Audeze LCD2 Planar Magnetic Headphones

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  1. WarriorAnt
    "LCD-2 Revision 2"
    Here are my impressions of the LCD-2 r.2   I will refer to the latest LCD-2 Revision2 as r.2 from this point on.


    The r.2 has a thinner newly developed faster diaphragm and this new development has impacted the LCD in very beneficial ways in every aspect of its performance.  There is now more upper frequency extension than previous, this does not appear to be an increase or boost in treble amplitude but more an increase in the range of the r.2 itself in terms of portrayal and response.  Tonal characteristics of the r.2 are the same but the tonal range has been extended into the upper frequencies.  This upper frequency extension means more noticeability in that area and the key here is not an increase in treble amplitude, not an infringement of treble upon the sonic characteristic of the LCD as many have feared and speculated, but an increase in resolution and clarity from the new driver.  The frequency extension does not translate into a more forward sonic character, it hasn't created glare, edginess, artificial brightness, or a hardness to the delivery. There is more air now to this region and overall detail.  This detail does not create any hardness or bring to the r.2 an analytical nature. Audeze has described the upper range as more pronounced but I believe they have used the wrong term to describe what has happened in this region.  "More pronounced" can be misconstrued perhaps as forward or aggressive and this is not the case at all.  The upper range is simply more defined now with more access to inner detail. A veil has been lifted and there is more focus and speed to the detail, all of this seems natural and not analytical or cold. 


    Sonic elements in the upper region are approached with more realism than before. Cymbals, chimes, cowbells, tambourines, are now better represented and reproduced. They have a more natural and metallic shimmer with more air.    The shimmer has quicker speed now and a more effortless and natural deliverance, a more realistic metallic timbre which is fast and delicate as it decays. They are simply more convincing and have more micro dynamics and frequency extension.


    The r.2 is simply quicker overall.  There is more resolution of low level detail, micro dynamics, and more clarity to the detail which is more accessible and easier to discern giving the r.2 a more effortless sense of delivery. 


     This refinement in detail, clarity, micro dynamics, and overall resolution provides the r.2 with better focus, imaging and an improved soundstage.  The soundstage is more dimensional with more apparent depth from front to back and is more layered in it's defining presentation. This improvement comes from the cues derived from the speed of the new drivers. That extra resolution to the low level detail and micro dynamic detail gives instruments more of a physical embodiment, a touch more air around them and a touch more dimensional realism.  These cues allow for that ever small amount of detail to be separated in the soundfield and it adds to the overall realism.  A small triangle in the back of the mix when struck now seems to have more space and air around it and the extra bit of low level detail gives the instrument more of a physical embodiment and location in the space of the soundfield. 


    Overall the soundstage has improved in dimensionality and seems wider. Not wider in terms of more seemingly extended distance in physical separation of instruments than before but that there no longer seems to be a constriction at the edges as there once was. You don't get that sense that there is something restricting  the edge of the soundstage, truncating it and reflecting it back closing it in. Now the soundstage seems to gently fall away at the edges leaving more of an impression that there is a natural unconstrained space for the instruments and music to sit within rather than be walled in by some sort of containment.   Before this restraint at the edges was a distraction but now with the gentle release at the edges of the soundstage the listener is free to enjoy the soundstage in a more natural presentation.  There is also an improved height to the soundstage as well. 


    Midrange tonality remains the same but the added resolution has improved its definition and dimensionality.  Bass is a bit deeper and seems to have more extension to its depth than obtrusive amplitude. The entire spectrum seems to have benefited from a little more dynamic low level detail and resolution which adds an extra small amount of realism to the surface of a drum being hit with the drumstick, the pluck of a guitar string, or a cymbal being struck.  Instruments are just a bit more palpable where it counts.  


