I received the XC from the headamp loaner program, here are some initial musings:
Like the LCD2, these are way more gorgeous in-person. When Audeze made the move to only ship XCs with
Bubinga wood and black anodized rings I thought I would hate the combination, as I didn't like the way it looked on pictures at all. In person the Bubinga wood is much more rich and deep lookin.
I wouldn't know that these headphones were 1-150grams heavier than the LCD2 or whatever. From my memory of the LCD2, these are just as comfortable weight-wise. They're actually more comfortable to me because the pads are extra soft, and even after they compress over-time, my ears barely do not touch the fazor diffusers.
As for the sound, they do not strike me as Boring and overly thick-sounding like the LCD2 did at times, and the bass carries with it not only the Audeze control and extension, but also a characteristic closed-back slower decay and pressure-esque type of bass, which is a plus in my book.
The mids are for the most part very good, only I there's something going on in the upper-mids around 2-3khz. I absolutely hate forward upper-mids because they tend to make a lot of headphones sound cold. While that's not 100% the case here because I don't see the XC as cold sounding, I do feel the 2-3khz area has a bit of hardness, kind of like a broad, but benign ringing problem in the area. If you've ever looked at Purrin's CSDs of the HD800s and see what they do in the 6khz area, then you can see at what I'm trying to get at. This 'problem' also seems to make these headphones very recording specific, as I find myself turning the volume up and down not only between songs, but within different parts of the recordings themselves. Sometimes I find myself EQ'ing the 2-3khz region down by 3db or so, and this seems to mostly solve the problem and make the mids have a better transition to treble.
The soundstage seems to be nice. Not big enough to make me think it's an open headphone, but also the imaging and definition of the sound is great enough to make me think it's an open headphone. I attribute this to a smooth lower midrange which most closed headphones tend to lack. The fazor diffusers probably have a lot to do with this as well because I notice the sound changes severely if you press the cans closer to your ears, playing with the acoustic bounce-back of your skin.
The treble I find to be well in balance, not lacking like the LCD2 or not strident like the HE-400 or other headphones. However it's not as smooth as I think it could be.
For now I really like their sound, although I haven't done a direct comparison to my tried-and-true EQ'd HE-400 yet. If I were to look at the headphones without a price, I'd say definite big thumbs-up. At 1800? That's extremely tough to say.
NIce review. Totally agree with you.