Audeze LCD-5 - Official Thread

Audeze’s new LCD-5 is their latest planar-magnetic flagship headphone. It’s an all new design, with a familiar, but updated, aesthetic and a substantial reduction in weight:

Quoting Audeze’s LCD-5 page:

For the past decade, Audeze’s LCD series has set the standard for planar magnetic headphone performance. Starting with the LCD-2 that ushered in a new era of planar technology in 2009, we then introduced the LCD-3 in 2011 and LCD-4 in 2015. With the LCD-5, everything has been improved – drivers, earpads, frame design - to set a new standard for performance and comfort.

High-level Product Features:

  • New planar driver and magnet structure extends frequency response
  • 1/3 less weight than the LCD-4!
  • New sculpted earpad design improves upper midrange response
  • Improved structural design incorporating magnesium, acetate and carbon-fiber

Specifications:

Style Over-ear, open-back
Transducer type Planar Magnetic
Magnetic structure Fluxor™ magnet array
Phase management Fazor™
Magnet type Neodymium N50
Diaphragm type Nano-Scale Parallel Uniforce™
Transducer size 90 mm
Maximum SPL >130dB
Frequency response 5Hz - 50kHz
THD <0.1% @ 100 dB SPL
Sensitivity 90 dB/1mW (at Drum Reference Point)
Impedance 14 ohms
Max power handling 5W RMS
Min recommended power > 100mW
Recommended power level >500mW
Blazingly low weight 420g

Power/Drive Requirements:

This is the spot to discuss Audeze’s new LCD-5.

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Hannes Bieger talks about the Audeze LCD-5 - YouTube

Ghian Wright of Alcon Sleeping Giant talks about the Audeze LCD-5 - YouTube

Head-Fi interview with Sankar Thiagasamudram and general LCD-5 discussion and measurements:

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As noted by others I too have ordered it. Still waiting for the Carbon. Hope Audeze has not become a Ponzi scheme (just kidding). Excited to see an Audeze flagship this light.

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I’m tempted to order before they sell out, but inclined to wait for a few more reviews & impressions. Two things give me pause:

1 - sensitivity. 14 ohms, 90db sensitivity is only slightly easier to drive than Arya. 90db is low sensitivity - how much power will it actually take to drive these?

2 - with an entirely new driver design and a reportedly “neutral, almost bright” tuning, will these deliver the bass slam & impact Audeze is known for?

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Order is in!
God halp me.

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Th recommended power level on the Audeze site is more than 500mW, so I’d say at least that much; probably more since planars love current.

That is also my concern, especially given the smaller driver.

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That’s why I’ve ordered. With supply chain issues globally, if you don’t order hot products day 1 right now, who knows when you’ll get them.

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Are they borrowing design principles from Dan Clark Audio? My AFC has a smaller driver for a planar, is neutral-to-bright, and sounds jagged/compressed without excessive current.

I’d wait for reviews and/or demos in this price class, and I typically wait anyway.

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The recommended power is always “>500mw” so I wouldn’t count on that telling us anything useful. The problem, I think, is that on amps where gain is linked to output impedance (typical on otc tubes), the specs here are going to cause a mismatch. Their impedance (14ohms) is very low, so you’re going to want the lowest output impedance setting. But their sensitivity (90db) is also very low, so you’re going to need as much gain as you can get. So what do you go with - impedance mismatch, or not enough gain?

On most solid state amps, I assume you would just use high gain and it wouldn’t be a concern. I wouldn’t count on 90db sensitivity working well off a phone or dongle dac without a dedicated power amp, though.

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I was all set to put in an order for these as soon as they dropped. The primary idea being to get to a single, flagship, planar-magnetic headphone (i.e. consolidating my LCD-4 and RAD-0 into one unit).

At this point, I share similar “concerns” to other posters …

The smaller drivers, different tuning, and comparatively higher power requirements (see the power chart in the original post) vs. the LCD-4 and general similarity to the CRBN’s frequency response mean I will likely take a wait-and-see or, rather, wait-and-hear approach to these.

For my tastes the LCD-4 need EQ. Looking at the frequency response posted for the LCD-5, they’re going to need EQ too. It’ll be different EQ in both cases, of course, but that’s still requiring EQ. Not a deal killer, by any means, but I’d still prefer they didn’t.

This does, however, mean that any evaluation will come down to how well they take EQ (i.e. does making corrections in one area excite other frequencies in ways that cannot be directly/fully controlled by EQ … such as other cup/driver resonances, as with the HD800) vs. the LCD-4 as well as how their relative technicalities actually stack up. If the LCD-5 is technically superior in the other major categories (when EQ’d) then it’s an easy choice for me … and LCD-5 it will be.

The drivers are a fair bit smaller than the LCD-4, also, which may affect slam/impact. That’s a big part of what I love about the LCD-4. And its interesting to see the LCD-5 head towards a smaller driver (which is, no doubt, part of how signifiant a reduction in weight they’ve managed), when Stax went the other way with their new SR-X9000. It’d be a bit ironic if a Stax model wound up with a more potent bottom end than an Audeze flagship.

I’m not too concerned about their drive/power requirements, though if I was using a different tube amplifier to my WA-234 MKII MONO* I would be thinking rather differently. OTL models are a pretty much a non-starter here.

I like the updated look. The weight reduction is certainly welcome, even if it was never a big issue for me. The pricing is surprisingly restrained, at least given what I was expecting.

