Calling all LCD-4 owners. Would love to hear your thoughts
I own the HD800 (original and S), HE1000 (original and new version), and the LCD-4. While here is some music that I prefer with the HD800 or the HE1000, the LCD-4 is what I keep coming back to. It is simply mesmerizing.
Here’s my likes and dislike of this headphone. Likes, amazing attack and sounds I have never heard in music before! its super analytical in my opinion. If there’s something in the music, and you have the hearing to hear it, this can will show you exactly what that thing is. The dislikes? Its not nearly powerful enough and distorts at volume levels that I need, and its waaay too heavy to ware for any length of time, so I did not keep them. But man did they sound amazing when I tried them.
It is definitely a very enthralling headphone. The first time you really hear its bass response is an experience I won’t forget. It was surprisingly a lot more detailed than I expected. I had tried the LCD-3s before I got my hands on these and I was a little disappointed in them as I found that the low-end I had heard so much about just wasn’t there for me.
I haven’t tried it with the new carbon fibre headband and pads that all the new LCDs are shipping with. I wonder how much of a difference it makes comfort wise.
Not sure if punny or not.
That is of course up to you
Distortion? I’ve played them pretty loud and I’ve never heard distortion, or even close to it. What music/DAC/amp did you use?
In my limited time with the LCD-4, I can say definitively that they sound amazing. It’s critical without being fatiguing, and I think that is a quality that I look for in a lot of headphones. Great soundstaging, as far as I’m concerned. I do not recall hearing any distortion when I tried them out.
That said, I did not love how the headphone fit on my head. I found it too heavy and, during longer sessions, downright uncomfortable. Had I not had issues with the fit, this headphone would be a winner in my books.
The LCD-4 was the first Audeze headphone I heard that made for a compelling case to upgrade from the LCD-2.2c (pre-fazor, from around 2012). And my first audition of it was rather underwhelming - something later attributed to the DAC/amp that I listened to it on (a dealer’s McIntosh MHA-100).
A subsequent audition in my own system yielded a very different result and I bought them immediately.
Initially I found the sound to be very seductive, lucid, rich/warm with a liquid midrange and, perhaps, a slightly recessed treble region. Detail/resolution was excellent, but not quite on the same level as the HD800S and Abyss AB-1266 I was also using at that time. Much as with the LCD-2.2c that came before them, I could easily get lost in an evening of listening with the LCD-4 and what started off as wanting to listen to a specific album often consumed the entire evening.
Once the “shiny new toy” syndrome had worn off, I found that I was using them less and less, and really only for some very specific genres/styles of music. They live in pretty exalted company, so that’s not really intended as a slam on them:
But they were getting the least head time of all my cans, especially once the Focal Utopia arrived.
I tended to gravitate towards the LCD-4 when listening to jazz-club recordings, and other intimate, female-vocal biased, smaller-scale works. They had the uncanny ability to draw out, say, Diana Krall, and make it seem like she was singing into my ear, while curled up on my lap. Something I found to be an entirely desirable state of affairs …
But with big orchestral works, or more intricate contemporary pieces, I found that I was spending more time with the Abyss (which is one of only two other headphones that I know of that has better bass performance than the LCD-4) or the Utopia.
That remained the case until Audeze released their “Reveal” plug-in (it’s a DSP/EQ plug-in for many of their headphones). At the same time, Roon incorporated that DSP/EQ into their DSP engine, which was really nice as I’m a heavy Roon user. And I would have to say that the LCD-4 adjustment those tools provide transformed the LCD-4 into something that worked much better with almost every genre I can think of. It’s free to try and one of those things that yields a bigger upgrade, as far as I’m concerned, than even major updates to one’s DAC or amp (provided you have a suitably beefy amp to start with).
They get a lot more head-time with the plug-in than they ever did before.
Now, to sound their best I’ve found they like power. Having an excess of it on tap helps keep the amp operating in it’s sweet-spot (since obviously the headphones will only draw what they need for a given output level), but always seems to make them sound more dynamic and impactful.
