Audeze LCD2 Planar Magnetic Headphones

General Information

Audeze LCD2 designed for Recording / Mixing Engineers as reference headphones and for audiophiles and music enthusiasts.

- Hand selected Caribbean Rosewood ear cups.
- Lamb Skin Leather Ear pads.
- Audeze’s unique planar magnetic transducer with matched sensitivity.
- Mini XLR interchangeable cable.
- Easy to drive with amplifiers.
- Left and right transducers have matched sensitivity and frequency response.

The LCD2 housing is designed and custom built from hand selected Caribbean Rosewood or Bamboo composite. It is built to enhance the quality of the sound and offers a unique coloration and graining. The LCD2 ear pads are designed to optimally recreate the entire pro audio frequency range. The sloped ear pad design allows us to faithfully reproduce the detail and clarity to the bass, midrange and the treble. The ear pads are made of premium lambskin leather with specially selected foam to offer the right amount of firmness.

Latest reviews

Pros: Bass, imaging, mids, sound stage, vocals
Cons: Weight, comfort, ear pads stuck on, discontinued
Hello audiophiles.



I have reviewed a few headphones here on Head Fi, including the Audeze LCD-3 pre-fazor and the LCD-X. But for some reason or another, I never got round to finishing my review of a LCD-2. I have had the fazor and classic versions previously but this is a review of the LCD-2 pre-fazor, probably revision 2.

They were manufactured in October 2012 and have angled metal mini XLR connecters on the ear cups.



My audio connective trail and set-up:

16 and 24 bit WAV uncompressed and lossless files,

optical TosLink cable,

Benchmark DAC1 with 2x HiFi Tuning Supreme T 250 MAL 250 V internal fuses,

connected to a upgraded Nordost Shiva power cable,

custom pure solid silver XLR cables,

Violectric HPA V181 headphone amplifier,

connected to a upgraded Nordost Shiva power cable.



My LCD-2 pre-fazor is fitted with a custom silver-plated copper 4 pin XLR balanced cable, I am an experienced headphone audiophile and have been for quite a few years now. Have a look at my profile if you wish. Everything in my review is just my opinions and views, obviously yours may vary and differ.



Negatives.



I personally don’t like the look of Audeze LCD headphones, none of them. Yes some of the wooden finishes look quite nice but these are large headphones and look really silly when on your head. Not subtle or discrete looking.

They are heavy and can be uncomfortable, the stock lambskin leather ear pads are shallower than the stock LCD-3 ear pads and are pretty comfortable.

But the ear cups themselves are heavy, I have removed the original lambskin leather headband and fitted a Beyerdynamic leatherette headband cushion which I felt improved comfort.

I have also tried Dekoni’s velour ear pads, they are much thicker and are pretty dense even though they are memory foam.

I have to remove the headphones off my head every few hours, for relief. The headphones clamp and apply too much pressure for me but stretching out the steel headband frame does help.

The Audio-Technica ATH-R70X, which is a open back dynamic headphone is about a third of it’s weight. A third, just saying. Night and day difference, putting those on after wearing these heavy cans is like sticking your head in a nice fluffy cloud by comparison.

I can’t move my head as fast with these beasts on, I believe too much steel is used in it’s construction.



Positives.



I do like that you can pretty much disassemble the whole headphone, except for the ear pads which are stuck on the ear cups with adhesive.

I really like the angled cable connecters on the ear cups, smart thinking there. The cable is not aimed downwards towards your shoulders.

The rugged travel case is superb.



Sound.



I will say this now, the sound quality with this setup is easily one of the most enjoyable and impressive I have heard. At any price! And I have had the Focal Utopia, Sennheiser HD 800S, Beyerdynamic T1, Oppo PM-1, Grado GS2000E, HiFiMan Edition X V2 just to name a few. Pretty great company then.

These are powerful sounding cans, with presence and heft to it’s sonics.

They have a non fatiguing character and really envelop you with the sounds they produce.

It has a large sound stage. It’s wide, deep and pretty tall.

The imaging, separation and resolution on these cans are extremely impressive. Surprising to be totally honest, I’m just stunned frequently by these beasts.

