Audeze LCD-X - Reviews
Pros: - Sound quality
- Sound signature ("flat" with a hint of warmth and non fatiguing highs)
- Comfort*
- Build quality

= Ultimate headphones for rock music
Cons: - Asking price
- Comfort*
This is not really a review. It is more of a praise of the LCD-X if you like rock/metal and have the funds to get it.

Some facts about me and my relationship to headphones:

- I used to own the Hifiman Sundara, Audeze LCD-2.2, Sennheiser HD660S, Audioquest Nighthawk and Nightowl. And a lot of portable ones. These are my reference headphones when comparing to Audeze LCD-X.

- I am in no way an audiophile. I cannot tell frequencies apart. But I can tell if the bass is too boomy or the high mids/lower treble is too hot (for my preference). I know what I like.

- I mainly listen to post-rock/metal, rock, sing/song-writer, some jazz fusion.

- I pair the LCD-X with a Fiio M11 and custom balanced 4.4 cable. I have listened to this setup for more than 6 months.

So, I have been in the game for 4 years now. Quite early on, I purchased the Audeze LCD-2.2 and paired it with Chord Mojo. Back then, I did not appreciate it enough and sold it for the Hifiman Sundara. I really liked the Sundara but found it too bright for the genres I was listening to. Then I got the HD660S. I liked it more than all my previous headphones I owned (I forgot how the LCD-2.2 sounded). I was quite satisfied with my HD660S until I again had the opportunity to try the LCD-2C at a local Hifi-store. I was euphoric. Then the guy working at the store suggested the LCD-X... Wow! I was blown away from the first song. Could not stop listening. I had to get it.

The build quality is second to none. Sexy steam punk... in black. Either you love it, or hate it. I love it. It is heavy, but comfortable. I can wear it for 3 hours without any fatigue. But it is not an "all day long" kind of comfort. Hence "comfort" stated in both the pro and con section.

I find the sound to be flatish with a hint of warmth. There is a dip in the high mid/low treble region. They are quite airy but non-fatiguing.

- Bass is fast, reaches low and hits "audiophile hard". Perfect for fast drums and realistic bass guitars.

- Mids are clear and somewhat forward (more thick than not). Electric guitars sound absolutely perfect. They have lots of air around them and have a great bite.

- Highs are spot on for me. Not harsh, not bright. But also not recessed or rolled of. Semi forgiving I would say. A poorly recorded track will still show its nasty faults. However it is still enjoyable.

- Soundstage is perfect for rock. Not wide but HUGE. Its hard to describe. I find it to be more deep than wide. Well mixed rock tracks sound epic.
I can understand if classical music is not the best on these though.

These are my impressions. If you like rock/metal, these are the end game. I have at least not heard better for these genres. Try them out and you will be smitten. Rock on!

edit: artists that sound fantastic on the LCD-X: Tool, Neurosis, Cult of luna, Mogwai, Explosions in the sky, Sigur Ros, Noorvik, Mono, Leech, Khuda, Isis, Ef, Esbjörns trio, Gaspacho, Grails, Norah Jones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Tonbruket...and so on.

edit 2: I now got the Ifi idsd micro black label to pair with the LCD-X. Wow.
I have read many reviews about "off timbre" and so on. Yeah, The 1-2K region is recessed, compared to the Harman curve. I couldn't care less. I can enjoy everything on these headphones. I dont want to spend this kind of money on a headphone and only listen to 5-6 classical records. The LCD-X will show you the recordings faults, however they will never give you headeache. 6 stars out of 5.
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R
ronhGA
Nice review. Just got these about a week ago myself and love them.
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Pros: -accurate, unhyped, extremely detailed sound that doesn't fatigue
-drives well enough off a Schiit Fulla 2. Yes really.
-excellent build quality
Cons: -comfort in long listening sessions (or rather lack thereof)
-not very fun, but not supposed to be either
I’m writing my second headphone review this month. The first was for the Audeze LCD-1, which impressed me enough to pick up an older pair of Audeze LCD-X. I will attempt to make some comparison of the two, as well as pit the LCD-X against my longtime daily use Hifiman HE-400i. I had the LCD-1 for a week on a loaner tour recently, but still those comparisons will have to come from memory alone. Further, to get to know the LCD-X as fast as I can so that I can trust them to make critical mastering decisions (more about why I use headphones for that later), I re-mastered a key album for me that I know inside and out, and I was able to take away a few key points about this headphone from that, so of course I’ll cover that experience as well.

