Black Trailblazers

At Roon, our passion for music is illustrated by a growing selection of eclectic playlists featuring a diverse mix of genres, instrumentation, and voices from around the globe. As music lovers, we’re fortunate to live in a time when music is so plentiful and easily accessible. When you sync a Qobuz, TIDAL, or KKBOX membership with your Roon subscription, your listening choices are practically limitless. An all-encompassing palette of sound is at your fingertips, accompanied by the freedom to listen to and enjoy anything you desire.

Continue reading “Black Trailblazers”

ARC Adds New Playback Features and a Full Suite of Download Superpowers

Since its release, ARC has been in a constant state of motion, which makes sense given its dynamic Roon on-the-go character. Each new update has added subtle tweaks, expanded functionality, performance enhancements – and, in many cases – bold new features completely unique to ARC.

Continue reading “ARC Adds New Playback Features and a Full Suite of Download Superpowers”

Roon Labs and Harman International Unveil Groundbreaking Nucleus Titan at CES 2024

Nucleus Titan melds cutting-edge performance with breathtaking aesthetics, delivering the ultimate platform for Roon music software.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA (January 9th, 2024) – Roon, the world’s most innovative listening experience for music lovers, in conjunction with Harman International, is thrilled to announce the arrival of Nucleus Titan – its next-generation high-performance Nucleus server at CES 2024. Nucleus Titan maximizes recent advances in CPU and SSD technology, technical design, manufacturing processes, and hardware customization to deliver an unparalleled premium device specifically intended for Roon’s library management, music exploration, and multi-room music player software.

Continue reading “Roon Labs and Harman International Unveil Groundbreaking Nucleus Titan at CES 2024”

Introducing MUSE: Precision Audio Control on the go

MUSE is the new name for Roon’s sound engine and audio processing suite. And now MUSE has landed in ARC – with bold styling and sound quality never before seen or heard in a mobile music app! 

MUSE delivers the precision audio control of Roon when you’re on the go or running a streamlined, portable setup from your phone. It’s also one of the most anticipated and highly requested enhancements to ARC’s feature set. We’re excited to pack even more of Roon into ARC, and we’re confident you’ll enjoy what you see and hear in MUSE.

Continue reading “Introducing MUSE: Precision Audio Control on the go”

Introducing Fluency

Roon has always provided an immersive listening experience thanks to its vast library of music knowledge and exceptional sound quality. Throughout Roon’s development, we’ve tried to make that experience as inclusive as possible by letting you explore the software and enjoy content in your preferred language. 

Today we’re excited to announce the release of Fluency – a revolutionary new discovery and language feature, available only in Roon. Fluency lets you translate even more Roon content in your preferred language. Now, artist names, album titles, credits, performer roles, and genre names are available in 21 languages! 

Continue reading “Introducing Fluency”

Roon Community Reviews: Zuma Lumisonic, the Ultimate Wireless Multi-room System

Roon Community contributor Steven44 graciously contributed the following review. Roon Editorial staff added layout and minor editing to convert the forum posts to a review format.


Zuma Lumisonic is a state-of-the-art Roon Ready lighting and sound system. Each light/sound unit is an all-in-one audio system. It’s very sophisticated and supports multiple audio services onboard, plus Alexa voice control.  

This system may be the first to use Roon in a full home automation product. Zuma Lumisonic won the prestigious 2021 CEDIA New Hardware award (Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association).

Continue reading “Roon Community Reviews: Zuma Lumisonic, the Ultimate Wireless Multi-room System”

Offline Listening in Roon ARC

In the short time since its release, Roon ARC has completely transformed our connection to the music we love by providing a wonderfully familiar, on-the-go version of Roon. The ARC app, like Roon, restores the excitement of interacting with physical media when listening to streaming and file-based music. ARC’s offline listening feature keeps the music flowing wherever your adventures take you – even if you’re off the grid entirely.

In this how-to, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to listen offline in ARC. First, you’ll need to make sure you’ve installed Roon ARC on your mobile device. Visit the App Store or Play Store to download the app. Once ARC is installed and configured, all that’s left to do is browse, select, and download the music favorites you can’t live without.

Continue reading “Offline Listening in Roon ARC”

Roon Ready Writeups: Chord Hugo 2 and 2go Review

At Roon, our passion is to help you get the very best sound and performance from your gear purchases. Our Roon partner products guarantee seamless integration, stress-free reliability, and high-quality sound within every music lover’s budget. 

We understand that gear homework can be confusing and a chore, “will this X sync with my Y DAC/Amp” ad infinitum….. The excitement of gear shopping can evaporate pretty quickly.

Roon-certified gear takes care of all that for you and leaves you with only the fun tasks: shipment tracking, setup planning, and more quality time for enjoying music. Those are benefits we all can appreciate! 

Winner and Still Champion: Chord Hugo 2

Chord Electronics Hugo 2 and 2Go Review

Chord’s Hugo 2 sports an impressive winning streak and continues to rack up Best DAC awards for its design, aesthetics, and sound – even when matched against much more expensive units. It’s not especially difficult to understand why. It remains one of the best value upgrades you can add to your system for its price range. Like all things Chord, Hugo 2’s technical advances and innovation never lose sight of the ultimate goal – superior sonic performance. Let’s take a look!

Aesthetics and Design 

From its robust aluminum enclosure to its lovely polychromatic spherical controls, every element of Hugo 2 / 2go exhibits exceptional design thinking. These products deliver the features and functionality that music lovers demand, and they do it creatively and engagingly.  

Yes, some critics still grumble about Chord’s fondness for color-coded controls. For my tastes, they’re a brilliant, intuitive means for conveying a wealth of information without using an LED screen. Using the crib sheet in the manual, you’ll be up to speed with color translation in no time. We put the cheat sheet back in its box much quicker than expected. 

