Audeze LCD-1 Evaluate: Like Sporting a Pair of Transportable Studio Displays

Audeze LCD-1 Evaluate: Like Sporting a Pair of Transportable Studio Displays


  • 1 – Absolute Scorching Rubbish
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Rubbish
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Professionals, Heaps Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Sufficient to Purchase On Sale
  • 7 – Nice, However Not Greatest-In-Class
  • 8 – Implausible, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Cash
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Worth: 400
The Audeze LCD-1 headphones on an outdoor table.
Behold! The Audeze LCD-1s! Andrew Heinzman

You don’t must piss off your neighbors to listen to the clear spacious sound of full-sized audio system or displays. Audeze’s LCD-1 reference headphones handle to copy the expertise of enormous desktop audio system in a cushty transportable package deal. However with an open-back design and planar drivers, it’s exhausting to suggest them to anybody however audio nerds and musicians.

Here is What We Like

  • Detailed, spacious sound
  • A flat response that is excellent for audio enhancing
  • Comfy and transportable

And What We Do not

  • Open-backed design signifies that different individuals can hear your music
  • Lacks punch
  • Nice bass sound, however no rumble

At $400, the LCD-1s are the most affordable ‘telephones in Audeze’s LCD Reference series. However they nonetheless managed to blow me away. I haven’t heard one other pair of $400 headphones with this type of readability, sound stage, and flat frequency response, and the accessible form-factor simply makes these headphones even higher.

However these puppies ain’t for everybody, and I need to harp on that reality. The open-back design is impractical in most headphone-worthy conditions. Plus, the dearth of punch and rumble, whereas tremendous for enhancing or recording audio, might flip off some fans who simply wish to take heed to their favourite tracks on a pleasant pair of headphones.

What’s the Take care of Open-Again Headphones?

Earlier than we speak about sound high quality and construct high quality and all that crap, I gotta drive house the distinction between open-back and closed-back headphones. We’ve a detailed guide on the topic, however you’ve most likely figured issues out by wanting on the photos; the LCD-1 has a plastic grille that exposes its drivers to the open air, whereas common closed-back headphones protect their drivers behind a strong piece of plastic.

Okay, so how does that have an effect on sound? Closed-back headphones create a seal over your ears, which prevents sound from escaping into the open air. As a substitute, the audio bounces between your ears and the cans, making a muffling echo impact that doesn’t exist when listening to music with a full-sized speaker. Opening the again of the headphones allows sound to flee, lifting the blanket of echoes off your music and facilitating a clear “3D” impact that’s similar to actual audio system.

The Audeze LCD-1s in their carrying case.
The LCD-1 exhausting carrying case, which has a pleasant pocket for cables and equipment. Andrew Heinzman

However the open-back design has some main downsides. Audio is free to leak out, so anybody within the room can hear what you’re listening to as if it had been taking part in from a small speaker. You wouldn’t wish to use the LCD-1s in a library or an open workplace, for instance. Additionally, bass frequencies would possibly sound good on a pair of open-back headphones (they sound nice on the LCD-1s), however the open-back design doesn’t rumble your head and feels prefer it has much less bass than closed-back headphones.

For that reason, manufactures typically goal open-back headphones towards fans and individuals who work with music or audio. They’re unconventional (and even ineffective) in some conditions, however they’ll stand in for a set of full-sized headphones if you’re engaged on the go or blasting tunes in the midst of the evening. If that’s what you’re into—learn on!

Unimaginable Spacious Sound

As I discussed on the prime of this text, the LCD-1s are a part of Audeze’s LCD Reference series. They’re supposed for professionals, fans, and a-words (audiophiles). I don’t suppose that the common individual should purchase these, however nonetheless, I want everybody might give them a attempt. You may select each element of a tune with these headphones or sit again and revel in how devices sit on a “3D” soundstage due to the open-back design.

And like all set of reference headphones value their salt, the LCD-1s have a improbable flat-but-smooth frequency response (spanning 10Hz – 50KHz). The mids sound nice, the bass is lean and clear, and the highs sound detailed and ethereal with out stepping into icicle territory. My solely be aware is that the bass response is a bit of subdued as a result of open-back design. You may hear the bass, it sounds nice, however your head received’t rumble whereas sporting LCD-1s.

The Audeze LCD-1s on my coffee table.
Andrew Heinzman

Now’s a superb time to say that the Audeze LCD-1s use planar magnetic drivers as a substitute of the dynamic drivers utilized by most headphones. We’ve a full guide on planar headphones at How-to Geek, however the gist is that planar drivers introduce little or no distortion to a sign, even at excessive volumes. Zero distortion is an efficient factor, however the planar drivers within the LCD-1s lack punch and pleasure, leaving you with a sound that may really feel a bit medical.