First, let’s talk build, presentation, and packaging. For me, the Audeze LCD-X are everything I want in a headphone in terms of packaging and accessories. They come in a ruggedized carrying case in which I would have no problem transporting the headphones. They also come with two long sets of cables with sturdy connectors at both ends (balanced and single-ended). The headphones themselves are very solidly built. Especially impressive is anywhere these headphones move, it feels fantastic. The headphone height adjustment is very solid and can even be locked in place, while the swivel and tilt of the earpieces is at the exact opposite end of the spectrum, entirely smooth and effortless. Don’t worry, the earpieces, even left hanging in air, are too heavy to move around much. I have similarly priced synthesizers, and the materials choice and build quality of these headphones resemble what I’ve come to expect from road-worthy instruments. The relatively simple construction of a few high quality parts also means these can be maintained for years to come, which is something I like to see in anything I buy, and is something I’d expect for studio-grade equipment.

The only concern I’ve had with my pair is that the small triangular piece where the cable attaches to the right earpiece has come loose once since I got these, and come a few millimeters out of the shell. I just pushed it back in and make sure not to strain the cable on that side of my head. It hasn’t caused any issues that I’m aware of and has not come loose again. I don’t hold this against Audeze as this is a used headphone, and it was shipped across most of North America to get to me, so perhaps temperature change played a part in moving some parts a bit (I believe these are aluminum, and aluminum can expand and contract substantially with relatively minor temperature changes). So they’re almost perfect in terms of build quality, but not 100%.

And then there’s the matter of comfort. I’ve rushed the process as much as I can, but I’m still getting used to the LCD-Xs and the biggest thing I need to adjust to is the weight. These are far and away the heaviest headphone I have ever worn, and the old headband design puts a lot of that weight on the center of my head. I’ve worn worse, but the LCD-X are really fighting physics trying to make a pound of extra weight over your head and neck comfortable. I find I need to adjust them every half hour or so and take them off every few hours. This isn’t terrible for me as that’s just good hearing protection anyways. If I worked in a studio, they’d recommend 10 minutes not working with sound every hour to maintain good hearing all day, and I find that I can only work for about an hour to 90 minutes and make accurate decisions anyways. Still, if you enjoy marathon listening sessions, you may need to make some adjustments or try the newer headband (at $200, I’m seriously considering it).

So, after a page about the headphones, I can finally begin to describe their sound. In a word, these headphones are wildly flat for a hugely broad range of frequencies. I thought my Hifiman HE-400i were pretty flat, but the LCD-X just go so much deeper (roughly an extra octave and a half in musical terms), lose any trace of midrange color, and go flat right out of my hearing range. By comparison, the Hifimans sound positively sweet and syrupy. The soundstage is very precise, but not extremely large (the Hifimans are noticeably larger, but nowhere near as precise). It is large enough to make mix decisions on, and precise enough to make them well. That flat frequency response and lack of color is brutally revealing of any deficiencies in my work that slipped through on the Hifimans. Going back and listening to my work that has been done since starting with the Hifimans, I only heard about 25% that I wouldn’t go back and change something on now if I could. So after a pretty gut-wrenching reality check of my work as a first impression of the LCD-X, I left them alone for a couple of days.

When I picked them back up it was to watch some youtube from a presenter who’s voice I’m pretty familiar with. I’ve watched videos of his off and on for about 8 years, and on every audio system I’ve had (which I wasn’t thinking about at the time, but it happens to mean it would make a good test to suss out differences in gear). Until the first time I used Hifimans (my first planars), I only ever heard the voice coming from in front of his face, but the 400i let me hear the words forming inside his mouth, if that makes any sense. The Audeze LCD-X took me even deeper and I felt like I could hear all the way into his lungs, through the vocal tract, and out of his mouth. And the LCD-X is like that with everything. I’ve heard articulation on guitar strings on this level from Grados, I’ve heard drums like this in the Hifiman Ananda, and I’m sure with more experience I could find other headphones this detailed at their specific instrument. But again, the Audeze LCD-X is like that, for everything, all the time.

Another thing that I mentioned briefly earlier is how broad these headphones go, and I feel the best way to explain that is with a listening experience I had while playing background music during work today (from home, these aren’t an office headphone for me!). I have a playlist of motown, funk, and soul songs that stretches from the 60s to the 80s, and this is a great way to hear the evolution of studio tape. Normally, a jump of a few decades (say from the Four Tops in the 60s to Earth Wind and Fire in the 80s) is mostly audible in terms of noise level and distortion on every other headphone I’ve ever heard (LCD-1 included). With the LCD-X, the first thing you notice is the bandwidth of the tape. How much top and bottom are rolled off? Even the noise that sneaks through gives you an indication of this, and I think that it’s only possible for that to be the most jarring part of the transition because of how flat these headphones are over the full human hearing range.

