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Over-Ear item created by leesure, Nov 21, 2013
Pros - great build quality. Great bass and mid range compared to other headphones.
Cons - Falls short in alot of way to similar priced headphones. Heavy and uncomfortable
After my LCD 2 review, I believe I was not the only one who had high hopes for the LCD X. Please be advised that according to some what reliable sources, LCD series vary in sound due to the fact that it is hand made. What I have reviewed here can be taken as the general ballpark of what the LCD X represents in the LCD series.
From their website:
Audeze’s origins go back to 2008 when founders Sankar Thiagasamudram and Alexander Rosson met engineer Pete Uka who developed specialized flexible circuit materials for NASA. They quickly realized the material might be perfect for headphones. That’s when Dragoslav Colich, who has 30+ years’ experience in designing planar drivers, joined the team as CTO to create the LCD-1 headphone.
Then we created the legendary, award-winning LCD-2 and LCD-3 headphones, and the higher-efficiency LCD-X and XC models. More recently, we made planar magnetic technology accessible to a wider audience with the EL-8 and SINE series headphones. Audeze turned to their strategic partner Designworks, a BMW Group Subsidiary, for the cutting-edge industrial design for the new headphones as well as the Deckard DAC/Amplifier.
Audeze feature proprietary planar magnetic designs with extremely thin-film driver materials and powerful custom magnets. Planars overcome many limitations inherent in typical cone drivers; our lightweight diaphragms are, for example, faster and more responsive than heavier moving-coil or dome drivers. Planar magnetic diaphragm also have a voice-coil circuit spread across the diaphragm surface. The diaphragm’s voice-coil circuit interacts with the magnetic field to produce an electromagnetic force that moves the diaphragm back and forth creating the sound you hear when energized by an audio signal.
This review unit was lent to me by audio excellence, for a review. Nevertheless, my review will contain no bias
Style Open circumaural
Transducer type Planar magnetic
Magnetic structure Proprietary push-pull design
Magnet type Neodymium
Transducer size 106 mm
Maximum power handling 15W (for 200ms)
Sound pressure level >130dB with 15W
Frequency response 5Hz – 20kHz extended out to 50kHz
Total harmonic distortion <1% through entire frequency range
Impedance 20 ohms
Efficiency 103dB / 1mW
Optimal power requirement 1 – 4W
THE BUILD QUALITY
Unlike the LCD 2 with its exotic wood, LCD X goes hardcore and is made of all metal/aluminum. Which brings to the outcome of “incredible build quality” but also incredible weight and discomfort, more so than the LCD 2.
The drivers used are planar magnetic drivers and to me, this is a plus because other than the fact that Audeze has great experience tuning these types of drivers, these types of drivers can make a more impactful sound.
Included is also their latest technology, the “fazor,” which is a wave guide to increase the clarity and lower distortion.
Lower Frequencies: With a satisfying amount of sub bass, LCD X presents more in quantity than the LCD 2 but falls short in controlling it. Thus, the tightness and punchy bass that LCD 2 posses becomes a little loose in the LCD X.
Mid Frequencies: Where as I found the LCD 2 to excel in micro detail in this range, I found the LCD X to be less micro detailed but more so euphoric like the HD650s with less vocal presence overall. The guitar and violin really stands out, which can be a plus for some people but for me, it felt a little too fatiguing. For example, Lindsey Stirling’s songs all sounded peaky.
High Frequencies: Falls short in the upper range compared to HD800s but excels in the lower ranges. Falls short in mid range and overall control than the LCD 2. Falls short in resolution and imaging compared to the hifiman edition x v2 but excels in tonality. In short, LCD X falls short to other TOTL headphones but still excels in some way to keep its place for people that really enjoy that bass quantity with added LCD’s house sound signature.
Soundstage/imaging: The soundstage was larger than the HD650 and tad smaller than the LCD 2 and Hifiman edition x v2. Imaging also felt short to the HD800s or Edition x v2.
Bottom line, I would personally recommend the LCD 2 over the LCD X. Although LCD X is great for bass lovers.
Pros - Crazy midrange; sub-woofer type bass; easy to drive; very comfortable; fun sounding; appetite suppressant; great build quality...
Cons - It might lack a bit in the treble region;soundstage; some might find it too heavy initially (but will get used to it eventually)haha
I am not gonna get very technical here simply because I can’t bring in numbers and show you graphs. Even if I want to show you all that I simply can’t do it; it is beyond me. But guess what? I have got great pair of ears! When thousands of people sit there and rave about a particular headphone,I wonder how can they praise it so much when there are so many faults with it.Yeah,I am that kind of guy.This is gonna be a very honest review,and this is only my experience with LCDx,so take it with a grain of salt.And also,I am not going to use complicated words here,so that every Tom,Dick and Harry would easily understand my opinion on LCD-X.I am in a hurry so let's finish this quickly.
The LCD-X is different from the LCD3 as it is fun-sounding. The LCD3 might sound a bit more refined but it lacks that flirting,horny and nasty punch of LCD-X.And that is the reason why there are a lot of guys who prefer the LCD-X to the LCD3.
I am not saying this a perfect headphone. It has its faults. But you can easily overlook them as it sounds damn good. I find the vocals just right.The vocals are full and you will get a nice texture of singers’ voice. The vocals sound predominantly thin and artificial in my other headphones. My girlfriend doesn't give a crap about earphones or headphones.But with LCD-X it is different;Life of Pi's lullaby brought tears in her eyes. Yeah,if you are weak at heart,you ‘will’ cry.If you have stubborn balls,you may not cry.You can even find faults in singer’s voice.You may even find imperfections in your favorite singer’s voice.You may even hate some of the singers due to the same reason.You gotta make sure that you use high quality files, otherwise this headphone will disappoint you for sure. Buy legit flac files.If you don’t do this you may think you just wasted your money, and you may calculate how many things and how many pairs of lingerie you could have bought for your girlfriend with the same amount of money.The only downside is that when you hear some female vocals with that tempting texture,you may end up in the bathroom.My previous headphones never made me to go to the bathroom. Amen to that!Cheap jokes apart,let's get to the bass.
If this is your first experience with the planar,then I don’t know what to say because you don’t get any boosted bass here.The bass is just right.It is not overpowering in any way.Some bassheads may crave for more bass.That’s what they always do! For me,if you pair it with the right amp like Woo Audio WA7,then you will hear something that may stay with you as a reference level bass.The bass goes pretty deep with excellent quality and quantity,yeah just like an expensive sub-woofer but devoid of physical impact that you receive from a sub-woofer.It is very smooth,not sloppy in any way,but with the right amount of tightness and weight.Sometimes,I expect a certain amount of bass in a particular song,but it won’t even be there as much as I thought as my previous headphones lied through their teeth.It happens to you too.Sometimes,the bass will surprise you with its tremendous depth as your previous headphones didn’t have the balls to produce that kind of bass.So,you will be in for a lot of surprises in a good way.
The LCD-X might lack a bit in the treble region.Hey don’t frown! This is not a serious complaint.It could just be subjective.Some guys wouldn’t even notice this.But I still think the treble could have been a bit better.Try it before you buy this headphone if you are a treblehead.Only this,and I don’t have any problem with the mids or the bass. The midrange and the treble won't hurt my ears even if I crank up the volume very loud.
You are going to get a good soundstage but not like the HD800.To put it briefly,I personally didn't like the HD800's overall sound quality.It is too nude for my tastes.But the HD800 excels in soundstage.
This is important,guys.That is why I making a separate paragraph here,haha.I have listened to many headphones up to $1700,and the LCD-X is different.This thing happened with everybody and that is why I am telling you this.We were five of us when we received the headphone, and at that time we were feeling very hungry and my friends were getting restless as we had nothing in our stomach, and we thought of listening to a particular song and then going for some food,but it went on for the next seven and a half hours before I realized we hadn't been thinking about food.You will lose your appetite,guys.And it is guaranteed! In fact,you lose yourself in music.One song,guys,just one song and it charges you up completely;no coffee is required.It changes the very atmosphere of the room!
I sincerely urge you to go for a good DAC/AMP.The LCD-X is just 20ohms and has good sensitivity,and this might make you jump up and down thinking that you can drive it to its fullest potential with a portable music player.No dude,you are wrong! Please try this headphone before you buy it and the same goes for any headphone even if it is made in heaven.
No cheap jokes this time.I am damn serious!
