Audeze LCD2 Planar Magnetic Headphones - 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!
Pros: Rich and warm tone, full-bodied low end, good detail, forgiving of many genres and poor mastering, stellar all-rounder in its pricerange
Cons: Weight distribution, tight clamp, earpads held in place with adhesive (tape or glue), soundstage a bit lacking

 
I would like to thank the guys over at Audio Sanctuary in New Malden, London, for lending me their display unit of the Audeze LCD-2 (2016 Edition) for a review. Check them out at https://www.audiosanctuary.co.uk/ and do visit their brick-and-mortar outlet if you are in the area for a terrific selection of high-end headphones and speakers.
 
Specifications
 ​
Style:  Circumaural - open
 
Transducer type:  Planar magnetic
 
Magnetic structure:  Proprietary self-closing design, acoustically transparent
 
Magnet type:  High-grade Neodymium 
 
Diaphragm excursion:  2.5 mm peak to peak
 
Transducer active diaphragm area:  6.17 sq in
 
Sound pressure level (SPL):  130 db (maximum)
 
Housing:  Renewable Shedua composite or Caribbean Rosewood
 
Ear pads:  Specially designed acoustically shaped foam inserts with premium lambskin or super suede cover
 
Frequency response:  5 Hz - 20 KHz, usable high-frequency extension of 50 KHz
 
Total harmonic distortion (THD):  Less than 1% throughout entire frequency range
 
Impedance:  60 Ohms, purely resistive
 
Efficiency:  90 dB/1 mW
 
Maximum power handling:  15 W (for 200 ms)
 
Optimal power requirement:  1-4 W
 
ADZ6SE Cable (single-ended):  ¼” TRS to 2x4-pin mini XLR
 
Cable length:  2.5 m or 8.2 ft
 
Weight:  490 g (without cable - Bamboo Composite)
 
Weight:  522 g (without cable - Rosewood)
 
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 ​
Build Quality, Comfort & Features
 ​
Despite what it says in the official specifications above, this particular LCD-2 weighs 548g. I must admit that I have not felt this level of discomfort from the stock configuration of a headphone since the days when I owned a Hifiman HE-500. The weight itself is not a bother, my ZMF Eikon is over 600g by comparison, but I find the distribution to be poorly handled. I am told that some purchase a Lohb strap to assist this matter, while others stretch out their headbands to reduce the clamp (also an issue, the lower back of my ears would get considerably strained after prolonged listening) – but I was not going to attempt these methods on a review loaner.
 
The LCD-2 is also the first full-sized headphone that I have encountered in which I have to completely maximize the headband adjuster to be as loose as possible. I have a large head, but not quite that large (if other headphones are anything to go by) so this was surprising to me.
 
As for the build quality itself, it seems quite sturdy in the hands – with the wooden cups standing out in a fetching manner. However, I do feel that the joints that connect the frame to the cups is a weak point – with it creaking and snapping whenever I stretched it open to don it.
 
The headphones use the same 4-pin mini-XLR connectors that all the LCD series do, as well as some other headphone manufacturers like ZMF. I find these connecters to be preferable to many, as they lock in place and are sturdier than simple plug-and-play push-in variants. I’m not sure if I agree with Audeze’s choice to have the connection on the earcups jutting forward as they do, but it does add to their unique design.
 
The headband has very little padding and, in my opinion, could greatly benefit from the use of a strap to even out the weight. Adding a Lohb strap would do the trick, but I specifically would need to buy the extended yoke rods that Audeze sell for $30 – a worthy investment in comfort, but one I have not tried personally.
 
Those looking to spend a little more can opt for the LCD carbon fibre headband, the one used by the flagship LCD-4 and the recently unveiled LCD Pro – retailing for $200 in the official store. This floating system utilizes a leather strap in its design.
 
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Sound
 ​
The LCD-2 is quite the friendly headphone, injecting a warm hug of musicality in each piece of music listened to on it. Laid back and chilled, the headphone does not attempt speed, aggression or forwardness in either bass or treble. Soundstage is quite intimate but does not feel stifling and the imaging is adequate – making do with the space available in impressive fashion.
 
To further the topic of warmth, this headphone is not at all harsh to my ears in any region. It is neither supremely airy like the Sennheiser HD800 nor a bass cannon like the Fostex TH-X00. In truth, I hear a sense of comfortable clarity throughout the headphone – but some might get the sense that the headphones are veiled due to this. I find such a characteristic quite in line with the Audeze LCD series, with the LCD-3 having the most sparkle and crash from all of the open variants that I have tried (including the LCD-4). I would actually say that the LCD-3 had the most dynamic and impactful sound, but at the cost of the friendly nature that exists in the LCD-2 and, to a more refined degree, the LCD-4 200 ohm edition.
 
I’m told that the bass of the LCD-2 is one of the areas that has morphed considerably since the pre-fazor days of years past. Essentially, the clarity and dynamics of the headphone were increased at the cost of some sub-bass extension and overall bloom in the low end. Indeed, I have not heard a pre-fazor LCD-2, but I do find the bass to be more than adequate on the 2016 version. It extends decently low but does not have an immensely controlled nature – nor is it particularly fast. I find the speed decent enough to keep up with the transients of double-bass drums, but not if the tempo reaches Slayer levels. Despite being laid back, it is no slouch though – handling all genres that I throw at it with some ease – and only really being out of its element in the earlier mentioned example or in the electronic sub-bass usage in James Blake’s Limit to your Love. Overall, I find the low-end to have the sub-bass and mid-bass amount to make this an effective all-rounder for listeners – within reason. What’s left as a deciding factor now are the other frequencies.
 
The midrange of the LCD-2 is smooth. Not entirely liquid in nature like the Hifiman HE-500, but possessing a level of soft clarity that makes vocals have body and presence. It should also be noted that, although the midrange performance of the LCD-2 as a whole is smooth, it does not lack in detail – nor is it completely rolled in air. I can confirm that, to my ears, the transition between the bass to midrange is quite transparent and clean. The bloom on the lower midrange is minimal but what exists serves to accentuate the character of warmth that these headphones possess. Male vocals are quite well served, even gritty and guttural vocal tones ringing out clearly with the body and edge needed. The upper midrange is a bit dipped, but not drastically like the Focal Elear – meaning that while female vocals feel a little further away than male, they don’t sound thin or tonally off.
 
I must commend this headphone for being as forgiving as it is with some genres and recordings. A reference point that I have is an album that I think is mixed quite horribly – Master of Puppets by Metallica. Insisting on speed despite having a scooped guitar tone, while generally being mid-bassy all around, the album makes many high-end headphones fall flat on their face as they don’t quite know how to reproduce it effectively. The Focal Elear is by far the best headphone in my possession for this endeavour, but the LCD-2 comes in second place – possibly tied with the Sennheiser HD800 (which is lacking in guitar crunch). For the purpose of review context, I’ll detail what I mean with pairing this album in the comparisons below.
 
The treble of the LCD-2 has a nice amount of air around it, making cymbals pop a fair amount and injecting a slight sense of slight snappiness to the overall sound reproduction. High strings, like violins, and wind instruments like the tenor saxophone sound quite well represented – not overly airy or shrill and maintaining a good sense of tonal balance and depth. Even with songs that absolutely murder me with the HD800 (even SD-modded), I don’t get the same sense with the LCD-2.
 
Again, I am told that the treble characteristics of the LCD-2 2016 iteration is because of the fazor driver innovation plus a reduction of a more bloated low end – making the headphone possess more micro-detail than before. Even without a pre-fazor unit to compare, I like this change because while I do appreciate a sweet, dynamic but warm sound – I would not have wanted the LCD-2 to sound like laggy. Being laid back and chilled out is a characteristic, being laggy is a flaw – and this headphone is not the latter.
 
Overall, besides being warm, the LCD-2 feels like a very wet headphone – in stark contrast to the dry and analytical likes of the HD800 or even the less-dry but still starker ZMF Eikon. I find the headphone very enjoyable to listen to with a multitude of genres, but never really edging out any of my other headphones in anything particular. It has shimmering detail where the ZMF Atticus is a little glossed over, but has less aggression and shout than the Focal Elear. It sounds like it uses a wall of reverb to its advantage, making all music listened to take on the Audeze sound that I have heard in their other headphones – but for a price that could be considered entry-level to their lineup.
 
Amp Pairings
 ​
Based on how this sounded from my warm and syrupy Cavalli Liquid Carbon, I would not recommend it or a similar amplifier for it – unless you really want to pursue such a sound signature on purpose. To me it felt a little sluggish, and was better served by the powerful but neutral balanced output of the Audio-GD NFB28. Bass was more controlled too and the shimmering detail was very pronounced, to what I suspect is the best level the headphone has to offer, using the Schiit Gungnir Multibit as a DAC. I have not tried this from a tube amplifier, as I do not have one on hand, so I cannot say regarding that pairing.
 
Also, as it is a planar magnetic headphone, it does require a decent amount of power to drive – something that should be considered when selecting an amp for it.
 
Genre Pairings
 
As an all-rounder, the LCD-2 is firmly in that jack-of-all-trades area for its pricerange. Ironically, it is able to handle more genres of music than my other headphones (barring the Focal Elear, which does this better if you are a fan of its shouty and aggressive sound signature). From jazz to classical, from metal to pop – the LCD-2 envelopes music with its own characteristics and presents a pleasant listening experience that has a lot of body due to the low end.
 
Electronic music may lack bass slam compared to the likes of the Fostex TH-X00 or ZMF Atticus – but it is still not thin-sounding like the HD800. Bass guitars fall right into the range that is well-represented by the low end of the LCD-2, but do not have the sharp and precise nature of the HD800. I could continue down this path, but it is needless – this is just a nice-sounding headphone and definitely one you can expect consistent performance with if you like how it sounds - with any genre of music.
 
Headphone Pairings (DAC: Schiit Gungnir Multibit)
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Sennheiser HD800
 
The former Sennheiser flagship is placed firmly in the drier and analytical side of things when it comes to headphones in this pricerange. It pairs extremely well, to my ears, with the Cavalli Liquid Carbon, which I don’t find the LCD-2 to do quite as much – but it is quite a picky headphone to pair with amps due to its somewhat harsh 6k treble spike. Bright and even some neutral amplifiers exacerbate this and sound piercing and shrill to me with most genres of music. The HD800 also has the widest soundstage and most precise imaging of all headphones mentioned in this comparison section.
 
Switching from the LCD-2 to the HD800, you feel like the floor has fallen in a bit – that is how noticeable the absence of the Audeze’s low-end is. You also miss a warmth in the midrange, removing a lot of body from vocals and guitars alike. I would not call the HD800 a V-shaped headphone for this reason, but it definitely sounds a little recessed in this region compared to the Audeze.
 
What it outright wins at is reproduction of detail. A solid choice for a reference headphone, the HD800 is quite brutally honest and exposes poorly mastered recordings to the listener – whether in highlighting recording faults or becoming shrill in the face of mastering hack jobs. The LCD-2 is more welcoming of all recordings, particularly the above-mentioned Master of Puppets album – which sounds like the guitars are distant on the HD800, while the drums and cymbals are thin and piercing.
 
The HD800 is considerably lighter than the LCD-2 as well, coming in around 371g to the Audeze’s 548g.
 
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ZMF Atticus
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Switching from the LCD-2 to the Atticus is revealing of just how much (the 2016 model anyway) emphasizes the availability of the shimmering detail hidden in the Audeze’s treble. Phrasing it like this would have you believe that the Atticus is completely lacking in such aspects, which is untrue, but it definitely is not as even in revealing its capabilities – requiring the right genre pairing to do so. What the Atticus has is bass, in abundance, and bass slam. It does not shy away from the electronic genres that the Audeze might be a tad laid back for, and it certainly does not mind introducing hefty low end into just about any recording.
 
However, this isn’t without its detriments. Master of Puppets is one album that the Atticus suffers on, due to the reliance of a midbassy sound in the mixing falling square in the region that the ZMF headphone emphasizes heavily – making the entire album from start to finish sound a bit bloated. The Atticus hits back, and hard, in electronic pop music – with its bass slam and smooth midrange going hand-in-hand to showcase the headphone’s energetic nature. The Atticus is a more “awake” experience than the LCD-2, which sounds veiled by comparison – but the LCD-2 is able to work with more genres due to its less bassy nature.
 
One area in particular that the LCD-2 is able to succeed, compared to the Atticus, is in older and warmer recordings – such as those by Led Zeppelin. It does quite well with guitars both electric and acoustic, while the Atticus relies on the mix and can sound a little overwhelmed with such pairings – as Led Zeppelin are from an era without snazzy modern production.
 
The cherry Atticus and this particular LCD-2 are almost alike in weight, 546g and 548g respectively.
 
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Focal Elear
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The Elear’s take-no-prisoners sound, consisting of fantastic dynamics and speed among other aspects, puts it directly across the aisle from the laid back and smooth LCD-2. Both are what I would consider all-rounders, handling most genres with ease if you are a fan of their sound signature. With the Elear, I prefer hard rock, metal and electronic genres while smooth jazz, classical and live recordings sound better to me on the LCD-2. The midrange of the Elear is also aggressive and a bit shouty, while the LCD-2 simply is not.
 
The Elear also has a snappier sound, to my ears, possibly due to a sudden upturn around 9k-10k after a considerable dip in the upper-midrange – making cymbals and snare drums hit hard. Grand pianos are also tonally superior and more realistic on the Elear. Vocal reproduction, both male and female, are handled better by the LCD-2.
 
Ultimately, it comes down to preferences. I would not recommend the Elear if you want something for easy listening and are looking to relax – whereas the Audeze fits perfectly into that scenario.
My Elear weighs 448g while the LCD-2 weights 548g. The weight distribution, I must admit, is handled far better on the Elear too – a very comfortable headphone with its headband padding and soft earpads.
 
Conclusion
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Comfort issues aside, the LCD-2 does so much right in its pricerange that it is hard not to recommend to those seeking a relaxed and warm tone in their audio. Once again, I have not heard the previous iterations so I can’t comment on the differences – but I really do feel that it strikes the right balance between warmth and sparkle while maintaining a rich midrange.
 
It is a distinguished sound, not offering heaps of technical brilliance nor magnified microdetail – but rather an effective zone-out tool that just allows you to listen – and that should always be appreciated in this hobby, where sometimes gear is listened to rather than the music. 
thatonenoob
thatonenoob
I do agree that LCD-2 is a forgiving headphone that tends to mask errors/ poorer recording quality - but a lot of cheaper headphones can do this too.  At 1K, there are many expectations for a headphone, and the Elear which you compared does squarely outshine the LCD-2 in many respects.  
 
Neither comes close to the T1/HD800 (1K) as far as scaling potential goes.  With these two, you could potentially "change" the sound to be more relaxed, without being stuck with a headphone that is limited technically.
 
I find the LCD-2 in need of an update to keep up with existing offerings.
protoss
protoss
I hope Audeze fix all the wood cracks and driver failures by now! 
Mshenay
Mshenay
ooooohoho, I'm just loving that your referencing a classic Metallica Album! I'm also a fan of their music, though I like ...The Shortest Straw from the sadly bass anemic ...And Justice For All album, song really show cases them well I think, and only the very best headphones actually let you HEAR that killer bass line BURIED in that disaster of a mix!!!
 
