• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Audeze LCD-1 Review

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
34,573
Likes
125,372
Location
Seattle Area
#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Audeze LCD-1. It was sent to me by the company and costs US $399 on Amazon including Prime shipping.

Having tested higher up models in Audeze lines, it is kind of shocking to see such a small headphone from them:

Audeze LCD-1 review Open Back Headphone.jpg


The cups are naturally small at 68x36mm and 22 mm deep (symmetrical). Weight is quite low which contributes to their comfort:

lightest planar magnetic headphone review.png


There is some kind of ticking of the plastic I hear when I am moving my head. The supplied cable is stiff so must be exerting enough pressure on the cups to make them move or something.

Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. Headphone measurements by definition are approximate and variable so don't be surprised if other measurements even if performed with the same fixtures as mine, differ in end results. Protocols vary such as headband pressure and averaging (which I don't do). As you will see, I confirm the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers mostly in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests. If you think you have an exact idea of a headphone performance, you are likely wrong!

Fitment on the fixture was surprisingly easy despite the small cups.

Audeze LCD-1 Measurements
As usual we start with the headphone frequency response as comparison to our preference curve:

Audeze LCD-1 Frequency Response Measurements Open Back Headphone.png


This is a bit better than some of the other Audeze headphones but typical of the ones I have tested, there is deficiency in the upper and lower frequency range. This is liable to take away a lot of enjoyment as bass is a big part of listener preference in research (up to 30%). Upper frequency depression robs the headphone from ever important spatial qualities even if one ignores the tonal contribution.

For EQ purposes, subtracting our response from preference gives us a good guide:
Audeze LCD-1 Relative Frequency Response Measurements Open Back Headphone.png


Fortunately distortion is generally very low:

Audeze LCD-1 distortion vs Frequency Response Measurements Open Back Headphone.png


Audeze LCD-1 Relative distortion vs Frequency Response Measurements Open Back Headphone.png


The sharp spikes between 1 and 3 kHz are unfortunate though. Their narrow width indicates some kind of resonance in the most sensitive part of our hearing.

Group delay shows messiness in the 1 to 3 kHz as well so perhaps resonances are mixing with direct sound:
Audeze LCD-1 Group delay vs Frequency Response Measurements Open Back Headphone.png


Impedance is flat as it normally is in planar magnetic headphones:

Audeze LCD-1 Impedance Measurements Open Back Headphone.png


Impedance is quite low as noted. Sensitive is below average so you should use a headphone amplifier with it:
Most sensitive open back headphone review.png


Audeze LCD-1 Listening Tests and Equalization
The sound out of box was boring and depressed. EQ tools were highly effective although developing the right shape filters was a bit challenging:

Audeze LCD-1 Equalization EQ Parametric Open Back Headphone.png


I used dual filters in upper frequencies to better shape the rising edge. I did the same initially for bass but found it less critical and deleted it. So at the core, we only need three filters but have five for better matching.

Once there, the LCD-1 "woke up" presenting impressive bass response with much more open and pleasant sound in the upper frequencies. I could turn up the level good bit before the mid to high frequencies started to get distorted.

Spatial qualities post EQ are "OK." They were non-existent before EQ.

Conclusions
The Audeze LCD-1 falls short in the objective frequency response measurements. Subjective listening confirmed the same in a sound that is dull, and lacking deep bass. Equalization works well to fix these deficiencies. Some mid-level distortion keeps you from turning the volume to max although that is probably a good thing for your hearing health!

I can recommend the Audeze LCD-1 with EQ. Without, it is a strong pass for me.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Attachments

Last edited:

sweetchaos

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
The Curator
Joined
Nov 29, 2019
Messages
1,806
Likes
4,236
Location
BC, Canada
#2
To import this PEQ profile into 'Equalizer APO', use:
Preamp: -8.7 dB
Filter 1: ON LS Fc 54 Hz Gain 5.8 dB Q 1.0
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 1415 Hz Gain 2.2 dB Q 2.0
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 1945 Hz Gain 7.0 dB Q 2.0
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 4784 Hz Gain 1.0 dB Q 2.0
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 6226 Hz Gain 8.0 dB Q 2.0
Otherwise, see my PEQ guide.
..................................................................................................................
For those who don't have PEQ-capable app, and want to use GEQs instead:
See my GEQ guide for 10-band, 31-band, and 127-band GEQ profiles.
 
Last edited:

dougi

Senior Member
Joined
May 31, 2020
Messages
438
Likes
340
Location
ACT, Australia
#3
They seem quite reasonable. From the Audeze article, they seem to be aiming for a different target curve. In their early days, I met the guy behind Audeze at a Rohde and Schwartz function at a broadcasting convention in Vegas. I was there to discuss transmitters and test equipment and he also owned a company that R&S was using to develop digital media server systems (I think from memory). He said he would offer me a good discount as I seemed interested and a least a bit knowledgeable (well, at least I knew that HifiMan also did planar-magnetics). I should have taken him up on the offer.
 

ayane

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 15, 2018
Messages
101
Likes
466
Location
Fremont, CA
#6
Ignoring the jank between 1 and 3 kHz, it's not a bad headphone if you don't mind the Audeze "house sound," especially considering the price point
 
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
34,573
Likes
125,372
Location
Seattle Area
Thread Starter #7

Komeko

New Member
Joined
May 23, 2021
Messages
1
Likes
0
Location
Poland
#9
The cups are naturally small at 68x366mm and 22 mm deep (symmetrical)???
I think a bug has crept in :)
 

Count Arthur

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jan 10, 2020
Messages
961
Likes
1,819
#10
That's a shame.

