The Box, Accessories & Price
The old LCD2, if I remember well, set you back over $1K while the new version is only $799. Of course there’s no more exotic wood and the technology and building cost have probably become cheaper, but that does mean you’re getting a lot of headphone for the money.
The downside? Well you no longer get the protective carrying box/hard case the old LCD2 and the other, more expensive, Audeze units come with. The contents of the box are also limited and you only get a 1.9m 1/4in to dual 4-pin mini-XLR cable as well as a USB stick with the manual and a certificate of authentication (Inspected by x).
The LCD2C arrived in a simple card wood box and it has the foam cut-out interior directly on the inside. It’s simple but it works. If you’re planning on transporting your precious headphone I do suggest buying one of Audeze’s ruggedized traveling cases from their shop, where it sells for $130USD – https://www.audeze.com/products/accessories/travel-case-lcd23xxcmx4
You can of course also buy a cheap case from Aliexpress and add pluck foam yourself. It will be less expensive but it probably won’t have the same quality.
The LCD2 Classic is a more robust, modern look version of the LCD2 yet it at the same time uses the old style connectors which are integrated in the driver unit. Of course it has the beautiful grill and Audeze’s iconic headphone band so it breaths Audeze.
There’s no more wood but you in return get a very modern, slick looking headphone. It’s all black and all the matching elements create a stealth like design. I like it. Even though the cable connectors have been integrated in the cup again, they now are more to the front (which is better for comfort)
The big advantage of not using exotic wood anymore is that the connectors won’t crack anymore. It was a well known issue with the original and even though Audeze replaced the cups, it’s something everyone still remembers. In fact, my LCD2 has the famous crack, but I never sent it in for repair.
The LCD2 now comes with leather-free earpads and a spring steel suspension headband. The old version used lamb skin leather but I almost immediately swapped it out for the vegan headband Audeze offered back then.
The new LCD2 looks modern, robust and very cool. The original looks softer, more expensive and more unique. I myself like both versions, though the original just is more special.
Build Quality & Comfort
Build quality-wise these new LCD’s are as good as it gets. They look and feel robust and they can for sure take a beating (if you would do that to a $750 headphone). From the screws to the connectors, to the grills, to the headband: everything is perfect and I can’t find a single flow with these. I’ve seen a lot of more expensive headphones with a lesser build quality so Audeze here really gets a full score here.
And then there’s the comfort. I remember that we back in the day found the first LCD headphones extremely heavy, and they kind of were. We quickly got used to it however and it personally never bothered me too much. Technology has improved since then and the new planar magnetic units are much lighter these days. This LCD2C unit however still ways a serious 552gr but the headphone band perfectly distributes the weight of the drivers over your head. The memory foam pads are also soft and the clamping force is just right.
I for sure prefer the efficiency of the new headband system over the old one and going back to my veganized original LCD2, comfort-wise is very tough. But the LCD2C is heavy and if you’re not used to it, you will notice it for sure. In short: still heavy, but well working head band.
The LCD2 Classic comes with a new shiny, braided, 4 conductor cable with a 6.3mm termination. Unlike with the some of the other models it doesn’t come with a balanced cable but in the end that’s ok, as I find it to sound better in single ended mode. This is the exact same cable that also comes with the Audeze LCD MX-4 which is selling for $3K
A lot of brands nowadays use the mini-xlr plugs and so I have a lot of cables to use with this Audeze. The standard cable works perfectly fine but my favorite cable for the LCD-series still is by Norne/Norse cable I bought together with the LCD2 back in 2010. The other cable I really like with the LCD2 Classic is the PlusSound X16.
One of the first things I always do is test the difference in sound between balanced and single ended, with IEMS most of the time I prefer a balanced connection but with headphones it can be very different. It turns out I prefer the LCD2 Classic in single ended mode, as it has a better overall presentation, better placed vocals, a better bass kick and way better dynamics. The amplifier used for this test is the high end Niimbus US4+. For the description of the LCD2 Classic’s sound I used a series of desktop sources but mostly the Niimbus as well.
At home in my living room setup I use: Roon -> Pro-Ject Audio Stream Box S2 Ultra -> Violectric V850 DAC -> Niimbus US 4+ / Auris Audio Nirvana. I’m a ROON fan and as some of you might know it has special settings for Audeze headphones, which I applied.
After some burn in, the first things that struck and impressed me were the incredible dynamics, great speed and excellent control.
The LCD 2 is a headphone which is supposed to have a warmer tuning, but it’s nowhere near where the old version was. This new LCD2 Classic is a more neutrally tuned headphone with a normal/neutral amount of body from bass to treble. The level clarity is higher than before and you get a really clean and clear sound from top to bottom, more so than in the original.
This LCD2 is fast, precise and tight all over with a lighter presentation which is musical and straight to the point more than it is smooth and warm. You still get that perfectly black background and a wide sound stage. The sound stage is wider than it is deep though, that together with the layering are the two weakest points of the LCD2 Classic. On the other hand, the instrumental separation and the spaciousness/airiness are excellent. It’s the perfect mix between realism, precision and musicality.
These last few years we’ve really been spoiled with great sounding headphones, and even though the LCD2 Classic doesn’t wow me anymore like it did 10 years ago, it’s still a higher end headphone which easily holds its place with the best in this price range. In fact it reminds me of the tuning of the LCD-X, yet at a lower level. And as a fan of the LCD-X, that means a lot.
More on sound on page three of the review here: https://www.headfonia.com/audeze-lcd2-classic-review/3