I’d test stuff out first before taking anything apart, make sure you find a good fit for sound as well as comfort.
Those pads are designed for the headphone to sound the way it is meant to sound with physical tuning. Swapping them out will very likely throw off the FR to some degree or another of course
Really enjoy your channel. Unfortunately with the current state of affairs, trying out headphones has been difficult to near impossible so I made my purchase decision based off of reviews such as yours and others.
That’s what I was afraid of. The pads can be removed so I just held some Dekoni pads on there to see how they’d feel and sound. Did notice a bit more bass. I would be curious to see how the sound changes from person to person as the pads are very compressible so based on clamp force and head size I would figure the internal volume and distance to the driver would change therefore changing the sound as well.
Do companies account for or have tolerances for the sound based upon the level of compression of the pad from person to person? Or does it really make that big of a difference?
This is a really good question. I’ve been running into wide head problems with my GX recently and noticed that if I forcefully lower the clamp force by holding the headphone apart slightly more, a narrow treble peak at 10k smooths out significantly. I guess the pleather pads on that model aren’t supposed to compress on my head but they do a bit more than intended. Engineering is all about compromises, and unfortunately the intended sound is never gonna be exactly the same for everyone clearly lol
I’ve built a couple of speakers and volume and or port length and size obviously affect the tuning so logically I would assume it would on closed back headphones for sure. I just wasn’t sure about the affect on open back headphones.
I really do enjoy the sound and normally eq things a bit anyway. I really didn’t need to eq these all that much though. Ultimately I’ll have to change something on them or they will just be too uncomfortable to wear and they could sound like an angel singing to me while I’m sitting in a warm bath with a 29 degree beer in my hand and it wouldn’t matter. I sent Audeze a message to see if they sell the bracket so I could just attach some different pads and I’ll see what they have to say. However, to your point, I doubt they would do that as it would affect their sound.
Really enjoyed your channel as well.
So after some time with these and some soul searching, I decided to return these. Here’s my 2 cents
Build Quality: Very mediocre. I have a pair of Sony WHCH700N that go for well under $200. Got them second hand open box for $65. Bought 2 pair one for me and one for my daughter but I digress. Point is, the build quality and even construction of these are eerily similar.
Comfort: Abysmal. Pads were just big enough but the compression of the pads was so excessive that my ears would touch the driver and I was constantly having to readjust them. The headband is also a very shallow “U” shape and doesn’t engage nearly enough surface area and causes an annoying hot spot. For cans that are so light, it’s surprising that this is the case. I’d have to put a little piece of memory foam from an old mattress topper between my head and the band just to listen to them for more than an hour.
Sound: Maybe my musical taste isn’t refined enough to appreciate the signature, but it just wasn’t “good” to me. I EQ’d a bit and I was happy with it. Sound stage was pretty good and detail was pretty good. High end was very nice as well. However, I enjoyed the Dekoni blue’s much more. I enjoyed the T40rp’s more with just a pad change too. To be fair, these aren’t as easy to drive and not as light either.
I tried some new pads on there just to see if it would work. The pads do come off but not in the normal “lip” fashion as many others. They have a plastic base that connects to the ear cup. It was slightly better, but the shape of the band still caused everything to be a little wonky on my head. I contacted Audeze to see if they’d just sell me the pad brackets and they wouldn’t and no other pads exist for the LCD-1’s. I even thought about modifying the band or using a vmoda band to connect to the cups as it has way more surface area of the band in contact with one’s head.
But I thought about it for a bit. These aren’t a $140 fostex set. These are $400 and I would expect more in terms of comfort. The Sennheiser Momentum 2’s are a good example of what I would expect. Even if all the cost went to the drivers I just don’t see why they couldn’t have made it more comfortable. I would have rather had them not provide a case and put that money into their build or charge a bit more. I know that the $400 price point was something that they felt they needed to hit, but I just can’t do it.
It really feels like a $60 dollar headphone from best buy.
The sound wasn’t enough for me to keep them. I really wanted to love them and I guess I had higher expectations as these were my first pair from Audeze. I was really excited for them.
So back they went to Amazon. I purchased a SMSL M200 balanced DAC and LDAC bluetooth reciever instead. Going to sit on the balance for a while and collect my thoughts and start the hunt again.
I can’t post in the advice column yet but I would like some advice. I’d really like to have a portable smaller planar and closed back would be ideal but they just don’t seem to exist. I’m thinking that a dynamic headphone is going to have to fit the bill.
Any advice on sub $500 closed back option? Dynamic or Planar. About the only game in town is the Aeon Flow closed version 1. Haven’t really been looking that hard at dynamic closed backs as I love the planars.
There’s that deal on the Elegia’s right now. I haven’t heard them, but they’re very popular.
