Audeze LCD2 Classic

General Information

Audeze proudly presents a new take on our classic LCD2 design. The new LCD2 Classic headphone comes with a lightweight suspension headband, special crystal-infused nylon rings, remodeled audio jacks, and features the warm sound signature of the original LCD2 driver. Made right here in our Southern California facility.

(text copied from the official website along with the picture)

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Pros: Great Bass Response
Comfortable for long sessions
Low impedence and easy to drive
Shines in R+B, Hip-hop, EDM, Pop
Price (in Aus at least)
Cons: Don't buy if you listen to classical music
Summary:
- Small preamble: bought with my own money, complete unbiased opinion.
- I bought these headphones due to their FR, knowning they were somewhat bass heavy (which is what i was after).For open-planars, they have an exceptional amount of slam in the sub-bass with fast decay and a decent amount of rumble. Mids sound nice, with the high-mids not sounding shouty. Treble is crsip, no harhness and no silibance.
- Use case: People who like R+B, Hip-hop, EDM and Pop. I think the reviewer who gave them 3 stars was being unfair (it'd be like rating CA andromedas a 1/5 because it has , these headphones were never marketted as being neutral or harmon target. These are warm headphones with an emphasis on bass - which i think is the exact reason they are excellent. They do what they do very well.

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Testing Gear:
- JDS Atom
- Topping D30
- Hiby R5

Genres:
- Hip-hop
- EDM
- Pop
- R+B

Build Quality:
- Other than the plastic rings, metal, metal and more metal. These are built well. Sure there are some cost cutting pleather cups and band) but overall it's a 8/10.
- Cable is very nice, thick and well braided - you won't need any after market cable unless you're after a balanced output
- Lack of case is of note, however a headphone stand works fine and these can sit nicely on a mouse pad without getting damaged

Sound Quality:
- Bass: The big reason to by these, I've listened to 2 - 3 open planars and these had the best bass response by far. That's not to say they are muddy or massively emphasized. Good slam with fast decay. Doesn't spill into the mid range and there is clear seperation between mids and bass. It should be noted, the bass even though exceptional, isn't anything like a closed-back counter part (i.e. CA cascade), though sacrificing a bit of slam results in great staging, clarity and a far superior listenability.

- Mids: They are there. Not the most pronounced. Male and female vocals sound nice. Not shouty. Not much else to say really.

- Highs: Crystal clear. No silibance. No harshness. I'm extremely treble sensisitive and can listen to these for hours with no issues.

- Soundstage: Very good for the price. Depending on the genre they can sound intimate at times, but not at anypoint congested.

- Another thing to note, these work really when given plenty of juice. I noticed that even though they will run of a Hiby R5, to get the best sound you need to really pump some amps in - they are wonderful to listen to from the atom.
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mRaaghava
mRaaghava
How does this sound with Cayin N6ii? A01 Module.
riverlethe
riverlethe
What are you talking about? All over-ear Audeze headphones have dead neutral bass down to 20Hz.
Pros: build and improved comfort
Cons: sound may not be so appealing the some


Build Quality
Past Audeze headphones generally sounded very good but I had problems with the headband and weight.
Now the new design is much more appealing and LCD2 Classic is no exception. I in more detail about
this design and why I like it so much better in the video but it is much more comfortable in summary.

Sound Quality
Certainly, every Audeze headphones I have tried sounded very good nonetheless some people argued that
the fazors made all the difference in the world either for the best or for the worst. For those of you who did not get to try the non fazored versions of the LCD series can get a taste right here and now with the LCD 2 Classic headphones. I go in much more detail about the sound in comparison with other headphones but to say the least, it certainly may be appealing to some while some may hate it.
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Pros: Sweet Full Bodied Sound, Low Bass Heft & Power, Easy To Drive, Can be detailed without any harshness, comfortable
Cons: Low end sometimes diffuse & overemphasized leading to some congestion, a little too dark, imaging could be a little more expansive, maybe too intimate sometimes
Audeze's LCD 2 is a headphone that's long held a top spot in recommendations for an enjoyable but resolving listen for under $1,000 an it's certainly earned it! Though over the years it's sound signature has slowly changed just a little, leading to a lot of discussion of which revision is best and which people are referring to when they recommend it! With all this in mind I reached out to Audeze directly through a contact I met and was able to secure a listen of their two newest production models to compare alongside my older PreFazor Edition.

