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Audeze LCD-5 Planar Magnetic Headphone Review – One of The Best There Is

The Audeze LCD-5 is currently the company’s flagship headphone. Released in late Q3 of 2021, the LCD-5 offers a completely redesigned and improved body. It’s slightly smaller, noticeably lighter, more comfortable, and comes with improved drivers, according to Audeze. Today, I will share my subjective listening experience after using the LCD-5 for over a month. The Audeze LCD-5 is a beautiful and premium-looking headphone. But is it worth its price? Does it sound good? Please continue reading my Audeze LCD-5 review below and find out.

audeze lcd 5 headphone review

Audeze LCD-5 Flagship Headphone Review

The Audeze LCD-5 has been in the market for more than a year. The company doesn’t release a new flagship headphone every year. Its predecessor, the LCD-4, was released in 2015, and the LCD-3 was released a decade ago. So, I think it is safe to say that the LCD-5 will be Audeze’s flagship headphones for quite some time. Not unless they discovered and created something revolutionary in less than a couple of years.

As I mentioned earlier, not only does the LCD-5 sports a new body and design, but it has a new and smaller 90mm driver. Its predecessor, like the LCD-4 or the LCD-X we previously reviewed, has a 106mm driver size. There are also other changes in how Audeze positioned the Fluxor magnets and Fazor on the LCD-5.

Audeze is also using its Nano-Scale Parallel Uniforce diaphragm on the LCD-5. This diaphragm is unbelievably thin; it’s actually smaller or thinner than a red blood cell at 0.5µm. It’s also thinner than Audeze’s older ultra-thin diaphragm that measures 1.8µm. The Nano-Scale Parallel Uniforce diaphragm is LCD-5’s secret. It allows the headphone to achieve a uniform force, thus avoiding distortion, and provides better control over the driver resulting in improved resolution.

Thanks to its smaller and thinner diagram, the LCD-5 is also easy to drive, with an impedance rating of only 14 Ohms. Although, during my testing, I find that the LCD-5 deserves a proper DAC with AMP, a good one. Listening to the LCD-5 straight off a smartphone or a DAP works. But it sounds like it’s not being pushed to its full potential.

You can check out the rest of its specifications below. After that, let’s take a closer look at the LCD-5 and share my listening experience afterward.

Audeze LCD-5 Specifications

StyleOver-ear, open-back
Transducer typePlanar Magnetic
Magnetic structureFluxor™ magnet array
Phase managementFazor™
Magnet typeNeodymium N50
Diaphragm typeNano-Scale Parallel Uniforce™
Transducer size90 mm
Maximum SPL>130dB
Frequency response5Hz – 50kHz
THD<0.1% @ 100 dB SPL
Sensitivity90 dB/1mW (at Drum Reference Point)
Impedance14 ohms
Max power handling5W RMS
Min recommended power> 100mW
Recommended power level>500mW
Blazingly low weight420g

For the latest pricing and availability, kindly follow the link below. (#ad)
Audeze LCD-5 Flagship Planar Magnetic Headphones is available on Amazon.com here.

Packaging and Closer Look

Audeze’s headphones, which are flagship-class or higher-end, usually include a travel case. The LCD-5 ships in a large shipping box, and inside that box is the aluminum travel case that houses the LCD-5 and its accessories. It measures 14.2″ x 10.6″ x 7.3″, which is slightly larger than the standard LCD travel case that houses the LCD-X.

The LCD-5 that I got here is a B-stock unit. So there are some missing elements, like the Audeze logo on the case, and some blemishes or minor aesthetic defects. In short, it’s no longer in top shape or pristine condition. Nevertheless, I was assured that it was inspected and true to its tuning.

Opening the aluminum travel case, you’ll immediately see a pair of white gloves, the “ultra-high purity adaptable balanced cable”, and the LCD-5 itself. There are a couple of cards inserted in a small slit on the foam padding.

Included Accessories

The LCD-5 only comes with a few accessories. Aside from the white gloves and some reading materials, you get this two-tone 2.5m long braided cable. It is a premium 4-Pin XLR balanced cable, which Audeze sells for $599 separately.

According to Audeze, LCD-5’s cable is specially tuned with directional OCC high-purity copper strands that provide a low capacitance and low resistance path for the signal to travel from your amp to the drivers, maintaining unsurpassed clarity and precision. It’s a 20AWG-sized cable, so it is not a thin cable by any means, and it feels a little stiff compared to LCD-X’s cable.

