Audeze LCD-R Review and Measurements

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by purr1n, Oct 2, 2021.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Audeze made a ribbon. Oh my, the clouds in sky parted. God reached down his hand. I was touched by the hand of God! Nope.

    5F4A0046 (Large).JPG
    I have a big head. Note maximum extension. I do like to wear the LCD-R low and forward.

    However, the LCD-R more than holds its own. It's solid offering which is a bit of break from their standard lineup. And dare I say it: it's also quite a steal. How could $2500 be a steal you may wonder. Well, the package comes with the Jotunheim A, an amplifier which was specifically made for the super low impedance load of the LCD-R which is around 2.35-ohms. I mean all of you guys in the market for this kind of product would already cough up $1k minimum for an amp right? And we're talking about a special amp too.

    While the LCD-R is super sensitive to voltage, requiring barely any potential to move that ribbon, the LCD-R loves that massive firehouse sized stream of electrons. Unfortunately your amp is more than likely a garden hose. At best we'll get increased distortion. At worst, the output devices will catch on fire. Word of warning: if you want to try it on your regular heads amps, monitor temperatures with with a FLIR. You will also need to re-terminate because the LCD-R uses the SR1A's style of termination (female 4-pin XLR). Another option I think could work would be to add a resistor in series because of the LCD-R's sensitivity. That would result in effectively higher output impedance and also throw most of the power from the amp away into heat.

    I'll get to it quickly with respect to the burning questions. Is this better than the other ribbon headphone, the SR1A? Nope. However, we would really be comparing apples and oranges. The voicing of the LCD-R and SR1A are almost opposite. The SR1A are ear speakers whereas the LCD-R is headphone. The impedance of the SR1A is 0.2-ohms. The SR1A is a true ribbon a la RAAL - a metal strip, that requires the use for a transformer before the Jotunheim R. The LCD-R is a pseudo-ribbon. It has a bunch of paralleled fine traces densely laid over a diaphragm. As such, the LCD-R doesn't have quite the transient response of the SR1A. I'd say it moves in that direction from a traditional Audeze, like 20-30% in that direction.

    Is this better than the LCD-4? In my opinion no. But then again, it's like comparing apples and oranges. The LCD-4 remains one the best headphones which I have heard, rivalling the Utopia and Susvara. (We've yet to see how the LCD-5 performs). Also, I don't think Audeze would price the LCD-R (with amp) at $2500 while the LCD-4 remains at $4k. I think it's fair to say that the LCD-R is about the LCD-X level, but slightly different, maybe better depending upon your sonic priorities. Slam and heft goes to LCD-X. Smoothness and transients go to the LCD-R.

    I only have one complaint about the LCD-R which I want to get out of the way early. Those damn phasors. They touch the end of my ears. Audeze, could you please do something about this? One of my coworkers had this exact same problem along with the XC. Those edges are kind of sharp feeling too.
    5F4A0048 (Large).JPG
     
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    Last edited: Oct 2, 2021
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Audeze LCD-R Frequency Response
    FPC (compensated)
    Jot A (EQ circuit OFF)
    upload_2021-10-2_20-31-27.png

    The LCD-R is voiced similarly to the other Audeze LCD headphones: closer to the X and not as recessed as the 2C (subjectively speaking). The dip there I think is overexaggerated in the FR plot above. We'll check CSDs to confirm. If after a few time slices we see the upper mids level out, then the perceptual response would actually look more like this with the yellow line. No headphone measurement is perfect. Internal reflections inside the cup tends to do weird things from the upper mids on up.

    upload_2021-10-2_20-35-4.png

    Notes:
    • Note that the peak at 8kHz which often manifests as stridency wasn't evident during listening. I heard instead more a tiny peak around the 10kHz definition area, a tiny bit of tizz. I'll go through a few more tracks that I used to test for stridency and sibilance and report back.
    • Slight roll off in the bass. Could this be because of the ribbon structure? This didn't bother me one bit. Most big speakers don't even go this low, and if they do, 50Hz is going to be low quality.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 2, 2021
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Audeze LCD-R
    CSDs
    FPC LCD-R L.jpg
    FPC LCD-R R.jpg
     
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  4. Tachikoma

    Tachikoma Almost "Made"

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    2.35 ohms is sort of manageable with some power amps, think the aegir is up for the challenge?
     