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So what we have here is the LCD 2F with their latest revision [2017] Fazor alongside the LCD 2C which is the "classic" tuning without the Fazor. Alongside my own PreFazor'd LCD 2 from 2012!

Now prior to this comparison, I heard the LCD 2 twice, once in 2014 and again in 2016. The 2014 featured their vegan pads and headband. While super comfy that version struck me as very fast & detailed but noticeably sucked out up top and a little uneven tonally. The next revision I heard in 2016 was a bit more balanced with rosewood cups and leather pads and I felt it was still... lacking in comparison to my HE 4.

So while I always respect the LCD 2, I never really enjoyed it in my own system which made it a difficult recommendation. But upon purchasing my 2012 PreFazor'd LCD 2 I noticed it was far faster and more tonally balanced than both of the previous revisions I'd heard before! So much so I actually sold my HE 4 as the LCD 2 I had finally outclassed it without any reservations!

In my search to understand why I liked this older LCD 2 in comparison to newer models I discovered many threads and conversations about the differences in each of the different models over the years alongside tons of discord about which was best. Clearly Audeze had been listening to this as the more I read, the more positive feedback I heard about their latest fazor revision. Then to top it off Audeze launched their 2C Classic which was as return to a fazorless LCD 2 sound!

So as of today I'm happy to say their current models are a clear step above both of the revision I've heard in the past, but the question remains... how do these 2 newest models compare to the old school LCD 2 sound?


Let's start by looking at the differences in build, as excessive weight and a lack of comfort have also existed alongside the LCD 2's reputation since the beginning.



Starting with the original notice the aggressive angle on the leather pads and simple padded headband design. In terms of comfort this model is noticeably heavier and less comfortable to wear, though it's pads feel like genuine animal skin leather. Additionally the grain on the bamboo wood cups is much more noticeable, though in truth the Audeze 2 has been featured in a variety of woods over the years so Bamboo nor this grain pattern are unique to the older models.



Moving onto the LCD 2F we see it has thicker more plush pads and a new headband design! In reality the new headband massively improves the weight distribution of the headphones overall and the plush pads are noticeably more comfortable than the older pads. How ever the newer pads feel more like synthetic leather than a traditional anime hide material. Also I believe that as of today Bamboo is the only wood offered through Audeze for the cups.



Finally their newest model the 2C or Classic features composite cups with molded cable connectors in the same style of the original Audeze LCD 2. One of the biggest issues with those original molded wood cable jacks was durability. They would break down over time resulting in Audeze adopting the black plastic jack housings we saw on the two wood cupped LCD 2s. That said, again with the introduction of the composite cup and new headband the 2 Classic is just a little bit lighter than both the older LCD 2 and 2F models. Making it a little more comfortable, especially over longer listening sessions!

So how about the sound? For this review I'll only be comparing the LCD 2 models to each other, I won't be delving into how they compare to other headphones as I feel that's been covered extensively by many other reviews. That an I also feature comparisons to my LCD 2 in many of my headphone reviews so hopefully those of you who are following my audio experience have already gotten some insight into this matter.

