that dynamics have, without the same metallic timbre I disliked on the Focal Clear. The bass sounded decent, but didn't blow me away like the first time I listened to an LCD-4.

I will concede that many of my impressions might be stemming from the IHA-6, and a more powerful tube amp might make this headphone really shine. So, if anyone is willing to sell me a ZMF Pendant or similar, I am all ears!


Direct comparison

Once I felt I had a proper taste of the Verite, set up my volume matching and began my A/B comparisons. I spent a few hours on Sunday, and a few hours yesterday just listening, comparing, and EQ tuning. Here are my impressions:

Bass: This was a bit of a toss up, as each headphone render bass similarly. In the sub bass, I would give the win to the LCD-R. It just sounds more present, and controlled. The Verite is no slouch, though! It really would be up to the individual to decide which particular bass response they enjoy the most, but both are what I would consider "good enough". My personal judgement for headphone bass is how realistically a headphone can render a bass kick-drum; I found the LCD-R to be slightly better at it.

Mids: This is where these two headphones separate from each other, and by a pretty large margin. The mids on the LCD-R and just SO smooth and detailed in comparison to the Verite. Even though there is a ~5Khz dip on the LCD, the detail in that region still comes through. On the Verite, however, every place where a FR dip exist, sounds from that region seem a bit more sucked out and lacking in detail. Even when EQ'd to a similar tonality (as much as I could manage, at least), the Verite was a bit more veiled sounding in comparison.

Treble: I don't really have much to say here, the treble response on the Verite is not offensive or anything, it just lacks the same detail and pleasantness that the LCD-R has. It's not much as big of a difference as what I heard in the mids.

Technicals: So now we get to the parts where these cans really differ! I would like to circle back to the percussive differences I mentioned in the beginning. After comparing tracks with different kinds of percussive sounds, I think I found the difference that was so glaring when I first heard the Verites. Both cans have great speed and snap for percussive instruments and sounds, but the Verite's tonality (or where in the frequency range the Verite focuses the "snap" and "Punch") seems to put the "snap" emphasis in a lower mid frequency compared to the LCD-R. It's a bit hard to explain, and I will certainly need to spend more time listening to the Verite to get a better feel for it. Overall, I think the Verite had a louder "punch" for certain percussive sounds, but personally, I think prefer the LCD-R percussive sounds. This result is encouraging if a good tube amp really changes the presentation of the Verite; I could see this headphone sounding a lot more pleasing with a few simple changes in sound profile.

Vocals: Let me tell you about vocals. For me, this is a very important factor when comparing headphones, and I am regretful to say to all the Verite fans out there, the LCD-R just wipes the floor with the Verite. It's not really even a competition. On the LCD-R, vocals were lifelike, realistically staged, and with excellent tonal definition. The Verite, however, seemed veiled in comparison. On most songs the differences were only somewhat apparent, but on some tracks, the LCD-R kicked it into high-gear and really shined. One track in particular was the famous Fleetwood Mac "Dreams"; Nicks' vocals were extremely clear and felt like she was on a mic 10 feet in front of me! In comparison, the Verites were a more intimate and veiled presentation.

Staging and Imaging: Both of these headphone have "good enough" stage size, but the LCD-R is just better at imaging. There really isn't much more to say than that, I can easily hear instrument placement and separation on the LCD-R when compared the Verite. However, when it comes to the holographic presentation, these headphones both sound great in different ways. On certain older rock tracks like many songs from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Verite can easily compete with the LCD-R by creating very believable stage and presentation. On newer, well recorded pop / rock tracks like the Chainsmokers "All we know", the LCD-R has the better presentation. On several tracks, such as Camelia Capello's "Find you again", the LCD-R showed the most holographic presentation that I have ever heard, even compared directly to my two channel speaker setup! This particular category has me very curious if a better amp would bring the Verite up to the level of the LCD-R.


