If you’re wondering about the conclusion to this article but don’t want hear me ramble on and on about it, here it is:
The LCD-2 is a fantastic headphone, but does suffer from comfort issues. I fully believe it to be a perfect representation of the $1000 price range in all other aspects. It possesses an extremely natural sound signature that 99% of people are going to almost immediately fall in love with. Imaging here is also spot on, with some great Soundstage width and an incredible amount of micro detail. Bass, mid-range, and treble are all perfect, as it never gets out of line or overbearing.
It’s simply too heavy. Luckily for you, Audeze has a re-branded LCD-2. It’s called the LCD-2C (Classic).
It’s lighter AND more affordable this time around.
For the full review of the original, read on!
Before we get into the Audeze LCD-2 Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because..
Admittedly I glossed over the LCD-2 when I was first demoing Audeze headphones over at Audeze Advice. Sorry I meant Audio Advice. 😛 The guys over there are awesome and a lot of fun to hang out with. They consider me part of the family now because I’m over there so much.
Honey I’m home!
Anyways, I’ve been making it a point to go back and re-visit all of my Audeze reviews, but I wanted to start from the beginning.
This headphone was the first in the LCD line, and is really the headphone that put the company on the map back when they started in 2008.
Since then, there have been a plethora of headphones to arrive on the scene as far as the LCD line goes. The LCD-3 is still considered one of the best in the world, but Audeze has since come out with the LCD-4 among many others. Check out their LCD line!
With that, let’s get into specifications of the LCD-2.
The build here is excellent, and the handcrafted Bamboo Wood on the LCD-2 is a very nice touch. It’s a bit lighter in color than the LCD-3, but to me this design has always been unmistakable.
I kind of prefer it over some of the newer models like the all black LCD-X, although that’s a great design in it’s own right.
The LCD-2 feels extremely solid in your hand. I was kind of expecting more head band padding given how freakishly heavy it is, but I digress.
The headband adjustments remind me of Grado’s and it’s not necessarily a bad thing in this case. It’s just different. They feel solid enough, and aren’t too difficult to adjust if you use both hands. This isn’t the type of headphone you’re going to want to try and mess with when it’s on your head.
Cables terminate in Mini-XLR going into the ear cups, and a 1/4″ jack at the business end.
This 1/4″ jack is beefier than a Wendy’s Baconator, but I find that it’s okay given the actual cable isn’t equally as ginormous. With something like a Focal Utopia, both are entirely too large and bulky, and end up just being a bit too much.
Audeze’s got their signature grilles on each side, and it’s something I’ve always enjoyed immensely. The aesthetic is very pleasing to the eye, and for whatever reason makes me feel like I’ve invested in something entirely worthwhile.
As far as the ear-cups themselves, they are large and spacious, and I’m liking the leather a lot. Given that the LCD-2 I demoed has been through hundreds (if not thousands) of hands since it’s inception, the leather is still completely in tact with no signs of wear. It still looks pretty fresh as well!
This is where things go south unfortunately. As you may or may not know, Audeze’s LCD line of headphones are some of the bulkiest and heaviest around.
The original LCD-2 is no exception.
I have a herniated disc in my neck and I have trouble wearing these for more than 1 hr at a time. In fact I tend to take a break around 30-45 minutes, although it’s time well spent considering the sound. We’ll get into that in a bit.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone that actually enjoys the comfort of an Audeze, but there is good news: They’ve since come out with the LCD-2C (Classic Version) which is a throwback to this original model.
This time around it’s more affordable and also lighter on your head. You may opt for the Classic instead. More on that in a bit as well.
As far as clamp force and spaciousness in the ear cups, the LCD-2 is great! It’s just that the heaviness of the headphone itself will really start to “weigh” on you after awhile. 😛
Overall, the comfort here is below average I’m afraid to say.
Audeze’s house sound is something that no man should take for granted.
Out of every headphone I’ve ever heard, I think Audeze does bass the absolute best. It’s neither rolled off nor boosted, and comes across so wonderfully detailed that it’s hard not to adore.
You’re getting a low end that works for both bass heads and casual bass lovers. A bass head will appreciate the thump, while the casual listener/audiophile will appreciate the texture and detail here. It strikes an absolutely perfect balance, without being anemic but also not resembling that of something too obnoxious.
