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Audeze LCD-1 Review

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amirm

amirm

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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.
This is not a string that you pull down. You have to fit the shape of a parametric filter to what you want to change. Here is the relative response:

index.php


Taking that broad, odd-shaped hill between 100 and 1 kHz would require fair bit of work. And that is critical work given the importance of that region audibly. In contrast, a shelving filter in sub-bass is not as critical and can make a decent match to that region.

As I have explained a number of times, this is a zero sum gain. Boosting the entire range so that you can then pull a few areas down has already increased distortion/reduced headroom. It is not free to boost things across the full frequency range.

Also, if you boost the response, to get different point to match, then that impacts the sensitivity measurements.
 

MediumRare

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Taking that broad, odd-shaped hill between 100 and 1 kHz would require fair bit of work. And that is critical work given the importance of that region audibly. In contrast, a shelving filter in sub-bass is not as critical and can make a decent match to that region.
Of course I respect your expertise, experience, and judgement. This is already pretty complex set of corrections. However, could you give it a try, if only to prove me wrong?
1627684518480.png
 
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bluefuzz

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Using digital boost on specific frequencies can create both digital and amplifier distortion.
Yes, which is why you reduce the master gain an equivalent amount. Distortion at a specific frequency will set in at a certain SPL regardless of how individual PEQ filters are set. It's the end result that counts.
 

Aperiodic

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I have a question about EQ for Amir (or, hell, bluefuzz or anybody else who knows).... a general one, not specifically relating to the review here. Is there some inherent advantage to parametric EQ when I have a 31-band graphic EQ built in on my computer? Shouldn't they both be able to provide basically the same end result?
 
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JJB70

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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?

No and yes. They're still hyped, but their build quality seems better than it was. Although given the price it should be a given that build quality is outstanding and not a matter of concern (though in fairness it is a surprisingly common concern in high end audio and not limited to Audeze).
 

Robbo99999

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I have a question about EQ for Amir (or, hell, bluefuzz or anybody else who knows).... a general one, not specifically relating to the review here. Is there some inherent advantage to parametric EQ when I have a 31-band graphic EQ built in on my computer? Shouldn't they both be able to provide basically the same end result?
Parametric EQ is very flexible as you can specify the width of the filters effect (Q-value) as well the Gain (+/- dB).....whereas with graphic EQ the width of the filters are fixed and so are the frequencies. So parametric EQ allows you to fit an EQ more accurately to a target curve. Parametric EQ is better. There are also different types of parametric filters, there's Low Shelf & High Shelf Filters that can influence all frequencies below or above a stipulated frequency, and again you can choose Q value and Gain on that filter. Also you've got High Pass & Low Pass filters, but mostly it's about Peak Filters & Shelf Filters. It really does allow you to accurately carve any EQ you like.
 

Helicopter

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I have a question about EQ for Amir (or, hell, bluefuzz or anybody else who knows).... a general one, not specifically relating to the review here. Is there some inherent advantage to parametric EQ when I have a 31-band graphic EQ built in on my computer? Shouldn't they both be able to provide basically the same end result?
Should be close. PEQ result will have far better resolution and simpler more targeted shaping.
 

abdo123

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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.

this makes literally no difference whatsoever on the end results.
 

abdo123

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Then why should we avoid boosting when doing room correction and focus on cuts instead?

because to do a boost of 7.5 dB (what this headphone needs) you need an amplifier with over 5 times the power. (if you have a 50W amplifier you would need a 283W amplifier). you basically sacrifice your system's dynamic range.

For headphones this is not an issue because even the shoddiest amplifiers can do 110 dBSPL on most headphones.
 
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amirm

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Then why should we avoid boosting when doing room correction and focus on cuts instead?
Dips in room correction are cased by (partial) cancellations. There, boosting causes the inverse that is causing the partial cancellation to also get stronger because it is a linear reflection. This is why caution is stated in trying to boost those.

If the dip is not caused by cancellation, then boosting it is just fine. I do that with speakers all the time.
 

MediumRare

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Dips in room correction are cased by (partial) cancellations. There, boosting causes the inverse that is causing the partial cancellation to also get stronger because it is a linear reflection. This is why caution is stated in trying to boost those.

If the dip is not caused by cancellation, then boosting it is just fine. I do that with speakers all the time.
Aha! Thanks. I did not fully understand that.
 

Maiky76

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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:

View attachment 144402

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

View attachment 144403

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:

View attachment 144404

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:
View attachment 144405

Fortunately distortion is generally very low:

View attachment 144406

View attachment 144407

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:
View attachment 144408

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

View attachment 144409

Impedance is quite low as noted. Sensitive is below average so you should use a headphone amplifier with it:
View attachment 144410

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:

View attachment 144411

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.

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Hi,

Here are some thoughts about the EQ.