I have spent enough time with my LCD-X to update here.I am gonna eat half star here, and that becomes four stars out of five.In fact,I thought of giving three and a half as my ears have become better.Previously, it was four and a half.The LCD-X,like many say,is not an all-rounder.It sounds great for sure,but don't just buy opinions when someone says it has got jaw-dropping,earth-shattering bass.The bass is above average and lacks expected impact at times which left me disappointed,but not always.Again I am in the territory of nitpicking,haha.Never blind buy LCD-X thinking that it is going to solve all your problems.Recently,I listened to some songs through LCD-X,and the headphone couldn't handle the subbass as I thought it would.The bass was all over the place.The song is Ya Baba by Zack Knight.The LCD-X sucked big time handling the song! It is not just this song;there are many.This is a great headphone but still needs a lot of improvement.I urge you to try it before you buy it;I keep repeating this because for some people $1700 is a lot of money.If my review helps them to make good decisions,I am ready to accept any length of criticisms.This is just my opinion!
I must say this guys and I am sorry.The LCD-X lacks finesse in handling the treble.It is not bad,but it certainly lacks that skill, at least in my opinion.If the headphones were $1000,I would say ''yes''. As one of the reviewers has already pointed out,this HP is not worth $1700.Are there better options available at this price point? I don't know.But this headphone certainly beats all the headphones below $800.I will be back if there is anything.Till then,hold your horses. If you have any questions,you can PM me.
My Final Ratings (Out of 10)
Value for money: 5.7
Pros - neutrality, tops and mids
Cons - Misses a few tricks in the LF
The best headphones I have ever owned by far, I would never have ever considered the prospect that one day you may be able to mix a complex piece of music down with headphones! However sadly I cannot trust them 100%, I still have to switch to my main monitoring system, which does show the headphones miss a few tricks in the LF range. Mids and tops are almost perfection. All in all very pleased. Would love to hear the LCD'3s.
NB. A good quality headphone amp is a must for these baby's regardless of the company's claims.
Pros - Lush but detailed highs, lows, and mids, scales up and down beautifully, scales to the top in terms of my perfect signature, great connectors!
Cons - Q
Note: Please note that this LCD-X was received as part of the HeadAmp Headphone Demos tour for the LCD-X. I do not own the X, but had it for a 7 day period where I was able to test and write a review, then send it to the next tour participant. These are my opinions and YMMV based on your preferences and your equipment.
Having the LCD-X tour unit for a few days, I decided to do an Audeze family shootout between the 2, 3, and the X – and added the Fostex TH900 for good measure. Using m2man’s experienced ear, we tested the lineup using his expensive home setup including his:
Laptop > USB > Off-Ramp 5 > HDMI > PWDmkII > Schiit Mjolnir (not to mention a lot of power conditioning)
We plugged two in at a time to quickly switch back and forth using both the Mjolnir's 4pin and dual 3pin XLR outputs. With the LCD-X’s lower impedance, it made it harder to volume match, but the results were consistent up and down the volume range as we adjusted the volume.
LCD2.2 The LCD2.2 was my first jump into high end TOTL headphones and for good reason. At the time there was the HD800 vs. LCD2.2 and it seemed to be a line in the sand between two very different audiophile factions. The HD800 was awesome for classical with its oversized sound stage and delicate details. The Audeze signature was more for the romantic audiophile that wants to feel the emotion with a thick euphoric, tube-like sound. It works better with Pop, Rock, and EDM genres. While both are great headphones, the line in the sand still exists while new contenders try to straddle the line but typically end up not as good at either. In fact, IMO - the only headphone that can beat an Audeze is another Audeze. While I would love to add the HD800 to my stable, it just is not very versatile steering me toward adding to my Audeze family instead.
I am a big fan of the fat and colored Audeze house sound but find that it scales differently with different options. I find with Audeze planers, and specifically my LCD2.2 - that the signature is dark and somewhat congested at lower power while providing a very musical and fun sound signature. Then as it is scaled up in power, the sound stage opens up and the treble come out of hiding for improved detailing and layering. Finally the amps I have heard are either laid back (Bryston) or aggressive (Mojo) in nature providing options for you listening preferences not to mention different tunings.
LCD3 IMO, compared to my LCD2.2, m2man’s LCD3 sound very similar in signature to the LCD2.2 but faster for a little more clarity, extended a little more on top, and a little sweeter especially in the mid frequency range. However, the sweet and extended treble is what defines it over the LCD2.2. When the LCD2.2 is scaled up with power its treble comes out as well so the differences become smaller and harder to hear unless doing a direct A/B. Therefore, while I would definitely take an LCD3 over a 2, I cannot justify the jump in price for the little bit of increase in SQ. The earpads are more comfortable, but I can just buy the earpads as an upgrade to the 2s for much cheaper. The only reason that I can see doing the 3s over the 2s for the price is in pairing with a tube amp that is under powered to bring out the treble in the Audeze signature.
Conclusion: The LCD3 is a LCD2 with a lusher and sweeter treble.
LCD-X The LCD-X on the other hand, while retaining the Audeze house sound, seems to have a shifted signature. It feels shifted up in the frequency range and a little faster yet providing even greater clarity than my LCD2.2 or the m2man’s LCD3s. It’s not that the LCD-X is lacking in the bass department either, but the bass seems to be turned down a notch keeping it from getting in the way of the rest of the frequency range. The result is a very realistic sounding sound stage that is even wider and closer to being there. However, to me the LCD-X is all about the mids - the have sweeter sounding mids than I have ever heard before while integrating seamlessly into the rest of the frequency range.
Conclusion: The LCD-X is a LCD2 with lusher mids and treble with the frequency shifted up a little.
LCD-XC (Auditioned Separately) I heard the XC at a later date during CANJAM 2014 in Colorado. While sounding a lot like the X, it had a bit more treble presence that made it more prone to harshness with the wrong recording. It had very nice isolation and is perfect for my needs, but I like the X much better causing me to pause in my purchase.
Conclusion: The XC is a beautiful closed X with harsher treble.
Fostex TH9000 The Fostex TH900 is a very nice sounding headphone, but IMO the LCD-X was the clear winner. In fact, both m2man and I felt that the LCD-X swept the shootout easily.
Scaling Down with FiiO X5 As an added point of interest, I happened to have the X5 DAP tour unit at the same time so we took a listen on it as well. While using a DAP is an obvious step down from a good desktop setup, it is nice to be able to listen to quality sound without being chained to the desktop. The short of it is that the LCD-X scales down extraordinarily well providing a sound quality far closer to the m2man’s desktop sound that any other in the lineup. While this bodes well for the LCD-X, it also speaks to how high quality and authoritative of a sound that the X5 really puts out. I was quite impressed with the X5 and will be getting on at their launch. Scaling down is an often overlooked value point for a headphone, but one that is of particular importance for the LCD-X. For anyone interested in more details with the X5, you can find my X5 review with headphone pairings at:
Pros - Deep & heavy bass, full-sounding mid-range, high efficiency
Cons - Compacted soundstage; lack of scale, musical dynamics, & clarity; heavy & prone to discomfort during long listening sessions
(click for a larger version)
I recently got the opportunity to audition the LCD-X in-home for 6 days thanks to HeadAmp's Headphone Demo program (getting in on it at the tail end of the West list, right before they were to go back to HeadAmp) which calls for my usual disclaimer: 6 days was naturally not long enough to truly get to know the headphones, so my opinion should not be considered finalized and is subject to change (so, extra grains of salt and all that). I was able to listen to the LCD-X for about 4-6 hours each night while I had it though, and I felt that I got to know it relatively well despite the short amount of time I had with it.
Some personal background on me since I've blanked out my profile (and don't intend on re-filling it): I've heard or owned nearly all of Audeze's headphones to date—I demoed the LCD-1 at CanJam 2009 (in Los Angeles, CA), and previously owned the LCD-2 r1, LCD-2 r2 (twice, most recently late last year), and LCD-3, all of which I heard with various amps, both at home and at various meets/shows. I've also previously owned some of the competing dynamic flagships, like the Sennheiser HD800, Beyerdynamic T1, and Fostex TH900, along with other planar magnetic headphones like the MrSpeakers Mad Dog and HiFiMan HE-400, and the electrostatic Stax OII MKI & HeadAmp BHSE (for a period of just over 3 years), along with many other headphones over the last 8 years that range in price from the $20 Koss KSC75 (which I still own, and consider the best-value “headphone” of all time!) all the way up to the discontinued Sony Qualia 010 which is the most expensive headphone that I've ever bought (at around $3.8K). So I consider myself somewhat familiar with the “landscape” of headphones in general, including some of the high-end models, though admittedly not all of them.
