Home Closed Back Headphone Reviews Audeze LCD-XC Review: Unveiling Brilliance with a Pricey Twist

Audeze LCD-XC Review: Unveiling Brilliance with a Pricey Twist

by Stuart Charles Black
Published: Last Updated on
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Greetings mate and Welcome aboard! Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions, so…

Audeze LCD-XC

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Specifications

Comfort

Wow. What a mammoth headphone the closed-back LCD-XC is.

Like the LCD-X, this is a bowling ball for your melon.

That said, I thought this model fit a little bit more securely than its brother.

You’ll likely be taking breaks, however, as the weight will affect you in one way or another unless your neck is made of titanium alloy.

Unless you’re this guy, you’ll probably feel the XC on your head lol. Image: Fandom

For the rest of us normal people, we’ll be feelin’ it alright.

There’s simply no getting around it, and at 1.5 lbs. (!!!) or 677g, you better have some really strong neck muscles.

If you don’t, I’d get into the gym ASAP because you’re going to need all the strength and then some to keep from falling face-first into the floor.

Be advised, that the LCD-XC is not for the faint of heart.

Why they decided to make them almost 2 lbs. is beyond me.

Go ahead, buy these for your 5’4″ 120 lb. girlfriend. I’m sure she’ll really appreciate the sentiment.

“Aw, gee. You shouldn’t have.” xD

Literally. You shouldn’t have.

Unless her goal is to look like she’s wearing a TV, I’d advise something a liiiiitle lighter.

So who are these actually for?

These headphones are for that 800 lb. meathead juicer bro in the gym who eats an antelope as a pre-workout snack.

Alright, I’m done lol. I had a lot of fun writing all that. xD

Build

Build-wise, the XCs are pretty much built like a boulder, with the combination of wood, metal, and leather complementing this set exceptionally well.

The cable is a detachable mini-XLR, and the adjustments kind of resemble the ones you’ll find on Grado headphones.

There’s a circular rod that goes through a piece of something or other (probably not plastic, but maybe plastic) and that’s the adjustment mechanism.

So it’s strange, but it mostly works and isn’t unlike any of the other models in the LCD line (save for the LCD-1 of course).

Clamping force is actually quite good, and even as heavy as the headphones are, you’re not going to really feel the headband digging.

It’s just that the weight of them makes you feel like someone’s got their finger on your forehead and they’re gently pushing you backward.

Sound

Mid-Range

The overall sound is almost identical to the LCD-X with a couple of exceptions.

The first is the mid-range.

It’s something I’ve been struggling with for quite a while. Is it too forward? Too shouty?

I think so.

Because of the fact that 3 separate graphs + my ears have confirmed this, I can’t ignore it.

Way back when I first demoed these in 2017 and long before I looked at any graphs, I felt something was off and it’s pretty obvious that the culprit is instruments and vocals specifically.

There’s a rather large rise between 1-2k, and it can make for a painful experience at times.

I’ve tried these out on a few different occasions, and even plugged into the absolutely phenomenal NAIM DAC V-1 I found the same issue appears with some very good source files.

That said, the overall sound aside from that is stunningly clear, crisp, and accurate.

Bass

The bass continues in the vein of the LCD-X.

It’s incredibly crisp, tight, controlled, buttery smooth, and has plenty of impact while still remaining phenomenally articulate and textured.

The bass rumble is probably my single favorite aspect of this headphone, and as Ken Rockwell likes to say, it is indeed bottomless (one of the best words to describe how Audeze bass sounds).

Bottomless, in this case, doesn’t mean a girl with no butt.

It simply means that the sub-bass extension is excellent while not coming across as boomy, distorted, or overexaggerated – something apparent in say, Beats headphones.

You’re going to feel (and hear) the weight and impact of the low end, but it’s going to sound correct and accurate; something many companies should take note of.

The difference between high-class bass such as this vs. other poopy-sounding bass is that not only is the rumble on point, but you can hear individual notes much better which only adds to the immersion and enjoyment that an Audeze experience provides in spades.

Treble

The one thing that stands out here over your typical LCD line model is that the XC is going to sound brighter and will be more revealing – especially with sub-par or bad recordings.

For those tired of the darker-sounding Audeze treble (which can admittedly sound a bit veiled at times), the XC will likely be a breath of fresh air for you.