The termination is similar to the LCD-X and other LCD headphones. I think you can use the cable with the other LCD headphones. There’s also a 4-Pin XLR to 1/4″ adapter, but I forgot to include it in the photos. The balanced to single-ended adapter uses Neutrik plugs.

Speaking of Neutrik, Audeze also uses a Neutrik 4-pin male jack for the premium cable and two Rean 4-pole female jacks connecting to the headphone. The plugs feel very sturdy and it looks like Audeze has done a great job at soldering the cables to the plugs. However, I had a little difficulty inserting the right plug. Because this is a B-stock unit, it’s likely an isolated case since the other plug clicks in and out smoothly.

The LCD-5

Holding the LCD-5 in hand, I noticed that it was lighter than the LCD-X. The ear cups are also smaller since it houses a smaller driver. However, it doesn’t feel very solid in exchange for being lighter. Some of its parts feel somewhat plasticky, but they are not plastic.

For example, my LCD-X feels like you are holding a solid metal. From the ear cups to the metal headband. However, that headphone is heavy and can strain my neck when used for an hour or less. On the other hand, I can use the LCD-5 for more than an hour without any strain on my neck.

The earpads on the LCD-5 are noticeably different as well. It has this somewhat angled shape going inwards. As a result, there’s not a lot of surface area that would seal the headphone to the surrounding of your ears. Meanwhile, the traditional earpads on the LCD headphones are thick with more surface area. For me, the thicker ear pads are more comfortable than the ear pads used on the LCD-5.

Despite not being as comfortable as the older ear pads, I think the convex-shaped pads contribute to the overall sound quality of the headphones. With more area exposed, this will likely improve the performance of the LCD-5.

No More Wood or Metal Rings, Just Acetate

Audeze didn’t use a metal ring frame or wood for the LCD-5’s ear cups. Instead, they opted for acetate. I would have preferred wood, to be honest. While the acetate rings offer a certain amount of beauty and style, these glossy rings are prone to scratches. So, extra care is needed if you want the headphone to stay in mint condition. That’s probably why Audeze included the gloves.

While the acetate rings are prone to scratches, I think they are more resilient to cracking than wood rings. The acetate rings are also lighter compared to metal rings. And thus, it helps lower the weight of the LCD-5.

Headband Section

Another weight reduction measure is the carbon fiber headband and slimmer leather headband suspension. The carbon fiber headband does feel a bit plasticky, but that’s just the nature of carbon fiber. Not to mention, it’s really light compared to a metal headband.

The headband section is made up of carbon fiber headband, leather headband suspension, and magnesium for the yokes and metal rods. The rods have a groove for adjusting the headphone.

By the way, if the adjustment rods become loose, you can easily tighten them again. There’s a hole on the rear side, and you need a small Allen wrench, size 2mm, if I am not mistaken, for tightening.

Overall, I like the headband system on the LCD-5. It is light and comfortable. But again, since this is a B-stock, my LCD-5 doesn’t have a strong clamping force. Maybe it has already loosened a bit.

Audeze LCD-5 Subjective Listening Experience

audeze lcd 5 vs lcd x-01

As I mentioned, I have been testing and listening to the LCD-5 for over a month. Since this is a B-stock unit, I don’t know how many hours, days, or even weeks this headphone was used before. I’m certain it is already used, as the clamping force is no longer strong. The pads no longer feel brand new as well, and the ear cups tilt and swivel somewhat loosely.

Based on how it sounds out of the box, I’m certain the drivers have already been broken-in. Perhaps for several days already before I got it. Nevertheless, I did not find any anomalies in its sound. They were immaculate-sounding, as others would have described it.

The Audeze LCD-5 is generally a neutral-sounding headphone. It’s neither neutral-bright like my Arya nor neutral-dark/warm like the LCD-X. It doesn’t sound linear, flat, or boring, either. If we remove the Audeze logo or the signature Audeze-look of the headphone, I wouldn’t recognize that it is an Audeze headphone. It sounds completely different, like it’s on another level, perhaps unlike any other LCD headphones.

Bass, Mids, Treble

I’ll start with its bass. The LCD-5 doesn’t have a pronounced or elevated bass tuning. It sounds more neutral but well-controlled, tight, and fast. If you have seen its frequency graph, the bass region is flat and linear. There is no strong bass slam or boom, and perhaps others may find it a bit weak. However, I think the bass presence is enough to give the music or sound some warmth. Despite not having an elevated bass presence, it goes all the way down. And I can’t emphasize enough how clean-sounding the bass is.

