Over the past 15 years I have struggled to satisfy my audio needs without much success. It seems like every time I read a thread title with more than 1 exclamation point, I get as excited as a ravenous wolf whom just witness the sudden spontaneous combustion of some woodland creature. Not only is it a well earned meal, but a nicely cooked one, too!
Thats pretty much how I feel in regards to any new Hi Fi set that comes into the market. The latest beast to enter my house were the famed Audeze LCD2 Planar Magnetics. After much consideration, I've come to realize nothing is going to make me happy.
I've been through pretty much every hi fi set in existence with the most expensive staxx models, the HE90 and the TakeT. Can't really think of any other of the big boys that I haven't played with already. After the HE500 other Hifiman models failed to keep my interest I decided to give it one last shot, one final ride into the sunset with the LCD2 so to speak.
My overall impressions are negative. I much prefer the He-500 in every way and for every genre. Call me crazy, but I was not even remotely impressed with the Audeze. I found the sound stage too small for me and something that made me cringe and reach out for my He-500 very often. I didn't find it realistic in the slightest nor did I find it large and spacious in any direction except forward. My goodness, it had bar none the best stage depth I have ever witnessed in any set of headphones. The sense of space in front of you, that "layering" as some call it was just fantastic. But at what cost? The set was absurdly gigantic. Don't get me wrong, most of the other new models have this problem as well.
Pretty much all of the newer really high end sets are just fantastically uncomfortable. What is this? The 1940s all over again? This is 2011 for crying out loud, the technology should be getting smaller, not larger. These sets aren't the future, earbuds are. Who wants to use a giant bulky set of headphones that weights 400+ grams with earcups resembling car tires strapped to your head? Nobody does. The LCD2 cable is pure nonsense and the Hifi man cables are even worse. Every time I sat down, the cable would just bunch up on my chest due to the odd angle and length of the connectors on each earcup. They are simply too big and offset in a poor direction to be even remotely considered comfortable...and the cable...well...You just spent potentially near $900 to get a generic cable in terms of physical construction, great quality inside, but outside its just a garden hose. Things like this should never exist in a package costing this much mula. ( hifi man, are you listening? )
Despite the poor comfort qualities, the sound quality isn't really that much nicer than what the Edition 8 is capable of. Having both side by side properly amped, I much prefer the Edtiion 8 for dang near everything except bass. The LCD2 has the best bass quality of any set of headphones I have ever had the pleasure of using. To my ears at least, it was the best. Kudos to you if you disagree. I am stunned by the LCD2s efficiency, my Cavali and Schiit brand amps did nothing for it beyond just using my Cowan J3. Super Efficient set, amazingly so. Requires massive power to get any change in sound out of a decent source with yet more decent output. Don't bother with budget amping if you are using anything on the level of the J3, it wont make enough difference to justify the price you paid for your amp. Invest in a Lyr or something insanely powerful to get that extra 10% in clarity and soundstaging, otherwise skip the amping
For a set like this, nobody in their right mind is going to use it as a studio monitor so it really shouldnt have such a massive cable. Its better to have a shorter cable with the option of adding an extension over being forced to recable or pay an extra $200 just for another shorter cable. That nonsense needs to stop, we audiophiles buy your gear and keep you running yet most of the big boy toys do not cater at all to audiophiles.
I liked the LCD2, but it didn't impress me much and fell into the category of "potentially massively overhyped sets" within a few days. It made me seriously want to only use my Edition 8 which had the same natural-ish setup and presentation. Yet, in a closed back set? I would pick the closed back set with great soundstage size, clarity and comfort over the open back set with a the same qualities but with inferior comfort.
Sure, this review is a bit late in the game as the LCD2 has been out for a while. I really don't care for hi fi audio anymore, I went back to the basics and have been immensely happy. Anything beyond $300 bones for a set of headphones is just crazy to me now, I feel like the ego and mental state that comes with being an audiophile blinded me to reality and how pretty much everyone looks at me like im nuts for paying that much for headphones. I've started to agree with these people...I feel conflicted beyond reason right now and am not sure which side to take anymore.
Thanks for readin'
-Some dude who has lost faith in hi fi audio
Edited by swbf2cheater - 9/27/11 at 8:05am