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Audeze LCD-2 Impressions Thread

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  1. Lunatique
    I just wanted to pop my head in here and say that, after having the LCD-2 in my studio for a while now, it is by far the most used headphone. I use it for everything--critical audio work, video games, movies, leisure listening sessions...etc (but only when I must use headphones such as late at night. I never use headphones during the day since my reference monitor speakers are significantly better in every way). I would say that the LCD-2 is used 90% of the time, and the only times I put on the other headphones is to get an alternate opinion on my mix/master. Even the Stax 007mkII hardly ever get used, not because I don't like it or that it's worse than the LCD-2, but simply because its sonic signature is less "full" and more "specific." I think the perfect analogy would be a full-body massage. The 007mkII (and many other headphones) are like have one or two masseuses working on your body at the same time, and they are targeting the important pressure points and muscles, but only limited to a few areas simultaneously. The LCD-2 is like having 12 masseuses working on your body simultaneously, and your are simply enveloped in a sea of enjoyment all over your body, from head to toe. That why I keep referring to the LCD-2 as "creamy" and "full-bodied."
    The one criticism I've had about the LCD-2's slightly recessed mids still stands though, and that is the only reason why I bother to put on the HD650 at all--it's to check the mid-range on critical audio work. If Audez'e could fill that mid-range a bit, the LCD-2 would be just about perfect for me.
    This is the EQ setting I sometimes use for the LCD-2 (only for material that sounds a bit too polite on the LCD-2):
    This setting is what sounds "satisfying" to me (meaning I understand that it's not necessarily the most neutral, but I'm okay with it because it makes me smile), where the mids are more filled out (this is especially obvious if you listen to any song with aggressive distorted electric guitar as the main instrument, or a brass section during jazz or orchestral tracks), the treble slightly more detailed (but still quite natural and not fatiguing), and the bass slightly punchier (similar to the way HD650 punches), since I sometimes feel that the LCD-2's bass while weighty, doesn't feel quite a viscerally punchy as I would like.
    There's another setting I created as the result of using a pink noise and then a testing mic through the hole of a CD that covers the earcup of the LCD-2, and then analyzed with Voxengo's SPAN spectrum analyzer, but since that's not exactly a high-end testing setup, I don't trust it and don't use that setting. Also, it sounded more fatiguing to me, which is my number one pet peeve. Now, what I wonder is this--if my testing is fairly accurate, then that would mean a perfectly flat mid to high frequency range would sound fatiguing, and the art of creating the ideal sonic signature is a highly subjective black magic, instead of simply scientific accuracy. But there's a chance my testing isn't accurate since it doesn't take into consideration the human ear canal's inherent resonance.
    But what I do know is that my Klein + Hummel O 300D's are very flat, and after extensive acoustic treatment, further correction made by the IK Multimedia ARC System, and additional EQ'ing for the flattest response possible (with pink noise, testing mic at listening position, spectrum analyzer, and EQ), it is now the most amazing sonic signature that I just love. It's detailed, dimensional, rich, visceral, smooth, and the stereo imaging is just spot on. I cannot find a single fault to nitpick about, and it has made my heaven on earth (my studio) even more alluring than ever. My quest in headphones was always to try and find something that can sound close to the O 300D's, but now I realize it's just not possible, especially now that I have fine-tuned them to absolute perfection in my studio, so I no longer bother trying. I'm happy with how the LCD-2 sounds when I must use headphones late at night, and that's enough for me. It cannot compete with the O 300D's on any day of the week (and it shouldn't since the O 300D's cost seven times more), but it does make my neighbors happy. :D
    Currawong likes this.
  2. Asr
    In your observation of the LCD-2 used-sale trends, have you considered that maybe most LCD-2 owners don't have balanced re-cables, or at least don't have them yet?
    Your post completely overlooks the source component, which also needs to be balanced in addition to the amp and headphones, in order for a balanced system to be properly done. True-balanced sources are a key part of achieving a complete balanced system, as opposed to so-called balanced amps that use phase inverters. Not that phase-inverting amps are necessarily bad, but they're certainly not the ideal way to go about things.
    I also contend with your point that people should try the LCD-2 balanced before selling for two major reasons: (1) Balanced isn't necessarily "better" than unbalanced from the subjective point of view (I know multiple cases could be made for the objective point of view though), and (2) Most headphones respond more to high-quality amplification than they do to being balanced. My suggestion to LCD-2 owners (as opposed to yours) is to put the best amp possible on them - the right amp will most likely make more of an improvement than something that's necessarily balanced.
    Oh and I'm using my LCD-2 balanced btw, for the record. [​IMG]
  3. grokit
    I am also a proponent of balanced amps, and I agree with your post 100% Asr.
  4. Jimmy-Jack