An as a whole the LCD 2 family is characterized by;
  • Heavy solid linear low end
  • Full bodied low and central mid range
  • Slightly withdrawn upper mid range
  • A fairly dark top end presentation
    • Though of all three models this is where they vary the most
  • Slightly intimate presentation with good depth and clarity
  • Excellent micro detail & resolve with a slight lack of macro detail
    • So transients related to the musician, instruments themselves and the vocalists are more vivid than ambient noises such as foot steps, machinery, or other accidental noises
      • For some of you this is a positive as you may find the inclusion of such "noises" intrusive to the music as a whole
  • Impressively quick dynamics
    • changes in both micro and macro dynamics are equally evident
Now for this review I did volume match each headphone with pink noise and my SPL Meter, and I listened to a variety of my own reference tracks including;
  1. Hotel California - Hell Freezes Over - Eagles [ Simply Vinyl 180g Remaster RIP in 24bit]
    • I like this specific mastering for it's vastly improved imaging precision and clarity! I and many friends have noted how much clearer, nuanced and precise the overall presentation is for this track vs the usual CD Mastering that many of you may be used to.
    • That aside, while I personally enjoy the Eagles music, I keep this track in rotation because of how well known it is! Many of you have heard it extensively so references to how sounds from the track are presented by each headphone should be easy to understand and extremely relevant.
  2. Sweet Georgia Brown-Monty Alexander-The Ultimate Demonstration Disc [Chesky Records 16bit]
    • This tracks a little quicker than all the rest, the aggressive play style of each of the musicians helps to showcase the characteristics of each headphones envelope
  3. Spanish Harlem -Rebecca Pidgeon-The Ultimate Demonstration Disc [Chesky Records 16bit]
    • Another Audiophile classic, but I feel this track helps to showcase overall tonal balance and micro detail.
    • Unlike the previous tracks, the band's composition is a little simpler and the recording is of astonishingly quality and has this insane sense of spaciousness. I feel this track best showcases the naturalness of a headphone, as the timbre and envelope of each instrument is exceptionally vivid!
  4. The Divine Conspiracy - The Divine Conspiracy - Epica - [Special Edition Vinyl RIP in 24Bit]
    • Again the mastering on this edition is noticeably more dynamic than the CD version.
    • That aside, the track as a whole features both traditional classical elements/instruments and those found in Heavy Metal. So there's a mix of both the natural beauty of traditional wooded string instruments blended with the more aggressive nature of distorted electric guitars.
    • What I like most about this track though is it's overall depth and how the band blends these two contrasting musical styles together! This is also an extremely busy track and can sound congested or cacophonous from headphones that feature a very unbalanced tonal presentation and/or lack in clarity.
I also tested each headphone out with my fully balanced portable solid state and full sized single ended hybrid tube systems to see how well each paired with different circuits as well as how they each performed in different circumstances.

An a final word before we delve into sound quality, I personally feel that both solid state and tube designs have their own advantages! An the same applies for Vinyl and Digital formats, I also have a fondness for a good Vinyl Rip not because I feel the medium is better but in many cases the mastering for Vinyl is sometimes better than Digital. But as with the Tube VS Solidstate, Balanced VS Single End & Vinyl VS CD deabtes, I feel each has it's own unique advantageous and disadvantageous. That each of you really need to explore within your own systems and homes!

Overall in terms of amplification needs, I found that my PreFazor 2012 LCD 2 was much more difficult to power! In most cases I could run the LCD 2F and 2C out of each amp/system without needing to adjust the volume. However each time I dropped my 2012 PreFazor LCD 2 into my system right after having the 2F\2C I found the volume to be about 3 dBs lower with the same volume & gain settings. An this was consistent among all of my systems and amplifiers. Simply put, the 2012 PreFazor LCD 2 is more difficult to drive than it's newer siblings!

That said let's break down the simple differences between each without considering how or what impact the amplifier or DAC had.



Overall I found the LCD 2F to be slightly dark with a drier sound and a focus on clarity and precision over naturalness.

