"As a college student, I’ve always gravitated towards IEMs for their portability. Headphones never really interested me because, well, they didn’t fit into my more mobile lifestyle. Still, I fondly recall trying my first pair of “real” audiophile headphones, the Sennheiser HD6xx, and being blown away. It was a huge step up from most of the IEMs I’d listened to. And while I don’t have the same high regard for the HD6xx these days, there’s a clear distinction in performance between headphones and their more portable IEM counterparts. Enter Audeze’s LCDi4. In a dash of groundbreaking innovation, it aims to bring headphone-level performance to the IEM form factor. But how does it stack up in practice? "
"The way you wear the LCDi4 is different from most IEMs. There’s plastic hooks that latch onto the housing of the IEM, and they’re used to support the LCDi4’s extra weight. The bore size is also on the larger size, but luckily, you don’t need to get a complete seal to get good sound. I found I grew accustomed to the fit after a while, despite it being somewhat awkward. You can also make use of the Bluetooth cable for hands-free listening. There’s a slight desync, though, which means it’s not going to work very well for YouTube videos or gaming - a shame because the imaging is excellent on the LCDi4. "
"Transients aside, the LCDi4 excels at imaging. In the past, I’ve praised the Campfire Andromeda 2020for its “out-of-head,” class-leading imaging. But see, that’s within the context of traditional, shelled IEMs - the LCDi4 is an open backIEM. While that doesn’t necessarily translate to better imaging or soundstage as a rule of thumb, it certainly holds true here. It’s been a good while since I’ve listened to the Sennheiser HD800s, and all I have on-hand for comparison is my Sennheiser HD6xx which is absurdly cramped in the staging, but I think the LCDi4’s on par with most open-back headphones. The stage is incredibly spacious, airy for an IEM, and more than once I found myself checking to see if a sound was coming from the environment outside or from the LCDi4 itself. Just an equally fair reminder that there’s zero isolation. "
"Normally I would have made some comparisons to similar IEMs, but, well, there’s really nothing to my knowledge that’s comparable. To this effect, there’s no question that the Audeze LCDi4 delivers from a pure sonic-quality standpoint. It closes the gap between headphones and IEMs to a startling degree with the technical prowess to go unmatched against nearly any other IEM I’ve heard. And if you’re willing to put in some time to EQ it, or simply run it off of your iPhone, there’s plenty of untapped potential too. "