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Article: Subjective: Audeze LCD-4z Headphone Review

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I want to thank Chris for taking the time and the considerable effort to give a critical listen to the Audeze LCD-4z headphones. Of course, I’m delighted that Chris and I found an almost identical sonic signature to these phones, and vindication of my findings, is, on a personal level, very satisfying. Like I have said to my critics all along, I have no axe to grind with Audeze, the manufacturer of these headphones, and, in fact, in the past, I have heard a number of Audeze’s headphone models and found them to be exemplary of what a high-end phone pair should be: comfortable, well made using the best materials, and, most importantly (for me, anyway) sounding very much like real music! That the LCD-4z model does not meet the goal of “sounding like real music” is unfortunate, and at $4000, a price point where there are many jaw-dropping headphone models from which to choose, this failure is all the more troubling. I wrote my negative review of these phones because I felt that the Audiophile Style community needed to be warned that if they bought these phones, they’re going to be disappointed. These days with most purchases in audio being done on the Internet due to the decline in brick-and-mortar stores, audio buyers need all the information that they can get to make a wise and satisfying purchase. Hopefully, Audeze will see clear to introduce a v.2 version of the LCD-4z, and perhaps these will actually sound like a $4000 headphone.

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Hi Chris, thanks for the review. Just wondering if the 4 out of 5 stars correctly reflects your conclusion.

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Chris

 

Is it safe to assume from your comments that you have a different opinion of the LCD-XC headphones that you own?

 

Chris


Aurender N100H --> iPad Mini --> WireWorld Silver Starlight USB Cable -> Mytek 192 DSD DAC --> Decware TABOO MKIII --> Decware Interconnects -> Audeze LCD-X and Sennheiser HD800 -> Moon Audio Silver Dragon Balanced Headphone Cables

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Excellent all around to read this, Sonis review and commentary. As a reader of reviews I'm always hoping for honesty and not fan boy adoration. This certainly fits that bill.


Furutech GTX-D>J River 23>Cardas Clear USB>Wyred4Sound DAC2v2 SE>Moon Audio Blue Dragon IC>Cavalli Liquid Fire>Q French Silk Headphone cable>Audeze LCD2rev2>my ears>audiophile brain

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On 9/27/2019 at 2:16 PM, The Computer Audiophile said:

The stars are given by readers rating the article. 

Duh...I'm a space cadet!

Thanks.

Great review!

Has anyone here ever done a straight up review of the HD 800?

 

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14 minutes ago, Gus141 said:

Awesome reviews by @The Computer Audiophile and @mitchco (and the previous @Sonis review as well). It reminds me of the time Tyll slammed the Sony MDR-Z1R cans. I love a good and honest review (both objective and subjective).

 

Cheers

Gus

Thanks Gus. 

 

This was an interesting adventure. I had no idea how my listening impressions or the measurements would turn out. The enjoyable part was that it didn't really matter because we only write honest reviews and I didn't have to worry about covering bases or couching my opinion in a way to save a manufacturer from something.  The outcome certainly matters for Audeze and consumers, but in terms of writing the review, my process was the same as always. 


Founder of Audiophile Style

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8 hours ago, Sonis said:

I had one for a while last summer (2018). Compared directly to the Schiit Yiggy (which is a “ladder DAC” while the DAC3 is a single-bit, Delta-Sigma DAC), I found the Benchmark to be lacking in detail, and rather homogenous. Not bad, you understand, just not as good as either the Yiggy or the Chord Hugo2. I have an Oppo  UDP-205 Blu-Ray/media player and it too (like the Benchmark) uses the ESS SabreDAC Pro DAC (although the Oppo supposedly uses a more advanced model). I found that they sound very similar.

The Yigg and Hugo2 are not under consideration, as neither operates as a preamp. 

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1 hour ago, audiobomber said:

The Yigg and Hugo2 are not under consideration, as neither operates as a preamp. 

Remind me again where I asserted that they did operate as a preamp? The Benchmark is primarily noted as a DAC with a headphone amp. The fact that it has a couple of line-level inputs does not, in my humble opinion, a “preamp” make.

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On 9/28/2019 at 3:34 AM, cgiammona said:

Is it safe to assume from your comments that you have a different opinion of the LCD-XC headphones that you own?

