Announcing the *new* HEADPHONE Community Preview Program


LOL…from what I have read. The US has grey squirrels and the UK has red squirrels although I have read some nasty UK programs concerning red squirrels. :wink:


As long as it’s not flying squirrels … I think we’re okay!

They have very strange dynamics.


I see that there’s both an LCD-4 and a Utopia in the program. I haven’t listened to enough (well, any) summit-fi headphones to feel comfortable doing it myself, but it would be fun to see someone do a shootout between those two.


You should jump on the LCD-4 … (or both), since you already have ample experience with the LCD2C (which would be an interesting comparison to the LCD-4 in itself)!

I’d be particularly interested to see what EQ curve you came up with for the LCD-4 as well, since I find them at their best with the EQ provided by Audeze’s “Reveal” plug-in (or the preset in Roon).

Though, the LCD-4 do need a fairly beefy amp to get them to show their best. The 1.4 watts @ 32 ohms (or 200mw @ the 200 ohms of the LCD-4) directly available out of even a Chord DAVE is not sufficient to show them at their best (regardless of what the math says).

At some point, once I get through my current review backlog, I’ll do a full shoot out between my LCD-4, Utopia, HD800S and Abyss AB-1266 Phi CC.


Yes, that would be a good comparison. I’m currently getting familiar with my latest LCD2C EQ settings and the resulting sound. I’ll let that process continue a bit before I jump on the LCD-4. Also, the house is still torn apart from emergency plumbing work, so my head’s not in a good place to do TOTL headphones any justice.

Yes, it’ll be interesting to measure the effect of Reveal on the LCD-4. I found the measured effect on the LCD2C to be fairly minimal.

My Magni 3 can push 430mW into 300 ohms, and the Ember II supposedly can manage about 1.2 W into 200 ohms, so hopefully one of those will do the trick :slight_smile:

That would be awesome!


Power wise, the more you can give them the better - though at some point I should see how their impulse response and FR alters with more power.

It’s around the 1.5-2w mark I find that power stops having an effect. Audibly at least (and done blind).

I think they’re a bit more tonally skewed than the LCD2C out of the box, so it’ll definitely be interesting to see how much of a difference there is between the “Reveal” EQ and stock.


That’s wild. I’ve heard similar about the LCD line in general, especially the older ones. Any theories on why the needed power varies so wildly from what the specs would indicate?


A few … not all directly related to the headphone.

They may not be specifically “power” related, either, and might just be an artifact of other component (and I’m talking about individual electronic elements … transistors, tubes, caps, etc. here) tolerances and behaviors … but that tend to be wider when dealing with high power delivery capabilities.

In most cases, the closer to it’s limits an amplifier runs then the further from it’s ideal response it is likely to be. An amplifier that is maxed out at 1w into 200 ohms is probably going to exhibit more nasties than one that is just ticking over at that level. You want to operate as close to the sweet spot of a component (especially semi-conductors) as possible.

And devices with higher power capacity often exhibit superiority in other categories as well, such as slew-rate or available current (which seem to be the two biggest factors).

“Clean” power vs. “Max” power are also not really the same things … and an amp that’s rated at, say, 1w @ 200 ohms might be exhibiting one or two orders of magnitude more THD than an amp that is capable of 8w @ 200 ohms for the same output level. So while the actual power consumed may not differ, the more powerful amp is operating far closer to it’s sweet spot than a lesser powered unit.


I’m coming to the realization that what I personally crave is something that combines the mid-fi Sennheisers’ sense of realism and micro- and macro-dynamics with the LCD2C’s bass power and texture. I’ve gone through a bunch of rounds of EQ on the LCD2C and come to the conclusion that while I can make the tonality accurate with EQ, the LCD2C still misses out on ultimate realism because of what I think are poor micro-dynamics. It’s really not bad on its own, but when compared head to head with my HD58X it still sounds a bit fake. Conversely, no matter how much I bump the bass EQ on the HD58X, it just never sounds as big and strong as the LCD2C (not to mention detailed).

My gut tells me that I need to listen to an HD800 whose moving coil driver might have similarly good micro and macro-dynamic properties to the mid-fi Sennheisers, but with twice the surface area might deliver a more convincing performance in the bass region (after EQ). As someone experienced in such things 1) do you think I’m barking up the right tree and 2) is there something else (ideally in the community preview program) that’s worth a listen?

