"Absolutely Beautiful." Josh Valour's review of the Audeze LCD-2 Classic (LCD-2C)

Note: This article is based on the video "Audeze LCD-2C Review (Absolutely Beautiful)" made by Joshua Valour on his YouTube channel and is printed here in partnership with Joshua Valour. The review was originally posted on September 17th, 2018. Edits have been made for clarity and length.

Josh Valour gushed about the Audeze LCD-2C on his YouTube channel, giving them a 10/10. Watch the video below or scroll on for our lightly edited transcript.

Begin transcript

Intro

What’s up, guys. My name is Josh, and today we’re going to be talking about the Audeze LCD-2C. Now, this is my first pair of LCDs that I’ve ever received, the first pair that I’ve ever tried, the first pair that I’ve ever heard. And I have to say I’m pretty impressed. 

Now, before we get started, I do want to give a quick shoutout to Josh with Honest Audio. He runs a YouTube channel called Honest Audio Peer Reviews, Headphones, and Audio Topics if you want to check him out. 

He also sent out the KSC 75s for me to review. So do me a favor: check him out, see if it’s something that you’re into, and subscribe if it is. So again, thank you, Josh for sending these out. I appreciate it. 

Build

Alright, let’s go ahead and jump into the review, starting with the build.

Now, these come in a foam-duct-kind-of-padded-cardboard box, and that’s pretty much how they arrive. In an ideal world, I would have preferred at least a little bit of a carrying case or at least a bag to kind of keep these in rather than just a plain old cardboard box. 

So the cardboard box is simple, but it seems safe enough, and it’s definitely good enough to store these in or ship them. And regarding the LCD series, a lot of them either have metal or wooden ear cups. 

In terms of the circles, not so much the grill, they’re pretty much always metal. In fact, they’re metal on here as well, but in the two seals it is plastic. The actual ring that goes around the grill part is incredibly solid-feeling. 

Now, this whole headphone does feel pretty solid. It’s got a good amount of tension on the springs. The pads are absolutely wonderful and very, very plush. The memory foam that they use in this is just incredible.

Now, other than that plastic ring, pretty much everything else on this headphone is going to be metal. The ratchet mechanism for the extension piece is metal. The forks that hold the cups are metal. The headband spring is metal. 

Now, both the headphone strap and the pads do not feel like real leather. They feel like pleather. That being said, they are incredibly comfortable, and I’m personally not a person who needs it to be real, as I’ve had genuine leather that doesn’t feel great and genuine leather that feels amazing. And I’ve had pleather that doesn’t feel great and pleather that feels amazing, so if it feels amazing, which it does, that’s really all that matters. 

Now, a quick concern is that when you put these down on a desk like this, the headband strap actually does bend a little bit. It doesn’t seem to bend in any permanent way, but I don’t know how long that would last without permanently having kind of a bend to it or--worse, perhaps--stretching where they connect to the headband. 

Now, in terms of longevity, I can’t speak on that, but it is a concern for me. Now, just because I’m concerned about it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, but it is something that you may want to be aware of. 

Okay, so the overall comfort of this headphone is actually incredibly good, considering how much these weigh. These are a fairly heavy set of headphones. Definitely not the heaviest that Audeze makes, but they are fairly heavy.

I do appreciate the new headband structure compared to the old one, which was definitely really heavy on the top of your head. This one kind of spreads out the weight between the ear pads and the entire band. I can actually feel the pressure of the band all the way across the top of my head, so it’s distributing the weight at least to my head shape and size very, very evenly. 

They have no problem staying on, and I don’t really feel like they’re gonna fall off. And to me they feel incredibly comfortable although I’m not very weight-sensitive. Heavy headphones like this don’t bug me. They never have. For a lot of you, long listening sessions may be an issue. 

It does come with a very nice braided cable that’s a good length for desktop. It’s pretty much tangle-free. I don’t really have any complaints. It terminates to a quarter inch. 

