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Amp recommendations for Audeze LCD-2

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by oqvist, Jun 4, 2010.
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  1. Àedhàn Cassiel
    I own an HD800 with Valhalla 2, and I'm getting the LCD2C as my complimentary pair (I kept some LCD2s for a month and then sold them in anticipation of the C release).

    For the forseeable future, this is my endgame.

    I'd like to try Stax, but it'll be way over my budget for a long time. I'd love to return the LCD2s and grab the 3s, but $600 is about the limit of what I feel comfortable putting in something that I know will eventually die. If Audeze's handling of driver death were more reliable I might even sell the HD800s to get them, but alas.

    As things stand, unless or until I get to hear a real high-end amp with the HD800s this is my setup. So I do not need and probably don't want my LCD2s to sound neutral. That's why I went with the Cs instead of getting the $700 deal on 2Fs.

    So I'll use the HD800s mainly for female vocals, acoustic stuff like City & Colour, stuff like The Mars Volta, CHON, Polyphia with lots of treble energy, and anything wide and airy ... and the LCD2's for stuff with heavy 'wall of sound' guitar effects and lots of bass impact. Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Tool, Mastodon ... stuff where raising the treble would also prevent me from blasting it as loud as I want to.

    That said, what's the best amp I can get to power the LCD2s that ...

    1. Is preferably under $500, the cheaper and better performance per dollar the better;
    2. Focuses on improving the LCD2s in the areas where they already outperform the HD800s, rather than balancing them by complementing their weaknesses (liquidify the mids, improve bass slam and texture, who even cares about treble);
    and as a bonus 3., would also pair decently with the HD800s as a second option for them?
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
    Liu Junyuan likes this.
  2. gLer
    I can only speak from my own experience but the Matrix HPA-3B ($419) has incredible synergy with both my LCD (2F, but latest rev, so 2C will be similar), and the HD800. Its also balanced, which gives you more options with both headphones and more scalability as well. FWIW Matrix OEMs the Deckard for Audeze, and the 3B is essentially the balanced Deckard minus the dac.
    Liu Junyuan likes this.
  3. Àedhàn Cassiel
    Awesome, based on reviews it sounds right in my alley.

    My only, and I mean only reference for how much an amp can change a HP's sound is from going Magni 2 to Valhala 2 on HD800s ("Really really cool, I've never heard a soundstage this wide but some stuff is unlistenable" to "HOLY F@$#!").

    *How much* improvement do you think I would see going from a Magni 2 to an HPA-3b for the LCD2s? If it's the last audio purchase I'll make for quite some time, is that the best place to put $380 with a Valhalla 2, Modi 2, LCD2C setup (vs. saving up for another amp)?
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
  4. gLer
    Hi, to be honest I can’t really say that you’re going to get a “wow” moment at this level. I also have an ifi Micro iDSD, which to my ears matches the Matrix in most regards. I use the iDSD as a dac to feed the Matrix, but going from the iDSD (which is FAR more powerful than the Magni) to the Matrix gives me a notable refinement in the sound, but we’re talking lower order percentages.

    Once you reach a certain point of efficiency and power, you’re paying a lot of money for really incremental upgrades. For example, was I to upgrade to a $1000 amp, would it be twice as “good” as the Matrix. Nope, probably not even 10% better, but some people will pay a lot of money for that extra 5-10%, and pay much more than that ($2000+) for another 5 or 10. It’s the law of diminishing returns.

    The main factor in all this is your headphones. Some headphones will take every bit of improvement you can give them, while others will hit their peak sound with mid-level gear.

    If it were me, I’d find a really solid source for your headphones that plays YOUR preferred music in a way that really ticks all the boxes, for you. It doesn’t matter what I or anyone else says - after all, I may not even listen to your type of music. For my needs, I’ve built up a system with a super solid source and two top-tier headphones (one open, one closed) that gives me as much flavour and variety that I need to listen to my music in the best way I can afford. I can throw hundreds, even thousands more into the system and maybe buy a few differences, but none that would justify the time and cost for *me*.

    Once you get to the point where you don’t have to think about your equipment and just enjoy the music, then nothing else really matters.

    (Sorry for the essay) :)
    Liu Junyuan likes this.
  5. blargman
    It seems the more I read about amps/dac's. I see some folks saying they are great, some say they suck. It's a difficult thing to wrap your head around. I just bought a Benchmark Dac1 USB for mine and I hear folks saying it's garbage. meh. It's got enough power for my needs. We'll see.
  6. exsomnis
    The problem is that different people have different perceptions of what good audio is like. This is all influenced by their hearing limitations (ie, the older you are, the lower your high frequency hearing is), their preferences (bass-heads, treble-heads, etc) and their experience with audiophile audio (ie, they’re convinced that product A is the knees bees, not considering product B that they’ve never heard before and might very well be better in all respects). Not to mention the people just talking out of their asses for whatever reason.

    Unfortunately, you cannot rely on people’s opinions for something as subjective as audio. You’re better off finding out for yourself what you like and what you think is good. Even if it means buying what you think is a dud, but even then you’ll usually find a willing buyer if it’s a popular item.

    Post 2016, Audeze drivers have been updated for that reliability aspect. As a result we don’t see many if any reports of new driver failures.