So how does it compare the LCD-1? To put it as simply as I can, the LCD-X are the LCD-1, but more. More frequencies, more dynamics, more detail, with slightly less coloration - not a night and day difference here, more something I feel than I hear, especially in the bass. Less portability and comfort too. And about 3 or 4 times the price ( when purchased new, which I don’t necessarily recommend when you’re buying studio gear that’s designed to last decades, but that’s a separate conversation). I stand by what I said in my LCD-1 review, it really is as good as you’ve heard. The LCD-X works better for me because I needed a definitive step up from a pair of headphones that was already on that level, not a sidegrade, and I couldn’t get past the presentation of dynamics in the LCD-1. There is still something to get used to in the LCD-X, but it is worth the effort for me. This is because I’m working on music, semi-seriously, out of my bedroom, and I do not have space to set up studio monitors and acoustically treat my room. Nor do I want the downtime and wild swings in quality that would come from me moving from the world of headphones I know to the world of monitors in a room that I have almost zero experience with. And I know for a fact I will be moving at least once in the next year or two, and probably again within a few years after that. So tying my ability to critically listen, mix, and master to a specific physical location doesn’t make much sense for me, and I’d rather spend quality studio monitor money on a set of headphones that can go with me wherever I go for the foreseeable future. Odds are that doesn’t make sense for most audiophiles, but it does for me.

So, at the top of this review, I mentioned that I’d re-worked some old material to get to know the sound of the headphones more quickly. This was actually a very enlightening experience, unlike when I pitted the LCD-1 against my HE-400i. This time, however, my process was different. I used the LCD-X to re-master IDMf 050, which was the third album I ever worked on. At the time, being selected to do that album was a big deal for me, as it was the first time I knew for a fact that I was chosen over someone I felt was likely more qualified to do the work because I was just a better engineer to work with, so I really pulled out all the stops to do everything I could for that album on my trusty Hifimans. People were 99% happy with that album, but a few people said it could be louder, so I wondered if I could use the LCD-X to push these songs a bit harder and trust them to tell me when to stop. I’m still waiting for feedback from the original producers and some of the artists on that album, but I feel that the extremely flat, detailed nature of the LCD-X did allow me to improve on my previous work, and I have a few specific examples of how.

About mid-way through on remastering the album, I got to a track by Jazzyspoon called “This Time”, which is one of the more technically challenging to master on the album because of an absolutely massive and complex snare sound that pushes against the limiter, which is normally what the kick is doing in other songs. In my previous time working on this album, I would have put a limiter just kissing the peaks of this snare and said that’s as loud as the track gets to be. But since last I worked on this track, I’ve gotten more comfortable pushing limiters to get tracks louder (which as distasteful as it may be to some is still pretty important for a lot of electronic music). And with the LCD-X, I could hear very clearly when I was pushing the limiter too hard. In fact, I realized something in the middle of working on that track about the LCD-X that gave me a lot of confidence and helped me finish the second half of the album twice as fast as the first
-

If I can’t hear it, 99.9% of systems in the world won’t be able to play it back, and I don’t think ANY of my audience will be able to hear it.

-
For the first time in my music career, I realized that I don’t have to second guess the resolution of my monitoring system and overcome that with safety margins and good metering. I can trust the LCD-X to make the tiniest practical mix and master decisions. And if there is a difference there, the LCD-X will tell me. Simple as that. And, unless someone else who has a pair of LCD-X is sitting there listening to the music I work on with an equalizer, soloing out small bands and listening to specific frequencies, they will never be physically able to hear what I hear. I can push a multiband limiter a bit, hide the artifacts this creates inside the music, and know that even if I tell people I’m doing that, there’s not many (probably 1% of 1%) who will be able to hear it. And personally, I don't think many of those people are listening to house or IDM.

The other thing that these headphones did for me while re-working this album was help me, the mastering engineer who was supposed to hear everything on the album, hear everything on the album. There were multiple instances where I heard new layers and instruments in the mixes (or realized their importance for the first time), and it changed the way I approached working on the tracks to help bring those tiny details out for everyone else. This isn’t differences of one tenth of a db between masters like when I compared the Hfiman HE-400i to the Audeze LCD-1. No, these are decisions that can utterly change how a song is perceived, like bringing out an acoustic guitar layer in “This Time” that I didn’t hear before, or finding a harmonica in the closing track “Early Morning Anthem” by Vlantis. These realizations changed what I did substantially to bring out the various elements of these mixes, and meant pushing other, more prominent layers back, rather than further emphasizing them. This is not minor stuff, and it’s why I ended up with a test group of 15 songs from different artists around the world to get to know these headphones.

Unfortunately, I don’t want to link you before/after comparisons of these tracks because I don’t have the label’s permission to release the new versions, but you can find the old versions of the tracks here:


The album is well worth a listen if you’re into experimental electronica/IDM.