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The HD800 is definitely one way to go. For me they’d need a physical modification (e.g. SDR) to tame the ~6kHz resonance, and then EQ on top of that. I cannot get them to where I am happy with them with EQ alone.

You can bring the bass a good ways up without issue here too, but even at 56mm it’s still a significantly smaller surface area than the Audeze units … so slam/impact and bass presence are still going to lag in comparison.

The LCD-4 would be my first choice to serve what you’re asking from that Community Preview Program. It has significantly better micro-dynamic resolution than the LCD2C, though it’s not quite on the same level there as the HD800 (really only the Utopia is from what I’ve heard).

Those will still need EQ, either custom or via “Reveal” (or Roon) - but likely not in the bass region.

Other possibilities … the Focal Utopia take bass-EQ very well and are similarly dynamic and resolving as the HD800. With the right EQ I don’t hear a significant difference in slam on the low end. Still not going to match good planar bass, though.

And then we’re off the reservation and staring down things like the Abyss AB-1266 Phi CC. They’re the fastest sounding planar I know of, and are on par or ahead of the LCD-4 for micro-dynamics … with little need for EQ to get to a largely neutral response. But they have their own issues, including price and comfort (thought the latter is better, and fit more forgiving, with the latest CC pads).

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Oh dear, I haven’t even made it through my first year in this hobby and I’ve arrived at the point where the logical next step is to listen to a $4000 pair of headphones.


Funny! :slight_smile:

To be fair, I was focusing on what’s in the Community Preview Program.

Both the LCD-3 and X, as well as the MX4 will also be better than the LCD2C in terms of micro-dynamics, while retaining that planar bass delivery - but it gets a lot tougher when the point of comparison is the HD800 - as micro-dynamics are one of it’s primary strengths. The Clears are very nearly as good, but again won’t quite match the slam of the HD800 or the LCD2C.

There are, I’m sure, other units that might apply …


I can’t participate in this discussion(limited in my resources) but I do like to hear the ongoing discussion.


I know, but I had to ignore that for the joke to work!

I think in practice I need to go listen to an HD800, both because it’s kind of the summit-fi “reference” standard and because I think I might actually like it. If it splits the difference between the HD58X and Audezes in terms of bass presence, it may be sufficient.

The only other planars I’ve heard where the Hifiman HE-400i and HE-560, and both also lacked that ultimate realism, so part of me wonders if planars in general just don’t sound quite right to me. I suppose listening to the LCD-4 would be one way to test that hypothesis.

So here’s the plan - find and listen to an HD800 and then, maybe, check out the LCD4.

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CA Cascade…if nothing eles it is one of the most unique headphones I have heard yet…but another realistic option is the Fostex X00 series but you lose a lot of mids. Honestly in my limited experience in this audiophile world there is no “Neo” headphones…you really almost have to have multiple sets to experience the different styles/soundsignature/ etc…


So, I don’t know how many times I’ve now fallen into the “tried it with the wrong amps” trap, but sure enough I think I’ve been underestimating the LCD2C’s capabilities because I haven’t given it the right amping. I had been driving it directly from my LG V20 a lot, because it was only at 50% volume and I figured that meant I had enough power. Also, I tried running the LG V20 through the more powerful Topping NX4 and the LCD2C didn’t sound appreciably different that way, reinforcing my believe that LG V20 was sufficient. At some point prior to that I had even tried the Ember II, and again it didn’t stand out as uniquely better.

Well, today I dug out my Magni 3 and ran the LG V20 through that to the LCD2C, with the Magni 3 on high gain. I used to listen to the LCD2C from the Magni 3 but fed via a Hifiberry, so this was my first time trying this particular combination. I’ll want to listen more before giving detailed impressions, but so far the LCD2C just sounds better in every way. I even used my SPL meter to make sure I’m not listening louder than usual, and I’m not.



It happens to all of us!

I think there’s more to matching/driving headphones to their best than just having “enough” power. Sometimes it’s as simple as “how” that power is delivered (be that a function of peak current, peak voltage, slew rate, power reserve or other more subtle factors).

I’m playing with a new DAP at the moment and it is providing a similar example of how what I’d expect to be the case given it’s specs (and those of the headphones I’m trying it with), and what the actual results are, are not necessarily lining up!


How about Community Loan and Review Program. CLARP. Or Loan and Review. It’s quite catchy the last suggestion.



OMG … don’t make me have to go change all the links/references I’ve made to “Community Preview Program” now! :wink:

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:joy: hehe.


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