Still, I had the LCD 2 non Fazor for a week, and it was really one of the most detailed AND laid back headphones I'd heard! It's defiantly a classic and it's good to see it getting some front page action even today, and with some classic Metallica to top it off
Pros: Sounds as good as it looks. Finest grade materials. Sturdy construction.
Cons: Heavy cans. Heavy cable.
LCD2BalancedGlamorShot01.jpg

-::The Review::-
That dread sickness returned to my mind and I found myself looking for an upgrade to the Sennheiser HD600. I didn’t quite know what to expect. I mean, the HD600 is a king slayer, so what would “better” sound like?

Research, led by a passion for a warmer signature, brought me to the LCD-2.2 Fazor, by Audez’e. I had long coveted this headphone for its appearance, and now I learn its sonic performance may be equally alluring. The more I read, the more I wanted it, and the more I felt it deserved better than my current DAC & Amp. The Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1 Plus is a wonderful unit for the price and served me well, however, the LCD-2 deserves a fully balanced unit, and a DAC that doesn’t up-sample.

So… more research.

While I looked into a new desktop system, I kept an eye on the Head-Fi Classifieds. It wasn’t long before an LCD-2 appeared at a price I couldn’t pass up. As is always the case, I wasn’t planning on making this purchase right away. But once you start looking, opportunities pop up frightfully fast.

$650 and it was mine.

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I also placed an order for a 2016 model NFB-28 Amanero by Audio-GD. Though, that may have been a little later. I seem to recall it all happening in quick succession. I can’t remember! The sickness clouds the mind!

Either way, the LCD-2 arrived first. I had about a week to test it on the Maverick in single-ended. It immediately impressed me, but didn’t quite sound like the huge upgrade I expected. The LCD-2 is clearer, smoother and more detailed than the HD600, and nothing quite measures up to that Planar sound-wall experience. I was not, however, utterly blown away.

That changed when the NFB-28 came in the mail.

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I didn’t have an XLR Balanced cable yet, so for a few weeks I enjoyed my LCD-2 on the NFB-28 in single-ended. This alone was a massive upgrade over the Maverick D1 Plus. The HD600 sounded better as well, but nowhere near as spectacular as the Audeze LCD-2.2 Fazor. It outstripped the Sennheiser by a country mile. Its sound felt much weightier, richer, and more detailed, like the LCD-2 was now getting all the things it hungered for. It’s a voracious beast. Feed it the best source you can get your hands on and the LCD-2 will scale endlessly.

When at last I assembled the Balanced copper OCC cable, my Audeze was unlocked to its full potential. It didn’t change drastically. That’s not what balanced does. It simply increased in transparency, separation, and soundstage. Basically, the equipment disappears more or less completely, and the music is all that’s left. This is the same impression I get with my JH Audio Angie playing from the Balanced Output on the Astell&Kern AK120ii: The veils are parted and you’re brought fearfully close to the naked soul of Sound and Melody.

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The Audeze LCD-2.2 Fazor is awe-inspiring in its clarity. There’s absolutely no grain, which highlighted for me just how grainy the HD600 is. In contrast, the Sennheiser almost sounds dirty, a thing I would never have said before. The LCD-2, especially in Balanced, has clean, glass-like audio.

Tonal quality and naturalness is equal, the HD600 being a titan in this field, and the LCD-2 keeping up nicely. Only the LCD-2 produces those tones with a richness and depth that’s new to me. A warm weight imbues the presentation. It’s chocolaty and luxuriant.

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The Audeze’s detail and resolution puts to shame everything else I own. It’s the cliché of clichés to say I hear things in my music I never heard before, but **** me! These Planars can do things Dynamics can only dream of. You wouldn’t think a laid-back headphone would excel in detail, yet these render all for your enjoyment. The details simply aren’t forced upon you, as with more aggressive headphones.

Going hand-in-hand with detail is imaging and separation. I doubt they’d be half so accurate without that resolution. As it stands, every element on the track can be heard on its own and located on the stage. There’s so much air and space around each piece it seems like a physical object. I feel as if I could pick an instrument up and move it at will.

Treble is nice and extended. There’s a lot more of it than I expected from a “dark” headphone. The highs are very present, giving air and space to the LCD-2’s signature and banishing any sense of claustrophobia that can occur with very warm phones. There is a subtle sparkle to the highs, yet they are not prone to sibilance. Even old-school Metallica can crash and blear without a messy shimmer distorting the cymbals.

Everyone’s heard about the LCD-2’s bass. You’re probably reading my review because you’re looking for an open-back set of cans capable of beefier bass than you’ve been able to find thus far. Well, the LCD-2’s sub frequencies are marvelous to experience. They have impact, character, texture, and speed. Indeed, I would say the virtues of the bass give the LCD-2 the greater portion of its identity. A velvety tone “colors” the sound to a most splendid effect. And yet I refuse to call them bass-heavy, because everything is in such wonderful balance. I do not get the impression the bass is dominating the other frequencies, in spite of what I said about identity.

This must be part of how Audeze rose so fast in the industry: Giving us bass of this quality without betraying neutrality or muddying the whole.

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I’ve called the LCD-2.2 Fazor the perfect upgrade to the HD600, as it does everything the Sennheiser does, only better. Some would say it’s more of an upgrade to the HD650, due to the warmth and bass presence. Maybe. I’ve not had the chance to audition those. Still, if you look at the frequency curve, there is no mid-bass hump on the LCD-2. It’s flat. Which makes it very much like the HD600. The perfect upgrade.

This holds true in most respects, including the mids/vocals. You can’t really do better mids than the HD600, when taken on their own. They’re sort of flawless. But when you take all the other things the LCD-2 does and apply those effects to the vocals, they are a bit fuller, a bit more detailed, and a bit cleaner. Therefore, the mids are, if I dare to say it, “better” on the LCD-2.

Forgive me, Lords of Kobol!

When you are accustomed to IEMs and feather-light headphones like the Sennheiser HD600, or Momentum 2.0, these cans feel like a hundred pounds sitting on the top of your head. My cranium and neck muscles required a couple of weeks to strengthen before I could use the LCD-2 for more than forty minutes at a time. Now I feel rather comfortable wearing them. I’ll never forget they’re on, like I do with the HD600, but at least the fatigue has gone away.

But I’m a big burly bear. If you’re on the petite size, these may crush your brains, or compress your vertebrae into powder. Consult your physician about a Weapon X upgrade.

I’m a fan of leather pads. I’m also a fan of velour, or whatever the f*** the HD600 uses. Leather is trickier, though. You don’t want to wear it if you’re sweating, or even if you just came out of the shower. So my enjoyment of headphones like the LCD-2 or Momentum 2.0 Over-ear is hindered by certain conditions. Audeze sells Microsuede Vegan Pads, but I like the leather so much I doubt I’ll bother. My heart fills with dark pleasure knowing the Planar Drivers are cushioned against my head by the flesh of what was once a living, breathing miracle.

The warranty card for my set gives a manufacture date of November 2014. This is an older 2.2 Fazor, before the driver revision which, as espoused by some Head-Fi’ers, finally makes the Fazor model sound “good”. I can’t comment on the newer versions, but my model leaves nothing to be desired. It has a sound that matches the aesthetics. By that I mean, when I look upon that gorgeous wood, rich lambskin leather, and solid black metal, I imagine what quality of sound must come from a thing of this craftsmanship.

Let me assure you, Pinky is not disappointed. The Audeze LCD-2.2 Fazor may be my final headphone. After more than six months with it, I have no desire to seek “better”. Every time I put them on, I am wowed all over again. What more could I ask for?

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~::Update::~
Built myself a silver-gold alloy cable. Sounds sharper still, with better defined treble. Slightly less bass, which does cause me to EQ sometimes.
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MorrisL
MorrisL
All right then. We'll let your last sentiment spell the end of this dialog. 
abm0
abm0
Aww, and it was just getting good. :)
 
I think if one really wanted to prove soundstage reproduction they could do it: make a dedicated recording with the artists and instruments placed in known positions relative to the recording equipment; play back the recording for multiple listeners and have them indicate with a laser pointer what direction each instrument's sound seems to be coming from. Average the indicated directions for each instrument and compare with the original setting. Evaluate the spread of the directions between listeners.
perhapss
perhapss
MorrisL:
 
"So, balanced copper OCC cable... increased in transparency, separation, and soundstage?
 
That's where I stopped reading. The minute one ignores science a whole range of human delusions start clouding our judgment. And so many words and so much eloquence is then wasted on describing those delusions. "
 
People often hear what they pay for in my experience. Thanks for the objective perspective!
 
That said I`ve heard the LCD-2.2 and it`s a fine headphone if you can get over the impression of having 2 heavy speakers strapped to your head.
 
 
PinkyPowers:
 
"And whether you're right or wrong, this dialog still unnecessarily clutters my comment section."
 
"MY" comment section lol....
Pros: Linear well-extend bass. Performs well in all ranges. A good upgrade for HD650 fans looking for more extended bass.
Cons: Comfort. A bit rolled off. A downgrade for an HD650 fan in terms of comfort and weight.
Liquid organic audio - the LCD2

Been meaning to get around to a full review of these for a while. I have attached some of my early impressions from a comparison thread in which I was able to isolate specific frequency ranges and found the LCD2s performance superior.
 
Since the time of that writing I acquired a Mayflower O2/ODAC which is a better match for the LCD2 than the JDS Labs C5D used in my initial tests. The C5D is still a credible performer but the the O2 felt just a bit more balanced, especially in the mid-range. For the sake of the tests, however, the C5D was able to help spot the differences in the various headphones.
 
Also, I've managed to go to another Head-Fi meet in Calgary where I was able to listen to a set of LCD3 (pre-fazor) on a Woo Audio setup that was smoother with even better bass than my LCD2s. It sounded heavenly with a price to match. Still, my LCD2 shared many of the same qualities and for a fraction of the price. I listened to Mikoss' LCD3Fs (now sold) and thought they were good but sorta preferred the pre-fazor and didn't feel my LCD2 were that far off. He preferred his HD650 of which he is now a ravenous fan (so am I!) and I was able to compare these headphones. I still think the HD650s are amazing though not technically superior, may be the better choice for some ears (and heads) and certain amp pairings.
 
The LCD2 I have are the pre-fazor rosewood versions with the old style cable connectors and foam headband. By a number accounts these have the most bass, and the most rolled off treble of all the versions. I'm sure I would appreciate the qualities that the fazor versions bring, but I am very happy with the overall presentation of the 'classic' LCD2s. 

These are completely non-fatiguing headphones. They do demand that you listen to high-quality works, and do their best on the most dynamic of recordings. They are simply incredible for classic rock, jazz, acoustic, vocal, small orchestration classical, and piano. For electronic and pop they are excellent, specifically with the LCD2's bass reproduction, but in this genre they will do their best with very dynamic electronic pieces, rather than 'club-style' EDM productions, which are best relegated to a 'v-shaped' dynamic headphones. 
 
Given the somewhat cumbersome nature of these headphones, they are not a casual affair. No lying down on your pillow for late night listening. They also require an amp which will likely tether them to a listening-station in your home. They are serious headphones and demand some periodic care and proper handling. Their comfort has either improved with the headphone band loosening and/or I have really acclimated to them. I have no problem just wearing them for hours with a bit of adjustment now and then. Still, they will always have a bit of clamp, they do not disappear, and it has to be said that this can be a major downside of these headphones, enough to turn someone off completely. 
 
Audeze's new EL-8 is really comfortable, leagues better than the LCD2. If one didn't need the robust bass reproduction of the LCD2, the EL8 would be a good choice. Very easy to drive too, and so consider that part of the overall package. 

I have tried and really like the HE-560. It sat somewhere in the middle of the LCD2 and HD800. It kinda throws you off at first, but it may be one of those headphones that grows on you overtime as just a solid performer. Also, was very comfortable, much better than the LCD2 in that respect.

The HD800s I love every time I try them. Completely different sonic signature than the LCD2, and I don't mind it. More treble tilted, with articulate bass range. 

Still, the LCD2 has its own thing going for it and stands alongside the HD800 and HE560. Depending on one's preferences, it could even be preferred. If you want something beefier, that is not muddy, but has a solid weight to its presentation, yet still feeling tonally balanced - the LCD2 is for you. In fact, the LCD2 has an organic presentation that is more akin to actually listening to real-world instruments and sonics - especially the lower-end and mid-range timbres. There is a caveat, the LCD2 is rolled off on the upper end, even more-so than my prior HD650s. It just needs a bit more elevation to give some recordings a bit more 'air' on the top end. Make no mistake, it has exceptional treble detail as discussed in my comparison, but it is rolled off a bit. This appears to be what Audeze has sought to adjust in later versions and in their latest models. That said, a slight bit of EQ works, but most of the time I couldn't be bothered and enjoy them as is. Your brain adjusts.

If one isn't looking to spend a ton and wants a headphone that doesn't require a dedicated amp I would look into the Fidelio X2. Was really impressed with them at a recent meet. The owner, a fellow head-fier, and I compared them back and forth with my LCD2. He was quite taken with the LCD2 and it was clearly a notch above in all sonic aspects. We both agreed, however, that somehow the Fidelio X2 still accomplished being as enjoyable and well-balanced. It was also well-crafted and really comfortable. Quite an admirable achievement by Phillips and a competitor to the HD650 - especially so considering it doesn't require an amp and has a bit more bass heft than the 650.

The HD650 is another consideration and even a replacement for the LCD2 if one needs a more comfortable headphone and is okay with loosing the bass extension. 
 
I wouldn't necessarily recommend the LCD2 right off the bat if you are new to this hobby or high-end headphones. If new, I'd look at the Fidelio X2, the AKG 7xx, ATH-M70x, HD-598. The reason for starting with these is it will help you identify if you really need something more and decide whether it's worth it to take that step forward. Neither of them have significant amping requirements either.

I lucked out, and my used LCD2, were a 1/3 of their new price. I have never seen that type of deal before or after, so I'm glad I jumped on them. They were damaged, with split wood and loose connectors. All of which I fixed with wood glue and filler.

Aside form music listening, which in the first month-or-so of ownership is all I did every evening, I've been using them for some music production and gaming. I've had a friend test these out who is an audiophile beyond most on this planet. He works in the industry and has owned top flight 2-channel setups. For whatever reason, he never had experience these headphones. I watched him just sink into his couch listening to Mozart with his eyes closed, paying attention to every detail. He was in awe, and said 'yup, these are incredible'.

My other headphones compliment it pretty well, though I still wouldn't mind the HD800 for listening to binaural field recordings and other works that need more spatial depth. Also, the HD800 is so comfortable I wouldn't mind owning it just to see if it is my end-game headphone for that reason. Still it doesn't have the visceral low-end of the LCD2 and I'd likely miss that. 

My Sennheiser Amperior is the only headphone not included in the following comparison. In brief, the Amperior has some audiophile aspects to it but has no where near the transient detail nor instrument separation. The bass is not as controlled, and is a bit too mid-bass accented (even more so after exchanging the pads to pleather pads which increase the seal). The treble can be a bit much for some or even strident. Still it is a very good headphone for $110 CDN that I purchased it at, and is great for street use, music production and work. The HD25 I-II is a more balanced headphone and closer to the presentation of the LCD2.
 
 
Comparing a new favourite with some studio classics.
copied from my thread here (5/7/15):
http://www.head-fi.org/t/765538/bandwidth-isolation-tests-with-lcd2-hd650-mdr7550-hd25-comparisons-and-review


I wanted to get my impressions down on these headphones, primarily as I recently sold the HD650 to a friend. In doing this comparison and listening test, I found that the headphones showed their strengths and flaws uniformly. While there may be the occasion where I might prefer one presentation over another for a certain track, for the most part, the headphone with the better technicalities sounded better no matter what the genre. 
 
