Audeze LCD2 Classic Open Over-Ear Planar Magnetic Headphones Page 2


Sound Quality
In general, the LCD2 Classic is neutral with a slightly warming roll-off above 1kHz. My experience of the Audeze LCD line when they went to Fazors is that they lost a bit of bass heft and dynamics, but made gains in finesse and resolve. Listening to the LCD2C definitely harkens back to that earlier sound signature.

Bass response is dead flat and very well extended. I'd like a little more bass level below 120Hz, but I couldn't ask for better bass response quality. The low notes are wonderfully tight and well textured, and extend effortlessly into lowest, Adam's apple wobbling, octave.

Midrange balance is spot on until it begins a long roll-off starting at 1kHz. This tends to make the fundamental of vocals and instruments a bit more prominent than the overtones, which can make them sound a bit shouty at times.

On the other hand, it's a bit hard to separate any tendency for shoutiness from the astonishing dynamic impact of the LCD2C. Though not quite the baseball bat to the forehead delivery of the Focal Elear and, to a lesser extent Utopia, the LCD2C is a tremendously punchy sounding headphone. And unlike the Focals, the LCD2C does seem to have good soundstage width and depth, though it's probably a little less spacious than average and can tend towards blobs of sound left, right, and center with some material.

Along with being a little laid back, treble response is a bit grainy sounding to me. Cymbal fundamentals are stronger than the shimmering overtones making them slightly more 'clangy' sounding then they ought be. Coupled with the slightly grainy sound and strong dynamics, I find them just a tad more aggressive than I like. On the other hand, the dip in response between 4kHz and 6kHz does a good job of getting rid of some harshness, many rock and pop recordings will benefit from having the edge taken off a bit. This combination of being both assertive and forgiving give me the impression that this is a good headphone for contemporary popular music.

The good news is that measurements made both by me and others show the LCD2C has extraordinarily low distortion. So while they can be punchy and a little lacking in treble smoothness, they never get hard sounding...even at higher volumes. It seems to me this is what ties these headphones together for a solid listening experience: super low distortion; superb dynamics; a treble, though a bit grainy, that doesn't offend; and deep, controlled bass response.

Unfortunately, I don't have an LCD2 on hand to compare it with, so I grabbed my LCD-3 and LCD-X along with current Wall of Fame resident the MrSpeaker Aeon Flow Open for some comparative listening.

Audeze LCD-X - The first thing that's obvious right off the bat is how much more efficient the LCD-X is; it took a while to get used to how much volume control change was needed to switch between them quickly and have a good starting volume. Once I got past that the next thing to become obvious is how similar these two cans sound. The LCD2C seems to be a solid affordable alternative to the LCD-X.

While the LCD-X did seem a bit more refined, possibly due to the Fazor, it also seemed to have a bit less dynamic punch and bass resolve. On the other hand, the LCD2C seemed a bit more veiled sounding. That was a surprise as measurements show these two cans have quite similar response in the 1kHz to 5kHz area. But in switching back and forth, every time I went to the LCD2C I heard this slightly more muffled sound. None the less, these differences were quite small and the two headphones sound far more alike than different.

Audeze LCD-3 - Again, these two cans are quite similar in tone, but the more liquid and refined LCD-3 is a stronger contrast to the drier and slightly grainy sound of the LCD2C. I've always thought the LCD-X sounded a bit drier than the other models and this listening bore out that impression.

Still, if you're looking for impact and a snappy response, it seems the LCD2C continues to produce a dynamic punch the other models don't quite seem to have. I suppose that' the nature of trade-offs: You can either have snap and punch, or you can have liquid and smooth, but you can't have both. Generally, I'd say the LCD-3 is the more enjoyable listening experience, but I can certainly see many folks who will be pleased with the dynamism of the LCD2C.

MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Open - While the LCD2C is a mildly warm headphone, the Aeon Flow Open is even warmer. It's clearly a less neutral headphone with a relaxed presence region and a somewhat emphasized upper bass/low midrange. Thing is, it's a sound that's right up my alley. Bass lovers and those averse to treble brightness will easily prefer the Aeon over the LCD2C.

If you're interested in a snappy, present response however, the dynamics of the LCD2C is likely to win you over. I feel this is a pretty clear example of two headphones with differing responses that remain within bounds of good taste but offer solid alternatives for those with different listening preferences. In fact, I would say these two cans would complement each other quite well in the quiver of a headphone enthusiast who wants alternatives on hand to suite various moods and music. It is a hobby after all, one headphone is probably never enough for a die-hard headphone geek.

Reveal Plug-In
Audeze does produce an equalization tool for profesional and enthusiast listeners called the Reveal Plug-In that works with a number of digital audio workstations and playback software. I use JRiver's Media Center 21 and downloaded the plug-in during this evaluation. Listening to pink noise and turning the Reveal EQ on and off made quite clear what was going on, which was an adjustment to to balance out the response in the presence region. The adjustment was modest, tasteful, and did produce a more natural sounding cymbal balance. I would recommend this plug-in for Audeze headphone users.

The LCD2 Classic is a well, if unusually, balanced effort by Audeze to bring the perfomance of their LCD product line to a sub-$1000 price point. Build quality and materials are top notch at this price. The new crystal-infused nylon rings appear to be brutally sturdy; the new braided cable is ergonomically excellent. On the other hand accessories are stark. Only a plain cardboard shipping box with foam cutouts is included. I recommend viewing the optionally available $125 carry case as a near mandatory purchase in addition to complete the package, making this a $924 headphone.

While I would consider this a slightly warm headphone, with a somewhat laid back presence region, it delivers a very snappy listening experience. Bass is very tight and well textured; midrange is nicely neutral; presence region is a bit laid back. Treble region tends to sound a bit grainy to me; I'd call it a slightly dry presentation. The LCD2 Classic has extremely low distortion and, to me, this provides a clarity the ties the sound together well despite any modest treble grain or presence area tonal imbalance. I find this to be a great rock and pop headphone—the somewhat relaxed response 4kHz to 6kHz does a good job of filtering out the hash often found with this genre.

The LCD2 Classic will make the Wall of Fame as a more snappy alternative to the romantic and warm sound of the MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Open. Audeze has done a very tidy job of bringing their high-end sound down to more affordable prices. Thank you!

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Audeze home page and LCD2 Classic product page. measurement and impressions threads. impressions thread.

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hemingway's picture

I would like to know his listening impressions!

Jon Iverson's picture
Should be all there now.