Audeze LCD-1 Review Page 2

Listening

It also means you can listen at both high and low levels without peaks and spikes wrecking your hearing. The slightly relaxed tuning in this region is probably the best balance I’ve yet heard of these two factors in a headphone at almost any price. I found listening to the LCD-1 at both loud and soft levels gave a remarkably consistent experience from a frequency response standpoint, a huge factor for pros and enthusiasts alike.

Bass-wise this is Audeze bass through-and-through. The levels are pretty much spot-on, but it’s the texture and the dynamics that really grab you. There’s oodles of detail and tightness, minimal overhang and a sense of macrodynamics and scale that make things sound big when you turn the volume up. Orchestral music and soundtracks sound just plain epic on these things. The dynamic contrast and punch isn’t of the scale you’ll get with some of the larger Audeze cans such as the LCD-X, but I feel confident in saying it’s better than any headphone I’ve heard for less than $1k USD. If there are dynamics there, the LCD-1 will definitely let you know, especially on music with softer limiting and clipping.

Class-leading Micro and Macro-dynamics.

Detail and overall transparency are excellent as a result of the well-balanced tuning, though being slightly tilted towards the bass and midrange frequencies, they will tend to give the impression of smoother, warmer details, rather than a sparkly pop-out-at-you type of detail that dynamic or more treble-tilted headphones will. The microdynamic contrast and separation are still very good for the under $500 category, although these don’t quite have that last 10 per cent of absolute detail and microdynamic sense of spatial resolution. This is one area in which I’m reminded that these are still a $399 headphone rather than an $899 one.

Tonally there’s also a slight richness or sweetness to the sound that comes out with the right amplification. Even slightly bright or aggressive amps seemed just a tiny bit warmer when played through the LCD-1, although they still retained their overall character. Just as with differing volume levels, differing amplification provided an exceptionally consistent listening experience. The frequency response and dynamic characteristic of the headphone was consistent on everything from laptops and phones to head amps with several watts of power, to amps with over a dozen watts.

Conclusion

A new yardstick in the under-$500 realm.

Impedance and sensitivity were non issues with both solid state and tube amps, but because the LCD-1 has a very even frequency response, it was also easy to hear differences in amplification, especially when it came to dynamics. On some of the most powerful amps in my stable, the LCD-1 even started to approach the dynamic capabilities of the LCD-2 Classic series. In proverbial headphone kindergarten, the LCD-1 gets a ‘plays well with others’ sticker. No matter the amp though, the headphone still doesn’t quite have that last 10 per cent of what the higher-end LCD series has. Again, my only real nitpick is this, and it’s really less a nitpick and more an observation, as I think the tradeoff of that last bit of detail for a slightly richer, sweeter listening experience is part of what makes this not only a great professional tool but also an excellent enthusiast headphone. It’s also the kind of nitpick I would expect to make on a headphone that’s much more expensive. To tell the truth, I’m rather stunned at what Audeze has accomplished. I’ve been repeatedly saying I look forward to more headphones in the sub-$500 USD category that benefit from advancements in driver tech and our understanding of headphone target curves, and this is the first one I’ve heard that really knocks it out of the park. I think we’ll see more interesting headphones in this crossover category between enthusiast and professional, where there’s a lot of mutually beneficial design concepts. I look forward to more excellent headphones in this price category, but it won’t be easy. Audeze has thrown the yardstick an awful long way.

Specifications

  • Style: Over-ear, open-circumaural
  • Transducer type: Planar Magnetic
  • Magnetic structure: Single-sided Fluxor magnet array
  • Phase management: Fazor
  • Magnet type: Neodymium N50
  • Diaphragm type: Ultra-thin Uniforce
  • Transducer size: 90 mm
  • Maximum power handling: 5W RMS
  • Maximum SPL: >120dB
  • Frequency response: 10Hz - 50KHz
  • THD: <0.1% @ 100dB
  • Impedance: 16 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 99 dB/1mW (at Drum Reference Point)
  • Ear Pads: Memory foam, genuine lambskin leather
  • Weight: 250g

COMPANY INFO
Audeze LLC
3412 S. Susan St, Santa Ana California 92704, USA
support@audeze.com
(714) 581-8010
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Matt Foley's picture

Any plans to review the Aeon 2’s? I’m coming from Hifiman HE-400s and was planning on the Aeon 2 Closed. Your review of the Audeze LCD-1 give me pause due to the cost and praise about them possibly besting other headphones under $1,000. I am unable to try either of these before purchasing which is why I am asking.

Grover Neville's picture

Trying to get my hands on a pair of Aeon 2, I'll keep you posted. I liked the Aeon 2 Closed I've heard a lot so far... but the LCD-1 is just so well tuned AND much more efficient. For me the tuning and ability to run off anything is really a big plus. I see the LCD-1 as more of a daily-driver do-all, while the Aeon2 is a more serious commitment to portables or a good desktop amp.

Matt Foley's picture

Thanks Grover - I’ll be ordering one of these really soon. Great review and it’s great to see so much available at $500 with the LCD-1.

Martin.'s picture

I sorta feel that you're hesitant to compare, but if you'd indulge me, do you think, as an owner of the LCD2Classic, that there might be something in LCD-1 that I don't get from the LCD2Classics? Thinking of how you weren't fond of the Elears/Clears, but enjoyed the Stellia/Elegia sound.

Grover Neville's picture

but I from what I recall, I like the tuning of the LCD-1 better. The 2classic has better dynamics, scale resolution, etc. I'm big on the best tuning I can get first and most other things second. If you like those other things first though, then the LCD2classic might win out for you. That's just my hot take off the top of my head.

Martin.'s picture

I have a hard time getting access to headphones where I live, so that's why I ask. Tbh I bought the classics based on reviews, but have been really happy with them. I know I'm supposed to listen before I buy, but knowing something doesn't equal acting on that knowledge. Life's not that simple.

Simply Nobody's picture

The Cable Company carries several different headphone models ....... They have 'try before you buy' lending policy ....... You could check with them :-) .......

Jazz1's picture

Me too. I’m wondering how they might compare?

Grover Neville's picture

The LCD-1 has a much more 'studio monitor' tuning than most LCD headphones. It's probably their most neutral headphone, but it doesn't have the tremendous dynamics of the bigger LCD-style headphones.

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