Audeze new planar IEMs

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by mrweirdude, Sep 1, 2016.

  1. pavi

    pavi Almost "Made"

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    well put.

    in a quiet environment, the LCDi4 is magical... but the total lack of isolation narrows down the optimal use-case domain.
     
  2. ufospls2

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    Hi Guys,

    So, I’m a couple months into ownership of one of the weirder headphone/IEM’s on the market. The LCDi4 from Audeze. An open back, $2500USD in ear monitor. Crazy right? Who would buy such a thing? What use does it have? Lets try to figure that out.

    The LCDi4, again, is open back. They really do let in all the sound around you. There is not much isolation going on here at all. It would be tough to use them on the subway, on a plane, or anywhere there is a lot of ambient noise. In terms of a traditional IEM, they are a bit useless. I had to change my thinking about them to understand their uses, and why I might enjoy owning them.

    The LCDi4 is a mini LCD-4 (which I used to own,) that you can put in your pocket. Im sitting listening to James Brown’s Funky Drummer currently, on my own in my basement, and I don’t feel like I’m missing too much from using my full size headphones. Are the LCDi4 as good? Of course not, but damn they are close. I don’t feel like I miss my LCD-4, because I have some of that Audeze house sound in a package I can put in my pocket and bring anywhere. I am probably going to visit my friend for a week in LA soon, and the LCDi4 is all I will bring. Normally I would bring at least one of my full size headphones, but now that I own these, I don’t feel the need. However, I won’t be using them on the plane, and that really sucks. Its a trade off.

    In terms of packaging and what not, they LCDi4 are great. They come in a nice little box and have a nice leather case which holds all the accessories. You get two kinds of ear tips, with small, medium, and large of each. You also get a few pairs of ear hooks, and “ear locks.” I use the ear locks as my ears are weird and I find them the most comfortable. Most other people use the ear hooks. I’m still trying to find the perfect tip for my left ear. At the end of the day, I have to be honest, these earphones are fiddly to get the right fit. They do reward you once you do though, in terms of IEM’s, hell, even full size headphones, these sound great.

    For me, there are two ways to listen to the LCDi4. With the “Reveal” plug in Audeze released recently, or in the stock tuning. I enjoy them both ways, but actually prefer a mix of the two, which I will get to in a second. In the stock tuning, there is a bit of a peak in the lower treble I think, and they are much more mid forward. If you turn on the Reveal plug in at 100% it sucks out the mids pretty hard, reduces some of the treble funkiness, and gives a very slight bass boost. My absolute preference for using these earphones is actually running the Reveal plug in at about a 40% mix level, with another plug in running a more substantial bass boost. I like bass, and these can sure deliver it. Similar to Audeze’s full size LCD range, if you boost the bass, you can feel it, and it is high quality.

    Due to the introduction of the Reveal plug in, more and more people are experimenting with EQ’ing the LCDi4 and its iSine siblings. This sorta muddies the water in terms of impressions, but these do sound “larger” for lack of a better word, than other IEM’s. For an example, I auditioned the CA Andromeda, and while I enjoyed their sound signature, to me, they just sounded like another IEM. Nothing special. Nothing that made me go “wow these are worth $1000.” The LCDi4 made me go “wow, these sound awesome.” Are they worth $2500USD? I think that really depends on your needs and how you will use them.

    Its really hard to comment on the ultimate sound quality of the LCDi4 due to the Reveal plug in and every ones different preferences. However, I think that the base sound quality, once a good and comfy fit is achieved, would impress most people.

    The LCDi4 are a bit more difficult to drive than a traditional IEM. However, you can still use them comfortably from an iPhone or similar if you aren’t looking to BLAST it. However, they do seem to scale with better and more powerful sources (within reason.) My iFi iDSD BL works really well with them. Supposedly the Chord Hugo 2 in combination with the LCDi4 offers pretty much the pinnacle of portable sound quality, but I haven’t heard that particular combo, so I can’t comment. It wouldn’t surprise me though.

    Are these frankly weird IEM’s for everyone? Definitely not. However, I feel that they offer an interesting opportunity for some people. They don’t work like a traditional IEM, but if you change the way you look at them, they can actually be really useful. Almost a full size LCD-4 on the go? Yes please. However, the MSRP of $2500 is a bit silly, and out of reach for most in terms of a non full size headphones. The LCDi4 is popping up on the used market more often nowadays however, and that might be a good way to go. Audeze’s warranty is transferable after all.

    At the end of the day, I think if you can get past thinking that these are traditional IEM’s, and should function like traditional IEM’s, they are a really interesting option for some use cases. If you get the chance I would highly recommend giving them a listen :)
     
  3. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    How do they compare against the STAX thingies? Are they as responsive and quick? And most importantly, do they still have the weird midrange coloration that made me nauseous immediately after pressing play on the iSine 10? EQ is not an option for me and I could stand the STAX ones without EQ, but not the iSine 10. In Tyll's measurements of the iSine 20 they have almost 5db more at 1kHz compared to the STAX ones.
     