AUDEZE LCD-1 REVIEW
Written by Chrono
This Audeze LCD-1 was loaned to me for review by Headphones.com, and I will be returning it to them after this review is published.
I have recently been listening to the LCD-1, and I must say that it has recently thrown me for a loop–and that is a good thing.
It was not too long ago that I reviewed the HiFiMan Sundara and was sincerely impressed with the performance level it achieved; so much so that I declared my personal pick for music listening under $500. The Sundara was an all-around great performer that possessed both a delightful sonic tuning and great technical capabilities. However, now that I have tried the LCD-1, I can say that there is a real contender for my go-to pick in the sub $500 price range.
Sources and Music Used in Listening Tests
The Amplifier/DAC used in this review was the JDS Labs Element II connected via USB to my desktop computer. For the listening tests I used music from a wide variety of genres including Rock, Jazz, Classical, Acoustic, Hip-Hop, and latin. I played tracks from my own FLAC library as well as from Tidal streaming service (HiFi/Master Quality).
What’s in the Box?
The LCD-1’s packaging is simple, but includes everything you need. Included as part of the package is a black, Audeze-branded travel case. The case itself is zippered, compact, and sturdy; I would feel very comfortable taking the LCD-1 around with me in this case. The included 3.5mm to dual 3.5mm reversible connector cable and ⅛” to ¼” adapter are also very nice. Despite being braided and somewhat thick, the cable is actually very flexible. It measures two meters in length and I find it very comfortable for both mobile and desktop usage. Lastly, an Audeze certificate of Authenticity is also included in the box.
No headphone that I have tested thus far has been as efficient as the LCD-1, which is unsurprising given that they have an impedance of only 16 ohms and a sensitivity of 99dB. Regardless of which device I tested these on, I had plenty of volume headroom and their sound quality was never compromised. I am not going to list an amp as necessary for the LCD-1.
Build and Comfort
Because they were designed with portability in mind, the LCD-1’s design is a significant departure from the rest of Audeze’s LCD line. They are extremely light weight (250g), and they feature a very compact and foldable design. Their body is composed mainly of plastic, but they do have a very rigid metal headband. For the most part, they feel very sturdy. There is nothing in the design or construction itself that would make me question their durability. However, I do have to mention that the unit I received has pretty severe creaking issues. Even when I am not moving my head, I will hear the plastic creak, and I can hear it over the music I am listening to at times. I asked other LCD-1 users if they have had a similar experience and it seems like this issue pertains only to the unit I received for review; I still thought it was worth mentioning.
Comfort on the LCD-1 is surprisingly good. At first glance, they look like on-ear headphones, but they are actually over-ear headphones. Admittedly, they are not the biggest ear cups out there, but I did not have any issues getting my ears to fit completely inside the pads. After about two hours of continuous usage I could start feeling pressure slowly building up on my ears, but it was never really that bad; this was quickly alleviated by taking off the headphones for a bit or shifting them around a little. The lambskin pads themselves are very nicely padded with what feels like a medium-density memory foam, making them rest very nicely on my head. The only real complaint is that the headband design they went with here occasionally caused a hot spot at the top of my head depending on how I put the LCD-1 on. I think that for build and comfort these were not as good as the Sundara, HD 600S, or DT 1990 Pro, but I did not have any major issues with them anyways.
I must admit that as soon as I began to listen, the LCD-1 really impressed me. By no means are they perfect, but straight out of the box I found myself seriously enjoying the way they sounded; very different from the experience I had with my beloved LCD-2s. Although it definitely benefits from it, the LCD-1 is a headphone that does not really need EQ. For this sound section, I will be going over the LCD-1’s performance while also comparing it to some of its competitors–namely the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro, Sennheiser HD 660S, and HiFiMan Sundara
For the most part, I think that the bass on the LCD-1 is good. It extends in a mostly even fashion down to 20hz, and it has very good speed and definition. It does a very good job at reproducing the nuances in the bass region. However, the bass on the LCD-1 has very little presence starting at around 130hz. This is not to say that it rolls off, as I mentioned it extends very well; it is just that the actual volume level of the frequencies under 130hz is very low compared to the rest of the mix. Additionally, the bass dynamics on the LCD-1 are a little lacking, as they really do not do much in the way of punch and slam. For comparison, I think that the LCD-1’s bass is not quite as detailed as the bass in the Sundara, but I think that for definition and extension it does outperform the DT 1990 Pro and HD 660S.
Thanks to their low total harmonic distortion (THD) it is possible to EQ the LCD-1’s bass closer to my personal target by applying a fairly aggressive low shelf at 115hz. Once the bass level is raised these have a very deep and rich low end. It still does not slam very hard, mind you, but it is very enjoyable and for me it is some of the best bass in an open back under $500.
