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  1. SOULSIK
    My Adventure with the LCD2 Classic headphones
    Written by SOULSIK
    Published Sep 4, 2018
    4.0/5,
    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.
      volly likes this.
  2. Mshenay
    Past VS Present & The Rebirth of a Classic!
    Written by Mshenay
    Published Apr 23, 2018
    5.0/5,
    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.

    20180420_232010_edited.jpeg

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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
    [​IMG]

    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
    [​IMG]

    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!
    [​IMG]

    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.
    [​IMG]

    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!

    [​IMG]

    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!

    20180420_233202_edited.jpeg

    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.
    [​IMG]

    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.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. 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
      Mshenay, Apr 23, 2018
    3. 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
      IkSak, Apr 23, 2018
      Mshenay likes this.
    4. 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!
      Anjolie, Apr 25, 2018
      Mshenay likes this.
  3. vrln
    Great For Easy Listening
    Written by vrln
    Published Mar 22, 2018
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Perhaps the best bass response in the industry, made for extended listening/chilling out, very clean/low distortion throughout the frequency response, excels with mainstream genres, Reveal plugin substantially improves the stock tonality, perfect for EQ users, frequency response doesn't really change when you move the headphones around, more treble extension than expected, at 70 ohms and 101dB/mw quite easy to drive, industrial tank like build, modular design, new headband is a huge improvement over previous Audeze designs, comfortable pads with plenty of space inside, works well with glasses, stock cable doesn't tangle/isn't stiff, good amount of clamping force to distribute the weight, three year warranty for the drivers
    Cons - Heavy, high price for a genre specialist/isn't an all-rounder, not the most resolving, hazy imaging, can get confused with busy material, stock frequency response isn't very neutral, slightly boring midrange, build quality has some DIY feel, small quality control issues, headband design doesn't fit some head shapes, cable connectors face more to the front than usual, yokes don't allow fine tuning, pads are glued in, no case included
    Disclaimer: I bought these from a local reseller some time ago and kept them for a bit less than a week. In other words this review isn’t based on as much experience as I would usually prefer to have, so this may have an effect on things. The price for these in Europe is currently around 900 euros without a case, so I’ll be treating them as a ~1k product. My main motivation for getting these was to find a good complementary can for my Focal Clears and to finally experience what Audeze is all about.

    Introduction:

    Audeze (along with HIFIMAN) to most headphone hobbyists is probably synonymous with planar magnetic headphones. Personally I’ve never been much of a planar magnetic tech fan, but they still interest me. Every technology has its strengths and weaknesses. With planars my impression is that if the driver is large enough they usually excel at bass extension, low distortion rates and how the frequency response rarely changes much when you move the headphones around. The only planars I’ve actually had before these are the very first original LCD-2 and more recently the HIFIMAN HE-560. The first one I didn’t really like much: they had wonderful bass, but the treble was just way too rolled off and there wasn’t much of a soundstage either. Their biggest sin though was the high weight in combination with a traditional headband that simply wasn’t comfortable at all for me. As for the HE-560 I bought one recently online for 350 dollars (+ shipping and customs), but only used them for a while as both drivers were unfortunately defective (rattling) so I decided to send them back. My initial impressions of the sound quality were quite positive though and I found them to be one of the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever tried.

    These days there of course numerous updates to the LCD-2 range and new flagships from Audezze too. What kept me from auditioning them despite otherwise keeping up with new stuff pretty actively was simply the ergonomic design that I just knew wouldn't fit well with me. So when the LCD2 Classic was announced sporting a new headband design I was naturally very interested. Suspension headbands tend to very comfortable. My thinking was that if Audeze gets anywhere near the same result as the HE-560 they now finally seemed like headphones I could start using. After trying the LCD-2 Classics briefly at a store it seemed they were comfortable to wear so I decided to give them a try as I’m in need of a warm, forgiving and more relaxed headphone to complement the forward, energetic and engaging Focal Clears.

