More than one year ago I reviewed the Audeze LCD-2 against my Sennheiser HD 650. I was very astonished to learn, how good the HD 650 came out of this competition. If you are interested, read my review here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/564127/this-weekend-i-compared-lcd2-and-hd650
All I have written is still correct IMHO, but the test had one shortcoming: by that time, I had only the earmax silver as a pure tube driven, output transformer-less amp for the test. It is a perfect match with the HD 650 but, according to the specs, shouldn't do so well with the LCD-2, because of their low impedance of 60 Ohms. On the other hand, the earmax silver was built and advertised to please even Grado fans. But also here at head-fi some people claim, the earmax is underpowered for the LCD-2.
Recently I had a problem with the scalability of my setup, and I decided to investigate, if the headphones or the amplifier could be the bottleneck. For that reason I bought a Lehmann Black Cube linear and got a pair of LCD-2s, the leather free Rosewood option.
The BCL should have all the power that is necessary to drive the Audezes. It even has a gain switch with 3 different settings to adapt the amp to the headphone. In the lowest gain setting, I found the whole presentation a bit thin in the LCD-2, the middle setting was better, although slightly harsher (not harsh, but harsher than the lowest). The maximum gain brought it beyond what I would accept as good sound: too thick in every respect. So I settled for the middle gain setting.
After several hundred hours of break-in for the Lehmann and the LCD-2 it is time to write down a conclusion.
First impression is: the earmax silver is by no means underpowered. It sounds great through the LCD-2, with a good bass, plenty of stage and space between the instruments. Gain adjustments, like with the BCL are not necessary. It is perfect as it is. It also sounds softer. Tube typical sound perhaps. Soft, smooth, the music gets a natural weightless flow. Very nice.
The BCL on the other hand still seems to sound a bit slim compared to the earmax, especially in the low frequencies. This is where the LCD-2 shines and the earmax brings more weight to the whole presentation compared to the BCL. The BCL on the other hand is more analytical.
For rock music the Lehmann adds a good amount of fun to the sound. The transients are faster and the LCD-2 is the right headphone to bring this to life. Keith Richards or Angus Youngs Guitar rarely sounded so dirty as with BCL and LCD-2.
So there is no clear winner, but also no clear looser. I am happy to report that the BCL is a good amp. I wrote differently a while ago. This was clearly due to brand new - not broken in amps at the dealer. The BCL needs time to become a well rounded, soft and smooth sounding amp, that still delivers a lot of bite when it is asked for it.
The earmax on the other hand is by no means underpowered (did I mention that before :o). I don't know if there could be a difference between the american 110 volt units and the european 220 volt earmaxes. For my understanding the psu should handle this and the power of the amps shouldn't be different. Maybe someone who knows more about electronics than I do can comment on this.
For my personal taste, the added space and the weight of the earmax presentation sounds more enjoyable than the analytic side of the BCL.
There is one more thing I noted when I compared the LCD-2 to the HD 650. Voices seem to be closer to the listener with the HD 650. That is very nice and it is a pity that the LCD-2 doesn't reach that level. When I listened to the basement tapes (Bob Dylan and the Band from the new MFSL SACD release) I noted that. Dylan is farther away in the LCD-2. But then, the LCD-2, especially when combined with the earmax, boosts the volume of contrabases in an Orchestra to a level that comes very close to reality.
Edited by mironathetin - 11/11/12 at 12:00pm