RMAF 2013: Audeze


Audeze was nestled deep into CanJam show floor, showing off their two new headphones, the LCD-XC closed-back headphones ($1,799) and their open-back brethren, the LCD-X ($1,699).

I’m on record as being a fan of Audeze and have been very happily using LCD-2 headphones ($1,145 LCD-2) in my reference head-fi rig for some time now. Of course, that means that I have spent many a moment wondering what their flagship LCD-3 ($1,945) would do to my overall happiness quotient.

Well, at RMAF, that equation got a bit more complicated. 

I spent far too long ensnared by this booth, flipping between the headphones on offer and I can honestly say that I think the LCD-X may well be a game changer.

Astride my cranial dome, the LCD-X sound more open than the familiar LCD-2, a bit more linear and a bit less dark overall. Dare I say it, but … I think this may be the best-sounding headphone in the lineup.

To me, the LCD-XC is closer to the sound of the LCD-2, but perhaps due to the wooden ear-cups, the headphones feel rather massive on my head and a bit more cumbersome. However, if you’re looking for portability and privacy with Audeze’s delicious sound, there’s no other path. In general, the fit of these new cans is also dramatically improved; with a huge reduction in “caliper pressure”, the LCD-X and -XC will be easy candidates for long-term comfort wear — even for those of us with oversized melons. Oh, and yes, even with the extra weight, the LCD-XC are far more comfortable than the many-times-more-expensive Abyss headphones. Just wanted to put that out there.

Other interesting bits — I got to hear the Cardas Clear and WyWires after-market headphone cords on the LCD-X headphones, paired with the excellent ALO Audio Studio Six headphone amp. My preference, for those cans, was the WyWires (which is my current cable-reference as it is, so perhaps that preference isn’t surprising), which just sounded subtly more open with better transient hits and mid-range transparency. WyWires will be offering these cables, as well as similar cables for Sennheiser, at some point in the future.

Audeze was also demoing a prototype AD/DAC + DSP unit, with a peculiar twist: the DSP is said to provide correction that is specific and unique — to the headphones it’s sold with! I didn’t get any time on this as the line tended to be several deep. Ah, well.




Three cable options: Cardas Clear, stock, and a new one from WyWires