Audeze LCD-1 Review

Audeze LCD-1

Bass

 

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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.

Mids

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.

Treble

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.

Audeze LCD-1

Sound Conclusion

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.

Audeze LCD-1

Conclusion

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.

 

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

14 Comments

  • Reply February 4, 2020

    Robert

    First question, does the sound leak out so that those around you can hear it?

    Secondly, with an iPhone and an Audioquest Cobalt setup would the LC1’s perform as well?

    • Reply February 4, 2020

      Lieven

      1. Of course it leaks out, it’s an open headphone.
      2. Yes, no worries there. Cobalt rocks

      • Reply July 27, 2020

        Bobo

        How would you compare them to oppo pm3?

        • Reply July 29, 2020

          Lieven

          Do those still exist? 🙂
          I don’t have it here with me, sorry.

  • Reply July 28, 2020

    David

    Hello, I have read your review of the Audeze LCD-1 and wanted to ask you if the LCD-1 sound better than the sine with cipher? I am looking for headphones to connect to my iphone and I want to know which of the two sounds better. Thank you.

    • Reply July 29, 2020

      Lieven

      The DX is still available, but the Sines are not being built anymore. SO I think the LCD-1 kind of replaces it. I unfortunately don’t have any of the Sine’s here with me.

  • Reply July 29, 2020

    David

    I have also been recommended the hifiman sundara above the lcd-1. But I don’t know if an iPhone will be enough (with a 3.5mm lightning dongle). What do you think?

    • Reply July 29, 2020

      Lieven

      I have both here and I never understood the huge praise the Sundara receives. I reviewed it and it was ok, but not extraordinary. I would choose the LCD-1 over it any day, and it’s the better straight from a phone if you ask me. The LCD-1 is in our recommended buy list, the Sundara isn’t.

  • Reply October 17, 2020

    Paul B.

    I had the opportunity to audition these very briefly today and was very impressed. The question is, these or the HD650? Different beasts, I know…

  • Reply October 24, 2020

    Teemu

    LCD-1 no doubt. HD 650 doesn’t really beat LCD-1 in anything but soundstage. LCD-1 is more comfortable, its easily portable, you don’t need an amp to drive them, but they do benefit from amping ever so slightly… With HD 650 you need a good amp to make them sound their best, they are not as portable and even when you push them to their fullest they sound overall worse than LCD-1. I think it’s easy choice imo.

    The real question is should you buy LCD-1 or save up for LCD-2. That comes down to personal preference and really how much money are you willing to shovel for a headphone. LCD-2 does sound better, but it is not really portable and you’d wanna get decent amp to get them sound their fullest.

  • Reply November 20, 2020

    Eduard Resalt Sabata

    Hi! How pairs the LCD1 with the Chord Mojo? I have the Sundara and the HD660S. The Sundara it’s very very detailed and refined but sometimes it’s a little boring.
    The HD660S it’s much less detailed, less refined but in some songs more fun, I think it’s for mids are more prominent.
    I’m searching the combination of the two, the refine and the detail with the Sundara and the fun of the HD660S.
    The LCD1 is this headphone or it’s better other options like the Anandas for example?, the source will be the Mojo
    Thanks for this excelent review.
    Cheers ;);).

  • Reply December 10, 2020

    Himanshu

    why did you place meze 99 classic above LCD 1 in your best headphone gear list?

    Do you think that 99 classics outperform LCD 1?

    Happy to know your thoughts

    • Reply December 10, 2020

      Lieven

      The list is sorted on price……

  • Reply February 11, 2021

    Isaac

    Hi! I’ve just been dipping my feet into the world of audio and audiophiles, and one thing I’ve always read is that balanced > unbalanced almost all the time 🙂

    Given ur review of the LCD-1s and ur mention that it’s hard to use aftermarket cables, what effect wld it have given that we can’t use our own 2.5/4.4 cables (or wld be hard pressed to)! Is the audio ‘unbalanced’ since it’s coming from a 3.5mm connector?

    Wld appreciate ur expert view (well def better than mine HAHA)

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