Audeze LCD-2C (LCD-2 Classic) - Open-Back Planar-Magnetic Headphones - Official Thread

Audeze’s “resurrection” of the “classic” (pre-Fazor) LCD-2 has generated quite a bit of nostalgia and interest since its announcement, especially among those that enjoyed the original pre-Fazor LCD2.1 and 2.2 iterations.

This is the spot to discuss the LCD-2C.

4 Likes

@Ishcabible has written an excellent comprehensive review of the Audeze LCD-2C which is featured on headphone.com.

It’s well worth checking out!

6 Likes

@Ishcabible I’d love to try playing with EQ relative to your measurements. Can I please get a text dump of the averaged frequency response from you? That’ll make it easy for me to import your results into REW for tweaking.

1 Like

I’ve been listening to these so little that I tried selling mine. I didn’t get any takerd at the asking price and decided I wouldn’t part with them for less. So instead I ordered some Dekoni velour pads to see what those will do for the sound :rofl:

2 Likes

Ah yes. Did you see the Steve Guttenberg review comparing them to a muscle car:

I’m on the same page as him – these are great ROCK headphones. I reserve mine for genres that are already heavily processed in the studio and that have no ground truth (e.g., Rock, Electronic/EDM, and the little Hip-Hop I listen to), or for productions that could use more vibrato and bass (e.g., flat/dead/thin vocals). I personally hate them for ‘natural’ productions that explicitly avoided studio manipulation.

These are the only headphones where I bought a balanced cable and then took it off. First, it did nothing for the tone and details. Second, it came with a bulky XLR-4 connector and was awkward to use. Third, it took away the sensory experience of the braided factory cable. Muscle cars, 4x4s, Marshall Amps, and Rock & Roll. Take them as they are and for what they are.

Regarding price, I grabbed the factory Black Friday B-Stock offer of $550 and think that’s reasonable in the current market. [With a close initial inspection I saw no flaws at all to justify the B-Stock label.]

3 Likes

It’s possible that putting velours on the LCD2C will prove akin to putting coilovers on a muscle car. Guess we’ll see :wink:

1 Like

Well, the velours are here. Very quick initial impressions:

  • Very comfy due to being breathable. They also don’t seal like the stock pads, which I appreciate.
  • They’re thicker than the already thick stock pads?!
  • Contrary to my hopes, they have even less presence than the stock pads (both heard and measured)
  • Less sub-bass than the stock pads
  • On the plus side, timbre does sound more natural than stock.

I’ll be keeping these on for a while (not least because Audeze pads glue on and they’re a pain to swap). I’ll post more detailed impressions once I’ve had a chance to get used to them.

2 Likes

Yeah, the missing presence is killing me. If the stock LCD2C sound like someone stole my upper mids, the velours sound like someone else came along, realized that there were still a few left over and took those too. On the plus side, they’ve smoothed out the rest of the treble.

EDIT - Measurements

Measurements on MiniDSP E.A.R.S. comparing pleather and velour, to MiniDSP HEQ compensation (harman-like).

Things that stand out to me:

  1. Velours lose some sub-bass, but not a ton
  2. Velours have a tiny amount more warmth in the mid-bass (barely worth mentioning)
  3. Velours have a lot less clarity (1-2 KHz). Some would call the stock response “shouty” but I found it about right.
  4. Velours have even less presence than stock (2-5 KHz)
  5. Velours exaggerate the spike at 4.5 KHz
  6. Mid and upper treble seems less peaky and generally somewhat elevated on velours

My measurements are a bit different than cskippy’s results over on SBAF. We agree on the sub-bass rolloff and increased warmth, as well as the reduction in the 1-3 KHz region, but I don’t see (nor hear) the increased presence that he did and I see the velours having a bunch more treble than he did. He also doesn’t see the weird spike at 4.5 KHz (which I see on both channels of mine, so I don’t think it’s a driver variation thing). IIRC he uses a flat plate coupler, so that could account for some of the differences.

3 Likes

You know, this sounds a lot like my reaction to the AQ NightHawk Carbons. They are reeeeeeeallllly dead in the upper half, have a cotton-like haze over everything, and no nuance to the dynamics. [Keeping them around for their extreme comfort.]

2 Likes

For fun, here’s a CSD.

Ignore the resonance at around 4.5 KHz, as that’s more a feature of my MiniDSP E.A.R.S. The resonance at around 7 KHz is real though, and probably a major contributor to the “sharpness” of the treble.

