Audeze LCD-1 Testing and Conclusion
For testing the Audeze LCD-1 I ran though my normal list of FLAC music to get a baseline on frequency response and comparison against some of my other audio headsets. I have been using the LCD-1 headphones as my daily drivers for about a week with a mixed listening schedule that included gaming and a battery of headphone test tracks.
I have to say they make a heck of a first impression!
I am accustomed to audiophile headsets recommending all sorts of burn in methods but planer magnetic sets don’t vary much over time. Right out of the box the LCD-1 sounded crystal clear across almost the entire sound gambit. It takes a pretty expensive test rig to really measure frequency response so I will need to lean heavily on my personal opinion which I can only describe as "punchy".
Pulling out some of my favorite test FLACs reinforces my initial impression. Sound levels are crisp with the treble range standing out as one of the best I have heard. Bass is also crisp and surprisingly full for the size of the headset! In terms of sound quality they are definitely giving my Sennheiser HD6xx headset a run for their money. When considering weight, I can easily see myself reaching for the Audeze LCD-1 over my HIFIMAN HE560s.
Overall the comfort level is great with exception of the smaller ear cups occasionally touching my ears in a noticeable way. Still the cups are extremely comfortable and the low weight it makes them a joy to wear for long periods of time
During testing I did notice some highs can be a bit shrill but, it wasn’t particularly fatiguing. I also found the overall sound stage to be smaller, perhaps more intimate than the competition but directional sound separation was excellent in both games and audio.
When it comes to headphones size does matter and driver technology can change the power requirements. Typically, larger drivers tend to require more power to correctly drive the planer technology. To explore this I tested the LCD-1 with a variety of preamps and found that the headphones responded favorably to a bit of preprocessing and really enhanced the sound stage. Not to discount the portability of the LCD-1 I also tested them directly off my Pixel 3A and was impressed to discover full and clear sound stage without any obvious deadspots.
In all instances the LCD-1 provided an exceptional level of detail especially in the treble range. Nice!
Audeze has really hit one out of the park with the LCD-1 headphones. In all cases they are smaller, lighter and more affordable than any other planar magnetic headphones and punch far above their price point.
It’s hard to find a solid critique besides the fact they are an open back design marketed for portability. As a result you will get significant sound leak at volume and will also get to sample ambient sounds from the other direction. Still I find them working hard to displace my favorite headphones for daily use.
And, they are made in the USA!
As mentioned the ear cups are smaller to match the portable design and while that may not be desirable they are extremely soft and comfortable limiting issues with fatigue. We would love to see a closed back version and maybe an option with active noise cancelling to complete the perfect trifecta!
Light weight design
Crystal clear audio
Audiophile level sound stage
Easy to drive for portability
Plasticy feel for the price point
Smaller sound stage
Smaller ear cups