Pros: AMAZING CLARITY AND TRANSPARENCY,BASS
Cons: small sound stage, no space and air
Once in a great while in my 32 years in the hobby I have seen products come to market that can make a significant change in the way the game is played. Rarely if ever does one come to the market that completely changes the game and rewrites the rules such is the case with the LCD2. Audeze is a start up company that has two passionate owners who have somehow managed to bring to market a product which has challenged the majors in a big time way. The LCD2 is a planar headphone that not only competes with the flagship products offered by Sennheiser and Beyer but in many ways easily outpoints them in many of the categories important to many people who really enjoy music. Alex and Sankar have managed to up the ante and have created what I believe will be a benchmark for others to follow.
The hype on Head Fi for this product was very exciting and prompted me to order a pair to see if they met my expectations. They not only met them but exceeded them in some very significant ways. The equipment I have been using to review this product has been my Decware CSP-2 OTL and Matrix Solid state amplifiers with my Marantz DV6001 as my main source for playback of both red book CD’s and SACD disc. Audioquest Black Mamba interconnects were using during the review process. Using various types of music from classical, jazz, female and male vocal recordings and some rock for my audition. I used no metal or electronic music. I have had the LCD2 for almost three weeks and now feel comfortable in describing the sound signature. My other two reference headphones are the T1 and Denon D7000.
The LCD2 are very transparent and excel with vocal recordings. Listening to female vocalist is a treat and rivals my Maggie MMG for the best vocal reproduction that I have ever experienced. The sound of vocalist and the clarity of which the LCD2 reproduces them has brought me closer to the recording studio. So much that I envisioned myself there at the event. Diana Krall and Ella Fitzgerald never sounded so good and it really what makes the LCD2 so special. Jazz recordings are best portrayed with this headphone it really does a wonderful job of what you expect from a flagship headphone.
Classical recordings showcase the tone of instruments in an accurate way. Violins sound like violins and I can distinguish the difference in violins and cello very clearly. The sound stage in comparison to the T1 is smaller and has less air and space but you can locate the performers in a defined sound stage. Focus is better on the wider sound stage of the T1 but the LCD2 is no slouch in this area. I would have liked to see a wider and deeper sound stage with more focus. I also can get the full bass impact on large symphony recordings as the bass is an area unequalled by any headphone I have heard to date. The LCD2 is very fast in transient response and give you the excitement and slam demanded and needed to reproduce classical music and with all the excitement that makes a great symphony sound so exciting.
The bass is very deep and extended. There is no doubt that this is how bass is supposed to be portrayed. Percussion and drum recording are very exciting to listen to on the LCD2. Drums recordings with brushes is very easily noticed. The LCD2 allow you to hear the sticks hitting the drums and if a congo or bongo instrument you can hear the hands hitting the skins in a very transparent way. I have not other headphone that can unravel inner detail as well as the lCD2. The treble is also very clearly defined. I hear the correct tone of the cymbal and the proper decay after the drummer strikes it. Treble while being sparkly is still not extended as the T1 which sometimes makes you want more air and space around the instrument. The bass is very special on the LCD2 and will leave even most bass heads satisfied.
The LCD2 hits most of the marks better than most other flagships. Is it better than the other contenders? Some individual will prefer the presentation more others will prefer some of the strong points of other contenders but it is in the same class and in many ways beats the other headphones in important areas. It is worthy of being placed in the same class as the other contenders for best headphone and really when you consider its price it is a bargain.
Much has been made about the weight and comfort issues. Make no mistake they are heavy but not what I would call uncomfortable to wear. I have worn these for as much as 12 hours in a day and have experienced no major issue. The headband is unique and different from the other flagship headphones and I would prefer a leather headband similar to my T1 but I have managed to get used to the one supplied. The pads are comfortable and overall the LCD2 is not all that bad for comfort. This is one area where I would like to see some improvement. The wood cups are Caribbean rosewood and really give a nice finish to the headphone. Build quality is good they are sturdy and the box that they are stored in demands to be shown as it is so beautiful.
The amazing clarity and transparency is a notch above my T1 and D7000. The sound signature portrays natural tone and is neither dark nor bright. The midrange is indeed very special. I did not notice any recessed treble as some have experienced. It plays the recording in a very accurate and precise manner. It is also very musical and has never shown any sign of fatigue when I listened in marathon sessions.
In concluding I would like to say that Alex and Sankar have done an outstanding job with the LCD2 and should be proud of their accomplishment. The LCD2 has lived up to the hype for me and is part of my daily listening. I have not regretted buying them nor have I looked to sell them. This headphone will allow me to forget about gear and just enjoy the music which is what the hobby is really about. Audeze has established itself with the benchmark product and others will need to get much better to compete. You will want to use the best gear you can afford and it really sounded special on the CSP-2 tube amp with vocal and jazz recordings. The SS Matrix gave it the slam and bass drive and power for classical music. Nice job and beware there is a new kid on the block that has raised the bar that others will now have to follow. A new Star is born..