General Information

OPEN CIRCUMAURAL REFERENCE HEADPHONE

The LCD-1 has been meticulously engineered for reference quality sound that will appeal to even the most discerning audiophile ear. Featuring Audeze’s renowned planar magnetic technology within an open-circumaural, foldable and light-weight design, the LCD-1 delivers premium audio in a comfortable and travel-friendly package perfect for mixing, mastering and audiophile listening.


A TRADITION IN MUSIC CREATION

For decades, professional musicians and audio engineers all around the world have placed their trust in Audeze headphones. This legacy inspired us to create the LCD-1, a new benchmark in studio and audiophile listening.


DESIGNED FOR HOME AND STUDIO

The LCD-1 blends Audeze's coveted LCD sound quality together with improved comfort and portability. Our 90mm Planar Magnetic drivers deliver frequency extension from 10Hz all the way to 50kHz with flawless precision and clarity, ideal both for audiophile listening and professional applications. Weighing only 250 grams and featuring a plush memory foam headband and ear pads, the LCD-1 is engineered for fatigue-free listening sessions both at home and in the studio. The specially designed cable has reversible connectors, so the LCD-1 will always deliver the correct left and right channel information.


ENGINEERED FOR CRITICAL LISTENING

Our open-back over-ear design produces an expanded soundstage that pulls the ear deeper into the music. Inside, our patented Fluxor™ magnets and Uniforce™ voice coil work together to articulate fine-tuned, distortion-free audio with visceral power and impact. From its musically engaging presence to its clinical transparency, the LCD-1 has been meticulously engineered for critical listening.


DESIGNED AND HANDCRAFTED IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Each LCD-1 driver is precision crafted by hand in our Southern California facility. Using our patented engineering techniques and state of the art laser-etching technology, we put great care into each step of the manufacturing process to ensure our headphones meet the exacting audio and production quality standards that have made Audeze the world's best reviewed headphone brand. The LCD-1 is fully assembled in our Orange County factory with parts made in the USA and other countries.


AN INDUSTRY STANDARD FOR MIXING AND MONITORING

From famous mastering studios to small home setups, Audeze is the most trusted name in headphone audio production


BENCHMARK FOR STUDIO SOUND

The LCD-1 is a critical tool for anyone who values pure, neutral, and accurate sound. Its soundstage and pinpoint stereo imaging reveal the full depth and detail of the music, empowering producers to fine-tune their mix with complete confidence. Its foldable light-weight design and easy drivability make the LCD-1 an accessible premium audio solution perfect for artists and listeners.

Specifications
Style - Over-ear, open-circumaural
Transducer Type - Planar Magnetic
Magnetic Structure - Single-sided Fluxor™ magnet array
Phase Management - Fazor
Magnet Type - Neodymium N50
Diaphragm Type - Ultra-thin Uniforce™
Transducer Size - 90 mm
Maximum Power Handling - 5W RMS
Maximum - SPL - >120dB
Frequency Response - 10Hz - 50KHz
THD - <0.1% @ 100dB
Impedance - 16 ohms
Sensitivity - 99 dB/1mW (at Drum Reference Point)
Ear Pads - Memory foam, genuine lambskin leather
Weight - 250g

Latest reviews

holden4th

500+ Head-Fier
Pros: Great sound
Bass goes very low
Outstanding imaging and resolution
Excellent for the price
Cons: Cable a bit too long
AUDEZE LCD-1 Review



There are only two reviews of the Audeze LCD-1 in the reviews section, both from Headfiers who already have Audeze headphones that are considerably more expensive than these ones. With that in mind I thought I’d review these from the point of someone who doesn’t have TOTL gear and is looking for an upgrade that might transform their listening experience.

Background: My headphones consist of three Sennheisers (HD580, HD6XX and the older wired Momentum 2s) and the exceptional Flare Gold iems. I tend to use the Golds as portables and the Senns sit at home attached to my iMac. I also have the Shure SRH840 which I use at work. The HD580 is there for classical music and the Momentums for rock/pop/EDM/etc. I bought the HD6XX on a whim as I’d read that they were exactly the same as the famous HD650. The jury is still out on these for me. The HD580 is still a superb headphone and their strength lies in their ability to reproduce tone and timbre which is ideal for classical music. There are two things that they don’t that well. The first is bass reproduction, yes it’s tight and controlled but it’s essentially anaemic. Imaging and instrumental placement could also be somewhat better. I wondered if, for a reasonable price, I could improve on them. Everything was pointing towards the Shure 1540 but they just seemed a bit overpriced for a closed back headphone.

Deciding to buy: While I was researching the Shures and alternatives I came across a couple of reviews of the LCD-1 and my curiosity was piqued. Many of the audio qualities that planars have seemed to be ideal for my classical music listening but the issue had been price. Suddenly, here was a planar headphone from a highly respected audio company at what seemed a very good price. I plunged into the reviews and at times I was wondering if different reviewers were listening to the same set of cans because they varied so much. Lieven, from Headfonia, has always been a go to guy for me with his reviews and it was reading what he said that made me decide to purchase them. Once again, the nice people at ‘Addicted to Audio’ were the people I went to when purchasing.

