One of this year’s biggest headphone releases was the introduction of Audeze’s latest flagship model. A follow-up to their popular LCD series of high-end audiophile headphones like the LCD 2 and LCD X. Now comes the long-awaited LCD 5, and I’ve finally had the chance to listen to it for long sessions to see how they compare as a $4,500 planar headphone. Is it worth such a pretty penny?
What You Get
- LCD-5 Headphone
- Premium Braided Cable
- Aluminum Travel Case
- Certificate of Authenticity and Warranty Cards
Look and Feel
For the LCD 5, Audeze really concentrated on one of the main concerns that always seem to come up when talking about this line of headphones. That concern is that these headphones have a monstrous size compared to most other models they compete with. So, Audeze has made it a focus to reduce the size of its flagship headphone considerably. They’ve reported that the LCD has 1/3 less weight than the other headphones in this line.
I’ve never been one to criticize Audeze for their gargantuan headphones, as I usually found their level of comfort sufficient most of the time, even in long-lasting listening sessions. However, after wearing the LCD 5 for a significant amount of time, I don’t know how I ever put up with the other models. The LCD 5 is still a heavier headphone than most other headphones, but it’s a feather compared to the others in its line.
Wearing the LCD 5 for the first time I could tell that everything about its design was put into making sure the cups fit just right. It still uses an exceptionally durable frame made from aluminum, magnesium, and acetate while maintaining a lightweight and high rigidity. The premium leather earpads are always welcoming and for the LCD 5, the pads are sloped for a more ergonomic design that also helps eliminate unwanted resonances.
This is an open-back planar with a whopping 90mm transducer. It really is a big achievement that Audeze was able to confine this driver in a smaller housing. Their Fluxor magnet technology makes a return here, along with new Fazor waveguides designed to reduce diffractions with the ear. Their brand new Parallel Uniforce voice coils are also implemented to increase voltage and lower impedance while granting more space between the magnets that improve soundstage and sonic fidelity.
While you expect a great soundstage when tackling an Audeze headphone when you’re in the $4,500 price range, it’s easy to be underwhelmed with anything that’s not spectacular. Thankfully, the LCD-5 is operating in full swing here, providing you with a stellar stage that has many enticing qualities. Its width feels natural without feeling over-extended, which might seem disappointing at first, but the depth of the LCD 5 is so satisfying that it’s easy to look past. On that note, the LCD 5 is more about wrapping up the imaging in a nice bubble where sound elements can dance around your head, rather than emanating from the air as other planar headphones do.
The LCD 5 excels more with its realistic approach to revealing the spatial properties of certain tracks. For instance, the LCD 5 never loses its solidity as frequencies are able to properly communicate their texture without appearing too thin in the mix. The way that the LCD 5 separates its layers forms a natural soundstage that goes beyond a typical stereo image, forming a holographic, three-dimensional space that wraps around and immerses you in your music.
You can expect the LCD 5 to deliver a gratifying bass response to its sound signature. The frequencies receive plenty of extensions, with a good helping of sub-bass to act as support for increased depth and resonance. It plays nicely with the more energetic mid-bass, which adds some real drive to the overall timbre of the lows here. Its tonality is crystal clear, giving you its heavy impact while remaining articulate in its presence while never feeling bloated. Dynamic range in the bass is especially notable in that it offers a hard-hitting response while also not being too dominant compared to the rest of the sound signature.
If there’s anywhere to completely fall head over heels for the LCD 5, it’s in its midrange. the response here is exceptionally rich in detail, presenting more natural musicality a wide array of mixes. You really feel like you’re getting the full picture of your tracks, with all of their elaborative instrumentation and crisp vocals that put their textures fully on display. There’s a consistent power to the frequencies that keep the timbre lively and incredibly gripping. Listening to the new “Let It Be” Super Deluxe on the LCD 5 was a great pleasure in my long listening sessions with the headphones. The performances were so clear and so transparent that they almost transport you feeling like you’re in the studio with the Beatles themselves, especially when throwing on some of the demo tracks.
It’s unsurprising that the treble region is as equally clear as the rest of the LCD 5’s sound signature. These frequencies respond with a much airier presence compared to the very solidified tone of the bass and mids. It balances out the sound signature quite well and gives tracks a layer of height and coloration that complements the headphone’s spatial properties. While the LCD 5 provides great fidelity, you won’t find much bite here, which some listeners may prefer. Its timbre is a lot more smoothed out but is enjoyable in its ability to give you these textures without delving into brighter territory. You get almost no piercing elements in these highs, making it easily digestible for most listeners.
It’s easy to be impressed by the Audeze LCD 5, but is it impressive compared to the Elite tier headphones that already occupy this price range? The LCD 5 is an incredible listening experience, but I found it to all be very functional instead of being awe-struck at every turn.
When I’m listening to a headphone in this price range I don’t want the experience to be what I expected, I want it to make me hold my breath as I try to comprehend all of its incredible intricacies and make me appreciate music on a whole new level. Unfortunately, that’s just not the headphone the LCD 5 is, as it responds with the timbre I imagined it would have, but not the one that would go above and beyond to make sure I hear absolutely everything my tracks have to offer. It comes very close in its midrange and spatial imaging, but I didn’t get much feeling from the rest of the frequency response.
With that being said, this headphone is still worthwhile, especially if you’re a fan of Audeze and you’ve been waiting for one with a smaller-sized earcup. There’s a lot to love here.
The Audeze LCD 5 is available at Audio46.