I'll get straight to my personal conclusion of the LCD-X: I could quickly tell it wasn’t for me after spinning the first few tracks and now don't intend on ever buying one, well unless perhaps a future audition on a higher-power amp and high-end source makes it sound drastically different & better to me. It still had too much of Audeze's “house sound,” and although it did indeed sound very good, the longer I listened, the more that certain sonic aspects bothered me and ultimately put me off. I even ended up concluding that I'd much rather re-acquire the much cheaper AKG K712 which I previously owned (note: K712, not a typo to mean the K812, which I haven't heard yet), along with a Garage1217 Project Ember which I also previously had at the same time (which is a killer high-value amp btw—wish I'd had it to test drive the LCD-X too).
And to add even more insult to the LCD-X, I also concluded that it wasn’t really all that much of a sonic upgrade from my current low-end & mid-fi headphones (listed below in the Equipment Setup section). Granted, it was certainly appreciably “better” in most ways than the AD2K, HD598, and CAL, but I wouldn't say that it sonically destroyed any of my other headphones (with perhaps the exception of the CAL, but even then the CAL has the advantage of being light-weight, closed, & portable), and to the credit of both the AD2K and HD598, there were actually certain CD tracks where I preferred one of their sounds much more than the LCD-X's, like the HD598 for ambient electronica or the AD2K for certain female vocals, metal, and other types of electronica.
I would've liked to have been able to directly compare the LCD-X to one of the other Audeze models, or to another dynamic or planar magnetic flagship (especially so that this review might have been more useful), so in lieu of that I had to rely on my previous headphone experience & recollections, which I fully admit upfront may be unreliable.
With that said, I found the LCD-X to generally continue the Audeze tradition established by the LCD-2 and LCD-3. It reminded me more of the LCD-3 though, and I can't state that enough. It brought back all the memories of the LCD-3, both good and bad, but at least this time all of that sound was on a much more efficient and lower-impedance headphone, which I considered a good thing. Summing up the LCD-X's sound would be re-stating the LCD-3 for me: very strong, deep bass with a highly physical, visceral, tactile sound; very full mid-range & mid-bass that added more to bass guitars and male vocals than anything else; and all of that in a notably intimate & up-close presentation. All of that made for an overall very heavy, rich, & full sound, very much like a (complementary) sonic inverse to something like the prevalent HD800. So I could easily imagine that someone would want to own both the LCD-X and HD800 for different reasons.
Like the LCD-3, the LCD-X performed very well overall with the variety of mostly-contemporary music styles that I threw at it, pretty much failing on only two of my main listening genres, classical music and ambient electronica. It failed on classical music especially because, like the LCD-3, it unfortunately continued the relative lack of scale, musical dynamics, & clarity. For more details on what those mean, please refer to my LCD-3 review linked below where those are all explained in the comparison to the SR-007/BHSE. This continued lack of scale, musical dynamics, & clarity was probably the most disappointing thing about the LCD-X to me, because I was hoping for some progress from Audeze on those qualities. Additionally, it didn’t help that the LCD-X’s tone on violins just didn’t sound completely “right” to me and sounded a bit “downshifted” from what would’ve been properly trebly. And on top of that, Julia Fischer’s performance on her Bach Concertos album didn’t sound very Baroque-ish either (fast, agile, light, etc).
One other main reason the LCD-X failed on both classical & ambient electronica for me is because it also carried over the relatively small, compacted soundstage from the LCD-2 and LCD-3. If the soundstage was any bigger than on the LCD-2/LCD-3, I obviously didn't know since I didn't have those on hand, but like those two, the LCD-X was quite suffocating-sounding to me too. Not that I personally like the imposed large soundstage of the Sennheiser HD800 either, because I don't, but I do generally prefer a soundstage that's somewhere between the HD800 and Audeze LCD headphones so nothing sounds cramped or compacted, or too diffuse either—and in my experience, AKG's K7xx headphones have typically delivered soundstages somewhere along that middle-ground. The reason I mention this is because I've always found ambient electronica (more than any other genre) to sound best on headphones with decently-sized soundstages since it needs that effect to sound properly spread-out & diffuse, and the LCD-X just didn't deliver that with its compacted soundstage.
And if the LCD-X was more neutral than any other Audeze headphones, of course I couldn't really tell that either. It did sound reasonably close to “natural,” but in my book “natural” and “neutral” don't mean the same thing, and the LCD-X simply didn't sound neutral to me. The lower mid-range and bass overall dominated too much over the treble, and if anything I would've expected my amp to sonically help counterbalance the spectrum. The bass seemed particularly overblown compared to the rest of the spectrum, which made it sound fun for sure, there was no denying that, but less bass and more treble quantity would've brought more neutrality to the LCD-X to my ears.
Even though I originally thought my amp would drive the LCD-X effectively, in actuality I wasn't sure how effective it was, as it consistently seemed like the LCD-X had more bass depth to give than what the amp could supply (I've previously compared the Gilmore Lite to other amps and have found its extension to lack a bit), and I just had a continued sneaking suspicion that there was more potential than what I was hearing based on previous experience with the LCD-2 and LCD-3 on high-end amps. So I'd bet that the LCD-X is likely capable of sounding better than what I'm giving it credit for.
The LCD-X also exhibited almost the same level of loudness as the AD2K at the same volume setting which proved its high sensitivity, though the AD2K proved to be marginally louder. (The specs for the headphones are: 102 dB/mW sensitivity for the AD2K, versus 95 dB/mW for the LCD-X).
If this review sounds like I was being negative on the LCD-X on purpose, that's partly true. I'll admit to being nitpicky on everything I listen to, it's just how I am. (Nothing is ever perfect to me—not even the OII MKI, as awesome as that was.) Not that I wanted to dislike it though—I went in genuinely wanting to like it and hoping that it might be a future purchase. But for its price, I found the LCD-X to offer poor value and less than stellar sonics, and it was ultimately outclassed in admittedly very specific ways by my much cheaper headphones—the Sennheiser HD598 offering more treble, more clarity, and a larger soundstage; the Audio-Technica AD2K offering more forward projection on vocals, more agility & insistence, and wider spatials; and the CAL simply offering convenience features.
I'm honestly not sure if I can recommend the LCD-X for anyone that's expecting it to be a significant improvement over the LCD-3 or LCD-2 when I found it to be virtually the same as what I remembered those to be—and most egregiously continued to exhibit the same flaws as them too. (Side-note: I did hear the LCD-2 r2 on my Gilmore Lite so I have that frame of reference as well.) IMO the best value in the Audeze line-up has always been, and continues to be, the LCD-2, and I think the more-expensive LCD-3 and LCD-X just aren't sufficient sonic upgrades from it to justify the additional cost. The positive reviews of the LCD-X so far are certainly merited though, as I found plenty about it to like as well (and certainly enjoyed it with bass-oriented electronica/trip-hop, metal, and pop/rock). But I personally just couldn't get past its sonic caveats particularly compared to my strongest recollections of the OII MKI on the BHSE, and there was simply very little about it that made it more sonically compelling than any of my current headphones.
I expect that some readers will likely dismiss my experience with the LCD-X for one reason or another, and I fully acknowledge that my experience wasn't ideal either—this is just my informal “counter-opinion” on it given limited time & equipment. I'll certainly update this review at a future point in time if I ever re-acquire a pair and have a better source and amp (and can compare it to other headphones too).
- Source component: NAD T533 (DVD player)
- Headphone amplifier: HeadAmp Gilmore Lite w/ DPS
- Headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-AD2000, Sennheiser HD598, Creative Aurvana Live
As an FYI to put the comments on "natural" sound into the proper context, I'm a trained violinist (learned via the Suzuki method for 12 years starting at age 6, then quit lessons at 18 and have been playing on and off since, and I'm 33 as of this writing) and have had an opportunity many times to play in a symphony or chamber orchestra, plus much smaller ensembles that have included quartets and duets with a pianist. I've attended classical-music concerts as well.
Selected tracks from the following albums were used, not the entire albums—for most of the albums, anyway. Albums that were listened to in their entirety are marked with asterisks (*).
- Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest
- In Flames - The Jester Race
- Infected Mushroom - Vicious Delicious
- Insomnium - Above The Weeping World
- Julia Fischer - Bach Concertos *
- Katy Perry - Prism
- Lucius - Wildewoman *
- Massive Attack - Mezzanine *
- Megadeth - Countdown To Extinction [Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab]
- Nickel Creek - A Dotted Line *
- Nicola Benedetti - Fantasie
- OSI - Fire Make Thunder
- Phantogram - Voices
- Priscilla Ahn - This Is Where We Are
- Sarah Jarosz - Build Me Up From Bones
- The Crystal Method - The Crystal Method
- Thievery Corporation - Saudade *
- Trivium - Shogun
LCD-2 review: http://www.head-fi.org/products/audeze-lcd2-planar-magnetic-headphones/reviews/10299
LCD-3 review: http://www.head-fi.org/products/audeze-lcd3-planar-magnetic-headphone/reviews/10298
Pros - Great imaging and detail, rich mids, clear yet smooth highs, satisfyingly deep bass. They're amazing all-arounders.
Cons - Perhaps need a touch more bass impact at times, and they're heavy.
From the moment I heard them, I liked the LCD-X by Audeze. Usually that spells doom for a headphone though, because later on a detail or two will rear its head and reality will set in, "I can't stand these anymore". So I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop, and waiting... and waiting... and, well, you get the point. However, I'm finally ready to say that I'm smitten, I'm full of smit. (No, not Schiit, though I like several of their products too) Although they aren't perfect, they have no substantial sonic flaws, at least none that can't simply be chalked-up to a specific manufacturer "flavor". As with the LCD-XC, the LCD-X's closed-back sister, I approached them with trepidation because I don't care for Audeze's other LCD models, the LCD-2s and 3s. For me they're simply too dark and lack realism in their upper treble, I'm not a basshead, so right off the bat they fell flat on their faces. Like the XCs, however, I'm happy to say that these break that mold and extend far beyond the company's first offerings, let's explore how.
Audio Quality: 5 / 5
Outstanding! Like the LCD-XCs, lots of micro-detail across the audible spectrum. Combined with their very low impedance (22 Ohms), and relatively high sensitivity (96dB), they're wonderful with anything that has a headphone jack (including smartphones and tiny MP3 players). They do scale with better electronics, more so than the XCs, but it isn't a huge difference, just a nice bonus. So while the sound out of my EC Balancing Act amp is jaw-dropping, directly out of my LG G Pad it's still excellent. Bass is very fast and punchy with bottom-trawling extension, super low and clean, offering a wonderful tactile sense and presence. Treble is equally enjoyable, with just the right amount of sparkle in the highs to keep you engaged, but still velvety smooth in its delivery. The mids are even and clear, unlike the XCs they don't have that somewhat distracting coloration near 1.5kHz, probably owing to their open design. Another aspect where they shine is instrument placement, sound focus is exceptionally sharp, and along with its fine detail retrieval, that makes these an excellent tool in high-end mastering. Their breadth of soundstage is truly remarkable, and while not as expansive as the STAX SR-009s, they are still in the top tier. From classical to metal, folk to pop, they shine through it all, and that's a very tall order.
As I mentioned before, they make no obvious mistakes, from my perspective. My only minor issue is that they're perhaps lacking a little in bass "slam" or impact, but I've found that's largely amplifier dependent, good high current amps improve it substantially. That is the most telling area where more powerful, capable gear fleshes these out. That's also the case in most other areas, each quality or trait these headphones have is stepped up a couple "notches" with a higher quality audio chain. Overall, these completely trounce my former favorite orthodynamics, the HiFiMan HE-6s. While I very much enjoy them, my HE-6s can't be used effectively with low-power gear, or even most average equipment, they need oodles of power and the more, the better. So that's my take, they're a great deal like the HiFiMan flagships but aren't shackled by potentially restrictive gear requirements. With the LCD-X you can put away the bulky, full-size stereo amp that you've been using to drive your cans directly from the speaker taps (yes, people really do that), because much more efficient setups work just fine.
Value: 5 / 5
They're $1700 headphones at regular MSRP, but if you're shopping in this range these need to be on your short list. Given their modest gear requirements, their TCoO (Total Cost of Ownership) is comparatively very low, much less than other headphones that are apparently less expensive. As with all things, you need to factor in other equipment you'll need. $1700 plus a $400 amp is less than $1300 with a $1000 amp.
Design: 4.50 / 5
They're a traditional planar design, and people familiar with that will identify it immediately. The materials are of high quality, though I do wish there was no plastic at all in their construction. One potential avenue to lower weight in the future could be carbon fiber, keeping the same structural rigidity of the frame components while lessening the weight substantially. Because, yes, they weigh quite a lot. Not to the point where you think your neck is going to break, but I was feeling a little fatigue after listening to them for a couple hours. Being open headphones they offer zero isolation, so if that's a factor then check out the LCD-XC. The headband and earpads are made of a nice calf skin, pleasing in appearance and to the touch. You also get a cool Pelican style carrying case that looks like it could survive a grenade blast, 2 sets of high-quality interchangeable cables (one balanced and one single-ended), and there are some papers filled with warranty and product info. All in all, they look and feel like a luxury product and they do a great job representing what you should expect from a flagship headphone.
Comfort: 4.25 / 5
Initially the weight concerned me when I first hefted them, but after wearing them a few minutes I adapted to them and they were fine, so they're rather well balanced. As with the LCD-XCs, after an even longer period of time my neck began to get fatigued, though not as badly. One thing I want to add, however, is that I have moderate rheumatoid arthritis which does affect my neck, and I'm probably more sensitive to that than most, so it might not be an issue for you. Also my ears started to get hot under the pads by that time too, so you may want to consider Audeze's "vegan" earpads if you believe that could affect you as well.
So, where do these fit in the increasingly overcrowded high-end headphone segment? There's a lot of top-notch gear in the $1,200-$2,000 range, I can name a dozen sets that deserve a buyer's close consideration, but I believe these are the best open cans available for that money, by a good bit, especially factoring in other equipment in your audio chain. Some do certain things a little better, but none excel in ALL areas so effectively. All that aside, I do believe the STAX SR-009s and SR-007s provide superior sound quality, as do a few extinct "unobtainium" sets, but electrostats are in their own universe with high barriers to entry; namely exotic amp requirements and limitations to portability. So yes, if you're willing to shell out 3-4x more money, you can clearly beat the LCD-X, but realistically that's what it takes. IMO, unless you have the money to burn "chasing the dragon", these are a wonderful place to stop and take in the view from the Summit of Head-Fi.
For being extraordinary in so many ways, as well as providing a true value in Summit-Fi, I'm giving the Audeze LCD-X a rare and well-deserved 5 stars, and the very first "Best of the Lot" award for cans in their price range ($1,200-2,000). Well done!
Pros - Reference level bass, fantastic midrange, much improved treble, build quality, easy to drive
Cons - Weight
I’ve owned the HD 800 for about 4 years now and I had the LCD-2 for over two years before I sold them. The LCD-2 were great, but as I improved the electronics around my headphones the HD 800 kept getting better while the LCD-2 hit the ceiling for their performance. When I heard that the LCD-X had specifically targeted the treble area for improvement my interest was piqued. The upper frequencies have always been the HD 800 strength compared to planar magnetic headphones, and I was intrigued to hear what Audeze could do there. Well, now that I’ve had the LCD-X for about a month I can say that the HD 800 are likely to see a lot less use than before.
The LCD-X is producing a kind of crispy and sharp high resolution sound in the upper mids and treble that the LCD-2 just can’t do. It’s doing this without compromising the neutral, but also forgiving character that Audeze is well known for. These don’t sound at all like the HD 800, which is obvious when you have the two side by side and switch. The LCD-X still don’t image anything like the HD 800, so it still sounds like the audio is confined between your ears and near the headphones. But the sensation of resolution and the “depth” that they’re providing makes you forget about this. It feels like you can focus on just about anything in the mix and listen to it without the other elements obscuring details. With the HD 800 you get a much larger stage in front of you with more “air” between instruments and sounds. I believe this has to do with how the HD 800 have carefully designed cups and angled drivers which sit further away from your ears than with the LCD-X. That’s where the years of R&D Sennheiser put into the HD 800 come in. There’s just nothing on the planet that sounds like the HD 800, even now that they’ve been out for many years. You’d think that by now someone would have beaten the HD 800 at their own game, but it doesn’t seem to be easy since nobody has done it.
