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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. Josh.33
    Hello everyone names Josh and this is my first post! I found this forum while searching for a amp for my LCD-2 I just ordered :)

    I have a question regarding my demo experience at a world wide stero retail store. I demoed the LCD-2 on a McIntosh headphone amp/dac and I was blown away, considerably. However when I plugged them into their Marantz HD-DAC1 (that I was about to purchase lol) they suddenly sounded god awful! There was no base, the sound went from airy and alive to dead and unresponsive. Surely nothing like a $1000 dollar pair of phones :/ I asked the sales rep and he informed me it's the McIntosh sound that made them sing... To put things into perspective they sounded like a $20 dollar pair of headphones from Walmart on the Marantz! Dispite this I purchased a pair of lcd-2 second hand for $600 there a store demo 2017 model.

    My question now is what went wrong in the store, why did the McIntosh sound amazing yet the marantz sound awful and where does this leave me in regards to finding a suitable amp? I had contacted shiit and they recommended the Lyr 3 for the lcd-2. Thought?

    P.S. I'm new to higher end audio please be kind :)
  2. isoa4k
    I do have a brand new LCD2s 2018 paired with an Audio GD R2R11. This is my only hifi equipment but i do love the quality of this combo. Check it out!
    spacequeen7 likes this.
  3. Josh.33
    Does anyone know of any amp/dac that sounds similar to the McIntosh? Or am I just chasing some far away dream lol also what went wrong with the lcd-2 and the Marantz?
  4. LightBlue77
    If the Marantz is just a dac without amplification, or just low amping, then this would be the reason of poor sound.
    I have the fazor version and it sounds pretty good straight from a lg v20 smartphone. It is a version that doesn't need as much amping as classic versions. But i also use it with a ifi micro idsd and it is better of course.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
  5. exsomnis
    Headphone outs are not all created equal and there are varying types of headphones too. This means that you will get wildly varying results depending on the amp and headphones you connect to them.

    Dedicated headphone amps have been designed to feed headphones and typically cater to the large range of headphone impedances and power requirements. High end headphone amps also cater to high end headphones which tend to have higher impedances and power requirements than normal headphones.

    The LCDs are more power hungry than regular headphones - Audeze recommends 1-4 watts at the rated impedance of the cans. The LCD 2 in particular has a 70 ohm impedance. You will be able to get decent sound if there’s less power but for the most enjoyment you want that 1-4 watt at 70 ohms sweet spot.

    The problem with headphone output sections on integrated amps is that they don’t always put much money (aka components and circuitry to make them sound nice and to drive different headphone impedances) into them. Their design emphasis was to drive speakers, not headphones. There are some exceptions to this but it’s safe to say that you won’t get an optimal headphone experience from an integrated amp. The best example of this exception, of course, is something like the Schiit Ragnarok.

    Schiit is one of those headphone amp makers that does cater to power hungry headphones for a very reasonable price point in comparison to the McIntosh and is well regarded in head-fi circles. I’m an Audio-gd fan myself. And there are other brands like Violectric/Lake People, Burson Audio, Cayin, Questyle and such that have large followings too.

