Audeze LCD-2 Classic Review
The southern California headphone specialist Audeze (pronounced Odyssey) knows very well what a product design that appeals to younger customers should look like. My 20-year-old son recently came by for a surprise evening visit while doing the extensive hearing test program with the headphone equalizers Sonarworks Reference 4 Headphone Edition and True-Fi. To do this, of course, I gathered everything I could get around me on headphones, which sounds good and has a name and reputation. But the only one of the nine top headphones that my son immediately noticed was the recently introduced Audeze LCD-2 Classic.
- Great Bass Response
- Comfortable for long sessions
- Low impedence and easy to drive
- Shines in R+B, Hip-hop, EDM, Pop
- Price (in Aus at least)
- If you listen to classical music maybe you have better options.
It is indeed a real eye-catcher: its large transducer systems, equipped with massive artificial leather ear cushions, give the Audeze LCD-2 Classic a rather substantial visual appearance. However, with a matt, anthracite-colored finish, it still looks somewhat subtle, which provides it with an excellent flair.
When it comes to new products, I am personally interested in the story that led to their creation. And the Audeze LCD-2 Classic has one – even if the Audeze company has only existed for ten years. As the name suggests, the LCD-2 Classic is technically based on the Audeze LCD-2, introduced in 2010. And it was he who paved the way for Audeze’s international success with his planar converter technology.
The original Audeze LCD-2 was well received all over the world. So sustainable that the decision was made to develop an attractively priced successor model in planar technology on its technical basis – but now with the know-how in manufacturing technology that has been gathered over the past few years. The result of these efforts is the Audeze LCD-2 Classic presented here: The goal set with it was achieved because, at 899 euros, it is actually in an exciting price range.
In terms of quality, the LCD-2 Classic did not want to compromise, which means: As with the exclusive models, production takes place entirely at Audeze in Southern California. Instead, Audeze did without anything that had no direct impact on the sound quality. For example, the rather expensive, “seawater-proof” transport case could be replaced by a foam-padded cardboard box. The natural wood surrounds of the transducer systems typical of Audeze listeners in the LCD-2 Classic have also given way to those made of robust, low-resonance nylon.
Audeze LCD-2 Classic – converter technology
Headphones with planar transducers, however, have not just been around since Audeze. As early as the mid-1970s, Peerless, MB, and Yamaha launched so-called orthodynamic headphones that used this principle. Put, planar transducers are the equivalent of electrostatic headphones ( such as the Stax SR-L models) based on the effect of magnetic force.
Like these, the electrodynamic planar transducers also use wafer-thin foils as a membrane. Vaporized with meandering conductor tracks, these membranes are clamped between arrays of rod-shaped permanent magnets arranged on the front and rear. If an alternating current caused by the sound signal flows through the vapor-deposited conductor track loops, the membranes start to move due to the force of the magnetic field and generate sound.
The advantages of the planar or magnetostatic principle are the uniform force that the membrane experiences over its entire surface. Thus, areas oscillating out of phase, which leads to selective level drops, are largely avoided. In addition, the extremely thin and, therefore, very light film reacts to the signal current with practically no delay, which leads to excellent impulse behavior.
If you also use front and rear permanent magnet arrays – like the systems in the Audeze LCD-2 Classic – the harmonic and non-harmonic distortions are also very low. Magnetostatics with such an architecture work as a dipole (fast converter) with front and rear sound radiation. They are therefore particularly suitable for open, circumaural headphones – which the LCD-2 does consistently.
A welcome side effect of the planar construction: Distributed over the entire membrane surface, the conductor loop cools itself to a certain extent when it vibrates. Planar transducers can thus process multiple dynamic peaks without being damaged if they are well dimensioned.
Audeze also specifies a peak load capacity of 15 (in words: fifteen) watts for the LCD-2 Classic. If you consider that it only needs 0.001 watts for a sound pressure level of 101 decibels, with 15 watts input power, you would be well above the 130-decibel mark – which the Audeze factory specifications confirm. So there is more than enough provision for dynamic headroom.