So in summary, the price is high, they leave my head sore after a few hours, and I now hate some tracks of mine that I used to love. But, in exchange for that, I get complete confidence in the work I am doing now and for the foreseeable future, regardless of where I end up working. That’s all I really wanted out of a headphone. I expected that I would end up disliking some of my prior work in a new, higher resolution light. I knew the price going in and agreed to pay it, so I can’t knock Audeze for that either. The only thing I don’t like is some aspects of the comfort in long sessions. It’s not a lack of effort on Audeze’s part to make these comfortable, it’s just a heavy headphone, and you have to get used to that. I hope I do, because other than the weight/comfort, these are a 5-star headphone for me.
Vaiet
Vaiet
@White Noise actually out of Aune S6 Pro I get a shitload of fun. I love their bas - fast, precise, with enough body for me (I'ma basshead lol) and great depth. Their mids sounds natural and I gear a little bit of a dip in lower treble which makes them a tad dark but not as much to really call them dark headphones. I could want a little bit of more soundstage width, which isn't all that great, but the depth, the layering and the precision is so astonishing that they blew Focal Elex out of the water. And they keep crushing them on Audeze's stock balanced cable even tho Elex got a Arctic Cables UPOCC 8wire cable which improves them quite a lot :D
Guacamolly
Guacamolly
I've sold my LCD4 ( it's the best i've heard in my life but the comfort was outrageous ) last month to buy the lcd-i4. Now i'm considering going back to over ear for the only reason i4 sound too light so the LCD-X are appealing me, it's heavy but these got the perforated headband and it's comfortable. I own the RME adi-2 fs so EQing won't be a problem since my i4 are EQed a lot in middle, it sounds dead.
thanks for the great review! i'll try it by myself in the next days
Pharmaboy
Pharmaboy
As a former owner of a pre-fazor LCD-3 (gorgeous on acoustic jazz & classical, but not dynamic enough for music w/big bass & a pulse) and current owner of a pre-fazor LCD-2.1 (tip-top all rounder, but soon to be F.S.) ... I find myself interested in the LCD-X. I know I can handle that indifferent Audeze comfort, so it's the sound that interests me. Thanks for a most detailed, insightful review from the music professional perspective.
Pros: World class sound quality, rugged travel case, fairly efficient and easy to drive
Cons: Weight, comfort, price, large
My audio connective trail and setup:

16 & 24-Bit WAV lossless files,

Foobar2000 with WASAPI event output,

Digital optical toslink cable,

Gustard DAC-X10 (with a HiFi Tuning internal fuse) connected to a custom solid core silver power cable,

custom pure silver XLR cable/Oyaide Neo d+ class B XLR cable,

S.M.S.L SAP-10 amplifier connected to a custom SOLID CORE PURE SILVER 99.999% 5N 2MM 12 AWG power cable,

all connected to a custom Russ Andrews Yello power mains extension with a Supra gold plated UK mains plug with a gold plated AMR fuse inside.


Hi everyone.

I’ll start off by saying these cans are fu(king heavy, the heaviest I have worn. Ever!

I’m surprised it is not sold as a fitness weighted headband, like a weighted vest for gymmies.

There should be a bunch of these cans in all gyms designed to strengthen your neck muscles.

At the time of writing, Audeze don’t state how much they weigh on their website under specs because it is about 6.5KG. I kid of course, it’s actually about 650g. Which is a lot!

Check out the weight of some of their open back planar magnetic rivals:

HiFiMan HE-560 & Sundara, both are only 375g each!

Oppo PM-1, 400g.

HiFiMan Edition X V2 & Ananda, both are 400g each.

Oppo PM-2, 390g.

So you can get planar cans that are of good weight.

This is just not good enough from Audeze, especially for the price of the LCD-X.

They are not comfortable enough for me and I cannot wear them for an hour or more, which is disappointing to say the least.

The headband padding is decent, the leather ear pads are large & thick and are comfortable but if it is warm, you will take these cans off to cool down.

The ear cups are apparantly made of “aluminium”. Hahahaa, good one Audeze! It’s probably steel or lead or tungsten. Just kidding but the aluminium ear cups must be very thick.



Here is my advice to Audeze:

You have made a world class sounding pair of headphones but sonic quality is as important as comfort, so please do not forget that during any stage of R&D & design.

You should look to create perforated leather ear pads for better cooling and breathability. The ear pads on Focal's Utopia and Clear cans are brilliant, check them out.

Also your ear pads should not be held in place using a adhesive circle ring, that is very poor indeed.

The Oppo PM-1/PM-2 ear pads and the Focal Utopia/Clear/Elear ear pads click into place. Adopt that method instead. Make it easy for your customers to change the ear pads for various reasons like cleaning, old ones wearing out or to try a different material ear pad for sonic or comfort reasons.

Also buy a Audio Technica ATH-R70X headphone, for me it is the reference can for comfort and weight (I will be reviewing it soon too). I am obviously aware it uses dynamic drivers instead of planar magnetic but it is extremely lightweight at only 210g! That is less than a 3rd of the weight of the LCD-X, less than a third!

Disassemble the ATH-R70X, dissect it and analyse it. Then get inspired and look to replace the steel/metal parts of the headphone with materials like ABS, titanium, carbon fibre, polycarbonate, magnesium.

