Audeze LCD-2 planar magnetic headphone
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- Circumaura - open style, magnetic planar type transducer
- Frequency response: 5 Hz - 20 KHz, usable high-frequency extension of 50 KHz
- Total harmonic distortion (THD): Less than 1% throughout entire frequency range
- Impedance: 60 Ohms, purely resistive
- Cable: single-ended, 0.25-Inch TRS to 2x4-pin mini XLR, length: 2.5 m or 8.2 ft
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This item Audeze LCD-2 planar magnetic headphone
|Shipping||—||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping|
|Sold By||—||4OurEars - The Official Grado Store||FatWyre||Once a Marine Sales|
|Color||Bamboo Wood/ Black Leather||Black and Silver||Black||Black|
|Headphone Fit||Over-Ear, On-Ear||On-Ear||Over-Ear||On-Ear|
|Item Dimensions||9 x 10 x 6 in||6.69 x 3.15 x 7.48 in||7 x 8 x 4.5 in||6 x 6 x 3 in|
|Item Weight||1.15 lbs||0.79 lb||0.83 lb||2 lbs|
|Additional Features||foldable||Just Released Grado "E" Series Headphones||lightweight||—|
The LCD-2 is the state of the art Planar Magnetic Headphone from Audez’e Inc. Every component of the LCD-2 is precision engineered with one goal in mind: Recreate the sound exactly like the artist intended. LCD-2 combines leading edge technology and development with knowledge, feedback and suggestions from an on-going dialogue with Sound Engineers and Audiophiles. Technical Specifications : Transducer type: Dynamic. Operating principle: Semi-open. Planar Magnetic Transducers. Frequency response: 5 - 20khz, usable high frequency extension 50 KHz. Impedance: 60 Ω, nominal. Nominal SPL: 102 dB (1 mW / 500 Hz). T.H.D: < 1% at full output Maximum diaphragm excursion: 2.5mm p-p. Efficiency: 91 dB/1mW. Maximum output: 133dB, 15W. Custom designed Caribbean Rosewood earcups. Specially designed premium lamb skin leather earpads. Diaphragm excursion of 2.5 mm p-p for very high SPL. Maximum output exceeds 130 dB. Left and rear transducers have matched sensitivity and frequency response within +/- 0.5 dB. Specially designed self closing, acoustically transparent magnetic structure with highest grade Neodymium magnets. Large diaphragm area creates plane sound waves that enter ear canals the same way as it happens in real environment. Transducer active diaphragm area: 6.17 square inches. Input cable: Custom cable with mini XLR connectors. Contact pressure: 1.5 N. Weight: 550 g, without cable. Features: Semi-open design. Leather Headband. Frequency response graph of the particular LCD-2. Woodbox for storage. Wood Care kit.
Top customer reviews
Build Quality: I must say I'm not a big fan of the LCD-2's aesthetics. It has a very retro look to it, as if these were made in the 1940s. I'm sure there are many fans of it's look, but I'm not one of them. It looks clunky, way too large, and borderline utilitarian, in my opinion. The cups are made of wood (there are rosewood and bamboo variants, bamboo being lighter). I was sent the bamboo LCD-2, which I was hoping on, as the LCD-2 is quite heavy as is. The grills are black, with the Audeze grill design, with screws that protrude holding it in place. The headband adjustment is basically two long cylindrical rods, which look durable, but ugly as sin. The headband is padded with leather bumps, which aren't as offensive as the AKG K701/2/Q701 bumps. They aren't extremely soft, but get the job done. The cable input is a 4-pin XLR, which is leaps and bounds better than Hifiman's horrible screw-in type of connector.
The connectors are angled, which I'm a big fan of, as they allow the headphone cables to stick out a little in front of you, and not directly fall on your shoulders. The removable headphone cable looks straight out of 1940 as well, with small cables covering each channel and stuck together. While it's not the prettiest cable, I am a fan, as it's relatively flat, and should be mostly tangle-free. The termination is a very thich 6.3mm (1/4") plug, which screams rugged and durable. Unfortunately, there is no 3.5mm adapter of any kind, so you may want something like the Grado 1/4" to 3.5mm cable to connect to smaller devices. Due to the fact that the LCD-2 is actually pretty decent on lesser equipment (doesn't need a lot to sound good), you might wanna invest on such an adapter if you have a portable amp here or there. The LCD-2 is definitely not for portable use, but it can at least be transportable and enjoyable in that method.
The included pads are made of real leather (none of that pleather nonsense). They are angled, and VERY thick. Not the softest kind, but not hard either. I feel they are the right amount of firmness, personally. Audeze also sells vegan pads (which are more akin to something like velours) if you're like me, and prefer non-pleather/leather material.
