by Kevin OBrien on April 27th 2018

 

AUDEZE VISITS THE YFS SHOWROOM

 

Evan Grimm paid us a visit this week to showcase Audeze's latest headphones along with their classic offerings. Evan is in charge of the Audeze product training program as well as being part of the marketing department. He also gives feedback to the founders of Audeze and wears several hats all while working remotely from Michigan. I believe Evan told me Audeze employs just under 50 employees so the California based company is not "large" by any means but not a 5-man outfit such as YFS.

Audeze got their start by aperforming demos of their first headphone, the LCD-2, at RMAF Can Jam in 2008. They weren't able to get a booth so they simply walked around Can Jam with their LCD-2 headphone allowing RMAF attendees a chance to listen. It all worked out as the LCD-2 gained popularity and the rest is history. Fast forward to 2018 and Audeze has become a major player in the headphone manufacturer arena worldwide.

Evan was nice enough to stop by my home here just on the outskirts of Boulder to let me get my hands and ears on the entire LCD series along with the iSine series of headphones. This also included the LCDi4 which looks similar to the iSine series but packs the LCD-4 technology in a very small form factor. 

The first thing on our agenda was to talk about the new offering Audeze has in the works. Evan was able to grab one of the first production LCD4-Z cans to bring on his trip to Colorado. I felt pretty fortunate to be able to get a feel for the latest offering from Audeze. The LCD4-Z gives the listener the same frequency response as the acclaimed LCD-4 but at a much lower impedance of 15 Ohms vs the standard 200 Ohms. This is huge as the LCD-4 can be a difficult headphone to drive. With the LCD4-Z, the load becomes much more manageable and this special headphone can be powered via a small amp and even some portable devices with great results.

 

I was able to compare the LCD-4 along side the LCD4-Z and go back and forth. Unfortunately, the LCD4-Z was fresh from the factory with only 26 hours of play time. The other cans all had several hundred hours of play which made a discernible difference in my comparison. I believe with the same amount of burn-in, the LCD4-Z will be a very potent headphone and may be your go-to can in your quiver.

I spent time comparing the various cans in the LCD series from the LCD-2 all the way up to the LCD-4. It was interesting to hear from Evan that the LCD-3, the LCD-X, and the LCD-XC were all basically the same headphone with very small differences. The X is their most neutral headphone besides the LCD-4, which is their most neutral sounding can. The LCD-2 Classic is their warmest sounding headphone with the LCD-3 situated right between the standard LCD-2 and the LCD-X as far as presentation is concerned. The LCD-MX4 was put in place to offer an option to those that need to wear an Audeze headphone for 5+ hours a day. This particular model offers a lightweight yet capable headphone for the professional in the studio setting. The LCD4-Z borrows the lightweight feel of the MX4 but gives the listener the sound quality of the reference LCD-4. The LCD4-Z shares the same magnesium ear cups and carbon fiber suspension headband of the MX4. For an added fee, wood rings are available on the LCD4-Z but that adds 1/3 of the weight of the entire headphone if this option is desired. The LCD-4 remains Audeze's reference can and is the benchmark for the rest of the line. I especially enjoy the LCD-4 as it is the most neutral and detailed can Audeze manufacturers which allows me to hear my equipment and cables more clearly throughout my chain. 

The LCD4 and LCD4-Z offer custom wood rings for an added $500 to the already lofty $4,000 MSRP. The LCD-4 comes with Ebony wood rings standard but some folks may want to spice things up a bit. The other LCD models offer dealer exclusive options such as Shedua wood rings (available on the LCD-2), etc that are only available through authorized Audeze dealers such as YFS. All the LCD series headphones offer the new suspension headband made of spring steel and leather. The 4 series cans get the carbon fiber version of this new headband design. This newly designed headband allows the listener to enjoy their tunes for sustained listening sessions. The old headband was due for an overhaul and Audeze has knocked it out of the park with this latest update.

The microsuede ear pads are no longer available but they are being replaced with leatherette ear pads. They are black in color and look identical to the standard black leather ear pads. The one main update to the ear pads, no matter which version you choose, is the addition of memory foam. I was not exactly sure what the memory foam accomplished but Audeze does not make rolling changes unless there's a good reason to do so.

It was very eye-opening to see how the Audeze headphones were hand crafted in their factory in Southern California. Evan shared a video he took of a pair of LCD-4s being produced from start to finish. Every step involved careful assembly by an Audeze employee. Drivers were thoroughly tested and then matched. Once the various pieces were assembled, the headphones were placed in a sort of miniature anechoic chamber to get an accurate frequency response plot which was then tied to the serial number of that specific headphone. Feel free to contact Audeze to get your frequency response plot. This applies to the LCD-X and above models only. The headphones were then burned in for 24 hours prior to being boxed up and prepared for shipment.

Audeze uses a measurement system that rivals the cost of most pre-owned entry-level luxury German sports cars. A glimpse into how they measure their cans can be viewed here. This is not the exact system used but the same type of "dummy head and ears" system is implemented to simulate the human ear/ head for accurate measurements. The microphones used are sophisticated and can capture the sound of a snail chewing on a leaf (yes, this has actually been done and is a procedure the test mic manufacturer has used to evaluate their microphones' sensitivity). 

The iSine series of in-ear headphones looked intriguing but I only had time to test the LCDi4. All I can say is 'wow'. I didn't believe Evan when he told me the LCD-4 tech was packed into this little IEM but he was right. After listening to one of my favorite DSD tracks, I could clearly hear the same cues as if I was listening to the bigger brother, the LCD-4. The LCDi4 is not cheap ($2,500 MSRP) but it may be worth the price of admission if you're serious about your IEMs and want that Audeze reference house sound in a small portable package.

I want to thank Evan for his time and ability to meet me at my home on a Tuesday night. That was very cool and it shows the type of dedication and effort the Audeze team is willing to make to get dealers the right information and the ability to accurately help their customers.

If you're interested in purchasing any of the Audeze product offerings, please feel free to contact YFS. We are an authorized Audeze dealer and your purchase carries the standard factory warranty and support. We strive to remain competitive price-wise and our support is top notch.

Thanks for reading and we look forward to hearing from you.

- YFS Review Team

 

 

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