This is a long-winded way of saying the LCD-5 is not, at first blush, quite what I was expecting. And that that makes it more likely that I’ll wait to see what/if HiFiMan** or JPS Labs/Abyss come up with next, before doing anything else in the planar-magnetic realm.


*This is quite happy driving 8 ohm loads, never mind 14 ohms, at high volumes, with more continuous power capability than the LCD-5 can handle. And it has selectable impedance matching as well, so that’s a non-issue for me.
**This would require non-comedy build quality for whatever their asking price is.

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I’m going to give Audeze the benefit of the doubt here and say they probably put the LCD-5 through plenty of testing to ensure it didn’t lose the slam/macrodynamics that the 4 had, specifically due to the smaller driver. Considering this was engineered from the ground up, it needs to surpass, or at the very least match, the LCD-4’s performance in every category; simply making it lighter isn’t sufficient enough for a flagship headphone.

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the graph i saw on Head-Fi looks kind of like the Audeze Sine which I like a lot but also looks like its tuned darker in the treble than the Sine which I felt already a small bit lacking in the treble range as is.

Otherwise, I, for one, look forward to this type of tuning except I am still skeptical that the lack of treble (when you see it versus the HD650 graph) is a bit concerning because then it may sound very veiled.

Okay someone send me one so I can listen for sure. Donations are gladly accepted. :slight_smile:

Also, finally… a full sized Audeze that may have the weight I like.

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I would hope; but I’m not taking it on faith.

I jumped in immediately on the CRBN on the basis they are only going to be built-to-order. So you either order (and wait), or wait for one on the used market.

With the LCD-5, they should be available from stock once the initial demand has been met. So it’s not an ever-sliding delivery window if you put off ordering until impressions come in and/or I can get some ear-time with them.

Besides, I’m not ordering another Audeze headphone until I have my CRBN in my hands. It’s been a 7-week wait so far, though they say they’re expecting to ship the first orders this week (we’ll see).

Either way, no real downside in waiting to make sure in this case.

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Oh well. I’ve been watching the headphone releases roll out, and decided to wait to see if Audeze released the rumoured LCD-5.

Order placed, thanks to the awesome crew @headphones.com (thanks dudes @taronlissimore @netforce @andrew)

Basically, I’m hoping for sonics I like, in a comfy weight/design, that isn’t as hard to drive as the Susvara. On paper, the LCD-5 seems to fit the bill. Of course, I’ll have to wait until hearing it before I can know for sure. Full review incoming etc… in time.

And thus, the wait begins :slight_smile:

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This graph is interesting. With a bit of eq at 150hz and a bump at 5500hz, could this be a totl planar magnetic answer to the HD650? :thinking:

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Should be interesting! I’d actually pull down 3200Hz a bit before trying to boost at 5500 to see if that better balances things. Then like you alluded to, maybe a low shelf somewhere between 100Hz-150Hz of 3dB and you’re all set.

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My impressions are only from the version I heard at the time (there was a small pad tweak made afterwards, but it measured similar to this one) was that it was in line with the new LCD-X and R tunings, but faster, a little leaner and quite detailed. Impact and dynamics seemed great, but without EQ it’s hard to compare since it didn’t have such a perceptual warm tilt due to the different ear gain region balance. Definitely a new generation of Audeze, but I think one that Harman curve fans (other than the bass shelf) will be a fan of.

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It’s interesting that while Sennheiser is moving away from the 3KHz shout with models like the HD660s and the HD58X, Audeze is moving towards it.

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I know less than everyone else here about this new LCD flagship. But I take note of the comments about tuning.

I have a perception, partly based on experience & partly on reading reviews/comments–that there is a trend among TOTL planars away from bassy, warm, organic sound, and towards higher resolution, brighter, leaner, faster sound. A few examples:

  • Recently I owned, then sold a Kennerton Odin “Thridi,” their former TOTL planar. I bought it because it was described (in essence) as the last of the slightly warm, bassy planars. Indeed, the 3 flagship Kennerton planars that followed are all routinely described as more detailed, less warm, less bassy, and higher in resolution

  • I had, then sold the original Meze Empyrean. Its tuning was prototypical TOTL planar circa 5 years ago: bassy, somewhat warm, and moderate resolution. It has since been superceded by the new, more expensive “Elite” variant, universally described as less warm, more accurate & details, with more treble energy

  • I have the original Final D8000, Final’s TOTL circa 2017. It is definitely a higher resolution planar than many I’d heard, but also retains slight warmth, bassiness, and musicality. It has since been superceded by the D8000 Pro, universally described as less bassy, less warm, more detailed.

  • This same trend has long been underway at Hifiman, where the TOTL (sitting above the warm, bassy, musical HEX v2) was for several years the HE1000. That’s one of the brighter, more tipped up planars I’d ever heard. It has since been superceded as their flagship by the very expensive Susvara, often described as having a high resolution, tipped up sound.

None of this is good news for me. I seek the same qualities in headphones (regardless of driver type) that I once did from big 2-channel speakers: a music-first, slightly warm, bassy, organic sound that more closely tracks what I hear in live music in real spaces.

It appears the long-time standoff between musical sound vs clinical/accurate sound continues, with the latter gaining ground in headphone audio, just as it did in speaker audio. I know it’s possible to “marry” these 2 sonic profiles–to have a high resolution, clear treble transducer that is also highly musical (Exhibit A is the ZMF Verite Open). I just wish there were more such hybrid-sound options among the big/bad planars du jour.

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