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Audeze LCD-24 Review (Headphone)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Audeze LCD-24. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $3,499.

I must say, this is a manly looking headphone:

Audeze LCD-24 Review open back planar magnetic headphone.jpg


It would fit right at home with someone wearing their leathers and driving a Harley Davidson motorcycle! :) There is an unusual mechanism to adjust the headband which puts side ways pressure on the headphone. I kind of like it. Overall comfort is very good.

This is the second heaviest headphone since I started to keep track of them at 575 grams:

Lightest Headphone Review.png


It doesn't feel that heavy though. The inside cup dimensions are 70 mm, 56mm and 34 mm (height, width and depth).

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 have confirmed 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!

Fitting the LCD-24 to the fixture was extremely easy. With the large cups and excellent seal, the first try worked and I ran with it.

Audeze LCD-24 Measurements
As usual we start with our frequency response:

Audeze LCD-24 Frequency Response Measurements.png


Looks like some attempt is made in having a flat response even though there is "ear gain" in my fixture which doesn't make much sense. End result is lack of bass and uninteresting, muffled sound due to shortages in the 1 to 5 kHz We will confirm this in listening tests.

As a deviation from target, this is what we have:

Audeze LCD-24 Relative Frequency Response Measurements.png


I design my EQ by eye and in this case, creating a curve for 1 to 10 kHz is going to be challenging. So automated filter design may work better.

The next measurement popped the eye out of my socket:
Audeze LCD-24 Relative Distortion Measurements Headphone.png


This is one comfortable driver no matter how much sound you expect it to produce! Even at incredible 114 dBSPL, it is cruising with minimal distortion. I hope companies that produce distortion factories (I am looking at you Abyss), are paying attention. Distortion barely touches our 40 dB reference line:

Audeze LCD-24 Distortion Measurements Headphone.png


And that is in upper bass, dominated by second harmoni.

Group delay is messy indicating internal reflections, resonances, etc:

Audeze LCD-24 Group Delay Measurements Headphone.png


Impedance is typical dead flat but very low at 14 ohm:
Audeze LCD-24 Impedance Measurements.png


You need an amp that has good current delivery. Fortunately efficiency is quite good:

Most efficient headphone measurements.png


So most portable devices should be able to drive it to reasonable levels.

Audeze LCD-24 Listening Tests and Equalization
Stock listening experience was not good. The sound was dull and sub-bass almost faint, non-existent. So EQ tool came out fast and furiouis:

Audeze LCD-24 Roon player equalization EQ filter.png


Despite the crudeness of my EQ design, the transformation was massive. You now had good sub-bass and the spatial qualities bloomed like nobody's business (function of 1 to 5 kHz). Instrument separation was very nice and fun. It feels like there is a miniature orchestra playing little instruments around your head. One of my reference test tracks for spatial qualities (and general fidelity) is Jewele's Serve the Ego:


The detail, resolution, bass and localization of different sounds was just excellent. I just compared the youtube version above which plays without EQ compared to my Roon player doing so with EQ, and the difference is night and day. The youtube version is totally uninteresting and recessed. The EQ version is just a delight. If you own this headphone and have not applied EQ correction, you don't know what you are missing.

I wanted to compare my EQ to presets that ship in Roon for Audeze. Alas, there was not one for LCD-24. Hope Audeze remedies that.

Conclusions
Despite the incredible popularity of headphone measurements and talk of preference curves, it is amazing how many headphones ignore that and produce a headphone with its idea of target response. LCD-24 is one such example. Fortunately it provides a capable platform for equalization with its extreme low distortion driver. Producing an EQ curve takes some work but what I have above generates more fidelity and delight than I need. I hope Audeze moves more towards having a response that is closer to target so that out of box experience is better.

Overall, I cannot recommend Audeze LCD-24 in stock form. With equalization though, it gets my strong vote for a wonderful sounding headphone.

