Katz’s Corner Episode 14: Guest Listeners Shoot out Audeze LCD-4 vs. Focal Utopia Conclusion
I notice that five out of six listeners feel the vocals are stronger on the LCD-4 than on the Focal, and the reasons they give are that the percussion and other instruments are emphasized and more forward in the Focal, masking the vocals. Whereas the sixth listener feels that the bass gets in the way of the vocals and consequently the vocals are murkier in the LCD-4s. Clearly different listeners have different listening preferences. But regardless, there is a consensus that the Focals are brighter and more forward: most of the listeners feel they are brighter than the reference loudspeakers. For analytical listening, such as in a mix studio, one listener was bothered by the slight extra sub and mid bass in the LCD-4 compared to the speakers. On some songs, this is not what she wants to hear from bass when analyzing a mix. But for pleasure listening she often preferred the LCD-4.
The consensus is clear: overall the expert listeners prefer the LCD-4 for any kind of listening. But occasionally some would choose the Utopia when detail is important, or sometimes when mixing, but not as a steady diet. In my next episode I’ll reveal the EQ that I’ve cooked up that takes the LCD-4 from a solid A performer to an A+ standout, as well as compare them with the precious Stax 007 Mk2, both EQ’d and not EQ’d. You’ll never guess the winner of that shootout!