 
Gear used:
 
Audeze LCD2 revision 1 - recently acquired, just under a week. 

Sennheiser HD650 - owned for almost an entire year. Didn’t think I’d be moving on so early.

Sony MDR-7550 - owned for about a year. Previously owned a Sony MD-EX600 for about a year

Sennheiser HD25 1-II - owned for about a decade. Loaned to a friend who travelled the world and these never left his side. They went through a motorcycle accident, fire and rain. Got back to me in complete disarray. Still using the original drivers, cups and headband. 
 
MacBook Retina 2012 running Vox and Adobe Audition - Vox is a great player for OS X and can synchronize sample rate and obtain exclusive access to the DAC.
 
JDS Labs C5D - this is a capable DAC/amp for use with IEMs/ sensitive headphones and it has enough power for the HD650 and LCD2. Some may scoff at this little amp as it isn’t super pricey, but I found it had sufficient power  for both the 650 and the LCD2. Part of this review uses bandwidth isolation to listen to specific frequency ranges. In this respect, the C5D performed perfectly. If there are benefits I could get from a higher end dac/amp, I would expect it to increase the respective performance of both the HD650 and LCD2. That said, I feel the key technical differences can be sufficiently identified with the components I’m using. Both the HD650 and LCD2 could be driven at equal volumes from the C5D even at 2.5x gain. With the higher gain setting of the C5D there is plenty of room to spare and they can reach ear damaging levels. I’m heading to a head-fi meet soon, so I should be able to listen to some pricier DACs and amps and can update this review if my jaw hits the floor. I’m open minded to re-evaluate, and interested to hear higher end components especially with the LCD2. 


Bandwidth Isolation Tests
 
Why Bandwidth Isolation? When you are comparing headphones traditionally, listening to the full spectrum of music, it is easy to get swayed by the overall subjective experience of what you are hearing. By selectively comparing specific frequency bands, typically the high-end and the low-end, it can become very evident how these ranges are handled. I used my ears for this test, but measuring equipment would be helpful to see distortion and other artifacts.
 
Test track used: Tipper ‘Ambergris’ Fathoms EP - 44.1kHz / 16bit
 
I picked this track for bandwidth isolation testing because of its high-fidelity in both high and low extension and its consistency throughout allows you to listen over a period of time to hear the full frequency range. This track is impeccably produced by David Tipper. Here is a man who knows how to create bass music. His background started in creating tracks for car audio subwoofer tests and he has grown into musical talent. Where some artists in the electronic spectrum are squashing their tracks for the dance floor, Tipper is meticulous in his production. He is known for his SurroundSound production, digital audio mastering, and providing content for DTS Inc. 

 
General Listening Impressions with Test Track
 
HD650 - This is electronic music with modulating waveforms that runs the entire frequency range while retaining integrity. I’m a bit worried how the 650 may perform here on the sub bass. The attack of the bass is there on the HD650. It does extend all the way down, but rolls off with perhaps a hint of distortion on the bass notes. 

LCD2 - This one of the first EPs I played on the LCD that woke me up to what they are capable of. The full spectrum of detail from the electronic instruments is represented very well. The somewhat darker tilt of the LCD matches this genre of music perfectly. Precise, spacious, with full weight on the lower tones. 

MDR-7550 - The 7550 presents itself with more treble bite than the LCD2, and with more bass punch. The 7550 is remarkably clear and powerful sounding. I’ve been continually impressed by it and its sibling the MDR-EX600. I would say if you like the LCD2 and want a portable and extremely comfortable IEM version, the 7550 may take the prize.
 
HD-25 1-II - Probably the ‘fun’ sounding headphone of this bunch. It has an addictive signature. Punchy bass. It doesn’t have the same clarity as the 7550, and has less separation. The bass rolls off, and although extending deep, is not near LCD2 levels. This headphone is not going anywhere, though. It fits extremely well, seals perfectly, and is excellent for so many applications. 
 
 
Bandwidth Isolation using Test Track 
 
Low Frequency Range

Using Adobe Audition to isolate the lowest frequencies of bandwidth in the test track, it is clear where the LCD2 has the advantage with its deep uniform bass extension. The HD650 cuts off early and does not hit as low. The 7550, its bass is great, but does not extend as deep and has some distortion. The HD25, again like the 7550 audible distortion, and in this case doesn’t extend as far as either the 7550 and nowhere close to the LCD2. 
 
 
High Frequency Range

On the highest frequencies 15k and up, you can hear transients clearly on the LCD2. They are coherent and more information is presented than the other headphones for this test. Harmonics in this range sound like a very high pitched and rapid glissando. With the LCD2 the glide in the harmonics was more continuous and there was just more harmonic information.
 
 
Here you can see that a range is selected as the audible portion
 ​
Remarkably, these higher frequencies were barely audible on the HD650!

Comparing between the LCD2 and the HD650, there is significantly more information at these extreme ranges being reproduced by the Audeze and I suspect this goes for the entire audible range. I made sure to match the volume ranges, and honestly even if I turned it up on the 650, this information is just not present at the extremes. 
 
I tested the MDR-7550, and it too, did not reproduce these upper harmonics like the LCD2. The harmonics that were present were quieter and subdued, perhaps just a bit more audible than the HD650.
 
The HD25 - again, quieter transients. They were there, and perhaps a touch more audible than the 650.
 
I was surprised by the HD650 not being to translate these high frequency ranges. Its possible that these frequencies are somewhat attenuated. If it wasn’t for the LCD2, I might assume this is the limit for typical dynamic drivers and they pitter out at this point. I'm sure if I had an HD-800 on hand this probably would not be the case! I also have to say, for all of those listening to high sample rate music, you’ll be surprised to see just how little is in the upper ranges, and even more so, how your transducers may not even produce these upper harmonics, never mind our ears inability to hear them past a certain range. The range displayed in Audition will be completely dependent on the file.

Music and Genre Comparison 
 
For the following critical listening test I didn’t stick to an order of preference. I enjoyed the complete piece with each single headphone and occassionly went back to swap back and forth.
 
 
Avro Part & Latvian Estonian Riga Tallinn Choirs - Adam’s Lament
 
HD-25 - Well, it almost sounds like I’m listening to a mono recording. Listenable. No sense of space.  Nice timbre though. The HD-25 has a nice presentation but here it is severely lacking.
 
MDR-7550 - Wow. Night and day difference. The soundstage opens up in comparison to the HD25. Suddenly, strings and chorus, now have nuance and emotion. The 7550 is much more refined than the HD25 and less meaty in the mid-range. Great transparency, and you can hear room ambience and reverberations. Bass is delicate and controlled. You could lose yourself listening to this. Voices are perhaps a bit sharp on the higher octave ranges though.
 
HD650 - It may be just the nature of open headphones versus in-ear monitors, but there is more coherent soundstage with the 650. The 7550 has a wide sense of space, and has more transparency, it just doesn’t present itself as realistically. The 650 though, is softer, relaxed and gentle. Bass notes are not as discernible, and are taken out of the equation emotionally compared to the 7550. There is ‘air’ in the room space with the 650 though. You hold your breath when listening to this piece in quieter segments, almost as if you don’t want anyone to hear you! I have to say though, the 7550 was pretty remarkable in comparison. The 7550's extra detail and transparency edging out the 650. Higher range vocals might be a bit strained with the 650. Overall, with the 650,especially in the mid-range there is a natural, relaxed presentation that is very enjoyable.
 
LCD2 - There is weight and emotion. I feel like the transparency from the 7550 and the naturalness of the HD650 have been blended together. Combine that with overall superior transient reproduction and the LCD2 is clearly preferred. To be fair, the HD650 mid-range is very seductive, and with the whole presentation not being as weighty as the LCD2 some may prefer this presentation. Again that ‘air’ that the 650s deliver just helps give a certain realism to the presentation. The LCD2 has more realism in timbre, but I can see where some may prefer the LCD2 to have a higher treble response. I do have the LCD2 rev1, and have not heard the Fazors or rev2 editions so perhaps this is what has been addressed. I’d give my second choice to the 7550.
 
 
Bach- European Brandenburg Ensemble & Trevor Pinnock - Sechs Konzerte für den Markgraf von Brandenburg (2007) [FLAC]16bit 44.1
Koncerto Nr.1
 
LCD2 - Similar to the previous piece, the LCD2 offers a peerless window into the heart of the performance. It is effortless (aside from the weight of the LCD2!) to listen to all six concertos in one sitting. I feel truly spoiled, as this is the first time I’ve had such fidelity and the ability to listen so intimately to a performance. I haven’t had the luxury of attending many live concerts, and this is real treat. This level of performance makes me want to share this experience. I’ve read articles on websites where people rag on audiophile equipment and ‘over-priced’ headphones. Well, I truly hope performance like this becomes more affordable as I feel it will allow people to appreciate performances and compositions that they otherwise may have ignored in favour of pop-material that translates easier onto their ear buds. I have read that some people feel the LCD2 soundstage closed-in, but that is not what I am hearing here. It is wider and more expansive than the 650. What I hear is the greater realism and detail defines the recorded room space.
 
HD650 - Immediately the performance opens up - literally up. You get the impression that perhaps there was a low ceiling before with the LCD2, not quite oppressive, but the 650 is so effortless a listen. I’m going to miss these. The instruments blur together a bit, whereas they were more separated and defined with the LCD2. Even with the lack of detail the presentation is so great that you just relax and listen. Switching back to the LCD2, there is a range and extension both on the low end and the high-end that ‘completes’ the presentation. The 650 is still very close to the LCD2 in its rendering of this piece. Technically the LCD2 is better and you can hear it. But the 650s mid-range prowess is undeniable and therefore you still get an excellent rendition of the performance. 
 
 "the difference is like reading a lovers' note and having them in front of you."
 
7550 - Again, it is easy to notice that the soundstage of the 7550s, although wide, is not as realistic as with the LCD2 or the 650. As noticed on the Avro Part piece, the low-end of the 7550 helps translates the emotion. While clear, the instruments don’t have as much separation as the LCD2, and the soundstage feels a bit compressed vertically. I feel this has may have to do with the sound waves not hitting the outer ear. Aside from this, you have plenty of detail and fast transient response. The presentation of the 7550 may just be a bit too bass heavy for this genre, and this is where the EX1000 probably would shine. Indeed adding a bit of highend EQ helps. Definitely the bass feels a bit over-represented.  The sound is in you head and sounds panned hard right and left. Still great clarity and performance.
 
HD25 - working all the way down to this sturdy headphone. While not as wide a soundstage, it is more acoustically realistic than the 7550. The stereo phase however is more narrow, the instruments somewhat flat. If you were just strolling around you’d be certainly content. However, if these were your only headphones, you may not reach for this music. The recording is just too dynamic and nuanced for the HD25. I’ve always loved classical and even enjoyed it in the waking hours listening to mono AM radio. The arrangement on its own is a language, but the difference is like reading a lovers' note and having them in front of you. They are still enjoyable and some of that natural timbre comes through, just without the finesse. I’d characterize the deficiencies of the HD25 similar to most dynamic consumer cans. You’ll never know what you are missing but you’ll probably enjoy what you are hearing. Often I’ll be listening to the HD25s, and even now with such a dynamic piece think “these are great!’ And its true. They are classics. I’d choose them as a desert island headphone as I know they’d last and if a part broke i could get Sennheiser to airdrop in a replacement. 
 
 
John Coltrane A Love Supreme 24 bit 88.2 kHz
 
HD-25 - I’m starting to form an impression here that is pretty consistent. On the HD-25 pianos are flat. There isn’t nearly as much detail in the higher and lower transients. 

7550 -  From the opening of the piece, the percussion is more spacious and detailed with more body on the bass. Piano with a bit more dimension. Trumpet much more vividly realized than the HD25 (and almost as good as the LCD). There is a higher-end extension on the percussion and overall sound. A little boxy sounding on the lower-end, not tubby, just a bit boxy. 
 
HD650 - Overall presentation of all instruments just seem to open up. Everything fits together, even if the imaging gets a bit blurred. Is the HD650 too soft though? Moving on.
 
LCD2 - Just on another level of clarity. Percussion more realistic. Trumpet is life-like, you can hear its natural reverb tail and extension - something I wasn’t getting with the other headphones. Bass nicely textured and responsive. Bass never overtakes or interferes with the mid-range. Without such a reproduction, I could see how certain jazz pieces could be passed over. With the LCD2, I get a feeling that there is a better sound out there for a certain head-fier, but I also know I’ve reached a new height as a music listener. I can now begin to really listen to pieces, that until now, were locked away under a haze, veil, and lack of technical performance. 
 
Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon
 
LCD2 - Smooth and deep, though a bit dark. Great depth and space. ‘Money’ just straight-up rocks.  Excellent depth in reverb ambience and you can hear those reverberation transients clearly in the room space. Just wow. I need to start listening to more classic rock. 
 
HD650 - A lighter listen. You can still hear those reverb transients but they are bit ‘cloaked’ and diffused. Vocals are still fantastic. I’d say the HD650 make excellent headphones for rock music. Similar issues to the other tracks tested, in the imaging not being as good, and everything just blending together. 
 
HD25 - Wow. These are doing great for rock. Very enjoyable. Not far behind the HD650 here. Great set of headphones.
 
7550 - A little too much bass emphasis. I’d take the HD25 over the 7550 on this one just because of the HD25s more natural presentation. Saxophone sounds great on the 7550. Guitars are pretty dimensional but compete with the lower end somewhat. 

Final Thoughts
 
I wasn’t planning on upgrading headphones. I really thought I’d have the HD650 for years. The opportunity came up to get a revision 1 LCD2 at an unbeatable price. The wood had cracked near the jacks, but it is very minor and barely noticeable - but hence the discount. This was a headphone that was completely out of my price range several years back. Truth be told though, I could have afforded it, I just didn’t know I’d want it! Now having listened to headphones on the level of both the HD650 and the LCD2 there is no going back. They become your audio standards. Next step, I’m going to explore DACs and amplification. Right now, the LCD2 seem like my perfect headphone. It has a similar tonal quality to the HD650, which makes parting with the 650 much easier. The comfort isn’t near the HD650, and what I found was that initially I was wearing the Audeze too loosely. Adjusting the fit, the ear cups are now more perpendicular and the weight distribution is more balanced. I can now wear these for hours with good comfort.
 
For the music I enjoy, a mixture of ambient, drone, binaural field recordings, electronic, jazz, fusion, experimental, orchestral, ensemble and solo piano with the occasional rock, and vocal pieces I couldn’t be without these. Interested to hear the LCD3, LCDX, Alpha Dogs, HE-560, HE-500, and Stax headphones.
 
Regarding the 650, they are excellent, and I respect that many have chosen them as their end-game headphone. It does sound like a bit more can be squeezed out of them with higher-end equipment. For me, the technicalities evident in my listening sessions pointed to the LCD outperforming the HD650 in key areas. Comfort and tonal signature of the HD650 could be a preference over the LCD2, however. I am fan of the 650 and I’d recommend them to many people as an affordable way to get into audiophile sound. The LCD2, are just taking me to a place I’ve never been though. Even having listened to expensive Bowers & Wilkins floor standing speakers (with Classe amplification), this audio rig is just awesome - its mine to listen to and didn't cost a fortune.  
 