Slam is excellent, beaten only by the Abyss AB-1266 Phi, resolution only trails the JPS labs cans by a little, though isn’t quite on the same plane as the Utopia and HD800S, tone is lovely (and pretty neutral with the plug-in), and they’re a thoroughly engrossing listen. Not “exciting” and “fast” in the same way the Abyss are, and they don’t have the soundstage of the HD800S, but they’re excellent nonetheless.
I find them pretty comfortable … and I’ve never had a problem with the weight, though that’s perhaps because I spent 3 years with the LCD-2.2c for 6-8 hours a day before getting the LCD-4.
Of all the TOTL cans I’ve heard/own, they’re my 4th favorite, but we’re talking about splitting single-point differences there for the most part, and they still do somethings that other cans are less eloquent at.
Yes but keep in mind I need things louder than most as I have a saveer hearing loss.
I used both the Schiit Lyr2 and Fiio K5 for headphone amps to power it
Sorry about your hearing loss! It’s possible those amps aren’t powerful enough to drive the LCD-4 at very high volumes; but someone smarter than me will have to comment on the power requirements.
I drive them through a Cavalli Liquid Gold so I’m pretty sure if I tried max volume, I’d develop hearing loss myself fairly quickly.
Never heard of the Liquid Gold.
Its ok, I mean I’ve had it all my life, so its something I’ve always has to contend with.
Its why I hoped the Addition X V2 would work , but the sound isn’t quite there.
I’ve found for me, based on the headphones I have, that I need high sensitivity, low impedance levels.
How do you find the LCD-4 with tubes?
I’ve only ever used them with solid state and I absolutely loved them. Comfort was definitely an issue for me though which is probably why I gravitated towards the MX4.
I love the combination of LCD-4 with tubes. It’s definitely my preferred way to run them. But then that’s true for every full-size headphone I listen to on a regular basis.
Another aspect of that is that in my primary headphone rig, the only solid-state output available is the direct output from the Chord DAVE. In my opinion that’s not quite grunty enough to show the the LCD-4 or the Abyss in their best light. Though even with the Pro iCAN, with it’s ability to use solid-state, tube and tube-plus modes, while still delivering more than enough juice, I invariably have it running in tube or tube+ mode.
But in the case of the LCD-4 and my main tube amp (and the one that was my main one before it moved to the office), I find the sonorous, lucid, liquid and holographic presentation coming out of the amp is very much at home with the strengths of the LCD-4 and winds up enhancing the overall delivery quite nicely.
And I totally get why lots of people have an issue with comfort and the LCD series headphones. I had the LCD-2.2c for long enough that I got used to that, and had the HiFi-Man HE-500 before that which had similar fit and mass.
Forgot to say I also use a Headroom Total Airhead, and also will be using the Headroom Max (with factory stepped attenuator upgrade.)
I’ll be posting my full review of these here shortly thanks to the community preview program, but for the moment my primary takeaway is the following:
Build - 10/10
Comfort - 5/10
Detail - 10/10
Speed - 10/10
Timbre - sweet/rich
Stage - 8/10
Imaging - 8.5/10
Tonality - 6/10
This is one of the best performing headphones I’ve heard. It’s right up there with the Utopia in terms of what it’s capable of. However in my opinion it requires a bit of EQ to get the tonality right. The treble ‘air’ boost above 10khz throws off the tonal balance a bit and it’s overall a bit too warm/dark to my liking. Also, the weight is like 600g, which is unfortunately a bit of a dealbreaker. Nonetheless, this is the best Audeze product I’ve heard to date. I’m normally not that into the Audeze house sound but the LCD-4 is addictive, and it’s likely the best iteration of their sound.
Here’s my video review for now.
Have you tried them with the Audeze “Reveal” plug-in? It’s effectively Audeze’s own EQ settings, selectable for a large number of their headphones. The same settings are available directly within Roon without needing the plug-in.
For me, they turn the LCD-4 from a somewhat specialist piece (i.e. I only used it with a limited array of music) into something actually special.
Unfortunately I didn’t try it (no Roon either). But I was chatting with a few people about it and it makes sense that they’d correct tonal balance by using EQ rather than tweaking the headphone’s physical characteristics or the driver. It’s a trade-off but I’m thankful they have the option.