Stock image: Audeze | Design: HomeStudioBasics
Originally published 12/16/17.
- 4/30/22. Article refresh.
Greetings friend and Welcome aboard!!
Before we get into the Audeze LCD-XC 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
- Amp/DAC requirements
- Who do these headphones benefit?
- Thoughts from Stu’s notepad
- Final Word
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!
- Price: Check Amazon! | Check B&H! | Check eBay!
- Type: Closed back, Planar Magnetic.
- Fit: Circumaural (Around the Ear).
- Impedance: 20 Ohms. What is Headphone Impedance?
- Sensitivity: 100dB/mW. What is Sensitivity in Headphones?
- Transducer size: 106mm.
- Sound Pressure Level: >130 dB with 15W. What is SPL?
- Max power handling: 15W (for 200 Ohms).
- Optimal Power Requirement: 1 – 4 W.
- Frequency response: 5Hz – 20kHz extended out to 50kHz.
- Material: Wood, leather.
- Cable: Mini XLR. What is XLR?
- Cable Detachable: Yes.
- Color: Brown, Black.
Build & Comfort
Wow. What a mammoth headphone the closed-back LCD-XC is. Closed back vs. open back headphones?
Like the LCD-X, this is a bowling ball for your melon.
That said, I thought this model fit a little bit more secure than its brother. You likely will be taking breaks, however, as the weight will affect you in one way or another unless your neck is made of titanium alloy.
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
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. meat head 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-wise, the XCs are pretty much built like a boulder. Nothing else needs to be said. The combination of wood, metal, and leather complement this set exceptionally well, and there isn’t a hint of plastic to be found as far as I can remember.
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.
But what about the sound?
The overall sound is almost identical to the LCD-X with one exception (well maybe 2). 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. It might just be because I had the volume up a bit too much, and I will have to demo them again and see if that’s indeed the case.
I’ve tried these out on a few different occasions, and even plugged into the absolutely phenomenal NAIM DAC V-1 (admittedly a pretty sterile/clean sounding amp), 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.
The bass continues in the vein of the LCD-X. Learn more: Audeze LCD-X Review.
It’s ridiculously crisp, tight, controlled, buttery smooth, and has 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 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.
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 adminttedly sound a bit veiled at times), the XC will likely be a breath of fresh air for you (no pun intended).
There is a sense of air, crispness, and space here that do make 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 even despite being a closed back.
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?
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 – sort of like that girl who wears way too much makeup and isn’t nearly as hot as she would have you believe.
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.
- Lively and engaging sound.
- Phenomenal bass.
- Built strong like oxen.
- Great instrument separation.
- Soundstage is wonderful for a closed back. What is Soundstage?
- Mid-range can be grating at times.
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.
Some people would scoff at recommending a $150 DAC for these, but I really don’t care.
Who do these headphones benefit?
Everyone. They do well with all types of music. The genres I tested:
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. 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.
The Audeze LCD-XC is magnificently built but really heavy.
The overall sound is good, but the rise at 1-2k is a bit overwhelming at times. An Astonishing bass response, crisp treble, and an overall very satisfying listening experience save the LCD-XC from being a bust.
I think the LCD-XC is a pretty good entry into the line but I personally 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.
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 a number of years and still feel the same way about them today as I did back in 2017.
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…