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All things considered, these are the best orthos you can buy.

A Review On: Audez'e LCD-X

Audez'e LCD-X

Rated # 181 in Headphones
See all 7 reviews
Review Details:
Audio Quality
Comfort
Design
Value
Purchased on:
Price paid: $1,700.00
Magick Man
Posted · Updated · 9556 Views · 24 Comments

Pros: Great imaging and detail, rich mids, clear yet smooth highs, satisfyingly deep bass. They're amazing all-arounders.

Cons: Perhaps need a touch more bass impact at times, and they're heavy.

From the moment I heard them, I liked the LCD-X by Audeze. Usually that spells doom for a headphone though, because later on a detail or two will rear its head and reality will set in, "I can't stand these anymore". So I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop, and waiting... and waiting... and, well, you get the point. However, I'm finally ready to say that I'm smitten, I'm full of smit. (No, not Schiit, though I like several of their products too) wink.gif Although they aren't perfect, they have no substantial sonic flaws, at least none that can't simply be chalked-up to a specific manufacturer "flavor". As with the LCD-XC, the LCD-X's closed-back sister, I approached them with trepidation because I don't care for Audeze's other LCD models, the LCD-2s and 3s. For me they're simply too dark and lack realism in their upper treble, I'm not a basshead, so right off the bat they fell flat on their faces. Like the XCs, however, I'm happy to say that these break that mold and extend far beyond the company's first offerings, let's explore how.


Audio Quality: 5 / 5

Outstanding! Like the LCD-XCs, lots of micro-detail across the audible spectrum. Combined with their very low impedance (22 Ohms), and relatively high sensitivity (96dB), they're wonderful with anything that has a headphone jack (including smartphones and tiny MP3 players). They do scale with better electronics, more so than the XCs, but it isn't a huge difference, just a nice bonus. So while the sound out of my EC Balancing Act amp is jaw-dropping, directly out of my LG G Pad it's still excellent. Bass is very fast and punchy with bottom-trawling extension, super low and clean, offering a wonderful tactile sense and presence. Treble is equally enjoyable, with just the right amount of sparkle in the highs to keep you engaged, but still velvety smooth in its delivery. The mids are even and clear, unlike the XCs they don't have that somewhat distracting coloration near 1.5kHz, probably owing to their open design. Another aspect where they shine is instrument placement, sound focus is exceptionally sharp, and along with its fine detail retrieval, that makes these an excellent tool in high-end mastering. Their breadth of soundstage is truly remarkable, and while not as expansive as the STAX SR-009s, they are still in the top tier. From classical to metal, folk to pop, they shine through it all, and that's a very tall order.

As I mentioned before, they make no obvious mistakes, from my perspective. My only minor issue is that they're perhaps lacking a little in bass "slam" or impact, but I've found that's largely amplifier dependent, good high current amps improve it substantially. That is the most telling area where more powerful, capable gear fleshes these out. That's also the case in most other areas, each quality or trait these headphones have is stepped up a couple "notches" with a higher quality audio chain. Overall, these completely trounce my former favorite orthodynamics, the HiFiMan HE-6s. While I very much enjoy them, my HE-6s can't be used effectively with low-power gear, or even most average equipment, they need oodles of power and the more, the better. So that's my take, they're a great deal like the HiFiMan flagships but aren't shackled by potentially restrictive gear requirements. With the LCD-X you can put away the bulky, full-size stereo amp that you've been using to drive your cans directly from the speaker taps (yes, people really do that), because much more efficient setups work just fine.


Value: 5 / 5

They're $1700 headphones at regular MSRP, but if you're shopping in this range these need to be on your short list. Given their modest gear requirements, their TCoO (Total Cost of Ownership) is comparatively very low, much less than other headphones that are apparently less expensive. As with all things, you need to factor in other equipment you'll need. $1700 plus a $400 amp is less than $1300 with a $1000 amp.