What you get with the LCD-X is something different from the HD 800, and also a bit different from the LCD-2. The balance is largely similar to the LCD-2, but now that the treble is clearly present it’s a more fully featured package. I found the LCD-2 to be a nice diversion from the HD 800 when I wasn’t in the mood for their treble, but I always returned to the HD 800 after a week or two. The LCD-2 just weren’t good enough in the long run. With the LCD-X I feel things are different. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything when I’m listening to them. Any genre or material I throw at them sounds brilliant, and the sound is never fatiguing no matter how poorly mixed the music is. The bass is deep, hits with good impact when it’s there in the material, while the midrange has resolution that is definitely on par with the HD 800. I’d say the HD 800 still is better in the upper half of the frequency spectrum, and I’d divide it in the middle of the midrange, meaning that the LCD-X is better in the bottom half of the spectrum while the HD 800 is best in the upper half. So depending on the material I’ve heard “things I’ve never heard before” with the LCD-X in some songs, and in others I feel the HD 800 would do better. Still, the gulf between them isn’t as big between them now as it was with the LCD-2 and HD 800. The lower bass with the LCD-X is much better than with the HD 800, while the areas where it’s lagging behind aren’t so far behind that I feel like I have to switch.
One huge new feature of the LCD-X compared to other planar magnetic headphones, and high end headphones in general is how easy they are to drive. The impedance is very low at 22 ohm, and the sensitivity is higher than the LCD-2 and 3. I have three amplifiers available here, which are the HDVD 800, Asus Xonar Essence III and Objective2 built by Epiphany Acoustics. The LCD-X sounds good out of all three, but it clearly sounds best to me out of the Objective2. The HDVD 800 has a high impedance output which is designed for the HD 800, and with the LCD-X the sound becomes a bit “peaky”. It sounds like there’s some slight glare in the mids compared to the Essence III and Objective2. The slightly peaky response shifts the balance in the sound, and it obscures the lowest bass a bit. Overall it’s fine, but I’d avoid using it with the HDVA 600/HDVD 800 if you could. As for the Essence III it sounds a bit boring with it. The balance seems like it should, but it’s lacking in impact somehow. I don’t have any specs on the Essence III amp, but maybe it’s underpowered. With the Objective2 it sounds like there’s ample power to drive them properly. All the impact and detail is where I expect it to be, and with the proper linear balance. This means you can get away pretty cheap when amping the LCD-X. So while the headphones themselves are more expensive than the HD 800 for example, you do get away cheaper if you’re building a complete system. The Objective2 is perfectly adequate for you to hear them properly.
The only major problem with the LCD-X is the comfort. I can wear the HD 800 for 8 hours or more and not feel like I’ve worn them at all when I take them off. Their comfort is simply spectacular. The best I’ve experienced with any headphones at any price point. The LCD-X are simply too heavy to replicate this experience. After a couple hours you’ll start noticing them on your head. There’s no particular point on my head where it hurts or anything, but I can’t forget they’re on my head. I can’t get lost in the material I’m experiencing with them completely because of this.
Of all the high end headphones out there the LCD-X is the easiest for me to recommend. It sounds brilliant with any material you throw at them, and they’re easy to drive. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone being disappointed with them, unless you’ve already got a whole bunch of high end headphones sitting around. They don’t elevate headphone audio to the next level or anything. What they do is deliver it in the most balanced and cohesive way I’ve heard, without any glaring problems at all in the sound. The LCD-2 were close to this ideal, but their treble wasn't good enough, especially not in the r1 version. The LCD-X fix this and give you proper full range sound. There’s still room for improvement here, but I still feel like it’s a meaningful step toward the perfect reference headphone. It’s great.
Pros - Amazing Details, Amazing instrument seprartions, and the typical Audeze, Neutral, opened up the wall of LCD-2
Cons - Not worth the 1699$, doesn't worth to upgrade from LCD2 or LCD-3, neither fun nor engaging. Heavy and comfort issues
Hello hifi communities. This is my very first thread on head-fi as well as the first review. So please chill if you dislike my opinions and ignorant. I just received my LCD-X, paired up with Burson Conductor running through foobar on ASIO with flacs, excited and unboxed.........
LCD-2 with LCD-X
Burson Conductor / AKG Q701
The Razor edge hurts my ears inside the earcup
My first impression was................. really disappointed, the LCD-X is opposite of my expectations. I am fairly new to the hi-fi world as well as this forum, but i had my LCD 2.2 for good 4 months, i also heard HD800 and He500 for a period of time, also own ATM M50, AKG-Q701. My first impression comparing LCD-2.2 and LCD-X was, LCD-X has a lot more details, instrument separations and more air, more height which are good things. The reason i bought LCD-X was to complement to LCD-2.2s. Before i buy LCD-X, i been reading reviews and threads on this forum. I heard some people say it's better than LCD-3 with lower price (never had experience with LCD-3), and it has fairly good detail and imagine to compete with HD800 (which i heard, very cold and dead to my ears, disliked) , and ultimately, it opened up LCD-2's wall (trying to say LCD-2 was not good at treble and feels closed-back headphone, and in fact, LCD-2 doesn't pass lots air through the back, you will notice it when you compare to Hifiman He-500, LCD-2 has lowered volume when you put them next to each other without put them on your head and sound doesn't change much when you put your hands over the back of the headphone). Note that I got my LCD-X about 3 days now, i been continuously listen to them, when I sleep I still feed them with soundtracks for break-in. The LCD-X has higher volume in general because they are had less impedance compared to the LCD-2s.
I bought my LCD-X with the black ring version and the leather pads.
Although i thought the LCD-X came with same cable as any others did (LCD-2 / LCD-3) but i did notice the cable is softer compare to LCD-2s, which are more tough and durable. the LCD-X's cable are more easy to tangle up
It came with the same travel box as LCD-2.2, extra cables as 3.5mm adapter and balanced cable
didn't include frequency response chart which is weird, instead they put some Audeze stickers.... wut? really?
The headphone looked fairly nice, but has very strong leather smell which bothers me bit (maybe just mine?)
It doesn't has the annoy chi-chi noise when you adjust headband compare to the wooden ring LCD-2s and LCD-3s.
Ear pads are waaaaaaaaay softer than i expected which i was told it's same as LCD-3's ear pads. In fact, i didn't like them..... they are comfortable, but they are too soft that pressed headphones towards my head more, so my ears touched the "razor edge" of the plate (Did i forget to mention that, LCD-X has different plate inside the earcup compare to LCD-2s, they are sharp... so they hurt my ears, like .. .physically)
Personally, after looking tones photos from facebook and head-fi members picture, i liked black version. I was a big fan of gun-metal, but i decided to buy black after all.
AWwww, these are more heavier than my LCD-2s, but who cares?! as long as it has good sound? the headband is unacceptably uncomfortable, but i found a solution toward this problem, i bought a seat bell cover on amazon that made the headband feel really soft and comfy.
Don't worry, for those who came from LCD-3s, you had the same earpads. Personally i disliked them, due to their softness they make my ear touch the driver inside, which has some razor edges (new design).
The handband can extend fairly long that can fit most of the heads, and the earcup are huge and im pretty sure it will be no problem to put your ears inside.
I had very high expectation on vocal performance on LCD-X which suppose to be huge improvements over LCD-2. Because i really really really enjoyed to listen vocals on He500, which i just returned for LCD-X.............I really really regret on that part.
I will upload my testing tracks, i bought all the albums legally, but please delete them after listening, due to the copyright.
Song #1: EGOIST - Extra terrestrial Biological Entities - Supercell download link
The differences was clear starting at beginning. The intro was well favored on LCD-X side due to it's very clear trebles and mids, the background's tapping on my ears and the instrument separations was well presented as well.
After 0:34 the vocal begins, I say both headphone did well on that part, but i slightly favor the LCD-2s due to it's tight bass and more refined vocal.
The LCD-X had very tight and well separated instrument background music and the vocal, due to the forwardness and the treble, the vocal sounded very forward, in a way i disliked compared to LCD-2s. The vocal wasn't clear and sweet as the LCD-2s, LCD-2 is more refined and engaging.
