Audez'e LCD-4 -- again -- anyone...?

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by MuppetFace, Nov 5, 2015.

  1. BenjaminBore

    BenjaminBore Friend

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    [​IMG]

    Audeze LCD-4 & 4Z Brief Impressions
    I made an unplanned visit to KJ West One in London yesterday. I got to listen to the Audeze LCD-4 and the new LCD-4Z from a Mcintosh MHA150. It was a bit rushed so take the following as such.

    Audeze LCD-2 Classic, at Home
    I recently purchase a LCD-2 Classic, it’s my first planar, and my thoughts really aren’t fully formed yet due to lack of time. To calibrate the later impressions I'll talk about my in progress thoughts on them for a moment. The immediate negatives so far seem to be that of congestion in busy passages and micro-dynamics being sufficient and better than a TH900, but a step or two down from a HD650. Tonality is of course Audeze, and really quite subdued. But I found it easy to acclimatise to, and they take an EQ really well. It’s positives so far are of course in the bass. It is fast, tight and clear. It may not hit as hard as the TH900 but it is of a better quality. Though the treble is pretty soft sounding they do well with the coarseness of guitars and rock vocals. I prefer the overall resolution and clarity vs a HD650, and am finding that I much prefer the planar and stat stage presentation vs dynamics as it offers a full and engaging sound without compromising imaging precision, proportion, and size, or clarity.

    Audeze LCD-4 vs LCD-2 In-Store
    I find my memory of comparing the Audezes difficult to recall. What stood out with the LCD-4 vs the 2 they had there was a notable improvement in resolution and perhaps a stronger lower bass presentation. But they were just too similar to the 2 and 2C, and I was too rushed to hone in on further differences. My feeling was that they were better overall, but just not better enough to justify TOTL pricing. For the sound my feeling is that they should have been the LCD-3. 3K over the 2/2C is ludicrous, it’s just not worth it. Now pricing on most things headphone are silly, but with Audeze you can draw a clear line from one model to the next. So the differences, or lack thereof, are more apparent. I feel like if you want an upgrade you should skip the rest of the Audeze line up (EDIT: Not an entirely fair statement as I haven’t listened to the LCD-3 yet). In fact I am increasingly of the opinion that one shouldn’t bother with the space between around the 1k mark and a stupid money TOTL setup.

    Audeze LCD-4Z vs LCD-4 In-Store
    Vs the 4Z is difficult now, as with the 2. They are better than the 2, not as good as the 4. But closer to the 4. If there was a slider between the two and 0% was the 2 and 100% the 4, maybe they were at about 87%. I found the mids a bit stuffy on the 4 with the 4Z less subdued and generally more lively. But as I found from also trying the 2 and having spent some time with my 2C the tonality is just not consistent across Audeze headphones.

    Audeze LCD-4 vs Focal Utopia In-Store, and Experience with My Own Pair
    Vs the Utopia they are utterly outclassed in resolution, treble, mids. The Utopia has that vibrant realistic sound few others have. I just cannot fathom how others have put these two in the same category, let alone considered the 4 a better headphone. Let me clarify this. On technical performance the Utopia wipes the floor with it, but it’s closed-in sounding like an actual closed-back and has small weirdly contorted staging. Though the tonality of Utopia is more accurate it is harsher sounding, whereas the Audeze is subdued in tonality and laid back in presentation. The LCD-4 may actually be a better set of trade offs for me personally, especially once you bring EQ into the equation, and it’s bass slam extends all the way down into the lowest frequencies. But on a pure performance front there is no contest, at all.

    Audeze LCD-4 vs Stax 007 & 009
    The 4 was around the Stax 007 level but generally a bit behind, except in bass and presenting a more tactile sound. They were completely outclassed by the 009s though. There’s some more about them in my post in the Stax thread which is a continuation of this one: https://superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/the-stax-i-thread.1722/page-26#post-213043
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2018
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  2. PeteMullersKeyboard

    PeteMullersKeyboard Rando

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    That's the first time I've ever heard anyone say the Utopias have better mids than the LCD4s....
     
  3. BenjaminBore

    BenjaminBore Friend

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    I could very easily be off the mark about a few things due to the circumstances of the demo, but:

    1. The upper-mid suck out of any Audeze I’ve listened to is a black mark against them in that area.
    2. The Utopia is one of the only headphones I’ve listened to where I think the mids are better than the mid-King HD650.
    3. If the HD650 vs LCD-2C were anything to go by I would easily choose the former when comparing vocals alone, EQ or no EQ, and I didn’t feel the 4 was an enormous upgrade over the 2C.
    4. Have you heard them yourself, can you offer any counter-points?
    5. Each individual one of your four successive punctuation marks were like daggers through my wet beating heart
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2018
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  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Did you happen to know how long the store had the LCD4? Just wondering if it were a demo model that had been around since the early releases.