Power Requirements

Okay, now let’s talk about the power requirements for this headphone. This headphone has an impedance level of 70Ω. It has a sensitivity level of 101dB, so an amplifier is not absolutely required to run this. You can run this off a phone, but I do recommend an amp, especially if you want to get the full experience that these can offer. 

Sound Quality

Now, I want to talk about the sound of this headphone. These are warm, rich, and extremely enjoyable headphones. They are so smooth and so nice to listen to and just overall pleasant. 

For enjoyment or relaxing listening, I really like the way that these sound. They sound incredible to me. The treble, although very fast, is laid back. It’s very smooth and has a very soft delivery, but it also doesn’t really feel lacking, because this isn’t really a headphone that I would necessarily use for the absolute most critical type of listening. 

This is a headphone I would use for sitting down and having a whiskey--a relaxing type of headphone. And that’s really what these headphones are good at is just having a solid yet smooth delivery. They have a very warm, very smooth enjoyable sound. 

I know it’s gonna get a little bit annoying, but that’s really what this headphone was to me: it was just pure enjoyment. It doesn’t have a clinical sound like the LCD Xs. It doesn’t have an overly bright sound. It has a soft yet attentive and energetic but kind of just a warmer feel to it. It’s very enjoyable. 

Mid-range

The mid-range is alive and forward and absolutely present. It has this warm representation that’s both thick yet clean. Simultaneously, it kind of just has this soft blanket of sound that it wraps around you. You can feel all the texture and the details despite that blanket. It doesn’t veil anything. Everything is presented clearly and efficiently, but it doesn’t force anything on you. 

Vocals

Now, the vocals are heavily, heavily enjoyable. They are larger-than-life. I would say that the planar does a really great job of just feeling absolutely massive. Now, this goes from everything from wide sound-staging instruments way in the background to intimate vocals. 

Now, vocals kind of fall in the same line. They feel fast, they feel efficient, but they also have this aura of smoothness, this kind of heavenly, angelic type of feeling. Now, they can feel a tiny bit shouty, but I kind of what to explain this. I can’t quite wrap my head around it. 

 

The only thing I can draw a comparison to is going to be the HD600s. So, the HD600s are slightly shouty--just a little bit, just enough to almost add to the experience. And the LCD-2Cs do the exact same thing.

Now, the shoutiness to the vocals makes them seem particularly intense. And it makes them not just forward, not just vast, and not just smooth-sounding. It’s everything all together. And it’s not necessarily the delivery of the sound--we’ll talk about that in a second--but it’s how the sound is represented as a whole. 

It has a slight boost to the vocal. If you take a look at the frequency response graph, you can kind of tell where exactly that boost is. I’m not really gonna bring that up though, because I think it’s more about how it sounds, and a headphone like this I don’t want to get super clinical about all the aspects of the highs and lows and stuff like that. 

But this headphone give vocals just a little more kick than they would normally have. 

 

So there’s this thing called autonomous sensory meridian response a lot of people notice (ASMR). It’s kind of like a weird YouTube thing where people whisper into microphones. I’m not talking about that. 

I’m just talking about the response system. It’s basically when you’re like listening to something where you see something that’s really epic, and you get these chills all over your body because it’s kind of overloading your sensory response. 

And at a high enough volume, with the right track, the LCD-2Cs can trigger that response on me. No other headphone can really do that. The only way I can explain it is just larger-than-life. 

This just gives it a little bit of a boost. It’s not sibilance. It’s not being overly bright, and it’s not being overly dramatic, and it doesn’t feel like it’s not necessarily being true to the vocalist. It’s just giving it a little bit extra there. And the vocals on this are really, really enjoyable. And you know: that makes me happy. 

 

Bass

Okay, the bass response is tight and strong and on par with the best open-backs I’ve heard. They seem to be very even and on par with the rest of the ranges of the headphone, except for the treble. In the treble, there’s a little bit of a recession, and that’s usually something that you do find with Audeze headphones. 

