Audeze LCD-5 - Official Thread

Thank you very much.

Can you share your experience with LCD-5 with me, please? What software are you using for EQ, if any? What genres of music you find them the best suited for? What DAC and amp are you using and what is the amp strength you’d recommend? Do you have any EQ preset to recommend?

Sorry for barrage of question. I wish to learn as much as I can about them.

Thank you for welcoming me. I thought it could only be beneficial to someone thinking about purchasing headphones.

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Hey not a problem-

So to begin this is my general review of it after 6 months that I’m copying and pasting from a Reddit post I made a while ago:


It is worth mentioning how I weigh aspects to sound. (Note this is my modified order of importance from Resolves ranking- just want to cite him at this link: Resolve's Headphone Ranking List)

  1. Tonal Balance - deficiencies in a headphones stock tonal balance can be righted by EQ for free so this factor is mostly a wash. I’m going to EQ every single headphone that comes my way.
  2. Imaging and Separation - Being able to isolate individual instruments in the mix
  3. Detail/Resolution - The headphone is incisive, well-controlled during busy passages, and retains good clarity for the finer nuances in the music.
  4. Contrast/Punch - The headphone has good contrast for large volume swings, the opposite being a compressed kind of sound.
  5. Soundstage - Kind of meaningless to me. It’s a headphone not a stereo. If I want soundstage I’ll listen to my stereo (which I do :D)
  6. Timbre - The headphone sounds sufficiently ‘natural’, whatever that means. I played saxophone for 3 years, what a saxophone should sound like will be different to me than what it will be for you. So saying a headphone has more timbre is just a product of the tonal balance matching how instruments should sound based on your personal experience.

First impression: I chose the LCD-5 after auditioning them at a hifi store against my pair of Verite Opens I had at the time, my HD660s, DCA Stealth, and Meze Elite. They were the only headphones of the bunch that gave me that out of body audio experience that we chase after. The level of clarity they delivered to my ears over the other cans is comparable to the time I first got glasses as a kid and being able to see individual leaves on trees for the first time. I am cognizant that some might label this as hyperbole but this is what the experience was like. And I hope everyone can experience it.

Note: I haven’t heard any electrostats, but no other headphone I’ve heard has replicated what the 5 does to my ear. Also I haven’t heard Abyss headphones but they’re never going to get my money.

My comparison of aspects of sound will be done in comparison to the HD660, the only other overear headphone I still listen to. In general, the LCD-5 sounds clearer and cleaner. For a visual analogy, it’s like the difference between a LCD TV and an OLED. Like a dirty window vs a clean one.

LCD-5 has an absurd razor sharp imaging capability. This razor sharp imaging also improves the resolution and tactile feel of music as it hits my ear. Example, Vicarious by Tool in the first 40ish seconds before the drop. On the 660, the electric guitar in both the channels comes from one blob in each side and pushes sound over the entire ear. On the LCD-5, the guitar notes are swirling clockwise in each channel. So it’s actually 6 or 7 spatially different sources of sound. Because of how pinpoint accurate this is, music is more tactile and resolved. Extrapolate this capability to every other piece of music and you can imagine how addicting it is.

(Also to note, my friend has a Magnepan 30.7 stereo setup that I’ve spent hours with. This $30k pair of speakers can’t image Vicarious this well. I’ve tried to hear it in more than a dozen listens but I simply can’t.)

Now onto Hardwired by Mitch Murder. The intense portions of the song beginning at 2:10 and 4:44 sound compressed on the 660. There’s no contrast in the cacophony of the synthesizer and the notes bleed together. On the LCD-5, each note has a distinct end and there’s a perceivable background between notes. Worth noting that a pair of Harbeth 30.2 monitors ($7k/pair) also sound compressed to my ear on this song.

Is the detail and technicalities that the LCD-5 achieves worth it to most people? Probably not. But I’m a detail oriented person to the max and the 5 has been my favorite headphone I’ve heard.

