More Audez’e LCD-2

I just received a brand new Audez’e LCD-2 from my good friend Peter. Of course it came with a nice wooden box and an interior that smelled like a brand new Mercedes interior, but that’s nothing new.

Check this out…

“Yes, this is totally brand new. We did not ship you a refurbished unit. Yes ma’am.

 

If only Sennheiser did this to the HD800 cables when I bought it, I didn’t have to argue with the Sennheiser guy to why the cable was not neat and tidy.

 

It comes with a bunch of legal documents?

 

And a carnauba wax. Just perfect.

 

share us on your favourite network
  • Jose

    This is on the verge of becoming porn for audiophiles :p

    • Mike

      Yep. and pretty soon if you're not a paying member, you only get to see the text part of the review. B)

  • Kunal

    Have you given it a listen.

    • Mike

      Actually, not yet. Haven't had the time to, but I'll do so today. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001326984428 Kelvin Ang

    LOL! The plastic bags kinda remind me of evidence bags used by CSI. Even commercial aviation spares don't come with this much plastic (apart from bubble wrap)!

    Pity the documents folder/envelope did not also come with a cardboard backing and large/bold "IMPORTANT DOCUMENTATION: DO NOT BEND, FOLD OR DISCARD" labelling on the envelope front.

    • denging

      more to Dexter's i think… sorry mike can't help it LOL

  • EclipseMike

    Oh man, I wish I could afford a pair of these along with a proper dac / amp.. I am SO tempted to sell off everything I have to buy them, but i'd also need to dump a lot more into a proper source and amp as well, which is something I cannot do just yet. Some day… I really do think though if I get the upgrade itch again i am just going to cut the middle man and just save for these directly along with a good matching source. I've read so many reviews that say the sound go's along with the beauty of these..

    Gah!

    P.S Very nice photos!

    • Mike

      Feels like getting into an endless cycle of upgrades, huh? :)

  • Mike

    When I first listened to the LCD-2, my comments were mostly positive. I thought it had a great soundstage, both size and imaging. Signature was a little dark, but that's okay, as I was comparing it to the Omega 2 that's also dark sounding. It seemed to be a great headphone for rock, and it still is now. It has one of the most awesome bass punch in headphones.

    When I compared it the second time with the HE-6, and briefly T1 and HD800, I started to notice the lack of treble extension and low level details when compared to the other three headphones, but it was still a fun sounding headphones that plays rock really well.

    Now that I have the LCD-2 in my possession, I'm spending more time with it and am learning more about its character.

    I'm listening to the LCD-2 out of the Zana Deux, Grace m902, and the LM1875 Gainclone and I'm beginning to see hear more things that I didn't hear before.
    1. The lack of extension really bothers me, even with relatively "easy" Rock recordings like U2's Joshua Tree or John Mayer's live in LA. I'm not asking for a HD800 level treble extension either, but the LCD-2's roll off point is very early for a $1,000 headphone.
    2. Even with the Zana Deux which has a mildly forward midrange, the LCD-2's midrange is still not engaging enough for me.
    3. Lack of low level details bother me as well. Not in the sense of a low level detail freak, but low level detail helps give the sense of ambiance a great deal, and the LCD-2 just doesn't have it. I'm not even comparing it to the T1 or the HD800, but the low level detail is far too low for a $1,000 headphone.
    4. The timbre is quite off and it's annoying when you're listening to guitars, pianos, and such. I know it's hard to define a "perfect" timbre, but high end headphones are roughly fairly close in terms of timbre accurateness. The LCD-2's timbre is quite off compared to all of the high end headphones I've listened to. Surprising, as planars and wood housings should make a great recipe for a great timbre. Or so I thought.
    5. When I last compared the LCD-2 to the HE-6, I started to notice that there is a certain reverb caused by the midrange and upper bass. I can't stand the reverb when I'm listening to a classical recordings. When the orchestra makes a big sound, then the reverb will be audible.
    6. The LCD-2's midrange sounds congested when you're listening to medium to low volume. It's great on moderately high to loud volumes though.
    7. Decay. The decay is a bit too short for simple instruments and acoustic pieces, simple drums, pianos, etc. Yes the transients are good, but I think the decay is too short to sound natural.

    I understand that at the end of the day, musicality is what matters. And again, the LCD-2 continues to be a great recommendation for fast paced Rock. It has an awesome bass punch, PRaT, and the dark signature helps a lot with hot rock recordings. But for a $1,000 headphone, you'd expect some level of technicalities, even if it doesn't have to be the best score at every technical categories out there. And with the LCD-2, I think they have failed to meet that line.