They have varying treble to a degree, and then the bass response pretty much measures somewhat similarly, but this headphone just has this gigantic, even bass. It doesn’t seem overly emphasized by any measure. It also is very, very present. And if you want to listen to Explosions in the Sky, and you want to hear 30Hz, you can hear 30Hz on this no problem.

 

Imaging and Soundstage

Now, imaging and soundstage aren’t necessarily class-leading. I would say that for overall imaging and soundstage, the DT 1990s do it better. They’re a little bit wider and can be a little bit more narrow, and the imaging is a little bit more specific. 

The 660s have much tighter imaging than these do, but these have a good representation of it. It’s very even, it’s very natural-sounding. It doesn’t feel overemphasized or under-emphasized. It doesn’t feel too narrow or too wide. And it’s kind of a good middle ground. 

It’s got decent imaging for the price. It’s got great imaging as a headphone as a whole, and there are other things I’ve heard it do better for the soundstage as well. But I also think it’s important to point out that I wouldn’t look at a different headphone just because of the imaging and soundstage, unless you really, really value that. 

 

Because the overall delivery of this headphone isn’t in a different class, so to speak, but it’s just targeted towards different audiences. 

The sound staging of the vocals on this are very intimate, they’re very close. They’re not as close as the Xs or the 600s, of course, or even the 1990s, but they are fairly intimate. 

And then you get this good separation in the background. And what I like is how they separate this delivery. So with bass notes and the lower end of the mid-range, you get kind of this farther away sound. It sounds huge. It’s just as present as ever, but it seems a little bit further away. 

And then as you get higher into the frequencies, the imaging of those vocalists and instruments tends to narrow a little bit. And for me, that kind of smooth honing in on the higher frequencies is really cool. 

 

Other headphones I’ve tried that do that--let’s use the DT 1990s for example--they seem wide or narrow, and there’s a little bit in between, but it’s not as smooth and progressive as the LCD-2C. And it happens more quickly. You’re either really close or really far away. 

Compared to the 1990s, the LCD-2Cs sound gigantic, just absolutely enormously bigger than the 1990s for sure. They sound obviously bigger than the 660s. They’re just incredibly vast-sounding. 

Conclusion

Okay, so the conclusion. 10/10 for me personally. For enjoyment purposes, I’m not gonna use these for analyzing music. I’m not gonna use these for studio use. But these are absolutely enjoyable. They are warm, wide, and wonderful. They are just absolutely stellar, in my opinion. 

 

Now, real quick, I do want to talk about price point, because I think originally these started out at $599-600, and then they bumped it up to $799. Now, $799 isn’t bad, but I would like to see it at $599. That would be preferential for me. 

They were a little bit cheaper than they are right now. Obviously, I would like to see it at that price, even at $800. I think that they’re kind of worth buying, in my opinion; however, and this is kind of where the comparisons come about, I wouldn’t necessarily call them class-leading. 

I think that depending on what you’re going for, they attain different goals. And if you’re going to look for a specific goal, there might be a better-suited headphone. So let’s talk about a few of them. 

Okay, so the 1990s are just purely more analytical. They’re clearer, they’re more resolving, they have a much greater overall ability to analyze the sound, and they make analyzing music very easy.

 

If you were to compare the 1990s and the LCD-2C, the 1990s clearly beat the LCD-2Cs if you’re mixing music. Both the 660s and the 1990s would do it better, because they have kind of a more complete range.

 The treble in the LCD-2C is fairly recessed, and because that treble recession from 10-20kHz doesn’t nearly take the precedence that I really think it should have. [...]

Now, if you’re just listening for enjoyment and you don’t want fatigue, you want something that’s comfortable, easy, relaxing, and overall kind of warmer, kind of smoother, then I would definitely go with the LCD-2Cs. 

Okay, so that’s gonna wrap it up. I hope you liked this review. Follow me on my social media. There’s also a Patreon, if you support what I do. I will catch you guys in the next video. 

 

Thank you very much for watching. Peace. 

 End transcript