Typing up this review I listened to the LCD2 the entire time. Just as I was about to submit this I got a text from my friend who bought my HD650:
 
"Dude, I am in love with these headphones! My 598s are nice, but this is another level"
 
For me, this is what makes this little hobby so enjoyable. Sharing the experience of music and sound with people.
Pros: detail, 3D sound, sense of realism
Cons: tight vise grip on my head, you'll hear all the good and the BAD in recordings but that's not LCD-2's fault
This review would be from a NOOB point of view.  I'm doing this review because its a review I wish I had when I was 'outside looking in' at all these people on the forums talk about the sonic nirvana they achieved from all their hifi audio equipment.  So if i actually purchase these $1000 dollar headphones with some good amps and sources is it all worth the price and do they actually sound that much better from my el cheapo headphones i can get from best buy.
 
I'm like the average guy listening to stuff with equipment most people use: computer, phone, speakers from your car, headphones that come with your watever, etc.
 
This review will be for Audeze 2.2F with no other equipment, and as I start adding more equipment (amps, dacs, etc) I will be posting updates and my experience as well.
 
So.. just got my Audeze 2.2 fazors and been listening to them for about an hour now.  Since I don't have anything else yet (amp update below, dacs coming soon) I just plugged them into my sound card where you would plug in your speakers. 
 
Some of the things I noticed:
 
- really surprised how loud they can get just from my integrated sound card from my motherboard.  I can put it up to the point where i feel like im at a rock concert loud. After all these reading on the forums about big amps for the audezes the volume i can get from just the computer was not what I was expecting.  It sounds very clear as well all the way to the top volume.  Now I know it isn't just about volume, but something i want to make a note of.  When people talk about how you only need so so amount of power to get to certain crazy loud decibel levels so no need for gigawatt amps, well my integrated sound card can get to loud levels.  So I'm guessing amps do more than just provide high volumes? We will see...
 
-when they say they are open drivers and not closed, they're not joking. i can hear my computer fans through these headphones on certain tracks, to the point of annoying.  When you are silent parts of a song you want silence not a fan whirling around
 
- Clarity wise it is definitely better than my el cheapo $50 headphones, but not $950 better.  I mean I can hear things I couldn't before with my other headphones, and things got noticeably clearer.  Again this is with just my Audeze plugged into my computer and thats it, take it witha  grain of salt.  If I would rate my cheapo headphones on a scale of 1-10 I would say clarity would be 5 and Audeze would be 8-9? it isn't WOW though, at least not yet.
 
-some tracksi could notice each sound coming from distinct areas. Even though it all still sounds somewhat inside my head, i can pinpoint distinct sounds coming from one location and couple inches away another sound from another location.  Thats something new i haven't experience, pretty cool
 
-Little things like instruments in the background here and there sound different now, they're more detailed to the point where they actually sound very different than before
 
-weight wise.. although i haven't had 2+ hour sessions yet.. the one hour I had them on honestly the weight doesn't bother me one bit
 
Now if i just left my equipment as is, then right now it's not worth the $1000 for maybe a 50% increase in clarity from my el cheapo headphones.  I would return them and be kinda happy with my skullcandy headphones i got for free from my laptop, well i can live with them considering i saved $900+ dollars
 
I got a schiit audio amp Asgard 2 im going to get soon, and do a test with that plugged into my computer.  Then hopefully a dac soon as soon as I can find a deal on one.  Maybe bifrost or something like that.
 
to be continued...
 
 
UPDATE 5-21-2015
 
I received Arcam iRDAC in the mail and plugged it into my Schiit Asgard 2.  First of all things did sound clearer, but other than that, I didn't notice much else.  I spent an hour switching back and forth between the $700 irDAC and my motherboards Realtek onboard DAC, and the only difference I can make out was a small one when listening to female vocals like Norah Jones i can here the onboard DAC was little 'grainy'
 
Even this is questionable.  I noticed that I was getting distortion on my on board sound card at max volume, and that could be the reason why there was a difference in vocals when comparing the irDAC to my onboard pc sound because I always had the onboard sound card at max volume.  It wasnt until later I noticed this when plugging my LCD directly into the soundcard at max volume and noticed the distortion on a specific song, and when i listened to it with my amp there was no distortion.
 
To go even futher, at normal volumes I can't make out any difference between the onboard sound card and with the Asgard 2, other than the fact that at high volume I hear distortion from my pc sound card, whereas the Asgard 2 can take those volumes no problem.  Sound quality wise, i can't make a difference.  I know in my earlier review, I said it was noticeably clearer, but now I'm wondering if it was simply a volume increase, because now after 3 weeks I can't make out a difference if I compare them at same volume level.
 
I decided to return the irDAC and keep my $700 bucks.  I can clearly tell a difference between my cheap headphones and going to LCD-2s' but after that, that's where things get foggy.  After having these headphones for 3 weeks now listening to them for 3+ hours a day, and doing a lot of comparing between the amp/dac/ and the sound coming from my computer I'm a little confused.  I'll keep the amp though, just so that I can listen to them at reasonably high volumes for those occasions without worrying about distortion.
 
Maybe its just my ears that aren't good enough? Well i did a frequency test shows that i can still hear up to 17k hertz.  When I did a ABX test between a 16bit 44k file and a 24bit 96k file, I was right 15/16 which is over 90%.  I can make out the difference between the 16bit and 24bit files but not between amps and dacs? As far as i'm concerned, sound quality wise the 16bit-24bit made more improvement than going to the amp/dac combo.
 
So i started reading the blog by NwAvguy who was banned from these forums and what he says just made sense to me, not to mention what I experience with my equipment.  I went ahead and ordered the JDS labs O2-ODAC combo from his design for pennies compared to what I was originally planning on spending and be done with it.  Transparent and accuracy is what I am aiming for.
 
Back to the headphones, the good news is that the sound quality from these alone will keep me happy enough to keep them for good.  Its got a 3D effect when I listen to them and that probably has a lot to do with the open end design.  The detail and position of each individual sounds is great, and the overall effect you get from all this is amazing.  I started to realize that the overall experience you get (sound quality wise) is heavily dependent on the recording.  If its done well, you will hear it, and if it isn't done well, then you'll hear that too. The way a song is recorded has a big influence in my overall experience when listening to music, to the point where I think it is too much.  Now I'm looking at how this or that particular song was recorded and take that into consideration instead of just listening to the music.  
 
Weight wise, after 3 weeks, I can see why people would sell these just for the weight and get something lighter.  I've got mine pretty lose so that the ear pads are a little too low, but if I set them so that the ear pads are exactly center on my ears then the headphones literally feel like vise grips on my head.  I got a cold right now so that may influence some but still they can feel very tight.  I find myself wishing a pair of headphones that are light and just 'disappear' to where I only hear music.  When i loosen them though it becomes manageable.  
 
Thumbs up to LCD-2 fazors, I'm going to keep them.
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Malfunkt
Malfunkt
Having had some experience listening to audiophile speaker systems, I at least knew that a certain quality of audio was possible. Over a decade spent listening to monitor speakers, monitor headphones. Only recently over the last couple of years have I made some strides with headphone listening. The first revelation was with the HD650, and those are fantastic. Now with the LCD2 this is as close to the sound I've been searching for.

You do need to train your ears, but it need not take too long. My recommendation, is find some recordings that are regarded as the very best. Even get research and get some music that you aren't that interested in, consider it more of training. Listen to some of the best jazz and classical masterings. Listen to some of the best vocalists. Listen to the best recordings of classic rock.
 
What I'm finding is that the LCD2 is more sensitive to the quality of recording. I was really surprised that recordings I normally wasn't that interested in all of sudden sounded real-to-life on the LCD2. Many other current masterings sometimes were over compressed, and lacked dynamic. 
 
I wouldn't go full blown on a DAC as yet. I know some PCs have some really cheap internal DACs, and if that is the case with yours it could seriously affect the sound quality. 
 
Don't give up on them. While there is plenty of hyperbole and exaggerated claims, to a number of experienced ears, the LCD series are top in class and can compare to very expensive audiophile systems. For instance, here is an article were Arnie Nudell (a famous speaker designer) discusses the LCD-X and compares it the experience of a $30,000 plus stereo rig. 
keokio
keokio
thank you for your comments and I absolutely agree with you Malfunkt when it comes to recordings.  The LCD-2s are sensitive to the recordings, but thats not really the LCDs fault.  I would say overall the 'bad' recording doesn't sound worse when compared to lesser headphones, it still sounds better but it just leaves me wanting more since i know what good recordings sound like now.  
 
Also for amjams comment, I am coming to like these LCDs more than when I first got them.  Maybe you're right as to training your ears part, but i don't know if its my ears being trained, or my brain is adjusting and being accustomed to the sound.   As for 'training' yourself to hear subtle differences, the way I see it is if I'm spending $1000 on headphones, I am not going out of my way to look for the improvements, its gotta be there in your face and lots of it as well, but what each person is looking for is all relative.  I didn't get that type of improvement I was looking for, but having said that I'm keeping these headphones because I don't want to go back.. :)
DanPerezSax
DanPerezSax
"As for 'training' yourself to hear subtle differences, the way I see it is if I'm spending $1000 on headphones, I am not going out of my way to look for the improvements, its gotta be there in your face and lots of it as well, but what each person is looking for is all relative."
 
That's not how it works, though, in nearly any field of super high-end gear, the difference between mid/good-level and top-level will always be a difference of refinement.  By definition, that means it's not going to smack you over the head, but you'll have to seek it out yourself.  This is actually a good thing, though, because it means you will be taking a journey and growing along the way as your taste matures.  The best stuff is rarely obvious to the untrained... think Kenny G vs John Coltrane.  
 
Lots of people love Kenny G, and his music is pleasing to the ear, whereas some of Coltrane's is not... certainly it's not generally a "catchy tune" all the way through!  You'll have to delve into a deeper understanding of music to appreciate Coltrane, and as you spend a lifetime exploring, educating yourself, listening critically and maturing, you'll hear more and more of worth in the music.  The true beauty of it is: no matter how much your taste or ear matures, you can go back to the greatest music and get more from it.  
 
Great gear is much the same.  When you find yourself wanting more detail, more immersion, more whatever, you'll find it's there in the great setups.  This is a much more nuanced idea than the obvious things that strike people initially, like "more bass," or "more treble," but it's where the differences can lie between similarly tuned high-end gear.  Think of "more bass" as a critique of a painting... "Oh yeah, Guernica is definitely a good picture, I guess, but it would be prettier with more yellow."
Pros: Musicality, bass, imaging, and believable treble
Cons: Expensive, low quality stock cable, comfort during long listening periods
The Audeze LCD 2.2 is one of the most popular headphones on Head-Fi. Much has already been written about them, so adding yet another review may not offer anything new or different. However, when the 2.2 line was upgraded to include Fazor technology, the reviews were a little more divided. Some loved the upgrade. Others hated it and felt the non-Fazor model was better.
 
Which is it?
 
Well, I can't answer that because I've never heard the non-Fazor model. But, I can tell you the Fazor version is fabulous.
 
Evaluation Setup:
 
Amplifier: TEAC HA-501
DAC: Schiit Bifrost Uber
Source: iPod Classic via Pure i20 dock with coaxial connection
Tweak: Charleston Cable Company Canare cable (not for sonic improvements, but for sturdiness and longevity; stock cable is fragile and doesn't inspire confidence)
 
The way I can best describe the LCD 2.2F sound is to take you through my audio journey.
 
My first entry into "high end" headphones was the Beyerdynamic DT880/250 ohm. At first, these were wonderful. Crisp details that I never heard in my music before. Better imaging than anything I've ever experienced. After about a year, I realized that the initial wonder wore off and they weren't for me. I found them dry, brittle, boring, and lacking bass.
 
The next natural transition from the DT880 in search of more excitement was the DT990/600 ohm. These certainly were very exciting. The bass was much more pronounced, the treble was sizzling, and the v-curve that got me through my youth was in full effect. There was more meat and life on the bones, so to speak. However, after about a year or so, I decided the treble was really too much, especially when fed from a solid state amp.
 
I then purchased the Sennheiser HD600. At first, it was perfect. It was a balanced signature, with much more controlled treble. It was smooth and enjoyable. I was pretty happy with these for about two years, but then I found the bass lacking. They also suffered the dreaded 3-stage blob and made some recordings seem unnatural.
 
The next natural move was to adopt the HD650. These did in fact have more bass, so all was right with the world. However, they were almost too polite and laid back. The treble was clear, and they don't have the lack of treble that so many people claim. It's just sweet and subdued, but almost in an unnatural way. Some tracks sounded marvelous, yet others sounded dull, congested, and claustrophobic. There was too much midbass creep for my liking. Also suffered the 3-stage blob. It took me less than a year to reach the conclusion that I liked these cans, but I still wanted more.
 
About the same time I bought the HD650, I also purchased the Shure SRH1540. Up to this point, all of my headphones had been open designs, and I thought I might try the closed variety. They are pretty darn good, but they really have too much bass for my liking. I always thought of myself as a basshead, but these cans showed me that I wasn't. There was simply too much low bass, and the midbass creep was even worse than the HD650. My search would continue.
 
Enter the Audeze LCD 2.2F. I'm not going to go into exquisite details trying to describe the sound signature using as long list of creative adjectives or metaphors. That's been done countless times here on Head-Fi. Rather, I'll state that these headphones have finally given me the exact sound signature I've been looking for this whole time.
 
Pros:
 
-The sound is balanced from top to bottom. The bass is accurate and tight, while the treble is natural. No sizzle. It's life-like and clear. A criticism of the non-Fazor version is lack of top end clarity and treble extension. Not these. These do treble right.
 
-There is no midbass creep at all. At first listen, I actually thought the LCD 2.2F were bass light. However, once my brain adjusted, I realized it was because there was no midbass creep and what I was hearing was the natural bass range in the recordings. It also cleared the way to hear the deepest of deep bass much more clearly.
 
-Soundstage and imaging is a very personal thing, and also one of the more disagreed upon topics when reviewing headphones. Compared to all of the other headphones listed above, the LCD 2.2F has the best soundstage and imaging. I'm bringing this up because one of the debated weak points of the LCD 2.2 (Fazor and non-Fazor) has been the soundstage. These aren't the last word in width or depth, but I found them to have the most believable and balanced of all my headphones. The image is coherent and extends into the corners that the other headphones miss. There is no 3-stage blob. When sounds track from right to left, the sounds no longer go "over" my head or "in front" of it in an unnatural manner. The sounds go through my head in a natural, linear movement. Very believable and life-like. The soundstage also has excellent height. They are the tallest of all my headphones.
 
The sound is clear and non-fatiguing. With my other headphones, I could get either clarity or non-fatigue, but not both. The LCD 2.2F pull both off. There's no haze, veil, congestion, or claustrophobia. 
 
The sound is fast, accurate, and has a natural timbre.
 
Overall, I love these headphones. When I first got them, I went through a little buyer's remorse because they were expensive. However, I got over that very quickly and they put a smile on my face every time I put them on my head.
 
Cons:
 
Heavy and can make your head uncomfortable after long listening periods. The stock cable is cheap and horrible. I don't believe much in cable magic, but I bought a replacement cable just to have something stronger and more likely to survive years of use. After all, I plan on having these for a long time. They are very expensive, so there is a huge barrier to entry in this realm.
Pros: Liquid smooth, tight powerful bass, so very beautiful
Cons: heavy, warming leather pads
Source:
 
Burson Audio AB160
Burson Audio HA160
Black Bliss DAC
Sony NW-HD5 line out
 
Initial impression:
 
Good! Further update soon!
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Pros: Deep bass, sweet dark sound , Natural timbre
Cons: Too Heavy and uncomfortable its unfair ! Needs a good headphone amp.
I'll write just  a short review about this headphone. Im not going wtite whats there in ever other review. Instead I'd do a comparison with another cheaper (but good) headphone that I own . Its not a fair comparison I know but worth a read.
 