The mid-range is equally as stunning, with a small presence bump around 1k that makes vocals and instruments sound absolutely sublime. There’s no shout, it’s not irritating, there’s no overly flamboyant spikes, nothing. You’re getting an absolutely pure sound absent any fluff.
A flat mid-range is a staple of any good audiophile can, and the LCD-2 understands this well.
The treble here is definitely dark, but here’s the thing: I love it.
We’re all familiar with bright treble. It basically comes standard with most entry level headphones and it’s something we’ve all come to expect on some level. It seems on every graph I’ve ever looked at, there’s some sort of spike at around 9-10k, but sometimes a bit lower than that.
Grado’s are famous for that unnatural 2k spike that kind of ruins the headphone in my opinion. The DT880 has a pretty bright top end, as well as the SRH440 and countless other headphones.
Audeze headphones are different. They portray the treble in a more natural way. It still has plenty of detail, but isn’t overly “hot” or anywhere close to Sibilant. What does Sibilant mean?
Some would argue that it’s veiled, much like the veil that people claim was apparent in older Sennheiser headphones like the HD600 and 650.
I’m of the opinion that there really isn’t a veil; the headphone is simply less bright. There’s no lost detail. It just doesn’t sound abrasive or harsh. And that’s most certainly a good thing.
The LCD-2’s treble is absolutely fantastic. In fact, you can push these to loud volumes with zero distortion. Normally when you turn the volume up quite a bit, the headphone starts to sound way too bright, even if it wasn’t a bright headphone in the first place. With the LCD-2 it’s the opposite in that it won’t be fatiguing in the slightest.
The LCD-2 is the type of headphone that will make you think someone is in the room with you.
I kept turning my head thinking I was hearing something very subtle happening in my immediate vicinity. It was a bit unnerving considering I live a lone in a 1 bedroom apartment!
Periodically I would look around to make sure I wasn’t about to get obliterated by Jason Voorhees or something.
Instrument separation is also fantastic, as stuff is just given ample room to breathe and express itself. All of this comes together in a very organic and natural way.
That’s the best part about the LCD-2. They’re smooth like butter. It’s hard to explain, but they have this effortless rhythm that’s unmistakable when you hear it. It sounds like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.
I believe an Audeze to be very very close to what you get out of a theater like presentation. It very closely mimics that type of experience, and makes you excited about music again. It’s the type of headphone that makes familiar albums sound fresh and new.
The LCD-2 is truly a headphone capable of multiple genres.
You can enjoy them with anything bass heavy like Rap, Hip-Hop, and R&B. Their true bread and butter I think is Rock, as well as anything with any kind of instrumentation going on. Think Folk, Acoustic, Country, etc.
They will also do extremely well with Jazz and Classical given that fantastic Imaging and Soundstage.
Overall, pair them with just about any genre and be taken away by their incredibly rich, detailed, and lifelike sound.
The LCD-2 is a bit of an anomaly as far as Audeze headphones go in the LCD line.
At 70 Ohm Impedance, it will resist power a bit but doesn’t need a whole lot from an amp to reach acceptable levels. Given it’s 101dB Sensitivity, you’ll have a fairly easy time driving these. What is Sensitivity in Headphones?
With headphones like the LCD-3 and LCD-4, things are a bit different. Those headphones are very inefficient at around 91dB and require a lot of power. Related:How to Choose a Headphone Amp!
The LCD-2 is pretty efficient by contrast.
I find that out of the ifi micro iDSD Black Label, I don’t need to use Normal or even Turbo settings. Eco will do just fine. Learn more:ifi micro iDSD Black Label Review!
Because the 1/4″ jack on this beast is so beefy, I’d definitely recommend an amp with a 1/4″ input. You can obviously use a 3.5mm adapter with other amps, but it may prove cumbersome.
The Comfort level is really the only thing bringing this headphone down a few notches.
Other than that, the sound is incredible and I absolutely adore Audeze’s house signature. It’s nearly impeccable, with a fantastic mid-range, perfect bass, and dark but detailed treble.
There’s really nothing to dislike about the overall sound of this thing.
I would advise you to purchase an LCD-2C instead though. It’s a bit more affordable, and sits a lot lighter on your dome. Audeze has improved the very headphone that put them on the map, and for that I have to applaud them.
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.