  4. hikergrl

    hikergrl Friend

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    I bought a isine10 for $150 from the Audeze b-stock sale a few weeks ago. I quite enjoy them. They feel quite comfortable and do not make your ears hot (summer and no air conditioning!).

    The Audeze cable however is unwieldly, doesn't bend and is not balanced (my dap is Pono - which sounds so much better balanced). The isine10 takes 2-pin cables, but the socket housing is recessed - so the balanced cables I had available did not fit.

    It took me a while to find one on "the bay" so just wanted to share that the following cable worked, is nicely inexpensive, and you can select which connector se/balanced you prefer:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/8-Core-Headphones-Wiring-Earphone-Cable-Audio-Connector-Headset-Accessories/273847917294?_trkparms=aid=555018&algo=PL.SIM&ao=1&asc=20131003132420&meid=f568da0d53d44127939ec77bbcb9f285&pid=100005&rk=1&rkt=3&sd=273747464616&itm=273847917294&_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851

    I bought "option # 4" which is 0.75 mm pins and 2.5 mm trrs plug.
    (I have an adapter cable for 2.5mm trrs to wierd/unusual Pono balanced connector system.)

    This cable seems to be built fairly well, has a nice supple feel and sounds better than stock cable (running balanced vs se for stock cable). Had to cut a notch in the cable to enable the cable to fit into isine (which has a tab in housing). However this was very easy to do using a utility knife.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2019
  5. Metro

    Metro Friend

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    I was on the same deal. I'm wondering if Audeze is discontinuing the iSine10 and selling off remaining stock. Even the regular (not B stock) product is down to $199, includes Cipher cable.

    I listen primarily to classical music, and without the Cipher cable I find acoustic instruments to sound a bit "off" and unnatural. The Cipher cable fixes the response and I find it essential for good sound quality.

    Anker has an audio adapter that allows using the Cipher cable on a USB-C port. I have it and I'm able to use the Cipher cable on my Android phone (I also use Cipher with my iPad).
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07R6MKJZH
    [​IMG]


    Audeze is about to start shipping a $99 Bluetooth Cipher Module, supports AAC, aptX and aptX-HD.
    https://www.audeze.com/products/accessories/audeze-cipher-bluetooth-module
    [​IMG]
     
  6. dubharmonic

    dubharmonic Friend

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    I grabbed a set of the iSine 10 as well.

    My last experience with Audeze was an extremely dark lemon LCD2 in 2016, and I've avoided them until now. Every time I demo something from Audeze the sound signature has changed, and the model names haven't, which drives me nuts. Not sure if the same is happening with the iSine.

    The Audeze signature textured bass is all there. Mids are a bit recessed. Treble is more pronounced than I've heard in any other Audeze. It's not smooth, it seems peaky, somewhat similar to a Grado. Soundstage is wide, but not very accurate.

    They're listenable, but they're not anywhere near as satisfying my desktop system. However, these are the first enjoyable in-ears that I can walk around in without uncomfortable pressures from a seal on the inner ear, which is a big deal for me. As much as I like Campfire Audio, I can only use their IEMs when sitting down.
     
  7. wbass

    wbass Friend

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    Thread necro... I'm living out of a suitcase for the next several months to year and put my iSine 20 in my traveling kit, along with my Campfire Andromeda (OG), JVC HA FDX1, Drop X Noble X, and Aurisonic Rockets. I've gotten good use out of the iSine 20, and they're probably my favorite of the above. I'm in situation where I need a bit of portability and full-size cans are a little kludgy, as I'm doing a lot of reading at night with glasses on.

    Thinking about ways, then, to maximize the sound of the iSine 20. I was using them with the Cipher cable off my iPhone, but found them a little underpowered that way. My old iPad always seemed a more satisfying, tonally correct listen with the Cipher cable, presumably b/c it provided more power and drive. So, now I've got a standard/non-Cipher cable, and I'm running the 20s through an iFi Nano Black Label (via Direct rather than IEM match) and using the Audeze iSine 20 DSP pre-set in Roon.

    Pretty good so far. I assume the pre-set mimics the EQ done through the Cipher cable. I'm currently running at 80% wet on the EQ and using the newer "linear" filter setting.

    Anyone have any other ideas about how to squeeze the most out of the 20s?

    At some point, I might also re-investigate the LCD-i4 or LCD-i3. I had the LCD-i4 on loan for a while, and while I found them impressive, they had so much bass I couldn't quite deal. I messed with EQ a little, but, at the time, I didn't have much need for a pricey portable, so didn't pursue.

    Generally speaking, I find the Audeze DSP pre-sets in Roon to be pretty good, so I might try to get hold of the LCD-i4 again. I like the 20s a fair bit. It's just that you seem to need to do a bit of work to get them sounding their best.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2022

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