Audeze enters the price region of well below 1,000 euros with the somewhat slimmed down LCD-2 Classic, thus becoming a more appealing option for a new slice of the market. Reduced to the essentials, these headphones combine the highest processing criteria with a super comfortable fit and a sound that’s built for longer listening sessions. With additional software, sound artists and mastering engineers can also adapt the vividly smooth audio capabilities to their needs. The LCD-2 has what it takes to win legions of new fans.
For the first time I was able to test an Audeze headphone extensively for this test after previously only having short testing periods with various models from the manufacturer in the past. The American manufacturer, which has earned a first-class reputation in the premium segment, offers with the LCD-2 Classic an impressive open headphone with magnetostatic flat emitters, which goes some way to continue the tradition of the original LCD-2. The very first impression of these headphones was a sobering one, which – and this much shouldn’t come as a surprise – didn’t have anything to do with its tonal reproduction.
I received a test product of the LCD-2 in a simple white box. There was no carry case included, no second cable, no adapters. In fact, no bells or whistles in any shape, way or form. Just the headphones in a foam backing, a cable, a card with serial number, plus a USB stick with the user manual in PDF format.
When I took the headphones out of the unadorned packaging and attached the cable to the earpieces on both sides via the four-pin DIN plugs that are typical of Audeze, I was immediately somewhat smitten. It’s understandable the product development and pricing of premium headphones retailing at this price requires some cost-saving shortcuts along the line and, although I’m enthusiastic about appealing packaging and other gimmicks, I always appreciate function over design. A suitable carry case and symmetrical cable can be ordered along with the headphones, although both come at a considerable extra cost.
Haptics, Optics and Wearing Comfort
The rather heavy LCD-2C, with more than half a kilogram in weight, is extremely skilfully designed in my eyes. The merging of the earpieces into the plugs creates a visually elegant line. The matt black, powder-coated steel headband, in combination with the somewhat archaic steel pins between the headband and matt black earpiece mountings, offer an eye-catching aesthetic that is beautifully rounded off by the covers of the ear shells. The twisted cable, with its slightly shiny surface, adds another elegant touch to the overall picture.
The impressive construction and industrial aesthetic continue to convince when you hold the product in your hand. One immediately gets the impression you’re holding a cutting-edge piece of technology. Despite its significant weight, the LCD-2C is an outstandingly comfortable headphone with a first-rate level of contact pressure. The weight distribution over the wide, perforated faux-leather contact surface at the crown has been optimally balanced. The weight doesn’t stand in the way of listening enjoyment, even after hours of listening. The easily rotatable earpieces, also covered in artificial protein leather, are generously designed. This applies both to the size of the speaker openings, under which even large ears will find plenty of room, to the ample memory foam padding. The adaptation to the shape of the head is also first-rate. The almost two-metre-long cable is also convincing. It lies relaxed, is never stubborn and does not transmit any grip noise, allowing you to move freely at the studio desk, giving you plenty of room to roam.
Material and Technology
The LCD-2C is an open, ear-enclosing headphone with magnetostatic flat speakers that have an impressive diameter of 106 mm. The entire surface is used as a driver, which in turn is moved by neodymium magnets in the current N50 version. The technology offers comparatively few partial vibrations and due to the small displacement of the diaphragm, cannot be used in the more aggressive bass range. The driver housings are made of a special nylon fabric reinforced with glass fibre, which is supposed to have extreme material strength and in practice, skilfully prevents resonances. An impedance of 71 ohms (measured) allows the headphones to work with many different feeders with proper steam, with it definitely benefiting from high-quality amplifiers.
The basic sound of the LCD-2 Classic is precisely mild, slightly deep, warm and with a penchant for gentle listening. If the LCD-2C likes to cut off current chart productions at medium heights and above, you can see the model is overpowered in these ranges, but you needn’t have to turn the volume knob down right away. I’d describe the spatial reproduction as good. Separation and positioning of individual signals is effortless, whereby the sound stage remains manageable and no chaotic sounds clash. The LCD-2C vividly depicts transients and dynamic connections. In bass, the headphones radiate all the way to the deepest levels. Its’ accurate, nuanced and balanced. It fascinates me with its multitude of low-frequency signals, whether generated by strings, drums or oscillators. The LCD-2C presents the tonal foundation in a coherent and grounded way. Some users might find the bass characteristic a bit too focused, but I like it that way.
The mids are dynamic and expressive, with just the right approach of precision. Above 1 kHz, a smooth, extended roll-off commences. The overtones of some instruments and vocals are noticeably reduced, thus providing a focused reproduction of the basic tones which, depending on genre, also stand out in context and create a certain bite. In productions with a high cymbal content and airy strings, the drivers translate a somewhat gritty sound. At highs above 10 kHz, the frequency response was lowered, which is why the headphones sound darker and warmer than many top models in the studio sector. At the same time, however, the LCD-2C manages not to conceal anything. Listening remains exciting all times, never falling into a fatigue state.
Audeze offers its customers a free EQ plugin called “Reveal”. The software can be loaded into the stereo in all common DAWs and offers filter curves specially adapted for each headphone model. According to the manufacturer, it should convey the listening impression you get when listening to high-quality speakers in an acoustically optimised studio room. In my short test of the Logic Pro X, the Dry/Wet and Gain control of the plugin can polish up overtones and thus, shift the overall tuning more in the linear direction. This might prove a welcome benefit for music creators.
The Audeze LCD-2 Classic is a great total package for under 900 euros for users with a focus on contemporary music, with the tuning of these headphones perfectly suited for current-day recordings. The dynamic, yet relaxed reproduction that the drivers deliver is what I like most about pure music listening. Since the headphones also fit very comfortably and as they regularly escalate listening sessions immensely, I would love to add these to my small collection.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principlePlanar magnetic
- Frequency response (headphones)10 - 50.000 Hz
- Impedance71 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)95,91 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head895,5 g
- Weight with cable616 g
- Weight without cable544 g
- Cable length185 cm
What's in the box
- Cable with 6.3 mm jack/4 pin mini XLR
- USB stick
- Card with serial number