Conclusion

While I do need to spend more time on percussion heavy tracks to really nail down the differences I heard between these two cans, I don't think I need to spend much more time comparing to determine which one I like best. I heard many great things about the Verite, and I really wanted to like it; but when I got to sit down and listen to them, I never had the urge to just stop testing / comparing and just listen to them. Taking these cans off after listening to half of a song was easy. I never felt pulled into the music, these headphones never made me smile when I heard something I hadn't heard before. As soon as I switched back to the LCD-R, that changed. Several songs I A/B tested these headphones with just pulled me into them, and I ended up listening to the whole track before I could pause and test the Verites. When listening to Fleetwood Mac, I couldn't help but listen and enjoy whole songs. On the Verite, stopping halfway through a track, even a great track, was easy. So I guess that pretty much sums up my feelings for the LCD-R!

As I said, this might not be much of a fair comparison. I really hope to be able to re-write this review once (If) I get a chance to listen to the Verites on a good tube amp. Does anyone else have a comparison between the Verite / any other ZMF can they can share?

Thanks for the read, I know it was long, not very well structured, and rambly!
 
Aug 17, 2021 at 12:35 PM Post #853 of 1,235

M3NTAL

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I've had some time with a few different ZMF's on a few different setups and just like the Clear, HD6X0, Utopia, and H800 - you have to build a system around them to get the last bit.

The Verite is the one that seems to resonate with quite a few people - it has a hi-fi sound that also leans on the "highly technical" type sound. I didn't get to hear it on many amplifiers so I was never able to find a chain that the Verite didn't grate on my ears just a touch.

The most balanced tonally, but a bit lacking in dynamics for my tastes would be the Auteur. With a very dynamic + clean system in front of them, they can be a really nice end-game for most normal people.

My personal favorite currently is the Aeolus. It seems to represent ZMF the best to me. Its fun, it's beautiful, it's american rock'n roll.

The Focal Clear timbre issue you speak of can also be mitigated quite well with a nice set of tubes in front or an ECP DSHA-3F. I can't speak for the Utopia because I have not heard a chain that does not eventually fatigue my ears.

If you're looking for a new reference dynamic headphone - don't sleep on LTA or ETA with their 3D-Printed designs. You'll need discord and google to do the deep dive, but I think it will be worth it for people who don't mind being a hobbyist.
 
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Aug 18, 2021 at 4:00 AM Post #854 of 1,235
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Would the Singxer be any better than the Jot? I would consider them both to hold a similar place in the market. No? I think @Currawong has the singxer...maybe he tried it?

Given their high sensitivity, the Singxer works (I used a regular Audeze cable). Though it's tempting to try a bunch of amps here, near shorting the output of them is not something I'm keen to experiment with, especially as turning up the volume to see if they start distorting may have them try and send large amounts of current through the circuits and cook something. Even with the Master 10, I only plug them just before listening, and unplug them afterwards.

So, while using the Singxer works at least basically, I'm not going to test what happens when I play a bass heavy track at higher volume.

Have you talked to Sankar in depth about everything you write about or are you just speculating?
 
Aug 18, 2021 at 10:13 AM Post #855 of 1,235

brams

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While there might be an argument to be made about a lack of continuous improvement in the past, my impression is that Audeze has significantly improved in this area over time. Certainly it would be good to have options for newer and lighter cup materials, headband design, etc., however, is repackaging essentially the same basic product in different ways or concentrating solely on quality improvements truly innovative? From a design point of view my guess is that many like the steampunk look of Audeze products just the way they are.

In my opinion, what Audeze is currently doing is the essence of innovation i.e. researching and releasing products outside their comfort zone that look different, solve non-audiophile issues and open up new markets. Similarly, limited release of products whether to test market reception, advertise the potential of existing technologies or reward a lucky portion of their customer base with a product that does not factor into their long term planning is OK in my book.

I certainly did not need another headphone, but purchased the LCD-R purely out of curiosity. These are keepers at what I believe are a bargain price considering what you get and how they perform. Given this, whether or not Audeze releases a slightly different variation does not matter to me.
 

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