AUDEZE LCD2C - REVIEW

  •       TONAL BALANCE / NEUTRALITY 76%
  • PERFORMANCE FOR THE PRICE 95%
  • SOUND FIDELITY 89%
  • MUSICALITY 82%
  • BUILD QUALITY 89%
  • ERGONOMICS/COMFORT 79%

PROS

  • Good control and bass response
  • Non-Fatiguing tonality
  • Unique design and premium build quality
  • Nice speed and control
  • Good value

CONS

  • Lacks nuetrality

MSRP: $799

INTRO

Special thanks to Audeze LLC for sending me these for review.  Not only are they nice with customer service, but just as a company Audeze has always been a pleasure to communicate with. 

 SPECS/FEATURES

Audeze website

Specifications

Style Over-ear, open-back
Transducer Type Planar magnetic
Magnetic Structure Proprietary magnet array
Magnet Type Neodymium N50
Diaphragm Type Ultra-thin
Transducer Size 106 mm
Maximum Power Handling 15W
Maximum SPL >130dB
Frequency Response 10Hz – 50kHz
THD <0.1% @ 100dB
Impedance 70 ohms
Sensitivity 101dB/1mw (at Drum Reference Point)
Power Requirement >100mW

Features

  • Planar magnetic drivers for better dynamics and frequency response
  • Leather-free earpads and spring steel suspension headband

Audeze Technology

  • Large ultra thin-film diaphragms
  • Double-sided magnetic structure

Package Includes

  • 1.9m 1/4in to dual 4-pin mini-XLR cable
  • Travel case not included

BUILD/DESIGN

DESIGN

There isn’t really much posted or shared about the internal design of the new classics. I am not going to pretend to know what makes it sound how it sounds. A couple of key things worth mentioning is that these do not have the fazor technology and the housing is heavy duty ABS plastic cups with metal grills. I apologize in advance for not taking the time to discourse with Audeze about the technology at work in the LCD2C as time got the best of me. What is to notice though is that these have different drivers than the LCD2F(fazor) and a different magnet design as listed on their website. The efficiency is the same and swapping between the LCD2F and LCD2C had no difference in volume. 

Aesthetically the Classic is sleek and low profile with its all black design. It stands out amongst the headphones it sits next to all while not blinging for attention. 

ERGONOMICS/COMFORT

With the head strap actually fitting over a larger area of the head, the new design doesn’t create any sore spots of irritation. I personally do not find the comfort section of gear one that my tastes translate well to the experience of others. I am admittedly less picky but while I don’t find them as comfortable as the Aeon Flow Open, I do find them more comfortable than the LCD2F because of the headband strap. Otherwise I do not feel they are a big improvement over the LCD2F especially since the ergonomics are essentially the same sans just a little less weight on the 2C that makes them just a little less noticeable on the head. 

SOUND

  •       BASS EXTENSION 95%
  • BASS BALANCE (ACCURACY) 94%
  • LOWER MIDRANGE BALANCE 89%
  • MIDRANGE PROPER BALANCE 90%
  • UPPER MIDRANGE BALANCE 85%
  • TREBLE BALANCE 79%
  • TREBLE EXTENSION 90%
  • BASS CONTROL 93%
  •   TONE DENSITY (TIMBRE, BODY ASIDE FROM FREQUENCY BALANCE) 79%
  • MACRO DYNAMICS (SOFTS TO LOUDS) 82%
  • DYNAMIC RANGE 79%
  • MICRO DYNAMICS (SMALL GRADATIONS OF VOLUME) 83%
  • SOUND STAGE WIDTH 80%
  • SOUND STAGE DEPTH 79%
  • BLACKNESS OF BACKGROUND 92%
  • CLARITY 89%

*please note that in the above bar counters I use the word balance instead of presence which is a percentage of how unbiased, accurate, and neutral that aspect is. Also those aspects are totally subjective and from my point of view. Yours may differ. Also these bars and percentages are really just to give an idea of how I perceive the headphone. They are not absolute, and really just provide a visual reference of the aspects described below. 

The sound signature of the Audeze LCD2C is warm without going too far into lushness but dipped in the upper mids; relaxed in the treble that has good extension. 

BASS

The  bass of the new classic (oxymoron), is the star of the show with this release. It is not ultra hard or thunderous but it has good impact. It is also fairly fast and controlled. Kick drums lack just a bit of that oomph I get from the standard mid bass hump afforded to dynamic headphones. That is an area I find just a little wanting, a hard knock in the mid bass but that is song dependent. When I play some 14kt (underground hip hop producer) he usually makes his beats hit hard so I am able to really enjoy his production with the LCD2C. It sounds more like a thud than a slam at times but it is a focused thud. The sub bass is what draws most attention to itself over the mid bass. Synth buzzes and EDM wobbles are satisfyingly layered and adequately textured. The extension leaves nothing wanting at all on these headphones as everything down low is brought out with as much clarity as anywhere else in the frequency response. 

MIDRANGE

The Lower mids are present as are the middle mids. The texture of the midrange has traces of the hashiness and slight lack of weight but the balance is lush and inviting.  There is a stuffiness to vocal deliveries that tend to tax the presence of the voice a decent bit as well as the rawness of violins and stringed instruments. However there is a clear background that the midrange notes come out of that bests headphones costing much more. The midrange is warm without sounding thick because of timbre and transient response of the Audeze. My experience with these cans was that after some brain burn in a lot of my gripes mellowed out because my mind was able to adjust to the  balance of these headphones and just relax and listen. The upper midrange sounds withdrawn giving the Audeze a mild tonality. Thankfully these don’t sound like over-dampened open backs.  The dullness is not exasperated by reverberations and an overly wet sound because I find the combination of relaxed tonality and a lack of precision to be a common tuning. These are pretty technical for the price.

