by Kevin OBrien on January 15, 2022


Cans are key to feeding the 'audiophile addiction' when external peripheral conditions do not lend themselves to standard listening. Headphones are a critical tool when there are others in close proximity to your speaker system or you feel the need to 'dissect' a new album or piece of new test gear. If listening sessions should fall within extremely early or late times of the day, having a trusty set of reference cans is a life-saver. Speaking of cans, it's been way too long since we've had the opportunity to test-drive the latest, updated Audeze flagship offering. Well then, here we go.

After the 3-year hiatus from our YFS LCD-4Z review, we were ready to dive back into whatever the headphone gurus in Santa Ana were prepared to throw at us. Okay, so we know what we're getting ourselves into here. We made a few assumptions going in since these were yet another planar flagship from our friends at Audeze in Southern California. We bet these have the signature 'house Audeze sound' but are more refined than their previous flagship, the LCD-4. Sure, these are just the same old Audeze cans in a newer, smaller, lighter shell... Right?

Wrong! None of that could be further from the truth as it turns out. Meet the latest planar flagship from Audeze, the LCD-5. The LCD-5 is quick, accurate, detailed, lightweight, and difficult to drive. Planars aren't the easiest load to drive but these were something all-together different than what we were used to seeing from Audeze (more on this later). The laid back sound signature with an emphasis on the bass and midrange was gone. In its place was what sounded more like hints of a possible reference model of old from Sennheiser but with better bass and overall resolution. Think high frequency energy here and not laid back necessarily. 

Speaking of changes, let us briefly touch on the physical differences between the LCD-4 and LCD-5. This newer 5 has much smaller earcups and a totally redesigned headband / suspension system. The suspension system of old, including the yolk and gimbal from the classic LCD-2-type designs, has been replaced with a completely new design. (The jury here at YFS is still out on this particular change) The latest, updated drivers are 90mm in diameter versus the 106mm diameter of the older 4. The most significant change has to be the weight of the cans themselves. These are LIGHTWEIGHT! I mean, really light. 420 grams to be exact. LCD-4 weighed in at almost 700 grams! One of the drawbacks of the older original Audeze models was the extreme weight of the setup. For instance, long listening sessions were impossible for us with the LCD-2. 


It seems everything has changed in regards to the new LCD-5 design and layout when compared to the older sibling. Old Audeze habits have certainly died this time around. The 5 is light enough to wear for multiple hours at a time. Listening sessions will last through the night and into the wee hours if source material will permit. In fact, when we first mated the 5 to our YFS demo Ferrum Audio stack, we planned on listening to just the title track on Talking Heads' Speaking In Tongues 24.96. We ended up listening to the entire digital LP! After a small taste, we just couldn't help ourselves. This was a very welcomed first impression.

One area that called attention to itself was the difficult load the LCD-5 presented us with. Audeze is not known for their easy loads to drive, but this was new for us. We had no difficulty driving the LCD-4 or any of the other over-ear Audeze cans for that matter (electrostats excluded obviously). The LCD-5 just didn't want to cooperate with the gear we had in-house. This is what spurred us to reach out to Ferrum Audio to get an amp into our showroom to help with our LCD-5 evaluation. Our ECP Torpedo III amplifier did work but we were missing that all important PRaT and midrange magic. This amp was simply not powerful enough to make the LCD-5 sing. Something was missing for sure. Our McIntosh MC202 sounds incredible mated with most of our reference cans but the LCD-5 and MC202 did not work together, at all. A loud hissing sound came from the earphones and we knew immediately there was a serious problem with this pairing. We have a feeling the 90 dB efficiency of the LCD-5 combined with the low output impedance of 14 Ohms just wasn't playing nicely with our YFS test system.


Switch over to the Ferrum Audio OOR + HYPSOS stack and our pure copper Litz YFS 'Super 30' cable and everything changed. The bass response was more detailed than anything we've heard from a headphone, albeit a bit on the light side. Huh? It's okay. We're used to it. Every headphone we listen to needs the lower bass regions bumped up a few dB to get things sounding right to us. There was no exception here with the LCD-5. After bumping up the lower bass a bit, we were rewarded with an amazingly detailed and resolute sound, yet with a completely full and dynamic presentation. "These are neutral reference cans worthy of testing gear with!", is the first thing that popped into our heads. WOW! This must be the furthest result from what we were initially expecting. Welcome to the 'New Audeze' folks. This is entirely new territory for Audeze and frankly, we are excited.

Not to worry, if you still lust for that Audeze sound of the past, as there are ways to smooth out the LCD-5 and 'darken' them up. Unfortunately, it appears it will have to be in the form of cabling and / or equipment. We don't really see any other way around it. There could be a pad tweak potentially down the road but that may weaken the bass response and effect the overall detail in the bass regions (that we enjoy so much)? Not sure? That's up to someone else as we are too busy these days to take something on like that. Regardless, this new Audeze flavor may take some 'getting used to' but proper component synergy is paramount with the LCD-5 and plays an important role in getting the best experience out of this new flagship.

Fit, form, and function are all top-notch with these new reference earphones from Sankar and the Orange County crew. Expect some of the best comfort, presentation, and sound quality available in a headphone here. Are they worth the $4,500 price tag? That's up for you to decide. If you can tame the LCD-5 with proper amplification, a great source, and a smooth aftermarket cable, you will be one happy camper.  This much we can promise you. 

As always, feel free to reach out to us with questions or concerns. We are  authorized  Audeze dealers. We can get you into a pair of LCD-5 for less than you think.

Thanks for reading and spending your time with us.