    And then there's the other standard justification for a rapid u-turn; "the leather makes me sweat".  Had I decided to sell mine, I might have claimed "an allergy to rosewood".
  5. elnero

    While I'm not naive enough to believe every excuse a seller might give, sometimes people do sell headphones for reasons other than sound. And really, there's not much difference in those reasons that might put potential buyers off. In fact, I would think saying a headphone is too heavy or is uncomfortable is potentially more off-putting to prospective buyers than simply saying the sound wasn't to their taste, especially in the case of the LCD-2 which are typically snapped up in a matter of minutes or hours.
    I have had a lot of issues with TMJ causing pain in my jaw and my left ear, it's one of the reasons I sold my 13Pro's despite the fact that I loved their sound and a custom IEM is a much more preferable solution for my needs than a full-sized open headphone is. I was concerned that the clamping force of the LCD-2's might irritate my jaw which luckily it doesn't seem to, but if it does ever cause a problem, even though I absolutely adore them, I'll have to sell the LCD-2's as well.
  6. Jimmy-Jack
    By "re-cable", I assume you mean an after-market cable (?).
    Have I considered that most LCD-2 owners don't have balanced "re-cables"? As stated in my original post, my observation is as follows: "Slightly-used LCD-2s are invariably offered with only a single-ended cable (sometimes stock, sometimes after-market). It is very very rare to see a pair offered by a seller that has used them with a balanced cable, and especially a balanced after market cable". In other words, people are deciding to sell based on conclusions drawn while using most often the single-ended cable (in a few cases balanced) as supplied by Audieze. So yes, obviously I have considered it; if I thought otherwise I would not have written the post.
    The scope of my post was not that of a beginner's encyclopedia on audio; it assumes that people who participate in this forum and have spent $1K on headphones did not develop an interest in audio last week (there are exceptions and my post by choice does not address them).
    I compared the LCD-2's balanced vs single-ended performance using one amplifier, a HeadRoom Balanced Desktop amp. I drove the amp via both fully balanced (Electrocompaniet EMC I CD player) and single-ended (Wavelength Cosecant USB DAC) sources, as well as the HeadRoom built-in fully balanced DAC. I thus was able to compare while holding constant the variable of the amplification stage.
    Regardless of the source, using the cables as supplied by Audieze, the LCD-2s responded significantly (i.e. favorably, subjectively favorably) to being driven in balanced mode. This does not mean that there is no single-ended amp out there that might sound even better; it means that in a case comparing only balanced vs single-ended topology, while holding everything else constant (as constant as possible within my means), balanced drive sounds better. Granted the comparison was not done with benefit of having several such amplifiers offering this possibility (comparing only balanced vs single-ended topology, while holding everything else constant); take from it what you wish.
    The improvement became most significant when substituting for the Audieze cable, one that I made myself (using 8 runs of multi-stranded wire, each insulated in Teflon); that cable in fact brought more improvement than merely going from single-ended to balanced drive when using the cables as supplied by Audieze. Hence my recommendation that any on-the-fence owners try not only balanced drive, but especially a better cable. The cables as supplied by Audieze simply choke these headphones. The unlockable potential is of a magnitude that would easily justify calling the result a new model. If Audieze is smart, that's exactly what they'll do; change the cable and do a little aesthetic revision to make obvious to the consumer that this is the successor to the LCD-2.
    Some details of my early experiences linked below :

