So I actually got a chance to demo these (Rev. 2) in a store today. This is my first experience with an orthos, or any high-end can for that matter. I own Pro 900s, K701s and woodied SR225is, as well have extensively heard HD650s, DT880s and DT990s so I'm fairly familiar with mid level cans.
I burned a CD with a wide bandwidth of test tracks, but somehow it didn't work with their CD player so I listened to two of the CDs that they had on hand: Bill Evans's Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Fleet Foxes's self titled album. The CDs were run through a Musical Fidelity M1 HPA amp (really sweet amp, btw).
First on deck was Bill Evans. These Village Vanguard recordings are great for picking up low-level detail because the live recording picks up lots of noise from the crowd: glass clinking, conversation, laughing, coughing... there's lots of ambiance there to immerse you in the music. When I first put on the headphones, I noticed that they don't immediately have a "wow" factor. When I first heard Grados, I was wow'd by the detail that it throws in your face. With the K701s, I was wow'd by the huge soundstage. With the Pro 900s, I was wow'd by the prodigious club-like bass. But as good as the "good attributes" of those headphones get, there are glaring problems with them that eventually sink in once you get over the "wow" factor. I found the opposite to be true as I spent about an hour of head time with the LCD-2.
I remember being a bit disappointed with the details. I could still hear the crowd noise, but I had to strain to hear it. But I slowly settled down and relaxed, letting myself sink into the music. I turned around because it sounded like some people entered the room. No one was there, and it was really the crowd noise in the recording. Then, I re-focused, and all of the details ARE there. But they aren't thrown into your face as with K701s, and don't distract you from the music.
The bass was the thing that stuck out to me initially. It was deep and impactful. I felt at times that it was a bit overbearing actually, and really more upfront than I'd prefer in a jazz song. But boy was it textured and sweet. You could hear all the textures come out in Scott LaFaro's plucking. I was entranced with just the bass section for the second half of "Gloria's Step" as all the little micro-details seemed to tell its own story within the recording. I never thought the Pro 900s bass could be beat, especially in an open can, but the LCD-2 does it better.
On Fleet Foxes, I ran through some of the faster songs on the album, like Ragged Wood, to see how it keeps pace (I really wish they had faster recordings on hand). Midrange was thick and lush and creamy and rich. There's just so much body to the music -- it doesn't play within a space of air, but flows like water. Vocals were very upfront and took center stage, which would work very well for rock, pop and hip-hop even. I did sense a bit of sibilance on Ragged Wood, but that track seems to plague most of my headphones.
In regards to the congested soundstage that I kept hearing about, I felt it was the richness in the mids that give this impression. The LCD-2s just pack much more music within a given space, that it can feel more cramped (but defined). I took out a set of woodied SR60s that I had with me to test out a tube amp, and the airiness felt like a breath of fresh air.
All in all, I've pretty much decided I want an ortho in the stable. Now, my decision is much harder because my small gripes with the LCD-2 is that the bass can be a bit too upfront, and I'd like a touch more airiness. Sounds like an HE-500 might present things a bit more to my liking. I wish I was able to run it through my own test tracks and that I could compare to an HE-500, but I loved the LCD-2 so much that it seems wise to just go with the sure thing.
Edited by Questhate - 8/6/11 at 11:07pm