At 1:31, it's where LCD-X sounded completely masked and muddy on the vocal, feels like the singer went to a huge space where you don't really know what she was mumbling, and later on everything just blended together.(Sometimes the vocal hides the instrument, sometimes instrument hides the vocal.) Where as LCD-2 was more well balanced and engaging. You can feel the singer's voice is coming out of your heart instead of next to your ears and having some distance.
If i'd conclude the differences between the LCD-X and LCD-2s on this song, i'd say LCD-X has very good imaging and separations, but it's not engaging like LCD-2s dragging you to the music and make you become emotional. When i listening this song with LCD-2s, i was whispering the lyrics, but with LCD-Xs, my facial expression didn't even move at all. just like..........hummmmmmm...... ok............. -__-. LCD-X sounded like you are in a concert hall, there's no walls or any limitations, and the sound can travel as far as they want. The singer are singing next to your ears, but her voice fades in space far away. The LCD-2s sounded like the singer is in front of you and you are surround by the instruments, which is very engaging. I also found out a very interesting way to reproduce the sound of LCD-2s on LCD-X, just put your hands on the back of the headphone, and it will sounded more like LCD-2. At this point, i really miss my returned he500....
Song #2 DystopiaGround ∧ugΦEidEs (Augoeides) download link
LCD-X has very good separation and imaging, again, I noticed some micro details that i haven't noticed on LCD-2s. (at 0:18 continue, 0:36 left, 0:44, 0:54 right ) LCD-X soon falls after the main melody came. They blended together again...... my brain can't decide if i should focus on the instrument, or the vocal, as they both sounded like overlap each other and sometimes at similar level. where as LCD-2s are punching good beats and making me ignoring parts of the music, and focus on one and enjoy it.
At this point, i asked myself, is it because LCD-X's separation made too much information for my brain to process? or it was because the forwardness that hides and blended everything together? hum...........
Song #3 Dulcet Series Summer Special Collection 2nd - Lost Time and Lost Memory: When The Day Breaks by α·Pav download link
Surprisingly, LCD-X wins on this one, not so much to say on this song, the LCD-X sounded really breath taking, life like..... i closed my eyes and i can imagine being inside of the music every note hits my heart....... where as LCD-2s are more like... a music....
I did listen to few classic music, mozarts, but since i am not big fan of classic, i won't comment too much on this genre, over all LCD-X was better compare to LCD-2 on this area.
LCD2: It does has a lot of improvements over the LCD-2s, i can't comment on the LCD-3 because i never heard it. It is very good to listen to instrumental only, or vocal only (still can't be so positive on this part). If I'd listen to music to explore what's really in it, i'd pick up the LCD-X, if i'd enjoy music, specially instrumentals or rocks, music. I'd go for my LCD2.2 hands down, it made the music so much more engaging and fun to listen at, made me emotional in many songs and well balanced between all the factors (except the treble falls compare to my other headphones) and it has a wall (i may refer to it sounded really like a closed-back headphone, in fact it is actually pretty close to closed-back headphone as it doesn't leak much sound, and doesn't pass so much air)
AKG Q701: I don't really want to put too much time on this, Bass wise, LCD-X hands down, vocal wise, i would vote q701 for the clearness and crisp. Imaging and instruments, mids are all on LCD-X
He500: One of my favorite headphone! I was deciding between he500 and lcd-2s. I bought it 2 times, returned 2 times. due to the budget. Probably going to buy this baby back for the third time... Very Very Very well balanced neutral sounding headphone. Compare to my old LCD-2s, it doesn't have the darkness and the wall which LCD-2 had, and the bass are more controlled and defined on he500 compare to both LCD-2 and LCD-X, very quality bass. Mids wasn't as detailed as LCD-X and LCD-2s, but still very very close. Trebles are the best part of this headphone, due to it's openess, the airy treble really give me the vocal i been looking for. originally i thought the LCD-X would be a combination of both LCD-2 and the He500. but oh no... they are totally different. LCD-X still Audeze headphone, still very very similar to LCD-2. What he500 lacks compare to LCD-X was instrument separation and imaging, but who cares about all the details while you can enjoy your music!?! seriously...
HD800: Very very cold headphone. I returned it after 15 days of listening. I bought it due to it's popular and high rating on both hi-fi community and head-fi forum. It was not the headphone for me. It's very very detailed, and bright headphone. I don't hate bright headphones, but with a neutral amp, like objective o2, or schiit lyr, it will hurt your ears at some pitches, which means they are too bright at particular songs. LCD-X had it's detail, imaging and instrument separation, while kept Audeze's sound. It's like LCD-2 and HD800's mix. It's more fun to listen compare to HD800.
In conclusion of this brief review, i'd thank dan.gheorghe giving me useful information about amping and setups. I usually won't spend time writing review like this, but i'd contribute bit this time. i'd say LCD-X is a brilliant headphone. It's great for instrumental, classic and vocal alone(i doubt that lol), it really shines on particular song, but falls off on particular songs too.(not forgiving i guess) Does it worth your extra 700$ to upgrade from LCD-2 to it? I'd say no......... I was overwhelmed by the reviews (too exaggerated in many ways, specially positive parts.) Since headphones reach their limit on certain price point, you won't get much more improvements after certain price, but instead you get different tastes. Lifeless but detailed HD800, a mixed version of LCD2 and HD800 ---- the LCD-X, the dark and engaging beats ---- LCD-2, and my favorite headphone ----He500. (I returned it 2 times because I kept reading comparisons on head-fi where other people think LCD-2 is superior than HE500, while my ears says no, so i had to force myself to like the LCD-2 and convenience myself that LCD-2 did sound better on many ways compare to HE500. After returning them, i missed their sound so much and buying back again, like right now. ) For the people who are looking for high end headhpones. The only suggestion is go to a local shop or go to www.headphone.com, listen to them and pick your favorite and be happy. For those who already had their favorite headphone and looking for upgrades. I am telling you, stop being greedy! Hi-fi is big blackhole that suck all your money in. Just be happy with what you have. In the end, i still highly recommend He500 since it's my favorite headphone atm, i prefer it over any headphone on the market at moment. It has very affordable price and amazing performance that well beyond it's price point, at least compare to many others. It seems like there will never be a perfect headphone, ever.. you won't be able to cream every good things of other headphones into one, even i was expecting and thought LCD-X was the one.
Pros - Very transparent and true to life sounding headphones. Great bass, mids and treble. Outstanding all round headphones.
Cons - A bit on the heavy side and comfort could be an issue for some (though I found them just fine in this area).
The Audez’e LCD-X:
Well after a few weeks with these great headphones, I think I’m ready to post my review of them. I was an original owner of the LCD-2 R1 when they were released many moons ago…so suffice it to say that I’ve been a big fan of Audeze and their products ever since.
Gear used for my evaluations:
Cambridge Audio CDP via SPDIF or iMac Apple Lossless via USB --> Byrston Audio BDA-2 DAC --> HeadAmp GS-X MK2 [Fully balanced front to back]
iPad - FiiO E11 (a minimalistic approach to my portable rig)
Some of my favourite reference CDs like Jazz at the Pawnshop, Patricia Barber’s Companion and Modern Cool, Rush’s Moving Pictures and Fly By Night, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Tool’s Lateralus, Mahler’s 3rd Symphony..
How do they perform?
With each Audeze headphone, I’ve found a good progression in sound quality improvements. From the LCD-2 R1 to R2 and then subsequently to the LCD-3s (you can read my thoughts in the wikis I wrote here on Head-Fi). After my time with them, I feel that the LCD-X offers a very solid improvement over the LCD-2 R2 (as was the LCD-3). However when comparing the LCD-3s to the LCD-X, I feel that there are certainly areas that the LCD-X have improved things even further.
The new LCD-X has a brand new transducer (with the Fazor: a wave-guide that sits on top and is part of the transducer) that offers an improved phase response by helping better control the sound wave flow in the headphones and in turn, this gives an improved sense of clarity, separation and imaging over previous Audeze headphones. To clarify, the new transducer has a thinner diaphragm over the LCD-2s, but the LCD-3’s Lotus transducer is the thinnest currently offered.
I’ve heard some describe the LCD-X as “brighter” headphones or the HD600s next to the HD650s of the LCD-3s. I generally do not agree with this as the contrast between the two Sennheiser headphones are quite a bit more with regards to “brighter” vs. “laid back”. But, one area of improvement that the LCD-X offer is in the treble region. Their portrayal of the upper mids/treble seems more “true to life” and closer to reference than even the LCD-3s; while never being bright or fatiguing and never without any hint of sibilance. Maybe this gives them the impression of being brighter, but if I compare the frequency charts from Audeze and even innerfidelity.com, the LCD-X certainly do not measure as having more forward treble.
