Audez’e LCD-2 Impressions
I really won’t call this a full review, mostly due to the limited time I had with the headphone. Normally I get to keep a headphone for a minimum of 1-2 weeks for a full review article. But my impressions on this article are based on a one day listening session. It’s a good thing that the source and the amplifier used are stuff that I’ve owned for a long time, and also present during the listening session are two headphones that I’m quite familiar with: the Omega2 and the HD800.
As always with any reviews, I use quite a wide variety of genres to see how the headphones are able to play a certain type of music. For this review, the CDs I used are:
- Belafonte at Carnegie Hall
- Oasis: Time Flies… 1994-2009
- Buena Vista Social Club
- Beethoven Symphony No. 9, Berlin Philharmonic, Claudio Abbado
- U2: The Joshua Tree
- Prodigy: The Fat of the Land
In some ways, the LCD-2 is more impressive sounding than the Stax Omega2 Mk2. The headphone feels more open, and bass has better texture and has a more linear extension to the low bass. The Mk2 Omega2 does have a midbass hump that’s supposedly not present in the Mk1 variants, and this midbass hump, while fun, does seem to take away the texture on the bass a little.
Ultimately, the Stax Omega2 still remains to be one of the best driver technology. The background is still blacker sounding, the treble much smoother than the LCD-2′s, and the transients remain superior. But it’s amazing what Audeze does with their $1,000, and how it’s able to make the HD800, for the first time, sounding less transparent and lacking a clear separation.
The overall character of the LCD-2 is slightly dark, but at the same time it’s very transparent sounding. If the HD800 has a forward upper midrange, the LCD is more flat on that area, but in comparison the LCD-2 is accentuated on the upper treble, helping with the impression of clarity. On short listens, this slight treble peak is very impressive. But on longer listening periods, it makes the treble feels less refined than on the HD800 or the O2. For some people, the upper midrange accent on the HD800 will sound more annoying, and for some the LCD-2′s treble peak is more bothersome. Of course, the Omega2 has none of these treble issues.
The LCD-2 is impressive in a lot of aspects, the black background really makes the HD800 sounds like it is a little muddy. The soundstage is wider and feels more open than the HD800, although it’s more panned out, while the Omega2 and the HD800 has a more coherent blending between the left and right soundstage area. The focus on vocal is also better on the HD800 and the Omega2.
The HD800′s bass frequency curve also has a slight hump, like the O2 Mk2 but in much smaller doses, while the LCD-2 has the most linear bass curve down to the low bass frequencies. As a result, low bass is far more evident on the LCD-2, and the bass area has better clarity on the LCD-2 than it does on the HD800 and O2. The LCD-2, in my opinion, has the best and most fun sounding bass of the three. While the HD800′s bass remains superior in technicalities due to the bass layering capability that I don’t hear on the LCD-2 or the O2.
The O2 and the HD800 both have a smoother sounding driver than the LCD-2, and I can pair it to a good solid state amp like the HeadAmp KGSS or Burson HA-160 and not feel fatique over long listening periods. The LCD-2, however, is less smooth, and like the HE5 and the HE5LE, do need some tube action to smooth things out. I didn’t have a proper tube amp during this audition, as it would’ve been interesting to see how the LCD-2 sounds out of the Zana Deux.
While the LCD-2 has neither of the midbass hump that’s present on the O2 and the HD800, it’s superior sense of clarity do sound dryer than the Senn and the Stax. Yet, it is only dry in comparison to the Omega2 and the HD800, but not in the dry/clinical sense. The HD800 and the Omega2 is very smooth sounding, and while that’s good for some music, I do find that the LCD-2 has the grittiness, the attack, and the correct attitude for Rock music.
The midrange of the Omega2 is most special, as it is able to combine great transparency and texture, and yet still sounding full and smooth.
Playing my favorite Prodigy song, Breathe from The Fat of the Land, I really have no complain with the bass performance. Punchy, tight, weight, articulation, it’s all there. The intensity of the punch is also strongest on the LCD-2, with the Omega2 second and the HD800 last. Although the Omega2 has a faster transients, the presence of the midbass hump makes the bass less tight compared to the HD800 and the LCD-2.
On Rock and Electronica, the LCD-2 sounds more energetic and engaging, while I won’t say that the HD800 and the Omega2 lacks PRaT or attack, the two latter headphones do sound more relaxed in respect to the LCD-2. Likewise on the vocals
In terms of build quality and comfort, the LCD-2 may look like a DIY headphone, but I don’t feel that it’s lacking anything about built or comfort. Audez’e certainly has done their research very well for the design of the housing, resulting in one of the most comfortable headphone I’ve used, and well within the comfort range of the Omega2 and the HD800. Although the weight is quite significant, yet the entire frame, and the structure of the pads was able to distribute that weight very nicely. Of course, moving to the HD800 or the Omega2 feels very lightweight and even more comfortable, but still I think that the LCD-2 is one of the most comfortable full size headphone I’ve tried.
Although I haven’t confirmed this to Audez’e, I suspect that the pads are made from real leather. While the grade of the leather is not as fine as the lambskin used in the Omega2, it is still very comfortable, even for long term use. The oval shaped opening on the pads allow my ears to fit nicely within the sound chamber.
The LCD-2 has quite a wide genre bandwith, excelling with everything I throw on it. However, where the LCD-2 truly shine is with Rock music, it has just the perfect attack and energy for Rock. The Omega2 and the HD800 are more refined and have an edge at other things, but they don’t have quite the same energy that makes Rock music lively and engaging.
Gear used for review
Headphones: Audez’e LCD2, Sennheiser HD800, Stax Omega2
Amplifier: Beta22, Burson HA-160, HeadAmp KGSS
Source: CEC TL51XZ