    I am enjoying the new leather headband. I do not notice its presence at all while listening and I don't think it adds more weight to the LCD.  The latest LCD comes with the drivers secured with a plastic tie wrap so be forewarned to remove it before you try to adjust the height of the cans.  I didn't see them at first and couldn't figure out for a minute why they would not adjust.  


    dvidos likes this.
  2. Windsor
    "Audez'e LCD-2 - world class headphones"
    Pros - Wonderfully realistic sound and timbre, non-fatiguing.
    Cons - Possibly the price, some may not enjoy the dark sound signature
    I recently received a brand new loaner pair of the Audez'e LCD-2, the version with the 'new' pads but not the updated drivers). Straight out of the box, music sounded great with the LCD-2, and out of curiosity I compared them with the Sennheiser HD 650. Whilst the LCD-2 seemed technically superior, my gut feeling was that they weren’t worth the $950 more to upgrade from the HD 650...

    But fast forward a few hours to nearer the end of my day, and I’m listening to music files (320 kbps and Apple Lossless audio files) sent to the LCD-2 via iTunes to the Lavry DA 10 DAC/Amp and having a wonderful time. [​IMG]


    Overall, to me the LCD-2 are absolutely fantastic headphones, the most technically adept I've yet heard. Here are some specifics about them, the way I see it. 


    Packaging, looks, and physical feel of the LCD-2


    The packaging for the LCD-2 is very impressive. The wooden box is beautifully shiny and smells very new and quite expensive, though I felt the box smell could be less pungent. But I guess that way the smell will last for a long time. From memory it doesn’t seem to be as refined as the Sony R10 packaging, but the LCD-2 packing is still very elegant. It was fun to unravel the cling-film that covered the pads of the brand new headphone; doing so also gave me a sense of the custom-manufactured nature and care put into creating the LCD-2.





    The LCD-2 are amongst the heaviest headphones I’ve worn and I’m definitely aware that they’re on my head. But I find that attribute of them to be grounding, as I enjoy being present in this moment, here and now in my body. At this time of writing I’ve had the LCD-2 on for over 2 hours, and though I’m aware of them on my head - probably because I’m thinking about them - wearing them is quite a pleasant sensation.


    The stock LCD-2 cable is stiffer than the stock Sennheiser HD 6x0 series cables, and I sometimes feel the stiffness of the LCD-2 cable if I move, but that adds to the LCD-2 gearing me towards physical grounding, which is probably important to those who want to ably stay in the present moment. That said, it's easy to become immersed in music with the LCD-2. The weight of the LCD-2 is probably enough grounding for me when listening though, so I’d probably prefer another more flexible cable, but the stock cable is most satisfactory.


    Aesthetically, the LCD-2 are larger headphones than I thought they might have been from when I looked at pictures of them online. On me they seem to look like they mean business, and other than I just did a few seconds ago, I probably won’t look in the mirror again to check how they look on me (well maybe I will :wink:, but the important thing to me is that I'm sitting here now wearing the LCD-2 and my cheeks are gently tingling from the smiling and joy I’m experiencing. [​IMG]


    Clarity, timbre, and sound signature


    The LCD-2 excellently delineate musical lines. Their rhythmic articulation and impact is the best I’ve heard from any headphone so far – great PRaT, as we say – which has led to me hearing many details with them that I’ve never heard before in recordings I’ve listened to for years. The LCD-2 have also revealed distortion on recordings more clearly than I’ve yet heard, but not unpleasantly so, just in a way that often makes me think, ‘oh, interesting – so that’s how that recording actually sounds…’ [​IMG]


    The timbre they reveal sounds and feels very natural to me. When I'm listening to a live performance recording with the LCD-2 and aware that I’m hearing music with headphones, the sound of the instruments is still very realistic, like a smaller version of my favourite musicians playing inside my head. [​IMG]




    On a related side-note, I have played the drum set for many years and enjoy hearing a well-tuned and played drum set acoustically. When listening to recordings of drums on headphones, I’ve always been disappointed by the sound and feel of drums, but the LCD-2 has really changed that for me. Right now as I write this, I am experiencing the most realistic experience I've yet had of hearing live drums via headphones, and for that I am very grateful. Thank you Audez’e; truly well done!