As I briefly mentioned, the LCD-2 overall is a very retro, very heavy, very big, and of utilitarian design.
Comfort: The LCD-2 is not exactly what I'd call comfortable. The weight is definitely a factor. They also have some clamp, which can be a bit strong. I'd bend the headband out to lessen this, but as these are not mine, I've left them untouched. I don't mind it's clamp personally, but I would prefer a bit less. My biggest issue is that even for an open-design headphone, they have that airplane cabin-pressure feeling once you put them on. It's as if the pads find a seal, and you get that suction feeling. It's a bit surprising and unpleasant, but the feeling goes away after awhile.
As always, leather builds up heat and induces sweat, but the effect is somewhat better with leather compared to pleather which tends to add stickiness into the mix. Thankfully, as I demoed the LCD-2, Florida was going through a pretty strong cold front, so the pads didn't bother me much. I still would have preferred the vegan pads, but beggars can't be choosers. The headband on the first day of use put pressure on the top of my noggin, which was quite uncomfortable. After a day, I was able to get used to the feeling. Certainly not as bad as the AKG headband bumps which never disappear off the head.
Overall, I'd say the comfort on the LCD-2 is passable. Not the worst, but not great. It's between decent to good.
Comfort is noticeably improved with the vegan/leather-free version, as it allows the ears to breathe, no sweat inducing leather, and the headband's bumps is softer, though not as plushy as I would like. Even better than the vegan headband is if you acquire the foam padded headband. The headband is made of durable metal, but the underside is line with very soft and comfortable foam, boosting comfort even more. With the foam headband, there is basically no pressure/hotspots, and all the weigh is distributed evenly. This leaves just the pads/clamp/weight to potentially cause discomfort.
Accessories: You get the headphone, the cable, some stickers, and an AMAZING hard case. The case looks like it would survive a nuclear blast. Very impressive, to say the least. Not exactly something I'd keep in the the open, but it should offer extreme protection if you desire to use it.
Isolation/Leakage: As an open-ear headphone, the LCD-2 isn't exactly isolating. It lets external noises in, and leaks out a LOT. You definitely do not want to use this in a room with people, or even in a separate room with the door open.
Sound: To the meat of what everyone really wants to know. What does a $1000 headphone sound like? I must say... FANTASTIC. The tonal balance is quite warm, rich, creamy, and oooooh so seductive. The frequency response of the LCD-2 is VERY linear up until the upper mids, which then gently rolls off to a smooth treble range. This makes the LCD-2 like the HD650, in which is brings in a thick, musical, and non-fatiguing sound signature. In short, if I were to put the HE-400's bass with the HD650's mids and treble, with a pinch of refinement, the concoction would sound something like the LCD-2.
Is it all magical? Unfortunately, no. The LCD-2 has it's weaknesses. Number 1 being that the treble isn't what I'd consider natural. It's rolled off a bit. The smooth treble leads to very little airiness in the sound and somewhat congested and small-ish soundstage. Can't have it all, it seems. Let's get into the specifics...
update: The vegan LCD2 (leather free) no longer has this weakness in treble/congestion. It's slightly more open/airy, with a hint more treble sparkle. The downside is that it's not as velvety smooth as the leather LCD2. The difference is slight, and they're both quite warm/smooth, but it should be noted that there is SOME difference in tonality/treble section.
Bass: The bass. Dear god. The bass. Incredibly full, textured, and very, VERY deep. Due to the extreme linearity of the LCD2's response, I can't say the bass is emphasized, because it is PERFECTLY in line with the mids. Seriously, if you look at the published graphs, you'd see, there is absolutely no real emphasis anywhere. Does that mean the bass is neutral and not very strong? Yes and no. The LCD-2 has bar none, the best bass I have ever heard on any headphone. Not the MOST bass, just the best overall.
While I personally prefer the Denon D7000's fun fueled bass with it's emphasized and omnipotent sub bass, it isn't accurate, and doesn't have very strong mid bass. It also tends to add bass where there shouldn't be none. The Ultrasone Pro 2900's bass is incredibly agile, and sharp, but lacks quite a bit in the sub-region. The LCD-2's bass is full in all areas and not just certain frequencies. When a source demands it, the LCD-2 hits like Thor's hammer, and in all other cases, presents itself very naturally. There is absolutely no lack of bass here. Just accurate, and always involved in a proper manner.
The closest competitor (with very similar bass) is the Hifiman HE-400. The LCD-2 further improves on the type of bass the HE-400 is known for with even more texture and fullness. Headphones should strive to have the type of bass that the LCD-2 has. It's that good.