    Presentation:

    This one is easy… There’s not much to talk about. The LCD2 Classic ships in a standard grey cardboard box with foam inserts inside. In the box you’ll find the headphones, a black cable with a standard 6.3 mm jack and the warranty card along with a USB key. There’s no case included. It’s obvious Audeze is trying to save as much costs as possible to make it possible to ship these at their current price, but the downside is that a lot of people will probably have to buy the official case if they want to transport these around. I don’t really mind though: I’m all for including as little accessories as possible and keeping them optional if that enables a lower price.

    These were however initially sold for 600 dollars in the US during a launch campaign. At that price this all makes good sense, but now at their standard market price this is a lot more difficult to justify. It’s not a big deal for me, but I think many buyers will be surprised at the presentation for a product in this prince range.

    Build quality and ergonomics:

    The LCD2 Classics have a very industrial, almost indestructible look and feel to them. These are basically built like a tank. Audeze these days has a generous three year warranty for their drivers (one year for the headband etc.) so these should last for a very long time. I much prefer this design to their other models that use wooden rings. There is however still a slight (high end) DIY feel to them, for example in how the screws are all very visible and the build just doesn’t feel as polished as high end Focal, Sennheiser or Beyerdynamic headphones. Edges are sharper, the finish on materials is not as nice and so on. It is a noticeable step up from the HIFIMAN HE-560 (and the HE-1000 I’ve auditioned) though. This build quality would be very good at 600 euros, but at 900 euros (+ without a case) there’s a lot of competition in this regard. I’m also a bit worried about some quality control issues. My headband arc for example is not 100% identical to the one at the store and the lowest headband setting is quite loose compared to the other steps. In addition to this the store demo model had issues with both cable connectors not locking in correctly. These are small things, but at this price range these kinds of issues shouldn’t really be happening.

    IMG_0212.jpg IMG_0213.jpg

    On the plus side the build is very modular and parts can be exchanged easily due to the standard screws. It’s very easy to swap to another headband for example. The pads unfortunately are glued in, but from what I’ve read Audeze sells a kit for changing them so that’s not really a problem. I don't see most users having to ever replace them either: the pads feel extremely durable. While they don’t quite feel as nice as the ones on the Clears, they are very comfortable and seem to have a good memory effect too. They are also very deep so using glasses with these headphones is both easy and comfortable. The pads are thinner on the front side to effectively make the drivers angled like on many other designs these days. I much prefer these new pads to the leather ones Audeze used to have on their cans. There’s also a lot of space inside the earpads. Great work here!

    The headband size is controlled through what Audeze calls yokes: small metal rods that go through a small box that houses a locking mechanism. I like this design a lot as all it takes a lot of force to swap the setting so they stay well in place, except mine as I already mentioned had a small build quality issue on the smallest setting. The local Audeze distributor was ready to send me replacement yokes though so this isn’t really an issue. The only real downside to the yoke mechanism is that you lose the ability to fine tune things as you're stuck with the steps.

    The actual headband consists of two components: there’s the spring steel metal arc and the soft thin headband. The soft thin part is narrower on the sides and becomes larger in the middle to spread the weight as well as possible. It also has small holes in it to breathe well. For most people it’ll go like this: the metal arc never touches your head and the new thin headband material will spread the weight perfectly making these otherwise very heavy headphones surprisingly comfortable. They won’t feel as if they disappear, but no headphone weighing this much does...

    Despite my positive early impressions at the store I unfortunately wasn’t as lucky: when wearing these for several hours the front part of the metal arc started pressing towards the thin headband creating a nasty hotpot. I tried all kinds of remedies: gently bending them, adding some foam in between, trying to tie the thin headband part to the sides and so on. Nothing really helped and for me this was a deal breaker that lead me to sell them soon after. Without this fault I would have gladly kept them. It’s important to emphasize however that this just depends on your head shape: for most people this won’t be an issue, but what bothers me is how easily this could have been avoided. Why didn’t Audeze make the spring steel part arc higher/have more distance to the thin headband part instead of almost hugging the headband? The new HIFIMAN Sundara uses a similar design but I can already see from the pictures that it probably won’t have this issue. To me this is a bit of a sloppy design as stuff like this should be caught and fixed through focus group testing.