 
I own a Sennheiser HD518  which is quite a good headphone which I regularly use everyday since it is very light , comfortable and has a wide soundstage.  Its not cheap but a lot cheaper than LCD2 !
The LCD2 is too heavy for me to use daily. Its really not fair that it should be this heavy !! My neck starts to hurt if I use it regularly and I cant really get lost inside the music for long because of the discomfort.
 
Now once in a while  I plug in the LCD2 and ... after 30 mins when I switch back to the HD518 , the sounds suddenly become plasticky , unnatural , vague , uninteresting.. what more?
Now the 518 is by no means a bad headphone ! Its quite awesome and since I use it daily my ears get adjusted to it.  But when I switch to LCD2 , its a whole different story. I find it very unfair that I cant use it daily because of its weight....
 
The good points :
Bass - Crazy deep (goes down till freaking 6 hz!!)
Soundstage - Wider and  MUCH more open than HD518
Resolution is quite good.
This is the king of dark sounding headphones. Not a depressing dark , but a sweet warm and soulful dark sound.
 
 
I really wish I could use them everyday. Unfortunately no :frowning2: !!
b0000
b0000
For anyone else suffering from the same problem, this solved the issue for me completely and enables me to wear the headphone indefinitely as it removes the pressure off my head. If you have a weak neck though, then yea i don't know how to solve that.
Pros: Tactility, speed, imaging, comfort, unique presentation
Cons: lacks aggression, over emphasized lower mids, sub bass

IMG_0155.jpg

 

Review LCD 2 Rev 2.2 Fazor

 
Big thanks to head fi member jodgey4 for allowing me the chance to demo the LCD 2.2F! 
 ​
 ​
To start with the comfort of the LCD 2 with Vegan Pads was very good! The headband and ePads distributed the weight of the headphones very nicely, despite rumors of the Audeze cans being "too heavy to wear" I found them to very comfortable and the weight didn't bother me. Of course, some of you may be more sensitive to weight than I am.
 ​
As far as the sound goes, the overall profile of the LCD 2 REV 2.2 Fazor 
 ​
Was warm, good sense of tactility and speed,  yet still a touch laid back. Easy to listen to, and rich with details
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 ​
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As far as music goes, I found the LCD 2 REV 2.2 Fazor to work wonderfully with vocal heavy tracks, both male and female vocals have a great sense of body to them. 
 ​
The LCD 2.2F also worked well with classical duos or trios, music in which only 1 or two instruments are played at once. Avant Garde Classical,  was especially wonderful. Clear on a Cloudy day, which features a spastic arrangement of elements, was wonderful on the LCD 2.2F it's speed and well imaged presentation worked very well. The impressive dynamic speed of the LCD 2 works great for these smaller pieces. 
 ​
How ever bigger orchestral pieces, did not work as nicely, in addition the addition of a voice into a symphonic piece shows the flaws of the LCD 2, it does great for voices, and for classical duets, but not a combination of the two.  Epics "Solitary Ground Version" was a little wonky on the LCD 2.2F the lower notes of the singers voice, made the backing for the vocalist some what blurred, or un-focused. 
 ​
Now the last genre of music, I'll speak of is EDM. The LCD 2.2F works well with, deep heavy bass lines, and slower more ambient music. Where it falls short is with faster paced music, the LCD 2.2F did not impress me with any break beat, it lacked the ability to produce an aggressive sound for more aggressive forms of EDM. I was not a wobble friendly headphone either, so the LCD 2.2F again shows it self as a more laid back headphone. 
 ​
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In short, the LCD 2.2F is a colored headphone, with emphasis on the low mids and a noticeably recessed upper mid section. This in turn, makes it an easy headphone to listen to, but it struggles with larger classical pieces and often lacks the proper balance for use with all genres of music, or rather it struggles to add a sense of realism or a "wow" factor to all genres of music, or rather It lacks aggression at times when it's needed and wanted. 
 ​
In the end, I enjoyed my HE 4 over the LCD 2.2F, the LCD 2.2F was to picky with music genres, it's unique sound worked wonderful for some, but not all genres. So it's lack of balance, was overall it's downfall, that and the lack of Sub Bass 
Pros: Imaging, inviting mids, smooth highs, deep bass, comfortable
Cons: expensive
Hello everyone, I just received my Audeze LCD-2 on 6/16/2014 and figured I'd make a review about it, so here goes nothing.
 
They're the LCD-2 revision 2.2 with fazors is the correct terminology I believe, some people call them revision 3.
 
 
Some pictures before we get started:
 

 
 

 
 
 
 
 
Previous headphone experience & time spent with them:  
Hifiman HE-500 (3 weeks)
AD900X (1 year)  
HD800: ~5-10 minutes
LCD-3 ~10-20 minutes
 
 
First off, lets talk about build quality & build "luxury" so to speak:   Everything feels insanely high quality, (and is for that matter) it's sturdy, elegant looking, feels great on your head, and even looks great on the desk beside you if you're crazy enough to take them off.
The headband is metal inside, wrapped by lambskin leather with memory foam padding underneath, and then attached by metal rods with notches cut into it for adjusting the head-size.  Those metal rods then attach with a locking screw to 2 "yolks" that screw into each bamboo wood ear cup, that has metal grills on both sides. The ear pads themselves are lambskin leather, with the softest foam I've ever felt inside. When you put them on, it's so soft & cushion-y that you feel as if there's pillows holding the headphones on your head.
 
Alright, now lets talk about comfort.  With the LCD-2 Revision 1, I saw a few videos and read a few posts about comfort problems that people were having.  In the revision 2, and later-revisions they changed around the headband, adding more padding to it & wrapping the entire headband in lambskin leather, making them much more comfortable in lots of peoples experiences. They weigh about a pound, but you honestly don't notice it with the soft and cushy-ness on the pads, it really does feel like the pads are almost filled with air, they're insanely squishy, but still provide the right amount of padding. Something I noticed right away with them, the lambskin leather doesn't get hot on your ears, the pleather ear-pads for my HE-500's got extremely gross and warm after about 20-30 minutes, I've been wearing my LCD-2's for around.. 4 hours now and they are warm, but no warmer than cloth ear-pads would be. +1 for this.
 
Something I really love, they angled the connectors on the ear cups for the cables AWAY from you, so the cable doesn't rub on your shoulder when you turn your head. (I had this issue with my 900X's and HE-500, bugged me to death)
 
The case they come in if ordered with the travel case is absolutely superb. The build quality is something you'd see in a high-quality gun case, waterproof and so well built.
 
 
 
Sound:
 
 
I'm powering them off an o2+ODAC it sounds like a great pair so far. I am however going to buy a speaker amp and do some volume matched tests vs each-other to see if there's a difference in audio quality.
 
 
The LCD-2 has a very similar sound signature to my previous HE-500, but with less harshness in the treble. I find a lot more detail in my music with the LCD-2 though, I'm noticing quite a few things in music I didn't notice before. (The he-500 are detailed as is, just these are a bit more detailed)
Compared to my 900X's, it has the great sounding treble of them, but doesn't sound overpowering in the treble region like the 900X's did.
 
 
Bass:
 
  1. The bass is wonderful, it has such impact and control that you feel as if there's an extremely nice sub-woofer in the room with you, but it doesn't cover up anything in the music, it almost prepares the rest of the music in a way that feels so immensely natural sounding.  My favorite part about the bass is, it doesn't always have impact & vibration, it has it when the song intends it to be there.  I really like how it doesn't cover up anything, but rather transition into other frequencies. Wonderful for bass-heads if you enjoy hearing the rest of your music, and not just the wub-wubs.

 
Mids:
 
  1. When the bass starts to transition into the mid-range, it compliments male voices and makes them sound so much more real. The same thing can be said about the mids, it's almost as if every frequency range on this headphone works together in tandem. The mids remain so immensely clear, and I think the most amount of detail is here. You hear the breaths artists take, you hear the artists speaking with their band when the song is fading out. I truly think the mids on these headphones are the best part, so smooth, so great sounding.

 
Highs:
 ​
  1. The highs are something else. I've never heard detail in a headphone's high-end range, without it bugging my ears from being to "treble-heavy / sparkly / bright". This is the first time I've been delighted for high notes, they sound so smooth, and bright when they need to be, but not over-whelming and painful to listen to.  I have grown to love piano songs now because of these headphones, and it's so relaxing to listen to the piano IMO. I had a lot of issues listening to my HE-500 at times they were just a tiny bit to much treble, it hurt my ears at times.

 
Side note:
 
  1. The sound-stage is quite interesting, it's not very wide, but the detail in it is extremely strange. It seals to your head similar to a closed headphone, despite being open, yet everything is placed around the sound-stage perfectly. I believe the correct term for this is "Imaging".  When noises in your music are coming from different angles, and different distances it sounds like it's actually happening around you.  I've had previous headphones that were decent at this, but nothing compared to these. It's much better at "imaging" than my previous AD900X, and HE-500, despite the sound stage being more narrow. When you listen to songs with a lot of instruments, you can clearly tell that each instrument "has it's own seat" in the music.  I believe this is a combination of "imaging" and "separation".
  2.  With my previous HE-500 and AD900X, when tons of things were happening at once in the song, it sometimes sounded as if it was all crunched together, rather than clearly separated.

 
 
Experiences over the last few days:
 
 
 
It's currently 1 AM on the first night of listening while typing this (6/17), and man oh man, I feel as if I've died and gone to heaven. I have yet to listen to a song that hasn't made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.  Even genre's I've never even heard of or listened to before, these headphones are truly amazing.
I've been hunting down songs via other sites, just to see what other Audeze owners listen to music wise, here's a few songs I've listened to from my own library & from others:
 
 
Money for Nothing - Dire Straits 
 
When the intro starts, you feel the music immediately surround you, at 1:13 the drum comes in. The drum has impact, thump, detail, and really makes you feel as if you're listening to it in person.
At 1:26 the guitar starts in the left ear, and sounds as if it's in the distance, then the drums start to pick up, and you feel every little note and impact from them while clearly hearing the guitar notes that come in from further away than the drums. (Great imaging IMO)
As the guitar moves into the "center stage" at 1:37 you can hear the guitar being played, and not just the notes, the thump from him plucking the strings.
 
 
Lost Cause - Beck
 
This song is wonderful for demonstrating the sound-stage and separation of instruments.  Throughout the entire song, there's multiple guitar notes being played simultaneously, and each one sounds completely separated without clogging up the music, his voice remains remarkably detailed, while you hear the guitar notes as if they're surrounding his voice. 
 
 
Hotel California - Eagles
 
I've always loved this song, when I was younger my mom and I used to sing it in the car. (Hell, we still do) 
 
This is another song that shows off the separation so well, you truly do feel surrounded by the instruments as if you're sitting right there in the room with them. 
The guitar sounds about 2 feet to each side of you, and his voice feels right outside your ears. The drums have a satisfying thump you'd get from really nice speakers & a sub-woofer, at 3:14 the drums make a "thump-tha-tha-thump" noise, and you can track the movement of where the drums are as he plays them from right to left.
 
 
If you'd like me to describe more songs, PM me if you'd like and make a request. I'll do my best to help.
 
 
 
 
Closing thoughts:
 
If you ever have the chance to listen to these, don't hesitate. They have such a natural sound that I think everyone should have a chance to listen to for awhile in their life. It really is an "experience" in my opinion.  I honestly think there's no way to completely understand high-end audio until you've sat down and spent a good amount of time with it. I used to think a lot of it was a waste of money, but once you get a taste, you don't really want to stop.
 
These suckers cost $995 and even more for the rosewood version, are they worth it? It depends on how strapped you are for cash.  If money isn't a problem, hell yes. Buy them and enjoy audio bliss & superb build quality. 
solblack
solblack
Nice Review!
I have the A900x love the sound but was thinking about buying the LCD2.
DarrenLays
DarrenLays
You'd instantly fall in love I'm sure. It's such an inviting and amazing headphone!
catspaw
catspaw
Interesting review.
Mimics most of my impressions except the comfort. Heat was ok on suede pads, but weight was a problem.
After 20 minutes I started to notice back neck discomfort (similar to HE-400). However, I dont sit too straight so I wont blame it on the HP alone.
Honestly, I know deep down I will buy this HP, but the price keeps reminding me that I should go for a used unit. (I mean, Damn, I can get a new PC for that price).
Pros: Tight defined bass, everything presnted at the right level
Cons: None
My wife bought me a pair as a present because I love to listen to headphones. I was shocked at how much better these sounded than anything I have ever owned before. Not only am I impressed with the sound quality, but I actually find I listen to and enjoy them very much at lower volumes than I typically listen to my headphones. Just seems I do not have to turn the volume way up to hear the bass and trebles. The full range of sound comes through crisp and with a strong presence even at low volumes. Plus the sound stage is incredible. The construction is very robust. They are much heavier than most headphones, but not enough to be an issue and I listen to them for hour on end. I have heard they are among the best there is, I certainly would support that statement.
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derrickmarvel
derrickmarvel
Interested to know, what's your previous gear before this? And what's your source to drive the LCD2?
MarcadoStalker7
MarcadoStalker7
Enjoy your common and middle-of-the-road Audiophile dream! :)
Alahad
Alahad
I would also like to have a wife :)
Pros: Will change your Life forever
Cons: Will change your life forever
Growing up poor in Bucharpest, life often felt like this:
 
 
 
Then I got a wife and a job.  Now I am like this:
 
 
 
So now I was flush with cash and had nothing to spend it on.  Then I heard about the LCD-2.  The more I kept reading, the more excited I got.
 
shut-up-and-take-my-money-9299-2560x16001.jpg
 
And then I ordered.  And waited:
 
 
Then one day, a package came:
 
 
And I was like:
 
Then it was time for the unboxing:
 
 
Then came the listening. At first I was like:
 
mckayla-maroney-pissed.jpg
 
Probably because of burn in or something.  But after 30 seconds the beat dropped, and it was like:
 
It was kind of weird when it was just me, but when I showed it to my wife and friends we were all:
 
Needless to say, when I first heard about burn in I was like:
 
But now I firmly believe:
 
 
Then I started surfing the forums looking for more great gear:
 
 
My friends and I would rock out with our headphones every night:
 
Long after they had all gone home, I was still burning the midnight oil, listening to my jams:
 
 
It was like Wall Street during the coke years.  I'd stay up all night and then go to work and put in my 60.  I thought my performance hadn't slipped at all.  But my bosses were like:
mckayla-maroney-pissed.jpg
Then I went a step further and started getting all my audiophile packages at work:
 
My boss waited until a new one came and had it sent to his office. I had to go there to pick it up. When I came in, he was like:
 
After he fired me, I came home. My wife was not understanding, she dumped me:
 
I thought she was bluffing, so I gave her some time:
 
But she sent divorce papers over. Then I had to hire a lawyer. He talked a lot about how she wouldn't get a dime, so I was like:
shut-up-and-take-my-money-9299-2560x16001.jpg
I even sold the Audeze to pay for legal bills and as a result lost all my new friends. The little money the lawyer didn't take went to my ex, as she left court with the last of my cash she did a little dance on the ashes of our marriage:
 
Now I am poor and alone in Bucharpest again:
 
Screw you Audeze.
TwilightCoda
TwilightCoda
Fun fact: this review is a GIF-palindrome. Just for those who didn't catch that.
flamedrace
flamedrace
Just like there are V-shaped sounding headphones, this is a caret-shaped story.
rikk009
rikk009
Lol...this made me laugh after I was half way through. 
 
