Pros: Beautifully built, addictive sound, natural tonality, easy to listen to for hours at a time
Cons: They are heavy, some people might find them too dark
A review of the Audeze LCD-2 Revision 2 Headphones
A bit about where I started in this hobby to where I've come.
About 5 years ago I brought myself a home theatre system it was made up of a cheap Accusound 5.1 speaker package, a Pioneer receiver and a Yamaha DVD player. For a few months I really enjoyed this setup; to me, at the time, I didn't know better. One day I called in to my fathers place and noticed he was playing some music on his old Technics Hi-Fi from the early 80s. I cant remember if I immediately noticed it or not, but I realised his old fairly cheap system from the 80s could actually project sound in to the room, at the time I didn’t know it but what I realised was that the soundstage on his system really put my home theatre to shame. This put me on the path to finding a really nice 2 channel Hi-Fi setup. After a ton of research and a lot of advice from the guys on the What Hi-Fi forums, I brought a set of Monitor Audio RX6 Speakers, a NAD amplifier and a NAD CD player. In a few words, this Hi-Fi absolutely blew me away; I couldn’t believe how much detail I was hearing in my music – hello audio nirvana! I had this setup for about a year I think. Still enjoying my setup, one day when I was in town I called in to the dealer where I brought my Hi-Fi from, to make a long story short, he lent me a Rega DAC and Rega Brio-R for the night to audition. I couldn’t take the Rega gear back, straight away I noticed improvement in dynamics, transparency, imaging and it had a noticeably more detailed treble, perhaps it was more extended than the NAD gear, I really cant remember. At the beginning of 2013 I got my first pair of headphones – the Grado SR80i. I really loved this headphone when I first got it, I think the detail that Grado's produce is a real wow factor with them, they may not measure very well compared to other headphones but they do have a very enjoyable – wow you instantly sound signature. Anyway I think I've said enough here so on to the review!
PC > lossless files > Foobar2k wasapi event > M2Tech Hiface 2 > Rega Dac > Woo WA-6 (RCA 6DR7 & Philips black base 5AR4/GZ34)
These headphones are very well built. When I look at these, I cant really find any part of them that's poorly made. Every part of these phones say these are not your average cheap set of cans. The Bamboo cups are beautifully crafted, the leather headband and pads are made with precision and care, the mini xlr connections seem to be a lot smoother when connecting the cable than the one on my old Q701. Combine the quality parts used to build these with the way Audeze assemble them and you've got one very beautiful set of headphones!
Comfort: (compared to Q701 and HE-400)
I'm probably in the minority here, well maybe? Out of the 3 my preference is LCD-2 > Q701 > HE-400. The reason I found the Audeze the best is because of its clamping force, deep pads and even weight distribution. On the other two headphones mentioned, my left ear just touches the inside of the pads, while this isn't to much to complain about, it did get annoying at times having to move the headphones around to try to avoid it. My issues with the Q701 were that it actually felt to light on my head and didn't have the clamping force to seal very well. The HE-400 while defiantly wasn’t to light also didn't clamp very well, admittedly mine have Jerg pads on them which reduces the clamping force because of having to remove the foam ring in the pads, I also feel the Hifiman's don’t distribute the weight as evenly as the Audeze's.
Sound: (some comparisons to HE-400 and Q701)
This is the hardest part of the review for me, I know I hear differences between various headphones but I do find it hard to put in to words; as I write this part of the review, I'm actually using this quiet a bit as a reference. http://www.head-fi.org/a/describing-sound-a-glossary
When I first listened to the LCD-2's I wasn’t really that impressed. First reaction: CRAP they're so dark sounding! Where's the treble? I thought to myself, no they'll open up once the amp warms up, I had them on my head within a minute of turning the amp on. The slight disappointment didn't last long though, as I started playing different songs I started noticing how much better these were to my previous headphones. The first tell tale sign was when I played Guns N Roses – Patience. Listening to this song on the LCD-2's for the first time made me understand what timbre and good tonality are. One of my best mates plays classical, electric and acoustic guitar, we have had quiet a few conversations about the various tone's of different instruments before, for example when it comes to electric guitar we both much prefer the sound of a Fender Strat vs a Les Paul, I understand these two instruments have a very different sound but for me it really is the tone of each that will be the deciding factor in which instrument I prefer the sound of.
Timbre and tonality, in my opinion the LCD-2 destroys the HE-400 and Q701 in this respect, its actually very noticeable that instruments sound much more natural on the LCD-2 compared to Q701 and HE-400. This put a big smile on my face when I first noticed this :D.
Soundstage/Imaging, I've heard a lot of people talk about pin pointing where the musicians are in the soundstage and I’ve never really been able to pick up on this, when I listened to Patience, I felt the soundstage was as I’ve heard others say quiet accurate, before I had LCD-2 I couldn’t really make that assumption, but now I feel a bit more confident saying that. Perhaps if I get to hear higher end gear than my own in the future, I might notice this even more? Compared to HE-400 and Q701 I think Q701 might be more distant and wider but LCD-2 is defiantly deeper and your closer to the musicians. HE-400 with Jerg pads have a similar presentation to LCD-2 but I feel the HE-400 brings you a little closer to the musicians than LCD-2. I think the LCD-2 is a bit wider than HE-400 but depth I’m not to sure about, it would be a close call between the two.
Detail Retrieval, I can say confidently that they LCD-2's are defiantly more detailed than HE-400. Compared to Q701 though it's hard for me to say because I haven’t had them for a while. I remember being blown away by Q701's detail when I had it so I imagine it would be close between the two but I cant say for sure which headphone is more detailed.
Speed, I can defiantly tell that LCD-2 is faster than HE-400, I think it would be faster than Q701 as well but its hard to remember. The difference between HE-400 and LCD-2's speed was made very apparent to me when I played some punk rock. The LCD-2 seemed to stay composed no matter how dynamic and fast a song was, the HE-400 simply didn't sound as composed as LCD-2 does when playing fast music.
I'm very happy that I brought the LCD-2's. After trying to decide on a new higher end headphone for roughly 4 months, I feel as though I picked the right one for me. I'm actually quiet happy I didn't make the bigger jump to LCD-3 straight up because now I have something to look forward to in the future.