Over the past five years Audeze have inked their high-end headphone reputation with the LCD series of planar-magnetic headphones: the open-back LCD-2, LCD-3, LCD-X and closed-back LCD-XC. One morsel of news dropping at CanJam SoCal 2016 was that each of these models have recently enjoyed a driver revision – a slightly thinner film now brings the music forth. According to Audeze’s VP of Sales Mark Cohen, the change is evolutionary and not revolutionary. Reportedly affording a more-than-subtle improvement to the XC is a fresh filter network that flattens out any hint of mid-bass bump.
Back at CanJam/RMAF in Denver last October, Audeze introduced the LCD-4 and pushed the reference bar higher still. It would be the company’s most luxurious, costliest (and heaviest) headphone to date – US$3999.
The LCD-4 were on display at Audeze’s 16th floor ‘Private Lounge’ at the Westin hotel. The out of the way location a deliberate move to offer a sense of exclusivity to any LCD owner who cared to stop by.
Over refreshments Mark Cohen was at pains to point out that Audeze’s EL-8 line of ‘phones is not intended as a step down from the LCD range but aimed at a completely different market segment — one that Cohen refers to as ‘mass premium’.
Open- and closed-back EL-8 are now sold in select Apple stores across the USA. Perhaps soon we will see Audeze ‘phones in Harrods and Colette?
Cohen also points out that the EL-8 have seen significant re-voicing since their CES 2015 debut and that anyone not hearing them in the last six months “Hasn’t heard the EL-8”.
However, it was the EL-8’s new-found iOS compatibility that stole the show for this commentator in Denver last Fall/Autumn. Here was a headphone company who had jumped the MFI hoops laid out by Apple so that the new Cipher (formerly Cypher) cable could extract digital audio direct from the Lightning port of any iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch – no CCK requited. The iOS device’s audio intestines are bypassed in favour of an in-line dongle that handles DSP, D/A conversion and headphone amplification.
These same audiophile sensitivities will soon be applied to Audeze’s on-ear Sine, an entry-level planar magnetic aimed at the aforementioned ‘mass premium’ buyer. Adding an extra twist, the Sine will soon also get the Cipher digital cable treatment. Cohen explains in more detail in this video:
And if Apple make good on the rumour that the iPhone will soon lose its 3.5mm headphone port then Audeze will have a clear head start in a brave new digital-audio-only world where some listeners might find cutting the cord and going Bluetooth just doesn’t cut it. It’s clear that this previously audiophile-focussed headphone manufacturer is now channeling energy to hopefully capture the ears and dollars of mainstream listeners.
Further information: Audeze