RMAF’s headphone-centric step-child is CanJam. It’s organised and run by Head-Fi founder Jude Mansilla. Mosey on through the lobby, past the bar, then to the right of the gym and you’ll be rewarded with a hall space that houses ninety percent of RMAF’s headphone-related exhibits.
The biggest story at the Audeze table was the first public outing of their new, exceedingly handsome LCD-4 headphone whose meaty, dynamic sound will no doubt please existing brand acolytes. The price probably less so: US$4000. Remember when, back in 2012, high-end headphone choices barely broke the US$1500 marker?
Moreover, with a double dose of Audeze’s Fluxor magnets propelling the LCD-4’s nano-tech driver, its on-head weight will do nothing to convince detractors that Audeze ‘phones are simply too heavy for extended listening sessions. That’s why we have the HiFiMAN HE-1000 and the new Edition X (more on which in later post). The LCD-4 are for idealists whose aim is to summit the head-fi peak…which one could argue is continually being moved just out of reach.
Wanna ensure the LCD-4 can go where you go? You’ll need a dedicated amplifier for both home and away.
Bricking it – it ain’t a pretty sight. Strap an external amplifier and/or DAC to an iPhone and the audible end result must rise above the compromise of the newly-built stack whose rubber band binding threatens to obscure screen real estate. Cable terminations that protrude from both ends of the twofer threatens proper pocket-ability. To idealists, the inconvenience of extra bulk is worth it.
Audeze’s all-new Cypher Cable is a sleek for pragmatists. Designed to feed Audeze’s more affordable EL-8 headphone, the Cypher Cable is reportedly the world’s first fully Apple-accredited Lightning headphone cable. Bypassing the iPhone’s internal DAC and amplifier stage entirely and powered by the phone itself, the Cypher extracts digital audio from the the Apple device via its Lightning port.
How does it work? The Cypher’s in-line, slightly-oversized microphone and remote control takes care of business – all of it. Audeze have sidestepped the common-or-garden DAC chip choice coupled to a separate headphone driver in favour of an all-in-one solution: a ‘system-on-a-chip’ hosts Audeze code that 1) keeps power consumption suitably low and 2) applies DSP before decoding and electrifying the EL-8’s driver with an optimising (bespoke) signal.
The promise? Better sound without the hassle of bricking it. The Cypher also performs more traditional remote control functions like forward/next, play/pause and integrates with Siri via an ADC.
There is also talk of a dedicated iOS app down the line that will hopefully bring new features to the Cypher via firmware upgrade.
The Cypher cable is an Apple-approved accessory and Audeze must still wait for the final sign-off from Cupertino. Both the product and the packaging must be approved by Apple. Full accreditation is expected to arrive sometime in November.
Existing EL-8 owners will need to exercise some patience though. Audeze will sell the Cypher cable only as part of a special edition ‘Titanium’-finished EL-8 bundle for US$799. Think of the EL-8 + Cypher Cable combination as an active headphone that behaves similarly to active loudspeakers like KEF’s X300A.
Oh – by the way – I asked: it’s ‘Aw-duh-zee’ and NOT ‘Ordeez’.
Further information: Audeze
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