Unboxing and Listening: The unboxing has been well covered by the previous two reviewers so I’ll skip most of that apart from saying that these were very tastefully packaged and the carry case (which I probably won’t use) is solid and sturdy. They sit comfortably on my head though you do have to think about how you position them to get the best effect but this only takes a few seconds. I’d have preferred a shorter cable but at least it’s not as long as the stock Senn cable for the 580.

First Impressions: My initial audition straight out of the box was somewhat underwhelming and I began to wonder if I’d made a big mistake. They seemed a little tame in the top end, lacking a bit in dynamics and I’d heard stronger bass from my Momentum 2. The soundstage was somewhat compressed though instrument placement and isolation was simply outstanding and that was one of the qualities I was looking for. As I continued to listen to them they began to improve and I used a variety of music to put them through their paces. It wasn’t until I went back to my Flares that I began to realise how good these were. The Flares originally sold for $AUS1700 (fortunately I got them used for less than half that) and you could hear their price reflected in their sound. I’ll do a comparison later in this review. After a week of using the LCD-1 I was delighted with my decision to buy them.

How Do they Sound? As far as I’m concerned these are exceptionally good and the best sounding cans I own, pushing the Flares into second place. What do I like about them? Imaging is top of the list and was my top purchase criteria. Listening to the Beaux Arts Trio’s recording of Haydn’s Gypsy Trio, each member of the ensemble occupied their own separate space. This is impressive as often with piano trio recordings the piano bleeds into the space occupied by the two string players. With the LCD-1, pianist Menahim Pressler sat perfectly between the violin and the cello and I could hear all three separately. I got a sense of being there in person. The second thing that stood out was how natural they sound and I believe a lot of this is down to their level of detail and resolution. It’s been said that increased detail comes from an increased emphasis in the treble but that’s not what I hear. I’m talking about attack and decay of notes. I’m talking about tonal and timbral accuracy. I’m talking texture and also dynamics and it was the latter really made me sit up and listen. A gradual increase in volume (dynamic range) was accurately portrayed during crescendos as opposed to the impression that the music had got louder.

Treble: One of the comments made in some reviews was of a slightly peaky treble. I did hear this at times but worked out that this tended to be a recording and mastering issue and not mistuning on Audeze’s part. I found the treble to be clean, clear and non-fatiguing yet it didn’t sound as if it was rolled off as it is in the 6XX.

Midrange: The midrange is outstanding yet it doesn’t dominate. I am aware of what is happening both above and below that FR. It is alive and energetic yet not seemingly coloured in any way. This results in excellent PRaT. You could say that the midrange is very close to neutral. What also stands out is the texture and resolution. I can hear fingers slide along a guitar string, that slight intake of breath as a vocalist prepares to sing that next line. Tonality and timbre stand out. Well recorded piano is accurately and beautifully portrayed, vocals sound natural and unless it’s been part of the recording process, sibilance is non-existent. The same goes for vocal harshness or shrillness, if it’s not there in the recording then you won’t hear it through the LCD-1.

Bass: A number of reviewers didn’t like the bass (not enough of it) while others sang its praises. To be blunt, if you’re a basshead then the LCD-1 is not for you as the bass does not dominate the frequency range. Some reviewers said it lacked ‘bass slam’. Sorry, but bass doesn’t slam. It might rumble and grumble and be felt viscerally in the pit of your stomach but it doesn’t slam. What did slam was percussion at the upper bass/lower midrange level and this was ‘impactful’, to use a very hackneyed phrase. One of the aspects I’ve always liked about my Flares is the depth and quality of their bass but with the LCD-1 I heard things that the Golds have never reproduced. They go very deep into the sub bass and what’s more there is an impression of texture and layering in the lowest registers that I’ve never heard before. The ultimate test for this is pipe organ and the reproduction of a 32 foot organ pipe brought out the actual note and not an indistinct rumble. You could also hear the chuffing as the air was forced through the pipe. Where the Flares do beat the Audeze is the dynamics in their sub bass. The LCD-1 is dynamically quieter in this region but that said they are incredibly accurate. I love Robbie Shakespeare as a bassist. He’s really a lead guitarist looking to come out of the closet because that’s how he plays his bass. With the LCD-1 you can follow his convoluted rhythms and hear each note clearly as different from the one that preceded it, no matter how low he goes. However, I did want a bit more oomph in the sub bass and managed it by simply raising the 32hz and 64hz range by about +3dB. It still sounds great and it’s not lost any accuracy, clarity or detail.

Sound Stage: I don’t have any issues with the sound stage while some did say it sounded narrow and compressed it was certainly far better than my Momentums. I thought it was wide enough and while there was depth maybe this could have improved. Then again this might be an artefact of my DAC/Amp.