An all polycarbonate/ABS Audeze headphone will be cheaper to manufacture whilst maintaining strength & rigidity and it can be priced similar to the LCD-2. Most importantly, it will be a lot lighter that is for certain.

Thank you.



Anyway, on to the sound quality.

I heard these cans with a custom UPOFC balanced XLR cable and the cans have been burned in for a minimum of 100 hours.

These cans sound exceptional and are my favourite Audeze that I have heard. I previously had the LCD-2 pre-fazor, LCD-3 pre-fazor and the LCD-2 fazor cans.

The LCD-X sound faster, clearer and are better balanced across the frequencies than the other LCD cans.

They do not have a “dark” or veiled signature.

They are all rounders, which is very difficult to create.

They seem capable of handling any genre I can throw at it. Like classical, dub step, pop, rock, dance, country, breakbeat, etc.

They have excellent bass & impact, superb mids & realistic vocals and brilliant treble & detail.

They are very clear, have an excellent & large sound stage, they image well and are quite spacious.

They really are amazing & natural sounding headphones, stunning!

One of the best I have heard? I would say so. And I have owned many, many headphones. Just look at my profile.

It is almost impossible for me to fault these great cans from an audio point of view, seriously.

If they weighed a significant amount less, I would probably rate them as the world’s best overall headphone and I would recommend them even more than the Focal Utopia (they are extraordinary but just too expensive).

As it stands, I cannot give them full marks but they sound special and I’m sure some people would not mind the heavy weight of these cans.
zellous
zellous
Hi Pharmaboy. For me it doesn't matter how good a headphone is, if it is too heavy or uncomfortable then I cannot fully recommend it. Fair play to Audeze though, the newer versions of the LCD-X does come with a much improved spring steel suspension headband. That definitely helps with weight distribution and comfort but, they are still heavy and I can never forget I am wearing them. Audeze did create the LCD-MX4, an upgraded LCD-X. But the MX4 only weighs a little less than the X, work to do still.
MartussDer
MartussDer
Hi there. Have you ever heard Sendy Aiva? I have LCD2.2 pre, LCD2F, LCD2-C and sendy aiva. A friend told me that the aiva sound very similar to lcdX, that is the reason because i decided dont buy lcdX but, What do you think?
zellous
zellous
Hi MartussDer, the Sendy Aiva is only one of the few headphones to have escaped my ownership. I've not heard that mentioned about the Aiva before though, ask in the Aiva thread. I'm sure someone can advise.
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
Video review

Sound demo


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.

ABOUT AUDEZE

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.

DISCLAIMER

This review unit was lent to me by audio excellence, for a review. Nevertheless, my review will contain no bias

SPECS

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.

Sound mechanism

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.









SOUND QUALITY

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.

Overall Thoughts

Bottom line, I would personally recommend the LCD 2 over the LCD X. Although LCD X is great for bass lovers.
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MartussDer
MartussDer
Hi. Excuse me. My lcd2 fazor is the first version with fazor waveguide (2015). What is the year of fabrication of the lcd2f that you tested and the year of your lcdX?
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 out 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.

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

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 at times, 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, particularly the bass! 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)

  1. Design: 7.3
  2. Bass: 7.8
  3. Mids: 8
  4. Highs: 6.5
  5. Value for money: 5.7
seanwee
seanwee
I dont understand the go to the bathroom joke but otherwise , nicely written review XD!!!
Whataudiophile
Whataudiophile
haha...You do know what it means.....
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:
 
http://www.head-fi.org/products/fiio-x5-high-res-portable-music-player/reviews/10579
Marcner
Marcner
Thanks for a nice comparison. I have the HD800, LCD-X and LCD-XC in house at present. I feel that you expressed the difference between HD800 and Audeze perfectly. I have found the similiries between the X and the XC be be much less that I expected. I find the Midrange of the XC to be a little more focused for want of a bettter description. I have not been bothered by the treble harshness but will give them a more careful listen in that regard.
Barra
Barra
A potential reason for my perception on the treble harshness is because I am looking to scale down the source to a portable AK100ii to listen in bed without disturbing my wife. The open X doesn't magnify the problems with the lower source as much.
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
lcdx.jpg
(click for a larger version)
 
Intro
 
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.
 
First Conclusions
 
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.
 
Sonic Assessment
 
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.
 
Amplification
 
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).
 
Closing
 
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).
 
Equipment Setup
 
- Source component: NAD T533 (DVD player)
- Headphone amplifier: HeadAmp Gilmore Lite w/ DPS
- Headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-AD2000, Sennheiser HD598, Creative Aurvana Live
 
Personal Info
 
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.
 
Evaluation Music
 
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
 
Related Links
 
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
Fidelity King
Fidelity King
I feel like there is a lot of bias in your review, like your saying that headphones that sound best with your musical preferences are "better" sounding. 
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) :wink: 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.


DSC92492.jpg

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.


Wrap-up

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!




