Amp recommendations for Audeze LCD-2
Aug 4, 2015 at 4:54 AM Post #8,086 of 9,180

psgarcha92

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My bad, i should have researched before saying that NFB 15 doesnt have Optical in.
Would you please be kind enough to describe the differences between SE and Balanced configurations in your setup? In what way does the sound change else than being cleaner?
 
Regards
 
Aug 4, 2015 at 5:09 AM Post #8,087 of 9,180

x RELIC x

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The primary effect of balanced is more power. More power with the Audeze headphones results in more dynamic range. The lyr has more than enough power already so for you power is not a requirement from balanced output.

This is from Audeze regarding amp requirements for the LCD-2:

"When deciding what amp to buy It is very subjective and opinions vary a lot. Here are some thoughts on selecting a good amplifiers
for LCD-2. We have tested the LCD-2 with quite a number of studios and recording engineers.

The LCD-2 has an impedance of 50 ohms, which is purely resistive and is almost perfectly flat across the entire frequency range.http://www.audeze.com/2009/12/waterfall-plots-low-frequency-extensi...

Lets us say you listen to symphony-orchestra. This type of music can have dynamic range of 60 dB. i.e if silence (room noise) is at 60 dB (LCD-2 is pen type headphone design with almost no attenuation of ambient noise) and the maximum occasional peak needs to be 120 dB. I am just giving an example here, but depending upon the type of music and the recording this varies. 120 dB is very loud - almost Rock Concert level close to the speaker.

For the LCD-2, if you put 1 mw of power, you get about 90dB output. For this example, let us assume 90dB is the level you listen normally. To reproduce the occasional 120 dB peak without clipping on the LCD-2, the amplifier would have to output 1000 times more power than 1mw, i.e 1 W.

So, an amplifier that can output 1w is the bare minimum. Amplifiers will have distortion metrics at different wattage levels. If an amp can output maximum 1w it would be barely sufficient and might have a lot of distortion at full output.

So I would suggest an Amp that would at least be able to provide a couple of watts of output without any clipping. Damping in amplifiers is not a big problem for LCD-2 since the impedance doesn't vary."



For noise rejection it helps with the clarity of the signal which helps the sense of imaging and placement of instruments and sense of soundstage. The difference from SE to balanced can be subtle in this regard though, however I enjoy it over single ended. When volume matched the differences between balanced and SE output aren't as large as one may think if there is enough power in both applications.
 
Aug 4, 2015 at 5:27 AM Post #8,088 of 9,180

BassDigger

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Full size expensive LCD headphones deserves desktop tube amp with output transformers.

 
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 One day, I'll have such an amp!!! 
 
Aug 4, 2015 at 5:33 AM Post #8,089 of 9,180

marcan

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According to my experience with my Bryston BHA-1 the balanced output is really better.
Level matching is trivial on the brysto because you have hi/low gain of exactly 6db which is the gain you have with the balanced output. So for me balanced is really better in all the department:. Definition, separation, soundstage, bass treble and mainly authority.
LCD 2.2 really shine with balanced output and on my setup its really more than subtle.
I think that an important part of the virtue comes from the push/pull nature of the balanced amplification.
 
Aug 4, 2015 at 5:48 AM Post #8,090 of 9,180

BassDigger

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I really don't know about the Bryston, but some amps, with both balanced and unbalanced connections, are very biased towards the balanced output, in their design. (I've realised that i may be repeating someone else. But I haven't the time to read this entire thread. Sorry.) Some balanced amps are just half an amp, when you use their unbalanced connection.
 
It's quite a controversial topic; some learned people say that a balanced design is actually worse than a proper unbalanced design; it supposedly doubles an amplifier's bad attributes, whilst gaining little advantage.
 
I guess you've just got to go with what sounds best (after finding some good advice, first!).
 
Has anybody put together a list of LCD2 amplifier top recommendations, anywhere?
 
Aug 4, 2015 at 6:01 AM Post #8,091 of 9,180

x RELIC x

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According to my experience with my Bryston BHA-1 the balanced output is really better.
Level matching is trivial on the brysto because you have hi/low gain of exactly 6db which is the gain you have with the balanced output. So for me balanced is really better in all the department:. Definition, separation, soundstage, bass treble and mainly authority.
LCD 2.2 really shine with balanced output and on my setup its really more than subtle.
I think that an important part of the virtue comes from the push/pull nature of the balanced amplification.


I'd never say level matching is trivial but regardless, some amps will show a larger difference than others switching between balanced and SE. It all depends on the topology. If the SE output is derived from the balanced path then the differences will seem less than having SE on a separate path (I don't know how the Bryston implements their SE). If the SE path has enough juice to drive the required load then it will sound very close. Typically a SE amp output doesn't have the juice so it's very noticble.

If the SE (of the lyr) and balanced (of another amp) have comparable power output the difference is minimal when volume matched. Typically more power from a balanced output will drive the LCD-2 with better authority than a weaker SE output. But the lyr is already more than powerful enough to take control of the drivers so the benefits of common ground noise rejection really becomes the focus. In my experience it isn't huge, but I do prefer the result. Of course your experiences may be different.
 
Aug 4, 2015 at 8:08 AM Post #8,092 of 9,180

Lohb

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Has anybody put together a list of LCD2 amplifier top recommendations, anywhere?

http://www.head-fi.org/t/716576/head-fis-favourite-amp-for-the-audeze-lcd-2-200-1000-poll
 
Aug 4, 2015 at 9:05 AM Post #8,093 of 9,180

marcan

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I'd never say level matching is trivial but regardless, some amps will show a larger difference than others switching between balanced and SE. It all depends on the topology. If the SE output is derived from the balanced path then the differences will seem less than having SE on a separate path (I don't know how the Bryston implements their SE). If the SE path has enough juice to drive the required load then it will sound very close. Typically a SE amp output doesn't have the juice so it's very noticble.

