Pros: Very natural and transparent closed headphone...a brilliant product from Audeze
Cons: Heaviest headphone yet and pricey.
When I first put the LCD-XC’s on my head I thought to myself: “Wow, finally I no longer have to sacrifice sound quality or a natural/neutral presentation when listening to closed headphones.”
The first group of closed headphones that I’ve previously owned were ones that isolated well enough but really made you constantly feel that you were giving up a bit too much in the sound quality department. Some were not very expensive like the beyerdynamics DT770/600s; while some very expensive like the Ultrasone Ed. 8LE.
The second group of closed headphones actually sounded pretty darn good to amazing, but offered a very coloured presentation. I would put the D7000, W3000ANV and TH-900s in this group. While I still own the TH-900s and really enjoy the heck out of them, I was left wanting something more natural/neutral (and with better isolation too). That’s where I feel the LCD-XC headphones come in and fit that bill to a “T".
First off, let me say that these headphones are real beauties. Simply gorgeous looking headphones. As you can see in the photo below, the Bubinga wood finish really helps set them off. Everything you’ve come to expect from Audeze in terms of solid and professional constructions have been continued with these headphones and they’ve continued to push the envelope in that regard.
They utilize the same new fazor technology with the LCD-X open headphones. With both of these headphones I've found that the imaging has been improved upon with excellent instrumental separation and location in the sound stage.
You can find my LCD-X Review here:
Are they heavy? Well yes they are... they come in at 650 grams (only 50g more than the LCD-X and 100g more than the LCD-3s). But once on my head, I really forget about the weight as it’s very well distributed across my head and hardly a factor that I would consider. Overall I would say that the comfort levels are satisfactory with my noggin’. I would however like to see Audeze move toward looking into lightening the weight of future headphones if possible (and not affect the sound quality) as some may find them a bit too heavy. I know...I want it all. Isolation wise, they are a good step up from the W3000ANV/TH-900s and D7000s. A very good feature for a pair of closed headphones.
I put these headphones through their paces with some of my favourite test tracks like my HDCD series of Patrica Barber, Diana Krall, some of high rez Chesky downloads (both binaural and stereo), Miles Davis Bitches Brew Remaster, Miles Davis Kind of Blue Legacy Edition, Tool, Pink Floyd, Rush and some various HDCD classical albums that I have on hand.
As I prefaced earlier, I would classify these as among the most natural sounding closed headphones I’ve heard. And yes, they have definitely retained that magical Audeze sound that has really continued to impress me over the years. So if you’re a fan of the LCD-2/3/X, then you should be quite happy with these headphones. If you’re looking for a more “fun” and coloured headphone with lots of bass and sparkling treble and a slight “U” FR response, then I’d suggest you look elsewhere. But if you want a reference level pair of headphones, I can think of none better than the LCD-XC.
The bass is what you’d expect from Audeze: deep, textured, very well defined, and very clean sounding. While I find these the bassiest of the Audeze headphones, they certainly do not give you bass-head thumping bass, but still oh so satisfying. When listening to Tool’s Lateralus I can feel the bass energy and the detail and texturing is simply outstanding. Just flat response bass down to 20Hz (though a bit more bass than either the LCD-3/X.
The mids are equally outstanding. While these headphones do have a bit more bass, I never felt that it impinged on the mids; while this certainly did occur on the D7000s and to a lesser extent on the TH-900s. Again, the mids are very much what we've come to expect from Audeze...pure, clean and very well detailed. The slight difference however is that I've found the upper mids a bit more forward than either the LCD-3/X especially when listening to Miles Davis' Bitches Brew, I could hear the higher extreme notes a little more forward than either the LCD-3/X. While never etched like it can sometimes sound on the HE-6s or HD800s, it was indeed less as laid back as the other Audeze headphones.
The treble extends very well. On my frequency sweeps I was able to take these headphones to the extremity of my hearing ability 18kHz (ish) and while the treble remains "pushed back", it did offer the most forward treble of any of the Audeze headphones. Triangles have a brilliant shimmer, cymbals really come to life while never overbearing with my test music.
Imaging was closer (from memory) to the LCD-2s than the more open sounding LCD-3 or LCD-X. But that's to be expected as these are closed headphones. To compare them to other closed headphones that I've owned through the years, I would say that the fazor technology on the LCD-XC has actually equipped them with very good imaging. The TH-900s offer a more expansive soundscape to my ears, but the LCD-XCs offer pinpoint locations of the individual players/instruments. They do image better than the Ed.8 or D7000s to my ears and most best equated to the wonderful W3000ANVs in this regard (but with a good improvement on the location of each instrument and player within that sound stage for the Audeze headphones).
I feel that Audeze has brought to market a wonderful pair of closed headphones that no longer has me having to sacrifice either sound quality or a natural sound for a more coloured one. They isolate pretty well (and leak very little), yes, they're heavy and pencil neck geeks be warned, but seriously on my head, they feel very close to the LCD-X (which I find quite good for long listening sessions). While these are among the least coloured closed headphones I've heard, you can colour me impressed. Yet another winner by Audeze. A striking feat considering that they released both the LCD-X and LCD-XC at the same time.