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Comparisons of LCD-2 Rev. 1 and Rev. 2

With the death of the massive LCD-2 thread, I thought maybe a wiki was a little more appropriate:

So I’ve had an evening with both my LCD-2 revisions and here are a few thoughts...


Ergonomics/Aesthetics


Upon first glance it is very easy to dismiss these two as “identical twins”, but upon closer inspection there are a few subtle differences. First off, the wood on the Rev. 2 is a lighter shade than my older LCD-2s (purchased last September) and the finish of the wood is a little more “polished” and professional in appearance on the newer version. However, I think I prefer the darker colouring of the older LCD-2.



Secondly, the Rev.2 is indeed lighter, not by much, but noticeable; either holding them in my hands or on my head. A rather nice improvement by Audeze and for those who thought the first ones were too heavy, you’ll be glad to know that the newer ones have definitely gone in the right direction. The ear pads are quite a bit thicker than the original stock ones I got last year, but I did order replacement pads a few months back (for my Rev. 1s) and they are pretty much the same.



The other nice improvement is the headband blocks. They no longer use 2 set screws to adjust for height and swivel. Now, there is just one for height adjustment. The headphone cups do not swivel 360o, but without a second set screw to adjust.



The biggest difference by far is the improvements made to the wooden box. The original was nice, but the new one is simply the best headphone case I've seen (even better than my Edition 8 LE leather case):


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Finally, the Rev. 2 headphones seem a little less sensitive than the Rev 1s as I need to turn up the volume dial higher on either of my two amps to level match them.



Overall these are both very similar in appearance, but with some nice refinements on the points noted above.



Okay, now let’s move on to the most important....how do they sound?



Setup:

Azur 650C CD Player --> Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2 --> Woo Audio WA22 and Schiit Lyr



Tubes:

WA22 (TS7236 Power Tubes, 6SN7 Sylvania Driver Tubes, 5U4G Raytheon Rectifier Tube)

Lyr (GE 6BZ7 Driver tubes)



To keep things simple, I used the stock ADZ5 headphone cable (single ended). My balanced Silver Moon Audio V3 headphone cable was not included in this comparison.



Music:

Michael Buble: Crazy Love (Songs: Crazy Love)

Pink Floyd: DSoTM: 30th Anniversary Edition (Speak to Me/Breathe, Great Gig in the Sky, Money)

Jazz at the Pawnshop Vol. 1 (Limehouse Blues, I’m Confessing)

Tool: Lateralus (Lateralis)



Sonic Character

Make no mistake about it; these two headphones are cut from the same cloth. They are both very true to the Audeze sound signature. But there are a few changes and dare I say “improvements?



Let’s start off with the bass. The Rev. 2s have retained the classic Audeze bass response, deep, defined, impactful (yet controlled) and well, just the best quality bass I’ve heard yet. But there is a bit more control and definition to the bass with the newer version. This might give the user the impression that the bass is a little deeper (which I don’ think it is...both FR graphs are about the same and my first hand experiences confirm that they both go down very deep), but the slightly improved definition in the lower octaves might make one come to that conclusion. Listening to the heartbeat from Speak to Me/Breathe (DSoTM), I the thumps and reverberations are about the same between both headphones, but the details of the reverberations are more pronounced and defined with the Rev. 2s. Not by a lot, but enough to detect on the first couple of listens.



The mids are also presented in a slightly different manner as well. The “bloom” to the mids with the Rev. 1s has been lessened by a small degree on the newer Rev. 2s. Some may like that, some may not (I happen to prefer the former). The “wall of sound” is still there in the mids with the Rev. 2s, but to a lesser extent. In my opinion, this is a little more transparent and truer to the source. When listening to Tool’s Lateralus, the Rev. 1s did offer a more full experience of the “wall of sound” than the Rev. 2s did, but as I stated, I think the Rev. 2s are closer to the actual intent of the recording.



