CanJam at RMAF 2015: Audeze LCD-4 and EL8 Lightning Cable
I know a lot of folks are a bit weary of multi-thousand dollar flagship headphones. Most headphone enthusiasts simply can't afford such a purchase and feel left out of the race for better and better sound on the headphones. But I'll remind you that we're still somewhat early in the maturing process for enthusiast headphonesI'd say we're just out of grade school and entering the middle school years of this market. Spend some time at a middle school and you'll soon grow weary of the antics, I guaranty it.
Personally, I see this time as one where high-end headphone manufacturers are deep in the learning process and trying very hard to develop really good sounding headphones. That's a very expensive proposition. It's sort of like motorcycle manufacturers supporting factory racing teams: It's very expensive, but it's where new technologies are developed and where a strong fan-base arrises. Actual participation is for the very few, but the technologies developed will trickle down into lower cost headphones eventually. I think most headphone enthusiasts should sit back and enjoy the spectating; eventually you'll be able to enjoy the ride.
Audeze's latest race entrant is the new LCD-4 ($3995). Apart from the cool carbon-fiber headband arch and chrome grills, it looks quite a bit like the LCD-3 and LCD-2. Inside, however, it sports a completely new motor producing 1.5 Tesla magnetic density, which Audeze claims is the most powerful of any headphone currently made. You may not be aware of it, but Audeze has been slowly but surely evolving their planar magnetic driver technology, and each successive model has had a somewhat different magnetic structure and diaphragm circuit trace lay-out. This article shows the magnetic circuit for the LCD-2 and LCD-3; I'm going to have to refresh it sometime soon with the circuit for the EL8 and LCD-4 as they're quite different, novel, and interesting. Fortunately, Sankar Thiagasamudram, Founder and CEO at Audeze, provided myself and readers a peak at the details of the new design in the video below. Key feature are the new Fluxor magnets on both sides of the diaphragm, and their patent pending Uniforce diaphragm circuit trace design, which varies the size of the conductors to match the magnetic flux present in an effort to linearize the motive force across the span of the diaphragm.
Also introduced at the show was Audeze's new Lightning cable for their EL8 line of headphones. Sankar was quite excited about gaining this mode of connectivity with iOS devices and putting the DAC and amp in their control. Again, check out the video for details.