Katz’s Corner Episode 14: Guest Listeners Shoot out Audeze LCD-4 vs. Focal Utopia Veit Renn
Veit Renn Listen/Eval
Donald Fagen Morph the Cat. See Episode 13 for full description of these songs.
I hear something in his lead vocal, a slight distortion around 8-9-10k that I didn't hear in the speakers. I like the low end compared to what I remember it on the speakers. [BK: Maybe Veit means something in the 80-100 Hz range, where the Focals may be reproducing at sufficient level.] But something is missing in the kick. The speakers revealed some depth on the kick, but it didn't seem to transfer to the headphones. But it might be because the speakers in the room are adding some depth through room acoustics. [BK note: The room is well treated, bass trapped and very tight, but admittedly loudspeakers reproduce depth better than headphones.]
Oh, these feel so good, comfortable. Although they're heavier, I could wear these all day. I feel a little bit more in the 40-50 range of the kick than in the others. I feel listening to these that I would get fatigued in the air range. They are just a little more sizzly. The presence range is excellent.
You Lied, by 52nd St. Blues Project
LCD-4: I felt in the low end, very few differences between the speakers and these phones because the bass in this recording doesn't go down that low in that range. I was paying close attention to the depth and I couldn't hear a difference. When it was playing on the speakers, I closed my eyes and I was present in the room...she's right there in front of me! But with the headphones I missed that, it's like you're inside it instead of in front of it.
Has a little bit more in the 2-3k range in the vocal than I heard in the Audeze. Subtle. This is the range that annoys me the most and can get fatiguing.
Ray Charles and Norah Jones:
Focal: I didn't hear the vibes on the speakers. I thought it was part of the piano.
Audeze: Remember how I remarked that on the speakers her vocal sounds a little heavy around 200, the proximity effect? I didn't hear that on the Focals but I do notice it on the Audeze. The snare has more depth on the rim than on the Focals. Overall this has more warmth and matches the speakers.
FB Pocket Orchestra:
A trend is developing. I feel that even in the speakers, this song annoyed me in the nasal range. This nasal issue was clear and I heard it on both headphones but noticed it more in the Audeze. I think it's because the Focals have a bump around 4k and it masks the issue in the nasal range of around 1k. The Audeze are a little warmer so the toms are fuller. Overall the feeling I'm getting is that slightly more warmth from the Audeze is matching the speakers a lot more.
In both headphones in that really high part around 1:52, she hits a high note and both of them hurt me, maybe because the playback level was a little loud for this song.
Audeze: I felt the depth and extension of the kick was definitely a little longer and more natural on the Audeze than on the Focal. I also hear that air on the Audeze that is not quite there in the air range above 13k on the Focals. I hear the reverb better on the Audeze, maybe because this range is more accurate, not sure why. But for sure I hear the depth and space clearer.
LCD-4: Most obvious difference is to me it felt like the kick is punching in a different range on the LCD-4 than on the Focal. On the Focals it's a little bit more of a low mids punch than a low low punch.
Focal: The 3-5k range makes it sound high-middey to me, which I'm not a huge fan of. The Focals made me rock more than the Audeze on this song.... everything hits harder to me in that mid range, but it was more pleasant and less fatiguing to me on the Audeze.
Focal: Right away I heard what I heard on the speakers too, a little bump around 150 in the vocal. Here, the bass is interfering and being masked by the vocal.
Audeze: Very warm and attractive. On the Audeze the vocal bump is a little smoother blending into the bass with me, so there's less masking.
I would buy the Audeze if I could afford them. They are definitely something I could comfortably mix on and not be fatigued after an hour. And feel confident that even depth issues, which I'm normally very scared about in headphones, would be mostly addressed. This a very rare attribute for headphones to reveal depth as much as the LCD-4. Coming from the HD-600s the clarity in the low end of the Audeze is a whole different universe.
I want to remind everyone that every human's hearing is different. We all hear frequencies in a different way. The consumer or engineer has to make his or her own decision. We don’t see colors the same way: why would we all enjoy the same headphone!
Veit Renn Ratings
Scale 1-10, with 10 being the best it can be
|Attribute||Audeze LCD-4||Focal Utopia|
|Comfort||10. The cushions make up for the weight||10|
|Accuracy bass- sub 20-40||8||6|
|Accuracy Mid bass 50-80||8||7|
|Accuracy Upper bass 80-110||8||8|
|Accuracy Low mids 200-1k||10||8|
|Accuracy mids 2k-5k||10||6|
|Accuracy Upper mids 5k-8k||10, really pleasant||8|
|Accuracy Treble 9k-12k||10||10|
|Accuracy Extreme Treble 13k+||10||8|
|Depth||Overall 8 |
High mids 7
|Overall 7 |
High mids 8
|Any harshness (10 means none)||10||8|
|Design and look||10. Beautiful lacquer. They’re both beautiful in their own way.||10|