    Listening to some acoustic jazz, such as ‘So What’ from Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue album, the LCD-2 come across as ever-so-slightly bassier than natural, so a more neutral/bass-light headphone could be preferable for listening to acoustic music. Whilst I have enjoyed the neutral frequency balance of the Sennheiser HD 600 when listening to acoustic/jazz recordings, I’ve never experienced recordings of those styles as viscerally as I have with the LCD-2, and to do so in a way that every note is clearly defined, even on a musically dense recording e.g. one of Miles Davis’ really large ensembles, is an astonishing experience for me.

    The soundstage of the LCD-2 is definitely narrower than the HD 650, which has a very wide soundstage. But the LCD-2 soundstage is very enjoyable to me.


    Bass, mids, and treble


    The bass reproduction of the LCD-2 is of great quality. Everything happening in the bass region is very clear, and it’s very visceral. As I said, I have found  the LCD-2 ever-so-slightly bassier than natural, but for Electronic music, such as Squarepusher’s ‘Do You Know Squarepusher,’ the sound is superlative and the lower end of the sonic spectrum sounds very satisfying. The same seems to be true for rock recordings, too. It feels real. Wow!


    The mids are very clear and sound quite natural to me, my 'natural' being based on my experience of hearing live music and my experience as a performing musician (hundreds of gigs performed). In response to a post I read on these forums, I tried boosting the LCD-2 mids at around 3 + 4 K by almost 3 dB, and definitely find that makes them more forward and engaging sounding. 'Un-boosted,' I can see why they can be described as lacking in ‘bite,’ but I wouldn’t call the LCD-2 hollow-sounding. I'm finding it very enjoyably un-fatiguing, and that for me is a real plus point.


    I’ve read about the LCD-2 being described having a dark sound signature, which I would agree with, and though they are far from (from memory) the treble extension and airiness of both the Sennheiser HD800 and Beyerdynamic T1, both of which I found very fatiguing after a short while of listening, the LCD-2 extend nicely and sufficiently in the treble for me. Though I could want them to extend further, I can clearly hear quite ample treble detail in a way that is non-fatiguing as they are. I like that muchly, as I want my hearing to remain healthy.


    In closing


    Regardless any of the technicalites and subtleties I’ve described, I’ve been listening to music with the LCD-2 constantly whilst typing these notes, which I guess have morphed into a review, and frequently laughing with enjoyment at the wonderful musical experience I’ve been having and still am.


    The LCD-2 are a lot of fun, and I definitely recommend them to anyone who wants to further their capacity to experience the joy that can be found when listening to music. [​IMG]



    Malfunkt likes this.
  3. Yoga
    There are loads of reviews for these great cans, so I'll keep this short. Fantastic.
    What you've read about them is true, they're that good :¬)
  4. johnjohnbarca
    "Audez'e LCD-2"
    Nice pair of cans.
    MarcadoStalker7 likes this.
  5. othrondir
    "The finest headphones I've heard"
    Pros - Incredibly detailed yet smooth sound
    Cons - hilariously massive, reveals mixing flaws in some of my favorite music
    I visited 32 ohm audio in portland specifically to audition all of my candidate cans: the 800s, 650s, the LCD-2s and the T1s. I didn't get to listen to T1s, I did get to listen to T5s.
    I'm using one of the early 32ohm cables for the LCD-2s. In order of preference:
    LCD-2s: bought them. Incredible. Unbelievable detail but balanced across the range. Nothing is over (or under) represented. Normally sibilant voices (ssssssssss) sound great in these cans. The 800s accentuate sibilant voices unpleasantly. Not so with these. Worst thing I can say about them is they're a bit heavy and the foam (FOAM?) on the headband is stupid. It will wear away.
    650s: damn good headphone for the money. If the LCD2s didn't exist I would have bought these.
    T1s: meh. music didn't feel as pushed up into the highs like the 800s but these just didn't have any magic. Basically mediocre 800s.

