I apologize for making another post so quickly. A fellow headphone enthusiast deciding between the two asked me if I could do a comparison between these two headphones. I thought you all might be interested.
Now that I have had a few solid days with the LCD-4 I feel I can give a more fair comparison between the two. It was a nice day out so I took a couple photos to go with the review. If you have any questions about either of these headphones vs other popular models just ask, as I might have owned them in the past/have heard them.
I’M NOT A PROFESSIONAL. I just like good headphones. As I said when I posted some impressions of headphones the other day, I don’t care about a valley at 7khz, and a peak at 10khz sort of thing. Its just not my bag. There is a place for it, and others are far better at it than I am, so these are just……a dude who likes headphones and musics impressions. Take everything I say with a grain of salt, and if you can, give em’ a shot yourself. Your ears know better than my babbling. I am a warm and musical guy at heart, but I really do appreciate detail as well.
These are similar headphones. The LCD-4 is like an intimate Abyss (sort of.) Thats the best quick summary I can do.
Bass: I’m a bit of a bass head I guess, so its something I listen to very carefully. Neither of these headphones are a slouch when it comes to bass. The Abyss (when worn with a very slight seal) has more bass quantity. I would say both headphones have an equal quality of bass, but as the Abyss has more quantity, you notice it more. More slam, more boom, more impact etc…Both these headphones have nice sub bass, and extend deep down low. What I really like about both of these headphones is the quality of the bass. Its not muddy and tough to get a handle of what is going on. Its clean and crisp. If you are a bass head, these two headphones do bass better than any other headphone I have heard, in that the bass is there in quantity and quality. Some headphones have a great quality of bass, but lack in quantity, and some can shake your head off, but its muddy. All in all, the Abyss probably just edges out the LCD-4 in the bass department, but don’t get me wrong, the LCD-4 is no slouch. If the Abyss didn’t exist, the LCD-4 would be the best bass I have ever heard out of a headphone.
Mids: Lately on this sub and forums I keep seeing people talking about the Audeze “house” sound, and….creamy(?) mids. Smooth and warm is another way to put it. I think I have a handle on the Audeze house sound having owned the LCD-3 and heard all of their other cans, and the LCD-4’s continue this trend. However, there is a clarity and separation to the notes of the music you are listening to in the mid section that I haven’t heard from Audeze before. The mids are all warm and jooooocy, but you can pick out whats going on better. Vocals, both male and female are great. The Abyss is not a warm headphone. Its like an original HD800 and LCD-3 banged and had some sort of weird love child. The mids are a bit pulled back with the Abyss, while with the LCD-4 they are more forward. I think that might be one of the reasons that I prefer rock and metal on the Abyss over the LCD-4, the mids hit just a bit less hard, in a good way. However, for Jazz and some other genres, the LCD-4’s mids contribute that warmth to the music, which really works well. With Electronic music (which makes up a lot of my listening) both headphones do really well due to their bass response. I don’t prefer either for this genre, they are just different. Depends on the mood I’m in. If I had to chose a winner for mids, it has to go to the LCD-4, they just do them really well to my ears, YMMW. As I said I’m a warm and musical guy at heart.
Treble: Meh. Tyll doesn’t like the LCD-4’s treble hm. The LCD-4 has the best treble out of any headphone Audeze has made (that I have heard.) Its playing in the big boy leagues BUT Its treble is not as good or as fast as the Stax SR009. Audeze dun goofd when they said this headphone beats stats. The treble on the Abyss is really really fast, not as fast as the SR009, but faster than the LCD-4. Neither headphone is piercing. I don’t find my ears get tired out. The treble on the Abyss is more…airy and has better separation if that makes sense. I really like the LCD-4’s treble. As I said, its a more intimate headphone than the Abyss, and I think that its treble contributes to that. I can’t pick a winner between the two for treble, they are just different. Maybe its because I’m a drummer and I’m actually deaf. Who knows. Both have great treble, not as good as a couple other headphones, but great.
Soundstage: Do you want a huge expansive soundstage ala HD800, or a bit more of an intimate experience like a cozy little jazz club? The LCD-4’s soundstage is awesome, its bigger than the LCD-3’s but it still delivers and intimate experience. The music is closer to you. You can feel it more. The Abyss soundstage is huge. Its very airy (literally depending on how you have them set up on your head.) Again, I can’t pick a winner, as they are so different. I read someone say the LCD-4 is a 2d listening experience. I don’t agree with that. If you like the traditional headphone approach, go for the LCD-4, you will like it, it has a great soundstage. If you want a whole new experience, go for the Abyss, it delivers a soundstage experience I haven’t heard before in any other headphone.
Imaging: Both are great. LCD-4 is much improved in this area over the LCD-3 I think. Imaging is very much tied to the soundstage IMO, so again, both are different. Both headphones image very well, the Abyss is just a more “out of the head” experience with where things are.
Build Quality: The Abyss is a tank. Its all metal and heavy duty. Very well built. The Audeze is beautiful (in my opinion, some hate it) I love the real wood contrasted with the chrome and carbon fibre. Its very well built. Both put the HE1000 to shame. Both are built to the same standard, but the Audeze just has this……luxurious feel to it.
Comfort: Gotta give this one to the LCD-4. The Abyss is wearable once you get it adjusted right, but it is a bit clunky. It can be comfy, or unbearable. The LCD-4 is just…plush and lovely. I don’t notice its weight. The new headband is great, a big improvement over the old one.
Overall winner? Neither. They both have their own strength and weaknesses. The Abyss, with its huge soundstage and huge bass. The LCD-4 with its beautiful mids, and intimate experience. Its really hard to chose just one. They are both a step up from the LCD-3/HD800S, in my opinion, and I love the LCD-3 and HD800s. I’m really, really lucky to own both of these headphones. I thought the LCD-4 might just end up being a mini Abyss, but it is much more than that. Its musical and warm, but it has great detail and imaging, which is sometimes missing on a warm and musical headphone. The Abyss is colder, but not clinical. Its huge soundstage and amazing bass make it a pleasure to listen to.
I hope I sort of covered everything. If you guys have any questions just ask. And again, I can try to compare either of these to other headphones if you ask me in the comments, I’ve heard quite a few. Thanks for reading if you got this far, have a great weekend when you get there
TLDR: Both have good bass, abyss has more of it. Mids Audeze wins. Treble both are great. Soundstage on the Abyss is huge, Audeze is intimate. Build quality both are great. Comfort Audeze wins.