I don’t find them too dark but they do lack some clarity even though they image so well.

The highs are not fatiguing, these are not analytical cans. They are not tools of audio precision and dissection. They are enjoyable, engaging and musical headphones. If you are a treble head, then other cans will please you more than these but I am happy with it’s highs.

Also these are not the most spacious or airy cans out there.

The vocals are just lovely and realistic, not thin or lacking body. Not recessed and doesn’t sound too upfront and in your face. Natural and realistic.

The mids are just superb, visceral and raw. Bass and electric guitars sound extraordinary, pure and true. Piano and strings, sumptuous.

The bass. It is large and not channelled or concentrated towards your ear canals. A wall of lows, and what walls they are! Fantastic depth, texture and extension. Very good impact and slam, not the fastest bass out there but it’s speed is very good. The lows are full, smooth and warm. Are you ready to rumble? Because these can will give it to you.

Their character and signature encourage you to raise the volume during exceptional parts in songs, without sounding harsh or piercing. A pretty rare and special quality indeed.



When comparing (unfairly admittedly) to my balanced ATH-R70X on the same setup, the R70X sound brighter but a little clearer. The bass is looser and boomier, the sound stage is smaller and imaging is worse. They also sound a little congested and mids lack that body. But my goodness, they are so much lighter and much more comfortable. The R70X are exceptional cans in their price range.



So to sum up, they are pretty heavy and not the best for long listening sessions. They are not very airy or spacious and are definitely not for treble heads or those seeking analytical cans.

But these cans have quite brilliant imaging, mids, bass, vocals and a large sound stage.

They scale up very well and I strongly recommend them balanced, so pretty highly recommended from me.



Happy listening all : )
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Pros: Very accurate IMHO. Not for bass heads. Earpads and headband are very comfortable.
Cons: A little heavy on the head.
Late to the game I know. I've had these for about a year, and paired them with the JOT. Overall I love these more than my Sennheiser HD-650's. They are more articulate and overall more up front. I guess if you like the Magneplanar speaker sound you will like these. But there is some bass there. Neko Case Hell-On sounds first row not these headphones. Vocals are up front, but the instruments don't suffer. Sound is well balanced across the lows, mid-range and highs.
Pros: Construction all but negates the heavy weight, marvelous mids, detachable cable, incredible sense of audio placement
Cons: Pads not dense enough (ear scratches against fazors) which made them uncomfortable, treble's kinda meh

*Please pardon the absence of pictures. The SD card I saved them to apparently went corrupt, so I’m unable to find any pictures I’ve taken.*


Ever since I got serious about this audio hobby I’ve always heard about this Audeze brand and their amazing planar magnetic headphones. A couple years ago at my first audio meet I was lucky enough to be able to hear their entire line up (at the time). 2 of their products really stuck with me after all this time and that was their LCD-XC and their LCD 2 models respectively. I’m still longing for more time with the XC but Audeze was very kind to me and granted a very generous amount of time to listen to and share my opinion of their, at time of this writing, most recent version of their LC 2 model. Let’s talk about it.


A little about me

I would like to say that first and foremost I am NOT an “audiophile” but rather an audio enthusiast. I listen to music to enjoy it. Do I prefer a lossless source? Yes, of course. But I can still be very happy streaming from Pandora or even YouTube's “My Mix” playlist. I also prefer equipment that sounds the best to me personally regardless of what frequency response it has or rather or not it's “sonically accurate” and I always have and shall continue to encourage others to do the same.

I'm a 26 year old firefighter, for the City of Concord, North Carolina as well as the U.S. Army, North Carolina National Guard. The cliché of wanting to do this since I was born couldn't be more present with me. I've worked hard over the last several years to earn this position and now it's time for me to work even harder to keep it.

My interests/hobbies are fishing and relaxing to audio products and reviewing them to help other decide on what products would work for them. Few things make me as an audio enthusiast/reviewer feel more accomplished than when someone tells me that I helped them find the type of sound they've always been looking for.

Now, the sound signature I personally favor is a relaxing, warm and sensual sound that just drifts me away in the emotional experience of the music being performed. Yes, accuracy is still important but I will happily sacrifice some of that if I'm presented with a clean, warm sound that can wisp me away into an experience that makes me yearn for more.

