Review: Audeze LCD2 Classic – Modern Oldschool

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.

Design

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.

Cable

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.

Sound

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.

General Signature

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

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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.

10 Comments

  • Reply April 18, 2019

    joe

    Great article – I do like the way you compare the two LCDs.

    I do love my LCD2.1 as it was the first “high-level” headphones I own. At the time of purchase, my go-to phones have been the Beyerdynamic DT770AE. They still are my “everyday” PC ones, the LCD is the “special” occasion with the Brocksieper Tube AMP and the Technics 1200MKII source.

    At my office I use the Audeze Moebius at the moment, which is a great technical gimmick with clear sound but it’s clearly not that special as the LCD2.1

    Thanks for putting out the difference to the new Classic – maybe I will give them a try/demo.

    Cheers, joe

  • Reply April 18, 2019

    Booker

    I always hear of the legendary LCD-2 classics, but have yet to hear them myself. Good review, I had no idea the new ones were tuned so differently.

    One question: have you heard the LCD-2 closed backs? They’re about the same price as the new LCD-2 classics and I wondered how they compare? When they came out various reviews compared them to the original classics, but now reading this and seeing the new vs original LCD-2 classics sound different I’m left wondering how their current line-up of new open back vs closed back compare.

  • Reply April 21, 2019

    Sp12er

    Budget is Mojo… Can’t people keep low to the ground and try adding Dragonfly Red on source comparison please~?

  • Reply April 28, 2019

    Sk

    Hi, very comprehensive and sopt on review. Kindly do review Hd58x jubilee from massdrop. Really looking forward to it, as many say its cheaper hd660s.

  • Reply May 25, 2019

    Dulan Weerasinha

    Great review, and comparison with the original LCD-2 is very informative.

    I already have the Sennheiser HD650, HiFiMan HE-560 and Meze 99 Neo (main used when travelling). Love the sound signature of the HD650, but find the HE-560’s too forward/bright without uing EQ (use a Schiit Loki).

    The LCD2 Classic has been on my shortlist for a while now, along with the Focal Elear. How does the LCD2C compare to the Focal Elear, especially since the Elears can now be sourced for under $500?

  • Reply July 30, 2019

    SP

    Regarding your comments about pairing with Sony NWWM1Z, was it from the single ended or balanced output of the DAP?

    • Reply July 30, 2019

      Lieven

      Balanced

      • Reply July 30, 2019

        SP

        Thank you for your reply, I will probably look at an easier to drive model to use with the Sony. On paper lcd-x looks like it may work.

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