In the process of writing this and reading impressions on the subreddit, I firmly believe the perception of technicalities (aspects other than tonal balance) is subjective like everything else in this hobby. If you can’t hear it or don’t care about technicalities, there are far cheaper headphones that can accomplish what you’re looking for. But also don’t denigrate people’s subjective impressions involving these aspects.


  • What software are you using for EQ, if any?

Roon

  • What genres of music you find them the best suited for?

All the genres I normally listen to: prog, prog metal, electronic (think James Blake and synthwave style electronic), R&B, and rock. These are the best headphones I’ve heard for metal.

Worth mentioning that I do not listen to K-pop or pop music in general as I find it too energetic (it sounds like sugar covered cereal tastes). Just me and I tend to enjoy broodier music haha. Oh I also don’t listen to classical because I live near the National Symphony Orchestra and I just opt to go see it live

  • What DAC and amp are you using and what is the amp strength you’d recommend?

Schiit Bifrost 2/64 and a Ferrum Oor/Hypsos & Benchmark HPA4. At the minimum I recommend a Topping A90. I’ve heard the LCD-5 out that, the Soloist 3XP, and the two amps I have at the moment. Oor is my favorite pairing so far because it adds a little bit of tube like distortion.

  • Do you have any EQ preset to recommend?

Start with Resolve’s EQ: Audeze LCD-5 - Official Thread - #574 by Resolve. But you will need to adjust and just play around with EQ. It’s highly personal and I can’t speak for what for work with your ears. I actually use a couple different EQ’s depending on my mood. I also use Audeze’s presets they make available in Roon, and I also listen to stock sometimes.

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I was lucky enough to get these. I don’t think I would have ever afforded them otherwise. Thanks @MRHifiReviews!

My 3 day notes:
Day 1:
[me] Were they worth it?
[also me] How much would you pay for the comfort and staging of your Sennheiser HD 800 S together with the slam and bass of your Hifiman HE6se V2?

Day 2:
[me] Were they worth it?
[also me] How much would you pay for hearing new details in music you’ve listen to for years?

Day 3:
[me] Were they worth it?
[also me] How much would you pay for a religious experience?

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I am glad you are enjoying them @AudioTool, and they went to a loving home!!

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I should also mention that I am currently enamored with the Audeze Roon EQ preset together with 1db of tilt.

Second is Resolve’s preset with 1-2db of tilt. Third is oratory1990’s preset (no tilt needed). But it is early days and I haven’t decided much other than for me, it definitely needs some. < insert subtle hint that a headphones.com 5128 preset is eagerly awaited >

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Congrats!

Very nice reporting with questions for questions.

If you enjoy those, I recommend you try chargedcap’s convolutions he made recently too or if you are brave enough Mitch Barnett’s got a free trial of his which I use.

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I’m not familiar with Mitch Barnett. Where can I find more info?

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May I ask what Bryston amp it was?

I am not sure; it was quite a while back at CanJam.

I even like the stock tuning, but for sitting back and enjoying music I’ve recently been enjoying the Summer '23 update to the Oratory1990 EQ preset.

Detailed, spacious, engaging and fun!

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I stopped by the Audeze booth at CanJam and (politely) complained that I couldn’t have the EQ preset Audeze developed outside of Roon. Long story short, Audeze emailed me this:

If I understand it correctly, this is:

HPF 14hz 1.01Q 18db slope
PK 25.9hz 0.43db 1.18Q
PK 86.7hz 1.68db 0.33Q
PK 309.1hz 0.38db 0.61Q
PK 4845hz -0.11db 1.93Q
HS 18326hz 5.34db 0.27Q

I punched these into a PEQ in Roon (or as close as I could get) and did some quick A/B against the Audeze preset and it does seem the same so far. I’m kind of surprised there isn’t any boost in the 8k region. In fact, none of the adjustments are very strong. And the numbers are so specific. Not sure how it was created other than Audeze said it was developed in collaboration with Bob Katz.

Also I developed my own EQ preset, somewhat based on the Harman 2013 target:

LS 80hz 6db Q 0.71
PK 8000hz 6db Q 1.0

I’m not saying I prefer mine over anything else, but it does sound quite good IMHO.