    Won't change the FR, but other technicalities do change such as transient response, clarity, and micro-stuffs.

    A cherry picked LCD4 (from 8 or was that 16 samples) I heard was fantastic, on the level on the Utopia, but with diverging FR. Supposedly Audeze made a breakthrough around the time of the LCD2C release, but I not sure of the extent.

    Of three LCD2Cs that came my way, I stood out more than the others. Another was very close. And there was one I didn't think was worthy of purchase.
     
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  5. BenjaminBore

    BenjaminBore Friend

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    Afraid I don’t know, and it was my first time in there, but I would guess early release as this place was more focused on the top end two channel stuff all the way up to 100k. The headphones were out of sight on a free standing book shelf.

    Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad headphone, and it’s possible the FR through me if it was on the worse end of the variability scale. But to be honest after being so impressed with the 2C I was pretty disappointed almost immediately, and surprised at being so. The only other variabe was the Mcintosh MHA150 amplifier, which the more efficient lower impedance 4Z sounded more balanced and lively from.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2018
  6. EagleWings

    EagleWings Friend

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    I have only listened to one LCD4 and one Utopia

    Setup: Bryston BCD3>BHA1>Utopia/LCD4

    In terms of mid-range technicalities, Utopia was clearly better. The transparency, resolution, micro-dynamics, transients and plankton of the mid-range was better on the Utopia. What helps Utopia’s mid-range further is its soundstage. Some people say that everything about the Utopia is great, except the soundstage. But my theory is, it is this small soundstage that helps Utopia achieve such level of fidelity, due to excellent focus. As a result, Utopia’s mid-range has a sense of realism that LCD4 doesn’t quite have. But LCD4’s mid-range was slightly fuller (in a good way) and had a better tone.

    LCD4's mid-range clarity is not as good as Utopia’s, due to the toned down upper-mids. But clarity can be improved using EQ to a certain extent by adding some upper-mids. But what you can’t improve using EQ are transparency and resolution, which is where I feel Utopia pulls ahead. So I guess the LCD 4 I listened to is not from the unicorn batch. Utopia’s mid-range is more engaging, but has the tendency to get aggressive. In comparison, LCD-4’s mid-range can come across as a bit laid-back, but it is a presentation that might work better for the long run.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2018
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  7. PeteMullersKeyboard

    PeteMullersKeyboard Rando

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    I wasn't meaning to come off as an asshole in my above post, by the way...was just genuinely shocked. I have not heard the Utopias, it's been on the list for a while but just haven't had any time to audition audio gear in months now. I have read about a million and one impressions of them, from all sorts of people, and it just did not seem like something I had generally been able to synthesize out of all the reviews I have read.

    I'm generally pretty good at gathering what something will be like by getting as much info as possible beforehand...obviously not ideal, but seems to serve me well. Even the impressions above seem to be in line with what I've heard, and I suppose the subjective "better" vs. the objective "better" comes into play here. I've never once thought about the upper-mids in my LCD4s, I can't imagine them being any better, maybe I got lucky, maybe my brain doesn't care too much, not sure. Either way, the general sound signature of the Utopias seems to be one I wouldn't enjoy all that much, certainly not more than my 4s...but I will have to hear them to be sure. I like warm, smooth, deep, full-bodied sound, sometimes dark too. Call it inaccurate, "non-audiophile", whatever...it's just what I like. My aesthetic preferences tend to run that way in nearly everything, in fact. Although contrast is important too....
     
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  8. BenjaminBore

    BenjaminBore Friend

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    My wine soaked half cocked impressions do not invalidate your opinion of the LCD-4. It’s all about context. But this does highlight some of the issues in how people describe sound, assess sound quality, and the differences in people’s priorities when weighing trade-offs. For a start most people, even here, are hung up on tonality, and timbre to a slightly lesser degree. Don’t get me wrong these things come first, but there are many other aspects that often go completely(!!!) unmentioned: Resolution, micro-dynamics, slam, tactility, speed, treble incisiveness, etc.

    I kept my impressions broad as that was all I could say with any degree of confidence given my brief time with them, but @EagleWings did a great job of elucidating upon some of the whys. I need to get some proper head time with a pair to really offer a more constructive perspective.