Other Headphones: This brings me to headphone comparisons. First, my Flare Golds. These are great iems and do many of the things that I like extremely well (imaging, tonal accuracy, good sub bass and musicality) but I feel the LCD-1 does them a bit better. My Momentum 2s sound muffled and distorted in comparison to the Audeze. I love my HD580 and would never part with it because it’s been my go to for classical and acoustic music for ages now. However, the LCD-1 has pushed it out of contention in all aspects. No amount of EQing is ever going to fully bring out the lower registers of the HD580 as Sennheiser tuned this aspect out of it. That said, I can still see me using them for piano music, especially the more historical recordings.

Now I get to the contentious part, comparing them to the venerable HD650. I’m basing my opinion on the fact that everyone says the 6XX and 650 are exactly the same. If they’re not the same then what comes next may not be valid but quite simply, the LCD-1 easily outperforms the Sennheiser in virtually every area. What’s wrong with the HD650? Well, there’s the significantly rolled off treble and imaging that puts everything in just three places - the centre, left and right. (It’s also very narrow). Bass has a middle of the range boost and the midrange is emphasised at the expense of the rest of the FR. People talk about the Sennheiser veil and I’m one of those who thinks that it exists, certainly as far as the HD650 is concerned. “Oh, you need a decent and powerful amp to remove the veil” the HD650 aficionados will say. Will 3.5 watts of pure class A amplification at 16 ohms do? If not, what will?

Final thoughts: This review is from the perspective of someone whose budget is limited but wants audiophile sound. I’m running the LCD-1 out of my iMac through the Burson Playmate 2 DAC/Amp. I’m using the SoundSource 4 app to do that little bit of equalisation I talked about. Music came from my own CDs and Level 5 FLAC files. I also used Deezer’s HiFi streaming which I am trialling at the moment (but will not take up). While writing this, Qobuz came online for Australians and this changed the game for me and put Deezer out of the running.

Would I recommend these headphones? Most definitely, especially to those for whom it would be an upgrade like it was for me. For those with far more expensive planars and other TOTL cans I imagine they will be able to pick holes in the LCD-1 sound though I suspect they might be small holes. I haven’t heard any of those more expensive headphones and the LCD-1 satisfies all the criteria I have for great sound. What is paradoxical is that I bought them with the intention of using them mainly for classical music yet I’ve spent a lot of time listening to other genres that I thought my Momentums and the 6XX would take care of. I’ve used both while doing this review and just want to take them off my head and go back to the LCD-1.

As an aside, the LCD-1 improved in sound quality over the first 20-30 hours of use. Now whether that’s burn in or my ears adjusting to the sound signature of the Audeze I don’t really know. What I do know is that for me they got better with more listening. Did they just need a bit of loosening up? Audeze claim to do a burn in for all of their headphones before shipping them. Maybe it just needed a bit more. I suspect my headphone buying is over for now. I’ve got the Audeze LCD-1 for home and the Flare Gold for music on the move via my A&K Junior or my iPhone.
milkdudd
milkdudd
Couldn't agree more. I wish the price was next to or under the star rating. To search through reviews up and down, then give up and do a web search, find a review or a retailer, then to find out they're $4,000 IEM's or DAP. Mildly frustrating to say the least
holden4th
holden4th
Good point about the price and you're right, I should have included it. I bought these for $AUS629 which equates to $US486 but I'm sure that you would get them cheaper in the US. That's 348 pounds in the UK. My Australian price includes 10% Tax which if taken away would make them $AUS567.
J
Jimmyblues1959
Excellent review!

White Noise

Head-Fier
Pros: portable, lightweight, good sound, efficient, good on cheap sources
Cons: somewhat acquired taste (no love at first listen for me), compressed dynamics, maybe too small for some
Today, I’m writing a review of the new Audeze LCD-1, their entry-level (for Audeze) high sensitivity planar magnetic headphone for audiophiles and audio producers (like me) alike. My primary point of comparison is another moderately priced planar headphone from Hifiman, the HE-400i, which has been my daily driver for my production work the past few years. I was about to start saving for a pair of Audeze LCD-Xs when Todd announced this review tour. I was interested in getting a taste of the Audeze house sound before spending four figures on a pair of headphones. And I figured if they were good enough, I might buy the LCD-1 instead and save some money. Huge thanks to Todd the Vinyl Junkie for including me on this review tour. The headphones were sent to me for one week, during which I did some media consumption (Youtube), passive listening (neither of which I have much to say about except that the LCD-1 was fine for both), and put the LCD-1 head to head against my HE 400i in mastering (I mastered the same songs on both headphones, to see how, if at all, the headphones affected my work, more detail on this later in the review). I was not compensated in any way other than having that informative time with the LCD-1.

The first thing that struck me about the headphones as I pulled them out of the box was how small they were. These headphones fold (which I wasn’t aware of), and they get smaller than my Sennheiser HD 280 Pro, which is my portable headphone. Unfolding them, I thought these were supra-aural instead of circum-aural headphones, the earpieces were so small. It turns out that my ears do fit inside the pads, though it’s a smaller space than I’m used to for a circum-aural design. For point of reference, I have the aforementioned Hifimans and Sennheisers, as well as the AKG Q701in my full-size headphone stable. So, I’m used to larger headphones it seems, but as I said my ears fit in the LCD-1s as well. All this smallness also makes the headphones much lighter than what I’m used to for a planar headphone. On the whole, this thing exudes portability, from the build to the included extras (a carrying case and neat-o reversible cable terminating in 3.5mm TRS) and, as I would find later, the efficiency.