With Rebecca Pidgeon's Spanish Harlem I noticed;
  • The bass guitar had exceptional clarity but lacked a little power an impact
  • There was a slight exaggeration to the echo of Rebecca's voice
  • Her voice was very airy and slightly rougher comparatively
  • The strums of the guitar's had exceptional clarity
    • the leading edge of each individual string was vivid
    • how ever the tone of the guitar's and other stringed instruments was a little dry lacking some sweetness
  • Each shake of the shaker was exceptionally vibrant
    • The unique texture of each individual shake was clear and the instrument it self sounded very natural
  • Violins were slightly too dry and had some roughness
  • The 2F resolved a lot of micro detail in the guitars
    • Especially with regards to the unique fretting of each musician
    • Had a slight focus more on the fundamentals over the harmonics
  • An overall the presentation was expansive with good precision and cohesiveness
While listening to Monty Alexander's Sweet Georgia Brown the LCD 2F;
  • Had slight forwardness in the low & central midrange
    • This resulted in a very intimate presentation of the Piano and Horns
      • Additionally the tonal balance of the 2F aided in it's impressive dynamic clarity
    • An as a whole the 2F was had consistently excellent dynamics especially in the lows and mid range
  • Despite being quite dark up top
    • The timbre and envelope for drums was excellent as was it's overall dynamics presentation
      • But overall the 2F still struggled with resolving some ambient noise
  • The bass presentation for both the electric and acoustic bass featured excellent clarity
    • But a slight lack of power
  • Horns had a nice forwardness and good leading edge
    • But a often too much of a metallic bite
Listening to Epica's The Divine Conspiracy with the LCD 2F I found that;
  • Good definition in the lows
    • Bass guitar had good impact with clearly defined fretting
    • Big drums were full, heavy with a slight tinge of their inherent hollowness
  • Simone's voice was exceptionally airy and slightly forward
  • The stringed instruments placed towards the back of the track were clearly defined
    • Though slightly more forward vs the other LCD2s
  • The drums were quite powerful and full
    • Excellent macro dynamics and impact
  • Guitars had a very crunchy presentation
  • Her husbands growling vocals were very rough and aggressive
    • I actually really enjoyed this slightly drier rough and forward presentation
Again compared to the other LCD 2's the latest Fazor'd LCD 2F was;
  1. Expansive and airy with good precision & cohesion despite a slightly forward mid range
  2. Has the least amount of power and slam in the lows
    • but exception clarity, definition and texture
  3. Was slightly drier in the mid range
    • slightly aggressive presentation with a slight focus on the attack and decay with a slight de-emphasis sustain & release
  4. Well extended up top with great definition despite a slightly darker than neutral presentation
  5. Slightly clearer macro dynamics


Overall I found the LCD 2C to be the darkest with a wet sound and a focus on naturalness, a beautiful timbre and hefty low end