For those who’re an audio engineer, then the subdued bass and lack of punch are honest trade-offs for clear attractive sound. That stated, these aren’t the headphones for somebody who’s obsessive about a enjoyable, punchy, bass-heavy sound. For that, it’s your decision a pair of closed-back dynamic headphones. You might additionally take a look at different headphones within the Audeze LCD Reference Series, which have bigger drivers and a punchier sound.

Oh, one final be aware concerning the sound. I actually respect that the LCD-1s have a16 ohm impedance. Different open-back headphones just like the Sennheiser HD 600 have a really excessive impedance, which mainly signifies that they sound quiet and crappy with out the assistance of an amplifier. At 16 ohms, you may plug the LCD-1s into any audio supply and begin working with out the assistance of a headphone amplifier, which is nice information for amateurs and other people on a funds.

A Sturdy however Light-weight and Transportable Construct

A photo of the Audeze LCD-1s outside.
Andrew Heinzman

Open-back headphones aren’t good for personal listening, which is why they’re often large, cumbersome, and non-portable. However Audeze selected to make the LCD-1s light-weight, foldable, and transportable, which is sensible to me. Hobbyists and college students who work with audio want a conveyable stand-in for full-sized displays, as the most affordable headphones in Audeze’s Reference sequence, the LCD-1s look like the plain alternative.

So far as construct high quality goes, the LCD-1s are similar to most headphones within the $200 to $500 vary. Its light-weight plastic and aluminum elements ought to final perpetually if cared for correctly. The drivers are precision-crafted by hand, and like different Audeze headphones, the LCD-1s are assembled in California.

It’s humorous, I’ve heard some individuals describe the LCD-1s as “too light-weight” or “too plasticky.” Nah, that’s loopy discuss. The LCD-1s are light-weight, however they really feel robust and effectively made. Sadists might want a pair of uncomfortable headphones, audiophiles might want a set of cans the scale of pancakes, however as an “entry-level” product, it is sensible for the LCD-1s to be compact and light-weight.

The Audeze LCD-1s plugged into an iPod.
Does the cable look much less dorky when it’s plugged into this? Andrew Heinzman

That stated, the cable scenario might piss some individuals off. The LCD-1s use a cut up 3.5mm cable, so that you’re caught with two little wires dangling from each ears. It’s like sporting a type of outside hats with the chin string, which is a disgrace, though it’s not unusual for “skilled” headphones to have two inputs. (You don’t have to fret about mixing up the “left” and “proper” cables, by the best way. Each 3.5mm jacks are stereo and the headphones resolve whether or not to make use of the left or proper sign.)

I don’t actually thoughts the split-cable design (it’s straightforward to overlook about for those who lay the wire throughout your again), however I do want that the LCD-1s got here with an additional cable. Replacements cost $35 (or $20 for a different brand), which is far more than anybody ought to need to spend on a 3.5mm cable. To Audeze’s credit score, the LCD-1s additionally include a 1/4-inch adapter and a tough carrying case, that are extra precious within the brief time period than an additional wire.

If You’ve Received the Cash, Go for It

Elephant within the room? What are you speaking about? Oh, I get it. At $400, the Audeze LCD-1s are a fairly hefty funding. I don’t suppose that the common individual ought to spend $400 on a pair of headphones—particularly not a pair of open-back headphones which might be ineffective if you’re out in public or sitting on the sofa subsequent to your vital different.

However I encourage audio engineers, musicians, and fans to make the leap. The LCD-1s provide the unimaginable the readability, stereo imaging, and flat frequency response of full-sized displays with out consuming up area at your desk or disturbing the neighbors. They’re effectively made, and so they’re one of many few “transportable” studio-grade open-back headphones, which is nice information for hobbyists and college students who must document or edit audio away from house.

Nonetheless, I don’t suppose that the LCD-1s are the one choice for fans or audio engineers on the lookout for an alternative choice to full-sized audio system. Firms like Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic promote high quality open-back headphones within the $200 vary, and a few closed-back headphones just like the legendary Sony MDR-7506 can get the job accomplished for beneath $100 (and I’ve seen used pairs as little as $30). Yow will discover high quality audio gear at nearly any funds—the Audeze LCD-1s simply occur to be the most effective items of apparatus within the $300 to $400 vary.

Score: 8/10
Worth: 400

Right here’s What We Like

  • Detailed, spacious sound
  • A flat response that is excellent for audio enhancing
  • Comfy and transportable

And What We Do not

  • Open-backed design signifies that different individuals can hear your music
  • Lacks punch
  • Nice bass sound, however no rumble

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