Stock image: Audeze | Design: HomeStudioBasics
Hola Amigo and Welcome aboard!!
Before we get into the Audeze LCD-X Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this review
- Video Review
- Photo Gallery
- Genre Pairing
- Final Grade
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!
- Price: Check Amazon! | Check Apos Audio! | Check B&H!
- Type: Open back, Planar Magnetic.
- Fit: Circumaural (Around the Ear).
- Impedance: 20 Ohms.
- Frequency response: 5Hz – 20kHz extended out to 50kHz (per the Audeze website).
- Sensitivity: 96dB/mW.
- Material: Metal, lambskin leather.
- Color: Black.
- Cable: Detachable mini XLR. What is XLR?
- Weight: 21.6 oz. (612g)
- Cable Length: 2.5m.
I joked at length about the weight of Audeze headphones in my LCD-XC Review, so if you’re craving a laugh or 2, definitely check that article out.
Or you can just stick around and read this one too. xD
To be blunt, putting on the LCD-X is like strapping a bowling ball to your melon. Seriously. It’s almost that heavy.
Don’t make any sudden movements or you’ll find yourself with a face full of floor. Lol. Just kidding, but seriously.
They use planar magnetic drivers which are typically (but not always) heavier than your standard dynamic driver. What is a Planar Magnetic Driver?
This was one of the first headphones that really made me understand the importance of Planar Magnetic Drivers in an Open Back and how they really actually improve the sound tremendously from a typical dynamic.
It’s also the first in the LCD line to take a departure from the usual Wood finish found on both the LCD-2 and LCD-3.
Maybe it has to do with the “X” part?
I don’t know. Headphone manufacturers are really weird. Whatever.
Instead, we’re getting a Metal finish but with the same leather padding and an all-black physique.
Weight-wise, the LCD-X should probably go on Weight Watchers.
This mammoth elephant-sized headphone is even heavier than the LCD-2 which I didn’t think was possible.
Just for grins, let’s take a look:
- LCD-2 Classic: 544g
- LCD-2: 595g (Rosewood), 580g (Shedua/Bamboo)
- LCD-3: 635g
- LCD-4: 690g
- LCD-X: 612g.
- LCD-XC: 677g.
Wow. I’ll refrain from adding in another joke.
Wait who am I kidding no I won’t.
The X, XC, and LCD-4 are like the same headphone as the others, only after stuffing their face with food for 2 months straight without moving.
If the LCD-X were a person, it would be on that show “My 600-lb. life.”
LARGE AND IN CHARGE
Now that we’re sort of on the subject of obesity, let’s discuss the build.
The build continues the greatness of the LCD line, and by now I feel like I’m beating a dead horse.
The same grilles are present, the same headband adjustments, the same sized ear cups, the same Mini-XLR termination, and the same 1/4″ plug at the business end.
The only real difference is color and weight. This time around instead of an elephant on your head, you’ve got a jetliner.
It’s pretty much Groundhog Day otherwise though.
In all seriousness, I really do enjoy the build of the Audeze line and the LCD-X is no different.
I feel as though they can all withstand abuse and are built extremely well.
The headband adjustments are a bit odd, but they work.
They resemble the Grado adjustments but feel much more robust.
If you’ll recall,
Grado-built headphones don’t really improve all that much as you ascend up the line – ultimately paying more for each iteration while receiving less in return.
In the case of Audeze-designed headphones, I really appreciate the craftsmanship that went in, and when you hold them in your hands…
Wait for it…
YOU’LL KNOW WHERE YOUR MONEY WENT.
Speaking of weight on your head, let’s talk comfort.
Again, unfortunately, this is not a comfortable headphone no matter how you slice it.
The clamp force is good, and the earcups are plenty large enough, but they are just so so heavy.
I’d wager that the average listening time you’ll be able to tolerate is about 30-45 minutes.
Maybe an hour if you’re a bit more forgiving.
