CanJam at RMAF 2015: Audeze LCD-4 and EL8 Lightning Cable

I know a lot of folks are a bit weary of multi-thousand dollar flagship headphones. Most headphone enthusiasts simply can't afford such a purchase and feel left out of the race for better and better sound on the headphones. But I'll remind you that we're still somewhat early in the maturing process for enthusiast headphones—I'd say we're just out of grade school and entering the middle school years of this market. Spend some time at a middle school and you'll soon grow weary of the antics, I guaranty it.

Personally, I see this time as one where high-end headphone manufacturers are deep in the learning process and trying very hard to develop really good sounding headphones. That's a very expensive proposition. It's sort of like motorcycle manufacturers supporting factory racing teams: It's very expensive, but it's where new technologies are developed and where a strong fan-base arrises. Actual participation is for the very few, but the technologies developed will trickle down into lower cost headphones eventually. I think most headphone enthusiasts should sit back and enjoy the spectating; eventually you'll be able to enjoy the ride.

Audeze's latest race entrant is the new LCD-4 ($3995). Apart from the cool carbon-fiber headband arch and chrome grills, it looks quite a bit like the LCD-3 and LCD-2. Inside, however, it sports a completely new motor producing 1.5 Tesla magnetic density, which Audeze claims is the most powerful of any headphone currently made. You may not be aware of it, but Audeze has been slowly but surely evolving their planar magnetic driver technology, and each successive model has had a somewhat different magnetic structure and diaphragm circuit trace lay-out. This article shows the magnetic circuit for the LCD-2 and LCD-3; I'm going to have to refresh it sometime soon with the circuit for the EL8 and LCD-4 as they're quite different, novel, and interesting. Fortunately, Sankar Thiagasamudram, Founder and CEO at Audeze, provided myself and readers a peak at the details of the new design in the video below. Key feature are the new Fluxor magnets on both sides of the diaphragm, and their patent pending Uniforce diaphragm circuit trace design, which varies the size of the conductors to match the magnetic flux present in an effort to linearize the motive force across the span of the diaphragm.

Also introduced at the show was Audeze's new Lightning cable for their EL8 line of headphones. Sankar was quite excited about gaining this mode of connectivity with iOS devices and putting the DAC and amp in their control. Again, check out the video for details.

ar's picture

Heard them yesterday at
Stereo Exchange, 627 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
on a couple of amps there.

The nice sales lady said they'll start shipping next week.

They sound like a fixed version of LCD-3, to me.
Less bright (though still far brighter than LCD-X). No more emphasis on the base. Less color. Quite good, if not for the beastly price.

Rather heavy, but not far from LCD-3, despite the huge metal grill (WHY do that?!)
Resolve detail similar to HD800, with less cynical sound. But that could have been due to the source and the amps.

sszorin's picture


ar's picture

Hehe. Yes. Sorry. BASS. And while at it: not "cynical", but "clinical".

Meant to add: they also widened sound stage a LOT. Maybe a bit too much. Wider than HD800, to the point of going behind you.

sszorin's picture

If the soundstage of LCD4 is wider than th eone of HD800 then it is not a good news. I find the soundstage of HD800 somewhat artificial andf already a bit too wide. Good for large classical orchestras with choruses but not for other types of music. With too wide a soundstage some types of music lose their intimacy and charm. A small band at a small or mid-size venue should not sound like it plays in a vast cavern.

Pedalhead's picture

Tyll: "..and so, the price of this headphone?"
Audeze dude: "Three thousand, nine hundred and ninety nine dollars"
Tyll: "Cool"

Wow Tyll you took that in your stride. Please tell me your eyes widened just a touch? I mean, the fella looked like he was expecting a pasting after saying that price :-)

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Prices don't shock me anymore. Just the way of the world at the moment.
Pedalhead's picture

.. such is the way of things these days. I shouldn't complain I suppose as I own (and enjoy very much) the HE1000. Interesting times though & one wonders how much the headphone market can bear. I suspect our ceiling will still be way way below the truly insane loudspeaker high end.

bronson's picture

Looks like Audeze are going down the 'pimp my phones' route on styling and Abyss route on over pricing.

Nothing here to pry me away from my lcd-x's tbh.

Enimeny22's picture

I like headphones, but only quality. I will try this headphone when I find it. At work when we help college homework it also need.