My ideal signature is that of respectably forward mids and upper bass range with the bass being controlled but with some slight decay. I like my treble to have nice extension and detail reveal with a smooth roll off up top as to not become harsh in the least. Examples of products that have given me chills and keep giving me the yearning for more feels are the (in no particular order) Bowers & Wilkins P7, Oppo PM-1/2, Empire Ears Hermes VI & Zeus XIV, Audeze LCD-XC, Meze Headphones 99 Classics.

Equipment used at least some point during the review

-Amp.

-Sennheiser HDVD800

-D.A.C.

-PS Audio Digital Link III w/ Cullen Stage 4 Upgrade

-Sources

-LG V20

-Playing Pandora, YouTube, and various lossless, FLAC, etc... music

-Luxury & Precision L3

-Misc. Equipment

-Source cleaner

-iFi Nano iUSB3.0

Disclaimer

I am by no means sponsored by this company or any of its affiliates. They were kind enough to send me a product for an arranged amount of time in exchange for my honest opinion. I am making no monetary compensation for this review.

The following is my take on the product being reviewed. It is to be taken “with a grain of salt” per say and as I always tell people, it is YOUR opinion that matters. So regardless of my take or view on said product, I highly recommend you listen to it yourself and gauge your own opinion.



The Opening Experience


Why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience

Please allow me to explain why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience with a product. Maybe it’s due to my southern roots in the hills of eastern Kentucky, but I’ve always been raised under the pretense of when you introduce yourself to someone for the first time you present yourself with confidence, class, character, pride, and competence. You greet the other person with a true warm smile, eye contact and a firm handshake. Anything less or short implies to other person that you either don’t care about them, are too full of yourself, too busy to be bothered by the likes of them, or worse, just generally disrespectful.

As a consumer, I take this same belief to when I open a new product. Why? Because think about it this way. How else can a company introduce themselves to their customers? How do they present their products? Are they packaged with pride and presented in such a way that makes the listener eager to listen to them? Or maybe they’re just wrapped up and placed in an available space. How about the box itself? Is it bogged down with jargon that says look at this, look what I can do. I’m better than anything on the market and here’s why read this and check out that. Or, is the package clean, simplistic and classy? As if saying to the customer ‘Good day, pleasure to meet your acquaintance. Please give me a listen and allow me to show you what I can do and allow my actions to speak louder than my words.’

This is why I feel so strongly about the initial presentation of a product, and I feel it’s truly a shame more people don’t. But with all that aside, let’s discuss how this products introduced itself shall we?



Audeze definitely pulled out the stops when it came to protecting their headphone, and this wasn’t just for me, this is standard shipping of their LCD models (I’m unsure of the others but I would assume it’d be the same). The LCD 2 arrived in a standard box but inside the headphones are held inside an extremely sturdy pelican hard case with cutout foam just for the LC 2 model. Then they’ve also wrapped the left and right side of the case in a hard foam just to ensure that it arrives safe and undamaged.

Upon opening the hard case the Audeze LCD 2 is presented centered and even has that fresh headphone smell, that thinking back was probably the fresh leather I was smelling but same difference right? Other than the headphones Audeze included a small but, to me, volume speaking piece of cardboard that is hand signed by the person who inspected it and signed off on it. To the vast majority of people I am well aware this is a completely useless piece that won’t even get any attention but I personally enjoy the fact that a real person actually looked over my personal headphone (my sample anyways) and also tested it to ensure it’s free of flaws. What more, there’s no annoying paperwork or jargon or ‘look at me’ writing. All important information is nicely stowed in a Audeze branded usb flash drive.

Though I do personally like a nice looking wooden (or similar) box, I see where Audeze was coming from in their presentation and think they did a great job at giving me a nice “handshake” with this headphone.



