Audeze LCDi4 In-Ear Monitors

Planar-Magnetics Made Portable

Equipment report
Audeze LCDi4 In-Ear Monitors

Specs & Pricing

Type: In-ear, universal fit
Transducer type: Planar-magnetic (30mm), semi-open
Sensitivity: 105dB/1mW
Frequency response: 5Hz–50kHz
THD: <0.2%, full spectrum @ 100dB
Impedance: 35 ohms +/-10%
Maximum power handling: 3W
Accessories included: 1.2m OCC silver-plated, premium braided cable, Audeze Groovy and smooth ear-tips in three sizes, ear hooks (two sizes), leather case
Weight: 12g per side
Price: $2495

Audeze Co-Founder and CEO Sankar Thiagasamudram on the LCDi4

What was the initial design impetus for creating the Audeze LCDi4? How did it arise from the LCD ’phones?
The main complaint about planar-magnetic headphones was that they are bulky and heavy. So in 2014 we decided to focus our efforts on making them smaller and lighter, but without compromising on the sound quality. This lead to the introduction of our award-winning new headphones (the EL-8, the iSine, and the in-ears). The research focused on how to make the magnets stronger (more efficient) to reduce the weight, and how to make more flexible film, etc. (At Audeze we make our own thin film and magnets.) This led to new patented technologies such as our Fluxor magnets that have magnetic circuits that are almost twice as efficient as the highest-grade neodymium magnets. Many of these new technologies were introduced in the LCD4, and the LCDi4 and the iSine headphones inherited a lot of this technology. 

What were the greatest challenges in the execution of the design? What, if any, compromises needed to be made as its development progressed?
The biggest challenge was how to get the sound quality of a full- sized headphone in a small form factor. The LCDi4s have one of the lowest total harmonic distortion (THD) measurements of any in-ear headphone. With a big driver (30mm), getting the sound into the ear without any distortion is a really big issue. We designed a patented wave guide (Faozor) that sits between the diaphragm and the eartip that shapes the sound and reduces the distortion. 

How long does it take to make each pair? What are the steps involved in this process? Is every step done by hand?
The LCDi4 diaphragm is the most difficult and time-consuming part. We use a slow deposition process to make the diaphragm, and it takes about a week to make the diaphragm and build the metal layer. It is extremely thin and very difficult to handle. So we devised special processes just to handle and measure the diaphragm. The driver is built by hand and meticulously tested at each step of the process. The housing is made by injection molding/die casting. The final hand assembly takes place at our Orange County, CA, facility as well. We measure each pair and match them within +/- 0.5dB.

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