He is the best Brandon! @Nuance
Awesome - thank you! I may have to order the one in curly maple and zebrawood
That Alien version is outta control!
If i had the extra $ i would have been all over that one! love it…
For those of you on Instagram that enjoy LCD-5 auidoporn.
Okay guys, we were finally able to get one in for review. I imagine the demand for these is pretty high right now so it’s been tricky to get ahold of one. The following are my first impressions of the Audeze LCD-5 after listening last night in the studio, along with measurements done on the GRAS 43AG and KB5000 anthropometric pinna.
I had shared this with some friends to get their thoughts as well, and the consensus seemed to be that this is one of the better measuring Audeze headphones, and I’m inclined to agree. But why is that? Well… for starters, there’s ear gain! This is a big improvement over some of the previous Audeze planars, including the LCD-4 with 2021 pads, and in keeping with some of the improvements made for the LCD-X 2021 (although not quite in the same way).
Now, you’ll notice that the treble is a bit subdued, not unlike what you get with the Sennheiser HD650 or HD6XX - and… it’s actually even a bit darker in the treble than the HD650 (I think Jude over at head-fi did that comparison confirming it). But there’s something else to keep in mind here, and it’s that the bass level, while well-extended, also isn’t as bloomy. So if you consider the relative bass and treble levels, the LCD-5 isn’t actually that dark sounding, because it doesn’t have that thicker presentation in the upper bass or lower mids (like what you get on the HD650). Rather I’d characterize it as more mid-forward as a result of not having a bass boost nor a treble boost.
So while I still prefer the default tonal balance of the LCD-X 2021 in the lower and mid treble, the LCD-5 has a decent tonal balance overall that shouldn’t be difficult to EQ. I was worried it would be a bit shouty, and the upper mids are definitely quite present, but so far it seems to be on the right side of that for me, and personally, on first listen, I find it to be more enjoyable than the CRBN. With that said, I’m still in the process of dialing in my EQ, which is still something I absolutely recommend doing for those getting into Audeze headphones - even if only because these can take it so well.
- Very detailed sounding. The LCD-5 is up there with the bigbois, even though it’s not a bigboi physically. Super impressive that they’re able to do this with such a small form factor. Diana Phi now has strong competition for “small but technically impressive”. I’ll still need to assess for clarity of trailing ends of tones, but so far the incisiveness is all there.
- Bass detail… wow. Dare I say some of the best bass detail I’ve heard? I added a bass shelf by 3-4dB around 90hz and oh my god… words fail me.
- Contrast vs Compression (macrodynamics): not as “take-your-head-off” as the original HE-6, but surprisingly not bad on the LCD-5. It’s surprising because most planars generally aren’t great at this. Between HE-6 (good) and Susvara (meh), it’s maybe closer to Susvara, but still satisfying. More listening and EQ tinkering is required here to make a full assessment of that.
- Soundstage: No major issues, no three blob, generally good lateral definition. I’ll need to compare with the LCD-4 we have on hand to see if it’s an improvement, but I have no complaints on this front.
- Comfort: It’s very lightweight (hooray!) and for those with small to average-sized heads this will be a joy to wear for long periods of time. For my pumpkinhead, however, there’s definitely too much clamp pressure going on. I think I saw somewhere that they’re working on a headband for us bigheads? Maybe someone can confirm this if true - but if I were buying the LCD-5, I’d need that.
For those wondering about comparisons to Susvara, Utopia, LCD-4 and so on, I’m still in the process of doing that, so I’m not able to give a thorough judgment until that’s done in a level-matched situation.
Yes, KMann (from Audeze) at head-fi has confirmed they’re working on a headband for larger heads. He said they will offer a free trade-in for anyone who isn’t happy with their current LCD 5 headbands. He said previous Audeze alternative headbands will not fit the 5s. They still haven’t finished the prototype but they recognise the clamping force is too much for head sizes over a certain size. Here
Awesome of them to be so receptive to that feedback. Audiophiles often have big heads hahha. Now that would be a fun study.
Finally, a person who has EQ’d the bass and reported back! Really looking forward to your review.
I’m guessing you will get bombarded with requests for thoughts on good amp pairings. personally would be interested in how it pairs with your Kenzie. I currently have a Rebel amp and am thinking of upgrading. However I get it if amp pairings are not within the scope of the review.
I’ll be sure to give that a shot, and hopefully off the Forge as well. At CanJam I heard it off the Weiss DAC502 I think it’s called, which is a suuuuper high end piece of source equipment. So I’ll need to see how it does on a wide variety of stuff.
For what its worth, KMann from Audeze is driving his LCD5’s straight from a Chord DAVE.
Thanks for this, Andrew. Would you be able to post the plot of what the LCD-4 measures like with the new pads? Or maybe I am jumping the gun and that will be reserved for your full LCD-5 review.
While the LCD-4 improves with the new pads, it’s not like the LCD-X 2021. It kind of makes it more like the pre-2020 LCD-4.
Thanx for that. As you have mentioned some comparisons vs. the LCD-X 2021 in the treble you surely can say one or two words about how both compare in the rest of the fq-range, detail, stage - you know all those things
How would you compare macrodynamics of lcd-5 vs lcd-xc 2021?
This would be the only thing stopping me buying them.
LCD-5 does that aspect better for sure.
I’m guessing I’m not the only one, and yes I know value is relative to each person, but the big question is:
Is the LCD-5 roughly 4x better than the LCD-X? I’d guess no, as diminishing returns always comes into play at a certain point. 2x?
Resolve will answer on his own of course, but once dimishing returns kicks in, you’re usually looking at smaller increases rather than “multiple times better performance.” For instance, I compared the Focal Elex to the Focal Clear. I found the Elex to be 90% of the Clear in performance, but at the time the Clear was more than double the price. Resolve said something similar regarding the Elex to Clear performance comparison.
Maybe the LCD-5 is truly 4 times better than the LCD-X, but it’s doubtful and would be the first headphone to truly be 4 times better than another in the kilobuck category.
That point varies per your taste and components. The curve starts to bend somewhere around $200 headphones in the present market, but doesn’t stop until you reach many thousands $$$$.
There is no hard rule. With the evergreen $200 to $300 Sennheiser HD-600 and HD-650 (6XX), the point of diminishing returns is subject to inversions, transformations, debate, and sublimation. I really dislike the 6XX on a solid state amp, but like it on my Crack. In contrast, I like my HD-600 on the cleanest amps I can find.
Naturally. All hobbies have the same thing at top tiers. Hence the 2x question. Perhaps the LCD-X is 90% the 5. Curiosity.