Thanks to its very high sound pressure level and an average impedance of 70 ohms, the Audeze LCD-2 Classic is also very suitable for mobile players such as the iPhone and the like. However, the required adapter to a 3.5 mm stereo jack plug is not available at. Therefore, the scope of delivery of the LCD-2 Classic includes a relatively robust connecting cable with a standard 6.3-millimeter jack plug. On the receiver side, it is provided with two solid, four-pole mini XLR cable sockets to be easily replaced in the event of a fault or asymmetrical version.
Audeze LCD-2 Classic – mechanics and comfort
With a weight of 580 grams, the Audeze LCD-2 Classic is one of the heavy listeners. However, the “perceived weight” is significantly lower when worn, which is undoubtedly also due to the large, very comfortable ear pads. Furthermore, the LCD-2 Classic does not weigh on the head; instead, its weight is distributed over a large area with medium contact pressure.
The headband of the LCD-2 Classic has been revised compared to the original model, which saves a lot of weight. The wide headband has also been redesigned. It can be adjusted using a robust mechanism that clicks firmly into place. All in all, however, the weighty LCD-2 is surprisingly comfortable to wear, even during longer listening sessions.
What made the original LCD 2 from 2010 a success could also be heard after a few seconds with the successor. The Audeze LCD-2 Classic sounded remarkably “free” (of distortion), pleasantly tonal in the middle registers and unobtrusively rich in detail. Moreover, excellent recorded classical music, such as the Andante con moto from Symphony No. 3 by Jean Sibelius, recorded by the Berliner Philharmoniker under Sir Simon Rattle, was a pleasure Audeze LCD-2 Classic.
Its sound was wonderfully physical, excellent to hear on the voluminous but not inflated double basses. The string sections clearly distinguished themselves from each other, thanks to the superb ability to differentiate in the middle registers.
In terms of interpretation, the Classics tended towards the dramatic. This was not least due to a particular “blackness” inherent in his dynamic temperament. As a result, he also showed a penchant for the representation of spacious rooms, which, as it were, created an extensive stage. Filigree sound details, such as the placement of the bows, set the necessary highlights.
The LowBeats sound reference among dynamic listeners, the Sennheiser HD 800 S, reproduced – also driven by the enormously powerful Questyle CMA 600i headphone amplifier – the acoustic environment in its dimensions slightly more compact than the Audeze LCD-2 Classic. In doing so, however, he brought the listener a little closer to the instruments, which made his performance appear more intimate and direct. In addition, the Sennheiser developed its timbre a bit more “nimble” than the Audeze LCD-2 Classic.
The difference between the two open-class listeners became even more evident with crisply recorded pop music. The Audeze LCD 2 Classic showed noticeably more restraint than the Sennheiser HD 800 S . However, that was not due to a lack of coarse and fine dynamic temperament. Instead, the reason for this was the American’s somewhat restrained style of play in the presence area, caused by his very pronounced diffuse field equalization there. This also is evident from the diagrams below, the Classic and the one good relative comparison of the frequency responses from Audeze 2 LCD Sennheiser HD 800 S enable.
It was precisely this question that triggered the mammoth test of the two headphone equalizers Sonarworks Reference 4 Headphone Edition and Sonarworks True-Fi, both of which allow extensive equalization of the headphone frequency responses. LCD-2-Classic aspirants should try one of the two – which is easily possible thanks to the free trial period. Supported by targeted equalization, the Audeze LCD-2 Classic, for example, sounds more present and overall “more correct” with regular, direct sound-emphasized recordings. Spectrally balanced songs, such as Steely Dan’s groovy “Cousin Dupree,” benefited considerably from this.
The Audeze LCD-2 Classic proves that magnetostatic headphones can be made at attractive prices without compromising quality or comfort. With the necessary manufacturing know-how that Audeze now has, it can even be “Made in USA.” The design of the Audeze LCD-2 Classic is correspondingly high-quality and solid, and it does without costly, complex packaging.
The Audeze LCD-2 Classic also lives up to its name in terms of sound. Because of its coordination, it is ideally suited for recordings that include the acoustic ambiance of large concert halls – which is the case with most classical works. This is where the Audeze LCD-2 can show its strengths, i.e., openness, low distortion, and impulse fidelity. In the case of crisply recorded light music, on the other hand, the Classics presents itself from its subtle side, but without lacking in temperament or richness of detail.