On the subject of build, then, this headphone surprised me. The LCD-1, is solidly built, but it’s a lot of plastic to keep the weight down. It’s some of the best plastic I’ve ever seen, though. Better still, this goes away the second you put them on, as no plastic was ever touching me. The center of the headband is a flexible, semi-rubbery material that moves with the metal (I assume steel) headband housed inside of it. The headband adjustment, is solid and very well hidden. The headband does a great job of clamping the earcups to your head firmly enough that they don’t move around once you have them on. Even pressing on the earcups and moving them around a bit was smoother, quieter, and felt better than my Hifimans. The build was not what I expected (in terms of so much plastic) coming from Hifimans, but it was still very good in its own way.

At last, on to sound then. My first impression of the sound coming out of the LCD-1, after plugging them in to the same Schiit Fulla 2 as my Hifimans with the same volume setting, was LOUD. They weren’t kidding when they said these were efficient. After cutting the volume setting significantly, I could make some like-for-like comparisons. The LCD-1 was much brighter (unpleasantly so for me). More detail and texture from top to bottom, but I felt I couldn’t hear as deep into a mix. The soundstage was very narrow in comparison to the 400i, but much more precise in that narrow field. I felt I couldn’t hear or feel as much dynamics, and that everything was squashed flat. In short, I respected the detail, but I didn’t like it - It was a shock and awe assault on my hearing, coming from the Hifiman HE-400i. However, for mixing purposes, liking something isn’t the arbiter of whether it’s any good, it’s the results that it gives you. I could tell there was something in all this sound, so I was very curious how they fared doing work.

I ended up mastering the same two tracks on each headphone to see if they made a difference in my results. I took two representative tracks from IDMforums release 058: Open House (available here: ). I took a track by RFJ called “Four by Afternoon” and “city at worlds end” called “neolite 21+”. The first is a very rich, full track with instruments masking each other a bit, while the second is a more laid-back house track with deep throbbing bass. I chose these two because I still have the unmastered files and they represent a good portion of the kind of songs I’d work on. Doing the RFJ track first, I used the Audeze LCD-1. I found that the bass end of that headphone pulled out much more detail than I expected. There are things I do in the bass region that I can only feel on the Hifiman HE-400i that I could hear clear as day on the LCD. However, the narrow soundstage and lack of dynamics reared their heads later in the process, and I found I was not as sure about decisions I was making when it came to compression and limiting especially. After mastering that same track on both headphones, the masters sounded very similar, but I thought this might be because I had heard the bass on the LCDs and therefore could make better decisions on the bass, even with my HE-400i. So, I decided to call it a night, and master city at worlds end’s track the next day, using the Hifiman first.

With city at worlds end’s track, I used the Hifiman first and indeed I was not as sure about what was happening in the bass. However, when I pulled out the Audeze for the same track, I found that I had landed on the setting that sounded best on the LCD-1s, even though I could barely hear it on the Hifimans. Again, I was not as sure of myself in the compression on the LCD-1s, but I found I was getting used to the soundstage and preferred them when making decisions regarding stereo width. Again though, playing back both sets of masters on both headphones, they were shockingly similar, almost like the same engineer had worked on both sets of recordings….

But I knew there were some differences, I had made both and I knew I’d made different choices with each headphone, no matter how small. I wasn’t expecting a fundamental shift in my sound - I have a sound that I like, I know how to achieve it. Really, the headphones are so similar, they were only telling me different things about to what degree I should be making changes in the sound, but not what changes. For instance, with both headphones I had similar boosts and cuts in EQ, but the Q factor and gain of the individual bands, as well as their exact center frequencies, varied slightly from headphone to headphone. Listening back again on the LCD-1 and HE400i, as well as some other headphones, if I could pick out the slightest difference in my work between the two, it would be that the LCD-1 masters seemed a bit tighter in the bass region, and a bit more open in the top end. But this is minor stuff, I doubt a client would catch the differences. It took me a week of getting to know the headphones to figure out what was different. I put all 4 of the finished tracks into Mastering the Mix Expose to get a look at their levels, and in both cases the LCD master came out .1-.3 LUFS louder, with perhaps .1 db less of dynamic range. Notice those are all changes across an entire mix, of one tenth of a db. No major differences according to the main loudness measurements I use, then.