    In regards to the upper mid suck out the frequency graphs bare this out on all the LCD line of headphones, and though it is quite evident when comparing directly to a HD6x0 one can acclimatise to it without too much trouble. But my experience with the LCD-2C recently has demonstrated to me that to compensate for the suck out I’ve been cranking up the volume with certain tracks, when not using EQ, thus in effect actually boosting the bass and treble. There’s a lot of stuff about audio perception that can be incredibly misleading, especially with headphones.

    Your comments here were focused on presentation, and I agree with them. Utopia is harsh and aggressive. I use foam discs, EQ, and a little tube-love to compensate for this. The LCD-4s offer a more laid back presentation overall both in terms of tonality and timbre, without intervention. It’s all the other areas where the gap in performance seemed wider.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2018
  9. Gofspar

    Gofspar Almost "Made"

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    Just going to leave this here, audeze is a fucking trash company in my book. the fact I had to RMA $4000 headphones on arrival is absolutely fucking retarded.
    I want to love this company, but the failure rate drove me off.

    [​IMG]
    new pair I got back from RMA was fine, but still took a month.

    to get an RMA approved I had to publically blast them on headfi
     
  10. seersha

    seersha Acquaintance

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    If anyone has one of the old Audeze Wooden Display Cases I would love to buy it.
     
  11. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    Hmm, I thought that they had their QC issues sorted. Blasting in public does work though. As a manufacturer I know something about this ;)
     
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  12. Ray

    Ray Friend

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    I had a terrible experience with a Black Friday order. Once I threatened them with opening a dispute with PayPal they got their act together. But I won’t buy from them again
     
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  13. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    I recently heard the LCD-4 and the Utopia as well as a few others including my modded 6xx at Audio Sanctuary in London(ish) directly out of a Chord Dave and my impressions line up fairly well with @BenjaminBore's. I'm still willing to give them the benefit of the doubt with regards to their QC (although I really shouldn't given the price), as well as the possibility that a dedicated headphone amp could be more ideal, but the pair I heard can only be described as awful.

    Granted I've found myself increasingly biased against planar timbre, but the LCD-4 I heard rendered transients incredibly poorly; it sounded overdamped (both slow on the attack and way too short decay). The overdamped (I wrote constipated in my notepad) sound also made it pretty poor at microdynamics as well. The only good things I can say about it is that the staging was better (bigger than the 6xx, better positioning with a bit more focus) and the tonality was much more agreeable to my tastes especially compared to the Utopia. I honestly wish I could say more about it but I couldn't even keep the pair on for an entire song (whereas I was able to keep the Meze Emperean on for half an album), which in itself I believe is most telling.
     
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  14. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    Interesting notes, although imho the headphone out on the dave isn't worthy of the DAC.

    I can't claim enormous experience on it but I felt it struggled with anything that's not a high efficiency low impendance dynamic.
     
  15. BenjaminBore

    BenjaminBore Friend

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    I did feel the mids had a stuffiness to them. I’d assumed it was due to poor sample variability in Audeze’s frequency responses. Your impressions have me reconsidering, on the other hand looking at the info below gives the impression that they were under driven out of the Dave, which I expect would exacerbate some of the negative traits you’ve described. @EagleWings and @purr1n may be better able to comment.

    Audeze LCD-4
    Impedance 200 ohms
    Sensitivity 97 dB/1mW (at Drum Reference Point)
    Voltage sensitivity 95 dB/1V

    Chord Dave
    1% THD 6.8v RMS with 300Ω (154mW)
    1% THD 6.8v RMS with 33Ω (1.4w)

    https://www.head-fi.org/threads/chord-electronics-dave.766517/page-301#post-12838179
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2018
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  16. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    Yeah it's only really enough for the utopia, and even then I'd argue you're doing that 15 thousand queenrupees DAC a disservice by not throwing a phonitor at it.

    Heck, I'd think a BHA-1 may well be an upgrade over the built-in. It's nice enough, but nothing to write home about.
     
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  17. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    I do wonder why they didn't hook an amp to the listening setup. I would still like to give the LCD-4 another chance, but even if ideally driven, I don't think that it would best the Utopia at transient behavior or microdynamics and layering. Cymbals definitely rang better on the Utopia compared to anything else I've heard. I would like to hear the Utopia with foam discs because it was definitely too aggressive to listen to for longer than an album.
     
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  18. EagleWings

    EagleWings Friend

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    I beleive the headphone would have left a better impression, if there was a good amp in the chain. Even the Chord fanboys have alluded that Dave's Headphone Out doesn't do justice to LCD4. But I doubt if LCD4's timbre would have appealed to @famish99 , as he seems to be quite sensitive of planar driver's note dynamics/transients and timbre.

    And when it comes to Utopia vs LCD4, it seems like the 3 of us unanimously agree that Utopia gets the cake for technicalities and realism.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019

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