    800s: horrible treble. music sounded as if it had been pushed up into the treble range. by far the most comfortable I tried because they weighed next to nothing and had huge ear cups. I preferred the sound of the 650s
    Bought a musicbox because I wanted to be able to drive speakers with the same amp and I wanted all the inputs including iCrap. That, and it sounded wonderful with these.
    The combination of the musicbox and the LCD-2s is ideal, and worth every penny.
  6. tupac0306
    "Absolutely my favourite"
    Pros - Warm sound, But with super crystal sound, Fantastic bass, Cool design, smooth mid and treble.
    Cons - lower treble can be a bit more pronounced. Upper treble can be a bit dry at times.
    I am gonna make it short. This is it! This is the headphone for me from trying out lots of different ones.
    LCD 2 sounds really warm with my WA 6 SE. But that doesn't mean the sound is muffled. The mid and treble is super clear without going too bright!.And it sounds so real. Especially the instruments. I am a basshead and I have to say this headphone has the best bass I ever heard. I compared it with D5000/7000 and Ed 8 which are all fantastic in the bass department. Ed 8 and D7000 have very very good bass that are well controlled, D5000's one is a lil bit boomy, uncontrolled. The LCD 2 has the deepest bass. It goes way down. The bass depth is just incredible. And it has reasonable soundstage which I found is as good as D7000. 
    Btw, although it's a bit heavy, But I never found it uncomfortable. I can wear it 2 - 3 hours with no problem.
    If you like your music to sound real, I suggest this is the one for you. Especially good for pop and hip hop. Actually it's capable at doing any genre from what I tried. There is no doubt why this is headphone is ranking number one here! It really bring the music to real life for you! 
    And IMO, no headphones ~$1000 price range can compete with LCD 2.
  7. GeirTj
    "Are the LCD-2's really that good? Yes they are (Errata)."
    Pros - Cool design
    Cons - Muffled, closed sound with all type of low- and high- quality headamps
    Errata 28.April 2012:
    I have to correct my initial and mainly negative review of my LCD-2. Due to purchase of an Auralic Taurus headamp for balanced drive, I discovered that the cabling (Moon Audio Silver Dragon) must have been wired wrongly. Redoing the whole termination to a balanced (4-pin) XLR contact did the trick and I have to sheepishly follow the herd of Audeze'ers :p

    Running the new cabling via another adapter to a regular (non-balanced) 1/4" jack now also sound splendid.
    But I can truly recommend the Auralic headamp in balanced mode.

    Way too muffled and closed-in sound for my preference.

    Yes, they may be a bit more than little warm which can be acceptable but I find them to have a lack of treble extension and transparency which robs the music for realism. I feel too much that I'm listenening to headphones.

    My signal sources is a Weiss DAC which does not sound tubey or muted via mye amp and speakers. My other favourite source is a TW Acustic Raven turntable with the slightly romantic Benz LP catridge feeding a Cary PH 302 RiAA but again this source sounds transparent enough through the amp and speakers.

    I use various head amps; Burson HA160, Trafomatic Head One, Weiss DAC202 headphone out, Musical. Fidelity X-Can V3 without any success or synergy. Cabling is Dragon Silver. At least the transistor amps should not be suspected for obscuring details. Neither of these amps obscure details with my Sennheiser HD800.

    I love my Sennheiser HD800 (with Cardas cabling) so much more that using the LCD-2 is just an exercise to see if these phones will improve over time. Even my chepo Grado RS60i sounds more engaging than the Audeze's.