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Anjolie
Anjolie
Awesome review!  I'm getting a pair of Hifiman HE-400i's soon (they're on there way now actually), but these are on my short list of "I'm going to own!"
bmichels
bmichels
I really like the LCD-X with my HUGO, but not very much when used with my EC445 tube amp.
Brian Hom
Brian Hom
Can someone tell me the difference between this and the SRS-2170? I understand that comparing an electrostatic to a planar is like apples and oranges but still
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.
CanDude
CanDude
LCD-3 is not "better" than LCD-X, just different. LCD-X is more transparent than LCD-3, LCD-3 has a "low mid no treble romantic" sound compared to LCD-X. Owning both (plus LCD-2) I will probably never use LCD-3 again, I will keep them as a backup if LCD-X brakes. Maybe I will get into a "romantic audiophile" mode sometime, then I will use LCD-3... :)
MartussDer
MartussDer
Excuse me. What are the years of fabrication of the lcd2 and lcdX of your review?
TheManko
TheManko
Sorry for replying late to your comment MartussDer. The LCD-2 I had were the rev1 and rev2 2011 versions. I bought the rev1 a month before their transition to rev2 so I got a free upgrade to rev2. Both were the wood cup versions. By now I assume a new LCD-2 would be better than the ones I had. And the LCD-X was purchased December 2013. Hope that helps.
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......... 
 
Pictures:
 
5wEBs.jpg
LCD-2 with LCD-X
 
5wEBI.jpg
 
Burson Conductor / AKG Q701
 
5wECq.jpg
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. 
 
Appearance:
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.
 
Comfort:
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. 
 
Soundwise:
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.
 
Headphone comparisons:
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.
DamienShepard
DamienShepard
Though the rating doesn't seem fair... I still find this review very honest, unambiguous and worthy of reference. If I share his preference, I might have similar impressions myself. 
groovyd
groovyd
Interesting how there are an army of Audeze bashing Hifiman lovers who happen to also be asian... coincidence?
exsomnis
exsomnis
I'm Asian, love the Audeze house sound and dislike the Hifiman sound. Coincidence?
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:
 
Desktop Rig:
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]
 
Portable Rig:
iPad - FiiO E11 (a minimalistic approach to my portable rig) 

 
Music Used:
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. 
 
IMG_0027.jpg
 
 
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.
 
IMG_0026.jpg
 
 
 
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). 
MacedonianHero
MacedonianHero
The LCD-X's treble is nothing I would concern myself with if I were sensitive to it. It's still an Audeze headphone...so it's smooth; just a bit more neutral than the LCD-3. :)
MusicEnthusiast
MusicEnthusiast
Nice Interview MH!
mikebirm49
mikebirm49
I've waited until now to post a comment here. Lazy, I suppose. I've read no finer review of the LCD-Xs than the one posted here by MH. It is especially resonant to owners of the LCD3s who can make a nice comparison in their minds solely on reading this beautifully descriptive review. The problem with reviewing headphones that induce superlatives is that they induce superlatives, making it seem like a reviewer is carrying pom-poms. It's unavoidable, however. Audeze is currently designing and manufacturing headphones that sound superb and any honest review will necessarily reflect that fact. Well done, MH.
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

 

Hey guys,
 
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:
  1. They became one of the most spoken brands on headfi
  2. Produced world class products that compete with the best headphones in the world and companies that have decades of experience behind them
  3. 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.
 

 
Sound Impressions
 
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 AG500Audeze LCD3Sennheiser HD800Audeze LCD-X Chord Usb Silver plusFiiO 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.
 
Summary
 
Bass
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.
 
Mids
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.
 
Treble
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.
 
Voices
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.
 
Openness
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.
 
Details
 
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 .
 
Transients
 
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.
 
Neutrality
 
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.
 
Conclusions
 
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…
 
Pros:
  1. Fast bass with good punch & depth
  2. Very good details
  3. Excellent transients
  4. Excellent instrument separation & Imaging
  5. Very opened sound and very good soundstage with amazing height
  6. Very good and clean treble, present with good texture without being bright
  7. Excellent voices
  8. Very engaging PRAT
  9. Love the mids and the presence on the upper mids
  10. Excellent transparency
  11. Very good dynamics
  12. Easy to drive
  13. Good build quality and looks
Cons:
  1. 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 ) 
dan.gheorghe
dan.gheorghe
Glad you found it useful !
KennethRoberts
KennethRoberts
Very useful! Thanks for posting this.
Xoen
Xoen
After trying to decide between buying the Sennheiser HD800 and Audeze LCD-X, I'm going after the LCD-x just after reading your impressions on it as well as others.  
Pros: Liquid midrange, deep powerful bass, extended smooth treble, wide, deep and tall soundstage, blazing fast transients
Cons: heavy, can sound 'thick' with overly warm amplifiers
Audez’e LCD-X www.audeze.com
 
