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Audeze LCD-XC Review: Headphones for the most demanding audiophiles

4.8 VOTES: 39 TECHWEEK

Audeze LCD-XC have all the sound advantages of traditional models of the company, however, they are made in closed cases, which provide good protection from external noise. Audeze is renowned for its commitment to the exotic woods used in headphone construction.

In this model, it is the African bubinga tree from which the body of the emitters is made. The chassis of the ear cups is made of aluminum, and this combination not only gives the headphones a very sophisticated appearance, but is also very good acoustically. The headphones are equipped with leather (or velor, depending on the version) ear cushions with very soft padding, so that you can listen to music in the Audeze LCD-XC for a long time without fatigue. The steel headband of the headphones is also covered with a shock absorbing pad.

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The mounting of the cups allows them to rotate in two planes, so the fit of the headphones on the head is very comfortable. The headphones are equipped with isodynamic (planar) emitters, the voice coil in which is flat, and placed directly on the sound-emitting membrane. The membrane is in the field of neodymium permanent magnets, the proprietary Fazor configuration provides high field uniformity and minimal harmonic distortion.

Like the rest of the series, the Audeze LCD-XC has a detachable connector cable that connects to both cups using mini-XLR connectors. Two cables are supplied with the headphones – one with a balanced XLR connector for connection to compatible headphone amplifiers (for example, manufactured by Audeze), and the other with a regular 6.3 mm jack. A reliable branded case is also provided for storing the headphones. It is also worth mentioning the availability of special products for wood care in the delivery set.

Isodynamic headphones have a more detailed and rhythmic sound than conventional dynamic models, and they also develop a higher sound pressure at low frequencies. The Audeze LCD-XC is a headphone for the most demanding audiophiles.

PERSONAL REALITY

When I just started listening to music, almost all the headphones were closed. In the first case, this was explained by the simplicity of the design, and in the second, by the need for reliable sound insulation when working in a studio, at a concert, etc. Since then, I prefer to completely fenced myself off from the outside world while listening.

That is why, before getting acquainted with the Audeze LCD-XC, I was tuned in to a familiar and understandable situation, but picking up these headphones, I realized that they go far beyond the standard concepts. In terms of characteristics and the principle of conversion, this model is close to the recently tested LCD-X, but it has several fundamental differences – the very closed structure and exclusive design with the use of unusual materials.

About all this a little below, now about the main thing – about the advantage of magnetoplanar emitters used in all Audeze headphones over traditional dynamic ones.

Here the voice coil in the form of a complex spiral is sprayed directly onto the membrane over its entire area, so the driving force is evenly distributed. This results in a real piston mode with minimal local deformations, even though a membrane thinner than a human hair can have a diameter of 106 mm – as, for example, in LCD-XC. The second advantage is that neodymium magnets, which create a powerful field, are located on both sides of the membrane, forming a Uniforce push-pull system with minimal distortion and fantastically fast response.

And finally, what is impossible to get in any setup with conventional loudspeakers – the widest dynamic range. LCD-XCs, for example, can generate sound pressure up to 130 dB. This, by the way, is above the pain threshold, but the point is that well-recorded tracks from the point of view of dynamics will be reproduced as close as possible to the original. The unhindered passage of sound waves through the gaps between the magnets and their phase matching is ensured by the proprietary Fazor waveguide system. For each piece of headphones, pairs of planar emitters are selected so that their sensitivity spread does not exceed ± 1 dB.

The unhindered passage of sound waves through the gaps between the magnets and their phase matching is ensured by the proprietary Fazor waveguide system. For each piece of headphones, pairs of planar emitters are selected so that their sensitivity spread does not exceed ± 1 dB. The unhindered passage of sound waves through the gaps between the magnets and their phase matching is ensured by the proprietary Fazor waveguide system. For each piece of headphones, pairs of planar emitters are selected so that their sensitivity spread does not exceed ± 1 dB.

The LCD-XC is unmistakably recognizable for its beautiful cups, which are cut from the rare African Bubinga wood and polished by hand. Identical patterns on a hemispherical surface are matched to the right and left earpieces. There is a damping material inside the cups that dampens internal reflections – so that the sound does not lose intelligibility.

The design of these earbuds is as solid as the LCD-X and is designed for long, trouble-free use. The support element is a wide arch of elastic steel band, and the elastic band with round perforations softens the contact of the headphones with the head. The ear cushions are filled with a porous polymer that is resilient enough to provide a comfortable grip. The covering of the headband and ear cushions is chosen at will – from thin sheep leather, or artificial suede.

Mounting cups provides for rotation in two planes and height adjustment.

Traditionally, Audeze provides the ability to change the connecting cable, which is connected via mini-XLR connectors with gold-plated contacts. We used twisted silver conductors and Teflon insulation.

The impedance of the LCD-XC is quite low, 20 ohms, so they will work better with an “ear” amplifier, or a stationary device, and it is highly desirable that they have a balanced output.

Like the streamer Aurender A30, which we started listening to. But first, I check the sound insulation by pressing the ear cushions together and giving up the signal level. Nothing breaks out, except for a slight hum in the lower middle. I put on headphones and completely forget about the existence of the outside world – with the plug pulled out, you find yourself in absolute, ringing silence.

I turn on Tidal Hi-Fi, and attention immediately switches to an abundance of nuances, of which there are incredibly many at any volume – from the threshold of audibility to the most powerful guitar riffs, really imprinted into the head. Here it is, the main advantage of the closed design is the ability to really feel the full dynamic range of the recording, which is not available for open headphones or for a conventional system with speakers.

That, that planar emitters give a detailed picture on quiet fragments – the merit of a membrane with a scanty mass and a powerful magnetic field. Moreover, what is interesting is that the nuances here are not at all technical in nature, but carry an exclusively aesthetic load, that is, they form a vivid and natural picture. Uniforce provides undistorted sound at extreme volumes – it is really very effective.

In the closed volume of the cups, on some recordings, a rise of 100 – 120 Hz is heard, which, however, does not negatively affect the sound, but gives it more impact energy. In the rich orchestral spectrum, some instruments start to dominate – it looks like a slight interference in the upper middle is still taking place. Nevertheless, the cups are damped in an exemplary way, it is very difficult to get an even tonal balance in closed headphones, but the Audeze developers succeeded.

The second stage of testing: listening to high-cuts from the MacBook Pro through the Mytek Manhattan DAC II DAC. Here the headphones opened noticeably – in a figurative sense, of course. The atmosphere in the upper register expanded, the middle band and especially the vocal range seemed cleaner, as if washed out.

The Aurender A30 has a very good headphone output, but Manhattan decodes uncompressed files with a resolution of 24/96 and higher. And LCD-XCs show this difference, not focusing on the disadvantages of streaming, but showing the different nature of the content, as if confirming that each is good in its own way.

And despite the colossal sound resolution, I would not call headphones an impartial tool for assessing quality – they are loyal to different amplifiers and sources. The only requirement for the output path is good load damping.

Visit audeze.com for more information.

What do you think?

4.8 / 5. 39

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