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

First harvest from the Garden!!! Been behind this year in my gardening chores so it was nice to have something ready to eat:
Garden Vegitables.jpg


The nice head of cauliflower came out of a plant that I potted back in fall of last year! It produced some fruit which instantly got eaten by some creature. I put it in the greenhouse nearly dead looking. This spring it sprouted back to action and produced to heads! What a delight. Crunchy, flavorful and sweet. Flowers you see are from kohlrabi which is normally grown for its over the ground bulb. If you leave it in the garden though through winter, in spring you get this amazing harvest of yellow flowers that taste like broccoli. I eat them while working in the garden all spring. Below that is a smorgasbord of greens from different lettuces to beet greens and cilantro.

On the right was a new planting: wasabi radish. Was hoping that it would taste a bit like wasabi as advertised. Well, it does not. It just tastes like a normal radish, albeit in that pretty green color. These were pulled out to let the others bulb out better. They were decent eating. And oh, I am growing real wasabi for the first time!

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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sweetchaos

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To import this PEQ profile into 'Equalizer APO', use:
Preamp: -8.4 dB
Filter 1: ON LS Fc 40 Hz Gain 4.0 dB Q 1.0
Filter 2: ON LS Fc 100 Hz Gain 4.0 dB Q 1.0
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 1800 Hz Gain 2.0 dB Q 2.0
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 2400 Hz Gain 6.0 dB Q 2.0
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 3900 Hz Gain 4.0 dB Q 3.0
To import into your favorite PEQ app, enter it manually.
Otherwise, see my PEQ guide.
..................................................................................................................
For those who don't have PEQ-capable app, and want to use GEQs instead.
Preamp: -6.4db
32 6.2
64 1.3
125 -0.6
250 -1.5
500 -1.2
1000 -2.2
2000 4.5
4000 2.3
8000 -2.4
16000 -2.4
Preamp: -6.9db
20 4.0
25 5.1
32 3.7
40 2.8
50 2.2
63 1.6
80 0.9
100 0.3
125 -0.4
160 -0.9
200 -1.0
250 -1.1
315 -1.2
400 -1.2
500 -1.2
630 -1.2
800 -1.1
1000 -0.9
1250 -0.6
1600 0.9
2000 3.4
2500 4.8
3150 1.5
4000 3.4
5000 -0.6
6300 -1.2
8000 -1.4
10000 -1.6
12500 -2.1
16000 -2.7
20000 -2.8
If you want to import into "Wavelet" (Android App):
GraphicEQ: 20 -0.2; 21 -0.3; 22 -0.3; 23 -0.4; 24 -0.5; 26 -0.6; 27 -0.7; 29 -0.9; 30 -1.0; 32 -1.2; 34 -1.4; 36 -1.6; 38 -1.8; 40 -2.0; 43 -2.3; 45 -2.5; 48 -2.8; 50 -2.9; 53 -3.2; 56 -3.4; 59 -3.6; 63 -3.8; 66 -4.0; 70 -4.2; 74 -4.4; 78 -4.7; 83 -4.9; 87 -5.1; 92 -5.3; 97 -5.5; 103 -5.8; 109 -6.0; 115 -6.2; 121 -6.4; 128 -6.6; 136 -6.8; 143 -6.9; 151 -7.0; 160 -7.1; 169 -7.2; 178 -7.3; 188 -7.4; 199 -7.5; 210 -7.5; 222 -7.6; 235 -7.6; 248 -7.6; 262 -7.7; 277 -7.7; 292 -7.7; 309 -7.7; 326 -7.7; 345 -7.7; 364 -7.7; 385 -7.7; 406 -7.7; 429 -7.7; 453 -7.7; 479 -7.7; 506 -7.7; 534 -7.7; 565 -7.7; 596 -7.6; 630 -7.6; 665 -7.6; 703 -7.6; 743 -7.5; 784 -7.5; 829 -7.4; 875 -7.4; 924 -7.3; 977 -7.2; 1032 -7.1; 1090 -7.0; 1151 -6.8; 1216 -6.6; 1284 -6.3; 1357 -6.0; 1433 -5.6; 1514 -5.1; 1599 -4.5; 1689 -3.9; 1784 -3.3; 1885 -2.7; 1991 -2.2; 2103 -1.6; 2221 -1.0; 2347 -0.6; 2479 -0.8; 2618 -1.3; 2766 -2.1; 2921 -2.8; 3086 -3.2; 3260 -3.4; 3443 -3.2; 3637 -2.7; 3842 -2.5; 4058 -2.9; 4287 -3.8; 4528 -4.8; 4783 -5.5; 5052 -6.1; 5337 -6.5; 5637 -6.7; 5955 -6.9; 6290 -7.1; 6644 -7.2; 7018 -7.3; 7414 -7.4; 7831 -7.5; 8272 -7.5; 8738 -7.6; 9230 -7.6; 9749 -7.6; 10298 -7.7; 10878 -7.7; 11490 -7.7; 12137 -7.7; 12821 -7.7; 13543 -7.8; 14305 -7.8; 15110 -7.8; 15961 -7.8; 16860 -7.8; 17809 -7.8; 18812 -7.8; 19871 -7.7
Otherwise, see my GEQ guide.
 