Mids: If you have read my HD650 review on my Mad Lust Envy gaming guide, you know how absolutely entranced I am by it's mids/vocals. What if I told you the LCD-2's mids are even better? That's right. The LCD-2's mids are incredibly intimate, haunting, and realistic. I have never heard vocals sound as if the singers were singing in the same room. This is as close as it's come to that. The best word for me to describe the mids is: NATURAL. Natural, organic, realistic, very detailed, and spine-chilling. Don't get me wrong, the HD650's mids are very, VERY close to this, but the LCD-2 just has that extra step that makes them stick out even more for me. Amazing. Absolutely.
Treble: The treble range. This is the LCD-2's weak point in terms of it's frequency response. In order to make the bass and mids as special as they are, something had to give. Unfortunately, it's the treble range. Technically rolled off and smooth. This gives the LCD-2 lose out on air and soundstage, which leads to congestion/stuffiness. The lack of air paired up with the incredibly full notes tends to clash sounds together in comparison to other headphones with more treble, which is the LCD-2's biggest shortcoming. Personally, the treble is the least important aspect of sound to me now, as most music is in the bass and mids region of the sound spectrum. Treble aids in perceived clarity with sparkle and air, but it's not essential or integral. The LCD-2 is not undetailed or veiled sounding. However, the treble does lack sparkle in comparison to more neutral offerings. That is undeniable. This is one area that it truly shares with the HD650. However, I feel the LCD-2 is quicker and more aggressive, so it doesn't sound laid back like the HD650.
Update: The vegan (leather free) LCD2 has treble quite close to the bass/mids, just slightly rolled off. This means, that the treble range is no longer a weakness. In order to gain that slight bit of clarity/treble, a hint of warmth/smoothness was lost, though the vegan LCD2 is still decidedly on the warm side of neutral. Good news is that the bass and mids sound just as I remember the leather LCD2 sounding like. What this means, is that vegan LCD2 has a slight hint of sparkle, whereas the leather LCD2 is quite smooth and warmer.
Soundstage: As mentioned before, the lack of air and the congestion due to it's smooth treble response leads to a soundstage that is more akin to a closed headphone. Like a closed headphone with a large soundstage, but disappointing for an open headphone.
I directly compared the LCD-2 with my K702 65th Anniversary which is also warm/smooth.
The LCD-2: It's midnight, the place is a small, smoky jazz lounge. There is a very sultry, seductive singer in a long red dress, glass of red wine in hand, who recently brought you up on stage and sat you on a chair. She sits on your lap and begins to sing her slow, romantic song directly to you.
K702 Anniversary: Instead of a smoky jazz lounge, you're in the front row of an open theatre, same woman, same song, but she's moving around while singing it to many people.
Make sense? The LCD2 is a lot more intimate and closed in, while the Annie has a much bigger sense of air, space and perceived clarity of notes. Both are so very good in what they do, but very different in presentation. What I recently stated was how I personally heard the LCD-2 for music, the LCD-2 for gaming (with Dolby Headphone) fared quite a bit better. Soundstage opened up, with a very good sense of depth and relatively decent width. Not very large, but there was ample space to allow positional cues space to do their magic.
Update: Having recently acquired a pair of vegan (leather-free) LCD2s, I have to say the suede-ish pads breathe easier, and gives the sound more space and air. It's no K702, but the soundstage is medium sized, with nice separation in comparison to the leather LCD2.
Positioning: Positional cues were surprisingly very good. I had zero issues locating sound placement, though lesser headphones with less thickness made it much easier to pinpoint sounds. The LCD-2 is one of the better headphones I have heard in terms of rear depth, which is incredibly beneficial for positional cues.
Clarity: Clarity for is actually pretty good. That linear response in bass and mids gives the LCD-2 quite a detailed sound for gaming in particular, even borderline analytical at times (like the HD650, which was also surprisingly detailed for gaming), while softening just the impact of the more annoying sounds like gun fire and glass shattering enough to reduce ear fatigue. You get fullness AND clarity. Not many headphones that do both.
Update: The vegan LCD2 (leather free) is even clearer than the leather pads, where the highest peak in the treble is just under the main bass/mid line. This in practice = very linear sound signature, which means almost all areas of sound are in line with verything else. For gaming, this means a very detailed sound. The leather LCD2 first reviewed had a bigger treble roll off, so it was a little warmer and smoother in comparison. They both sounded near the same, but the difference is there, albeit, very slightly.