Grippy rubber feet keep Hugo 2 and 2go safely in place when used as a desktop headphone DAC/amp or streamer/server combo. The handy full-function remote eliminates having to leave your favorite listening spot to make adjustments when using Hugo 2 as an integrated component. Its feature set makes it ideal for that role. We realize design perfection means different things to different people. But we couldn’t find any noteworthy shortcomings in either of these devices that warranted further discussion. 

Hugo 2 and 2go, poised to satisfy every audio need

Chord Electronics Hugo 2 and 2Go Review

The Chord 2go is a high-performance streamer/server that adds Bluetooth, wi-fi, and wired network connectivity for Hugo 2. Together, they’re a solution for an impressive range of use scenarios. Here are just a few we were able to tackle with ease:

  • An unmatched Roon ARC mobile headphone rig 
  • A feature-rich Roon Ready sonic advancement for any legacy Hi-Fi setup
  • A high-quality desktop and handheld head-fi audio solution
  • A veritable digital audio player (DAP) slayer! 2go’s dual microSD card slots provide 4 TB of onboard high-res audio storage,
  • A highly portable around-the-house RAAT streaming endpoint 
  • Hugo 2 has all the device connection inputs and outputs you’ll likely need, making it a powerful contender for myriad applications beyond those we mention.

Use flexibility is a significant factor when I purchase gear. Hugo 2 excels in this capacity. Its small footprint, the size of a petite paperback, further accentuates its versatility.

Sound Impressions

Not surprisingly, the Hugo2/2go produce awe-inspiring sound that reflects their award-winning pedigree. Every genre we fed through the duo assumed a new level of spaciousness, dynamics, and fidelity. The highest praise anyone can give a piece of gear is to say it motivates its owner to find extra time for music listening. These devices do that effortlessly! 

Chord products achieve their unique sound signature with bespoke conversion, filtering, and processing chipsets designed by Rob Watts. 4 filter settings provide users with options for crisp, transparent presentation or a warmer, rounded analog vibe reminiscent of vintage gear. To clarify, Chord states that the filters’ purpose is to reduce high-frequency noise generated by the selected input. They aren’t designed or intended to act as DSP or EQ enhancements. To my ear, they do add understated coloration. It’s very slight, but it’s there. My favorite filter settings were Incisive Neutral, or Warm, depending on the music I was playing. 

I’m even more surprised to discover that I’m a big fan of Hugo 2’s crossfeed filters. Crossfeed gives headphone listening a more speaker-like soundstage by subtly blending left and right headphone channels, giving you a bit of both in each driver rather than distinct separation. I don’t typically use crossfeed features because they rarely produce the desired results for my tastes. Hugo 2’s crossfeed feature outshines all others I’ve tried. As a result, I used the Medium crossfeed setting for most of my casual listening – turning it off only for the close listening session below. 

Listening Notes

For detailed listening, I drove Hugo 2/2go with tracks sourced from Qobuz and TIDAL. All were rendered at their native sample rates, indicated below. Hugo 2’s EQ, crossfeed, and noise processing settings were toggled off for reference listening.

Gordon Lightfoot – Sundown from Sundown (24-bit/192 kHz PCM) 

This one gave me chills when I played it from Hugo 2 through the Meze 109 PRO. The combination instantly transported me to the early 70s when this song dominated AM radio.

The layered acoustic guitars shimmered as if they were in the room. The soundstage was enormous and airy with excellent depth, adding considerably to the perfect vibe achieved in this performance. Textural separation was also very impressive. Each instrument had plenty of room to be enjoyed distinctly in the mix. The bass and drums lock in wonderfully, exhibiting heaps of instrumental detail. Lightfoot’s voice was as warm and comforting as fine winter cognac – the plate reverb on the double-tracked vocal chorus becomes a star contributor in its own right. The Meze 109 PRO’s detail retrieval dovetailed divinely with the Hugo 2. If you’re a detail junkie, this combo deserves consideration. 

Tom Waits – Alice from Alice (24-bit/96 kHz PCM) 

Tom Waits is a musical enigma who shape-shifts between a skid-row carnival barker, a whiskey-soaked crooner, and a tin-pan alley apparition.

On this track, he leans heavily into a sweet tube mic and lays down a spoken jazz vocal that the Hugo 2 delivered absolutely brilliantly. He’s accompanied by a Paul Desmondish sax line, stand-up bass, vibes, piano, snare brushes, and other assorted magic. In my Massdrop Sennheiser 6XX cans, this song transmuted into a moody film noir with undercurrents of loss and unrequited love. 

Orchestra Baobab – Mouhamadou Bamba from Bamba: (16-bit/44.1 kHz PCM) 

Orchestra Baobab comes across as a powerhouse Afro-Carribean ensemble rather than a Senegalese music institution. Bamba compiles several of their early 80s sessions.

Mouhamadou Bamba opens with ethereal guitar and an ocean of plate reverb on the Sengalese vocals before being joined by Afro-Caribbean percussion and a pulsating reggae bass motif. A stinging tremolo-drenched overdriven guitar solo lights up the bridge with a bit of Afro Rock flavor. It’s an intoxicating blend! With the Hugo 2/2go powering the Meze 99 Classics, I noticed a touch of tape hiss sizzle in the track as I was carried blissfully away to West Africa. Meze audio cans pair exceptionally well with the Hugo 2.

John Coltrane – Afro-Blue from Live at Birdland (24-bit/192 kHz PCM) 

This track is a favorite for spotlighting the John Coltrane Quartet’s emotional and visceral power in live performance. The group drives headlong into a passionate reading of Mongo Santamaria’s classic.