  7. Currawong Contributor


    It's probably that fully-balanced amps tend to be high-end.
  8. bluemonkeyflyer
    Just placed my order for LCD 2. Many thanks to all who posted views and reviews which helped me decide to get these, especially Lunatique.
  9. SP Wild
    My brother visited me yesterday, and he has never heard my headphones.  He has little experience with  amps, dacs, speakers or headphones.  He is an accomplished guitar player, we both grew up with guitars and drums in the household.  I was keen for his opinion of how he ranked my headphones.
    Using just the first 30 second snippet of two tracks.  The first track was Isla Del Sol by Armik, its a track to asses a nylon acoustic guitar.  The second was the Percussion imaging test from Right between the ears, and audiophile drumkit test track.
    K701:  Guitar track - "OK, I guess"  was his words.  The drum track - very very good.
    HD650:  Guitar track - "its better" and the comment was the same with the drum track. 
    I wanted to know in which way was it better.  He said it had more bass.  He said the K701 sounded clearer, but the instrument doesn't sound that clear in real life. 
    Then I brought out the LCD2s - and his comment with the same two samples was that it was "very good, much better".  When I asked him how was it better than the other two his response was it sounds clearer, and better.  I guess to him, he doesn't know the vocabulary and "clearer" and "better" was the only words he could come up with.
    We then went back to the HD650 again.  His final conclusion was they were crap and sounded like his speakers (50 dollar classy looking consumer electronics tiny stereos with seperated speakers).  He then commented that everything must sound like crap to me after he heard how much better the LCD2s were - for which I agreed...everything else did sound very ordinary to me after the LCD2 experience.
    He still thinks I'm crazy for spending so much, even though he doesn't say it.  Its interesting how for a non audiophile musician, his reaction was lukewarm positive to the LCD2s.  At least they were that much better than the HD650s that they were immediately delegated to "crap".  Of course our HRTFs are probably identical having come from the same gene pool.
  10. Paganini Alfredo
    I wouldn't imagine a guitar player's preference of sound would be the same as a pair of headphones... Whenever I attend a show and the guitar is amped, tubed, and deliciously fuzzy there really is nothing else in the world that can compare [​IMG]
  11. MacedonianHero Contributor


    Funny, I get the same reaction whenever I demo my gear for my non-audiophile friends too. [​IMG]
  12. Hero Kid
    Don't we all get that reaction? It's especially great when all my friends are ~18. When they work out I spent more on my headphones then they did on their car they are a bit dumbfounded.
  13. mikemalter


    Friends don't let friends headphone drunk.
  14. Danz03
    I think it is inevitable, HI-Fi equipments are outrageously expensive if one compare them to profession studio equipments. My brother once spent around $50,000 on a pair of HI-Fi power amps, which actually cost more than what most recording studios spend on a pair of main active reference monitors, and his speakers cost more than what some people would spend on a house. What many Head-FIers here spent on their DAC/headphone amps cost more than a Pro Tools 9 recording system or a decent upright piano; the cost of the LCD-2s could easily buy a decent vintage Gibson es 135 or an Orange cabinet or a decent pair of studio active near-field monitors; the aftermarket cable alone cost more than many decent studio microphones.
    So are they worth it? As long as you think so, that's good enough. Besides, I don't think many musicians, especially rock musicians, would appreciate or care about sound quality like most audiophiles do. [​IMG]

  15. SP Wild


    I think hearing his perspective did bring me a little back to earth WRT my obsession with fringe tweaks (battery power, cables, and jitter etc).  But the LCD2s alone really showed me how ineffective it was to spend so much on the HD650 on fringe tweaks...when a single upgrade to the LCD2 was the only genuinely effective upgrade worthy of the price I spent on it, along with a nice amplifier and dac for it (I've totalled probably 4.5K worth in fringe tweaking).  I believe that is how he thinks, you could spend the money on a real guitar, that sounds like...a real guitar, as opposed to trying to recreate a real guitar.
    I did briefly play Eric Claptons "Tears in Heaven" for my brother with the LCD2s for which he was quite stunned and remarked that he never heard this song properly before, there was so much in that track he never knew existed.  (That's a real song of how deeply emotional man really is...this song was about his son that was killed in a car crash as a young boy...not today's whining boys stupidly depressing "music" about things like being rejected by girls and the meaning of life...etc...or girls happily boasting about how nasty and dirty they are or were.  [​IMG])
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