Amping: The LCD-2 is surprisingly easy to power for a planar magnetic headphone, requiring minimal amping to sound good. I was able to use it with the Mixamp alone, though I would still recommend some amping to truly make this $1000 worth the purchase. No reason to skimp out here when you've aready spent so much money on the headphone alone. The LCD-2 is known to scale up quite a bit, as it can handle a ridiculous amount of power, despite not needing much to hit the ground running. It certain improved in refinement when I used paired the Mixamp up with my Compass 2 which does 2 watts at 50ohm. The LCD-2 can handle even more than that.
Value: Value is certainly questionable. It costs an exorbitant amount of money, and you can get by with much, much less.
Final Impressions: The LCD-2 is a truly stunning headphone with the best bass and mids I have heard to date. That being said, as far as gaming goes, there are headphones better suited that cost MUCH less. It however, a top tier headphone that will impress on almost all fronts with few weaknesses. You get lots of warmth, musicality, fullness, and truly organic sound. Treble, air, and congestion are it's weaknesses, but the overall package is so fantastic, you can forgive these faults once everything is taken into account. This is one headphone I suggest people use for gaming if you happen to own them, though I certainly wouldn't buy them with gaming as the top priority. It is certainly better for non-gaming needs, though hold their own for gaming, especially for casual/fun gaming.
Fun: 9 (Fantastic. Incredible warmth, bass texture, mids, and fullness, for lots of immersion.)
Comfort: Leather: 6.5. Vegan: 7.0. Foam Headband: 7.5 (Decent/Good/Pretty Good. Heavy, and clampy, but not completely offensive. It's passable. Vegan version is easier on the ears, with less heat buildup. The vegan headband doesn't dig in as strongly into the scalp as the leather headband. The foam headband is even better. Softer, and no pressure on top of the head whatsoever.)
Without running the gamut of the audiophile's thesaurus of superlatives, I will simply say that these things are phenomenal.
It's nearly - but not quite - like strapping my 4.1 way Seas kit speakers to my head.
When I ordered these, I was concerned about comfort after reading some reviewers' complaints, but I personally found that they take very little getting used to, and after a couple of minutes I was totally engrossed in the music and had forgotten whatever minor discomfort I may have thought there was at first.
Build quality is top-notch, with only the (whatever you call the adjusting/connector things that couple the ear cups to the headband) being plastic.
I do wish that the headband were made of a more malleable form of metal instead of spring-steel in case someone (like my self) wanted to bend it to shape for a more custom fit to their head, i.e. less clamping force.
As for the sound, please forgive me if I sound like everyone else in saying that I notice subtleties and nuances that I hadn't noticed before.
The main and most noticeable difference between these headphones and any other headphones (or speakers, for that matter) that I've listened to is that I can plainly hear the instrumentation and vocals at the faintest volume levels at the end of some songs in which the volume gradually fades into nothingness.
I wish I could say that I understand some lyrics more than I have on other headphones, but that hasn't been the case so far on most of my favorite albums I've listened to.
Now for the obligatory tonal quality impressions:
Some have said that they find the treble to be somewhat lacking, but as for me and my personal taste, I don't find this to be the case. The highs are detailed, crisp and crystal clear, and aren't overstated as they are on lots of other headphones.
The midrange, in which most of the musical content resides, is well balanced, pleasant, and capable of handling any music (using the word loosely in some cases!) that I've thrown at them, and recreate even very complex music with aplomb.
The bass, which some have found to be a bit much, sounds great to my ears. I wouldn't say that these headphones are so much bass-heavy as they are bass-capable: giving you healthy, solid bass when it's supposed to be there according to the music being played.
That being said, I don't think that very many bass enthusiasts will be disappointed with them.
If you want even better bass response (in my opinion), the JVC HA-FX 850 in-ear phones can be had for about half the price, and they have awesome sound as well.
Overall, I think the sound is well proportioned, with a realistic and natural frequency response that gives you a "live" kind of sound.
They are easily driven to sufficient volume (even with my moderate hearing loss) by either my Oppo Blu-ray player's headphone output or my Fiio portable music player (with the gain set to low), with the exception of the occasional very soft recordings.
I will admit that I don't know enough about sound-stage to offer much of an opinion on that aspect. I can say though that the imaging, as with any other headphones I know of, is not like speakers with most of the music I've played through them.
This can be remedied with a headphone amp that has a cross-feed function.
So overall, I would recommend these headphones to probably all but the most discerning of listeners, providing that they find them comfortable enough to wear.
I just finished listening to them for about 8 hours straight with very little if any discomfort, and just slightly warm ears.
As always, according to the law of diminishing returns, you can find headphones that will sound almost as good for probably half the price (the aforementioned JVC's being a great example).