    Bought the Audeze's due to all the positive reviews but my taste must differ significantly from the norm.
    If you have the option, I suggest you listen to them prior to buying.
  8. Fatmangolf
    "Audez'e LCD-2 review"
    Pros - Great sound and distinctive looks
    Cons - Top quality is expensive
    These were recommended by local dealer HifiSound who had just received his first order of LCD-2's. I compared them to Grado RS1 and other headphones in my price range in the UK.
    Love the deep and punchy bass, it is full but tight with no sign of the one note bass in other phones.
    The midrange and treble are very clear and sound natural. Strings, percussion, guitars and vocals are all clear.
    They are heavy but quite comfortable for me. I could and do listen for ages because the sound is really relaxing and musical.
    ElMarcado likes this.
  9. Wedge
    "My favorite headphones"
    Pros - Planar Magnetics for your ears! Wonderful natural sound!
    Cons - Adjusment Block
    I just thought that I would add to the review list.  I really like these headphones a lot.  They are my favorite of the headphones I own or have heard so far.  Particularly I love the natural sound that they give, this is the best that I have heard from a headphone yet.  When paired with a slightly lush, and dynamic amp this provides me optimal listening pleasure.  Others have written up more thorough reviews so I'll keep mine short and sweet, I love these headphones and I would recommend them to anyone who doesn't want to own a bright phone.
  10. Pale Rider
    "Excellent planar headphones"
    Pros - Natural sound, excellent transients, smooth treble, no sibilance. Midrange unbelievable
    Cons - Somewhat soft in detail, bass not as tightly controlled as Senn 800s.
    This is purely preliminary, as I have owned the LCD-2s for only a few days, and I am not yet running them on my rig of choice.
    I am using a 2008 Mac mini running OS X 10.6.7 for playback. Primary playback is through Fidelia, with some secondary listening on Pure Music. All files are lossless ALAC or uncompressed AIFF files. Most files are iTrax 96/24, Linn 192/24, HD Tracks hi-res, or DVD-Audio tracks [specific discs listened to more than once noted below]. Signal out is USB into an Audiophileo Model 1, into a PS Audio DL III DAC w/ Cullen IV Mods, running balanced into an RSA Apache. Plenty of quality cable, too, 
    My LCD-2s have the stock cable. That may change.
    Music [all rips at full available resolution]:
    Riccardo Muti/CSO Verdi Requiem [HD Tracks]
    Robert Shaw/ASO Verdi Requiem [Telarc]
    Cantate Domino [HD Tracks]
    Accardo/Orchestra da Camera Italiana Vivaldi Four Seasons [HD Tracks]
    Jackson Browne Running on Empty [DVD-A]
    Claire Martin Witchcraft [Linn 192/24]
    Carol Kidd Tell Me Once Again [Linn 192/24]
    Diana Krall Look of Love [DVD-A]
    T. Rex Electric Warrior [DVD-A]
    Fleetwood Mac Rumours [DVD-A]
    Eagles Hotel California [DVD-A]
    Porcupine Tree Fear of a Blank Planet [DVD-A]
    AIX All Star Band Moonlight Acoustica
    AIX All Star Band Goldberg Acoustica
    Jazz Side of the Moon [HD Tracks]
    My headphones are of the 2011 "final" vintage. They are actually quite comfortable, though heavier than other cans I own. They appear to be well made, quite solid, and the aesthetics are very pleasing. Others who own them have already described the very "plush" presentation in which these arrive. The wooden box, though not heavy, is very attractive. The inclusion of a frequency response graph is a nice touch. Much thought seems to have gone into making the purchaser very pleased to have waited for these hand-built headphones. They have a wonderful "new material" smell.
    On the head, I have not found the LCD-2s uncomfortable from a pressure, weight, or temperature perspective. As a result of some medical issues three years ago, I lost a fair bit of muscle tissue in my neck, but I still find the LCD-2s comfortable to wear for several hours at a time. The Senns are more comfortable, to be sure.