    Of course, if the LCD-2 happens to sound great with your music, than that's awesome. I think the LCD-2 has one of the most ideal frequency balance for most of the newer mainstream music out there. Awesome and tight bass, good PRaT, good soundstage and image, fairly laid back treble that compensates hot trebles very well. On the other hand, headphones like the HD800 and the T1 continues to get polarizing reviews due to their inability to match well with modern and mainstream music recordings. In a way I think the HE-6 has strikes a good balance between having a good enough technicalities and yet still sounding great with modern recordings. However, the center soundstage issue of the HE-6 prevents it to be the "perfect" headphone.

    Hopefully the new Stax flagship can make its way to our review room soon. :D

    • Kunal

      Thanks for the detailed rgith down on the LCD2, what was the HE-6 center soundstage issue that you experienced.

      • Mike

        No probs, Kunal.

        The issue with the HE-6 is that the soundstage doesn't form a good image with a proper focus in the center. You also feel that the soundstage information only exists on the left and the right side, with nothing being present in the area in front of you. I used to think that the LCD-2 is slightly better because it doesn't have this issue, but now I think the HE-6 is better because it has less faults than the LCD-2.

        Ultimately we don't listen to technicalities, but we listen to the music. But I can assure you that if you've lived with the headphones and listen to it for a long term period, those faults will eventually be noticeable and they will get in the way of a more natural listening session.

        • Kunal

          I have been listening to the HE-6 for a while now,one revelation I found was that my 24bit misic was sounding so live and true,I was enjoying music like I never did before.
          I always tried to depict a live performance,but that feel was never there in the instruments,yesderday I can say that I was feeling every instrument being played.
          To such an extent that it feels hard getting back to 16 bit music,I feel I need to get more 24 bit music, because out of the HE-6 it sounds just like the way it is supposed to.
          I always felt 24 bit music was a myth in terms of performance excellence, not after you have listened to a properly amped HE-6.

          • Mike

            Have you done a 24 bit to 16bit comparison with the same recording file?

            • Kunal

              I haven't.I probably should.

              • Mike

                If you're using Mac, you can take the same 24 Bit file and set the output of the DAC to be limited to 16/44.1 through the Audio/Midi set-up. I think Windows user should have an option to do the same too.

                • Kunal

                  I can set re-sampling in foobar for Windows, in fact I will test and get back to you

  • http://www.deckhanddavy.com Davy

    The LCD-2's, IMO, are the most beautiful cans in current production. They have such a nice throwback to classical design, and that handsomely carved wood and buttery leather really top it off.

    It's almost like wearing an Eames lounge chair on your head . ;)

    • Mike

      Indeed it is a beautiful design. This one has the new headband pads as well. I should take a picture of it.

      One thing that annoys me is that the cable is too stiff, and the part above the Y-section constantly gets tangled because the housing are free to rotate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/larryganz1 Larry Ganz

    Mike, I've said very similar things on the head-fi forums as you did about the LCD-2. Cheers, HeadphoneAddict

    • Mike

      Hi Larry, you are so famous, man. In our local forum, we often talk about "what HeadphoneAddict" says.

      Welcome to my humble website. :D

      I've always thought that you're a much older gentleman, but now that I've seen your photo, I have to change my perception. :)

      • Kunal

        I will accept the fact to, that Larry was supposed to be much older, anyway coming back to the LCD2's
        The headphones are awesome no doubt,but between the HE-6 and the LCD2 ,I feel it comes down to personal preference,as they do different things perfectly,some not so perfect.

        What do you feel Mike.

        • tingm

          Definitely different preference. LCD-2's bass simply can't be beat. However I feel HE-6 has wider genre bandwith. I can use the HE-6 for rock and classical. I can't use the LCD-2 for classical due to the issues I mentioned earlier.

          • Kunal

            what issue mate,must have missed your post somewhere I the woods of HE-6 with Diana Krall singing to me :)

            • tingm

              If you scroll up, a few comments back, you'll see it. It's quite a lengthy comment by me.

              • Kunal

                not there, must have gone missing or I can't see it.
                Would you mind re-posting.

                • tingm

                  The part about the timbre, I think it's not as bad with guitars as it is with piano. I totally can't listen to a piano solo with the LCD-2. The transients is superb, but I think they *may* have made the decay too short, perhaps so that it looks good on tests. Again with fast Rock it's all good, but not with classical or Jazz. In this sense the HE-6 is “better” as it can cover both Rock and Classical/Jazz better than the LCD-2.

