The Audeze LCD i4: A TOTL IEM - A. Reddog Jones

The Audeze LCD i4: A TOTL IEM 
By A. Reddog Jones 

About the author: Hi my name is A. Reddog Jones. I am a 53 year old audiophile from Sarasota, Florida. I have been into this wonderful hobby, for about 4 years. I suffer from a cognitive hearing disorder and headphones allow me to enjoy music once again. When I realized cans would allow me to embrace the sound, I jumped down the proverbial rabbit hole in pursuit of the perfect synergy of sound and equipment.
My first audiophile headphone was the Beyerdynamic DT 880 600 OHM.

These headphones sounded good, but the overall sound could improve with better audio equipment. Thus I decided I wanted to have some of the best DACs and Amps available to drive my headphones.
And once I had the DACs and amps I started to gather some of the best TOTL headphones out there.
I have paid for this equipment myself and my reviews are my own honest opinion.

Equipment Used

 I have used the following DACs for this review.
1) Schiit Audio's Gungnir multibit ; 2) Schiit Audio's Yggdrasil and 3) Questyle QP1R.

I used the following amps in this Review: 1) Schiit Audio's Jotunheim, 2) Mjolnir 2, 3) Cavalli
Audio’s Carbon, 4) Crimson, 5) Liquid Glass and 6) Liquid Gold. 

The LCD i4

Back in late March and early April, the hot weather in Florida convinced me I needed to get a
good IEM for walking around. 
The problem with current IEM’s is the that they isolate too well and can make walking about outside surreally dangerous. 
I get into the music, and do not hear the cars and might become a grotesque human crayon Rorschach's blot upon the pavement. So I was quite pleased when Audeze came out with the iSine 10 and 20 IEMs, supposedly to be the first open backed IEM’s. 
I decided to get the iSine 20, and was blown away by the open backed nature of the iSine 20. 

The iSine 20 is of great value for the money.
It has a good soundstage, bass and good mids. The sound signature was natural, balanced
and pretty resolving. The iSine 20 soon replaced all my other cans that I used for on the go.
So when Audeze introduced the LCD i4, I was very suspicious of the claims. 
Could the i4, which costs 4 times as much as its cousin the plucky muse of fire the iSine 20?. I was so blown away by the iSine 20 and pulled the trigger there and then and ordered the LCD i4, figuring I would not be that impressed and send back the i4's. 
But argh! I was just blown away by how much better the i4’s were to its cousin.

The packaging of the LCD i4 is top notch with a nice leather bound plastic container and a
leather carrying case. The carrying case is nice but not too functional. One must remove the 
ear hooks before putting the i4's into the case. 
I use my old OPPO PM-3’s carrying case to store whichever IEM I am using, as well as my Questyle QP1R. 
The cable that comes with the i4 is an excellent cable, perfect for use in a mobile audio rig. However the cable is too short for use with my desktop systems. I could not kick back as easily with this short cable. I shall be ordering a longer cable within the week. 
The i4 itself is lighter than its cousin, and is of a high quality build. Because the i4 is little lighter, it is even more comfortable to wear.
 The i4 comes with an assortment ear bulbs/ heads. I am using the large grooved ones.

I am in total awe of the LCD i4, the three dimensional holographic soundstage is best I have
heard. The holographic sound stage rivals the grand Sennheiser 800 old or new variations,
without being to large or artificial sounding.
I was impressed with how Pink Floyd’s Dark side of the Moon sounded. Every instrument could be easily placed within this soundstage.
And the same soundstage made Frank Zappa’s Jazz From Hell sounded phenomenal, with the
instruments entering and leaving the sound stage.
Like wise Kate Bush or Grace Jones’s voice are beautifully haunting, thanks to the wonderful large, detailed, holographic soundstage.
The iSine 20’s soundstage is nice to but no where as large, detailed and three
dimensional holographic.

The bass on the i4 is just incredible, so deep, so satisfying. The bass monkey that lives upon
my back is so happy. The bass from all the musical genres ( rock, jazz, blues, classical, and
electrical music like Tomita, Tangerine Dream or Vangelis is just perfect. When the track calls
for hard hitting bass, the i4 will give it back to you, with such satisfying impact.
To my ears the impactful bass is wonderfully textured and does not muddy up the sweet natural resolve of the mids.

The mids on the i4 are some of the best I have heard. The sound is smooth and natural, yet so
revealing of what ever is being played. The i4 plays all my music with natural and resolving ease.
When listening to the legendary Jazz giants Thelonious Monk and Dave Brubeck, I have heard
details from the sound tracks that I have never heard before. I can hear how the different
instruments are brought into play. I can even hear the other musicians whispering as some
other band member plays a beautiful whiff/ segment of the intoxicating music. I was quite
pleased to get goosebumps as I listened to all of the sweet resolving details. And yet the music
always sounds so natural and balanced. I have never heard the muse Kate Bush sound so
ethereal, like a skylark inspired by the beauty of the moment.

The highs are on the i4 are spot on perfect. None of the different music I jammed out to ever
sounder too strident or sibilant. For instance I never found the Henry V the original sound
track to be to strident, especially the track St Crispin’s Day-Battle of Agincout sounds great
and sublime with no undo sibilance to my ears.

There might be two minor negatives to these great open backed sounding TOTL IEM’s/
headphones. The first negative is that these IEM’s are not too forgiving to badly recorded music.
I tried to get into some Metallica or other heavy Metal bands from the late 1980’s and it
sounded like crap because it was badly recorded.
The other possible negative, is that the i 4’ s are power pigs and the more power you give them the better they sound.
This is great when using my desktop amps like the Liquid Gold or liquid Glass , however the the i4’s required me to almost max out the volume on my mobile dap the QP1R. The i4 sounded great with the QP1R but I had to crank up the volume.
The iSine 20 is much easier to drive. In the future, I would like to get the the Questyle QP2R and see how it handles the the i4.
The only other headphone that I have that likes more power than the i4 is my Mr Speakers red Alpha Prime.

I am in total awe of the LCD i4, and is worth every dime, if one can afford it. These amazing
headphones rival my other TOTL headphones like the HE 1000 or MrSpeakers Ether v1.1.
The i4 is so comfortable and it is decadently surreal to listen to such great high fidelity sound while
walking down the street, or strolling through the malls, enjoying all the sights, without doing a
Benny Hill lol. I just love jamming out to Eric Clapton’s “ A Certain Girl” or his” Good Morning
Little Schoolgirl” as i take a slow stroll down the street with all of the pubs, bistros and restaurants.
However I enjoy my i4 best streaming Tidal into my Yggdrasil and Liquid gold or
the glass. I am starting to believe the i4 loves a good tube amp.

I think the LCD i4 is a phenomenal TOTL open backed IEM. And I use it so often ( even with
the short cable) that I could sell most of my other full sized TOTL headphones ( I would keep
the Ether’s ) and be a happy audiophile.

A. Reddog Jones

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