    If you are considering buying these make sure the spring steel part does not come too close to your head as this may end up being a major deal breaker as it was for me. Hopefully Audeze will revise the design someday or start offering a headband with an arc shape that doesn’t have this issue.

    One last thing… The cable connectors are angled forward to make it easier to keep on a table without a stand. The downside to this is that you can see the cables more than usual when you are wearing them. I didn’t find this distracting though, but it is something check before buying.

    Sound quality:

    I’ll start with something I guess every review will praise: the bass response is the best I’ve ever heard. Great impact, clean and extremely extended. Not a surprise considering how well these measure in the bass range. Due to the low distortion measurements you can also EQ in extra bass and they will stay clean (good luck trying that with the HD 600 series ) too. The fantastic bass response makes these awesome for genres like hip-hop, electronica and rock.

    These are smooth, warm and forgiving headphones. They are going for a very different frequency response compared to traditional higher end dynamics like HD 800 and T1 mk2. I would characterize them as “easy listening” oriented. The stock frequency response however just sounds too far away from neutral for my taste. The biggest offender is the uneven midrange which has a strong lower midrange emphasis making most vocals sound quite “off”. This makes lyrics sometimes difficult to understand and they have a muted, boring quality to them. Some parts of the treble are scooped too. From what I’ve read the higher end Audeze cans are more neutral, but luckily there is a remedy for this: the Reveal plugin or the Audeze Roon presets. If it were not for this plugin I would not have liked the frequency response of these that much, but with the plugin most of these tonality issues are fixed. I enjoyed the plugin enough to always leave it on (system wide using Equalizer APO). The rest of this review is written with the assumption that the Reveal plugin is left on. I used the 100% on setting (= wet) and added in a couple of dB of extra sub bass. Here's what the plugin does after the bass range where it adds a couple of dB:

    Reveal_LCD2C.PNG

    If you hear these at a store or a meet somewhere I highly recommend trying to check if you can audition them with the plugin enabled. For me this was a complete game changer and transformed these from a “nice, but not for me” headphone into ones I really liked. A lot of people will enjoy the stock sound tuning though, I guess the Audeze house sound just isn't for me. Without EQ I would probably much prefer their studio oriented products like the LCD-X.

    With the Reveal plugin the midrange is much more neutral, although still a bit dull sounding due to the downward slope in the frequency response. This however also makes them very forgiving of less than perfect recordings and great for background music listening. The emotional engagement with these headphones mostly comes from the bass while on the Clears it’s from the whole energetic presentation. It’s an interesting contrast and the two complement each other very well. Or to be more precise the Classics are a great complementary can to any neutral to bright dynamic headphone like the HD 800 series, Beyerdynamic T1 mk2 and so on.

    While the original LCD2 I once had didn’t have much treble, planar magnetics have evolved immensely since then. The Classics actually have more treble than I expected. It’s not the most sophisticated and cleanest treble around and has a sort of a rough or grainy texture to it, but it's surprisingly extended. The treble is still somewhat rolled off to enhance the “easy listening” factor, but not the extent where you feel the treble is missing way too much like on the original LCD2.

    The soundstage is also better than I expected. It's wider than the classic 3-blob presentation on the HD 600 series for example, but these are still fairly closed in sounding. The bigger issue however is the somewhat imprecise imaging. Compared to the Clears or HD 800 S you just don’t hear where instruments and effects and are coming from that well. With music it's something you eventually get used to, but I wouldn't recommend these for gaming. Playing PUBG for example I couldn’t really tell where shots are coming from except for the general direction (vs. pinpoint accuracy with the Clears or HD 800 S).

