Audeze LCD-MX4 Review: The perfect audiophile headphones
The Audeze LCD-MX4 is an open-top, full-size isodynamic headphone from the top-of-the-line LCD Collection that can be an excellent choice for mixing, monitoring listening and other studio work. According to the company Audeze, the model is an excellent combination of such well-proven stereo phones as LCD-X and LCD-4. The lightweight ultra-thin membrane borrowed from the LCD-X is combined with the powerful magnetic system borrowed from the LCD-4. The new model features a lighter weight and a slightly different approach to stage construction, simulating sound delivery in a control studio room.
The Audeze LCD-MX4 headphones are equipped with large 106 mm planar magnetic drivers. The driver employs two serious Double Fluxor magnetic systems with a magnetic induction of 1.5 T, between which there is a very thin film Uniforce diaphragm with conductive tracks applied to its surface. The diaphragm acts as a voice coil and boasts lightning-fast response and a smooth, solid sound with minimal distortion.
The rugged, laconic headphone casings are made of lightweight magnesium alloy, and the headband frame is made of carbon fiber and has a wide perforated leather insert for a comfortable fit. Soft ear cushions are trimmed with genuine leather and have a specific shape that guarantees a comfortable fit. The cup holders are attached to the headband with a metal bar, which provides step-by-step adjustment to the required size.
Audeze LCD-MX4 headphones have a low impedance of 20 ohms, i.e. the presence of a specialized amplifier in this case is not necessary, since even a laptop or a mixer can swing them, which is important for working in a studio. Audeze has developed a professional set of free REVEAL plug-ins that simulate monitor sound in an acoustically treated room, as well as assist with mixing, mastering, mixing and other studio work. The plugins are compatible with a variety of DAW digital sound workstations (ProTools, Logic, Ableton Live, Digital Performer, and more) and software players including Foobar2000, JRiver and Audirvana Plus.
The Audeze LCD-MX4 comes with a detachable, reversible braided cable that connects to the ear cups using 4-pin mini XLR connectors and to the source using a 6.3mm jack. For storage / transportation of monitors, a solid professional-grade plastic case is provided.
The design of the top model LCD-4 was taken as the basis for the LCD-MX4 that have recently appeared on the market. To make the headphones more comfortable to use for hours on end, the first step was to reduce their weight. For this, lightweight magnesium alloy cups and a carbon fiber rim have been developed. As a result, compared to the original LCD-4, we managed to gain 125 g – with the same solid construction, the LCD-MX4 weighs 570 grams.
The second task is to achieve optimal matching of headphones with a wide variety of equipment and, above all, with laptops, modern mixing consoles and devices that have low-voltage autonomous power supply. For this, a new ultra-thin (0.5 micron thickness, that is, about 200 times thinner than a human hair) diaphragm Ultra-thin Uniforce was developed, on which a light aluminum coil with an active resistance of 20 Ohm was applied. Its shape and location are calculated so that for any vibration amplitude, all parts of the diaphragm experience the same force and do not deform. Maintaining the piston movement with minimal distortion is the essence of the proprietary Uniforce principle.The diaphragm is fixed between two Fluxor stator plates, on which neodymium magnets are fixed, creating an induction of 1.5 Tesla. Fazor’s proprietary grilles cut through the airflow created by the movement of the diaphragm and thereby eliminate turbulent noise. It is important that the sensitivity of the LCD-MX4 has been increased to 105 dB, so that the new model does not require a large signal amplitude at the output of the telephone amplifier to drive it.
All parts of the headphones were designed using the finite element method with analysis of their behavior under various working conditions. Ready-made emitters are thoroughly tested, and for each piece of headphones they are matched in pairs according to the correspondence of characteristics with an accuracy of 1 dB.
The new LCD-MX4 has an open design with elastic over-ear cushions, trimmed with fine natural leather and neatly stitched together with the side surfaces of the cups. The outer grilles are black with a coarse woven fabric underneath. Carrying bow made of carbon fiber, a flexible perforated bow contacts the head. The cups have two degrees of freedom; in height they are fixed in recesses, machined in steel axes. Detachable 1.5m cables connect to 4-pin mini XLR female connectors with snap-on type.
The LCD-MX4 is delivered in a reinforced travel case made of impact-resistant plastic with a foam pad. A cord woven from three cores – with pure copper conductors in Teflon insulation. The 6.3 mm plug is solid, with gold-plated contacts.
The fit of the new headphones is comfortable – the lightweight design has a beneficial effect, you can work with such monitors for a long time, without much stress on the neck muscles. In addition, the headphones make a solid impression with the quality of workmanship and the quality of materials. The force of the headband is calculated correctly – the elastic ear cushions fit snugly and do not cause discomfort. The skin is pleasant to the touch, the height adjustment of the cups provides a comfortable and sound-optimized fit for any user.
Like all open headphones, the LCD-MX4 allows you to hear what is happening outside and, most importantly, does not create the effect of a seashell, when, when completely isolated from the outside world, tinnitus appears. Outside, the sound from the headphones breaks through not too loudly, and should not interfere with others.
The first stage of testing is with the Aurender N10 streamer and the Mytek Manhattan DAC, which has its own headphone outputs. Listen to streaming audio from Tidal Hi-Fi and hi-cuts from your computer’s hard drive. It is not by chance that I called LCD-MX4 monitors – they can rightfully be called that, and in the best sense. The tonal balance is so precisely verified that you immediately begin to pay attention to the nuances – the general nature of the reproduction does not have the slightest deviations that could divert attention to yourself. The bass is low, from the very edge of audibility, fast, with a well-readable structure. Bass drum beats are conveyed especially effectively: sharply, with a mass of accompanying reverberations and harmonics. No headphones, either with dynamic emitters or reinforcing ones, are able to reveal life in such depths without simplifications and loss of intelligibility. Large-area diaphragms create a true piston effect and powerfully act on the eardrum. And, since the cup volume is not closed, there is no rumble and intermodulation due to reflections. The fabric, laid under the outer mesh, slightly dampens the membrane, eliminating its “extra” inertial vibrations.
But lowercase is only part of the picture. The middle harmoniously complements it with a mass of small details, which are presented very delicately; all voices are recognizable, but not overheated. This is a sure sign that the harmonic distortion of the emitters themselves is very, very small. Vocals, strings and wind instruments are conveyed analytically enough for the sound engineer to evaluate the quality of the recorded (or recorded) material, and not at all boring for a music lover who is far from technical aspects. The upper range is also calm, but informative.
If we switch to high-cuts (we connected the MacBook Pro to the Mytek Manhattan via USB), the top became noticeably more interesting – the upper “atmospheric” components appeared, the range of cymbals expanded noticeably, and real copper began to be felt. The headphones already show spatial nuances in a different way – sounds with a high spectrum seem to have gone beyond the cups, the difference between different recordings is more clearly indicated by the amount of air.
The overall impression of the LCD-MX4 sound is not tiring, bass and very dynamic, both when connected to stationary devices and a smartphone. An increase in sensitivity of 8 dB not only makes it possible to work with different amplifiers, but also makes the sound more open and free. And no matter what kind of music you work with, these headphones will not give rise to quick fatigue.