Coltrane’s soprano sax soars above and inside McCoy Tyner’s fluid runs and block chords. Elvin Jones’ electrifying percussion propels the ensemble ahead while Jimmy Garrison’s double bass holds the foundation and answers Elvin’s cymbal attack. It’s genuinely mind-blowing to imagine experiencing a performance of this caliber and intensity in that tiny intimate space.

My crossfeed curiosity got the better of me when listening to this track. Using maximum crossfeed to mix channels through the warm voice of the Meze 99 Classics, I felt as if I was there when listening with my eyes closed. I’ve heard this track innumerable times and was amazed at the detail I experienced using this combination. I’ve had the opportunity to listen to some of the most esteemed headphones in existence over the last several months. The Meze Classic 99 always satisfies, even when following on the heels of Audeze’s flagship models.

Our Conclusion

The Chord Hugo 2 / 2go delivers brilliantly refined detail and warm, lush sound via its expertly designed sonics, filters, and soundstage. If you’re looking for a superior DAC/amp for headphones that also shines as an integrated component, you can’t do much better than Chord’s Hugo 2 at this price. Add Chord’s 2go, and you can easily take those sonic qualities anywhere. 

For more details, please see Chord’s partners page.

Additional Observations

  • Hugo 2 enters RMS line level mode by simultaneously holding down the power button and X-PHD buttons during power up. Though not easy to accomplish, I accidentally activated this mode while sitting down for some relaxed headphones listening. It was painfully memorable. Please use caution to avoid having a similar experience.
  • The Hugo 2’s dual headphone outputs lack individual volume controls. Volume changes affect both outputs.
  • Hugo 2’s clean design leaves no room for either an I2S or HDMI output. If either is needed, a low-cost coaxial to I2S or HDMI adapter will do the trick.
  • Hugo 2/ 2go is a tad chunky for in-pocket on-the-go use. Mojo/Mojo2/Poly is a better match if frequent mobile use is a critical requirement. 
  • Some coaxial cables may require an adapter for optimal coupling with Hugo 2’s connection points.
  • Chord products don’t offer MQA support; fans of the format will need to consider other options.

Chord Hugo 2 and 2go FAQs

Chord Electronics Hugo 2 and 2Go Review

Are the Chord Hugo 2 and 2go Roon Ready?

  • Yes, the Hugo 2 and 2go are Roon Ready! The Hugo 2, when used alone, requires a USB connection. Adding the 2go provides wireless Roon Ready streaming over your home network. 

What file formats and resolutions do the Chord Hugo 2 / 2go support?

  • Hugo 2 offers future-proof format support up to 32bit/768kHz PCM, Native DSD512, and Encapsulated DSD256.
  • 2go supports gapless PCM to 32-bit/768kHz, DSD via DoP to DSD256, and SD card DSD playback as well as FLAC, WAV, ACC, AIFF, OGG VORBIS, ALAC, WMA, and MP3 file formats. Tidal, Qobuz, Internet radio, and more with the GoFigure app.

What type of input and output connections does Hugo 2 / 2go have?

  • Hugo 2 offers four digital inputs: optical, dual configuration coaxial, Mini-USB, Roon RAAT, DNLA, AirPlay, and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity.
  • Hugo 2 analog outputs include two headphone outs: one ¼” (6.35mm) and one ⅛” (3.5mm), plus Stereo RCA out. The RCA outs remain active when using headphones.
  • 2go inputs include long-range 2.4GHz WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 A2Dp, Hotspot mode, and a Gigabit (GbE) ethernet port. 
  • 2go features dual MicroSD card slots capable of 4 TB of music storage.

How much play time do I get from a fully charged Hugo 2 / 2go?

  • Hugo 2 and 2go are each equipped with Mini-USB battery charging ports.
  • Hugo 2 provides 7-8 hours of music with a full charge. 
  • 2go provides about 10 hours of use with a full charge.
  • Hugo 2 / 2go allows around 7 to 8 hours of playback time when paired.
  • Intelligent desktop mode protects the Hugo 2 and 2go internal batteries from overcharging damage.
  • Hugo 2 will automatically power off when dormant for 15 minutes. This feature is deactivated when charging in desktop mode.
  • Hugo 2 and 2go allow tandem charging during use. A 2A (amps) or more charger is required. 
  • Hugo 2 has two charging modes: fast charge in 4 hours with a 2A charger and 8 hours with a charger rated under 2A.

Tech Specs:

Chord Hugo 2

  • Chipset: Chord Electronics custom-coded Xilinx Artix 7 (XC7A15T) FPGA
  • Tap-length: 49,152
  • Pulse array: 10-element pulse array design
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz +/- 0.2dB
  • Output stage: Class A
  • Output impedance: 0.025Ω
  • THD: <0.0001% 1kHz 3v RMS 300Ω
  • THD and noise at 3v RMS: 120dB at 1kHz 300ohms ‘A’ weighted (reference 5.3v)
  • Noise 2.6 uV ‘A’ weighted: No measurable noise floor modulation
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: 126dB ‘A’ Weighted
  • Channel separation: 135dB at 1kHz 300Ω
  • Power output @ 1kHz 1% THD: 94mW 300Ω, 740mW 32Ω, 
  • 1050mW 8Ω
  • Dimensions: 5.11″ (W) x 3.97″ (H) x 0.82″ (D)
  • Weight: 12.5 ounces

