• Audeze LCD2 Classic Review

    January 1, 2018 Luckbad 0

    The Audeze LCD2 Classics (aka LCD2C) are a love letter to the original LCD2 headphones that put Audeze on the map in 2009.

    They were recently introduced with a special holiday price of $599 and an MSRP of $799.

    Since its release in 2009, our original LCD2 headphone has been an industry favorite amongst passionate listeners everywhere.

    Audeze proudly presents a new take on our classic LCD2 design. The new LCD2c headphone comes with a lightweight suspension headband, special crystal-infused nylon rings, remodeled audio jacks, and features the slightly warm sound signature of the original LCD2 driver.

    Rather than a compiled retrospective review, I decided to present stream of consciousness impressions. This will reveal the journey I took while listening rather than being published as a proper summary review.

    Features

    • Planar magnetic drivers for better dynamics and frequency response
    • Leather-free earpads and spring steel suspension headband

    Package Includes

    • 1.9m 1/4in to dual 4-pin mini-XLR cable
    • Travel case not included

    Specifications

    • Style: Over-ear, open-back
    • Transducer Type: Planar magnetic
    • Magnetic Structure: Proprietary magnet array
    • Magnet Type: Neodymium N50
    • Diaphragm Type: Ultra-thin
    • Transducer Size: 106 mm
    • Maximum Power Handling: 15W
    • Maximum SPL: >130dB
    • Frequency Response: 10Hz – 50kHz
    • THD: <0.1% @ 100dB
    • Impedance: 70 ohms
    • Sensitivity: 101dB/1mw (at Drum Reference Point)
    • Power Requirement: >100mW

    Stream of Consciousness Impressions

    Days 1-2

    • Note that I just bought these and picked them up at Audeze HQ because they’re less than 20 minutes away. I could technically return them, but would likely only do so if they seem faulty in some way (they do allow 30 days money-back though).
    • I don’t get why people are bent out of shape about the introductory holiday pricing. Lots of beloved manufacturers offer earlybird pricing (ZMF, Eddie Current, Cavalli, to name a few). Given, most of them are more boutique than Audeze, but I don’t see it as a problem.
    • Build quality is rather good. These don’t look ultra sexy like the Focal Clears, but they are very solidly built.
    • Initial comfort level = very high. Like a head cloud. A cumulonimbus cloud. Thank you for the ear room, Audeze!
    • Firing up my headphone test playlist… Is the right driver ringing? WTF? Maybe not. Guajira Antiguan-Flamenco Mystico by Gino D’Auri is the culprit. It’s actually ringing on the guitar that I’ve never noticed so prominently. A quick swap to the Focal Clears and it’s still there, but much less pronounced. Some sort of frequency emphasis on the Audeze? Channel swapping yields the ringing on the left driver, so it’s not an issue with the right driver.
    • Bass. Quite good for an open headphone. The Focal Clear has similar bass quality, but the LCD2C wins. I actually don’t hate electronic music with them (I usually don’t bother with open cans and anything electronic. I always switch to closed/IEMs).
    • There seems to be a bit of a resonant hash somewhere in the treble. Maybe mids too.
    • I need to stop switching between these and the Focal Clears because the latter are so much clearer. They’re very different headphones.
    • These definitely have some wool on ’em. A bit of fog. More of a veil than my modded HD650s. A dense head cloud, just like the comfort.
    • I like these for heavier rock and modern pop more than the Clears. The Clears emphasize the junk in many of these recordings. LCD2C are way more forgiving and can be played louder without burning my ears.
    • These sound to me like what the AudioQuest Nighthawk wanted to sound like (Note: I don’t hate those cans like a lot of people do, either).
    • Going back to build quality. These are sort of industrial in their build. I feel like I can safely set them down wherever and even drop them on the floor without freaking out. This is something that has served me well over the years with the HD650s.
    • Why do I love these headphones already? They’re veiled. Dark. They’re kinda dull. They don’t do many things better than the Sennheiser HD650. And I have a demo pair of Focal Clears sitting right here too. The Clears sound better. But I want the LCD2 Classics on my head anyway.
    • People complaining about how much these weigh must be frail individuals with small heads and minimal brain matter. I know I’ll regret typing that tomorrow when I have neck pain. Update: Nope my neck doesn’t hurt.
    • I’m not usually inclined to fix a headphone’s frequency response with EQ these days, but for some reason I feel like I should keep these and optimize the frequency response.
    • I totally get what “blobby soundstage” means now. On some songs it’s like there is a gap between the music in my head. Weird. Update: Day 2, I’m not hearing this as much. Brain adjustment, most likely.
    • Weird crinkle sound when the earpads seal (p.s. these pads seal big time even though the headphones are open). Looks like that’s a thing with LCDs. Drivers moving? Shrug.
    • These are better than HD650s for pop. Not my favorite genre, but it does do something better than them. Electronic and hip hop as well.
    • I have less to say about these than the Clears because I keep forgetting I’m typing stream-of-consciousness impressions. That is a good thing. With the Clears, every time I had to adjust the headphone placement or turn the volume down a bit to reduce fatigue, I contemplated another bullet point.
    • They’re starting to sound more neutral to me on day 2. Probably because I’m acclimating to them, not because I burned them in overnight.
    • Found another type of music I like with them over HD650s. Classical with harpsichords has never been my jam, but I’m digging Brandenburg Concerto No 5. with the Audezes. I think I also prefer classic rock with these. Tom Petty is relaxing right into my heart with them.
    • When I bought these I thought to myself, “it’s safe. You can return the things for a full refund if you need to. No biggie.” I don’t plan to return them. While not immediately impressive like Focal Clears, they really grew on me.
    • I need to find a longer cable for them. I suppose I should just find aftermarket connectors and make a longer balanced cable. The stock cable is not long enough to listen in my recliner.
    • These have me interested in the LCD-MX4 and LCD-4 (if they ever drop down to a much more reasonable price).
    • I wonder if they’re going to do a Reveal profile for these. It’s weird that they launched these headphones and the plugin almost simultaneously but don’t have a profile for it. The LCD-2 profile does not work for them. It makes them sound distant and a little tinny.