    I was a victim with my LCD2.2Cs but the drivers were replaced under warranty to the 2016 fazors, which have been flawless. My 2016 LCD 3s are also still rocking it. It remains to be seen if this stays true in the long run but on what we’ve seen so far it looks like Audeze has gotten this fixed.

    Based on your preference for rock/alternative you want an amp that can supply the power for dynamics and transients. The first rule of thumb there is to get an amp that can output between 1W and 4W at the 70 ohms that the new LCD 2C does. You will be covered then.

    My preference is to go for anything Audio-gd but you can’t go wrong with Schiit, Deckard and all the other recommendations people have on here - provided the power requirements are met.
  7. marcan
    Actually the amp choice for the LCD is very sensitive. It will greatly benefit from a better amp. The bottom end, which is one of quality of the LCD, require a good and generous amp. Balanced having very good slew rate can be spectacular.
    Trying several amp, I came to the conclusion that you should spend around 2k€ to get the LCD's to their full potential. While I never been convinced with their dac, Audi-gd amp is probably the best bang for the buck.
    Now when you have a good amp, it can reveal the dac weakness...
    hyperactiveaudiophile likes this.
  8. LightBlue77
    bumping this thread :)
    i just received fazors. next, about to buy an ifi micro ican, original edition from a guy in my town.
    people on web say they are a good pairing.
    Anyone has some extended experience with these together? seems fazors are easier to drive than non-fazor version.
    Source will be fiio x3 and x5 3rd gen. fiio x3 has a good built-in amp, it greatly drives beyer's dt880 250ohm, better then the one in x5iii which i think doesn't count too much when it comes about amping. i think x3 is fiio's first dap, still sounds great after all these years, curious how audezes will output straight from it without additional amping, even though i don't have many expectations.
    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
  9. jksoon
    Speaking from experience, my Grace m9xx does well with the Audeze LCD-2. I also have an Audio GD NFB-12. To my ears when using the LCD-2, the Grace is a bit sweeter on the upper frequencies while the Audio GD is a bit cleaner with more authority especially in the bass. When I want a bit more energy on the upper frequencies I use the Grace and when I want neutral, I go to the Audio GD.

    I think the reason the Grace tends to work decent with the Audeze LCD-2 is that they are laid back and there is a dip in the upper mids in the LCD-2 that the Grace compensates for by being slightly brighter sounding. In other words, don't use dark sounding headphones with dark sounding amps or vice versa (bright with bright). Hope this helps.
    hyperactiveaudiophile likes this.
  10. LightBlue77
    thanks, makes sense to balance sound signatures.
    ok, first impressions: magic sound straight from fiio x3. but i have nothing to compare with yet. i didn't try x5iii, nor pairing with any addition amp, only with headphones i already use.
    anyway, the built in amp in x3 does at list gaining job, it may be set to low and high levels, on high gain, using volume at 23-25 out of 60 is enough! maybe 2-3 steps up for some recordings. and that's it. which make me wonder if i need an amp at all :)
    but i know, there is already a long discussion, it will sound even better with superior daps and good amping, i would under utilize the fazors if i stick to x3. but as semi-portable rig, might be great.

    p.s.: great survival kit box :D
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
  11. isoa4k
    What do you guys think about the lcd2 pair with Audio GD R2R 11? And also, any tips for ordering from audeze website? Im ready to pull the trigger :)
    hyperactiveaudiophile likes this.
  12. LightBlue77
    Update to my story: bought ifi micro ican first edition, it's an amp only and impressive how much power it gives on low gain. I set volume level at around 30-40%, is enough and i wonder what it would do on next 2 gain levels, +10 and 20 db. So, it clearly drives very well the lcd-2 fazors. in fact it gives a lot more power than needed. This also showed me how well first fiio x3 dap was made, it has a good built in amp and makes these headphones sing very well without ifi. Which i cannot say about x5iii, it's still good but pricey for what it offers as dap, less amping, i find few soundwise improvements, maybe there are but one pays extra for smart hardware and android. All in all, good combo.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
  13. MiRaCL
    So finally joined the Audeze club today with a pair of used LCD-2.
    Right now i'm using them with a Chord Mojo and having a blast. The audio quality of these headphones are impressive and i'm really liking them so far.

    I'm looking at other dac & amps and reading through this thread. Would like to have a home setup since i mainly use the mojo for portable use.

    I also got a Blue dragon XLR cable with the headphones.

    Schiit Jotunheimen seems interesting. How is this paired with lcd2?

    Any other recomendations(sub $1000)?
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
  14. gLer
    Hey guys - also looking for impressions of the LCD-2 with the Audio-GD R2R-11. I have a feeling the value of this amp/dac is only starting to hit home so hopefully more people will have impressions of this combo soon. I’m currently using the 2016 LCD-2F with an ifi Micro iDSD (as dac) and Matrix HPA-3B balanced amp but I reckon the R2R-11 will give this combo a serious run for its money.
    hyperactiveaudiophile likes this.
  15. pantsdeamor
    Hi - I made the jump to LCD-2 (Fazor), and have narrowed down my future amp purchase to either the Schiit Jot, or Audeze Deckard (if you have a different suggestion, please feel free). I'd love to read a comparison, or recommendation on one or the other. I listen to mostly indie rock and electronica if it makes any difference.
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