The LCD-1 90mm driver delivers powerful, rich and deep bass with low distortion. Bass is always present and bass is full bodied, but also depending on the source in use. With a neutral source such as the Astell&Kern SP1000 you get tight and fast bass with good detail. As aid bass will always be present, but with a neutral source it will be perfectly balanced. The LCD-1 by no means is a bass monster. With the Lotoo Paw 6000 you get fuller and bigger bass. What you loose in bass speed you gain extra in body. So you can easily tune the bass to your liking.
Bass has good detail and depth but as with many planar drivers the sub bass rumble is not the strongest. The layering is quite good, as well as the preciseness. Bass overall is a pleasure to listen to in this headphone, and to me it hits the sweet spot where engagement, fun and preciseness meet.
In short: Excellent bass. Period.
The mids perfectly flow from the bass and the especially the lower mids share the same characteristics. A full bodied lower & mid presence is the result. The upper mids have great clarity, precision and excellent PRaT. The mid-timbre and extension is to die for.
The delivery is precise and detailed and it always is musical. The mids also have a smoothness in the delivery which makes them sound natural and rich. If the bass didn’t impress you already, then the tonality of these sweet, perfectly rendered mids will do the job for sure.
The treble section is energetic, yet soft and natural to the ear. Great treble in planar magnetic headphones isn’t always easy to achieve, but Audeze pulled it off perfectly with the LCD-1.
Treble has good body and connects perfectly from and to the bass and mids in this regard, but it is also clear, precise and quite extended. I am impressed by the clarity, decay of notes and at the same time the naturality and musicality of the treble.
The LCD-1 design team deserves a medal, or at least a big bonus at the end of the year. It is impressive to see how they have managed to make the 90mm drivers perform.
I like the balanced presentation, the musicality and the naturalness from top to bottom. Bass, mids and treble all are very impressive, but it’s probably the mids that will get you hooked to the LCD-1 most.
Sources / Amplification
If you look at the technical specifications you would say a 16Ohm headphone with a 99dB sensitivity would be easy to drive, but the volume on my DAPs does go up higher as I expected it to. A modern DAP will have no issues driving it however, though I wouldn’t suggest using it with your phone if you want to get he best possible sound out of it.
As mentioned before, the Audeze LCD-1 is transparent and you will clearly hear your source and/or amp’s characteristics in the end sound. I myself have mostly been using the LCD-1 with the SP2000 on the go and with the Chord Hugo 2, Mojo and Earmen TR-Amp at the office. When listening to this Audeze, I like my sources to sound precise and clear as I find this to match best with the LCD-1s bass presence, body, naturalness, smoother mid delivery and overall musicality.
At the same time it with a powerful enough source is very easy to get the LCD-1 to sound really good, so I wouldn’t advise to buy a specific amp or DAP for this headphone. Just use the one you have already, and if this is your first buy, I can fully recommend an amp/dac like the Mojo or the new and very cheap but excellent TR-Amp.
Vs the Sendy Audio Aiva
The first headphone that immediately comes into my mind when discussing the LCD-1 is the Sendy Audio Aiva. The also planar driven Aiva is bigger and heavier and less transportable, but at $479 this in my opinion is the headphone to beat. The Aiva to me is an excellent headphone but it di get overly hyped when it came out.
The Aiva to me sounds more spacious and has the better extension and decay, but it isn’t as clear or balanced sounding as the LCD-1 one is. Bass is not as tight, defined and fast. Treble is more peaky, the lower mids more covered/dark and the upper mids more shouty.
The Aiva also is a fun and musical headphone to listen to, and while it does do some things better than the LCD-1, the latter for me it the best technical, natural and balanced sounding one.
Not only the Audeze LCD-1’s sound is great but the whole package is. Design, size, comfort, price and sound: everything works in favour of this headphone. It probably is my easiest decision ever to add the LCD-1 to our Best Headphone List, where you can find all our recommended buys.
Keep your eye out on the end of 2020 already as this is the kind of headphone that will many awards, and has done so already. Will it also win one of ours? We’ll see, all I know now is that it’s going to be tough for the competition to beat this headphone at this price.