Audeze presents the models LCD-X and LCD-XC underneath the banner of the new Creator Edition series. The circumaural high-end headphones were specially designed for use with headphone preamps with low output power.
Audeze has again decided not to include a travel case in the new version of the Creator Edition. You only get this with the so-called full version of the LCD-X and LCD-XC. As such, the scope of delivery is clear, but nevertheless unusual.
Many headphones come packaged with a plug adapter for mini jack to large jack connections. With Audeze, things are different. In addition to the headphones themselves, a 23 cm long adapter is also included. This adapter can be adjusted to provide both 6.3 cm and mini jack connections. The enclosed exchangeable main cable convinces with its gold-plated connector and individually sheathed wires that are interwoven to form a complete strand. At the other end of the cable, there are mini XLR plugs with a retention device so that the lead can be attached securely to the earpieces of the headphones. The inner contacts of the XLR plugs are also gold-plated to prevent corrosion. Another unusual feature is that the operating instructions and warranty information is supplied on USB stick rather than as paper documents. In addition to this, an Audeze employee provides a handwritten signature on a small card which indicates that each device has been inspected and subjected to rigorous quality assurance checks before delivery.
On its website ( href=”https://www.audeze.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>https://www.audeze.com/) the manufacter also provides a downloadable plugin, Audeze reveal, for Windows (from version 7) and macOS (from version 10.10) for free. This is a tool to support mixing and mastering with Audeze headphones. It uses filters to introduce the experience of spatial sound to these headphones. The plugin is loaded with sound studio software and offers predefined sound presets for each Audeze model. The software extension also works with other programs such as Windows Media Player and Jriver Media Centre for Mac.
Innovative Driver Technology and Phase Control
Audeze headphones are known for not relying on dynamic or balanced armature drivers, utilising orthodynamic drivers instead. These are also known as planar magnetic drivers and are used to provide a more consistent frequency response and lower levels of distortion. To achieve this, conductor paths are etched onto an extremely thin membrane which is then placed between two permanently fixed magnets. This technique is also utilised to counteract resonance vibrations of the diaphragm. Contrary to the design of orthodynamic drivers from other manufacturers, Audeze also incorporates its own models like the LCD-X and LCD-XC with a component called the FAZOR. This element serves to help avoid phase issues which can occur due to minor structural related interference. The drivers, which are rather oversized at 10.6 cm, deliver sound in the frequency spectrum between 10 and 50,000 Hz. As such, they reach far beyond the human auditory range in the bass and treble ranges. Their low impedance of barely more than 20 ohms makes these headphones ideal for use with low-power preamps, smartphones and laptops.
First Class Workmanship and Materials
The outer aesthetics of these headphones serves as a harmonious addition to the existing Audeze model line-up. The closed LCD-X is similar to its bigger brothers, the LCD-3 and LCD-4, but makes some savings when it comes to materials here and there. The LCD-X has to do without slick wooden housing and polished metal accents. Instead, the shells of the earpieces of the LCD-XC are made of West African rosewood, otherwise known as Bubinga hardwood. The headphones look robust and leave the impression they’re built to last.
Handling with Minimal Improvement
However, the result of using such materials means the overall weight of these headphones is considerable. The metal and leather construction means that the LCD-X and LCD-XC come in at 687 grams and 807 grams respectively. That’s without cables included. Thanks to its high level of contact pressure, the LCD-X in particular ensures a secure fit on the head, despite its considerable weight. With the LCD-XC, the additional 40 grams are noticeable, with the fit far less secure when the wearer is on the move.
The fact that both models of these Audeze headphones remain consistently comfortable is down to the high-quality cushions of the earpieces, both handmade in the USA. These ear cushions are covered with premium leather and filled with memory foam padding. The headband is also made of reasonably soft leather, with additional cushioning of the metal headband. The cable length of 2.15 metres also ensures these headphones are suitable for studio applications. Those wishing to wear the LCD-XC on the go with their smartphone will be less impressed with the considerable cable length.
The first word that comes to mind when looking to describe the Audeze LCD-Z is “pure”. Treble is produced clearly and crisply to the super-high range. The mids are beautifully detailed through their part of the frequency spectrum, while at the same time remain balanced. Neither the range of the human voice or audio signals of distorted instruments ever slip into the foreground when listening. From static sub-bass to powerful 100 Hz bass pumps, the LCD-X delivers nuanced bass output. This is also the case with the LCD-XC.
The external noise suppression of the LCD-XC is excellent. I had the impression that the upper mids again appear slightly sharp, but this by no means should be seen as any significant criticism of the model. Even with the closed model, the mid-range sound is balanced and seamlessly integrated with the bass and treble. Overall, the bass range of the LCD-XC seems a little tighter and more powerful to me. In my opinion, this could also be due to a slightly more discreet positioning of the mid-range at around 600 Hz, which the LCD-XC delivers in contrast to the LCD-X. On a positive note, the sound of the closed-back headphones doesn’t carry any intrusive resonances down to the deepest bass levels. This suggests some first-rate tuning and adjustments of the components by the manufacturer.
The Audeze headphones are two of the few headphones on the market where I can hear transients not only because of the frequency components in the upper mid-range and treble range, but also because I can actually feel them over the entire audio transmission range that’s covered. This is because the dynamics and subjective signal resolution offered are impressive. In addition to this, the richness of detail in sound reproduction results in an impressive depth graduation. This also benefits the stereo experience. Although the overall sound of the two Audeze headphones is rather neutral, this is most definitely a plus.
Due to the neutrality of the sound and the lack of significant boost at 7 kHz that so many headphones deliver today, vocals in rock productions seem comparitively underepresented when listened to with the Audeze LCD-X. If the headphones are to be used for mixing and mastering modern rock and pop productions, many mix engineers should first trial the sound these headphones deliver. The LCD-X can play of its richness of detail when it comes to listening to fine audio recordings. In particular, audiophiles with a preference for jazz and classical music fans will find the LCD-XC their companion of choice when it comes to listening via smartphone.
The Audeze LCD-X and LCD-XC are real eye-catchers. Audio fans and mix engineers can look forward to headphones constructed from high-quality materials, even if at first glance the asking price of these headphones seems rather high. Manufactured with premium elements and boasting first-rate workmanship, these headphones will provide years of listening pleasure at the highest level thanks to their quality.
These headphones are suitable for sound fans looking for something that meets their high demands when it comes to detailed reproduction and sound clarity, as well as for those mixing and mastering in their studio. For the latter application, however, some buyers are best advised to listen to the neutral sound of these Audeze models beforehand to ensure that vocal elements in productions are reproduced adequately enough for their needs.
Ultimately, the price/performance ratio of both of these Audeze headphone models is perfectly reasonable due to impeccable manufacturing, robust construction, high-quality materials and an exceptional detail of sound. If you want to treat yourself, the Audeze LCD-X and LCD-XC Creator Edition are both well worth considering.
Measurement ResultsMore measurement results
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principleorthodynamic; planar-magnetisch
- Frequency response (headphones)10 - 50.000 Hz
- Impedance20,5 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)96,69 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head934 g
- Weight with cable768 g
- Weight without cable687 g
- Cable length215 cm
What's in the box
- Adapter with mini jack (23cm)
- USB stick