Packaging:
 
The LCD-X’s arrived well packed in an outer cardboard shipping box around their rugged transport case.  Inside the case, the LCD-X were well protected in custom cutout foam.  Also in the case were a Single Ended Cable, a Balanced Cable & a 1/4 to 1/8 Adaptor.  I love the rugged case.  It features a nice handle for transporting your headphones.  While no one will mistake these for typical portable headphones, it’s nice to be able to take them from home to office or from meet to meet with the confidence that this case inspires.  That said, I do wish the ‘phones would fit in the case with cable of your choosing still attached.  The LCD-X mini-XLR solution for attaching the cables to the headphones is by far the best I’ve seen, but I still don’t love the idea of taking those on and off over and over.  This is a minor quibble as I don’t expect to be taking these out of the house all that often.
 

 
 
Fit and Finish:
 
To date, Audez’e has been known for using various woods to make the ring that surrounds the drivers.  With the X and XC incarnations, they have chosen to go instead with a metal ring, available in gunmetal gray or black.  Opinions vary, but I find myself quite enjoying the aesthetic.  The leather pads and headband are carry-overs from their prior headphones.  They are comfortable and exude luxury.  I’m able to get a very secure fit that allows for no around-the-ear sound leakage.  These are, however, open back ‘phones and you will hear ambient sounds and others will hear your music.  These are not headphones for commuters or frequent flyers.  If you need isolation from the outside world, consider the XC’s.  Those are the cousins of the X’s that feature a closed back design...but that’s another review altogether.
 

 
 
Comfort:  
 
Make no mistake, the X’s are heavy headphones. At 600g, they are almost double the weight of the reigning comfort kings, the Sennheiser HD800’s  That said, I have never experienced discomfort from either the weight or the clamping force while wearing the LCD-2’s nor the LCD-X’s.  In long listening sessions, I tend to sit in an Ikea chair that allows me to rest my head, thus relieving my neck from having to hold them up, but even in long sessions sitting at my desk, I find them to be comfortable for long periods of time.  If you have neck or back issues or if you don’t like heavy headphones, these may not be the model for you.  
 
AudezeforProfile-1.jpg
 
 
Review Equipment:
 
For this review. I used FLAC or ALAC files from MAC computers  Most of the listening was done on the Red Wine Audio Balanced ‘Audez’e Edition’ Isabellina HPA DAC/Amp (Mullard ECC88 tube, optical input) and Schiit Gungnir/Mjolnir (USB input) with additional listening done on the Schiit Bifrost/Lyr (tubes used: Amperex Orange Globe ECC88 and Mullard ECC88, optical input).  All listening was done using the stock cables from Audez’e.  www.schiit.com www.redwineaudio.com
 
The Sound:
 
Let me begin by saying that the Audez’e LCD-2’s (rev. 1) were a revelation in listening for me.  When I first heard them, I had a solid mid-fi budget system and thought it was as good as it could possibly get.  Then I attended a Head-Fi.org meet up and heard the LCD-2’s and my jaw literally dropped.  I will always have a soft place in my heart for the LCD-2’s as they brought me into the world of true high end headphone listening.  
 
I still have my pair of LCD-2’s and I listen to them often.  Again, I thought I had found audio nirvana.  So much so, that I wasn’t even tempted by all the accolades that were heaped upon the LCD-3’s when they were released.  I was content.  Flash forward to October 2013.  I attended CanJam at the Rocky Mountain Audio Festival.  Much like that first Head-Fi meet, I had my ears and mind opened.  Even over the cacophony of the CanJam room, I was able to tell that the LCD-X were something special.  I was able to procure a pair for an upcoming meet I was hosting and have been able to spend an extended time listening to them for this review.
 
After playing them on a continuous loop for 24 hours to loosen up any tightness that might have remained in the new drivers and then having them in use for the day at the meetup, I started listening critically.
 
The first track that listened to was Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Couldn’t Stand the Weather.  The intro showed immediately that the new drivers were a big step forward over the LCD-2’s.  Transients were much faster.  There was clear delineation between cymbal strikes and the corresponding decay with no hangover between the two.  The treble was more extended without being bright. The snare attack was palpable.  The voice seemed less congested and the bass line was delivered with typical Audez’e force and depth.  Though with the Lyr, a warm sounding amp, the upper bass seemed to have a hump that blended into the lower midrange a little bit. 

This was all quite surprising, as I would never have characterized the LCD-2’s as congested nor slow, but the X’s were simply more open and faster throughout the midrange and treble regions.
Moving on to female vocals, I dropped the digital needle on the title track from Allison Krause’s paper Airplane.  The opening guitar plucks showed that the treble speed was no fluke.  The pluck, ring and decay were all distinct and clear. Her wonderful voice soared without a hint of graininess or sibilance.
 