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v80), quality = 95

Design: 4.50 / 5

They're a traditional planar design, and people familiar with that will identify it immediately. The materials are of high quality, though I do wish there was no plastic at all in their construction. One potential avenue to lower weight in the future could be carbon fiber, keeping the same structural rigidity of the frame components while lessening the weight substantially. Because, yes, they weigh quite a lot. Not to the point where you think your neck is going to break, but I was feeling a little fatigue after listening to them for a couple hours. Being open headphones they offer zero isolation, so if that's a factor then check out the LCD-XC. The headband and earpads are made of a nice calf skin, pleasing in appearance and to the touch. You also get a cool Pelican style carrying case that looks like it could survive a grenade blast, 2 sets of high-quality interchangeable cables (one balanced and one single-ended), and there are some papers filled with warranty and product info. All in all, they look and feel like a luxury product and they do a great job representing what you should expect from a flagship headphone.


Comfort: 4.25 / 5

Initially the weight concerned me when I first hefted them, but after wearing them a few minutes I adapted to them and they were fine, so they're rather well balanced. As with the LCD-XCs, after an even longer period of time my neck began to get fatigued, though not as badly. One thing I want to add, however, is that I have moderate rheumatoid arthritis which does affect my neck, and I'm probably more sensitive to that than most, so it might not be an issue for you. Also my ears started to get hot under the pads by that time too, so you may want to consider Audeze's "vegan" earpads if you believe that could affect you as well.


Wrap-up

So, where do these fit in the increasingly overcrowded high-end headphone segment? There's a lot of top-notch gear in the $1,200-$2,000 range, I can name a dozen sets that deserve a buyer's close consideration, but I believe these are the best open cans available for that money, by a good bit, especially factoring in other equipment in your audio chain. Some do certain things a little better, but none excel in ALL areas so effectively. All that aside, I do believe the STAX SR-009s and SR-007s provide superior sound quality, as do a few extinct "unobtainium" sets, but electrostats are in their own universe with high barriers to entry; namely exotic amp requirements and limitations to portability. So yes, if you're willing to shell out 3-4x more money, you can clearly beat the LCD-X, but realistically that's what it takes. IMO, unless you have the money to burn "chasing the dragon", these are a wonderful place to stop and take in the view from the Summit of Head-Fi.


For being extraordinary in so many ways, as well as providing a true value in Summit-Fi, I'm giving the Audeze LCD-X a rare and well-deserved 5 stars, and the very first "Best of the Lot" award for cans in their price range ($1,200-2,000). Well done!







24 Comments:

Great write up! The LCD-X are amazing headphones and I'm glad to see that we hear things the same way with them!
Can you do a comparison between the LCD2 and LCD-X?
Great review MM! While I may not have had as much time as you with the LCD-X, I'm glad to see our impressions match up pretty closely. They're a fantastic headphone.
Terrific Review!!!! Workin on my full review for PFO - may do one here like I did for the XC. Wonderful read!!
Good review,  Thanks.
You've got a talent for reviewing/writing as well as listening.  We agree, I sold the LCD-2/3 and am keeping the LCD-X.
Thanks for the compliments, guys.

Comparison between these and the LCD-2s? Well, the LCD-2s are darker and slower, these are much more neutral.
Told you they were the shiznit!  Lol @ da gif! 
q.q I'd really like a pair of these
What an amazing review (coming from one of the Mafia Bosses;) Thank you so much Magick Man.
-Alex
How about some constructive criticism for Magick Man? 
Great review.
If I was still employed, I have a pair by now.
(p.s. retirement has it's benefits).
Thanks for sharing. Good reviews really help determine which headphones to to get when there's limited access. 
Can somebody lend me $1700?
I'm really curious to try these.
which amps do you use with lcd x ? which do you like most ?
I've used the Eddie Current Balancing Act, Audio-gd Master 9, Antelope Zodiac Gold, Schiit Magni, and Fostex HP-P1. Frankly, these are so easy to drive that they sound great with all of them, even directly out of my phone and tablets. What sounds amazing, in terms of best value, is driving them out of an Audioquest Dragonfly 1.2 > Schiit Mjolnir, which is my setup here at work. It's a great quick and easy combo that won't break the bank.
Your review mirrors my experience with the LCD-X; the improvement over my LCD 2's was substantial. I'm using the Mjolnir/Gungnir stack and I'm incredibly pleased with the result. Nice review!
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