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They also published that profile as convolution filters on Head-Fi before they were added to Roon (Roon uses the convolution filters, not the PEQ settings).

You can use them in any player/processor than can deal with standard convolution (there are lots, Roon is one), and you’ll get options for low-latency OR IIR (about 256K sample latency).

Read this article; talks about the CRBN rather than the LCD-5, but the same process/approach was use to develop the filters for the LCD-5.

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Cool! It’s good to have options but I specifically asked for the PEQ preset so that I can see it, play with it, and use it in EQuick, EQMac, or my Qudelix-5k. I actually wasn’t sure there was a PEQ version as I suspected there was more going on than PEQ could do.

Although I know what IIR is, I don’t know what you mean by low-latency OR IIR. What is that and why would I want it?

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Long-tap IIR filters are linear-phase but introduce latency (a delay of about 0.4s in this case). Usually doesn’t bother people for music, but if you ever tried to use it with video the audio would be out of sync.

FIR filters are minimum-phase, but have much lower latency and work fine with video.

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Just out of curiosity, has anyone used different cables with the LCD-5? What was the result? Just got my LCD-5s delivered this week. I have no opinion as my gear Schiit mjolnir 3 and Bifrost 2/64 wont be shipped till the end of the month (fingers crossed). Now I am just using the headphone jack on my
Oppo 205.

Haeloh.

The usual descriptors apply ime. Copper tilts warm or silver tilts bright in my system. Not that one is better than the other. Just a tool one can use in the arsenal.

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Been able to spend a bit time with the LCD-5 recently, will copy my review below :slight_smile:

Introduction

Hi Guys,

Today we are taking a look at the most recent flagship planar magnetic headphones from Giant in the space, the LCD-5 from Audeze. Audeze made their name as part of the early planar magnetic headphone resurgence about a decade and a half ago with headphones like the LCD-1, and original LCD-2. Since then, in terms of flagship headphones from Audeze, we have seen the LCD-3, LCD-4, and LCD-5. I have owned the LCD-3 and LCD-4 long term and was really interested in what the LCD-5 was like as it was such a massive departure from both their signature design and past tunings. The original LCD series were typified by their wood rings, heavy build, and usually relaxed and warm tuning (to varying degrees.) The LCD-5 has moved away from that entirely, being much lighter, and slightly smaller physically, with a much more upper mid forward and neutral type of presentation sonically. Tuning-wise, the LCD-5 is very similar to Audeze’s co-flagship headphone, the electrostatic CRBN (which I reviewed a few months back.)

Tuning

In general, I wasn’t a huge fan of the stock tuning of the CRBN, but found with EQ it became an incredibly enjoyable pair of headphones. Due to the LCD-5 being so similar in terms of stock tuning, this was the case again. The overall sound of the LCD-5 does differ from the CRBN in some ways, but overall in terms of tuning alone, they are very similar. I’ll speak about the tuning in its stock form, and then about EQ in relation to the LCD-5 afterwards.

The low end of the LCD-5 is entirely neutral. No recession, no boost. This is pretty common amongst planar magnetic headphones, and the LCD-5 is no exception. In previous LCD models, the bass was always a strong point, but could at times be slow sounding. The LCD-5 is the fastest and most accurate of all the LCD headphones in terms of bass. Impact/slam is one aspect that surprised me. The LCD-5 isn’t far away from the Abyss 1266TC in this area, and the 1266TC is the best on the market with regards to slam/impact. As with most headphones, I prefer a low shelf of some sort(adjust to personal preference obviously) to be applied via EQ as I prefer a more robust bass response than the LCD-5 has in its stock tuning.