                • http://twitter.com/JotaIGz @JotaIGz

                  Didn't you already post this back there?=/

                  Anywho, I wanted to clear something about the LCD2 on piano. I absolutely love it, never heard it so true (other than the real one), you've got to remember that piano is first a percussion instrument, then string, thats what allows it to go from piano to forte. The audez'e really shines with percussions of all kinds, the visceral impact is real enough to be scary. You say that decay is less, that may be true, but to my ears its more in accordance to whats in the recording. Going into low level details, they may not be as in your face as with the HD800, but everything is there. They may be subtle at times, but they are definitely there. Listening to Philip Glass' Etude no. 2 right now, and I can certainly hear each hammer stroke with accurate decay and tone; moreover I can precisely distinguish each sostenuto, damp or soft stroke there may be, characteristics which enter into the low level realm.

                  I guess what I am trying to say is that the LCD2 is not JUST good for rock and fast paced music, but to whatever harmony you throw at it.

                  Oh, and about your Grado-like problem with the cups, use an allen wrench on the blocks that hold the rods in place, tighten it so it doesn't gyrate.

                  • http://twitter.com/JotaIGz @JotaIGz

                    rectify: … more in accordance to the real thing…

                    And pardon my wicked grammar :p

                  • Mike

                    Thanks for posting your thoughts.Regarding the re-post, earlier Kunal asked me to re-post it because he couldn't find it.Thanks for the tips with the cups. I'll try to do so. It's been a real chore, whenever the cups rotate the cables would get all twisted.

                    • Kunal

                      Thanks for re-posting but the username with that previous post appears to be tingm,I was looking for his lengthy post,didn't know that both were you.

                  • Mike

                    Oh, and I think you made a good point. I'll think about what you said when I'm listening to the LCD-2 again tonight.Thanks. :)

                  • Mike

                    Jose,
                    I am listening to the LCD-2 now, and I think the percussion part of the piano is well played with the LCD-2. Transients are very good and you can hear every time the hammer is hitting the strings clearly. But I don't think that has anything to do with the timbre of the piano notes.

  • glac1er

    I went to Mike's place to listen to his LCD-2 few days ago. I really enjoyed the sound and if not for the $1000 price tag, I would seriously consider it.

    Starting off with ergonomics, fit, and design. I would rate them as average in all of these areas, pretty poor considering they are $1000. They are acceptable to good in comfort department, getting worse the longer you have them on. Maybe my expectation is too high, but for a $1000 I expect at least DT880's level of comfort. The woodwork and overall design lacks the soft touch I associate with a $1000 product. It feels DIY. Cable is stiff and above the Y split tangles (reminding me of same amateurish design of Grado).

    Soundwise, remember that what I'll say below is in comparison against the HD800 and HE6 which was present. All the things I'll say below are using these two excellent headphones as the benchmarks, and I seriously think I need a more extended listening.

    1. The LCD-2 has an almost spot-on engaging tonal balance for simple pop/rock or anything along those lines. It's like going to a rock concert (only more hi-fi) and has the perfect rumbling bass for those music, while staying perfectly in control. Regarding the bass extension, using some of the drum test tracks, I think they are perfectly fine. Upper bass can cause some annoying reverbs (maybe it's bad recordings) once in a while.
    2. Midrange is just there… It's clear, but I don't think it's particularly resolving. Has the tendency to get less clear during more complex passages. I like HE6's more. HE6 also has more apparent and more resolving treble while still being quite smooth for those amount of treble. Some people say the LCD-2 has less than ideal amount of treble. I think it's quite fine with most tracks and the LCD-2 has a rather delicate and nimble treble feel to accompany its powerful bass. The combination is rather scintillating with the right music.
    3. Decay is less than an issue for me as I also use a short decay Stax Lambdas. Sometimes I do hear less ambiance detail (room reflection, etc) with these kind of headphones; however, I also like their rather haunting and clean nature.
    4. Piano definitely sounds slightly off (we're talking high-end realm here) to my ears. The note is very clear and articulate; however, I also think it's hyped toward the articulation but less so on the natural body or fullness that accompany it. Real piano doesn't sound nearly as articulate.

    I think somebody needs to lent me an LCD-2 so I can listen to it longer :D. My overall impression is that the LCD-2 creates a very vivid sound with a lot of articulation, clarity, and really powerful bass. Everything sounds so perfect and clear by itself, but compared to $1000+ competitors, some subtlety is lost in the process. That still doesn't stop it from being a great headphone.