Chord 2go

  • Compatibility: For 2go to perform as a fully functional streamer, a connection with Hugo 2 (DAC/Preamp/Headphone amp) or 2yu is required.
  • Power supply: Internal battery with up to 10 hrs (approx) playback. Desktop mode activated upon insertion of Micro USB charging cable).
  • Wireless connectivity: Long-range 2.4GHz WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, A2Dp
  • WiFi modes: Connect to (allows 2go to connect to an existing 2.4GHz WiFi network) or Hotspot mode (activated within the Gofigure app, which enables 2go to broadcast its own WiFi network with SSID and password in the eventuality that the device cannot connect to a static network).
  • Wired connectivity: Gigabit (GbE) ethernet
  • PCM and DSD Support: up to 32-bit/768kHZ PCM, DSD256
  • File format support: ACC, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, OGG VORBIS, ALAC, WMA, MP3, and more…
  • Initial setup, configuration, and updates: Via the free Gofigure app for iOS and Android
  • Music storage: 2x Onboard Micro SD card slots (up to 4TB of total storage)
  • Playback: Roon Ready, DLNA (server and render), AirPlay, Bluetooth audio (A2DP), Tidal, Qobuz, Internet radio, and more coming…
  • Gapless playback: Supported
  • Dimensions: 1.96″ (W) x 3.97″ (H) x 0.82″ (D)
  • Weight: 5.6 ounces

What comes in the box?

Chord Hugo 2

  • User Manual
  •  Safety instructions
  •  Drawstring bag
  •  5V 2A Switching Micro USB power supply
  •  IR remote control
  •  Micro USB to Type-A USB cable
  •  Micro to Micro USB OTG cable
  •  Optical cable
  •  Optical to 3.5mm optical cable
  •  2x AAA batteries

Chord 2go:

  • Get started with the 2go guide
  •  Safety instructions
  •  Drawstring bag
  •  Micro USB to Type-A USB cable
  •  Ethernet cable
  •  2x locating screws
  •  Allen key 

Roon Ready Writeups: Audeze LCD-4z and LCD-5 Review

Roon Ready Writeups is back with part two of our profile on Audeze Headphones; and man, let me tell you, this is exciting stuff! In part one, we focused on the LCD-2 Classic and LCD-X and also included a how-to on using Roon’s Audeze plug-ins to take them to the next level for optimal performance and enhanced listening enjoyment.

In this segment, we’ll ascend the loftiest summits of Headphonia with two untouchables from Audeze’s flagship lineup, the LCD-4z, and LCD-5. We’ll explain the groundbreaking engineering behind their technical evolution, lighter weight, and near-indescribable sonic supremacy. Or we’ll try anyway… if we can pull ourselves away from searching for hidden audio jewels in our favorite music. But first… we should tell you that once you’ve heard these headphones, it may be impossible to get their sound out of your head.

Warning, the music produced by these headphones may be habit forming.

your friends at Roon.

Audeze has commanded a unique position among headphone and audio manufacturers since they released the original LCD-2 in 2009. They’re in that rarified space of being their own fiercest competitor in the race to reach audiophile Olympus. Audeze frequently exhibits a tendency for upsetting their own R&D apple cart by further iterating on prior achievements. They’re not the least bit hesitant to reimagine past perfection by releasing variations on models or dialing back changes to recapture the signature traits of a revered headphone. The LCD-4z and LCD-5 embody that boundary-pushing fearlessness in its purest form.

Audeze LCD-4z review

Technical Overview

Our previous article featured a brief summary of the advantages planar magnetic designs have over dynamic drivers and how those qualities benefit performance and sound quality. Audeze has what must be the most consistent and overtly successful track record of any headphone maker where planar magnetic driver development is concerned.

The future of headphone audio regularly makes its first appearance in Audeze’s Southern California factory, popping out of hardshell travel cases like a genie released from a bottle…

Audio Genie: Audeze, you have freed me from this headphone case… wow, nice case by the way! You may have three wishes; what is your command…?

Audeze: Hmmm, what can you help us with this time…? Oh, yes… Nano-scale diaphragms, Parallel Uniforce voice coils, and Fluxor magnet arrays, please!

It’s a silly trope, obviously. Audeze doesn’t really have an audio genie that magically helps with audio breakthroughs. (…or maybe they do) But their Flagship headphones certainly push tech to its limits with what feels like magic, and they’ve packed a lot of it into the LCD-4z and LCD-5’s eye-catching enclosures.

Headphones use two main components to make sound, the magnet, and the diaphragm. Three of Audeze’s most impressive audio advancements, Nano-scale diaphragms, Parallel Uniforce voice coils, and Fluxor magnet arrays, converge on those two areas. Here’s a brief rundown of what they do and how it translates to their performance and tonal signature.

A peek inside the LCD-5’s planar magnetic driver assembly

The LCD-4z and LCD-5 feature the lightest and fastest diaphragms Audeze has ever engineered! They’re made of flat sheets of strong, ultra-thin, lightweight, flexible film that’s ten times thinner than a red blood cell. The diaphragm actually weighs less than the air volume it’s able to move!

Audeze’s Parallel Uniforce voice coil is fused to the film and works in tandem with the ultra-powerful Fluxor Magnet array, producing more fluid, piston-like movement. The Uniforce voice coil is thinner in places where the magnetic field exerts greater force – because less internal current is required to activate the voice coil when the magnetic field is stronger. That triple shot of tech fuels the critical quicksilver speed, roughly around 20,000 diaphragm vibrations a second, needed for producing high frequencies and precise sound reproduction.

The diaphragm’s high elasticity more easily converts the electrical impulses moving through the voice coil into sound waves. The symbiotic partnership provides better control of diaphragm motion, higher efficiency, and heightened performance from the driver array. Once the drivers are assembled, they’re electronically matched to create better performance synergy within the headphone.

Pairing those advancements with ongoing Fazor waveguide and contoured earpad improvements culminates in the LCD-4z and LCD-5’s unsurpassed ability to bring music to life with breathtaking clarity, resolution, and accuracy. Improved efficiency results in unparalleled transient response and virtually distortion-free listening, producing the smooth precision, vivid realism, and tonal reproduction Audeze’s flagship headphones are known for.