The mid-range of the LCD-5 is incredibly similar to the CRBN and incredibly different from past LCD models. In terms of the low mid-range, it is much more neutral, less warm, and “gooey” for lack of a better term. The upper mid-range is very similar to the CRBN with a massive 3khz peak. This is also a departure from the much more recessed upper mid-range of previous LCD models. The 3khz peak is too much for me, and I adjusted that area via EQ. I think that the perceived overly forward upper mids nature of the LCD-5 is partly due to the 3khz peak, but also due to the much more subdued low end and treble than would normally be paired with such a peak. I found the 3khz area much less problematic if I simply boosted the low end and treble, but overall, preferred if it was slightly lowered via EQ. I think this upper mid-range is down to personal preference, and what is too much for one person might be just right for the next. As with the bass, the overall transparency, speed, and detail of the driver help convey the mids very well.

The treble of the LCD-5 is again, fairly neutral. It isn’t overly boosted or overly recessed. The treble is quite similar to the previous LCD models, perhaps being slightly less pronounced. For me, it isn’t enough overall in terms of level. I think that in combination with the very forward upper mids, it makes the treble come across as being less pronounced than it actually is. Again, this is something that is easily remedied with EQ, tweaked to personal preferences. The treble is very transparent and detailed, as with the rest of the frequency response.

Technical Performance

In terms of technical performance, the LCD-5 is a big step forward in most areas compared to previous LCD models, and a step back in some other ways. It is without a doubt the most detailed, transparent, impactful, and clean-sounding driver Audeze has come up with thus far. I even think that it slightly edges out the CRBN in terms of overall detail levels and transparency, which is impressive given the CRBN is an electrostatic headphone. The LCD-5’s soundstage is less grand sounding than the LCD-4, and I feel this is something some people might miss. If I had to come up with an analogy, the LCD-4 is a big cozy armchair that envelops you, and the LCD-5 is a carbon fiber racing bucket seat with a 5-point harness. The LCD-5 is the higher-performing headphone, but there is something to be said for the LCD-4 and other LCD series more laid-back nature. Overall the technical performance of the LCD-5 is incredibly impressive.

As I have mentioned previously, the stock tuning out of the box with the LCD-5 is not personally for me. It is too forward in the upper mids and lacks low-end and treble presence for my taste. The thing is, the LCD-5 has incredibly low distortion and takes to EQ very, very well. I didn’t end up doing anything drastic, and it turned it into a headphone I greatly enjoyed. I just applied a low and high shelf, and slightly reduced the 3khz peak. With these adjustments in combination with the slam and impact I mentioned speaking about the low end, the LCD-5 sort of reminded me of the Abyss 1266TC. In a way, like a more focused smaller sounding 1266TC.

Build Quality and Comfort

The build quality and overall design are also a massive departure from previous LCD series headphones. Gone are the classic wood rings, replaced with acetate tortoiseshell. Gone are the big sumptuous leather pads, replaced with fluted leather. The overall size has shrunk, I would guess by about 10%. The LCD-5 does feel slightly smaller on your ears than the previous LCD series headphones. The headband is carbon fiber, to help achieve the weight savings that the LCD-5 has managed. With the LCD-4 you were looking at around 700-710 grams for the headphones, and with the LCD-5 that has been reduced to 420 grams. I feel that 420 grams is much more reasonable, and I haven’t had any issues with comfort over my time with the LCD-5. They are not as comfortable as something like the Meze ELITE (and empyrean) which are still the gold standard in my opinion for headphone comfort, but they are entirely usable for long periods without discomfort. The LCD-5 comes with a very nice and well-made braided cable terminated in 4-pin XLR, with a 4-pin XLR to 6.35mm TRS adapter. This has you covered for most uses, and a cheap 4-pin XLR to 4.4mm Pentaconn adapter from Amazon would round that out nicely.

One thing to mention about the LCD is that it is much different from previous LCD series headphones in terms of sensitivity and impedance. The LCD-4 was a headphone with a 200ohm impedance and a 97db/mw sensitivity, whilst the LCD5 has an impedance of only 14ohms and 90db/mw sensitivity. This is worth taking into consideration as although the impedance has massively reduced, the sensitivity is much lower. It will take some experimentation to find out which amp works best for your uses, and whether or not you will be using it in a portable setting, etc…For example, due to the uncharacteristically low impedance, I ended up having to use the iFi Diablo 2’s single-ended output instead of the balanced output, as I was hitting the current protection and the unit was shutting off with the balanced 4.4mm out, but there were no issues using the single-ended output. This will entirely depend on the gear you are using, so experiment and see what you find works best.