With Rebecca Pidgeon's Spanish Harlem I noticed;
  • A thick powerful bass presentation
    • The heft and weight of the lows was apparent but texture was slightly smoothed
  • Each of the guitars were beautifully voiced, vivid and exceptionally resolved
    • Each of the strings had a nice individual weight and force to them
      • There was no lack of tactility despite the added wetness
  • Vocals were hearty
    • But at times lower notes in her register were a little too emphasized
    • The echo of her voice is the room was a bit less obvious
  • The piano was slightly creamy with an apparent percussiveness
    • The weight of each stroke of the keys was clear
    • An despite the creamy presentation there was no lack of texture in the piano
  • Shaker variation was slightly muffled
    • Of all three LCD 2s this one was the darkest and least resolved up top
  • Violins were slightly beautiful
    • Again the body of the instrument was apparent and there was a nice slightly sweet tinge to the sound
  • The 2C resolved a lot of micro detail in the guitars
    • Especially with regards to the unique harmonics of each individual instrument
  • Clearly resolved micro dynamics or the slight and gradual changes in volume and intensity
    • Especially for instruments ranging within the lows and central mid range
  • Presentation is fairly intimate, but impressively natural, powerful an engaging
    • Despite not being as expansive as the 2F it wasn't ever too congested and had good cohesion in the precision of instruments within the space
      • Though it isn't quite as cohesive or precise as the 2F
While listening to Monty Alexander's Sweet Georgia Brown the LCD 2F;
  • Has slight forwardness in the low mid-range
    • With an excellent timbre and dynamic presentation for the piano
  • As a whole the 2C did well with the sudden and constant dynamic shifts within this track
  • Is the darkest
    • As such the timbre and envelope for drums was slightly subdued
    • Ambient noise and macro detail was again slightly out of focus vs transients and micro detail
  • Both the electric and double bass had a powerful presentation
    • With a lot of impact and slam though also a slight lack of definition
  • Horns were quite full with a nice chesty gusto present
    • The slight metallic tinge I often hear with horns is gently subdued with the 2C
      • Rather horns had a beautiful full bodied timbre with a gentle bite
    • The upper mid dip often associated with the LCD 2 family is most evident though it's much less invasive than what I found in previous models in 2014/2016
Listening to Epica's The Divine Conspiracy with the LCD 2F I found that;
  • Tons of power in the bass
    • Slight lack of definition but with an lot of slam
  • Simone's voice was a bit stuffy with too much emphasis in the lower notes
  • The stringed instruments placed towards the back of the track had beautiful timbre
    • But were slightly muffled
  • The drums were quite full
    • The kick drum in particular had some serious SLAM
  • Guitars had a good crunch and edge with a nice touch of sweetness
  • Her husbands growling vocals were foreboding and POWERFUL
    • A slightly withdrawn mid-range let's the texture of the notes in his lower register shine a little more
      • While slightly different in presentation I also really enjoyed it
Again compared to the other LCD 2's the LCD 2C
  1. Very natural full bodied presentation
  2. Has excellent power, slam and IMPACT
    • But with a slight lack in clarity, definition and texture
  3. A smidge wetter in the mid range
    • Just a bit smoother in presentation with a slight focus on the sustain and release with a slight de-emphasis attack
      • I found the overall decay of instruments to be mostly neutral
  4. Having the least definition up top
    • Percussion was still powerful and dynamic, but not quite as vivid nor impressive as on the other 2 models
  5. Excellent micro detail and micro dynamics!
    • With a slightly subdued macro dynamic presentation


Overall I found the 2012 PreFazor LCD 2 to be a step above each of the previous models. Really combing the best of both