There is a sense of air, crispness, and space here that makes these headphones stand out from the others, and I think it’s mostly a good thing though your mileage may vary.

Soundstage and Imaging

Another aspect of the LCD-XC is something that few headphones can accomplish; it sounds very open despite being closed-back.

Aside from headphones like the MDR-Z1R, Status CB-1, Dan Clark Aeon, and AKG 553, this is a quality I’ve experienced very few times but add the LCD-XC to that shortlist as well.

It’s open, spacious, and provides pretty great width and depth.

I wouldn’t expect frequent out-of-your-head moments, but it can and will definitely happen depending on the track in question.

The placement of instruments and sound is also good, but what about tonality?

Tonality/Timbre

Yes, it is good but I will caution you that the mid-range, as discussed previously, can add a bit too much glare over instruments and voices, to the point where it’s actually a bit hard to enjoy it.

In other words,

it feels too in your face at times and can exude a bit of unnecessary artificiality.

I think they could have toned down that 1-2kHz area by a couple of dB and had an almost perfect headphone, but I digress.

Pros

  • Lively and engaging sound.
  • Phenomenal bass.
  • Built strong like oxen.
  • Great instrument separation.
  • The soundstage is wonderful for a closed-back. What is Soundstage?

Cons

  • Mid-range can be grating at times.

Amplification

FiiO K9 Pro Review

You don’t necessarily need an amp, but one is highly recommended if your phone’s DAC or PC’s laptop Soundcard isn’t very good.

At 20 Ohms Impedance and 100dB Sensitivity, the LCD-XC is very efficient and doesn’t need much power from an amp to reach acceptable listening levels.

Because these are a bit brighter than average and have that mid-range glare we discussed, I’d probably stick with an Amp/DAC on the warm-ish side.

I think a K5 Pro or K9 Pro would be a great match for these.

Who do these headphones benefit?

Everyone. They do well with all types of music. The genres I tested:

  • Jazz
  • Classical
  • Indie
  • Pop
  • Hip-Hop
  • Rock

Thoughts from Stu’s notepad

Here are my notes that were jotted down while demoing:

  • Headphones are comfortable but very heavy. They feel like they’re going to slide forward off of my head.
  • Built like a tank.
  • Articulate sound. The bass is very natural, but slams when called to.
  • A bit shouty (Mid-range).
  • Incredible instrument separation and clarity with a lot of subtle detail.
  • Lively sound.
  • Background atmosphere present. The stuff you rarely hear going on behind the scenes. Adds a lot of depth and layering. Extremely enjoyable to be able to discern.

Consensus/Conclusion

The LCD-XC headphones offer a fantastic audio experience with their impressive, bottomless bass and commendable resolution.

However, they do have a drawback in the form of a rather shouty mid-range, which can be a bit of a letdown for some audiophiles.

Additionally, when considering the overall value for money, the LCD-XC falls short of expectations, especially in the context of their price range, which hovers around the steep $1200-1300 mark.

Given these factors, they might not be the best investment for those seeking a balanced blend of performance and cost-effectiveness.

Final Word

I think the LCD-XC is a pretty good entry into the line but I would never purchase it due to the comfort issues as well as that mid-range honk.

In addition to that,

it’s a bit expensive at over $1,200 big ones, and taking into account everything we’ve discussed today, I don’t think the hefty price tag is justified here.

So yeah, it’s pretty good.

But not quite good enough to drop over $1,200 on.

After thinking it over some, I believe the best replacement for these (and something really worth an investment) is Sony’s MDR-Z1R which I think is just about the best all-around top-shelf closed-back headphone that I’ve personally had experience with.

I’ve recommended them for quite many years and still feel the same way about them today as I did back in 2017.

IS THIS THE BEST TOP SHELF CLOSED BACK?!

 


Well, that’s about it for today folks! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Audeze LCD-XC Review and came away with some valuable insight.

What do you think about them?? 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…

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!

Audeze LCD-XC

3.9

Sound

3.9/5

Build & Aesthetic

4.7/5

Comfort/Fit

2.8/5

Soundstage

4.3/5

Pros

  • Great For Quiet Listening/Isolation
  • Smooth, Detailed Sound
  • Pretty Good Sounstage for a Closed Back
  • Good Build

Cons

  • Mid-range is a bit too forward
  • Too Heavy and Uncomfortable

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