  5. Philimon

    Philimon Friend

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    I know this is a very newb question, so feel free to ignore, what is the purpose of fazor?

    Is this @rhythmdevils set? Rare and pretty and a steal and have probably already appreciated in value. Lucky!

    Disappointing. Thought they were going to be game changers. Looks more like a cool experiment, explains the limited numbers.

    @purr1n You have LCD-4 measurements? I couldnt find with a quick search…
     
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Probably could be too much noise because of the LCD-R's voltage sensitivity.

    This is @Clemmaster's set. I have another set lying around and @rhythmdevils should have a set that he's modding.

    Fazor I think is supposed to smooth out the highs. Instead of a rough edge on the openings causing interference issues, the fazors guide the sound waves so FR is smoother. I'm not actually convinced it does much - but it does seem like a cool idea that can't hurt.

    I never got an LCD-4 for measurements. Working on LCD-5 right now.

    I don't think Audeze is going to release a $2500 headphone (including amp) that would kill their TOTL headphone. However, they are game-changers with respect that we get something a bit different, even better depending upon one's preferences. I think the real game changer is yet to come.

    Remember a few months back, a member was crazy enough to run 8-ohm speakers with their Magni and posted a picture of it? Jason advised to at least check the temps with a FLIR. This means that there's no reason that a Magni with proper heatsinks and some tweaks can't be made with efficient or nearfield speakers - and by extension probably these 2.3-ohms deals. 0.2-ohms per the SR1A may be a bit too much for ask for such a small form factor. However, some speakers will hit as low as 2-ohms in some spots, and if a transducer was sufficiently sensitive (such as this), it could be theoretically possible. I don't think it will be $99. But it won't be $800 either.

    Also consider trickle down. Maybe Audeze could release a 4-ohm edition, same idea, simpler traces, 90% of LCD-R, and without the fancy cups? I am thinking $1500 or $1200 which for this level of performance would be a game changer. The main concern would be cannibalization of the LCD-X, but as I mentioned, I think the X still has other stuff going for it and it's rather an apples vs. oranges thing.

    These are the kinds of things that could potentially make things game-changing. Not totally different tech, but a different angle, at an above entry level audiophile price for mid-high audiophile sound. Maybe this heralds a new age of super low impedance ribbon headphones with affordable (and unaffordable) amps designed to power them. It would be cool to see something like this because headphone audio has been rather stale for years now.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 2, 2021
  7. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I’m done modding mine and ready to send them into you if you’re interested. :)
     
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  8. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Hold them for a while. I have too much stuff sitting here.
     
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  9. Philimon

    Philimon Friend

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    Are the fazors easy to remove? If so, may we see before/after measurements? Not with LCD-R! But if you have a cheaper Audeze around thatd be cool. If it doesnt add anything or much then itd be a nice trade for comfort reasons. Similar to speaker diffraction?:
    http://linkwitzlab.com/diffraction.htm
    Much is hypothesized, little is proven and much is overrated when it comes to diffraction.
     
  10. Philimon

    Philimon Friend

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    The difference between HE400se (international version) and HE400se (china homeland version) is square vs rounded magnets. Somewhere in one of those threads is a link to a measurement analysis concluding it doesnt really make a difference.
     
  11. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    You're pretty dead on in your guess here. They make the sound a bit smoother subjectively. But they also mess wit the frequency response sometimes in negative ways. And they make the headphones unwearable for me at least. The minor benefits they provide are not worth making the headphones unwearable.

    They are very easy to remove, all it takes is a pair of vice grips and some confidence. They won't necessarily go back on though because the self adhesive used to adhere them sometimes tears. But I have the front fazors removed on all my modded Audeze's and the rear fazors removed on all but the LCD-R. I would not recommend doing this at home however because it changes the FR and so other mods are necessary to get the final sound balanced.

    Interestingly, I'm guessing because of the tuning and trace density, the LCD-R is undamped and doenst need damping. I'm guessing the trace density gives the magnets more control over the diaphragm.

