With a wide range of products at ISSE 2017, it can be a little challenging choosing between a home theater demo or headphone session. The Audeze LCD-MX4 headphones stood out, not only because of its price tag but also because a laptop can drive it without an amplifier. While we think it's a little extreme to spend north of S$4,000 on headphones (only to plug it into a significantly cheaper laptop), the proposition made by the LCD-MX4 had us drawn to the open-back cans.
The LCD-MX4 is inspired by Audeze's very own LCD-4 headphones. LCD-MX4 still retains its audiophile-grade sound quality, since it uses Fluxor magnets (with a magnetic flux rated at 1.5-tesla) on its 20-ohm diaphragm. The magnesium housing and carbon fiber headband also contribute to its weight-loss, making it lighter than the LCD-4 by 30%.
It is still very much a pair of open-back headphones like most Audeze sets - while it's more viable to carry around and use with your laptop now, you'll still need a quiet environment to enjoy the LCD-MX4.
What we liked about the Audeze LCD-MX4 was how friendly it felt on the head. No doubt, the flexible headband helps because of its second layer of perforated leather support, but we thought that the soft leatherette cups deserve mention. The LCD-MX4's overall construction makes it comfortable for extended use.
While the audiophile headphones can be driven with a laptop, we wanted to see how it holds up with a typical listening setup. The AV One folks on the ground were kind enough to loan us a Chord Hugo 2 amp (worth S$3,500) to drive the headphones as it played tunes from an iPhone X. Music tracks we've used are below:
As a pair of easy-to-use audiophile monitoring headphones, the LCD-MX4 has a neutral sound signature, while playing up its attention towards depth and detail. It offers a deep soundstage while providing a good balance between competing instruments that share similar frequency ranges (flute versus violin, etc.) along with excellent distinction (for instance, percussion instruments get their space when played together).
Vocals, especially harmonization, was of average quality, and so was its handling of midrange frequencies. The bass sounded full-bodied, and the headphones felt unusually cool when it came to acoustic guitars. All in all, the LCD-MX4 offers desirable depth without any distortion or complexity - making them a clean, smooth audiophile option that's a little more accessible to its listeners.
The Audeze LCD-MX4 retails at S$4,500, and it's available now via AV One.