I thought I didn’t like the Audeze house sound, my first impressions were of a detailed, but overly bright headphone for long-term use for me. However, I have to say the sound has grown on me, and I miss that detail in my Hifimans now. I was listening back to some recent work last night, and I found myself saying “Have my Hifimans always been so dark?”. I’m not convinced that the LCD-1s are the right headphone for me, because I still haven’t gotten past what I feel are slightly compressed or hyped dynamics. Probably just me not being used to smaller over-ear headphones, but not something I want to get used to either. That said, I did find what I think is a killer deal on a used set of LCD-Xs that I did purchase. They arrived today, and I intend to say something on them soon-ish, and will probably end up comparing them to the LCD-1. I have some idea of what to expect while I get used to them, and I still see a place in my lineup for the Hifimans for at least a few months (if not longer - I keep around a set of Grados that get taken out about twice a year). What I learned with the LCD-1 combined with the stellar studio reputation of the LCD-X gave me the confidence to make my biggest headphone purchase yet, and I thank Todd again for giving me the chance to find this out.

If you’re on the fence about the LCD-1, I think it’s worth a listen for more casual listeners. I imagine you will hear new detail revealed in your tracks, especially if they’re your first planars. If these are just your first Audeze, I think you’re in for a different take on the planar sound, and if you can keep an open mind for a day or two, you’ll find them an enlightening listen. To me, the mark of a really good piece of gear is if it can change the way you hear everything else. For me, my first real headphones did this, then my first open backed headphones, then my first planar headphones, and now my first Audeze. I didn’t agree at first, but now I think they might be as good as everyone seems to say.
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ngoshawk

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Portable.
Affordable.
Audeze name.
Very competent overall.
Cons: Don't expect the top-end Audeze sound.
Mostly plastic.
Could be more dynamic.
Audeze LCD-1 ($399): Audeze takes a chance and goes portable.

Many thanks to Todd from TTVJ for the loan of the LCD-1. This is the first stop on a tour. Having participated in many of Todd’s tours (and purchases afterwards, sigh…) he is a boon to the society, and just an upstanding guy. Cheers Todd and thank you!

TTVJ site:
https://www.ttvjaudio.com/Audeze-LCD-1-Planar-Headphone-p/aud9000001.htm

SQ42pC1.jpg


Features:
  • Enhanced transparency and sound stage - Open Circumaural Design
  • Incredibly wide dynamic range - 90mm Over-Ear Planar Drivers
  • Unparalleled sonic detail and accuracy - Ultra-thin Uniforce™ Diaphragms
  • Powerful sound and efficiency - Fluxor™ Magnets
  • Deep rich bass with low audible distortion - Fazor Wave Guides
  • Light-weight construction with robust memory foam ear pads and headband for extended comfort during long listening sessions
  • Robust foldable design, perfect for mixing on the go
  • 3.5mm premium braided cable for tangle-free connection, with reversible headphone connectors for ease of setup
  • 1/4'' adapter included
  • Memory foam, genuine lambskin leather earpads
  • Designed and built in the USA with imported and US made parts
What's included?
  • 2m 3.5mm to dual 3.5mm cable with reversible connectors
  • 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter
  • Zippered travel case
  • Certificate of Authenticity
NgwlHoo.jpg

Specs:

Style - Over-ear, open-circumaural
Transducer type - Planar Magnetic
Magnetic structure - Single-sided Fluxor™ magnet array
Phase management - Fazor
Magnet Type - Neodymium N50
Diaphragm type - Ultra-thin Uniforce™
Transducer size - 90 mm
Maximum power handling - 5W RMS
Maximum SPL - >120dB
Frequency response - 10Hz - 50KHz
THD - <0.1% @ 100dB
Impedance - 16 ohms
Sensitivity - 99 dB/1mW (at Drum Reference Point)
Ear Pads - Memory foam, genuine lambskin leather
Weight - 250g



Initiale:
I will admit I was in the market for two things: a TOTL open-back and another at the $500-700 range for testing purposes. In checking the for-sale thread, I found and purchased a TOTL open-back, the Audeze LCD-3. After settling that, I came across the thread from TTVJ regarding the LCD-1. I had never heard an Audeze unit before, only listened to PinkyPowers gloat over his LCD-3. He wouldn’t even bring it to our mini meets, which of course was his right. After much reading, I did pull the string, and awaited the LCD-1 tour unit as well.

As luck would have it, we had a snow day Friday, so I could sit by my mailbox in the rain, snow, sleet, freezing rain awaiting our postman; who will not come up my drive and honk as requested due to our dog. I have repeatedly told him she cannot reach the driveway, but to no avail. He saw me sitting there (after an hour and a half…), took pity upon me and cut his route to give me the two units. He really is a nice guy and treats us well. We give him Christmas cookies as well, but that’s another story. So, having never heard an Audeze, I purposely opened the LCD-1 first to give a listen as I did not want to taint the signature in my mind. After assuring all was good, and the sound worked, I placed the critter on my Shanling M2x for burn in over the next two days. I always do this, even though Audeze espouses that the units come “burned in.” I want you the reader to get the impression of what the unit sounds like 6 months down the road. I am glad I did the listen, which turned into about an hour before retiring the unit for the night. I then blissfully spent the rest of the evening with the LCD-3’s perched upon my cranial matter.