For me, it’s around 30 because of the herniated disc in my neck (which has healed over the last couple of years!)
I have to at least make a few adjustments during the span of my listening session, and often times I’ll simply take them off for a minute or two because of how overwhelming they can be.
Overall, not completely horrible but also not ideal, even in a studio environment.
COMFORT SCORE: C/C-
What about Sound?
Bass & Mid-Range
I used it with the stunning Naim DAC V-1, and I just couldn’t get enough.
I’m telling you, put a well-mastered CD into a receiver hooked up to the NAIM, and get taken away to another place.
I tested Chon’s “Homey” my favorite summer album, and it was a real treat.
Guitars sounded crisp, alive, and had a startling sense of body and fullness.
The bass on the LCD-X is refreshingly accurate, detailed, articulate, and textured. It’s smooth like a baby’s bottom.
The whole sound signature is velvety, buttery, and amazing.
You want flat? The LCD-X is flatter than a pancake homie! You’re going to hear things you never thought possible with these babies.
Even the most insignificant sound becomes noteworthy. That’s the best way I can describe it.
The overall sound of the treble is crisp, but never sibilant. What does Sibilant mean? This is a headphone that you can groove to for hours without listening fatigue.
Now, will some complain about a lack of sparkle up top?
As we’ll touch on later towards the end, the Audeze house sound isn’t for everyone.
The thing is, when you’re listening, you may not even care about that lack of “brightness” in the treble regions because everything sounds so natural and effortless.
In other words,
the treble does what it’s supposed to do and the trade-off is that cymbals and hi-hats will sound more realistic at the expense of standing out unnecessarily.
That is to say that they stand out, but for the right reasons rather than because of simply being forward, or accentuated as most companies tend to do with cheaper headphones.
Keep in mind this is a rather heated debate among audiophiles, so proceed with caution.
The Soundstage is also pretty incredible with the LCD-X, though you’ll find conflicting points of view here as well.
I’ve read people saying the Soundstage on Audezes isn’t good and I just have to ask what the heck are you listening to?
Like the timbre, I would rate Soundstage in the Top 5 as well.
Normally when people say, headphone ______ has a good Soundstage, I’m a bit skeptical.
Headphones simply cannot adequately mimic surround sound speakers, try as they might. What is Soundstage?
However, I can honestly say that the LCD-X breaks this trend to some degree.
No, they still aren’t speakers, but the Imaging and Staging are so convincing that it comes darn near close.
In other words,
you will experience those out-of-your-head moments when it feels like stuff is happening around you rather than through the cans.
A lot of this does depend on the song in question, so do be aware of that.
Oftentimes you’ll get those out-of-your-head moments regardless of what headphones you’re listening with simply due to the fact that the song was engineered in such a way to give off that illusion.
With that, let’s talk a bit about amplification…
There are subtle differences between the LCD-2, LCD-3, and LCD-X as far as amplification goes.
The LCD-2 at 101dB does not need much power from an amp but still benefits from a good pairing like the ifi micro iDSD Black Label which is what I primarily used it with.
The LCD-3 is not efficient at all and most certainly needs A LOT of power from an amp at 91dB.
you’d be surprised just how much you have to crank up the volume.
This was made very clear to me upon back and forth demo of the Utopia and LCD-4 which has a high impedance at 200 Ohm but also a so-so Sensitivity rating at 97dB.
I’d advise you to be very careful when switching headphones and remember to turn the volume back down with something like a NAIM DAC V-1.
The LCD-X is somewhat of an outlier at 20 Ohms Impedance and 103dB Sensitivity.
These can absolutely be driven by a phone and you may not even need an amp.
If it was up to me, and after all that said, I still wouldn’t rely on my phone long-term to power an LCD-X as these are mostly made for studio-type environments.
In other words, you’re going to want the most from your purchase given that they still hover around $2k.
If I had to recommend something amazing to get you started but that won’t destroy your wallet, I’d go with a simple clean combo of JDS ATOM + ATOM DAC.
