The master headphone makers at Audeze have been focusing on in-ear headphones this year. Their custom brand of planar magnetic, open-back earphones are the first of their kind and have amazed audiophiles worldwide. The iSine 10 and 20 were met with much fanfare and continue to get praise for their intricate technology mixed with sophisticated design. But Audeze has yet another show stopper headphone hitting the streets this week and its name is LCDi4. This in-ear headphone is priced at $2500 and stands to shake the foundation of the headphone world. So how does it sound? I’ve got one of the first pairs of LCDi4 headphones to hit the streets so I’m about to find out.
AUDEZE LCDi4 IN-EAR HEADPHONE REVIEW
IN THE BOX
When opening the box of the LCDi4 you get the feeling you just stepped into the abyss of audiophile technology. The future-retro LCDi4 earphones are set firmly into a foam holder and the carrying case contains everything else your going to need to get you the best fit and best sound. Here’s a list of the full contents.
- Audeze LCDi4 earphones
- Premium audio cable with 3.5mm connector
- 6 sets of in-ear tips
- 2 sets of inner-ear stabilizers
- 3 sets of custom ear-hooks
- 1 ear tip cleaner
- 1 cable clip
- User Guide via USB drive
- Certificate of Authenticity Card
Design / Style
The Audeze LCDi4 looks like the iSine in many ways but is much cooler in some very subtle ways. The main change in the look of this earphone is the black horizontal grill with a rich copper mesh revealed just inside. There’s something about this design that I like a lot. The contrast of the black and metallic coil along with the Audeze logo is really sophisticated.
The LCDi4 is certainly not something you take to the gym or shove in your pocket. With all that said the LCDi4 is totally solid. The earphones themselves are sturdy and well-built. The premium braided cable is silver plated for excellent conductivity.
The only thing that scares me on these earphones are the ear clips. It might just be me though. The clips snap in place just fine and never had any issues but the thin plastic just worries me when putting them on.
The Audeze LCDi4 comes with a leather carrying case and the foam holder in the original packaging actually fits nicely into this case. It’s so well designed that you can have your earphones packed-up and in the case in just seconds.
It’s tough to fairly gauge the comfort of one of the finest in-ear, planar magnetic, open back earphone. Considering everything that’s going on in this product Audeze has managed an incredible feat.
The LCDi4 fits in the ears perfectly when you use the right accessories. The ear tips are sized to fit most ear canals and this part is the easiest. The ear clips might take a few minutes. Finding the right size to fit over your ears is crucial to making it more comfortable. It took me a couple tries but I found the clear ear clips worked best. And as for the stabilizers, I had a difficult time with them but I like the clips better anyway.
Overall, the LCDi4 is relatively comfortable when you spend the time to try the accessories until you find the ones that work best. In fact I found that I noticed them less as time went on listening to music.
The goal with a groundbreaking in-ear headphone like the Audeze LCDi4 is clear. They want that balanced, powerful sound of the LCD series planar magnetic headphones compressed into an earphone that’s a fraction of the size. I can definitely say that Audeze has hit the mark. But there is just one catch… you’re gonna need an amplifier. Although the specs show the LCDi4 at 35 Ohms, the truth is you won’t get the full effect of these amazing sounding earphones if you don’t run the signal through an amp.
For this particular audio test drive I used a Fiio X5 hi-res player with a SPDIF signal fed to an iFi micro iDSD Black Label. I played through some of my favorite ablums and tracks using Spotify as well as onboard FLAC and WAV files. The result was truly mind altering. The best way to describe the overall sound signature of the Audeze LCDi4 in-ear headphone is… wow!
Bass (20Hz – 250Hz)
The bass was accurate through and through. The LCDi4 was true to the mix when listening to electronic music and totally spot on in all genres. Sub-bass tones were tight and moving without distorting. The micro iDSD brought this earphone alive too.
Mids (250Hz – 4kHz)
The mid-range on the Audeze LCDi4 is definitely worth a discussion. When auditioning the iSine10 for the first time I recall noticing the mids and highs were a little bit bright. The LCDi4 however is not. The mids were perfect and clear without being boosted hard or subdued to the point of low fidelity. This is where the LCDi4 earns it’s hefty price in my opinion.
Highs (4kHz – 20kHz +)
The Audeze LCDi4 supports a broad frequency range. Up to 50kHz in fact. To put it simply, the high frequency response of the LCDi4 was a breath of fresh air. Clean, clear, beautiful. And all without pushing too hard.
Soundstage on an in-ear headphone. Did you ever think it would come to this? The LCDi4 open back design not only opens up the sound of your tracks… it opens up new horizons. Headphone spaces you were previously confined to just got much larger. Overall… it’s exciting to listen to this high-quality in-ear headphone and feel the music fill the space around you.
Total Harmonic Distortion
It’s worth noting that according to the specifications the total harmonic distortion is less than .2% over the whole spectrum. I found this to be quite accurate. The LCDi4 handled low bass frequencies at high volume as well as mids and highs like a trained athlete.
Summing up my experience with the Audeze LCDi4 in-ear headphone I would compare it to a fine wine. It was refreshing to listen to my favorite tracks and hearing well balanced frequencies, wide open soundstage and no distortion. It’s very much like savoring the flavors of an expensive wine you never knew could taste so good. The Audeze LCDi4 is another groundbreaking in-ear headphone from this forward thinking audiophile headphone company. The sound is clear and balanced yet warm and full. The size of the earphones is a minor issue and maybe Audeze will find an even more comfortable way to keep these high tech piece of gear. In summation I’m totally impressed with the LCDi4 and can’t get over how good it really sounds. You really need to hear this headphone. It may indeed be the greatest technical accomplishment in headphones for 2017.
Style In-ear, universal fit
Transducer type Planar magnetic, semi-open
Magnetic structure Fluxor™ magnetic array
Magnet type Neodymium N50
Diaphragm type Nano-scale Uniforce™
Transducer size 30mm
Maximum power handling 3W
Maximum SPL >120dB
Frequency response 5Hz – 50kHz
THD <0.2%, full spectrum @ 100dB
Impedance 35 Ohms +/-10%
Cable 1.2m OCC silver-plated premium braided cable
Cable connectors 3.5mm stereo plug input, 2-pin plug outputs
Weight 12g (per side)