With Rebecca Pidgeon's Spanish Harlem I noticed;
  • A truly powerful low end
    • With no lack of texture or definition
  • Each of the guitars were beautifully voiced, vivid and exceptionally resolved
    • Each of the strings had a nice individual weight and force to them and vivid tactility despite being sweet and wet
  • Vocals were sweet, slightly smooth and well resolved
    • The airiness and echo in her voice was presented with exceptional balance
      • There was a clear sense of the rooms size without any exaggeration
  • The piano was slightly creamy with an apparent percussiveness
    • The weight of each stroke of the keys was clear
    • An despite the creamy presentation there was no lack of texture in the piano
  • Shaker variation was the most vivid
    • Of all three LCD 2s this one was the brightest and had the best definition and precision
    • I actually noticed that the shaker moves around quite a bit both vertically and horizontally
      • The 2012 PreFazor had the most precise and cohesive imaging
  • Violins were slightly beautiful
    • Again the body of the instrument was apparent and there was a nice sweet tinge to the sound
    • The sustain of notes on the violin had the most natural timbre with the 2012 PreFazor
  • Excellent resolve of a lot of micro detail across the full spectrum
    • With equal focus the unique harmonics of each individual instrument both while notes were sustained and as the gently decay'd and faded into silence upon release
    • Clearly defined the unique edge of the fundamental notes present in the attack and interwoven into the sustain
  • Clearly resolved micro dynamics or the slight and gradual changes in volume and intensity
    • Again with full spectrum coverage
  • An overall the presentation was fairly intimate
    • But more cohesive, precise and airy than the 2F despite being slightly less expansive
While listening to Monty Alexander's Sweet Georgia Brown the LCD 2F;
  • Excellent timbre and dynamic presentation for the piano
    • Great dynamics and the most cohesive and precise imaging
    • Had the MOST percussive presentation of the bunch
  • Excellent dynamics both micro & Macro
    • Top end was also the most forward and well extended
    • As a whole there was no lack of dynamics any where
      • Drums in particular were the most dynamic, resolved and impactful!
  • Tactile, Powerful and near perfect low end presentation
    • Fret noise, slight sliding present in the fret board for the electric and double bass, really no detail is spared!
  • Horns were quite full with a nice chesty gusto present
    • slight metallic twinge present but very subtle
      • bite was a little more apparent with less of a metallic edge to it
    • Nice airiness and warmth overall
Listening to Epica's The Divine Conspiracy with the LCD 2F I found that;
  • Again low end was optimal
  • Simone's voice was both beautiful and full with a nice airyness
    • Really the 2012 PreFazor shined the most with her beautiful vocals, with excellent layering of not only her voice atop the guitars but also the multitude of background vocalists as well
  • The stringed instruments placed towards the back of the track had beautiful timbre
    • And good precision
  • The drums were powerful
    • Though the only problem in this track is the overall quality of the high hats, this some what poor texture is most evident on the 2012 PreFazor
    • How ever the tom and kick drums were incredibly dynamic and explosive
  • Guitars had a good crunch and edge with a nice touch of creamy sweetness
  • Husbands growling vocals were foreboding and POWERFUL but also with an aggressive edge
  • Dynamics were most vivid on this track with the 2012 PreFazor
Again compared to the other LCD 2's the 2012 PreFazor is;
  1. Exceptionally Wet & Creamy
  2. Crazy resolving
  3. Slightly intimate but with exceptional precision and cohesive imaging
  4. Hands down the standard for how Bass should be presented at this price point
    • Has the most power with no loss of quality, texture or control
  5. Slightly dark but with good texture and resolve up top
  6. Slightly slower or rather more romantic than the newer models
    • though this added body/decay or sweetness doesn't take away from it's resolve
In this case, I do feel a good quality LCD 2 PreFazor model is a step above the newer models. An as much as I love my model there are issues with ownership of any of these old school LCD2, many of these models have hundreds of hours on them and once they fail there's no option for repair. Only replacement with newer drivers. Additionally assuming you get a good one they are far more difficult to drive and under-amping them will put the overall performance below that of the newer models.

Now the question is how do you get an ideally tuned PreFazor LCD 2? Well honestly, there's no guarantee. I only recommend that you purchase from some one whose had it for many years and some one whose impressions your familiar with and trust! These are not headphones you want to buy blind unless your in a position to tolerate a financial loss.

Generally I feel the newer models are a better purchase, or at least a better recommendation for the majority! An for those curious I did these general impressions with my reference system. Which features an amp that can run about 2,000mW+ into the LCD 2 as well as another that can do upwards of 5,000mW+, an while the newer models didn't see a vast improvement on these amps the 2012 PreFazor did. So again given the slightly more difficult amping requirements, the unknown life span and overall difficulty in acquiring one. I highly recommend any one out there skip all of the older models and go with either the 2F or 2C depending on which your preference! With the only exception being those of you with no real budget in mind for buying a headphone or lots of time to wait!

Non the less I do feel overall the 2C does capture that classic PreFazor sweetness and power, while being a bit quicker overall and easier to drive. How ever the 2F is also an excellent option for those that want a little more detail an linearity in exchange for some naturalness and heft.

Next up is how each of the different models changed with amplification! An were going to start with a fully balanced solid state for portable use!


For these impressions I stuck with Spanish Harlem from Rebecca Pidgeon and used my Geek Out v2+ with balanced output. I also used a custom flat braid Copper Cable that's been wired/terminated for balanced use with my Norne Audio 4pin XLR to 3.5mm TRRS Adapter.