    Days 3-4

    • The earpads on the Audeze LCD2 Classics seal. However, that pressure is relieved fairly quickly. Think of lifting a washcloth out of water. It sucks on the water surface, but the water drains out of it after you lift it up.
    • These are actually pretty open, despite that initial seal. And the sound signature doesn’t change dramatically if you slightly break the seal like some headphones. It’s almost a more balanced sound, if I’m honest. Glasses wearers need not worry.
    • The treble roughness is something I’d like to EQ out, but it’s tough without a proper measurement rig. Maybe someone else will attack that issue. Not looking to eradicate it, but I’d like to gently bring it in to be a bit smoother.
    • I just put the HD650s on for the first time in a few days mid-song on The Cars – Just What I Needed. This emphasizes how much better the Audezes are to me for classic rock. Modded HD650s sound much less engaging for this style of music.
    • I stayed up until after 2AM listening to these last night. No fatigue, no discomfort, just exploring parts of my library and TIDAL that I’ve not visited for years.
    • I used to have a pair of Audeze Vegan pads. I’m going to see if I can get some when it starts warming up because that material warmed my ears less.
    • I’m actually finding some of my orchestral music quite enjoyable on these now. I’ve largely acclimated to the sound at this point and appreciate the big bass without hearing the veil nearly as much today.
    • I wish the stock cable was a few feet longer. Since only one cable is included it’s better to go longer than most people need (stock cable is ~6 feet).
    • Balanced cable plan: Grab my extra single-ended HD650 cable, chop off all the ends, get a pair of Switchcraft TA4FX for the tiny-XLRs and Switchcraft AAA4MZ for the other end.
    • Curious. The official Audeze designation for these is “LCD2 Classic” or “LCD2C.” Other LCDs have a hyphen in the name, so I would expect them to be “LCD-2 Classic.”
    • Apparently the outer grills are flipped-over and reprinted LCD-3 grills. Found by TheIceman93.
    • These headphones are the girl next door. You might not fully appreciate them the moment you lay eyes on them, but they grow on you and you come to love them deeply.
    • Confirmed that “Audeze” isn’t pronounced like “aww deez nutz,” but like “odyssey” with a bunch of zeezzz when I went to pick them up at Audeze HQ.
    • Also, Tyll Hertsens is still pronounced like “tile,” not “till.” Who knew? Someone let me know if that changes.