I've been wanting to try some planar magnetics, but I've been put off the larger Audeze models as many complain about them being rather heavy.
 

Helicopter

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 13, 2020
Messages
2,342
Likes
3,190
Location
Michigan
#13
Thanks Amir. Interesting to see what looks like a portable design, with electronic requirements for a dedicated amp. I guess not a huge drawback as.they need EQ anyway.
 
Joined
Jun 14, 2021
Messages
25
Likes
20
#14
When I was in the hobby some 10 years back, the LCD 2 was so much hyped and their build quality in general as a brand was dreadful. Has that changed over time?
 

Robbo99999

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
2,735
Likes
2,241
Location
UK
#15
@amirm , you say after your post EQ listening impressions that "Some mid-level distortion keeps you from turning the volume to max...", yet distortion is very low:
1627660276325.png


However, the frequency response shows a fair bit of "fine choppiness or fine grass" above 1.5kHz and then lots of large choppiness/jaggedness above 7kHz, could it be that abrupt swings (some small / some large) are causing perceived distortion:
1627660575173.png

I noticed you made a similar comment re perceived distortion in another headphone that was really jaggy in it's frequency response yet quite low in it's measured distortion, so I'm wondering if you're hearing a jagged frequency response rather than actual measured distortion....I don't know if this a "thing" but it's an idea I had.
 

MediumRare

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 17, 2019
Messages
1,426
Likes
1,635
Location
Chicago
#16
We are back again to the issue of the arbitrary placement of the response v. The target curve. The practical implication is that the EQ used raises several frequencies when probably would be better to pull down upper bass and peak at 3k instead. You don’t need a literal least-squares approach to place the target, but the matching at a single fixed frequency is not producing a good result.
 

bluefuzz

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2020
Messages
455
Likes
715
#17
We are back again to the issue of the arbitrary placement of the response v. The target curve. The practical implication is that the EQ used raises several frequencies when probably would be better to pull down upper bass and peak at 3k instead.
It doesn't make any difference where you place the target curve. Once you've added makeup gain (or cut) the end result will be the same for a given listening volume ...
 

Robbo99999

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
2,735
Likes
2,241
Location
UK
#18
We are back again to the issue of the arbitrary placement of the response v. The target curve. The practical implication is that the EQ used raises several frequencies when probably would be better to pull down upper bass and peak at 3k instead. You don’t need a literal least-squares approach to place the target, but the matching at a single fixed frequency is not producing a good result.
It doesn't make any difference where you place the target curve. Once you've added makeup gain (or cut) the end result will be the same for a given listening volume ...
In my experience with creating EQ's for headphones (manually using REW) is that placing the target curve optimally on the measurement can make it easier to EQ accurately to the target, but ultimately it doesn't negatively effect problem areas in the headphone because like you say @bluefuzz is that you end up with a similar Total EQ Curve with all points on that curve either equal to 0dBFS or less, EQ's are all relative to each other. I mean you can still choose not to "boost" problem areas like headphones with lots of distortion in the bass for example, but that's not related to Target Curve placement.
 

MediumRare

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 17, 2019
Messages
1,426
Likes
1,635
Location
Chicago
#19

Robbo99999

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
2,735
Likes
2,241
Location
UK
#20
I believe that is not correct. Using digital boost on specific frequencies can create both digital and amplifier distortion. 6 dB boost is 4X power.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...e-levels-with-the-eq-rather-than-boost.17728/
Headphones are pretty much always minimum phase devices, so there are mostly no dips that you shouldn't boost like can occur in speakers in rooms (room modes). Still though, you can choose which areas you EQ up to the Target Curve & which areas you don't.....like you might not boost the bass all the way up to the Target in a headphone with driver clipping or heavy bass distortion. So you can still make decisions on which parts of the frequency range you will leave at or closer to 0dBFS (which by definition are areas that you are "boosting"), remember this is all digital. Additionally, generally headphones have plenty of volume headroom left over by whatever amplifier they're being driven by, so having the bass at 0dBFS and the "rest" of the curve around -10dBFS is not really a big deal in terms of power available.

EDIT: one caveat to what I said about "mostly no dips that you shouldn't boost" - one caveat is that the higher up the frequency range you go then the less predictable & accurate the measurement is in terms of whether or not you would have the same peak or dip at that same place in the frequency response when you wear the headphone on your own head.....therefore you wouldn't want to use high Q filters (sharp) on any peaks or dips high up in the frequency range because you're likely to miss the actual peak or dip when the headphone is worn on your own head....instead you'd have to use a lower Q (wider) filter to EQ up or down the troughs & peaks the higher up the frequency range you go. This is not related to minimum phase device characteristics of a headphone but rather the quirks of unpredictability of frequency response the higher up the frequency range you go.....so the headphone can still physically take those sharp & aggressive EQ's as you go further up the frequency range, but the real world success in terms of that EQ hitting that peak or trough when you wear it on your own head is lower.
 
Last edited:

Similar threads

Top Bottom