Overall it's from this system that I felt the two newer Audeze LCD 2 models caught up with my PreFazor'd edition as while the individual imaging characteristics of each remained the same I do feel that the resolve of all three was more or less on par with this amp.

An in terms of power I'd say even this balanced amp falls a little short at only 1,000w into 16ohms. Give that the LCD 2 is around 70 means were getting maybe around a 4th of that output... maybe! Sadly I don't have the exact numbers for how the GO V2+ handles higher impedance loads, though it will run upwards of 4v into a load!

Speaking of my Geek Out v2+ has a dual ESS Sabre 9018 Dac with a high frequency roll off and Texas Instruments TPA 6120A Output OpAmp, so overall it's fairly natural but leans a little on the drier side.

The filters made a big impact on the sound as well, and I use the Green Filter which features high frequency roll off that helps to add in a slightly more natural sound.

Non the less, resolution and overall imaging aside each headphone did have a slight change in tonal balance with this pairing!

Overall with this portable balanced amp the LCD 2F had;
  • Better macro detail
  • Slightly more exaggeration in "airy vocals" and room echo
So in the end I wasn't a big fan of this pairing.

However with the LCD 2C I noticed;
  • Slightly more top end energy and airiness
  • A smidgen drier
In this case, I did like the touch of added clarity and top end energy that running a solid state amp brought to LCD 2C!

As for my 2012 PreFazor LCD 2 it had;
  • A little more top end energy
  • less bass power/heft/texture
So under driven the 2012 PreFazor losses some of it's texture/heft and power but gains a little top end energy... which it honestly doesn't always need. But it does well enough I suppose!

In conclusion, again, I feel that the newer models do better in this and other portable situations! An the LCD 2C in particular pairs better with brighter solid states than it's siblings.


Next up is my Garage 1217 Project Ember II, this is a single ended hybrid tube that can push upwards of 2w into the LCD 2! This is my reference amp for planars for it's overall clarity and power, and this is the amp where the 2012 PreFazor LCD 2 shined best!

It's creamy, wet and almost honey like mid range are what I like most about it! So with an upgraded 6SN7 I feel the Ember II allows it to be it's best self! The Hybrid Tube amp in this configuration is in my opinion more natural than anything, though I pair it with a rather bright DAC so the slight warmth of the Tube does help balance out the aggressive sound of my DAC.

That aside, with a Hybrid Tube I felt the 2012 PreFazor LCD 2;
  • Maintains a good balance of both naturalness in the mid range and power/clarity on the top end bottom end
  • Has an even deeper presentation and more spacious imaging
So as you all know, the Ember II is my go to amp for Planar's especially for under $400!

With a Hybrid Tube I felt the LCD 2F;
  • Gained some much needed naturalness
    • a slight added wetness and body helps to balance out the 2Fs drier sound
  • Gains some added heft in the low end
Again for the drier and more expansive sounding Audeze I feel Hybrid Tube amps will be an especially good match!

Finally with the Audeze LCD 2C and my Hybrid Tube Amp;
  • Had an even sweeter, lusher and smoother sound
    • without much loss of texture in the midrange and top end but vocals still remained a bit too thick
  • Gained a little more airiness
    • Percussion in particular had a nicer presentation
Finally, with the Audeze LCD 2C I still preffer the sound of my own solid state equipment, but can also see how others may appreciate the added sweetness

Overall in terms of amplification as long as you have enough power, whether you go solid state or tube, fully balanced or single end really depends on your system and preference!

I personally think more aggressive solid state or tube amps pair well with the LCD 2C and slightly more relaxed solid state or tube amps pair nicely with the LCD 2F!



