Audeze LCD-MX4 planar magnetic headphone

Audeze LCD-MX4

I used the LCD-MX4 in a system comprising a Windows-based Lenovo/jRiver Media Center music server feeding a Chord Hugo 2, which in turn drove a versatile hybrid valve/solid-state iFi Audio Pro iCAN headphone amplifier. Also used in the system were a set of Rega Couple analogue interconnects and a Chord Electronics USB digital cable specifically made for the Hugo 2. Secondarily, I also used the LCD-MX4 with the compact yet superb iFi Audio Nano iDSD Black Label amp/DAC as reviewed in our last issue. Headphones on hand for comparison purposes included the Final D8000 and the MrSpeakers AEON Flow Open (reviewed in this issue on pages 8 and 49 respectively).

From the outset, the MX4 just felt right; it is not a featherweight headphone by any stretch of the imagination, but its overall size, shape, and relatively low mass make it comfortable to wear for hours on end. This isn’t just my impression, by the way; a colleague who never before liked Audeze’s LCD models owing to their bulk and weight said he found the MX4 different, better, and much more to his liking.

Sonically, the LCD-MX4 comes across as ‘son of the LCD-4’ in many respects, in particular showing an energetic, and very revealing midrange that sounds positively luminous and that is highly reminiscent of the sound of Audeze’s top model. Upper midrange and treble articulacy and resolution are very good, too—perhaps not quite matching the performance of the LCD-4, but not far off the mark. Most importantly, the LCD-MX4 offers a well-integrated and all-of-a-piece sonic presentation from the lower midrange right on up to the highest treble frequencies. Thanks to this ‘cut-from-whole-cloth’ sonic quality, the LCD-MX4 encourages listeners to resist dissecting or analysing what they are hearing and instead to relax and simply drink in the music as a whole. In short, the MX4 is less about drawing attention to itself and more about creating a total immersion listening experience. 

The MX4’s holistic quality made itself felt on any number of tracks, but one I particularly enjoyed was Agnes Obel’s ‘The Curse’ [Aventine, Pias America, 16/44.1], where Obel’s wispy and reverb-drenched voice stands counterpoised against the song’s measured and almost dance-step-like recurrent cello theme (where the cello’s lines combine a mix of pizzicato and arco playing techniques). There is something about the contrast between Obel’s upward-reaching vocals and the rhythmic, woody voice of the cello anchoring the track that makes it both mesmerising and endlessly fascinating. And there is the appeal of the LCD-MX4 in a nutshell: It invites listeners to set equipment concerns aside to focus on what’s really important—the sound and emotional content of the music at hand.

The LCD-MX4’s bass is deeply extended and appropriately weighted, though perhaps not quite the last word in tautness and definition. Still, the MX4’s low end provides solid foundational underpinnings for any music you might choose to play. A great example would be the track ‘Ghazali’ from Renaud Garcia-Fons’ Oriental Bass[Enja, 16/44.1]. ‘Ghazali’ serves up an uncommonly evocative and tonally inquisitive acoustic bass solo as created by Fons, and the LCD-MX4s responds with rich and wonderfully saturated bass tonal colours that perfectly convey the weight, depth, and scale of the wood-bodied instrument. In fact, the MX4s do a great job of showing how the low strings of the bass generate sounds that seems to bloom and expand, gradually energising the entirety of the recording space.

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