Did you missed Tyll's offer? Damn. :p
Pros: Beautifully built, addictive sound, natural tonality, easy to listen to for hours at a time
Cons: They are heavy, some people might find them too dark
A review of the Audeze LCD-2 Revision 2 Headphones

 
Where I started in this hobby, and where it has taken me.
 
About 5 years ago I brought myself a home theatre system it was made up of a cheap Accusound 5.1 speaker package, a Pioneer receiver and a Yamaha DVD player. For a few months I really enjoyed this setup; to me, at the time, I didn't know better. One day I called in to my fathers place and noticed he was playing some music on his old Technics Hi-Fi from the early 80s. I can’t remember if I immediately noticed it or not, but I realised his old fairly cheap system from the 80s could actually project sound in to the room, at the time I didn’t know it but what I realised was that the soundstage on his system really put my home theatre to shame. This put me on the path to finding a really nice 2 channel Hi-Fi setup.
 

After a ton of research and a lot of advice from the guys on the What Hi-Fi forums, I brought a set of Monitor Audio RX6 Speakers, a NAD amplifier and a NAD CD player. In a few words, this Hi-Fi absolutely blew me away; I couldn’t believe how much detail I was hearing in my music – hello audio nirvana! I had this setup for about a year I think. Still enjoying my setup, I was in town and called in to the dealer where I brought my Hi-Fi from; to make a long story short, he lent me a Rega DAC and Rega Brio-R for the night to audition. I couldn’t take the Rega gear back, straight away I noticed improvement in dynamics, transparency, imaging and it had a noticeably more detailed treble.

 

At the beginning of 2013 I got my first pair of headphones, the Grado SR80i. I really loved this headphone when I first got it, I think the detail that Grado's produce is a real wow factor with them, they may not measure very well compared to other headphones but they do have a very enjoyable – wow you instantly sound signature.

 
My Equipment:
 
PC > lossless files > Foobar2k wasapi event > M2Tech Hiface 2 > Rega Dac > Woo WA-6 (RCA 6DR7 & Philips black base 5AR4/GZ34)
 
Build Quality:
 
These headphones are very well built. When I look at these, I can’t really find any part of them that's poorly made. Every part of these phones really shows these are not your average cheap set of cans. The Bamboo cups are beautifully crafted, the leather headband and pads are made with precision and care, and the mini xlr connections seem to be a lot smoother when connecting the cable than the one on my old Q701. Combine the quality parts used to build these with the way Audeze assemble them and you've got one very beautiful set of headphones!
 
Comfort: (compared to Q701 and HE-400)
 
I'm probably in the minority here, well maybe? Out of the 3 my preference is LCD-2 > Q701 > HE-400. The reason I found the Audeze best is because of its clamping force, deep pads and even weight distribution. On the other two headphones mentioned, my left ear just touches the inside of the pads, while this isn't too much to complain about, it did get annoying at times having to move the headphones around to try to avoid it. My issues with the Q701 were that it actually felt to light on my head and didn't have the clamping force to seal very well. The HE-400 while definitely wasn’t too light also didn't clamp very well; mine do have Jerg pads on them which reduce the clamping force because of having to remove the foam ring in the pads, I also feel the Hifiman's don’t distribute the weight as evenly as the Audeze's.
 
Sound: (some comparisons to HE-400 and Q701)
 
This is the hardest part of the review for me, I know I hear differences between various headphones but I do find it hard to put in to words. As I write this part of the review, I'm actually using this as a reference. http://www.head-fi.org/a/describing-sound-a-glossary
 
When I first listened to the LCD-2's I wasn’t really that impressed. First reaction; CRAP they're so dark sounding! Where's the treble? I thought to myself, no they'll open up once the amp warms up; I had them on my head within a minute of turning the amp on. The slight disappointment didn't last long though, as I started playing different songs I started noticing how much better these were to my previous headphones. The first sign was when I played Guns N Roses – Patience. Listening to this song on the LCD-2's for the first time helped me understand what timbre and good tonality are. One of my best mates plays classical, electric and acoustic guitar. We have had quite a few conversations about the various tones of different instruments before. For example when it comes to electric guitar we both much prefer the tone of a Fender Stratocaster than a Les Paul. I understand these two instruments have a very different sound and its personal preference as either is objectively better than the other. I choose what headphone I prefer in a similar way. I’ll pick what I enjoy the sound of over what measures better and is objectively better technically.
 

Timbre and tonality, in my opinion the LCD-2 destroys the HE-400 and Q701 in this respect, it’s actually very noticeable that instruments sound much more natural on the LCD-2 compared to Q701 and HE-400. This put a big smile on my face when I first noticed this: D.
 
Soundstage/Imaging, I've heard a lot of people talk about pin pointing where the musicians are in the soundstage and I’ve never really been able to pick up on this. When I listened to Patience, I felt the soundstage was as I’ve heard others say quiet accurate. Before I had LCD-2 I couldn’t really make that assumption, but now I feel a bit more confident saying that. Perhaps if I get to hear higher end gear than my own in the future, I might notice this even more? Compared to HE-400 and Q701 I think Q701 might be more distant and wider but LCD-2 is definitely deeper and you’re closer to the musicians. HE-400 with Jerg pads has a similar presentation to LCD-2 but I feel the HE-400 brings you a little closer to the musicians than LCD-2. I think the LCD-2 is a bit wider than HE-400 but depth I’m not too sure about, it would be a close call between the two.
 
Detail Retrieval, I can say confidently that they LCD-2's are definitely more detailed than HE-400. Compared to Q701 though, it's hard for me to say because I haven’t had them for a while. I remember being blown away by Q701's detail when I had it so I imagine it would be close between the two but I can’t say for sure which headphone is more detailed.
 
Speed, I can definitely tell that LCD-2 is faster than HE-400; I think it would be faster than Q701 also but it’s hard to remember. The difference between HE-400 and LCD-2's speed was made very apparent to me when I played some punk rock. The LCD-2 seemed to stay composed no matter how dynamic and fast a song is, the HE-400 simply didn't sound as composed as LCD-2 does when playing fast music.
 
Conclusion:
 
I'm very happy that I brought the LCD-2's. After trying to decide on a new higher end headphone for roughly 4 months, I feel as though I picked the right one for me. I'm actually quite happy I didn't make the bigger jump to LCD-3 straight up because now I have something to look forward to in the future.
 
*EDITED TO FIX GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION
Mshenay
Mshenay
Glad you liked them and nice review
Josh05
Josh05
Thanks Mshenay
Pros: Full-bodied mid-range, relatively close to neutral- & natural-sounding, music genre versatility
Cons: Suffocatingly-small soundstage, lack of clarity & musical dynamics, physically heavy & uncomfortable
Originally published on April 11, 2011
Updated on December 11, 2011
 
Note: this review is an exact cross-post from post #1 of this thread on Head-Fi, which contains some user discussion on the review that may be relevant to read: http://www.head-fi.org/t/548875/review-audeze-lcd-2-r1-r2-hifiman-he-6-stax-sr-507-stax-oii-mki-bhse-et-al

- download a printable 9-page PDF version of this review (links go to locations on my Dropbox)
- download a printable 15-page PDF version of the notes that were written for this review. The notes should be considered a supplement and not a replacement for this review (as the review is not straight from the notes). The notes for this review in particular are HIGHLY-RECOMMENDED reading for anyone who wants the in-depth details of how most of the headphones directly compared to each other.

Intro

Not much really needs to be said to "intro" this review—it's basically just a multi-way review of various mid-level & flagship headphones, which were all owned at different points in time. Every comparison below was a simultaneous one though, and notes from every listening session were saved over the course of a few months. My review process is always at least several months (to get familiar with the equipment being evaluated) and this review was no exception.

A big disclaimer I want to add: the HiFiMan HE-6 and Stax SR-507 were the only headphones that did not get extensive listening time. I had the HE-6 in-house (on loan from another Head-Fi member) for only a couple of weeks, and the SR-507 has been in my possession for just over a week as I write this. So my opinion of the HE-6 and SR-507 should not be considered finalized.
 
This was originally a review of the LCD-2 r1 (revision 1). Review update on December 11, 2011, was for a new section covering the r2 (revision 2), see below.

Reviewer Biases & Info

My view of a headphone system is "source first" followed by headphones and then amp. In other words, a source of highest quality possible (assuming recordings of high quality also) should be paired with the most preferential-sounding headphone(s), to be driven by the most technically-optimal amp. In my view, the most technically-optimal amp is the one that provides sufficient power for all headphones being used without inflecting its own sonic signature, or minimally at least.

Some portions of the review below refer to the sound of live instruments. As an FYI to put those references into the proper context, I'm a trained violinist (learned via the Suzuki method for 12 years starting at age 6, then quit lessons at 18 and have been playing on and off since, and I'm 30 now) and have had the opportunity several times to play in a symphony orchestra, and I've attended classical-music concerts as well.

Equipment Setup

- Source component: Plinius CD-101 (CD player) (power cord: Signal Cable Silver Resolution Reference - directly into wall)
- Analog interconnects: Analysis Plus Silver Oval RCA & XLR
- Headphone amplifiers: HeadAmp GS-X and Nugget Audio B22 for the dynamic headphones, where noted. HeadAmp Blue Hawaii SE for the Stax SR-507 and SR-007 (OII MKI).

Evaluation Music

CDs by the following artists/bands, by genre:

- Americana/Bluegrass/Folk: Alison Krauss & Union Station, Priscilla Ahn, Sierra Hull
- Blues: Eric Clapton, Eva Cassidy
- Classical: Hilary Hahn (Bach), Julia Fischer (Bach), Carlos Kleiber & VPO (Beethoven), Pierre Boulez & VPO (Mahler)
- Electronica/Trip-Hop: Massive Attack, Orbital, The Crystal Method, The Prodigy, Trifonic, Zero 7, Zero One
- Jazz: Dave Brubeck, Lee Morgan, Steve Kuhn, Tord Gustavsen
- Rock: Led Zeppelin, Porcupine Tree, Radiohead, Tool
- Metal: Emperor, Helloween, In Flames, Megadeth, Nightwish, Symphony X

Specific tracks on the CDs are given in the review notes (see the PDF, linked at the top).

Audeze LCD-2, overall

LCD-2 w/ 2010 stock and ADZ-5 cables. Amps: GS-X in unbalanced mode and B22.

When I first got the Audeze LCD-2 in September 2010, I was unimpressed. It was dark-sounding (not a whole lot of treble quantity), closed-in (not much "air" to the sound, which made it borderline suffocating to me), and it lacked general bass drive. But my amp at that time, a Rockhopper-built M3, might not have been optimal for it. Later on in early 2011, with the HeadAmp GS-X and the Moon Audio Silver Dragon XLR re-cable, the LCD-2 turned into something much more promising when driven in balanced mode. It had very solid & physical bass, actually even better than my Audio-Technica AD2000—very deep, heavy, and low-sounding, not just in the lowest bass but throughout the mid-bass and up into the mid-range. I'd call the LCD-2's overall bass & mid-range almost sneaky in a way—doing a subtle yet fantastic job at making you think vocalists and instruments like acoustic double-bass, bass guitar, etc, are right there in front of you because of how low, full, & "fat" they are, whereas most other headphones just lack that presence factor. The only other headphones in the round-up that offered a similar type of presence factor were the Grado HP1000 and Stax OII MKI.

There are 4 headphone "classes" that I personally define: excellent, above-average, average, and below-average. For reference, there are only a few headphones I classify as excellent: Qualia 010, OII MKI, and JH13 (IEMs). (Not that I think they're flawless though.) I'd classify the LCD-2 as above-average, in the company of headphones like the Beyerdynamic T1, Grado HP1000, and Sennheiser HD800. I don't think any of these headphones to be "better" than one another per se—they all have their trade-offs, the LCD-2 included.

So what I mean by my "above-average" classification is that the LCD-2 is very good—it's just not the best of the best that I've heard. I've heard the LCD-2 on a variety of amps so far—SPL Auditor, Rockhopper-built M3, Schiit Asgard, Avenson Audio Headphone Amp, HeadAmp Gilmore Lite & GS-X, and Nugget-built B22. The best I've heard from the LCD-2 has been with the GS-X in balanced mode and the B22. And with those two amps, the LCD-2's sound can be summed up as bassy, full, assertive/direct, and fast (as in impulse response). It's one of the most mid-range-focused headphones I've heard with a heavy slant towards the mids, mid-bass, & bass in general, and it offers a sufficiently different sound than any of the other headphones that were compared that one could easily find an excuse to own it along with any of the others. But if one can afford to buy only one headphone, or just a few at most, I'd call the LCD-2 an instant recommendation for anyone who doesn't really like treble very much and is seeking bass & mid-range more, for listening to music like classical/soundtracks, jazz, electronica/trip-hop, pop/rock, and/or metal. Not that I think the LCD-2 excels at any one of those genres, but it handles them all to varying degrees of success.
 
LCD-2, revision 2

LCD-2 r2 w/ Moon Audio Silver Dragon XLR on HeadAmp GS-X. Also with stock ADZ-6 cable on Schiit Audio Lyr.

The r1 LCD-2 that was originally used for this review was sold shortly after it was written, in April 2011. The primary reason I sold it was due to its relatively mediocre sonic performance, at least for me. After the r2 was introduced, I decided I wanted to try it and finally bought one in October 2011, so my impressions of the r2 are now about 2 months ongoing (as I write this new section, it's December 2011).

Without a direct comparison to the r1, which I was unable to do, I can't say with any certainty how the two revisions compared to each other. But I will say that the r2 seemed to sound very similar to the r1 that I previously owned, and more to the point, just about as good—I'd say it retained the "very good" quality level that I gave to the r1. Having now heard the r1 and r2—both in the exact same way, balanced on the GS-X—I'd also argue that the LCD-2 benefits from balanced operation, because the r2 sounded just as good, if not better, than the r1, when balanced on my GS-X.

In spite of not having any experience of the r2 directly versus the r1, I feel that this review as originally written completely applies to my thoughts on the r2 in addition to the r1, and I mean that in both the good and bad implications. It means that for every aspect that I thought was good about the r1, I thought the r2 was just as good; but for every aspect I thought was less than stellar, I didn't think any of them were fixed with the r2 either—specifically the areas in which I criticized the r1 versus my electrostatic system (OII/BHSE). Scale, dynamics (including intensity), clarity, soundstage, etc, were not significantly improved on the r2 enough that any of them were rectified for me. My conclusion was that the OII/BHSE absolutely sonically crushed the r2 in the same way it crushed the r1.

The Schiit Lyr was an informative experience for me as well—proving to me that an amp with loads of power output doesn't necessarily translate to better sound. I thought the HeadAmp GS-X in balanced mode (2W @ 32 Ohms in balanced mode) sonically crushed the Schiit Lyr (6W @ 32 Ohms) and the r2 sounded significantly better on the GS-X than it did the Lyr. I wrote a review of the Schiit Lyr and it can be found here: http://www.head-fi.org/products/schiit-lyr/reviews/10264

vs AKG K701

LCD-2 w/ Moon Audio Silver Dragon XLR. K701 w/ SAA Equinox XLR. Amp: GS-X, in balanced mode.