    • Mike

      That was very well written man. B)

    • Mike

      That was very well written man. *thumbs up*

  • glac1er

    Thanks, Mike. Btw, what I meant by articulation is most of the part a very clear, sharp, and direct attack of each note and a very clearly delineated decay short or long. All dynamics I have heard don't quite have it to a same degree.

    • Mike

      Yes, I know what you mean by articulation you Stax-man. :D

      I think the problem with planars, so far, is that the very short transients, though very articulate, sometimes doesn't sound natural.

    • Kunal

      what about the articulate side of the HE-6,glac1er what do you have to say about the HE-6 in terms of the comfort and physical appearance.

      • glac1er

        I think the LCD-2 gives me more of that super-articulate sensation. The HE6- is not far behind either or maybe it's just the bass. And in this case being less is not exactly a bad thing :). I need more listening time to confirm this though.

        I kinda like how the HE-6 looks, and the naked copper cable looks nice too with the piano-black finish. Fit is not ideal, and I can imagine the pads pressing my ears down a bit much during extended listening.

        30 minutes listening time shouldn't be an issue with the LCD-2 and HE6 though. They are more comfy than bowl-pads Grado.

  • Brian

    Dude, don’t you realize that LCD2 can’t do no wrong? This is a heresy punishable by hanging!

    Watch out, these people may kidnap you from Headfonia HQ. Be prepared!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSe38dzJYkY

    • tingm

      Lol.
      People have shortcomings.
      Companies have shortcoming.
      Even presidents have shortcomings.

      I think it’s okay for a headphone to have shortcomings. :P

    • Kunal

      What is you definition of wrong, there are a few improvements I would like in the LCD 3 version, which could make it on the same level as the HE-6.

      • Mike

        Can you say that again, Kunal? I didn't quite get what you mean. :|

  • Kunal

    Brian siad the LCD2 could not do anything wrong,I was only saying its not perfect,and there are a few changes I would want to see in their 3 version which will bring it up a notch around the same level as the HE-6

    • Mike

      I think Brian was being sarcastic when he said that. :D

      • Brian

        Sarcasm is easily lost in the Intraweb. :D

        • tingm

          Lol. We seriously need a pro-grade emoticon system. The one we have now is barely sufficient.Nice youtube link though.

  • AGB

    The arguments here are interesting. Hyper detail is not real. “Extended” highs are not necessarily “real.” They may be. Details being “pushed” forward is not real…it is not what one hears when listening to acoustic instruments and voices in real space. Audio designers do push these characteristics: hyper detail, extended highs, to impress the naive. This is exactly the same as what TV makers do to present their sets in the showroom and capture a customer. Make them bright and contrasty. That TV selling technique is the analogue to hyped hi fi.

    What is REAL is the hearing loss of those who use earphones too much and for too long and deny the hearing losses to themselves and their associates. They will PREFER the brighter and livelier and more detailed sound…the details of which they have lost because of their hearing loss and for which compensation is desirable for enjoyment.

    Again, whether one has some actual hearing loss or not, the appropriate exercise to determine which headphone corresponds CLOSER to reality is to listen to various recordings of acoustic instruments and voices, piano, flute, guitar, strings and percussion instruments, in real space – better yet, in various spaces.

    At that point one can decide if, after listening to many recordings, one headphone is hyped and the other is not. The spatial rendering will also become part of the equation. The hyped earphone will produce a flatter, more forward, and less dimensional sound.

    A documented flat response at the headphone’s diaphragm is an indication of accuracy and musicality. One has to see this documentation to the lowest resolving level.

    Moreover, the headphone amp in use is part of the equation too. One has to determine without any headphone if his amp is neutral or is it the proper amp for the headphone in use. One cannot isolate the headphone from the system. The Shiit Audio LYR seems to be the amp of choice for orthos, or even the direct output from a good asynchronous DAC like the Wyred4Sound DAC2, which has a preamp RCA and XLR out. This may eliminate the headphone amp entirely, and reports are that the sound with orthos is heavenly. These may be the ideal solutions. I am awaiting the Wyred4Sound DAC and will report back on my impressions.

    Lastly, it is ALL about enjoyment. If one prefers less accuracy and dimensionality and more hyper-detailed technicolored sound, for whatever reason, it is a matter of values AND choices. Those are the values that created Cadillacs with huge wings in the sixties, and the choices than made them remarkably successful; and why Donald Trump’s apartment atop an ultra- modern New York skyscraper resembles a gilded Corsican whorehouse more appropriate to 17th Century Corsican “gentlemen.”