If the SE (of the lyr) and balanced (of another amp) have comparable power output the difference is minimal when volume matched. Typically more power from a balanced output will drive the LCD-2 with better authority than a weaker SE output. But the lyr is already more than powerful enough to take control of the drivers so the benefits of common ground noise rejection really becomes the focus. In my experience it isn't huge, but I do prefer the result. Of course your experiences may be different.

I just said that level matching is trivial on the brysto because the balanced output double the power and passing from high to low gain divide the power by two. The SE implementation of the brysto simply uses half of the amp (the other half is exclusively used on the pull with the balanced output). The power in SE is 1 watt per channel which is enough for the LCD 2.2. 
In the end you have to compare by yourself and see what you prefer. If you already have a balanced output just get the balanced cable to try.
I highly recommend the Bryston BHA-1. With the LCD 2.2, in balanced output it's a combo made for heaven. I know that the price is > 1000$ but you can try to catch one on the second hand market < 1000$. With 20 years warranty you don't have to worry :)
 
Aug 5, 2015 at 11:00 PM Post #8,096 of 9,180

porridgecup

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Just a quick testimony for the BHA-1 and LCD-2 combo:
 
I am very glad I followed this advice. I've been using this amp with the LCD-2 (pre-Fazor) for 3 or 4 months now. The pairing is phenomenal and really brings the LCD-2 to life more than anything else I've tried. I do have to set the volume knob to at least like 7-8 o clock to start getting the full potential, but I think that's probably standard with many amps. It scales incredibly well at any volume beyond that point. The bass in particular is absolutely perfect and shatteringly intense, both in amount and quality, especially on well-produced and well-mastered recordings.
 
Aug 6, 2015 at 10:52 AM Post #8,097 of 9,180

DDDamian

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  Just a quick testimony for the BHA-1 and LCD-2 combo:
 
I am very glad I followed this advice. I've been using this amp with the LCD-2 (pre-Fazor) for 3 or 4 months now. The pairing is phenomenal and really brings the LCD-2 to life more than anything else I've tried. I do have to set the volume knob to at least like 7-8 o clock to start getting the full potential, but I think that's probably standard with many amps. It scales incredibly well at any volume beyond that point. The bass in particular is absolutely perfect and shatteringly intense, both in amount and quality, especially on well-produced and well-mastered recordings.

That's awesome news!!! I literally just got back from the post office and plugged in my BHA-1 to my LCD2.2(pre-fazor)'s!! Just warming it up and can't believe I just saw this post lol. What's the odds?? Supposed to be great with the HD-800's too - my other go-to pair right now.
 
This calls for a beer 
beerchug.gif

 
Aug 6, 2015 at 11:23 AM Post #8,098 of 9,180

BassDigger

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How does the BHA-1 compare to the BH s.e.x.?
popcorn.gif
 
 
Aug 6, 2015 at 11:51 AM Post #8,099 of 9,180

DDDamian

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  How does the BHA-1 compare to the BH s.e.x.?
popcorn.gif
 

Will have to keep you eating popcorn just a bit longer lol - still in my first hour with the unit so a little unfair :wink: It's used - got it from a great Head-Fi'er here via CAM, so it's already burned in. Give me a couple days with it and I'll compare the two.
 
Right now the chain is: Foobar>ASIO>Teac UD-501>Solid silver RCA>BHA-1>Moon Audio BD balanced XLR>LCD2.2(pre-fazor)
 
Waiting for a good-quality pair of 0.5m XLR interconnects to arrive (that might be a week or so) before I can go fully-balanced through, but will compare all-SE out of fairness to the S.E.X., and then the fully balanced BHA-1 chain just 'cause 
wink_face.gif
 
 
Edit: P.S. the unit was factory modded to drop the gain on the Low Gain setting so using High Gain with the LCD's.
 
Edit: P.P.S. the S.E.X. is a 2.0 with upgraded iron to match the 2.1's output transformers (huge improvement) and has Mundorf Supremes in the coupling and parafeed circuits (another definite plus over stock). Should be a nice contest and that brings them a little closer price-wise.
 
Aug 6, 2015 at 2:23 PM Post #8,100 of 9,180

DDDamian

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  How does the BHA-1 compare to the BH s.e.x.?
popcorn.gif
 

Okay, initial impressions. In an icon: 
eek.gif
!
 
So far I would say: the overall sound is as close as can be between the two amps. I love the S.E.X for it's dynamics and tone. I would say the S.E.X. seems just a little more dynamic in natural sounds, e.g. when a guitar string is plucked the reverberation and decay just seem a little more natural, and the attack just a little less digital. The BHA-1 seems to expand the soundstage just a little better - a result of the balanced connection? After upgrading the S.E.X the soundstage seemed to close in a bit, but that was more than offset by the added bass extension and control. The BHA-1 is the more accurate - no surprise with SS and very neutral - nothing pops out as forward or recessed - dead flat.
 
Both have great PRaT and a live sound. I was worried the BHA-1 would be warm and a little duller like the Gustard H-10 - no worries there at all. At the same time that means any hiss or defects are coming straight through with no masking at all.
 
Which would I give up over the other? So far neither. Both amazing. The BHA-1 has a 20-year warranty (!) and is as close to wire-with-gain as I've heard yet. The S.E.X does better with rougher recordings and just makes everything sound great without compromising details or musicality. A touch more bass in the deeper end.
 
Really both great amps! Like tubes the S.E.X is the winner, like to hear exactly what's in the recording good or bad, the BHA-1 is the winner (so far).
 
Poor, poor me!
 
 

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