TREBLE 

The treble is relaxed but with good extension. These went back to the darker days of Audeze at the same time maintaining an adequate amount of air. I found the treble to lack a bit of weight but it still sounds like an improvement over the LCD2 fazors. There are really no treble spikes that are irritating and while I hear just a little bit of presence around the sibilance region it is still within the bounds of sounding non-fatiguing. While I like this fatigue free sound, there is a bit of edge that I find missing from the lower midrange and a crispness from the middle treble that is just a small share short of sounding authentic. However, I do not find the treble out of line with the tuning of the headphone overall. The downward sloping sound it has from the upper bass and up sounds like the classic Audeze house sound that so many have loved over the years. It has a good sense of cohesion but sometimes the cymbals seem to sound a little more distant and less tangible as well as tambourines that lose a bit of their energy. Snares can still sound snappy and there is a enough lower treble to keep them from sounding boring to my ears. But lets put it in perspective; a well amped HD650 will sound more snappy and less splashy in the treble with better weight, crispness and bite but just a little less air and similar presence. I find the Audeze sounds like it has a little more upper treble than the 650 though. Maybe measurements will affirm or correct that last sentence.

PERFORMANCE:

SOUNDSTAGE

I don’t think the Audeze LCD2C has the best soundstage out there by any stretch (or lack thereof) But it is not too bad considering it’s competition. Swapping straight from the HP3, I have about the same size of soundstage even though I lose just a little bit of layering, I gain more depth and openness. This does have better soundstage than an HD650 though, even amped well. For the record I am not one of those people who seem to believe there is much that happens to the 650 soundstage with much better amping, I find it improves for sure but never sounds special. 

OTHER ASPECTS

The timbre is just a little bit on the aloof and whispy side. It is definitely an improvement over the LCD2F but still not ideal. There is a lightness and fastness to the sound. In private message to a friend I called it ‘music light’ but that was before I did a side by side to the 2F because everything else on my desk prior to had more weight and body but mostly sounded just a little slower. The transient response is pretty fast and while the attacks don’t strike hard, they sound precise and focused.

The clarity is stellar on the Audeze Classic. It belies its price point and its distortion is favorably low throughout the spectrum. It sounds cleaner than the HP3, Aeon Flow Open, and HD650. 

vs LCD2F (late 2016 unit) 

The timbre is even softer on the 2F which is one of the reasons why I never really digged it. The 2F suffers from this in the bass where it lacks the famous Audeze planar bass weight. The 2C restores some of the weight missing from the first Audeze LCD2 all while making it a little faster and cleaner. The increased speed makes it just a little less honey like than the first Audeze but tonal density is better than the fazors. The Fazored 2 has more hash in the midrange gand less tang on the cymbals. However, voices are a little better balanced on the 2F and they sound better projected and more clear vs the slight stuffiness of the 2C. There is more hear through factor with the 2F even though its background sounds just a little more hazy. Nuance has better contrast on the 2C though and while sometimes I feel like the 2F has better resolution, it remains a feeling instead of a concluded assessment. The 2F kind of washes the nuance together making it sound more diffuse. For those reasons I prefer the more tangible and well mannered 2C. Not to mention the bubbles on the headband of the 2F are less comfortable than the strap on the 2C.

vs Aeon Flow Open

Now this is more difficult in regards to making a stated preference. You see the Audeze sounds more open than the Flow because as opposed to the names, the Flow Open has the more vintage/classic, lush and full sound while the 2C has more air flow and modern speed. Were someone wanting the 650 sound I would point them to the Flow because of the tone density and thicker, more natural delivery. However, the 2C has more nuance and micro detail, or at least it is presented with more ease and faster decay. Neither of them present micro dynamics as well as the 650 and I wouldn’t expect them to. The Aeon sounds less resolving and less clear with a less focused sub bass and slower transient response. The Audeze on the other hand doesn’t have the same dynamic range and treble realism as the Aeon which sounds more natural in the treble and overall more organic. Knowing my tendencies I would probably, after much time, end up with the Aeon Flow Open staying in my stable. BUT, the 2C is technically more impressive when adding up the merits and their tonal balances are very similar. The Aeon sounds more warm in the upper bass and less extended in the sub bass while the Audeze sounds less full in the middle mids but similarly dipped in the upper mids. I prefer male vocals on the Aeon though. They are a tie in my books, I can’t call it

 

 

AMPING

The Audeze LCD2C really loved the tube magic and body from my Mogwai Special Edition. This isn’t a surprise as Audeze planars have been known to take well to tube amps unlike a lot of other planar headphones. They are very easy to drive and are more efficient than the Aeon Flow Opens and are more scalable. While they aren’t a demanding headphone, they will show you what your gear sounds like so that new amp you have been wanting will be well tested with the 2C.  

CONCLUSION

%

The Audeze LCD2C bests the previous LCD2 fazor in enough ways to earn it a recommendation over the pricier LCD2. Its timbre made it still not my ideal everyday cup of tea but it is no small step in the right direction being an obvious improvement over the fazored model. The price makes it easy to recommend. You are not getting a watered down LCD2 here for the price, you are getting actually more substance and bang for less dollars. It is not going to dethrone the richer sounding Aeon Flow Open but I have to ignore my personal preferences a bit and think a little more objectively because they trade blows pretty evenly. It is such a solid effort by Audeze and the moniker ‘Classic’ is fitting. It sounds better than the other planars I have heard to come out lately and it is definitely deserves an audition. By merit and personal tastes it is  Redphiled.

 

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