An unlikely comparison, yes - but one that I felt the unique opportunity warranted the work.
(As a note, I am considering making my own Headphone blog\site at some point, and this is a prototype of what one of my comparisons may look like). I used a point system that made sense to me.
The LCD-X (2021) vs the Meze Empyrean. How do they stack up?
NOTE - I have scored each category from 0 to 1, as a comparison of the metric against each other - it is subjective based on my own experiences and should be taken thusly (as should the whole review) If there are categories I feel both are below ‘average’ for the headphones I’ve heard during my time in this hobby, It is possible both could rate below 1.
The only exception to the above is Pricing, which is weighted as a ratio against it’s competitor and can go higher than 1 - to make real the weight of cost in scoring (Price is often a larger factor for folks). (So, in this case, 1200USD for LCD vs 3000USD for Empyrean = 3000 / 1200 = a score of 2.5 for the LCD, and a score of 1 for the Empyrean.
Tuning - LCDX .6, Empyrean .3 (LCDX Stock is better… but both need EQ so in my specific case (Where I will EQ), they are equal. If one were to not EQ, the LCD-X wins hands down as the score reflects. Further, the Empyrean without EQ demands the Suede\Micro-fiber pads that comes with them to get usable tuning, which you lose some tightness of bass on, then… in other words, EQ the Empyrean and use leather pads only, please!..) (Note - my preference is the 2018 Over ear curve)
Impact - LCDX .9, Empyrean 1.0
Detail - LCDX 1, Empyrean 1
Soundstage - LCDX .4, Empyrean .7
LCDX - 2.9
EMPYREAN - 3
(If you don’t care about tuning because you’ll EQ anyways… LCDX - 2.3, Empyrean - 2.7)
Power Requirements - LCDX 1.0, Empyrean .9 (LCD-X is a bit more efficient but with sources what they are, it doesn’t matter - they’re both not demanding - at all. That said, LCD-X is DC-04 drivable WITH EQ… Empyrean is not… DAP is needed)
Comfort - LCDX .6,Empyrean 1.0 (Empyrean is lighter, LCD-X is less bulbous, Pads equal’ish… maybe slightly more comfy on LCD-X, Headband is amazing on Empyrean). That Empyrean is -the- most comfortable headphone I’ve ever worn. This alone is a HUGE factor for me personally - i shall restrain myself from adding more weight to this category to keep it objective… but damn.
Build Quality - LCDX .85, Empyrean 1.0 (Empyrean are allegedly immaculately built… and it shows. That said, they strike me as more delicate in places like the grill. LCD-X is very well built also - but in a more ‘American’ big\chunky way. I want to say Empyrean is better built… but what I see before me, and my impressions… I think they’re equal - in different ways. The ways that matter to me they are equal on. (I don’t need a single ingot of aluminum milled down to make something durable… if it’s several sturdy parts put together in a sturdy way… maybe not as sexy, but still durable.)
LCDX - 2.45
EMPYREAN - 2.1
(If you don’t care about power requirements since they’re both so close… LCDX - 1.45, Empyrean - 2)
After-Sale Service Support - LCD-X .75, Empyrean .5 (American made - service\support in country cannot be beat… but Meze seems like a reputible company, and their drivers are allgedly reliable, whereas ive heard of QC issues with Audeze… so…)
Pad Maintenance - LCDX 0, Empyrean 1.0 (Has swappable pads /w AMAZING system… LCD-X glued on i think)
LCDX - .75
Empyrean - 1.5
PRICE (Weighted by price vs price ratio):
LCDX - 2.5 (1200 USD)
EMPYREAN - 1 (3000 Retail)
- TOTALS (Without Price Considered): LCDX 6.1, Empyrean 7.4
- TOTALS (Without Price, Tuning and Power considered since you’ll EQ, and since they’re both so efficient it doesn’t matter much): LCDX 4.5, Empyrean 6.2
- TOTALS (Price Considered): LCDX 8.6, Empyrean 8.4
- TOTALS (Price Considered, Tuning and Power not considered since you’ll EQ, and since they’re both so efficient it doesn’t matter much… unless you’re DC-4 Dongling…): LCDX 7, Empyrean 7.2
Based on the above, I can qualify the following statements (understanding that the law of diminishing returns is alive-and-well in audiophilia…):
1.) If Price is no object, the Empyrean is the better headphone - and is worth the higher cost of admission.
2.) Price as a factor (as it is for most of us…):
- If you will EQ, and if the difference between 200mw and 398 mw (assuming a 126db peak target for your EQ to exist within…) will not make a difference in your amp stage, the Empyrean IS worth the buy, despite the increase in price.
- If you will not EQ and you have at most 100mw available (That LCDX is so efficient!), then the LCD-X is a better choice for the money.
Better put, Tuning being solved with EQ, and amping being sufficient for either…
If someone offered you in one hand an LCDX and $1800 Cash, or an Empyrean in the other hand, which would you take? Knowing the Empyrean is objectively a better headphone… is it 1800 dollars better? Probably not… but we are approaching Summit-fi here, and to get that last 5\10%… costs way more.
As for me… I’m still deciding
Thank you for reading!