The LCD-5’s frequency line starts to elevate at around 400Hz to 500Hz. And from there, the graph begins to curve up to 3KHz before going down. The “cleanliness” of the LCD-5’s sound doesn’t end in its bass region. Its mid-section is clean and crystal clear as well. It doesn’t sound veiled or laid back and may sound forward-leaning. The transparency on the LCD-5’s mid-section is superb. For me, it doesn’t matter if it’s female or male vocals, as they both sound clear and perfect to my ears. While the bass region may lack some emphasis, the mids and the highs make-ups for it.

Speaking of the highs, the Audeze LCD-5’s treble section is also one of its strong points. It’s well-extended, crystal clear, yet never fatiguing or sibilant. Sharp sounds, like bells, chimes, or cymbals, are apparent and detailed, yet they do not pierce my ears nor sound edgy. For those looking for that “sparkling highs”, minus the fatigue, I think the LCD-5 will amuse you.

audeze lcd 5 headphone review

Soundstage

For those looking for a 3D-like or large hall-sounding headphone, you won’t find it on the LCD-5. Despite being an open-back headphone, I think its soundstage is just enough to give it room for the different musical instruments to not sound compressed. For me, the LCD-5 doesn’t have a vast sound stage that extends to the shoulder area. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is terrible. It still has a good amount of soundstage, enough to perceive some depth and width and enough to make the music sound spacious.

Driving the LCD-5

While Audeze is using an efficient driver and the impedance rating of the LCD-5 is only 14 ohms, I think it deserves to be paired with a proper setup. Having a good DAC with Amp is a must to bring the LCD-5 to its full potential. Not necessarily a bleeding edge or top-of-the-line DAC/AMP. Even the Schiit Jotunheim or the HiFiMAN EF400 is sufficient to drive the LCD-5 properly. If you are wondering, these were the two DAC/AMPs I used to test it. My listening volume is around 10 to 11 o’clock of the dial.

Is the Audeze LCD-5 Comfortable?

With the reduced weight and slightly smaller driver size, one may expect that the LCD-5 is a super comfortable headphone. Well, for me the comfort is just okay. While I like the size and the weight of the LCD-5 compared to the heavier and almost all-metal build LCD headphones, its oddly-shaped earpads were a letdown. Again, this is a B-stock unit, so I cannot comment on how strong the clamping force is, as mine was already a bit loose. But the LCD-5 certainly does not feel top-heavy. It’s just that its ear pads are less comfortable compared to the LCD-X’s pads.

Don’t get me wrong. I can wear the LCD-5 for much longer compared to the LCD-X. It is still generally more comfortable than the other LCD headphones. But the LCD-5’s ear pads, which have less contact surface, are just not my cup of tea.

Pricing and Availability

The Audeze LCD-5 has been in the market for a year or so. It comes with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $4,500. Audeze offers three years of warranty for the drivers and one year for the rest of the parts. To date, the ONLY Authorized Amazon sellers are as follows: Audeze (or Audeze LLC), Gramophone, Listen Up, Audio Advice, World Wide Stereo, Audio46, Headphones Inc, Adorama, Zorro Sound, Huppins – Onecall.

For the latest pricing and availability, kindly follow the link below. (#ad)
Audeze LCD-5 Flagship Planar Magnetic Headphones is available on Amazon.com here.

Audeze LCD-5 Review Conclusion – Excellent But Expensive!

That’s it for me today. I will make a comparison between the LCD-5 and LCD-X very soon. And I’ll compare it to the HiFiMan Arya as well. I don’t have the time to do it in this article since time has been very scarce for me lately.

Overall, I think the Audeze LCD-5 is an excellent, well-rounded flagship headphone. Its resolution is akin to a 4K monitor or perhaps even 8K. The level of detail and clarity is superb. There are only two things that I do not like about the LCD-5. First is the oddly-shaped earpads, and the second is its price.

The LCD-5 is a flagship headphone, and just like any other flagship audiophile headphones, they tend to be priced exorbitantly high. While I would love for more people to listen to and appreciate the sound of the LCD-5, the barrier of owning such an excellent-sounding headphone is just high for most consumers.

But at the end of the day, I think the Audeze LCD-5 is an excellent headphone regardless of the genre you throw at it. I even use it for gaming, watching movies, or media consumption in general. And it simply doesn’t disappoint at all. I think it is a must-have, especially if you are collecting headphones.

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Peter Paul
Peter is a PC enthusiast and avid gamer with several years of hands-on experience in testing and reviewing PC components, audio equipment, and various tech devices. He offers a genuine, no-nonsense perspective, helping consumers make informed choices in the ever-changing world of technology.

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