The mids on the LCD-1 are excellent, and they are actually very similar to the Sundara’s mids in both tuning and resolution. In terms of frequency response, the only issue I had with the mids is that there is a fairly large dip at around 2k that would thin out the mids and make instruments like electric guitars disappear a little bit from the mix. Regardless, I found the mids on the LCD-1 to have a great tonality. The mids’ timbre was also excellent, as it was very natural-sounding to me; even more so than the timbre on the HD 660S, DT 1990 Pro and Sundara. For their price, I think that the LCD-1 have a very good level of detail in the midrange. I think that they are on par with the Sundara in this category, but they get out-resolved by the DT 1990 Pro and HD 660S.
When using EQ it is very easy to correct the dip at 2k, and that brings the midrange on the LCD-1 almost perfectly to my personal target. I also like to add a very slight reduction at around 3.5k because I am a little sensitive upper mids, but I really do not think that most people will need to make that adjustment on the LCD-1.
The LCD-1’s highs are what really blew me away. I do not think that I have heard any other headphone under $500 extend this well into the frequencies above 10k. Also, The resolution and level of detail that the highs achieve is outstanding for the price point that the LCD-1 retails at. To me, the LCD-1 out-resolved the DT 1990 Pro, HD 660S, and Sundara by a considerable margin in the highs. I think that their level of detail is actually closer to that of the HiFiMan Ananda, which is roughly twice the LCD-1’s price. Additionally, the highs on the LCD-1 are pleasant and tonally accurate; the only change I make via EQ is that for my preference, they need a little more energy at around 6k
Soundstage and Imaging
Unfortunately, the soundstage on the LCD-1 is incredibly small. It has a very “in your head” type of sound, and is about on par with the 600-series Sennheisers in terms of width. The imaging these have, though, is actually very good. There were no gaps between left and right, it was very easy identifying the direction from which sounds originated. Even though the soundstage was extremely narrow, I still felt like they were alright for online games because their imaging was still very precise.The instrument separation on the LCD-1 is also very good, it was very easy to distinguish the individual layers and elements that made up tracks in the music I listened to.
Like the soundstage, I found the dynamics on the LCD-1 to be a little lacking. As I previously mentioned, they do not do much in the way of delivering that immediate impact for low notes. Similarly, I found the micro dynamics to be on the weaker side–sounds such as piano keystrokes and guitar strings do not carry the same level of weight and tension behind them as they do on other headphones.
The LCD-1 does not really need much EQ, but the bass and mids see improvement from it. Adding a bass shelf adds much-needed energy to the LCD-1’s low end, and a couple of peak/dip adjustments bring the midrange closer to target. I will include my custom EQ for the LCD-1, but I also recommend that you check out the Audeze Reveal + plugin preset for these as it also sounds great. This is my custom EQ, and you can input it into your equalization software of choice:
Low Shelf at 115hz, +4dB Q of 0.7
Peak at 2000hz, +3dB Q of 1.41
Peak at 3500hz, -2dB Q of 1.2
Peak at 6000hz, +1.5dB Q of 2
Despite their ultra-compact form factor, the LCD-1 outperforms most headphones in its price range and even some above it. Its slick design, low power requirements, and technical performance make the LCD-1 an ideal travel companion for anyone who wants to have access to serious audio on-the-go. While I think that it is also a top performer for desktop use under $500, I would personally still prefer the Sundara for that application because their long-term comfort was better than on the LCD-1. Nonetheless, I find that what Audeze achieved with the LCD-1 is very impressive as they met their goal of creating a truly portable planar-magnetic open back headphone that delivers enjoyable, reference-class sound.
really great rewiew @Chrono.
Just so everyone’s aware, @Chrono’s excellent review of the Audeze LCD-1 is now published on the headphones.com main page here:
And check out his video here:
Great review @Chrono. Another ladder up. Congrats.
Hawaiian shirt… Tyll’s legacy lives on. Keep up the good work @Chrono
Thank you for checking it out!
Yeah, getting the Hawaiian shirt was a key part of this video. thanks for checking out the video!
Yes really excellent work. We’ve a great group of talented reviewers and bloggers now frequenting the forum. Long may it continue. You’re doing a great job @Chrono.
I really appreciate the kind words. I hope I can continue to share my headphone experiences on the forums!
@Resolve @metal571 Did you try the audeze sine + cipher? Are the audeze LCD-1 better for an iphone than the sine? Thank you.
The main benefit over the sine is the comfort and form factor. It’s been some time since I heard one of those but I remember it having a decent sound to it.
I tried the sine and I was impressed by its sound. Do you think the LCD-1 will impress me the same?