    At first listen, my rig appears to have plenty of power and headroom for the LCD-2s. I say "appears," because as noted in a couple of my posts in the forums, I am getting something that sounds like clipping, crackling, or membrane breakup on the drum thwacks in the Dies Irae of Verdi's Requiem on the Robert Shaw Telarc recording. The Riccardo Muti recording does not exhibit this behavior, but some Telarc recordings are renowned for their bass transients and dynamic range. Alex Rosson at Audez'e is trying out the same track. It is possible the problem lies upstream, but if so, it is not audible on any other headphone [Sennheiser 800, Darth Beyer Terminator IV, Jerry Harvey JH13 Pro]. I plan to run the LCD-2s on a Decware Taboo amp, which outputs 6 watts per. It has not yet arrived.
    Most of my listening reference comparisons will be to the Sennheiser 800s that I run balanced on the same rig, with some reference to the JH-13s, which I still find amazing..
    The soundstage of the LCD-2s is not as wide as the Senns, nor as tall, but it may be deeper. When I sketch out the Senn soundstage, as compared to the LCD-2, it is stretched wider and taller, but not as deeply three-dimensional. This means that on large scale orchestral works, such as the Verdi Requiem, the LCD-2 feels a bit more constricted, though instruments sound correctly placed. On more intimate recordings, like the jazz and vocals, those differences are less obvious.
    The Senns appear to have more air around treble note instruments like flute and high-hat, less discernibly so on piano and violin. I am not at all sure it is a natural sound, though, as noted below.
    The LCD-2s are gorgeous with female vocals. Carol Kidd just has to be heard to be believed. My assistant is a Brit, for whom Carol Kidd and Claire Martin are icons. When she listed to Kidd, she literally cried hearing Moon River.
    I felt the same way listening to Muti & the CSO's rendition of Verdi's Requiem. The cadence of this Requiem is quite a bit different from the Shaw recording, and in some spots, those differences are breathtaking. The LCD-2s bring a lushness to the massed choral works. I didn't do any extensive listening to Beethoven's 9th, but I am going to. I expect the pleasure to be similar. The combination of richness in the human voice, whether solo or massed, along with the front-to-back depth of the LCD-2s delivers an immersed quality to these works. Similarly with strings.
    I am very much undecided on the highs. As you read this, you should know I am in my mid-50s, and all the tests indicate my hearing is not what it used to be. Those same medical issues I mentioned above left me with tinnitus as well, so I have to hear "past" that. Just the same, the Senns sound more airy than the LCD-2s. No shock there given what everyone else has written. But I do not find the LCD-2s dark at all. They simply sound more natural to me. On the Vivaldi Four Seasons, the upper strings do not sound "flattened" or "compressed," as they can with inadequate high frequency extension. Similarly with the air of a live performance [Running on Empty] or Mick Fleetwood's cymbal work. The LCD-2s sound completely natural, and only sound "un-airy" if I listen again after the Senns. I believe that the open-ness of the Senns, plus their very exacting detail, might create an artificial sense of air and high frequency extension.
    [FWIW, although I did my best to level set the two headphones, I will be the first to admit that it is unlikely they were truly level.]
    As noted above, something in my system is producing a problem with the Telarc Verdi recording, but only on the LCD-2s.  I am not faulting the LCD-2s, because I don't know enough yet what the source might be. I have a friend waiting for his to arrive; we can compare his set. And I have another amp on the way as well. I also plan to test the LCD-2s on CD playback of the original with my Oppo BDP-95 to see if any DAC or file issues are at work.
    Having said that, I found the LCD-2s brought forth all the bass I could ask for. I never really thought the Senns were light in bass until now. And it's not muddy, floppy pants bass. It's the real deal. Not the somewhat exaggerated bass of my Terminators, either. There are some amazing lower register notes on both Requiem recordings and the Cantate Domino [you really ought to hear that recent re-release from HD Tracks]. Bass transients attack and decay very timely, lending a sense of precision to the bass. On fun stuff like Running on Empty, bass notes are delivered with significant authority.
    It's early, but it's not hard to imagine that I will get another set of these, if the initial impressions hold up. I simply won't want to have to choose where to have them.