Construction



So Audeze took great effort to ship their headphones in a tank but did they give the same effort to their actual headphone? From initial look no. BUT, once you actually pick the thing up that prejudice immediate changes. These behemoths have some weight to them, like a lot. That’s the first thing that everyone (literally) I let try them said about them, next was their size. But Audeze, imo, did a really great job at the construction of their LCD 2 model. The headband is deceptively study. Again, by just looking at it it looks like it’ll just lay on your head all wimpy like but oh no, there’s (what I believe to be) a hard piece of aluminum in there that keeps it firm and secure on top of your head. The bevels on the side are how you adjust the height of the LCD 2’s and also what gives them just a little bit of forward and backward movement. These are also made of aluminum. Next you have the, I have no idea what they’re called so I’m just gonna call them cup holders. But these cup holders looked to be simple hard plastic but yet again, they’re a very firm (I think) aluminum that has a rougher exterior than normal. The cups themselves are made out of real, hand crafted, Shedua wood that goes through a pretty impressive process to ensure it’s meets the highest standards. And finally we’ve the rather impressive cable that truthfully looks like an aftermarket upgrade cable, and I mean this in a good way because all too often the stock cable that comes with headphones are rather, less than impressive. But Audeze, imo, did a wonderful job with theirs.

To sum, the Audeze LCD 2 is a deceptively sturdy headphone that, unless you’re irresponsible with, will last for a long time to come. I don’t know what it is about Audeze and tanks but they sure do like going with that theme.



Comfort



Thus far the LCD 2’s have been following a tank theme (my words and thoughts) which admittedly has me worried about the comfort. So putting on the panzer that is the LCD 2 you immediately feel the pressing weight of the cans but yet they aren’t tight on your head at all, the clamping force is quite on par truthfully. The lambskin leather pads and headband is super soft and finely sewn together. However, the ear pads, though comfortable, aren’t dense enough to keep my ears from scratching (I use that word intentionally) against the metal fazors. To disclaim, my ears are on the larger than normal side of things but even pushing in on the pads there’s little to no resistance in them. Audeze says on their site that the pads are “filled with foam carefully selected for best sound and contribute to the level of comfort during long listening sessions.” And though that’s likely very true for the sonic attributes of the LCD 2, at least me personally, I have to disagree with the long term comfort. I can’t go more than an hour or so of listening to these before I have to take them off because of the high discomfort placed on my ears from scratching the transducers. Again, this may very well be due to my personal ear size and your mileage may vary but if I were to own a pair these I would immediately look into purchasing some better, denser, pads.

The weight, which is synonymous with being the first thing people in my experience notice, ended up not being an issue at all. The way Audeze uses the headphone to dispense its weight evenly pretty much negated their weight.

To sum the thoughts on the comfort. Unfortunately I was a bit disappointed with their comfort. I do however believe this can be fixed by switching to some better, denser pads, but with what I had to listen with I could only do listening, and also gaming sessions, in comparatively short bursts in respects to other products.



Sound



So here we are, the aspect by the majority to be the most important in a headphone. For those who watched my review of the Sennheiser HD800 S I mentioned that until I heard the Audeze LCD 2 that the 800 S was the most accurate headphone I’ve ever heard in terms of positional awareness. The LCD 2’s ability to allow the listener to identify what they’re listening to is, to date, better than any other headphone I’ve ever personally heard. I am so easily able to determine the location of the entire orchestra. I can hear instrument sections individually as well as are they more in front of me, maybe they’re to my right side, or maybe, and this was a real eye opener for me personally, but is the performance above my seated position? Unfortunately I couldn’t find a good AMV for this song but In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Greig does a pretty good job at showing this.

After a few days of listening to the Audeze LCD 2 I couldn’t help but crack a small smile about how perfect the timing was when I got them. I say this because my two dream headphones are the Sennheiser HD800 S, which I’m lucky enough to be able to own, and the Oppo PM-1, which I’m still saving up for. Each present music very differently to the listener which, to me, make them the ideal complementary headphone for each other. What brought the smile to my lips is the the LCD 2 is what I would imagine a love child between the two would sound like. The music is presented I really wanna say reasonably neutral but yet I contradict myself when I say it also has a musical sense of warmth especially in the mids and upper bass. The music is fast and quick but yet the LCD 2 is very forgiving of less than premium music formats (I’m looking at you YouTube), this is reminiscent of the PM-1, but they also produce all the detail that I’m aware of that’s present in the audio piece (game, movie, etc…) which is what the HD800 S is known for.