The LCD-4z and LCD-5 result from Audeze’s alchemistic mashups of existing models and their willingness to revisit perfection to squeak more performance out of previous achievements.


The LCD-4z is extremely popular with audio professionals for its incisive technical ability, musicality, and finesse in revealing every detail in the mix. The LCD-4z’s low impedance makes it a perfect grab-and-go reference headphone. It can be driven with any portable device, but Audeze recommends at least 250 milliwatts of source output power for the best LCD-4z performance.  The LCD-4z was born by blending the LCD-X’s low impedance flexibility with the original LCD-4’s driver technology for faster transient and impulse response, more precise imaging, and deep, accurate bass with low distortion.


The newer LCD-5, introduced in 2021, was designed entirely from scratch. Audeze assembled its best in-house technology and gathered feedback on previous models when conceiving the LCD-5. According to Sankar Thiagasamudram, Audeze’s CEO, none of the LCD-5’s parts are used with other LCD models.

Their goal was to reduce weight and modernize the Audeze look while preserving and besting the sonic signature of prior Flagship models. For that, it trades the LCD-4’s double-sided 106mm magnet array in favor of a single-sided, 90mm Fluxor magnet array paired with Audeze’s updated Fazor waveguides. The LCD-5 rates at just 14 ohms impedance. It’s powerable with the headphone out of just about any device, but device output power level of at least 500mW (1/2 a watt) will produce ideal results. Clean, ample power always delivers sonic advantages.

Aesthetics and Design

The LCD-4z and LCD-5 plug right into Audeze’s familiar profile, but there are plenty of new traits to explore. Audeze are masters of subtlety; their enthusiasm to eke out even the most fractional improvements in audio technology and sound also carries over to aesthetic and cable design. These folks strive for improvement and perfection in every aspect of the development, build, and assembly process. Every pair of Audeze headphones is hand-made for better quality control in their So-Cal HQ.

Audeze LCD-4z for review


The LCD-4z’s design ingredients list includes the following:

  • High-grade aluminum.
  • New lighter-weight magnesium earcup rings and grill cover.
  • A tasty carbon fiber headband with a perforated genuine leather strap.
  • Soft black lambskin earpads filled with plump comfy memory foam.

The weight distribution and comfort of the LCD-4z are excellent, with only minimal downward and clamping pressure. An elegant splash of gold adorns the yoke logo, extension rods, gimbal lettering, and wire mesh under the grill. The earcup uses standard dual 4-pin mini-XLR connectors. Everything comes packed in a rugged, foam-padded professional travel case.

Audeze LCD-5 review


As previously mentioned, the LCD-5 was designed entirely from scratch. The grill cover, gimbal, and underlying design elements are featherweight magnesium. LCD-5 completes the redesign with a new carbon fiber headband, strap design, elegant tortoiseshell acetate earcups, and subdued black mesh inserts. The new extension rods have deeper notches for more precise sizing. A small knurled tip on the rod makes those adjustments more tactile.

LCD-5 also includes Audeze’s latest and greatest sculpted earpad design. The new pad slopes downward toward the driver in a near-triangular shape that minimizes contact with the listener’s head creating a better seal on more surfaces. The design optimizes the acoustic chamber inside the earpad, reduces resonance, improves air control, smooths frequency response, and enhances definition across all frequencies. The seal, clamp, and design benefits are most evident in the tight, controlled low-end. We’ll cover sound quality in more detail soon.

The new pads aren’t as plush as those of other LCD models, but they’re a noticeable improvement and no less comfortable. The pads are glued on. And boy, do some internet folks have stuff to say about that! Audeze explains that gluing is still the best way to attach the pads for uncompromised sound quality and promises they’ll modify their process if they find something that works better.

I’ll happily take their word on that. They’ve built many more amazing headphones models than I ever have. The score is something like 30 to zip in favor of Audeze. So we’ll stick to the “they’ll make them, and I’ll write about them” arrangement, given that’s what we’re both best at.

It’s my assessment that Audeze nailed its vision for the LCD-5 on all fronts. The design strategy execution is flawless, especially concerning comfort. It weighs in at under 15 ounces for their lightest headphone yet. These are easily as comfortable as the Meze 109 PRO and Meze 99 Classic/NEO, the previous occupants of the top spots in my “most comfortable headphones ever” shortlist.

As I write this, someone somewhere on the internet is moaning as if the LCD-5 has the gravitational pull of a black hole. Before you let random weight complaints from people you don’t know shape your thinking, please try them first. Anyone whose focus is on the comfort and clamping force of the LCD-5 instead of how rapturous they sound is paying too much attention to the wrong stuff. Not to put down folks’ opinions, but really… it’s the sound, man.

Sound Impressions

I’ll begin this section by saying that I may struggle to adequately convey what these headphones sound like. There are certain times when words utterly fail to capture the emotional impact of our experiences with music. And the LCD-4z and LCD-5 exude musical qualities that are simply beyond the reach of written language. But I’ll still give it the old college try.

Both models are cited as reference headphones by audio professionals. Listening to either instantly reveals why; they deliver transparency, accuracy, resolution, and the joy of music in a way that has to be heard to be properly understood. Detail retrieval and responsiveness are taken to previously unheard levels.

Transients and instrumental decays resolve thoroughly. The leading edges of notes are crisp, and dynamics are preternaturally agile. Imaging is hyper-precise; the staging width is natural with a slight foreground and good depth but varies depending on the production characteristics of the source track. Instrumental layering is excellent, and sheer technical performance is outstanding. Audio detail can be reductionist if required for forensically examining mixes.

If you’re a listener who yearns for a deep connection with lyrical poetry and vocals when listening to music, you should definitely audition the LCD-4z and LCD-5. There’s an incandescent immediacy, intimacy, and expressiveness to both that I’ve only heard in recording studios, live performances, and these headphones. It’s almost as if you’re part of the music, inside it in some way.