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    Some quick preliminary basshead EQ: 20Hz, Q 0.7, Gain +7.5; 1100Hz, Q 6.2, Gain -2; 5000Hz, Q 8.2, Gain +3; 7500Hz, Q 4, Gain -2

    Summary

    Why I would buy the Audeze LCD2 Classics

    • Legit Audeze LCD planar magnetic headphones for well under four figures? Yes please.
    • I’ve heard LCD-2s in the past that I coveted and others that I thought were lame. These remind me more of the former than the latter. And at $599!?! Even at $799 they’re a good price.
    • Much better bass quality and extension than my Sennheiser HD650s.
    • They do certain genres better than the HD650s. They’re complementary to my main cans while still excelling with my my main amplifier (Cavalli Liquid Crimson).
    • They are very comfortable to wear, from the pillowy earpads to the ample suspension headband. These are my favorite earpads (FYI, I haven’t used Aeon Flows or the newer ZMFs).
    • These synergize with the gear I already have for my Sennheisers. That means I don’t have to rethink my chain substantially (a Schiit Gungnir Multibit is almost inevitably in my future though… If only a black one could be procured when the time is right).

    Why I wouldn’t buy the Audeze LCD2 Classics

    • They are dark and cloudy. I like to think of them as cumulonimbus clouds. Dark, heavy, cloudy, fluffy, warning of impending showers perhaps. I detected a substantial veil on these when I first started using them, especially after using Focal Clears for a few days prior.
    • $600-$800 is still a lot for headphones.
    • People claim that drivers on Audeze cans are prone to failure or mismatch. I might ask Marvey to measure mine at some point to get an additional point of comparison. Audeze is said to have good customer service, but it’s still a crapshoot whether you get something that sounds as good back if you have to replace anything (WARNING: This is also second hand at best).

    Final Comments

    The Audeze LCD2 Classics are a dutiful homage to the originals that catapulted the brand to the forefront of the personal audio scene.

    Early impressions are often lukewarm. They are comfortable, but heavy. They’re punchy, but veiled. They’re quick and detailed but lack ultimate resolution. They don’t possess the wow factor you get when donning many top tier headphones.

    Instead, they take you unawares. “The LCD2C is the cute girl next door that’s gotten more beautiful after summer break.” – Marvey @ SBAF

    Just when you think you find them boring or dull, the sub-bass digs down into the abyss and pounds in your chest. Just when you think something seems irrevocably off, you hear a piece of music in a new, enticing way. Right when you think you’re ready to put the LCD2Cs down, they invite you to stay for a nightcap.

    After a few days of listening to them, the Audeze LCD2 Classics have warmed my heart. They have the most incredible sub-bass of any open headphone I’ve had the joy to experience. They have a lush, full sound that doesn’t demand, but beguiles you into listening for longer than you ever intended.

    Thank you, Audeze, for reinventing a classic.

    Other Resources

    Additional Information

    I asked Audeze about the crinkling sound when putting the headphones on as well as the availability of the microsuede vegan pads.

    From Audeze:

    We no longer offer microsuede earpads, but have moved to a more leather-like PU material for leather-free.

    Regarding the sound you mentioned: since air is trapped between your head and the ear cup it creates a pressure zone, and as the headphones shift with movement you may hear a slight crinkling sound from the diaphragm. This is a normal occurrence with planar magnetic drivers and is nothing to be concerned about, it’s the sound of the thin diaphragm moving back and forth with the changes in air pressure.

    Sometimes as the driver film stretches slightly with age, the sound can become more apparent, and sometimes it may also lessen again. This is mostly influenced by factors in your environment (such as temperature and humidity), and we don’t have much control over whether or not this occurs.

    That’s public info, so please feel free to pass it along. One thing to add would be that we strongly recommend exercising caution when handling any planar magnetic headphones: trapped air between earpads can create high pressure and could damage the diaphragms. The same is true when you put headphones on– it’s not a good idea to squeeze headphones hard and fast against the head.

    Categories: Headphones, Reviews

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