The K701 was my original favorite headphone before the AD2K (below)—I owned it from April 2006 up to January of this year. Over that time my opinion of it grew increasingly negative though, and at my peak of negative opinion, I thought it was one of the most average headphones I still had. Not that it was terrible, but it just didn't do anything especially good, for any type of music. So the LCD-2 really had almost nothing to go up against for me here. In almost all cases, it eclipsed the K701, offering much more natural tonality on orchestral instruments with a more realistic soundstage, more powerful and filling bass & mid-range, more overall clarity, a faster impulse response, and more diffusion (forced "separation" between musical layers to spread them out from each other more). The only thing the K701 really brought to the table was its usual forward female vocals but even that I don't consider a good quality on every music type, or every female vocalist for that matter (as it tends to deepen upper-register voices, Alison Krauss being just one example).

vs Audio-Technica AD2000

LCD-2 w/ 2010 stock cable. AD2K w/ APS V3. Amp: GS-X, in unbalanced mode.

I've owned the AD2000 (AD2K for short) since June 2006 and it's become my #1 favorite headphone of all time. It started out as my headphone preference for electronica/trip-hop but is now also my preference for metal. One of the biggest reasons I like it as much as I do is due to its forward-moving, insistent sound—not a quality I've heard from any other headphones to date. It's hard to explain this forward-moving insistent quality—there's an extreme tightness to its sound overall, and on fast music it really keeps up the tempo (the musical term for "speed"). On fast music especially, it has the drive of something running really fast, like a runner leaping over endless hurdles without running out of breath. On complex, heavy bass lines, it can charge through like it's Superman smashing through boulders.

The LCD-2 had a lot going up against here simply because I've had the AD2K for years and have gotten so used to it, I couldn't imagine liking anything else for electronica/trip-hop & metal. So it was a huge surprise when I found that the LCD-2 did really well on those music types too—good enough that I'd absolutely recommend it for those music types. It could easily come in at a #2 favorite spot if I added one. For all intents & purposes, it approximately matched the AD2K's impulse response (audibly, that is), while adding an appreciated dose of heavy, deep, & physical bass. I've never thought the AD2K to really lack bass, but against the LCD-2, it sounded light-weight in comparison—but at the same time, the AD2K also had more treble quantity than the LCD-2, so it was somewhat of a trade-off. I wouldn't really say the LCD-2 is great for every sub-genre of electronica though—I thought it was best on breakbeat, trance, & techno (though a disclaimer here as I don't listen to every sub-genre).

I wouldn't say either of the headphones was better than the other but I still prefer the AD2K, at least for the music types mentioned. It has a forward/up-close, very assertive & direct sound that's addictive for metal in particular—its insistent quality makes the fast drumming in most of metal really stand out. I consider the LCD-2 more versatile though, as it handled other genres relatively well too, in addition to electronica/trip-hop & metal—classical & jazz specifically, which I don't listen to at all on the AD2K, because its mid-range makes acoustic instruments sound unnatural.

vs Grado HP1000/HP2

LCD-2 w/ Moon Audio Silver Dragon XLR. HP2 w/ APureSound V3 XLR. Amp: GS-X, in balanced mode.

Among all the headphones that I've heard to date, none have matched the HP1000's "living soul" x-factor, but the LCD-2 got the closest. This is an extremely unexplainable aspect of the HP1000 though—you have to hear it to understand it, and while the LCD-2 got very close, it still didn't deliver a true breath-of-life quality to orchestral music. The only other headphone I've heard to match or exceed the HP1000 in this aspect is the Stax OII MKI when amped by the HeadAmp BHSE.

It's tricky to sum up the LCD-2 vs HP1000, as there were various subtle differences. So although this glosses over the finer details, the HP2 could be described as a version of the LCD-2 with: more natural tonality on strings, brass, & woodwind instruments; more treble; a more solid, tighter bass component; more bombast when the recording calls for it; a substantially "richer" and deeper mid-range with a greater degree of texture; a smaller, compressed soundstage; and a more "integrated" type of imaging that made the orchestra sound less like disparate instrument sections and more like a unified body of sections all playing together. All of these aspects made the HP2 sound really good with jazz too, maybe even better than the LCD-2, as it provided more of an intimate setup with the jazz group, throwing you right in with the group (almost as if making you another group member to jam along with them), instead of sitting back from a distance, as the LCD-2 did instead.

vs HiFiMan HE-6

LCD-2 w/ ADZ-5 cable. Amp: B22.

The only thing I conclusively came away with after this comparison was a dislike and negative opinion of the HE-6. I found very few redeeming qualities to this headphone.

The one headphone the HE-6 reminded me most of was the Qualia 010 due to a loosely-similar treble response, but IMO the Qualia's treble is king and the HE-6 nowhere near matched it. The Qualia had the clearest, cleanest treble I've ever heard from headphones, with true razor precision, and the HE-6 simply lacked this quality. It failed to deliver clean high-speed zings, for example, or proper metallic sheens, on bluegrass-type music. The HE-6 did have a very wide, deep, & open soundstage, but that too is eclipsed by the Qualia. So as far as the HE-6 and Qualia go, I think anyone who actually likes the HE-6's treble or soundstage and wants even more would likely find a lot to like from the Qualia.

The HE-6 to me fell in the same trap as the Qualia did—I thought it fared best with bluegrass & ambient electronica due to the treble response and insufficient balance of mid-range & bass. Like the Qualia, the HE-6 was relatively thin in the mid-range (though probably not as thin as the Qualia) and did not have very much bass—though more bass than the Qualia. This made it completely unsuitable to me for every type of music that wasn't bluegrass or ambient electronica—for classical it made violins too screechy, for jazz it made brass instruments too weak-sounding & distant, for electronica it lacked bass power & force, and for rock & metal it was way too thin- and passive-sounding. It was just way too much of a weak-sounding headphone overall. The LCD-2 in contrast was a polar opposite with its full & heavy mid-range and bass, almost like a yin-yang relationship.

The HE-6 was a poor-fitting headphone as well on my small-ish head and I was never able to get a secure fit with it. At the lowest adjustment it still didn't fit my head and I had to put a hand towel under the headband to situate the earcups high enough to level with my ears.

vs JH Audio JH13

LCD-2 w/ ADZ-5 cable. Amp: GS-X, in unbalanced mode.

If there was one thing that this comparison proved, it's that the JH13 was a far easier headphone load, and that the GS-X under-drove the LCD-2 in unbalanced mode. But the GS-X is probably the only amp in the world that can drive both of them realistically, because it has unity gain for the JH13 and High gain + balanced output for the LCD-2. How did they compare, though? The frequency balance was very similar, but the JH13 had lower, more powerful bass. The biggest difference though was that the JH13 was more closed-in (not as much "air" within the soundstage) while the LCD-2 was more open-sounding with more "air" between instruments/layers in comparison.

Despite sounding more similar to each other than any other headphones should sound (not that they were identical-sounding though, just relatively close), I'd say the JH13 and LCD-2 serve separate functional purposes, considering one is an IEM and the other is a full-size headphone. The JH13 can sound really good directly out of a DAP, but it clearly takes high-power amplification to begin to get good sound out of the LCD-2.

vs Sennheiser HD800

LCD-2 w/ 2010 stock & ADZ-5 cable. Amp: B22.

Like the HE-6, the HD800 was somewhat of a treble-tilted headphone. It was better balanced throughout though, with more mid-range & bass quantity. The HD800 had a smaller soundstage than the HE-6, with less depth in particular that made it sound more closed-in. So for anyone who thinks the HD800's soundstage to be large, that should put the HE-6 in perspective, as I thought its soundstage was even bigger with substantially more depth and diffusion (resulting in more "air" throughout).

I thought the HD800 represented another yin-yang to the LCD-2—the HD800's treble tilt versus the LCD-2's mid-range tilt made for a complementary pairing. The HD800's large amount of soundstage depth & width was another contrast to the LCD-2, which was compressed in comparison. The LCD-2's soundstage was much more realistic to me though, despite sounding substantially more closed-in. Its "integrated" imaging was a good contrast from the diffuse imaging of the HD800.

vs Stax SR-507

LCD-2 w/ ADZ-5 cable, amped by B22. SR-507 amped by HeadAmp BHSE.

The SR-507 was more similar to the HE-6 and HD800 than LCD-2, so comparisons were done against those two headphones instead. And between the three, I was the most impressed by the SR-507. Qualities the three headphones had in common included relatively strong treble, high overall clarity throughout the spectrum, and appropriately diffuse imaging—layers were nicely spread out from each other. It could be said that the SR-507 was the most diffuse though, as its imaging had the most lateral span from left to right. The SR-507 had the least soundstage depth though, but I didn't think it was really a negative aspect—if anything, it made it sound less fake and more genuine with respect to the recording. It wasn't quite as good as either the HD800 or HE-6 in certain, minor aspects, but overall it had the most direct, up-close, & driving sound. The HE-6 and HD800 were passive- and detached- (HD800) or distant-sounding (HE-6) in comparison.

The SR-507 also had the fastest impulse response and hence the most precision—fast sequences of notes were the most cleanly separated on it. For bluegrass music it delivered the most pop and twang, qualities that were mostly absent on the HE-6 and HD800. I ended up liking the SR-507's treble the most of the three, primarily because of its precision—the HD800 was simply too slow & imprecise, and the HE-6 didn't accentuate note "attacks" very well—which included details like ringing and high-speed "zings".

None of these three headphones (HE-6, HD800, SR-507) were particularly bassy (and the HE-6 had the least amount of bass) but they did have some bass, just not enough that I'd call any of them satisfactory for music that rides on bass, like electronica/trip-hop. As expected, the LCD-2's higher level of bass was a good contrast against them. The LCD-2 had a substantially more full-bodied mid-range too.

vs Stax SR-007 (OII MKI)

LCD-2 w/ Moon Audio Silver Dragon XLR & ADZ-5 cable, amped by GS-X & B22 respectively. OII MKI amped by HeadAmp BHSE. Balanced XLR input on LCD-2/GS-X vs OII/BHSE comparison.

The LCD-2 had an uphill battle against the OII/BHSE, which remains my reference for all acoustic types of music—in the aspect of tonality & timbre, or whatever you want to call it. It's also my reference for soundstage accuracy, as the OII reacts to different recordings and grows or shrinks the soundstage appropriately.

I'll begin by stating that the LCD-2 in balanced mode on the GS-X made for a very fine-sounding LCD-2. But single-ended on the B22 was definitely better—the LCD-2 developed more bass power, more forward drive, and more fill to the bass/mid-range area for an overall slightly-thicker sound—i.e., even more of that presence factor as previously mentioned.

But as good as the LCD-2 was on the B22, and it was definitely good enough that I'd call the pairing an optimal one, it was still no match for the OII/BHSE. For classical music specifically, the LCD-2 completely lacked several qualities. Scale was missing—the sense of the orchestra sounding big with instruments coming at you from back to front. Dynamic range too—the various instrument sections all sounded at similar volume levels and nothing was truly quiet or truly loud. Volume intensity, accurate soundstage width/depth, true clarity, and proper diffusion weren't there either. The OII provided all of these and in spades at that. Julia Fischer's "Violin Concerto in E major, 2nd movement" from her Bach Concertos CD is probably the best example of the OII doing what it does best, especially in the intensity aspect, on her solo violin. The violin's intensity was completely lost on the LCD-2. It made the solo violin sound merely like a violin playing. Not that that there was anything wrong with this portrayal, but against the OII there was simply no peer—the OII made the violin "sing" with subtle rises & falls in intensity, with the orchestra coming to virtual life at the same time.

No, the LCD-2 could not compete with the OII. There were just too many areas in which the OII crushed it on sonic merit alone. But considering the relative prices between the LCD-2/B22 (approximately $2K) versus the OII/BHSE (~$6.5K), it's an acceptable compromise for those unwilling to pay for the high-end electrostatic system. Were there any aspects in which the LCD-2 was better than the OII? Oh there were a few—the LCD-2 was easily the more physical-, tactile-sounding headphone, with a more direct & assertive sound, and there was that heavy, deep bass too. In fact, one of my complaints against all of the electrostatic headphones that I've heard (which include the SR-X MKIII, SR-404LE, SR-507, and even the OII) is that they lack a sort of "directness" to the sound, but this was not an issue on the LCD-2.
 
SR-507 vs SR-007 (OII MKI)

Amp: HeadAmp BHSE.

A disclaimer here as I didn't formally compare these two headphones against each other to determine relative strengths & weaknesses, but I will say I found them different enough from each other to form a complementary pairing, similar in line with the AD2K & LCD-2 pairing.

In fact, I could take an analogy from the AD2K & LCD-2 pairing. The AD2K was brighter and more forward/up-front, while the LCD-2 was a shade darker with more mid-range & bass and a marginally more passive sound. In a loose sense then, the SR-507 to the OII paralleled the AD2K to the LCD-2. Not that the SR-507 was particularly bright or forward/up-front though, only relatively compared to the OII. But the SR-507's treble tilt & flatter imaging in relation to the OII made it more ideal for certain types of music to me, like bluegrass, trip-hop, rock, and metal, for example. And despite the flatter imaging, I still thought it was perfectly acceptable for ambient electronica, which tends to sound best on headphones with an imposed large soundstage. In fact, I thought the SR-507 ultimately beat out the HD800 which was my previous ambient-electronica headphone, primarily because of its combined clarity, treble, & precision.

Although some might call the SR-507 inferior to the OII, to me it was more of a different flavor that went well with music genres I don't typically use the OII for, as the OII is my preferred classical & jazz headphone. And in my system, I thought it went alongside particularly well with the OII, to comprise a strong electrostatic counterpart to my remaining two full-size dynamic headphones (AD2K & LCD-2).

Summary

Alex and Sankar at Audeze, whom I've met in person on a few occasions now, came up with a really good headphone in the LCD-2. They're good guys too and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend dealing with them.

The LCD-2 did very well in most aspects, all things considered. No single headphone can be all things to even one person IMO, which is why I own multiple headphones, but for me the LCD-2 nicely filled in a void—a (planar) dynamic headphone capable of being driven by the HeadAmp GS-X for classical, jazz, & rock, for times when I don't want to rotate in my electrostatic system. I consider it a bonus that it just happens to also do electronica/trip-hop and metal just as well too. The AD2K, SR-507, and OII MKI fill in for its weaknesses nicely—forward-moving drive & insistence in the case of the AD2K; more treble, diffusion, & clarity in the case of the SR-507; and dynamic range, intensity, & scale in the case of the OII MKI.

Once again I defer to the Notes file (linked at the top) for in-depth details of every headphone comparison that was staged. This review was just a scratch on the surface on the iceberg of notes that were written—so read the notes if you want the full compilation of everything that went down for the listening of this review.
 
4/25/11: relevant info & backstory on the OII/BHSE in my system: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/548875/review-audeze-lcd-2-hifiman-he-6-stax-sr-507-stax-oii-mki-bhse-et-al/60#post_7427838
 
Related Reading

- LCD-3 multi-way review: http://www.head-fi.org/products/audeze-lcd3-planar-magnetic-headphone/reviews/10298
- Audio-Technica AD2K 5-year re-review: http://www.head-fi.org/products/audio-technica-ath-ad2000/reviews/10293
- Beyerdynamic T1 review: http://www.head-fi.org/products/beyerdynamic-tesla-t1/reviews/10295
- Sennheiser HD800 review: http://www.head-fi.org/products/sennheiser-hd-800-headphones/reviews/10294
Pros: Made in America, attention to detail, great value especially when on sale.
Cons: Some comfort issues
Intro
 
My hifi journey started 2 years ago with a pair of Sennheiser hd598s and an Asus Xonar Essence Stx sound card. A modest entry, but I have spent a lot of money trying to recapture that wow factor. This was a headphone that I initially bought for gaming, but rekindled my passion for music. 
 