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solderdude

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The LCD2F I measured (not the same headphone as tested by Amir) also had pad bounce at very low frequencies. (note: my scale differs and no pinna/ear canal effects)

gd-lcd2f.png


All the LCD's have an upper midrange dip which is EQ-able, so are the lows. Dead flat but not acc. to Harman preference.
Heavy in weight.

can be used on portable equipment.
 

srsxmi

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Thanks Amir! It's nice to see this reviewed, and to know how it performs. It's great to know that it can be EQ'd readily and with excellent results.

They''re getting better at their lack of distortion:)
 

hege

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I hope Audeze moves more towards having a response that is closer to target so that out of box experience is better.

Is it even physically possible to achieve near harman target, with such open headphone using large planar driver? There's only so much tuning you can do with pads and stuff (and the result could be Abyss?).. pretty sure subbass will droop no matter what..
 

Francis Vaughan

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This is starting to look like the headphone I wish more manufactures would manufacture. IMHO applying any HRTF compensation curve in the electromechanical domain inside the headphone is simply the wrong place to do it. The tools available to the designer are blunt and primitive. But it means that the HP is backward compatible with existing equipment. So they are easy to sell.

But it is 2021 according to my calendar. DSP is near free and common. We are already accepting that use of EQ is not just useful, but near mandatory. So stop messing about and put the entire HRTF in the EQ. This frees the designer of the HP from messing about compromising the design trying to achieve the HRTF with poorly suited tools. Indeed such freedom means they can probably look for improvements that were previously ruled out due to the constraints needed to create a HRTF. It is putting the HRTF into a domain where it can be achieved without compromise, and finally, allowing the user to tune the HRTF to their own physical proportions.
The Harman curve is a compromise averaging across an average human head and torso. If you are much bigger or small than this average the Harmam curve is not optimal for you. So you could do better.

It it wasn't so expensive I would seriously consider this HP as my next purchase. I don't think Beelzebub allows double dipping.
 
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Guerilla

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Cheers! I would like to know how high an effective resolution (bits) one can hear from a headphone like this if the whole chain from recording to speaker is flawless. Often I read about gear that has ex. 20 bits resolution and wonder where it lands when its been through a tranducer.
 

abdo123

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This is starting to look like the headphone I wish more manufactures would manufacture. IMHO applying any HRTF compensation curve in the electromechanical domain inside the headphone is simply the wrong place to do it. The tools available to the designer are blunt and primitive. But it means that the HP is backward compatible with existing equipment. So they are easy to sell.