That initial hour was of good quality, and I am glad I listened before moving on to the LCD-3. I knew going in (based upon reviews) that the bass would not be of such high quality, but it really is not meant to be that shattering. I could get a sense of all sound represented well, with no peakiness or lacks.


uvgBQ0D.jpg

Gear used/compared:

All prices in USD, unless noted otherwise

Audeze LCD-3 ($1945)
Sendy Aiva ($399)
VModa Crossfade II ($299)
Verum Audio Verum 1 ($349)


Cayin N6 mk2
Dethonray DTR1/HA-2 Class A amp
Shanling M2x
XDuoo x10t ii/iFi Pro iDSD

Songs used:

Tidal Premium and SD card

Coldplay-All I Can think About Is You
Coldplay-A Message
Coldplay-White Shadows
Dona Onete-Sonos de Adolescente
Los Lonely Boys- Heaven (en Espanol)
twenty one pilots-Trees
twenty one pilots-Car Radio
twenty one pilots-Heathens
Damian Marley-Everybody Wants To Be Somebody
Damian Marley-So A Child May Follow
Damian Marley-The Struggle Discontinues
Ziggy Marley-Lighthouse
Ziggy Marely-See Dem Fake Leaders
Mark Knopfler-Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes
Santana w/ Mana- Corazon Espinado
The new twenty one pilots album, Trench
The new Mark Knopfler album, Down The Road Wherever
Big Head Todd & The Monsters-Beautiful World
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Lindsey Stirling

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Unboxing:


The LCD-1 comes in a tasteful glossy black box, with a lid over the bottom half. With sides that do not go all the way to the bottom half, the lid comes off easily, not like some where you need the strength of a body builder to open… Upon opening, you are met with a glossy sleeve, which contains the short manual and the “credit card,” which carries the serial number as a means of authenticity. Lifting the sleeve off, you are met with the clamshell semi-rigid case, which contains the good stuff. Opening the case, the two sides came protected with foam layers covering each cup for protection. A thoughtful aspect, as these will shift during shipping.

After pulling the unit out, the cable comes next, with its 3.5mm connectors going into each side after removing the cable from the fishnet sleeve. An interesting twist is the inclusion of a felt-like Velcro laden cover. I assume this is set so you can tuck the cable underneath and not have to worry about it or the adapter falling out of the fishnet sleeve. A nice addition. Once those items are out, that is it. No other extras. And that is all right. Too often today, we expect audio companies to fill the boot with free extra kit, which to be honest will hardly get used. I’d rather the price be kept moderate so one could spend that extra on a new cable or pads.


Design/Fit-n-Finish:

There is no getting around it, the Audeze are smaller than their sibling, and made mostly of plastic. That seems to be the norm now in the sub-$500 price and sometimes beyond (think other portables such as the CA Cascade or VModa Crossfade II, which to its credit has a fair bit of metal). Using this material brings two factors into play: they are lighter, and also better suited to portability requirements such as folding and taking less space. So, in that regard, I’m OK with that. If one has had the pleasure of trying/owning/using the high end Audeze LCD-series though, you might be disappointed in plastic. Well, I would say you need not worry for the quality of build is quite good, with only the occasional creak coming out of one cup from where the cable enters. I will play around with that later to determine the cause in more detail.

Since this is an over-ear, and portable it must draw a fine line between accommodating larger ears and portability. For my slightly larger than normal ears (they are getting bigger as I age), the fit worked, and I could get comfortable. These are not as portable as say the VModa Crossfade II but close to the Cascade. For the purposes of a very nice planar, it is quite acceptable. Plus, with enough movement fore/aft, up/down I had no trouble achieving a good fit.

Other than the creak, the LCD-1 are built well, with no visible imperfections, and at this price I would hope not. Since Audeze has straightened their processes out, they have very little trouble if any, and the LCD-1 shows good work in the assembly-line based process. Adjustment was quick and easy with enough movement of the cups to give me a good fit, unlike others such as HiFiMan, which could learn a thing or two regarding the fit of their headphones from other companies such as Audeze. To not have fore/aft movement of the cup is a disservice. And a deal breaker in my mind. With the LCD-1 there is enough play that the fore/aft movement makes for a solid fit and seal.

The headband uses a combination of memory foam and Lambskin for a soft supple feel, even if it is a one-piece. So far so good, and the softness should aid in using the unit for longer listening sessions. The earcups are made of the same material and supple as well. I had a bit of discomfort due to the tighter grip, but it was not as tight as the VModa’s. Those are like a soft-cup vice grip. Tolerable but tight.

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Sound:

I will admit I was a bit underwhelmed upon first listen, but that changed as I adjusted to the planar sound. What I might had conveyed as a lack of bass came across as competent, tight and sufficient. Certainly not as much as the LCD-3, but when utilizing the smaller sized planar that is to be expected. In that vein, the LCD-1 performed well. I will also admit that much of what I read came across as gushing praise for the Audeze. Some even mentioned product of the year status. I’m not sure I would go that far, but I was becoming enamored with the mini-me of the bigger brethren.