4 Likes

Okay, I put the balanced cable back on the LCD-2Cs for critical listening with songs that I know very well. I do hear what you show: a dead range and sharpness. The impact varies by song, making some passages lifeless, others almost painfully loud, and others unaffected. They also have more mid range detail confusion (haze) than the HE-560s and Elex.

I’ll continue to reserve mine for specific genres and recordings.

2 Likes

I purchased a set of these and arriving next week. This my first set of planar cans. I am not a audiophile to any extent just a casual gamer that loves building powerfull pc’s. i have a couple of other cans, 1 beyerdynamic mmx300’s and another BD gaming headset. i also got the schiit jotunheim with multibit dac and a audeze 4 pin balanced cable. im hoping they will sound better than the two i own now. I am surprised that there are not more posts about these. im glad to be aboard.

5 Likes

Hi @FiddyT and welcome. I am sure you’ll hear a nice step up in quality when you get your new headphones. I hope everything goes well and happy listening.

Audeze LCD-2 Classic Review

Written by Chrono

Introduction

The LCD-2 Classic ($799), which I will be referring to as “LCD-2C,” is the current introductory model of Audeze’s full-size LCD family of headphones. The LCD-2C is essentially a simplified version of the iconic LCD-2, as they share various design aspects and driver technologies. The LCD-2C retains the LCD-2’s Neodymium N50 magnets, as well as the same magnetic structure; albeit without the inclusion of Audeze’s Fazor waveguide technology.

Sources and Music Used in Listening Tests

The amplifier/DAC used was an ifi iDSD Micro Black Label 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 Qobuz streaming service via Roon.

What’s in the box?

I think that “bare-bones” is a fitting description of the LCD-2C’s packaging. It comes in a very simple white box with no branding, only a couple of “Fragile” stickers. The inside of the box is padded densely with foam in the same way that Audeze’s travel cases are; and there you will find the LCD-2C itself, a warranty card, as well as the excellent 1.9m, dual 4-pin mini-XLR to ¼” LCD-series cable.

Power Requirements

The LCD-2C, like the standard LCD-2, clocks in at an impedance of 70 ohms and a sensitivity level of 101dB/mw. In practice I found that these were actually very easy to drive. I did feel as though they opened up a bit more nicely when driven off a discrete headphone amp so I will ist one as required, but I do not think it has to be the most powerful one out there; I thought they sounded great when powered by a JDS Labs Atom.

Build Quality and Comfort

The LCD-2C is built using Audeze’s traditional full-size LCD design, but it features black nylon rings in lue of the usual wooden rings. Aside from the nylon rings, ear pads, and headband strap, the LCD-2C is composed entirely out of metal and it feels very sturdy. The use of nylon for the rings does come with some added benefits. Despite feeling very solid, the nylon rings reduce the headphones overall weight when compared with the wooden rings; and unlike wood, Nylon will not need any special maintenance or precautions to keep them in their best shape. My only complaint is the same one I had with the LCD-GX, and that is that the synthetic leather used on the LCD-2C makes the headband stretch very easily and I think it will need replacement not too far down the road.

Comfort on the LCD-2C was, at least to me, very good. The pads are–in usual Audeze fashion–gigantic and deep; providing ample room for your ears to fit in. While they remain relatively heavy at 550g, and are not as light as the magnesium-chassis LCD-GX, I still found the LCD-2C to be very comfortable and had no issues wearing them even in prolonged listening sessions. Clamp force out of the box was not particularly bad either. I still think that they will need some easing-in, but they did not put as much pressure on my jaw as the LCD-2; which had a pretty vicious clamp in the first couple of weeks of use. My only real complaint for comfort is–again–the headband strap’s stretching. The stretching of the suspension strap can cause the metal headband to come in contact with the user’s head; applying some pressure.

LCD-2C measurements on Headphone.com’s GRAS standardized measurement system.