I was lucky enough to pickup a set of LCD 2's for black Friday prices, and received a rosewood upgrade for free. Many thanks to HeadAmp for this wonderful deal. I consider the LCD2's to be an incredible value for a number of reasons I hope to explain throughout the review. The attention to detail, and engineering is truly second to none. 
 
Note: I have the LCD2 revision 2. However for the remainder of this review I will refer to them as 'LCD2'. 
 
Packaging and Accessories
 
When I received my headphones I was struck by the attention to detail and how well thought out every aspect of the headphone is. Ill explain. I knew I was working with a well thought out product when I saw the pelican case, and leather care 'oil' that is made with beeswax. Two products I am very familiar with. Arguably the best leather conditioner out there, Obenaufs,  is based on beeswax. A good boot 'oil' will be waxy, but should melt as you apply it to leather from the heat of your hand. What can you say about Pelican cases  that has not already been said? The have one of the best reputations out there, and for good reason.  
 
The cable that comes with the headphone is of excellent quality. I appreciate its light weight, supple feel, and the quality connectors. I really like that the cable is flat. Compared to my Hifiman He 400s, the Audeze cable blows it away in every aspect. The goofy mini connectors HiFiman uses to connect the ear-cups are temperamental, and are prone to shorts. 
 
The 6.3mm to 3.5mm adapter is of good quality, and good design (grado style adapter). No problems here. 
 
Build Quality & Comfort
 
Note: Some of the aspects of the LCD2 I appreciate so much are a result of revisions based on community feedback. 
 
The build quality is superb. Every aspect of this headphone is well thought out, and even though some features have been added through the different revisions, Audeze deserves credit for the excellent build quality. Wood, metal, leather. This headphone exudes quality workmanship, and long lasting durability. The leather is real, no pleather on this puppy. The rosewood housings are beautiful. The leather ear-pads are uncommonly supple, and are best described as pillows. I really appreciate the angled connectors on the ear cups, this keeps the cable from bumping your shoulders. This sounds like a minor annoyance, but it is a nice feature. 
 
I would say the LCD2's are a reasonably comfortable headphone. The ear-pads are warm, but they breathe reasonably well. The stock ear-pads are incredibly soft, and supple. When you first put the headphones on you will notice three things; cabin pressure on your ears, the weight, and the clamping force.  You adjust quickly, but it could bother some. I have a large head, and have to completely extend the LCD2's to get a comfortable fit. This is an area the Sennehiser HD598s and AKGs K702.65AE's outshine the LCD2's. With those headphones you will forget you are wearing them after a while, I always know I have headphones on with the LCD2's. 
 
Setup
 
For purposes of this review, the LCD 2 was run off the following setup: CD quality music, Asus Xonar Essence STX Optical out, Schiit Bifrost, Schiit Asgard 2. This is a pretty good budget setup with great price vs performance. You are only limited by your budget far as amps and dacs go. The LCD 2 is incredibly efficient for a Planar Magnetic design, and sounds good out of most everything. If you are looking, for amp recommendations for the LCD2 check this thread
 
Sound Quality
 
I am going to keep this section brief as possible. Some of the best have already reviewed this headphone, and honestly I am a blundering newbie when it comes to reviews. 
 
That being said, the sound quality is better than anything I have heard before. I compared the LCD 2 to the following headphones: AKG K702 65th Anniversary, Sennheiser hd598s, Grado Sr80s, Hifiman He400s w/velour ear pads, and lastly my Denon D600s. 
 
Right from the start I was smitten by these headphones, and the effortless way they produce mid range vocals. It is delightfully rich and warm. I am struggling to relay just how great the mid range is. Expect several wow moments were the music just seems so real, and alive.   
 
The treble, to me, is perfect. A lot of people will disagree with this, but I am sensitive to treble, and even the slightest bump in treble causes fatigue. So for me personally I prefer treble that is present but slightly rolled off. My biggest complaint against the Akg k702.65AE, and the Hifiman He400s was how fatiguing the treble peaks are. 
 
I really enjoy how well the LCD2s handle bass. It is my humble opinion that the LCD2 has the type and quantity of bass all other cans should strive for. This is one area the HE400 keeps pace with the LCD 2s, although still slightly behind. The LCD 2 can rumble your brain if the music calls for it, but does not over extend into areas it should not be. Well extended, tight, controlled, and great impact when it is called for. Excellent. 
 
Imaging and transparency are pretty darned good with the LCD2's. I haven't sampled other heavyweights in this category, but suffice to say they are the best I have heard. One area the Akg k702.65AE's outshine the LCD2's is with sound staging and instrument separation. This is probably due to the LCD2's slightly rolled off treble. 
 
Value & Conclusion
 
How do you put value on a $1000 headphone? It seems very frivolous in today's economy to spend that type of money on personal audio. The good news is, you dont have to spend much money to bring the LCD2's to life. I have a decent budget setup, but obviously you can go wild with sources and amps. Which leads me to the main reason I think the LCD2's are an incredible value (especially with 20% off). This is one of the few headphones that cost around $1000 that can sound so good from a setup costing 1/5 as much. They sound excellent just from my Asus Xonar essence Stx. This makes the entry price a lot lower than some of the competition, and will enable you to enjoy them and upgrade gear a little at a time. Do they scale with better gear? Of course. Take the Sennheiser Hd800 for example. It is considered one of the worlds best headphones, but is known for being picky about source and amp, making the entry price a lot higher. 
 
This whole review I have been trying to drive home the attention to detail, and how much thought and engineering went into these headphones. For your $1000 you get one of the worlds best sounding headphone that is made right here in the good ole USA. The company does not nickle and dime you, and provides top of the line components and an excellent pelican case. I give these two big thumbs up.
AmberOzL
AmberOzL
Since when Made in America is an advantage? Sigh..
davisman
davisman
It is an advantage if you live in America. Im sure there are plenty of well made headphones you can buy locally in Belgium. 
Pros: Amazing overall sound, especially bass and mids
Cons: Cumbersome and heavy; weakest part is highs
The LCD-2s are an excellent headphone. I had the LCD-2s Rev. 1s and the Rev. 2s. In this review, I will be talking about the Rev 2s. I will strive for concision to save everyone a bunch of time. I will only comment on the sound.
 
Setup: Foobar 2000 (WASAPI Event) > Schiit Modi > Schiit Mjolnir (Balanced) > LCD-2.2s 
 
SPECIFICS ON SOUND
 
With no EQ
 
The LCD-2 Rev. 2s are certainly not as dark as the Rev 1s. If I could compare them to an IEM, they seem like the full-sized version of the Earsonics SM3. The reason why I think both the ES SM3s and the LCD-2s are so popular is because of the sound signature. It's very easy to love: the mids are bumped, some of the harsher parts of the higher frequencies have a little dip.
 
The LCD-2s mids are very forward and give a pretty thick sound. The lower mids are definitely boosted by just a bit, and you can see this in the response chart you receive with your headphones. This is very good for male vocals, but female vocals (which occupy the mid-mid-high range frequencies) might not seem that detailed and realistic. They sound too thick and heavy. The response chart also showed a tiny dip in the lowest frequencies as well, which disappointed me because I had expected the bass to be amazing on the LCD-2s. I was very underwhelmed at the beginning.
 
Overall, the sound was very good, but it was not excellent. It was a little slow and not that energetic up in the higher frequencies, the mids were a little too thick, and you wanted more from the bass. It was kind of boomy and weak. In total, it sounded a little unrefined. 
 
For comparison, given the very forward nature of the LCD-2s, you will not be able to listen to music while working with the LCD-2s on. With the Sennheiser HD650s, the sound is remarkably laid back, and the LCD-2s are nothing like that. They are very forward, present and in your face.
 
Soundstage seems to be medium in size. 
 
With EQ
 
The sound was really good (noticeably better than my HD650s in everything except maybe the lows, which I thought the HD650s did really well), but left me wanting a lot more. I couldn't believe this was all a top end headphone could offer. I knew that the Schiit Mjolnir was one of the best amps at any price you could get for the LCD-2s, but I still wasn't blown away.
 
I then started looking at the sound science forum. It seems that EQing can really change everything. Also, since Audeze is so good to include the response chart of your headphone, you are able to adjust it perfectly to get the most neutral presentation you can. Some might disagree, but as a lot of sound sciencers hold, it seems like people try to EQ as much as they can with hardware. Sure, I guess you should get a good match of amp (if there's truly a difference among amps) for your headphones (like my Mjolnir + LCD-2.2 combo), but unless you get really lucky and hit the margins in terms of hardware, you would probably be better off by barely EQing. The difference is tremendous. For instance, the Mjo is supposed to be really detailed and revealing, whereas  the LCD-2s are supposed to be thick and dark. You mix the two together, you get something neutral. However, it's not going to be perfect. That's where the EQ comes in. 
 
Returning to what I said earlier, the mids sounded a little too thick (which caused them to be a little muddy), and there was a bit of treble energy lacking. Also, the bass wasn't as good as I expected. This is where looking at the response chart and ear-tuning came in. I couldn't find a good parametric EQ (which would have been perfect because then I could more closely match the response graph), so I just used a graphic equalizer add-on for Foobar. Remember, when you EQ, always EQ down. The Mjolnir has enough power to keep the dBs high enough even with down EQing, so I was in luck.
 
The BEST results came from the following: 
 
1. Slight bass bump
2. Lower mids to mids reduction
3. Boost at upper mids (at around the 800 frequency range) *this made the most dramatic difference*
4. Slight reduction at the lower end of the high frequencies
5. Flat or even a very, very minor boost at the highest frequencies.
 
This made the LCD-2s sound so much better. The mids were too thick and muddy before. You suddenly reveal so much detail by pulling down the overly forward mids. The most dramatic change (breathtaking change, really) was when I boosted the sound at 800. 800 hit exactly where my female vocals were (a lot of music is sung by females), and the voice just came to life. It came to life because of the boost at 800 and the reduction of all the other mid-low frequencies that were muddying up the sound before. I was able to get a tiny bit more energy out of the highs by giving it a tiny boost.
 
The bass became so much better as well. With the mids and lows reduction with a little bump on the bass, the bass became very punchy and lost its bloatedness. The bass on the LCD-2s just whooped anything I heard on the HD650s. After EQ, I would say that the bass was just short of excellent, but very close. It was very powerful, however. 
 
This is all to say that I strongly suggest you EQ your LCD-2s. The sound improved about 15-20% for me.
 
GENERAL REMARKS ON SOUND
 
Soundstage was medium in size. Honestly, nothing special. After demoing the Sennheiser HD800s, the soundstage on the HD800s is absolutely massive, and the LCD-2s really cannot compare on this front.
 
There is also no subbass, so you won't get any good rumble out of these from what I noticed (really a music headphone; not for movies).
 
Leaning on a thicker sound. Does not at all have an airy presentation.
 
The headphone is moderately-high revealing. It is not as revealing as the HD800s, but it is still decently revealing (especially after EQ). Bad recordings were tolerable but not enjoyable. I really went hunting for the best mixed/mastered stuff because the LCD-2s played everything so transparently that I just saw all the flaws in the mix. However, if you hit a good mix, it was highly, highly impressive. For instance, Yo-Yo Ma's recent bluegrass collaboration sounds just excellent. Kind of Blue by Miles Davis from, I think, 1959 sounds phenomenal (best recording I know of, even on my HD650s). Each string hit was very clear and had impact. The sax just sounded so intimate and realistic; it was very captivating. 
 
The weakest part of the LCD-2 signature is the highs. I know the HD800s sound a little hot up there, but even after a short demo at a fellow HeadFiers house, I could really tell the difference between the HD800 articulation of the highs vs. the LCD-2s. This is to say that if the LCD-2s could somehow steal the HD800s upper end and one could EQ it down a bit, you would probably have one of the best headphones ever. Especially if you were able to endow the LCD-2s with the HD800 soundstage.
 
That, my friends, would be audio nirvana.
 
Comfort: 2.5/5 (too heavy)
With EQ:
Bass: 4/5
Lows: 4.5/5
Mids: 5/5
Highs: 3.5/5
Soundstage: 3/5
Price:performance: 4/5  (Sure, it's not a cheap headphone, but you can put your hands on a LCD-2.2 for $995 direct from the manufacturer... Relatively speaking, it's inexpensive. Especially when compared to the mind-boggling price of the HD800s, you should be happy that you're getting an LCD-2.2 for what would buy you a HD700 *which no one really likes on HeadFi* if you stuck to Senns. However, from the HD650s to the LCD-2.2s, I could feel the diminishing returns on overall sonic capabilities; it was more a difference in sound signature, and about a 20% increase in technical capacity.)
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LoveKnight
LoveKnight
The HD650 is about 80% of LCD-2 rev2, I get it. This comparison is nearly the same as a review that I read which included HD650, LCD-2 rev 2, HD800 and Stax Lamda SR-407.
 
Thanks and this is a nice review. Keep going man.
Pros: Great sound signature, lovely wooden build
Cons: Heavy, expensive
View attachment
 
I own a bamboo LCD-2.2. I bought them second hand for approximately 800 Australian dollars. 
 
These are the best headphones I have ever heard. The sound signature is so appealing to me they might have my perfect sound signature. Big, powerful, natural and textured bass when the recording calls for it. Smooth mids. And a slightly rolled off high, which is exactly what I want. I'm young and I really don't appreciate 'bright' highs, they fatigue me and give me a headache. High level of clarity.
 
Cominig from the Hifiman HE-40 they are better. However, they are of course a clear step up in price too. The build seems good, hopefully they end up being durable. I get a sense of handcrafted with them, probably due to the leather and wood. However, I do not notice the poor in craftsmanship that sometimes accompanies hand built.
 
Comfort is only fair. They ARE heavy. A bit heavier than the Hifimans. The clamp is at the level I like. Sometimes I get a bit of pain on top of my head, maybe this could be improved with a revision of the headband. I'm willing to put up with fair comfort for amazing sound though.
EDIT: They were too uncomfortable and gave me too many headaches. Sold them.
Pros: Midrange
Cons: weight, bass -see below, pace, realness
This review is of the first model, prior to the revision and 'solving' of all its problems. Whatever, perhaps the rev2 is indeed a vastly improved item.....regardless these are a nice sounding headphone and of the half dozen or so orthos I've heard over the years, are the 'best'. The biggest problem I have with this sound is actually the low end, which puts me as the odd man out since everyone else names this as one of the phone's star qualities, and technically it is, it's very tight, full, quick etc..... I find it a little too much of a good thing and distracting. The problem is that the nuance and timbre is not as accurate a good dynamic driver phone and if you like to 'reach in' to hear the bass and don't want it constantly pulsating it's way into your nervous system, you may also be distracted. It's a trait inherent with the planar technology imo. But for those who listen to modern and/or digital music, this is a non-issue, just go out and fork over your cash, these are about as good as you will get in terms of technicalities and performance, but for those who value the more subtler aspects of music such as pace, natural dynamics and open air instrumentation, I find the lcd lacking a bit when compared to a good dynamic driver. The weight and fit is another issue altogether and if you like to move around, bebop and shift'em as john lee hooker says, while listening to your music, you may find the weight of these distracting. These are for laying back in your easy chair and immersing yourself in the sound like a good coma patient. I may request these for my deathbed listening sessions in the event I retain the faculties and financial wherewithal at such a time but for now i'll continue listening and dancing to my record collection with a dynamic driver that is 'less able', 'distorted' and technically inferior.....
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