Notes about the EQ design:
  • The average L/R is used to calculate the score.
  • The resolution is 12 points per octave interpolated from the raw data (provided by @amirm)
  • A Genetic Algorithm is used to optimize the EQ.
  • The EQ Score is designed to MAXIMIZE the Score WHILE fitting the Harman target curve with a fixed complexity.
    This will avoid weird results if one only optimizes for the Score.
    It will probably flatten the Error regression doing so, the tonal balance should be more neutral.
  • The EQs are starting point and may require tuning (certainly at LF).
  • The range around and above 10kHz is usually not EQed unless smooth enough to do so.
  • I am using PEQ (PK) as from my experience the definition is more consistent across different DSP/platform implementations than shelves.
  • With some HP/amp combo the boosts and preamp gain need to be carefully considered to avoid issues
  • Not all units of the same products are not made equal. The EQ is based on a single unit measured. YMMV with regards to the very unit you are trying this EQ on.

Great L/R match.

I have generated one EQ, the APO config file is attached.

Score no EQ: 58.1
Score Armirm: 84.8
Score with EQ: 101.3

Code:
Audeze LCD-1 APO EQ [email protected] 96000Hz
August022021-095334

Preamp: -7 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 40.15 Hz Gain 6.40 dB Q 0.62
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 306.26 Hz Gain -1.48 dB Q 0.40
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 2081.11 Hz Gain 6.81 dB Q 1.57
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 2973.32 Hz Gain -5.25 dB Q 2.85
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 7848.20 Hz Gain 7.00 dB Q 0.59
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 14193.94 Hz Gain -9.52 dB Q 5.83

Audeze LCD-1 APO Dashboard.png
 

Attachments

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misureaudio

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Hi,

Here are some thoughts about the EQ.

Notes about the EQ design:
  • The average L/R is used to calculate the score.
  • The resolution is 12 points per octave interpolated from the raw data (provided by @amirm)
  • A Genetic Algorithm is used to optimize the EQ.
  • The EQ Score is designed to MAXIMIZE the Score WHILE fitting the Harman target curve with a fixed complexity.
    This will avoid weird results if one only optimizes for the Score.
    It will probably flatten the Error regression doing so, the tonal balance should be more neutral.
  • The EQs are starting point and may require tuning (certainly at LF).
  • The range around and above 10kHz is usually not EQed unless smooth enough to do so.
  • I am using PEQ (PK) as from my experience the definition is more consistent across different DSP/platform implementations than shelves.
  • With some HP/amp combo the boosts and preamp gain need to be carefully considered to avoid issues
  • Not all units of the same products are not made equal. The EQ is based on a single unit measured. YMMV with regards to the very unit you are trying this EQ on.

Great L/R match.

I have generated one EQ, the APO config file is attached.

Score no EQ: 58.1
Score Armirm: 84.8
Score with EQ: 101.3

Code:
Audeze LCD-1 APO EQ [email protected] 96000Hz
August022021-095334

Preamp: -7 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 40.15 Hz Gain 6.40 dB Q 0.62
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 306.26 Hz Gain -1.48 dB Q 0.40
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 2081.11 Hz Gain 6.81 dB Q 1.57
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 2973.32 Hz Gain -5.25 dB Q 2.85
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 7848.20 Hz Gain 7.00 dB Q 0.59
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 14193.94 Hz Gain -9.52 dB Q 5.83

View attachment 144969

Just testing in mEqualizer (Meldaproduction). All filters are 'pk' type except for filter 6, which produces perfect curve match with 'pk analog' type.

Sounds excellent.
 

Robbo99999

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Hi,

Here are some thoughts about the EQ.

Notes about the EQ design:
  • The average L/R is used to calculate the score.
  • The resolution is 12 points per octave interpolated from the raw data (provided by @amirm)
  • A Genetic Algorithm is used to optimize the EQ.
  • The EQ Score is designed to MAXIMIZE the Score WHILE fitting the Harman target curve with a fixed complexity.
    This will avoid weird results if one only optimizes for the Score.
    It will probably flatten the Error regression doing so, the tonal balance should be more neutral.
  • The EQs are starting point and may require tuning (certainly at LF).
  • The range around and above 10kHz is usually not EQed unless smooth enough to do so.
  • I am using PEQ (PK) as from my experience the definition is more consistent across different DSP/platform implementations than shelves.
  • With some HP/amp combo the boosts and preamp gain need to be carefully considered to avoid issues
  • Not all units of the same products are not made equal. The EQ is based on a single unit measured. YMMV with regards to the very unit you are trying this EQ on.

Great L/R match.

I have generated one EQ, the APO config file is attached.

Score no EQ: 58.1
Score Armirm: 84.8
Score with EQ: 101.3

Code:
Audeze LCD-1 APO EQ [email protected] 96000Hz
August022021-095334

Preamp: -7 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 40.15 Hz Gain 6.40 dB Q 0.62
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 306.26 Hz Gain -1.48 dB Q 0.40
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 2081.11 Hz Gain 6.81 dB Q 1.57
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 2973.32 Hz Gain -5.25 dB Q 2.85
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 7848.20 Hz Gain 7.00 dB Q 0.59
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 14193.94 Hz Gain -9.52 dB Q 5.83

View attachment 144969
You probably shouldn't use a sharp Q6 filter at 14000Hz, you can't really guarantee that there is a peak in that area when you place a headphone on your own head, as the frequency response is more unreliable the higher you go up the frequency range, and certainly so above 10kHz, so really you'd need to be using Shelf Filters above 10kHz or very broad Peak Filters below say Q2. If using a Peak Filter I probably would have used something like Q1 to bring down both of those peaks at the same time.
 
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