Sound

As previously mentioned, the LCD-2C is a Fazor-less variant of the standard LCD-2, and therefore it should come as no surprise that both headphones share similar qualities in their frequency response and tonality. As such, I will say that the LCD-2C is not really a headphone I would listen to or recommend if you are not comfortable with using some EQ or the Audeze Reveal + plugin. The LCD-2C, like the standard LCD-2, is a headphone that greatly benefits and transforms with EQ, so I will be discussing its usage extensively in this review. As I usually like to do, I will go over the different sections of the frequency response, but for the LCD-2C I will be subdividing them into “Without EQ” and “With EQ.” For each “with EQ” section, I will go over the changes I made with EQ and why. If you would like to try the EQ profile I created for the LCD-2C in your EQ software of choice, it is as follows:

Low Shelf at 100hz, +2dB Q of 0.7

Peak at 1000hz, -3dB Q of 1.41

Peak at 4000hz, +3dB Q of 2

Peak at 6000hz, -6dB Q of 3

Peak at 8000hz, +4dB Q of 4

Bass

Without EQ

Like on other full-size LCD headphones I have listened to, the LCD-2C has great bass. The LCD-2’s bass has a great sense of depth as it extends very evenly and in almost perfectly-linear fashion all the way down to 20hz with no roll-off that I could hear. The lows here are also extremely clean, with very good control and articulation; it has no bloats causing the bass to sound muddy or boomy. Whilst I still think that the standard LCD-2 and Ananda have slightly better-textured and detailed bass, the LCD-2C is excellent in this region of the frequency response and is about on-par with the LCD-GX.

With EQ

I actually do not think that the bass region needs EQ on the LCD-2C. I really only use EQ to bring it to preference. Some might find that the overall bass level is just right, but I personally like to add 2dB under 100hz to just give the sub-bass region a little kick. It is also worth noting that the LCD-2C has very low Total Harmonic Distortion (THD), so if you would like to add an additional 5dB or 6dB or bass shelf like on the 2018 Harman Target Curve, you can definitely do that on these without running into any strange audio artifacts or distortion.

Mids

Without EQ

Unfortunately, the midrange is where the LCD-2C’s tonality starts to get a little funky. The mids on the LCD-2C have a couple of deviations that combine to really throw off the headphone’s tonality and timbre. The LCD-2C, to me, seems to actually have less severe of a recession in the upper midrange when compared to the standard LCD-2, but they still lacked a fair bit of energy at around 4.5K. The more problematic peak for me, however, was a fairly wide elevation at 1K that when paired with the lack of presence in the upper midrange resulted in the LCD-2C’s mids having a strangely dampened, congested sound in their tonality that even affected perceived resolution negatively.

With EQ

With EQ, the mids on the LCD-2C can be very easily restored and that congested tone in the timbre goes away; making them sound, to me, significantly more natural and tonally accurate. After EQ, I really enjoy the mids on the LCD-2C, as they have good body whilst maintaining a laid-back upper midrange that lends them a somewhat “sweet” sound. I would also like to add that after enabling EQ, the perceived loss of resolution effect goes away and a lot of midrange detail is able to re-surface. The LCD-2C seemed to me like it had good resolution in the mids, and was about on-par with the HiFiMan Ananda. However, I still found the LCD-GX and standard LCD-2 to be more resolving in this region of the frequency response.

Highs

Without EQ

The treble region on the LCD-2C is, again, fairly similar in tonality to that of the standard LCD-2. However, their technical performance was surprisingly different. Starting with tonality, the LCD-2C’s treble is very warm, and to me it sounded like it was actually a little darker than the standard LCD-2. Like the standard LCD-2, the LCD-2C has a prominent peak at 6K that introduced some sibilance and noticeable glare in the lower treble. To me, it also sounded like there was a dip at around 8k; brass instruments and cymbals in particular sounded like they were missing some of their overtones in that region.

With EQ

When using EQ on the LCD-2C’s highs I add a more aggressive cut at 6K than I did on the standard LCD-2, as I feel as though that peak is a little more present in the LCD-2C Additionally, I add a boost at 8K to bring back some of those shrouded overtones. With these peak adjustments in place, I feel like the treble cleans up quite a bit, with most of the sibilance and glare gone. So while there really isn’t anything bothering me for frequency response in the treble region after EQ, I find that it is in treble quality where the LCD-2C seriously falters. To me, the LCD-2C’s treble is really missing the cleanliness, extension and refinement in the highs that really impressed me on the standard LCD-2. Other headphones like the Ananda, AEON 2, and LCD-GX all sound to me like they deliver a much cleaner image of the highs, and it makes LCD-2C sound fairly grainy by comparison. The standard LCD-2 (post-EQ) is one of the best-performing headphones I have listened to thus far; only being slightly edged out by the Focal Clear. Therefore, the underwhelming treble detail retrieval of the LCD-2C was very surprising to me; especially when you consider that both the standard LCD-2 and LCD-2C are using similar, if not identical, driver technology minus the omission of Fazor waveguides on the LCD-2C.