Their phenomenal presentation of vocals reminds me of the first time I experienced an Aphex Aural Exciter in person during a recording session. It sounded like the engineer had sprinkled pixie dust on the vocal track. It was infused with sparkle, life, and a near three-dimensional realism. But it somehow didn’t sound the least bit like we had patched in an outboard effect. I was blown away. The LCD-4z and LCD-5 produce similarly captivating vocal excitement while feeling entirely neutral and transparent.

Audeze LCD-4z review


The LCD-4z has a very linear tonal presentation across the entire frequency spectrum. It may measure otherwise, so I’ll clarify that I’m simply describing what the headphone sounds like to me – because I listen to music with my ears, not measurement tools. I’m not knocking measurement graphs, though, if you dig that stuff. They can be interesting, but equally deceptive.

The bass is rich, round, yummy – and natural. I credit that to driver design’s technical abilities more than tuning trickery. Bass extension is generous with great heft and no discernible sub-bass roll-off. Hearing a Hammond B3 organ cat dig in with proper drawbar chops is gloriously ASMR-inducing through the LCD-4z!

The Mids are truly decadent, with unmatched richness, verve, and presence that’s free of all artificiality. Instrumentation and vocals exude in-the-room-immediacy, yet don’t feel unnaturally pushed.

The Treble is exceptionally sweet and linear to the ear. The perceived volume of treble frequencies can fool chart readers. The LCD-4z has excellent air and brilliance, lively abundant detail retrieval, resolution, and clarity are all appropriately measured out and don’t feel fiddled with.

For my personal tastes, the LCD-4z is now my favored headphone for listening to music.


The descriptive power of words rather gives up the ghost when attempting to capture how transcendent music sounds when heard through the LCD-5. I’ll start by saying their technical abilities are genuinely startling when you first listen to them. I thought there might be marginal sound quality gains over the LCD-4z, but there’s much more going on than I initially expected. Despite that, the LCD-5 doesn’t exude an overly clinical nature. Far from it, in fact, yet gazing into mixes for detail retrieval, accuracy, and error checking is effortless when required.

The LCD-5 has an exceptionally linear perceived tonal cohesion. I’ve seen measurement charts and read reviews that say otherwise. But I’ll emphasize again that measurements and how we actually perceive frequency loudness when listening to headphones don’t always jive. That’s why it’s essential to actually listen and form your own sound-quality opinions. We all hear things differently; our ears are the ultimate authority.

Audeze LCD-5 review

The LCD-5s have natural, full-bodied, wonderfully rounded, meaty bass that’s capable of astonishing depth. There’s slightly less warmth when compared to the LCD-4z, but bass energy is abundant, tight, and nimble, thanks to the compounded audio tech that’s packed into the driver design. Bass texture and character are unquestionably the best I’ve ever heard. There’s subtle skin grain to hand percussion and congas. Full kit drum voices are more substantial, especially on toms and kick drums. The legends of Jazz drumming are a revelation when heard through these. Some critics have dismissed the LCD-5’s bass chops, but my take is that they never stoop to shoveling artificially EQ’d bass gunk down our ear holes, and I’m absolutely cool with that.

Mids are positively amazing, exuding in-the-room resolution, dynamics, and tonal color that exceeds anything else I’ve ever heard in a headphone. There’s simply unbelievable life-like music energy on display here that I’ve only previously experienced in the studio or live performance. The LCD-5 is especially stunning when delivering classic rock, heavy soul, live albums, jazz, classical pieces, and acoustic singer-songwriters. Piano tracks are incredibly commanding. The LCD-5 delivers the finest piano reproduction I’ve heard. Chordal resonance and decay within the body resolve fully with thoroughly organic character.

Where the LCD-5 delivers pure, unadulterated, sonic gold is with voices. Vocal intimacy and nuance are three-dimensional, magnificently vivid, strikingly true-to-life, and unrivaled by any other headphones I’ve reviewed or heard previously.

Upper mid-range energy is a bit pronounced in the LCD-5 initially. It settles down nicely as the headphones break in, however. I’ve seen a few reviewers call the LCD-5’s upper mids shouty. I didn’t experience that personally and suspect those remarks could have been prompted by the production values of the source material rather than shortcomings with the LCD-5’s upper mids/treble border management. The LCD-5’s DSP preset in Roon smoothed the upper mids handily when I applied it, even before the LCD-5s had thoroughly broken in.

The perceived volume of treble frequencies can deceive measurement chart adherents. Audeze really nailed the treble tuning in my assessment. There’s nothing missing here, to my ears. Air and brilliance feel natural and blend seamlessly with upper mids. Treble representation is sensed more than heard in some frequency ranges. Much of what we’re listening for is a thin layer of sweetening to the mids and upper mids that adds sparkle to instrumentation and vocals.

In some cases, that comes from delicate shading in timbre, texture, and grain. One of the most conspicuous differences between the LCD-4z and LCD-5 is in their treatment of these subtitles. Vocal overtones, snare spring sizzle, and cymbal decay tails are the best I’ve heard anywhere. Vocal harmonies give way to more clearly discernable individual voice attributes.

All told transparency, accuracy, and detail surpass anything I’ve heard before. Instrumental and vocal realism is supernatural. Listening to music through the LCD-5 is transformative; I don’t know what else to say.

Listening Notes

For close listening, I drove the LCD-4z and LCD-5 with the Roon Ready iFi NEO Stream feeding a Mytek THX AAA HPA amp using Audeze’s stock premium single-ended cable plugged into the HPA’s unbalanced input. Tracks were sourced from Qobuz and TIDAL and rendered at their native sample rates, indicated below. 