Along with this improved and cleaner sounding treble, the instrumental separation has also improved. This in turn gives the LCD-X a very fast sound where details are very well portrayed and make them come alive. In turn, due to this improved separation and clarity, the sound staging has also kicked up a notch. I found one of the best area’s of improvements of the LCD-3s over the LCD-2s was with regards to sound staging (width, depth and separation). Well, it looks like the LCD-X has continued trend. Of all the dynamic headphones that I’ve owned/heard, these are now one of the best in that regard. No, they are not the HD800s with regards to super expansive imaging, but they are now even better than the beyer T1s, HE-6s, and TH-900s (headphones that I hold in high regard in this aspect).
Back to the LCD-3s, I still feel that their mids are amongst the very best I’ve heard and while the LCD-X perform very strongly here, the LCD-3s come out on top to my ears. With regards to bass presentation, depth, impact, detail and layering, without a doubt, the LCD-3 and LCD-X are the two best dynamic headphones that I’ve heard that can offer bass so true to life, so clean and quick that they leave me smiling every time I put them on. I find that the LCD-3s are the slightly “more musical” headphones with bass that lingers a bit longer, mids that are lush and inviting and an overall laid back presentation that just feel like putting on a favourite pair of slippers; while the LCD-Xs offer a closer to reference presentation with slightly taughter bass and treble and imaging that is better defined. A real tough call between these two fantastic headphones no doubt.
With regards to comfort, I find the LCD-X quite good. They are slightly heavier (although only by 50g) than the LCD-3s, but on my head, I’d be very hard pressed to tell them apart. Both offer the softer, more plush ear pads and I can use them for hours comfortably. Don’t get me wrong, they are not as comfortable as my HD800s or SR009s, but I have no complaints here.
Unlike the LCD-2s which played very nicely with many different amps that I had on hand, I found that the LCD-3s were quite a bit pickier and both headphones really responded well to at least 1.5-2W of power from a full sized desktop amp. The advantage with the LCD-X is that they sound surprisingly good out of my FiiO Kilamanjaro portable headphone amp. Now, they (LCD-X) still sound best through my main rig, but I find their outstanding efficiency really appealing as one can really take them on the go and not have to carry a 10lbs headphone amplifier. They certainly aren't portable headphones like my KEF M500s due to their size and heft, but like the M500s sound great right out of my iPad or portable headphone amp.
So I know the final question that many people will ask, which is the better headphone? And I’m not sure I can flat out answer that in a simple statment. All I can say is that it depends. First off, musical preferences play a big part in terms of which I’d recommend. If someone already owns a pair of HD800s or T1s and wants a complimentary pair of headphones and listens to mostly rock, jazz, and metal; then I’d say go with the LCD-3s. But if someone is looking for a better “all round” performer that also includes acoustic and classical music, then I’d recommend the LCD-X. Both are in my top five headphones of all time and don’t think there is a wrong choice here between the two. But if I had to pick my personal preference for what I valued most, I would have to agree with my friend Jude and go with the LCD-X (by a hair).
Pros - Excellent treble, very balanced sound signature, Excellent transients, Excellent instrument separation & Imaging, very opened sound, neutral
Cons - I found none, but some may consider them a little heavy
Audeze LCD-X Review
You may know from what I have written before that I have been waiting for LCD-3 for a while now.
A few weeks ago, I managed to get my hands on pair of LCD-3 and I was really happy about it. At last, together with my HD800 I have the best of all the music genres.
I got it on Wednesday and Friday and I thought I would have some time at last to get acquainted to my new LCD-3. While driving home I heard my phone whistling that I have new mail. I looked at it and saw “New Audeze Lcd-X“. I smiled and thought a friend was trying to pull a prank on me.
When I got home I saw that it was no joke. Headfi had already a thread dedicated to LCD-X and a few guys describing their first impressions about it. My jaw was on the floor. I just bought LCD-3.
Ok…. I knew that in audio world it takes a few good years before a new flagship was due to appear.
Nobody knew the place the LCD-X was going to take on the market. Was it going to be better than the 3? Some people were already stating that LCD-X was better!?
I got a little depressed, as I just bought the LCD-3, but on the other hand I was happy as I really think that this industry needs faster progress. But what about my wallet? Well… I have been through this before. The first thing you are tempted to do is to enter a wallet defense state, ignoring the possibility of the newer product being better than what you have.
I like to think that I got to be more objective than that, so I got pass that state, and I focused on the possibility of listening to the new product and share my honest impressions.
I would like to thank Sankar, Mark and Audeze support on their fast responses, and the opportunity they gave me to listen and review the LCD-X.
I don’t know if you guys are aware of this, but one of the reasons I started the blog is because of Audeze LCD-2 and the impact those headphones and Audeze had on me. I absolutely fell in love with them and had to write about it.
When I heard LCD3 for the first time, the wallet defense system activated as they didn’t seem to make a huge difference from LCD-2 to my ears. Meanwhile I have discovered HD800 which made me understand better the dynamics, micro-dynamics, transients, details, layering, etc. After that , I understood the value brought by LCD-3 and heard the big difference between the two from a more educated perspective.
Audeze will always have a special place in my heart as they really got me much deeper into this hobby. I just love how they can can take you from your life and make you enter the euphonic world of music. Who is Audeze? If you ask a old audiophile, he would probably evade the answer as he doesn’t know much about it. I love what Audeze did in such short time! When did they start? A few years ago. What did they do? Well, the answer is simple: a lot, in a very short time:
They became one of the most spoken brands on headfi
Produced world class products that compete with the best headphones in the world and companies that have decades of experience behind them
Didn’t stop R&D as they are continuously trying to improve their products and bring the best on the market and did a good job from my perspective
Considering the above, I was very, very anxious to hear their new products, Audeze LCD-X and XC, and I chose to put my efforts into the X as I like open headphones much more than closed ones, so here we are.
I have seen a lot of very happy and psyched opinions on headfi about LCD-X , some users saying that the LCD-X are even better than LCD-3. I have tried to keep my hype to the minimum and hold my thoughts on LCD-X until they reach a mature state.
However, I now understand the general hype on headfi. LCD-X, while still not better than LCD-3, it brings some very exciting stuff over it to the table. They sound different, and different in a good way, presenting the opportunity to attract new fans, fans that would appreciate them more than LCD-3, while others would still prefer LCD-3. I am not going to compare them to LCD-2 as the Xare quite better from all points of view.
LCD-X has new technology called Fazor which gives an efficiency of 96 dB/ 1 mW compared to LCD-3 that has 91 dB/ 1 mW. LCD-X also has a smaller impedance of 22 ohms. This makes them much easier to drive and my FIIO E17 proved that.
The Fazor part prevents the delays from the sound that is produced by the positioning of the magnets in front of the membrane, creating an uniform sound-wave leading to better instrument separation and imaging because of fewer distortions leading to better imaging and instrument separation.
Looks & Build Quality
I was counting the days to hear these babies. When they reached my home, I barely stopped myself from tearing the package apart, to get to them faster. The packaging is the same as with LCD-2 coming in the same sturdy travel case. The headphones look very nice and have a very good build quality.
Audeze replaced the wood with metal this time, but the they still have style and very good finishes. Even if they may be a little heavy for some, they have almost the same comfort as LCD-3 from my perspective. LCD-3 has 548 g and LCD-X has 600.
If you liked the looks on the older models, I am sure you will like and enjoy the new looks of LCD-X.
Actually they feel even more sturdy than the previous models. You don’t have to worry about the wood and the wood care any longer.
You may already think that we had talked enough and didn’t get to what it really matters, the sound. So let’s get down to business.
You know the drill. We will get through some impressions one some songs and then conclude impressions on portions of sound and overall.
The tests have been done with Burson Conductor,Audiobyte Hydra usb interface, PowerInspired AG500, Audeze LCD3, Sennheiser HD800, Audeze LCD-X, Chord Usb Silver plus, FiiO E17 .