Switching to acoustic Jazz, I played title track from Harry Connick Jr.s excellent Lofty’s Roach Soufflé album.  Again I was struck by the natural sound of the drums. The snare was realistically portrayed while the cymbals had just the right amount of metallic ring rather than digital ‘tick’.  The upright bass was a little in-my-face for my liking with the Lyr.   The piano was lovely.  From left hand to right, it seemed to have the right combination of detail and timbre.  More surprising than all that was the imaging. One of the knocks on planar magnetic designs was that they didn’t present a wide, deep and tall soundstage.  While the jazz trio didn’t really provide an opportunity to demonstrate width and height, the depth was a significant improvement on the planars I have auditioned to date.  There was a clear sense of the space with excellent separation between the instruments front to back and left to right.
 
Time to put that imaging to the test with some classical music.  LvB’s 5th Piano Concerto (Till Fellner, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Kent Nagano) was first up.  The tonality was spot on.  While I would stop short of calling the imaging ‘holographic’ I will say that the left to right width and the placement all across the soundstage was excellent.  There was no ‘Three Blob’ imaging here.  I could clearly ‘see’ the placement of the piano center stage forward while the strings were distinctly just behind and evenly spread. It was also easy to get a sense of the space.
 
Next up was Yo Yo Ma’s interpretation of Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B (Yo-Yo Ma, New York Philharmonic, Kurt Masur).  The warmth of Yo Yo Ma’s signature Montagnana cello comes through in spades.  It’s almost as though the cello was what these ‘phones were meant to play.  Again the imaging was distinct, but this recording really lent itself to showing how tall the image was.  Mic placement was closer to the stage and the sound enveloped from both sides as well as from above and below.  The horns are rendered exceptionally as well.  There was no hint of grain or metallic sound from the violins.  
 
Listening to two different recordings of the 4th movement of LvB’s 9th was a fascinating exercise with the X’s.  Their imaging ability made the choices the recording engineers had made crystal clear.  The London Symphony Orch recording with Wyn Morris on the podium was clearly a stage mic’d recording with the soloists much more up front in the presentation despite them more likely being behind the musicians.  This presented an great opportunity to hear the detail retrieval capabilities of the X’s as well as how they handled the choral vocals.  The words to the ode to Joy are clear and easy to understand.  The soloists each occupy their own space.  The timbre is excellent but there is little sense of the space in which the recording was made.  Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s performance under Christoph Eschenbach was a live recording and you get a much greater sense of Verizon Hall where the performance took place.  You get the obligatory coughs and creaks from the audience, but even those are clearly well placed.  The soloists are much further back in the presentation and tend to blur together more as a result.  This should not be seen as a knock on the LCD-X’s, but rather a logical difference stemming from the recordings.  What I found interesting was that the X’s made the differences so readily obvious.

A note on Amp Synergy:
 
While the LCD-X’s are relatively easy to drive with their resistive 22ohm load and 96dB efficiency, they do require an amplifier to get the best sound from them.  They are a current hungry design that will be best served by transformer coupled tube amps or discrete solid state designs rather than OTL tube or op-amp based amps.  As to which specific amps, I can speak to the ones I have on hand.  I found the Lyr to have great synergy with the X’s cousin, the XC, but not as much with the X’s.  The notoriously warm sound signature of the Lyr rendered a ‘thickness’ in the midrange that I found to syrupy.  The RWA Balanced Isabelina, with it’s 5W of high current battery driven power, proved a great match.  None of that syrupy signature from the Lyr while rendering palpable imaging and still never approaching what I’d call bright or aggressive  The RWA got the best from the treble capabilities of the X’s.  Another solid match is the Schiit Gungnir/Mjolnir combination.  I had been concerned that this combination might be too aggressive or bright with the extended treble of the LCD-X's, but quite the contrary.  There is power and detail to spare, but I never get the hint of any glare.  This combination rendered the best fine detail and offered the greatest control over the prodigious bass.  The best news is that the X’s absolutely do scale with the amplifier and will showcase the pluses and minuses of your electronics chain.
 
Conclusion:
 
I found the LCD-X’s to represent the state of the art in headphone design.  They improved upon the prior designs in a way that did nothing to detract.  The imaging is improved, the speed and detail retrieval is excellent.  I did note a small upper bass emphasis on a very few recordings, but it was not consistent and it left me thinking it had more to do with the recording than the phones, but it may mean a little care should be taken when pairing them with a very warm amplifier.  
 
I’m happy to say that the LCD-X’s will be remaining in my system and I am looking forward to experiencing my entire library again for the first time.  
 
AudezeforProfile-2.jpg
 
 
Highly Recommended
Stratosfera
Stratosfera
Your review has been very helpful to me. Well done.
commtrd
commtrd
Excellent review! Well done! Thanks so much for the review. Probably the final deciding factor in trading in my LCD 3 for the X.
commtrd
commtrd
Received the new headphones and they are just awesome! Like the 3s just better. Really enjoying these phones.
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