Now as a final point I'd like to talk briefly about cables, my own 2012 PreFazord LCD 2 came with an aftermarket cable copper cable built by it's previous owner. It's fully balanced and terminated to 4pin XLR. Something I did notice is with the stock cable each of the models was noticeably stuffy! So given how resolving the LCD 2 is I do recommend you guys do take a look at upgrading from the stock cable before you look at getting another headphone. Doing so does a couple of things for you;
  • Gives you an opportunity to grab a balanced cable + balanced to Single End Adapter
    • This way your not limited to just single ended amplification and having more options is always a benefit, especially if your planning use these are your primary headphones
    • With the rise of the dual mini 4pin XLRs as a headphone side connector, your able to use your upgraded cable with not only your LCD 2 but what ever else you choose to upgrade to in the future!
  • An in my opinion yields a slight but noticeable improvement in sound quality.
An regardless of what you think of cables, I do at least encourage you guys to at least grab a nice copper cable with a balanced termination and adapter. That way you'll always have that option at your hands! An please do stop by my Cable Matters thread, for mine and others impressions of a variety of different cables over the years!

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Finally let's talk about upgrades! Primarily how does the 2012 PreFazor LCD 2 with an upgraded cable compare to something like the Audeze MX4 with just the stock cable?

Well I gave my copy of Hotel California a listen and untimely found;
  • That it doesn't compare
Simply put even with the stock cable the MX4 clearly shows it's self as being a step above even the best LCD 2 I've heard! Quite literally everything is improved so the MX4 offers;
  • Better resolve of both transients and spacial information
    • so the position of the strike of that big drum moves around a little more
  • Texture in the spectrum as a whole
    • So an even more defined tactile edge on each of the guitars individual strings
      • giving you an even deeper appreciation for the beauty of a 12 string guitar
  • even more precise imaging
  • Marginally less bass power,
    • But... while the bass is a little drier and not quite as powerful it does have a similar sense of heft and impact
    • Overall I feel that maybe the MX4s bass is still a step above all the LCD 2s I've heard
  • Even more efficient and easier to drive
  • Even lighter and more comfortable
Even better if you add that nice upgraded cable from your LCD 2 as I found with my upgraded Copper Cable;
  • There was a bit more power in the bass! Leaving the LCD 2 completely defeated
  • Slightly more natural mid range
    • Again with the stock cable I felt the MX4 was... kinda both stuffy and dry upgrading helped add in a little more mid-range decay and more clearly resolved some extension on the release making the overall envelope that much more natural
  • Improved clarity on the top end
    • The bongo drum in the intro suddenly... gains a little more space in and around it. An with that better defined sense of space it's a little more captivating than before! The clarity of each strike and the fullness of the instrument itself really grabbed my attention on the MX4
But even with just the stock cable again the MX4 is in a whole other league from the LCD 2.


That said, I appreciate you guys for reading over this review! I hope that it helped to clarify some questions you had concerning the variation among the different models! An again, overall I felt that in-conclusion the two newer LCD 2 Models to be the more desirable recommendations! As they are;
  • Lighter and more comfortable to wear over long periods
  • Easier to drive and ultimately need less power overall to reach their max potential
  • Have a more established life span and continuous support from Audeze
  • An established sound signature and excellent resolve
    • And they scale nicely too
Again while I felt overall the older model was better sounding, it's still too much of a gamble to have my full recommendation! As with the newer models you've got 2 slightly different established sound signatures to choose from without any worry about "losing" anything moving forward! That and their just so easy to own and enjoy! Without any of the fuss or stress of having an older model to bother with.
Mshenay
Mshenay
ooh yes! The ican MICRO SE would actually do well with both models

I actually really liked it with the lcd-xc that I had for a few months a while back. in the case of these two x-bass can add some heft back into the to 2F where the 3D processing can add some expansiveness to the 2C
I
IkSak
Thanks for this review! Your review has helped me a lot since I'm considering the LCD-2C to have something on my setup for when I want some really good bass
Anjolie
Anjolie
Amazing and extremely comprehensive review! If I ever scrape enough money together, I will definitely look into the LCD-MX4. Thank you for the review!
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