Comparisons

In terms of comparisons with the LCD-5 being the current flagship planar magnetic headphone from a juggernaut in the space, it makes sense to compare it to other options.

Compared to the Hifiman Susvara, the LCD-5 is more aggressive and less laid back. It is slightly less detailed than the Susvara but does have more impact, whilst also being more focused sounding with a smaller soundstage. Of the two, I prefer the Susvara, but the LCD-5 is much easier to drive, and also 1500USD cheaper at MSRP.

Against the Abyss 1266TC, there are more similarities than you might expect (if EQ is applied.) The LCD-5 is slightly less detailed but does come close in terms of impact and slam. The 1266TC has a much bigger overall sound and soundstage but is heavier and slightly less comfortable. These are both very different headphones, with a few similarities in terms of technical performance if the LCD-5 is used with EQ. Again, there is a large difference in cost at 4500USD for the LCD-5.

The Meze Elite is the closest comparison in terms of MSRP, with the ELITE being 4000USD, and the LCD-5 being 4500USD. The Elite actually sort of reminds me more of the LCD-4 in terms of tuning, being slightly warmer and laid back in its overall nature. The LCD-5 is more detailed, with more transparency, impact, and slam. The ELITE is grander sounding, with a bigger sonic image and a much bigger soundstage. Comfort goes to the ELITE, but it is a class leader in this area.

Compared to Audezes co flagship, the CRBN, the LCD-5 has an incredibly similar frequency response. It has a smaller soundstage, especially in terms of soundstage height. It is very slightly more resolving and transparent than the CRBN, which surprised me due to the CRBN’s electrostatic nature. The big plus for the LCD-5 is the lack of need for an electrostatic amplifier. I’d be very curious to see Audeze try a Planar Magnetic headphone in the form factor of the CRBN, that could be a real winner.

Conclusion

Overall, the LCD-5 is a very interesting addition to Audeze’s lineup and a very big departure from their previous LCD series headphones in general. It is a much physically lighter and smaller headphone, with an entirely different tuning. I am not a fan of the tuning of the LCD-5 in its stock form, with it being too upper mid-forward, whilst lacking low and high end for my personal preferences. However, after applying EQ to make it more in line with my personal preferences, the LCD-5 became an incredibly enjoyable headphone to listen to. It is very detailed, transparent, and has a surprising amount of impact/slam. Overall comfort levels and weight in particular are a big improvement over the previous LCD headphones, but at times I did miss that sumptuous feel that the LCD4 had, for example. In a way, it is like a big comfortable 1980s Bentley Turbo R vs a 911 GT2RS. Both are great, just very different. With regards to the stock tuning not being my preference, I know that there are people out there who love the LCD-5’s stock tuning, so I would highly recommend you give them a try if you are not sure. You may not feel the need for EQ, and the stock tuning might be right up your alley.

I’m really curious about what is next for Audeze, especially with their recent acquisition by Sony PlayStation. The LCD-5 is a great addition to their lineup, but I’d also like to see them continue to experiment with other tunings and form factors (like the CRBN) whilst trying to maintain the level of technical performance the LCD-5 has achieved. Great stuff Audeze!

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First off, great write-up and review! I am definitely in the camp of missing the LCD-4 as well.

I was just with Sankar at CES. From what I was told (and this can always change), they want Audeze to continue as they are. They’ll have Audeze building stuff for them for them as well but they’re going to help Audeze increase their manufacturing capacity.

I don’t think it can be stated quite enough how much of a homerun the Maxwell has been for Audeze and if they were able to keep up with demand, it would easily be up there with some of the best selling headsets of all time.

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Thanks Taron! Also, thats a very interesting little tidbit of info, thank you for sharing :slight_smile:

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