The Turtles – Elenore from The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands  (24-bit/96 kHz PCM)

The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands was released to showcase the band’s songwriting and artistic versatility. The album playfully masquerades as a various artists’ “Battle of the Bands” record, with The Turtles performing under different names for each musical style. Elenore, a perfect specimen of chamber pop and the band’s talent, was initially conceived as a throw-away parody. It was written in under an hour and designed to quiet their record label’s constant demands for a sequel to their smash hit “Happy Together.” Despite vocalist and writer Howard Kaylan’s heavy use of saccharine lyrical clichés, the song became a surprise Top 10 single. Thanks in no small part to its divine harmonies, lush arrangement, and radiant production – all of which shine beautifully when heard with the LCD-4z and LCD-5.


Plenty has been said about the LCD-4z’s prowess for letting audio professionals and listeners peer deep into dense mixes, and this track highlights that strength. Elenore gets underway with punchy propulsive piano chords, hand percussion, bass guitar, and the lovely lead vocal. The full kit, guitar, and a luminescent wall of harmony vocals join in for the chorus. One of the earliest pop music appearances of a Moog synthesizer sneaks into the second verse, adding an additional whimsical motif and unexpected tonal color.  

The LCD-4z’s tonal balance and cohesion are superb. The presentation overall is very full, smooth, and linear. The track’s production has loads of mid-range energy, but the layering of instrumentation remains uncluttered even when we’re hit with that enormous glistening vocal chorus. Elenore is a dainty pop stunner without a heavy bottom end, so there’s not much bass chat for this particular track. Highs are perfectly dialed in and lifelike. The multitracked harmonies are wonderfully airy and articulate. Snare snaps and cymbal shimmer are crisp and vivid.

A lot is going on in the mix, but detail retrieval is effortless and highly satisfying. The soundstage is realistic and natural, with excellent depth. Imaging is laser precise; every instrumental element in the mix has plenty of space to breathe and contribute. Resolution is exceptional; reverb tails and instrumental decay resolve completely. The LCD-4z’s vocal presentation is intimate and wonderfully expressive. The multitracked lead vocal and layered harmonies are breathtakingly vivid, with incredible presence and excitement. The reverb decay at the end of the track is a thumbnail portrait of the LCD-4’s technical performance capabilities. 


As I said earlier in our sound impressions summary, the technical abilities of the LCD-5 are truly startling when first experienced. I thought there might be a marginal difference between it and the LCD-4z, but Elenore has a lot more to survey than I expected. 

Transparency, accuracy, and detail transcend anything I’ve heard before, and realism is extraordinary. Vocal intimacy is unmatched, very close sounding, and exceptionally clear. With minimal effort, vocals can be examined as if they were isolated tracks. The same can be said of all the instrumentation. At the same time, the LCD-5 isn’t overly clinical and doesn’t reduce songs to their component parts.

The remarkable difference in texture delivery between the models is clearly highlighted. The shimmer of the snare spring and cymbal splash has a more crisply defined nature. The layered harmonies reveal individual voice timbres more clearly. The lively mid-range energy in this track comes through like a technicolor cannon. It’s genuinely incredible.

Neil Young – Heart of Gold from Harvest 50th Anniversary Edition (24-bit/192 kHz PCM)

Chances are good that neither the artist, track, nor album requires any introduction. If they do, a selection of gifted music writers have taken the fact-finding plunge on this album and surfaced with pearls. I picked up the 50th Anniversary box set of Harvest to have the physical book, even if I find streaming the music from Roon easier and more enjoyable. I was eager to hear what Audeze’s flagship would do with Neil’s most popular album. 


Neil’s classic comes through the LCD-4z like molten honey. This track explains why people call this a warm, rich tuning. Heart of Gold is perfect for these headphones. I’m sure the same could be said for most classic or live-album rock. 

This is an overly familiar track, the kind we almost soft-tune and listen to passively because we’ve heard it so frequently. But the LCD-4z opens up the mix revealing hidden veins of diamonds in the lush, dense acoustic arrangement.

The tonal saturation of the guitars is sweet and shimmering. The bass is warm and close, locking up snuggly with the spare drumming. The air from the harmonica, acoustics, and steel guitar slide through the upper register smoothly. The snare has a crisp snap. Reverb tails are abundant and fun to chase.

Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor’s backing vocals provide a wonderful vocal contrast with Neil’s lead in the final chorus. The balance between instrumentation and vocals is perfect. The mix sounds incredible in these headphones and has more foreground and overall depth than the previous track.

Carefully chosen reference tracks help demonstrate that the LCD-4z gives you precisely what’s in the final mix and presents it with better sound quality than you’ve ever heard.


..until you put on the LCD-5! Similar to Elenore, this is another step up in detail and resolution. A significant difference here, though, is that Heart of Gold has a great bass line, a lopping drum shuffle, and more layered guitars to work with, and it makes the absolute most of all of it. The LCD-5’s driver advancements step forward confidently. The tonal presentation is so balanced and natural but has wonderful fullness and radiates live music energy. This is the most detailed, rich, and nuanced presentation I expect to ever hear of Neil’s intoxicating early 70s classic. 

Charles Mingus – Better Git Hit in Your Soul from Mingus at Antibes (16-bit/44.1 kHz PCM)

Charles Mingus was a volatile larger-than-life jazz composer, bassist, personality, and legend. He’s often credited with helping anchor hard bop as one of jazz’s most popular hybrid strains. Mingus routinely drew inspiration from gospel, blues, and R&B feeding it all through a funky, deep-swinging, rollicking jazz engine that all his own. Mingus once said that the best jazz performances should feel like a Black gospel tent revival and claimed that this live 1960 Jazz à Juan Festival was one occasion when his Jazz Workshop bottled lightning.