But let me talk about the individual aspects that I’ve come to find with the LCD 2 so maybe you the reader can understand my reasoning behind my words.


Treble



When I get asked down the line what I thought about the LCD-2 and I’m asked about the individual characteristics, the things I’m going to remember are the weight, size, mids, and bass control. Though the treble is nice and, according to Audeze, has a frequency that extends well above what a human can possibly hear, it was always just ok for me. Nothing about the LCD-2’s high’s really got me excited or made me want to put a track on repeat. I still got the excitement of an i.e. violin but compared to the mids (as you’ll soon read) tranquilness, I just couldn’t quite experience the treble of the LCD-2 anything more than a meh. Please don’t think that they’re bad for they’re truly not, they just don’t give me the level of excitement as the rest of the headphone did. Check out this beautiful instrumental piece, it’s called “A Moon Filled Sky.” I wasn’t able to find who the artist is but this piece is stunning to listen to. The LCD-2 does a good job in showcasing the finite details of the piece but the true magic of it doesn’t, again to me, fully show through.



Mids



My goodness do I love the smooth and warm mids that are present in the LCD 2. I usually put in a musical video with cellos or similar instruments to show my point but this time the winning video is Hallelujah by Pentatonix. This song just soothes the soul and listening through the LCD 2 is a real treat. Despite the quickness of the LCD 2 the slowness of the song matched with the warm nature of the LCD 2 allows the males (horrible with names) humming and drumming sound to come through yet not at all impede on the other three’s voices.

I probably should have started by stating that I listen most closely to the mids in music because I see them as the emotion and soul of the artist. I don’t really care much for the beat (no I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a good one) but I want to hear the abilities of the vocalist in his or her purest state without this synergizing crap all too common today. My favorite instruments also are acoustic string instruments because of their reverb and calming nature. And both of these aspects are marvelously showcased by the Audeze LCD-2.


Bass



Going in to this, I always heard that the LCD-2 had really powerful bass. And though, yes, its bass is fairly heavy, it’s by no means a bass heavy can. But what it does have is some accurate bass that’s also outstandingly tight and controlled. The song “S.O.B.” by Nathaniel Reteliff & The Nightsweats, I found, does the best job at expressing my thoughts of how well the LCD-2 commands the bass (and also further motions my thoughts on the mids too). As you watch the music video, everything sounds as it’s happening right in front of you. When the people are clapping their hands or banging on the desk, there’s no unnecessary decay of the sound. It hits when it should and then immediately goes away. What really cool is, when they’re hitting the table, you can actually hear the plates moving slightly as well as the wooden tables reverb itself (the YouTube video may not show this however). The ability that the LCD-2 has to showcase the bass present throughout this song brings a sense of realism that I personally have never experienced with it before (and for some reason I really enjoy this song).



Conclusion



My overall thoughts on Audeze’s LCD-2 model is that it really is a staple in the audio community. The craftsmanship behind them are reminiscent of some of the most premiumly priced headphones found and its ability to express music is something that only well tuned planars can do (something that Audeze is known for). I do wish something would be done with the padding but that’s more so a personal thing. For those out there with similar tastes in music that I have and would like the best of both of my personal end game sounds, then I highly encourage you to check out the Audeze LCD-2. Not only is it the cheapest of the 2 aforementioned headphones I compared it with but it holds the lion's share of what makes both of them great.





Also, make sure to check out my unboxing and review videos. They’re pretty awesome AND you getta put a face to the Army-Firedawg name. If this review helped you out at all please hit that thumbs up button for it really helps me out a lot. Till next time my friends, stay safe.
volly
volly
Really appreciate your video reviews mate.

The LCD-2 could/would be my endgame in this amazing hobby!

Comments

I auditioned a pair of these along with a number of others. I liked the look of these and the description on their website. Unfortunately, I auditioned then on a very hot and sunny day and that’s what made me decide against them. Yes, they are heavy, but this combined with the leather ear cups and the heat made my ears vey hot and uncomfortable, that you really noticed you were wearing them.
 
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