Well the LCD-X, while not veiled in my opinion, isn’t going to pair all that well with an amp on the warm-ish side. I like something neutral here as it will help mitigate any issues, and the ATOM is my go-to for that purpose.
- Related: JDS Labs ATOM Amp Review
But what genres are best?
The LCD-X is recommended for almost all genres due to its extremely flat response and crisp tonal character.
I would rate their Timbre as Top 5 of what I’ve personally heard as well.
The usual suspects are involved: Rock, Acoustic, Folk, Jazz, Classical, Rap, Hip-Hop, Indie, and R&B will all sound great.
The LCD-X’s sound signature is conducive to all of these and more.
There’s not a genre that I wouldn’t consider for these actually, which echoes my sentiments with the LCD-2 and LCD-3.
Well, this is actually pretty tough so bear with me as I sort it out.
In between mid-fi but below what some people might call “Hi-Fi” lies a very awkward price range that varies between about $600-800-1000. For now, we’ll dub it “Awkward-Fi.”
This is an area in which maybe only a few headphones are actually worth a purchase (in my opinion).
For many years now I’ve recommended around 3: HIFIMAN’s Ananda, Audeze LCD-2, and Dan Clark’s Aeon Flow (For a closed option).
I firmly believe those to be the best (above mid-fi but below hi-fi) out of over 115 demoed units.
Between LCD-2 and Ananda, I’d still probably lean slightly more towards an Ananda because of price and weight, but it’s very close as I really enjoy both headphones.
In fact, I may actually prefer the sound of the LCD-2 to the Ananda ever so slightly.
Still, the Ananda is probably the best money can buy as a step-up from mid-fi and will be more accessible to a wider variety of people.
You may be asking, well what about the LCD-X?
This is the tough part.
I’m not going to say that all Audeze headphones sound the same (because they don’t), but… they do all share very similar tuning and graphs of all generally follow the same trajectory: flat bottomless bass, a rise at 1kHz, a gentle to somewhat not-so-gentle slope (LCD-3) down into 2/3kHz, and then a relatively darker sounding treble.
My main concern for you is value.
That is if I were to personally purchase an Audeze, which one provides the best value and the lowest weight on my head while also not burning a hole in my pocket?
Nowadays, it’s the Audeze LCD-2C (Classic) that hovers close to the same price as what the Ananda goes for.
Think about it from my perspective for a second; I’ve heard pretty much the entire LCD line and the differences aren’t enough to warrant that I drop over $1000 when I can get the Classic for under that (and a great deal to boot).
You’re probably feeling the same way.
If you’re in the market for this type of headphone, I would wholeheartedly recommend it.
It’s a buttery smooth listen, with near-perfect bass response, mid-range, and treble.
If you think you’ll need more treble and don’t fall into that dark high-end camp (for lack of a better term), The Ananda/Edition XS is definitely the solution.
In other words, I can understand why people may not like the Audeze house sound.
It’s truly not for everyone.
There’s very little about the LCD line that I personally don’t enjoy, and the LCD-X is no exception.
The only problem is comfort.
You’re going to be adjusting these pretty frequently on your head, but I still think the overall sound is worth it.
This headphone is still priced very high, so I would take a look at the LCD-2C first.
It’s a revamp of the original LCD-2 and seems to strike a great price point for what it provides.
It’s a bit lighter than the original, and now more affordable while still retaining that incredible sound.
For those who need a crisper treble response,
As a final step-up from Awkward-Fi into bonafide actual Hi-Fi territory, it’s the Utopia hands down.
NEXT: FOCAL UTOPIA REVIEW
Well, that’s about it for today folks! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Audeze LCD-X Review.
What do you think about them?? What about the LCD-2C? Would you consider investing in those? Let me know!!
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Let me know in the comments below or contact me!! I would love to hear from you.
Until then, all the best and God bless…