Laid back mids lend itself to a relaxing listen as opposed to some portables, which have a much more forward signature. I am not a fan of in your face mids and prefer them to meld into the overall schema of the sound. Much like the Legend X on the IEM side and the LCD-3 of headphone variety. In this regard, the LCD-1 is competent and very willing to be used in that regard.

With regard to the top end, thankfully it is pleasantly rolled off (to me) for my tastes. I cannot tolerate grating or spikey treble but do prefer a bit of sparkle to highlight to uppers. With regard to that, the LCD-1 falls short. There is not the sparkle, which would have made the LCD-1 simply stellar. But it is competent again, and unoffending. For those who prefer more up top, you might be able to EQ some in, but I am not sure. I did find a somewhat interesting notion of cymbal hits on certain songs, which to me gave them an artificiality and separation from the overall sound. I had to listen several times to a twenty one pilots song in order to isolate it. But it was there. Almost an anomaly, but listening closely to other cymbal hits, I could discern it in a scant couple others. I’m not sure I am the best for discerning the source or sorcery in play, but I did notice it.

Since it is a smaller planar, and portable, sound stage suffers a bit, but not as much to me as some have mentioned. I find it satisfyingly wide and tall. With good depth to boot, there is definite space, which allows the note to breath enough for quite nice detail and clarity. This is a pleasant listen, with enough of the above to make for an enjoyable ride. Isolation for an open back is actually quite good, which I have noticed may be an Audeze trait (albeit sample size of two., mind you…), with hearing the pounding of my keyboard and the hockey game on the tele as mild distractions. In that regard, the LCD-1 is quite good. Of course, that would drop noticeably upon a commute. But that isn’t always bad as hearing your surroundings isn’t a bad thing.

As far as portability, the LCD-1 does not really limit much of the sound, which I do believe was Audeze’s point. Sufficient layering to keep you interested, and good separation allow the listener to imagine a larger concert hall as needed. Notice I did not say experience. One would be stretching that point. But there is enough there to allow the listener to enjoy the feel if not the actual.
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Comparisons:

Audeze LCD-1 ($399) vs Audeze LCD-3 ($1945):

I bring this is to show the heritage (I know a reach, but I just got them and love the 3’s). With some critical listening, it becomes apparent that the LCD-1 comes from the Audeze line. On Do What You Have To Do, the piano and vocal duet form a concerted almost sensuous sound on both. The LCD-1 holds its own nicely but cannot compare really. This become apparent on Don’t Talk from 10,000 Maniacs. Sounding a bit shallow, the difference is marked. So, some sound good while others tolerant. That is not a knock against the LCD-1 no, but rather praise for the LCD-3.

Audeze LCD-1 ($399) vs Sendy Aiva ($399):

The look of the Aiva alone took me in. Yes, I fell victim to an impulse, “flavor of the month” purchase. But, after breaking it in, and listening for well over 150 hours, I still like the sound. A bit middling in the mids, which are a tad veiled to me, nonetheless female vocals come out magnificently. Easy to drive, gorgeous at which to look, and more sub bass allow the Aiva to rightly hold a place in my regular lineup. The downside? It isn’t portable (that much), isolation is average to below (but it is an open back) plus the looks alone make me not want to take the unit out in public. It is not built for commuting, but rather an office where you have a solo office, or fine home listening.

Overall, I find the clarity to be better in the Aiva, but the Audeze sound is still quite good. I can clearly hear everything outside the Aiva, so the LCD-1 wins there as well. The Aiva is an excellent product, which many are now copying. Either that or they all come from the same factory but are tailored to the individual companies tastes.


Audeze LCD-1 ($399) vs VModa Crossfade II ($299):

Some time ago, I was in the market for a portable potentially BT closed-back headphone. The VModa was getting good reviews, so I purchased and open box for a song. BT connectivity was strong, and personally I could hear little difference between cable and BT (I could, but the differences did not bother me. Smaller cups than the LCD-1, this is almost an on-ear. Tailored towards a bassy-response the Crossfade’s have the most bas quantity of the ones listed here. That makes sense as it is the only closed-back of the bunch. But since Audeze is legendary for their bass reproduction, I fell the comparison is merited. I do enjoy the bass.

Easier to drive than the LCD-1, the bass does override the overall signature. This is one of the first “audiophile-type” pair of affordable-portables on the market. As such, compact size and a good dose of bass were warranted as well as a good push in the uppers. On Don’t Talk the best and Achilles of both ends comes through to me. Bass is fairly tight, and quite present supporting Natalie’s sumptuous voice. But the upper becomes a bit grating to me and piercing. This could be my intolerance due to old hearing loss-based ears and would be less of a problem on a commute. But in a listening room, to me it becomes quite apparent, and I have to turn the volume down. I would not tout this as a deficiency of the VModa, no. But rather a factor of the song, and my intolerance. In this regard, the LCD-1 fits my sound signature listening pleasures more.

I really do still like the Crossfade’s and need to find a way for them to fit into my rotation more.