    You will want to go out and hear all these different amps out to see what you like as everyone’s taste and sense of hearing is different. Do not assume that what applies to someone on the forum applies to you to, that’s my advice. Go and form your own opinion about stuff and you can’t go wrong.
  6. Josh.33
    I appreciate your response I never considered that the integrated would be of a lesser quality since its a multi function unit. Today I received my LCD-2 I purchased them used they were a demo model for $650 they are the 2017 edition. Everything's mint with all original items. Love the case haha that being said since I don't have anything to drive them I hooked them into my computer and they still sound better then the Marantz :) still tho they are pretty dead, no punch no space no nothing. I been reading hundreds of pages here and other forums and at this point i'm more lost then when I started! All I know so far is they need power so I'm looking for 2-3W a channel at 70ohms. That leaves me with a Lyr 3 but I read allot of opinions where the reviewer felt it lacked a wide sound stage. Wheres the Lyr 3 owners at? Also considering the Oppo HA-1 or the Burson Audio Conductor with USB. I think I might just randomly pick on at this point :/
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2018
  7. seldenr
    Hey Josh: You are a lucky guy to have those headphones. I have a pair of HiFiMan HE-500, and love them. Right now I am using a Chord Mojo, and it sounds great. However, before that I had a Woo Audio WA6SE, which replaced a Burson Soloist. Something extremely pleasing about tubes (you can read about their merits, and demerits, all over this site and many others). There are a lot of great headphone amps out there, and the Burson was great, but the Woo was a whole new category. I've not tried the McIntosh, but tend to think if that's the sound you are looking for, then you really should try to hear an appropriate Woo Audio model. They are very well regarded, and if you bought one and decided to try something else, you would find they sell really fast and maintain their value. And yes, the headphone amp makes a huge difference in the sound of the headphones. You won't notice a difference in amps with low quality headphones, but with any of the Audeze, you will notice a huge difference in the amplification. Have fun!!!
  8. Josh.33
    Looks scary :) I do believe I am going to be more interested in a hybrid or full tube I just remembered my Onkyo RZ series receiver has a headphone out and I been enjoying the LCD-2 much more! However its a very digital and harsh sound very tiring after a short period. Its amazing how much detail theses phones can produce but I definitely need a more laid back amp and DAC haha
  9. areek
    Looking for urgent suggestions from LCD-2 owners please.
    I was recently using a schiit bifrost and lyr 1 combo (bought 2nd hand) with my lcd-2 2017 drivers. Recently decided to sell the lyr because I wanted to get something wider and with better imaging & my parents are visiting USA for 2 weeks. My primary choice was a schiit Jotunheim. However, schiit did not accept any of my parents credit card due to assumptions of fraudulent acts (purchased with same card from amazon, B&H, adorama). They are only willing to accept varified paypal which our country does not have.
    So, I am in urgent need of an amplifier for around 500$ that I can get preferably from amazon or other sites where they accept int. credit cards, will ship to us address within 7-8 days and compliments the LCD-2 & the bifrost DAC. I saw options like burson soloist sl mk2, matrix m-stage hpa-3b, rupert neve rnhp etc but at this moment I am unsure which one to get. Please gimme quick suggestions. Thank you.
  10. Fastnbulbous
    I've been really happy with my iFi iCAN Pro for it's versatility and power. The Micro iCAN might work for your budget, though I don't know that it's an upgrade from the Lyr. Cayin HA-1A amp is on Massdrop for $400 at the moment.
  11. Lohb
    Anyone know if the nano iDSD BL has good synergy/dynamics/low-end presence with the new LCD2c ? I know the output is more aimed at IEMs..I know its best to have a good bit of headroom with planars, but I'm looking for something more transportable than the
    bigger "swiss army knife" iDSD BL ...and the LCD2C seems waaaay easier to drive from previous models I've owned.....2.1 needed a lot more grunt to release the beast :gs1000smile:

    Will be running it balanced TRRS.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  12. capetownwatches
    Without knowing your preferences in terms of sound quality and music, it's impossible to recommend anything for you.

    All 3 of the amps you mention are of high quality, and will drive a headphone perfectly well.

    That said, of the 3, the Burson would be my personal choice for the LCD2, and not by a small margin either.
    areek likes this.
  13. areek
    Interestingly enough, I found a guy selling audio gd r2r11 that he brought from china himself. who would have thought.
  14. loungecat
    Audeze Lcd-2 pairing with Audio Gd NFB11. 28.
    Looking at jumping in on one of these amp's to drive my Audeze Lcd-2.
    Anybody else running the same setup as this,would love to hear some thoughts on what I can expect from this beauty.
    Much appreciated :ksc75smile:
  15. capetownwatches
    I run a 2017 NFB11.32 [35W PSU, 2xTCXO] with my LCD2F and to my ears it's a match made in heaven. I have listened to a friend's NFB11.28 and cannot hear any difference between the two.

    The amp is slightly warm of neutral, very detailed and more than powerful enough to drive the planars with authority (~1450mW @ 70 ohm). Mine has basically not been switched off since I got it, and continues to perform faultlessly.

    At the price it's a bargain of note too. You really can't go wrong. :)

    gLer likes this.
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