Some might disagree, but that’s my call. The mids are both upfront and very clear on both versions, but with my WA22, they can be a little too rich and too bloomy with the older versions. With my Lyr, the differences are not as wide and quite a bit closer.



Some have commented that the mids on the Rev. 1s come off a little too squished together and without a proper amp, it certainly can. But the Rev. 2 has cleared this up a little by removing some of the “mid” bloom which in turn gives each instrument a little more space. Conversely, I can understand how some prefer the Rev. 1’s presentation as it is certainly more unique and can be addictive.



With regards to the treble response, neither are what I would consider a bright headphone by any means, but the Rev. 1s seem to lack just ever so much a little bit of treble definition that may make them seem a little darker in comparison. The cymbal smashes have a little more simmer and life with the Rev. 2s. But don’t get me wrong, these are still voiced as LCD-2s, it’s just that I seem to be able to hear a little more detail in the upper frequencies without having to deal with any perceived treble spikes. A nice improvement by Audeze.



Sound-staging/Imaging

The nod here definitely goes to the Rev. 2. With the improved treble detail retrieval (again without any perceived treble “bumps” in frequency response) and less bloom on the mids, there appears to be more sense of air and space between the musicians and instruments. This was particularly evident when listening to Jazz at the Pawnshop, where I could more readily pick up on the imaging queues in the recording with the Rev. 2s. Both offer incredible true to life imaging to the recording, but the Rev. 2s do a slightly better job in this regard.


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Conclusions

Both are outstanding headphones and my two personal favourites. Both are voiced with the same DNA and offer a true to life sonic experience like no other headphone I’ve heard. With that said, I do prefer the slightly more technically advanced sound of the Rev. 2. Again, the differences here are not wide or drastic, but enough for me to come to this conclusion.



If you already own the Rev. 1 and yearn for slightly more detail in the treble (and bass for that matter), with a little less bloom to the mids and a quicker dynamic, then maybe the Rev. 2s are just what the doctor ordered. I agree with Audeze’s decision to not call the Rev. 2s the LCD-3s, but I would say that the LCD-2.5 isn’t far off either.

Comments (17)

Very nice comparison dude...how's the comfort-level differences between the two?
Thanks. Comfort wise, about the same. But as I mentioned my Rev. 2 has the leather head band and my now sold Rev. 1 had the standard headband. But the Rev. 2 was slightly lighter.
Cool comparison, thanks! I may have to pick up a Rev 2. at RMAF.
Thanks for the kind feedback. :)
Very helpful comparison. However, given how little difference you imply there is, mostly centering on the treble and its effect on imaging, one wonders what a bright sounding (maybe silver?) aftermarket cable might do for the Rev 1. I know there are threads on this, but no matter how close I put my ear to the computer monitor, I just can't hear the difference they're all talking about. :)
I really like the Moon Audio Silver Dragon with either Rev. 1 and Rev. 2 LCD-2s. Not bright in any way, no deleterious effects to the bass, but slightly more fluid mids/treble. Light in construction with zero micrphonics.
The 1's are by far my favorite at the store. Now if I can get the boss to grab a set of 2's, that would make my day.
This is indeed a nice comparison.
Thank you very much, very interesting. now, I know !
I think the comfort of these headphones is a sacrifice that has to be made by the listener
If I can save 400$ on buying a one year old LCD-2 rev.1 with standard headband and 10ft moon audio silver dragon cable. Would that in your eyes justify the difference in sound? Not sure if to go for it or not.
Could somebody please explain what is meant by "bloom" in the mids?
"Bloom" in a sense that is overly done and loss of texture.
I recabled my LCD-2 rev 1 with Jena wire and removed the connectors and hard wired them to the connectors inside the cups and with out hearing the rev 2 or the LCD-3 I doubt they are even close the diffrence is that great and for the better.
Thanks for the comparison. I've been trying to decide if I'd be happy with rev. 1 or if I should just get a new rev. 2 set.
very helpful! THX
Thanks for the feedback. I'm looking forward to getting my LCDs later this week!
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