Hugh Laurie – Unchain My Heart
Wow…the voice…is just awesome. It has a lot more presence than LCD-3. The sound seemed like it opened up from the 3. All the upper mids & treble were more in front and I am saying that in a good way.The trumpet was just amazing as it had excellent texture, feel and presence, the piano was clearer and crispier. The drums were faster and had more impact.
ACDC- The Razors Edge – Thunderstruck
Does Audeze know how to rock? You know it does! But does the new model stand up as the older brothers? Hell yes! It is still anAudeze headphone! I feel that LCD-X has a better and neutral balance than the older siblings. However it seems to be faster, with more bass impact and better PRAT . All the sound is binding together in a very good harmony. I cannot say that the mids are recessed, that the bass needs something more or the treble is too bright or not present. No…it is just as it should be. The voice was always between the instruments, playing through them, without getting lost between them as it had very good texture, feel and presence.
Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead or Alive
Again, the first impression was that the sound opened. There was a lot of air on top. The voice was again much more present than on LCD-3. The treble was more forward, pleasant and detailed without being bright. The drums were fast and with good impact.
Silent Strike – Keys For Silent Doors
This song has amazing bass and sub bass. Is this still an Audeze headphone? Yes, of course, it still has the house signature. However, the bass was not as meaty, as LCD-3, but it had more impact and still went very deep. The sound seemed faster and the bass more controlled with a better punch. Again, it gave more air on top than LCD-3. Some details on upper mids and treble are more obvious on LCD-X.
Coldplay – Spies
You just get lost in the music. The transparency is amazing. The voice and whole sound is so clean, so clear. The guitars, drums and voice were amazing in this song.
Infected Mushrooms – Becoming Insane
I liked the bass on LCD-3 more on this song as it had more body and the guitars from the beginning had more texture and extension, but LCD-X did a very good job as well as it had a faster in your face sound and better PRAT with better instrument separation and imaging. The bass didn’t had so much body but it was faster and had more punch.
Leonard Cohen – Banjo
I just love the voices with LCD-X. They have a whole new presence than with LCD-3. All the upper mids and treble are more forward , not recessed as with the 3, making you rediscover your music. The voice integrates a lot better throughout the instruments and the song with LCD-X. The guitars had better extension with LCD-3 but the instrument separation was better with LCD-X.
Johan Sebastian Bach – Sonata in C Major – Allegro
It has been one of the rare moments when the treble fascinated me. LCD-X has an amazing treble. It is more forward and better integrated balance wise in the song adding air on top. The flute was amazing and it played effortless throughout the song. I have never heard such clean and transparent treble with no sign of sibilance or brightness.
Westminster Choir – Festival Te Deum
I think this song slapped me back to reality. I thought that LCD-3 had a wider soundstage at first, due to a more laid back sound, but knowing the size of the cathedral I can now say that LCD-X has better soundstage than the elder brother. The height of the soundstage and the voice separation are amazing with it. The chorus is a pleasure to listen to and it fills the scene with an incredible presence and transparency.
This is still an Audeze headphone. It has amazing bass. It seems to be faster than the LCD-3, with more impact but less body. I love both presentations, and I didn’t decide yet which one is better as both are different and very good.
Even though LCD-X doesn’t have all the magic LCD-3 has in the mids, they have better clarity and the upper mids are more present and more enjoyable with LCD-X. When I said magic I was referring to the instrument extension for example which is better with LCD-3. For example the guitar chords have a fuller life.
The treble here is very interesting and because of LCD-X, I started to be fascinated about it as it is more forward and present, giving a more balanced presentation to the sound. You cannot say about LCD-X that they are dark headphones like it’s brothers. It gives the music a sense of clarity and air on top. It is also very transparent and clean.
I just love voices with LCD-X and I consider this to be a very strong point for them. LCD-X brings the voices in front or actually they don’t put them in the back and they are not lost between the instruments like sometimes with LCD-3. After LCD-X, I found myself wanting to turn up the volume with LCD-3 to reach the same presence with the voices. LCD-X make the voices sound with amazing clarity.
I have chosen this word very carefully. Initially I was fooled by the more laid back sound of LCD-3 and considered it to have bigger soundstage than LCD-X. However LCD-X is more opened than LCD-3 with more air on top and better positioning. The height of the soundstage is amazing and in some ways the sound opens up even after HD800, the X having a taller soundstage.
Imaging & Instrument separation
Having faster transients, the instrument separation is very good. At first I thought LCD-3 has better instrument separation because of the more laid back sound and better instrument extension. However LCD-X betters the 3 here because the instruments are better contoured and their position are easier to pick because of this. The more I listened, the more I was astonished by the performance of LCD-X in this department.
Clarity & Transparency
The sound is very transparent and very clear on the whole spectrum. I feel that this is a very strong point of LCD-X and it really managed to impress me with it. The headphones become a window to the music.
The X packs a lot of details in the whole audio spectrum, so the resolution is very good. LCD-3 has the upper hand here overall but not by much as the details are more apparent with LCD-X on the upper mids and treble .
I find the transients in LCD-X to be faster than LCD-3. The attack has more impact and the decays are faster. I love this about LCD-X. It gives more energy and PRAT to the music.
LCD-X seems to be more neutral and more natural than LCD-3 and LCD-2. However it still has the magic and fun Audeze headphones have.
Easy to drive
I have tried the LCD-X with both my Samsung Galaxy S4 and FiiO E17 and they performed very, very well compared to LCD-3.
Compared to LCD-3
Is this the new Audeze flagship? This is hard to decide, as both have very strong points, and I am sure there will be people preferring one before the other. However, the more I listen to LCD-X, the more I like it and it makes it very hard for me to decide between the two. I may find myself leaning in favor of LCD-X after a few more days or worse…I may love both, and that is not good for the wallet.
I have said several times that LCD-X has more air on top.
The height of the soundstage is incredible and makes the sound open even after HD800 in some regards. Sometimes I felt that LCD-3 had a little more depth in the soundstage but I think that was because of the more recessed mids and treble, because of the longer decays and better instrument extension on LCD-3. And I do think that sometimes, on some songs LCD-3 can sound a little more spacious because of those aspects.
However, the instrument separation and imaging are amazing with LCD-X and are a step up over it’s older brother.
Also I find that the X has better transparency and clarity making the headphone a clean window to the music.
It is hard to decide between the bass from LCD-X and LCD-3. LCD-3 has more body, more weight and LCD-X has more impact and it is faster. I love both in this aspect but I find myself mostly preferring the meaty, more extended bass of LCD-3.
I feel that LCD-3 has better resolution overall, especially until the upper mids and treble, where the sound is more present in LCD-X and the details more apparent. With lcd-3 the instruments seem to have better extension living a fuller life.
However, the attack is more powerful on the X and the decays faster, leading to better transients and more energetic sound. So if the sound is composed by attack, extension and decay, the attack and decay are better on the X while the extension is a little better on LCD-3.
LCD-3 has a warmer, fuller, more organic and refined sound with better instrument extension which gives the magic to the sound while LCD-X brings some other very strong points discussed in the next section and still manages to keep the Audeze house sound.
Audeze really did some magic here from my perspective. They made the sound more neutral, very balanced overall, keeping the house signature, not loosing too much from the euphony and making them suitable for every music genre out there.
I found it sometimes hard to decide which of the two models I like more, but the more I listen to LCD-X the more I love it and I feel that it is technically superior to LCD-3.
I very much like the direction Audeze is heading with these new headphones and technology and I keep wondering if this is only a beginning of a new line of products.
LCD-X is proof that Audeze listens to it’s customers and respects their opinions. I feel like X marks the spot, in the essential places the fans said that LCD-3 could be improved.
I am torn apart between LCD-3 and LCD-X but I know something for sure: I could live happily with either of them. Even if at the moment I am inclined more and more to the X … I still love LCD-3 though. I’ve struggled for days to make a clear decision between the two and I couldn’t. Even if LCD-X retains the house signature, I bet some will want both as they can be complementary headphones.
My wallet ran away from home again…
Fast bass with good punch & depth
Very good details
Excellent instrument separation & Imaging
Very opened sound and very good soundstage with amazing height
Very good and clean treble, present with good texture without being bright
Very engaging PRAT
Love the mids and the presence on the upper mids
Very good dynamics
Easy to drive
Good build quality and looks
I tried to find some cons but I couldn’t. However, some may consider them a little heavy.
Check out the Part Two of the review ( vs Sennheiser HD800 )
Check out the Part Two of the review ( vs Sennheiser HD800 )