    Another drawback is that to my ears they are just not as resolving as top of the line dynamic headphones (and probably higher end planars as well). They sound very clean, but when compared to the Clears or HD 800 series there’s just a lot of microdetail missing. It’s not like the microdetail is hidden behind a haze like on the HD 650, it’s just not there in the first place. This lack of microdetail on the other hand is an aspect of what makes them so easy to listen to, especially with less than perfectly recorded material. The Classics also get a bit confused and smeared sounding when a lot of stuff is happening simultaneously. For example if you listen to Unspecial Effects by deadmau5 the Clears or HD 800 series always stays composed and if you concentrate you can hear every single small detail and everything has a precise position. They sound as if everything is coming from separate speakers (in a good way). In comparison the Classics just can’t really hold up.

    The Audeze also has this enveloping “wall of sound” presentation where you know everything is coming from one huge driver. In my experience this is typical to planar headphones. Some people love it, it all comes down to preference. Personally I'd like to have a complementary can with this kind of a presentation, but as a main headphone I still prefer the traditional dynamic driver sound.

    Conclusion:

    If you ask me these are made for easy listening/chilling out. Their biggest single draw is likely the industry leading bass response, but they aren’t necessarily that good all-rounders. That being said they do the best with a lot of mainstream genres that most higher end headphones tend to struggle with, so it's a very useful specialization and doesn't have much competition. They also finally have good ergonomics despite their heavy weight and are perfect for using EQ so you can always tune their frequency response to your liking.

    As you can see I still have some mixed feelings on these though. They do some things extremely well, but they have their share of weaknesses too. It all comes down to the pricing. At their present price here in Europe they almost cost the same as a Sennheiser HD 800, Beyerdynamic T1 mk2 or the Focal Elear. All of them have superior build quality and the HD 800 and T1 mk2 are also much more comfortable due to their lower weight. The LCD2 Classic however does not really compete with the HD 800 or T1 mk2 as they are both bright headphones with severe treble spikes. The LCD2 Classic presentation is completely different. As for the Elear they aren’t very suitable for easy listening either as they are just too forward, energetic and dynamic (like all high end Focal cans) compared to the LCD2 Classics.

    The biggest competitors to the LCD2 Classic are probably the HIFIMAN HE-560 and Sundara (neither of which I’ve heard well enough to comment), the Sennheiser HD 650 and the AudioQuest Nighthawk (which I haven’t heard at all). The main problem however with the new LCD2 is simply that at this price they just come too close to the Focal Clears for my liking. Aside from the bass response (which is still surprisingly competitive) the Clears are just on a completely different level in both sound and build quality. One should of course always audition yourself and form your own opinions, but for a lot of people it probably makes more sense to save up more and jump to to the next level instead. In other words these are quite expensive for a genre specialist headphone.

    The Classics are a solid offering, but just imagine if they had kept the initial pricing? They would have went from a product definitely worth considering to a market disrupting one. Perhaps these are still just too expensive to manufacture at that price and turn in a decent profit, but they still feel like a missed opportunity. They are a significant improvement in many ways compared to their predecessors though and you have to keep in mind that what these excel at is usually exactly what most headphones struggle with (bass response, treble spikes and so on). If that's what you're looking for these are definitely worth an audition.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. DrSeven
      Another awesome review
      DrSeven, May 17, 2018
    3. betula
      £599 in UK, with occasional 10-15% discount you can buy the 2C for as little as £509 (€568). This is available for EU buyers too. Do not treat the 2C as a 1K produc, it is not.
      The Clear is indeed superior in everything except bass response. The price difference however is unreal (£599 vs. £1399). I actually prefer the laid back, smooth and dark yet powerful sound of the 2C vs. the Clear which is more detailed and resolving but also more aggressive and often too energetic.
      betula, Aug 11, 2018
    4. vrln
      Betula: Current price is 899 euros on Thomann, so I'd still classify them as such. Even more expensive here... One might get a good deal (applies to any high margin item really) from a local dealer, but that doesn't change their overall market price.
      vrln, Sep 15, 2018