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Audeze LCD-1 ($399) vs Verum Audio Verum 1 ($349):

The Verum comparison will be from memory and drawn from my Verum review here: (https://ngoshawksounds.blog/2019/09/08/verum-audio-verum-1-the-story-of-one/). I found the Verum to be a fantastic representation at the price point. I could easily live with it at the sub-$400 price, even with the reports of early QC. The later units have that ironed out as much as one would expect. As far as sound, the Verum sounds “similar” to the Aiva, but without that mid-drop (to me), and hence a bit better clarity. Upon listening, I found myself thinking I had made a mistake in purchasing the Aiva (I didn’t), because I liked the Verum more. Isolation (lack of) is on par with the Aiva, and much less than the LCD-1. Here to me is an excellent benefit of the Audeze. That isolating of sound even though it is an open back. The LCD-1 is good, quite good, but for my purposes I prefer the sound signature of the Verum 1.

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Sources:

The LCD-1 does benefit from a better source but performed adequately on those of a more frugal nature. That is kind of the point with the LCD-1, since many will undoubtedly use this with their Smartphone. I did not, but the affordable Shanling M2x would qualify as a budget source.

Cayin N6 mk2: Upon arrival to my abode, the N6 mk2 has been my most used DAP, and my near-reference one as well. The warmth of sound is marvelous, but one does benefit from a higher-end source to receive the true benefit. Tidal Premium sounds full and rich, with a bit less warmth than the LCD-3, but that is to be expected. La Venganza de Los Pelados sounds quite nice, even with that lack of warmth. I can turn the volume up and enjoy the sound without trouble though. The limitations of the LCD-1 show through, but the sound is so good, you can pretty much gloss over them.

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Dethonray DTR1/HA-2 Class A amp: For those who have not experienced the DTR1, I named it my portable audio product of the year. @Wiljen warned me that it was good, and upon hearing his, I purchased one. When it comes down to it, it really is about the sound, and few that I have heard can match that in the Dethonray. Playing Crazy Mary through the combo provides a superb balance between warmth, bass depth and clarity. The HA-2 adds nicely to the already stellar DTR1 sound, and alone it is quite exquisite. Throw on the Class-A HA-2 and you get that added power for when you need it. I was already smitten with the DTR1, and then to add more magic from Anson in the form of the HA-2, simply adds more icing and ice cream to the mix. I like ice cream.

Shanling M2x: Primarily used as my portable on the go unit, the M2x has replaced my M5s in that regard. As such to me it provides about 85% of the sound for 50% of the price. That is a pretty fair trade off all around. Using Crazy Mary again, the sound while not as vibrant as either the N6ii or Dethonray combo is quite acceptable. This envisions to me where Audeze wants to proceed. Have very good sound for the portable market at an affordable price. Many say that you should upgrade headphones or source first, and for those who only want to use their Smart-device or small DAP, the LCD-1 fits well. I would be quite happy with the pairing listed here as my go to portable set up. Of course, under the guise of fairly noise-free situations.

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XDuoo x10t ii/iFi xDSD: Another pairing of which I am quite fond provides a sound quite close to the Dethonray combo. In fact, for many situations I like this pairing more due to the additional features on the xDSD. This is still a superb little amp and with the added bonus of the 3D+ and Bass+ features you can add the holography missing in some headphones such as the LCD-1 and add some bass. I will admit I enjoy pretty much anything I hook up to this pair and as fancy needs switch the two “eq” settings on and off. To me with the LCD-1, they sound a little listless with the pair off, so on they stay!

Conclusion:

With all the hype surrounding the LCD-1, one would be right in considering it as product of the year. Ears more versed than mine would be able to better espouse the finer virtues of what I may miss. I do think that I try and look at most sound to give an honest representation of what is heard. But it is those others who may better be able to describe in better musical detail.
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With that said, the LCD-1 is quite good. Not spectacular (to me) in any vein, but very competent in most. That laid-back signature is more akin to my tastes in a headphone as such, and once I heard the LCD-3, I knew I had made the right decision in purchasing a pair. The Audeze sound is one, which is different than other brands of the same price stratosphere. And it can hold its place among those best to me. Here is where I think Audeze did some reverse engineering to accommodate a lower price. Largely to me they have succeeded. The LCD-1 is indeed portable (with to me a quite acceptable size), has very good build quality (even with mostly plastic due to price and portability), and has sound, which should appeal to many looking for an entry into the Audeze sound. I found myself sitting back and turning the volume up a bit more to see if my better half and daughter-unit could hear the critter. Once I drew the dirty looks, I knew I had reached the threshold. But with the LCD-1 it was much higher than most open backs I own, which I consider a win.

If one is looking for an affordable-portable from a high-end company such as Audeze and like a bit of laid-back sound with good bass reach and good fit one should consider the LCD-1.

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Richard Wray
Richard Wray
The cable is already balanced. Just a bit of time with a soldering iron is needed :)
J
Jimmyblues1959
Great review!
ngoshawk
ngoshawk
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Much obliged.

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