    As for LCD-X vs LCD-R, the LCD-X has much more potential. The driver is simply superior in resolution and speed. (unless the Jottenheim A is so bad that it's holding the LCD-R back that much). The LCD-R actually aren't that special and no one should be clamoring after them or paying a premium for them. The reason the LCD-R sounds so resolving to people is because it has no thick dust cloth over the driers like the LCD-X and every other LCD except the LCD-5. As I said previously, this dust screen really filters out resolution. But my modded LCD-X has this cloth removed so I can compare driver vs driver and the LCD-X is the better one by quite a bit. The LCD-R has a special sort of smooth tonality the makes them sound very correct, but otherwise the LCD-X walks all over them (in potential, not talking stock here)
     
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  12. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Indeed.

    I found the LCD-R to be a (much) better headphone than the stock LCD-X '21 fed with Bakoon HPA-21 (a terrific pairing, IMO).
    Now I'm curious about the X's mod!
     
  13. deafenears

    deafenears Rando

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    @purr1n, are you able to also show harmonic distortions? Curious to see how these measure up with the other Audeze's (and of course non-Audeze's too).

    Also, a quick Loki / Lokius EQ?

    @rhythmdevils, any chance of listing the mods possible with this thing? (Also, can't wait to read what you have to write on this).


    Thanks.
     
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  14. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I’d like to start a modding company so I’m generally hesitant but these need no damping changes so I’m considering posting them because anyone could implement my mods.

    At the same time, so few own the LCD-R it's not really doing the community any favors to give away my work on the LCD-R. So I may prefer to opt for doing it myself.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 3, 2021
  15. brams

    brams Rando

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    Interesting you say this because a few users have tried the LCD-R with other amps and have reported superior results. For what it's worth Woo Audio has confirmed that all their amps will work with the LCD-R .
     
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    Last edited: Oct 3, 2021
  16. Beefy

    Beefy Almost "Made"

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    I mean, an OTL tube amp is obviously going to give pretty terrible results, and the vanishingly low impedance acting almost like a dead short is very risky. But any transformer coupled amp should be able to push these gently without melting.

    Some solid state amps with big chunky discrete output stages, solid heatsinks and low output impedances are probably OK (all the Gilmore and AMB amps come to mind, these can supply heaps of current and are fairly resistant to dead shorts). But I'd be super-wary of anything that is just an OPAMP buffer; they might be inclined to overheat at the extreme current demands.

    But without manufacturer support it's all theory, if I owned these, I certainly wouldn't want to be the first person to test it.....
     
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  17. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    upload_2021-10-3_12-1-2.png

    Not as quite good as the LCD-XC, but still pretty frigging gud. Will get back to you on Lokius.

    What @Beefy said. Probably don't want to run your Topping into this. In fact, a lot of those opamp headamps struggle with today's 12-ohm to 22-ohm others. Which reminds me, amp measurement methodology should probably be updated with low-Z being redefined from 32-ohms to 16-ohms.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 3, 2021
  18. brams

    brams Rando

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    Still contemplating whether or not to plug the LCD-R into my Manley Absolute. It has switchable output impedance and should therefore be a good candidate to drive a 2 ohm impedance, but Manley has been hesitant to approve its use for that application.

    If the Raal is much faster and resolving than the LCD-R it must be something else indeed.
     
  19. roshambo123

    roshambo123 Friend

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    @purr1n How would you describe the general character of the LCD-R's + Jot A? Does the combo seem more upfront and explosively slammy than your typical Audeze? That was the trait I didn't appreciate in the LCD-5 + BHA-1 combo. Jot A's signature I assume is in the vicinity of regular Jot 2 ?

    As an unrelated aside, I think the Lichtenberg figures on the LCD-R are one of the most unique cosmetic choices I've seen recently.
     
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Didn't seem particularly slammy compared to the XC I recently reviewed. It wasn't one way or the other. I'm not too sure what's in the Jot A. The presentation can be said to be more rounded along the lines of Jot 2 than square which is the tendency of the BHA-1.
     
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