 

+1

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On 9/27/2019 at 9:34 PM, cgiammona said:

Chris

 

Is it safe to assume from your comments that you have a different opinion of the LCD-XC headphones that you own?

 

Chris

 

4 minutes ago, LTG2010 said:

+1

 

The LCD-XC is a different beast. The closed back headphone is very different from the LCD-4z but I also don't really compare the XC to something like the HD800 because the designs are so different. I believe creating a closed back headphone is like starting a race with one's legs tied together. It's hard to overcome the issues with closed back design. I like the XC and keep them around, but don't use them as a reference headphone. I dislike the 4z, but this is a reference level headphone at reference level prices that doesn't perform as well as its peers. 


Founder of Audiophile Style

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On 10/1/2019 at 3:03 AM, Sonis said:

Remind me again where I asserted that they did operate as a preamp? The Benchmark is primarily noted as a DAC with a headphone amp. The fact that it has a couple of line-level inputs does not, in my humble opinion, a “preamp” make.

You said nothing about preamp operation. I was merely clarifying the fact that my short list only includes DAC/preamps only, as I've sold my preamp. The DAC's you preferred to the DAC3 are not under consideration. 

 

The DAC3 has analog and digital inputs, gain control and multiple outputs. According to the manufacturer: "Benchmark DAC1, DAC2, and DAC3 converters are designed to directly drive power amplifiers and speakers." 

Please explain how that is not a preamp.

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2 hours ago, audiobomber said:

You said nothing about preamp operation. I was merely clarifying the fact that my short list only includes DAC/preamps only, as I've sold my preamp. The DAC's you preferred to the DAC3 are not under consideration. 

 

The DAC3 has analog and digital inputs, gain control and multiple outputs. According to the manufacturer: "Benchmark DAC1, DAC2, and DAC3 converters are designed to directly drive power amplifiers and speakers." 

Please explain how that is not a preamp.

In your previous post on the subject, neither did you. You merely asked if one of us was going to review the Benchmark3. I responded that I had already evaluated one (as a DAC/headphone amp), and found it not my cup of tea. The manufacturer can call it anything they like, but it’s not enough of a pre-amp for me. The couple of line-level inputs on some Benchmark models looks to me like almost an afterthought. I mean, even Benchmark calls it a DAC3, not a “Preamp3”.

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On 9/30/2019 at 10:19 PM, audiobomber said:

The Yigg and Hugo2 are not under consideration, as neither operates as a preamp. 

 

The Hugo 2 includes a remote control and can be used to directly drive an amp.  


Digital:  Innuos Zenith Std Mk2 > Shunyata Alpha USB > Chord Hugo M-Scaler > Wireworld Gold Startlight > OPTO DX > Shunyata Alpha S/PDIF > Chord Hugo TT2 

Amp & Speakers:  Spectral DMA-150mk2 > Aerial 10T

Foundation: Stillpoints Ultra, Shunyata Denali power conditioner, Shunyata Alpha power cords, Shunyata Anaconda interconnect, MIT Matrix HD60 speaker cables, GIK bass traps

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22 minutes ago, kennyb123 said:

 

The Hugo 2 includes a remote control and can be used to directly drive an amp.  

True, but without any line-level or phono inputs, it can’t be considered a “pre-amp” which seems to be what Audiobomber is on about!

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3 hours ago, kennyb123 said:

 

The Hugo 2 includes a remote control and can be used to directly drive an amp.  

Thanks for the info but not enough inputs for my system. I don't need an analog input but it would be nice to have. I do need two Toslink inputs, one coax and USB. 

 

Here's an opinion that contrasts with @SonisThe Hugo 2 doesn't quite deliver the best sound in this price range – that would be the incredible Benchmark DAC3 HGC. The Benchmark delivers that sound at a lower price - $2,195, a good $500 cheaper than the Hugo."

https://www.themasterswitch.com/review-chord-hugo-2

 

The DAC3 is listed A+ by Stereophile, with the Dave. The Hugo 2 is not listed, the TT is rated Class A.

 

It's difficult to assess the SQ situation without being able to home trial (I live in a smaller city, a long way from the action).

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