Soundstage, Imaging, and Layering

I really enjoy the LCD-2C’s soundstage, and I personally find it to be fairly wide. For width, it is slightly narrower than the LCD-2, but I still find it to be a bit wider than the LCD-GX, DT 1990 Pro, and much wider than the HD 660S. Imaging I think is where I do think that the LCD-2C’s soundscape takes a bit of a hit, as its center-image is not as clearly defined when compared to the standard LCD-2. Occasionally it feels like it moves the different sounds either slightly to the right or to the left when I compare to other headphones. The imaging is definitely still much better than on something from the HD 600-series, but I definitely would not describe it as precise, as the standard LCD-2, LCD-GX, DT 1990 Pro, and Ananda feel more precise in that regard. Layering on the other hand I think is fantastic on the LCD-2C, as it is able to very easily distinguish all the different vocal and instrument lines that compromise the music that I listen to. Overall I find the LCD-2C to have an enjoyable soundstage presentation, it just seems to lack a bit of precision in its directionality.

Dynamics

I tend to associate full-size LCD headphones with great dynamics that enhance the emotion and energy behind the music, and I think that for the most part the LCD-2C retains that lively element. Listening to things like kick drums provides a very good sense of punch and slam on the LCD-2C just like they do on the LCD-GX and Standard LCD-2. However, I feel like while they have that satisfying low-end impact, they do not always have as much top-end attack on instruments when compared with the latter two headphones. Nonetheless, the LCD-2C has great dynamics; making for engaging listening experiences.

Conclusion

With the standard LCD-2 being one of my favorite headphones, I cannot help but to admit that I am slightly disappointed by the LCD-2C. Whilst you can definitely get a very good tonality out of it with EQ, it really lacks the technical performance and finesse that the standard LCD-2 brings to the table. If the LCD-2C was still available for its original pre-order price of $599, I think it would actually be a much better option, especially if you are comfortable with EQ. However, at its current $799 price tag and in the current headphone market, I really don’t think that buying LCD-2C makes much sense. From Audeze themselves there is the awesome LCD-GX ($899), which at only one hundred more dollars provides better technical performance, better ergonomics thanks to its magnesium chassis, and a much more natural, agreeable tonality that–ironically–I think sounds more like what listeners expect the LCD-2C to sound like. In that price range there is also the excellent Ananda from HiFiMan, which at $699 offers outstanding technical performance and one of the best natural frequency responses I have heard in a headphone. If you are looking for a headphone with great technical performance with a warm, relaxed tonality or an intro to Audeze, I think that the best options are the LCD-GX which I find to be a great introduction to the LCD series, or just go straight to the standard LCD-2 if you are fine with using some EQ.

9 Likes

but… how does it game!!! :wink: great review!

1 Like

Great review, @Chrono, and a timely reminder that I should reconsider my impressions of the LCD2-C by using EQ or the Reveal plugin. Thank you!

1 Like

Really Excellent review @Chrono.

2 Likes

I just saw your video review on the LCD-2C. Have you listened to the Prefazor LCD-2 before? I find them to be enjoyable without need for EQ (assuming your fine with a warm tuning).
Everyone seems to find the prefazor LCD-2 to be superior to the LCD2C. I guess they use different drivers?

2 Likes

My experience as well. I was listening to my pair before reading this (but after watching the video) and I realized that at times the music is just coming from the right and left with almost no center image.

You are right on about EQ. I’ve run EQ on mine with a Harmon target for so long I forget at times the original sound. The mids and highs seem muted and less lively without the EQ. I feel like I’m missing some music with EQ off.

The low end is fantastic and it hits hard. Some of my favorite bands (Tool, Soundgarden) sound great.

I really like the look of the headphones. They are very industrial and look heavy metal. They’ve got a cool looking hole punched leather strap and there’s visible screws on the outside. The grills mean business. I’m a fan of the Audeze design.

@Chrono Great review over all. I liked the video and the written review.

For a fan of the LCD2C, what headphone has the same good qualities but solves some of its deficiencies? What’s the upgrade?

3 Likes

Hey, thank you for checking out the review for the LCD-2C, and I appreciate the feedback. As far as upgrades, I’m not too sure. The only thing I can say is that I personally really like the Focal Clear; they can warm up quite nicely with EQ. Although I’ve also heard that the ZMF Aeolus is another great option if you like the LCD-2 kinda tonality.

1 Like