The track opens with light applause and audience chatter as Mingus propels the piece forward with a peppy bass intro before the Dolphy, Ervin, and Curson horn trifecta jump in with a jubilant motif that channels Mingus’s lat 50s pantomime The Clown. Spirited vocal call-and-response erupts among the Workshop cats who are laying out during solo breaks. It’s a tour de force display that swings with euphoric intensity.

The band and audience provide handclaps when members first lay in for their solo helpings. Curson leads with sweet and peppery trumpet choruses. Booker Ervin cuts a huge bluesy trench through the track’s sonic tapestry. The always transcendent Eric Dolphy twists himself into driving stream-of-consciousness soulful riffs than come straight out of jazz Shambala. Dannie Richmond cranks his kit up to crackling tempos punctuated with break-neck stop-on-a-dime rumbling tom rolls as counterpoint. Richmond is a criminally underrated jazz drummer whose name should be heard mentioned among the greats.

The full ensemble leans in on the follow-up solo choruses, stoking the rhythmic coals beneath each soloist, eliciting soaring ecstatic bursts of impassioned riffs from each member in turn. Mingus unexpectedly decamps from the upright bass to pound the defenseless piano during the melee, further provoking the kinetic instrumental frenzy.

I’ll never forget my first experiences with this track. I’ve enjoyed it tremendously over the years and used to spin it regularly on a jazz radio show. The imaging, detail, and staging are better on this recording than any other I’ve demoed thus far. It showcases the LCD-4z’s jazz presentation chops wonderfully. You gotta hear it.


The same “better everything and more of it” treatment we’ve gotten thus far is ladled on Better Git Hit in Your Soul – as if answering the call to action in the track title! Transparency and detail are of much finer granularity revealing macro details. A previously unnoticed listener near Mingus’ recorder can be heard saying “cool bass” at about twelve seconds in.

Textural subtleties are more distinct. The voice-like approach of each of the horn cats shines through with greater sass and funk now. Mingus’ outbursts are even more comically beatific. I’m wiped out from the sheer joy of listening and feel like I’ve just witnessed the performance from the festival orchestra pit – four times in a row!


The LCD-4z and LCD-5 exude musical qualities that are simply beyond the reach of written language.

Audeze’s LCD-4z and LCD-5 represent the apex of headphone audio technology and sound quality -and they come with a price that speaks for the astounding innovation and sensory euphoria they deliver.

They pull the listener into a sonic wonderland that is nearly impossible to leave. I was able to hear detail and texture I’d never heard previously in music I’d listened to for my entire life. And not from tomfoolery or trickery – but from audio technology, innovation, and passion that delivers the most vivid, natural, transparent, thrilling, and soul-stirring headphone experience currently available. 

Listening to these headphones is just about the best experience I’ve ever had with recorded music. That’s a profound statement because music is a daily staple of my life and has been for decades. If you’re searching for headphones that will transport you to the heart and soul of music. The LCD-4z and LCD-5 will take you there.

For more details, please see Audeze’s partners page.

Additional Observations

  • The LCD-5s push a lot of mid-range energy than generally heard from Audeze headphones initially. It naturally dissipates as they break in and the diaphragm is exercised. The Audeze DSP plug-in for the The LCD-5 in Roon also smooths it out very nicely.
  • There may have been an issue with the sizing rods on our review model of the LCD-4z. They were too relaxed for my taste. Several times during wear, they suddenly extended a notch or two, even with very slight head movement. It was a distraction that occasionally detracted from my listening enjoyment. The LCD-2C, LCD-X, and LCD-5 didn’t have that problem.
  • Both models ship with Audeze’s premium black and white crystal-infused 2.5m OCC copper cable. It’s a high-quality, flexible, tangle-free cable with a non-microphonic jacket. Many headphone buyers like to swap cables. Audeze’s premium cable wouldn’t need an upgrade.
  • 60s Chamber Pop tracks with layered harmonies sounded unbelievable through these headphones. The Beach Boys, Rascals, Lovin’ Spoonful, Byrds, The Association, and Simon & Garfunkel were hugely satisfying when heard through either the LCD-4z or LCD-5.
  • If you’re into classic or live album rock, give these headphones a try. They have incredible synergy with those genres.

Tech Specs:


  • Driver Type: Planar magnetic
  • Magnetic structure: Double Fluxor™ magnet array
  • Ear Cup Design: Open back
  • Phase Management: Fazor
  • Transducer Size: 106mm
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 50kHz
  • THD: <0.1% @ 100dB
  • Sensitivity: 98 dB/1mW
  • Impedance: 15 Ω
  • Weight: 1 lb, 1 ounce
  • Materials: Steel, magnesium, aluminum, carbon fiber, leather, memory foam 
  • Warranty period: 1-3 years


  • Driver Type: Planar magnetic
  • Magnetic structure: Double Fluxor™ magnet array
  • Ear Cup Design: Open back
  • Phase Management: Fazor
  • Transducer Size: 90mm
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 50kHz
  • THD: <0.1% @ 100dB
  • Sensitivity: 90 dB/1mW
  • Impedance: 14 Ω
  • Weight: 14.8 ounces
  • Materials: Steel, magnesium, aluminum, acetate, carbon fiber, leather, memory foam 
  • Warranty period: 1-3 years

What comes in the box:


  • LCD-4z headphones
  • Audeze premium travel case
  • Premium 1.9m 1/4″ to dual 4-pin mini-XLR cable
  • Product paperwork


  • LCD-5 headphones
  • Premium aluminum travel case 
  • Premium braided 2.5m Cable 4-Pin XLR Balanced cable
  • 4-Pin XLR to 1/4″ adapter
  • White cotton gloves
  • Product paperwork
  • 2 keys