    • Anonymous

      Benjamin,
      We have had 3-4 different meets where we let people listen to the HE-6
      and the LCD-2, and all of them say that the LCD-2 is a dark headphone,
      just the same way they think the O2 is a dark headphone. I guess all of
      them are losing their hearings as well.

      Dark or bright is just an adjective. One is not necessarily better than
      the other. Some recordings are bright, and pairs better with dark
      headphones, and vica versa.

      And finally, it is ALL about enjoyment. I’ve said this many times, that
      the HD800, even being far superior in technicalities, can’t play a
      decent Rock recording. Whereas the LCD-2 is superb for Rock. But as a
      reviewer, I do have to talk about the technicalities. Otherwise my
      articles will purely be based on my personal taste.

      I think you’re taking the critiques to the LCD-2 too personally. It’s a
      great headphone, but it’s not perfect. And so is the HD800, HE-6, T1, or
      Omega2.

      Let’s close the discussion now.

  • AGB

    I hear you. Pun intended.

    “I think you’re taking the critiques to the LCD-2 too personally. It’s a
    great headphone, but it’s not perfect.”

    I don’t take anything too seriously. I reflect on what music sounds like in real space and use that from memory, or directly listen to a real instrument or voice if I can, as the model. Nor do I disagree with your fair contention that one headphone will sound lighter – as in more lit up – than another. Or that the other may sound dimmer, as in the reality is lighter – if that latter were the case. The question remains: which is the more accurate in comparison to live music performed in different halls as the model…each hall of course will sound different, as each piano and voice can sound different, one from the other.

    For myself I speak of the aggregate experience over time – decades – as well as to having real instruments in my home today, and having heard my sister, an accomplished pianist, practice daily for years since I was able to stand in the crib.

    What I am saying is that unless you know which headphone pictures the music accurately, let’s say by using direct a mic feed bypass, you can’t really know anything about any of these headphones. This comment is not meant to diminish your good work and advice or your test methodology.

    As a former reviewer for TAS for about fifteen years, I did exactly that at times. Used a bypass feed from a microphone with simple instruments to get an idea, not an absolute idea, of what the component under test could do. To identify colorations of the tonal and textural variety. For example, does the flute sound too breathy – hyper real?

    This was exactly the same test Acoustic Research Corporation demonstrated to wide audiences in their showroom at Grand Central station in the early seventies, if I recall the time correctly. I worked in the area and passed them every day.

    What I noticed as a trend with modern high fi is that particular affinity to light up the stage – even if the reality would be quite a bit darker than the depiction the manufacturer is selling: a brighter flashlight. Involving and exciting to be sure and most of us will fall for it. And then, a few months later, we ask ourselves why we tire of this stuff so easily and so soon.

    This trend has become widespread and my argument is that we need to return to reality – which happens to be just as enjoyable once we accustom ourselves to it, and acknowledge what it should sound like, as the hyped stuff most of us buy.

    And of course, I did qualify my comments regarding preference and enjoyment that may or may not have anything to do with musical accuracy. Lastly, I felt an obligation to warn anyone reading this that hearing loss, especially for headphone listeners, is becoming an increasing problem; and to connect this possibility to their preferences in what they are buying.

    Whatever the condition of your ears, the music you hear live should somewhat resemble the music you will hear canned through your choice of head gear. At least as closely as possible. Best to all.

    • Anonymous

      Okay Ben. Thanks for the long and insightful comment.

      • Evilnorther

        hi, guys! Is it possible to drive LCD-2 with a portable amp like Ibasso PB-2 ? I know, such cans should be in love with desktop amps…. but still is there a chance? As far as I know LCD-2 drives easier than HE-6….

        And the other question: since Mike told that Audeze are really good for rock music recordings… how do they sound with other genres? :choral singin’, instrumental, electronic, hip-hop?

        • Anonymous

          It should be possible, but it wouldn’t be an optimal solution.

  • Marcus

    Hello Mike,
    Which of the LCD-2 or T1 is more closed-sounding?
    In your opinion, does the T1 have more engaging mids than the LCD-2?
    Thanks.

    • Anonymous

      I think the LCD-2 and the T1 are both fairly closed sounding. Which is more closed-sounding? Not so sure, but if you make me choose, perhaps it’s the LCD-2. However the soundstage size is bigger than the T1.

      As with the midrange, the T1′s mid (especially upper section) is way more engaging.