But it is 2021 according to my calendar. DSP is near free and common. We are already accepting that use of EQ is not just useful, but near mandatory. So stop messing about and put the entire HRTF in the EQ. This frees the designer of the HP from messing about compromising the design trying to achieve the HRTF with poorly suited tools. Indeed such freedom means they can probably look for improvements that were previously ruled out due to the constraints needed to create a HRTF. It is putting the HRTF into a domain where it can be achieved without compromise, and finally, allowing the user to tune the HRTF to their own physical proportions.
The Harman curve is a compromise averaging across an average human head and torso. If you are much bigger or small than this average the Harmam curve is not optimal for you. So you could do better.

It it wasn't so expensive I would seriously consider this HP as my next purchase. I don't think Beelzebub allows double dipping.

while this might seem like a decent idea at the start, in reality, people will receive a garbage product out of the box.


I very much rather that the industry just moves forward to active designs.
 

Francis Vaughan

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Cheers! I would like to know how high an effective resolution (bits) one can hear from a headphone like this if the whole chain from recording to speaker is flawless. Often I read about gear that has ex. 20 bits resolution and wonder where it lands when its been through a transducer.

Easy to get a basic figure of merit, but complex to get a meaningful one.
You get 6dB per bit. Amir shows measurements at 94 dB SPL, and you see distortion in the range 10-30dB. So a gap of about 84 to 64dB. That is roughly 14 downto 11 bits.
But you can't just run with this. The nature of the distortion and the frequencies it occurs at matters enormously. Harmonic distortion of bass frequencies is notoriously difficult to perceive. And it gets worse from there on in. The idea that if these HPs are good to 13 bits, you can't hear issues below 14 bits equivalent in the chain feeding them doesn't really work, as the numbers just don't capture the full extent of what is going on or how the ears work. That said, usually the ear turns out to be even less sensitive, but not always.
 
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Robbo99999

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I can't get too excited about this headphone. The frequency response looks too troublesome to EQ sucessfully with a pretty sharp & very deep dip at 4kHz. Combined with the totally off stock frequency response & sky high price I think it's pretty crazy. Granted the distortion measurements are super impressive, but I'm not sold on the significance & importance of that vs "standard" headphones on the influence of that variable on listening experience.....for instance my K702 has higher measured distortion than some of my other headphones yet they are still my favourites, so I don't think it's wise to be unduly wowed & influenced by the super low distortion results of this Audeze LCD24 headphone. I can't see this Audeze LCD24 being on my recommended list due to it's massive price combined with the frequency response issues.....although absolutely by no means is it in the same ballpark of fail as the ultra expensive as well as poorly performing Abyss headphones that have been measured on this site. If this Audeze LCD24 was in the $500 or less region I wouldn't be so harsh on it.
 

Francis Vaughan

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while this might seem like a decent idea at the start, in reality, people will receive a garbage product out of the box.

I very much rather that the industry just moves forward to active designs.

Sure, I don't disagree, I would regard a fully integrated active HP as simply being an implementation tactic of this. But that is likely to take even longer to come to fruition. Right now, today, HPs could be offered that had a flat frequency response. A fully active premium HP is going to inevitably cost more, and probably include all the electronics in the HPs themselves. We end up with Apple Airpods Max. If you are happy with that, fine. We will probably get there. But I can't see most HP manufacturers having the capability or the desire to do so anytime soon.
 

B4ICU

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A HP for $3,500 that test like this? Some may think that it's a bargain.
A friend once told me: It's easy to find a good bottle of wine for $1,000. But it is more difficult to find an excellent bottle of wine for $25.
Here we kind of have a winiger for $3,500.
Sorry Audeze, don't count on me for your annual sale target. My money won't go to you!
 

abdo123

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Sure, I don't disagree, I would regard a fully integrated active HP as simply being an implementation tactic of this. But that is likely to take even longer to come to fruition. Right now, today, HPs could be offered that had a flat frequency response. A fully active premium HP is going to inevitably cost more, and probably include all the electronics in the HPs themselves. We end up with Apple Airpods Max. If you are happy with that, fine. We will probably get there. But I can't see most HP manufacturers having the capability or the desire to do so anytime soon.

you're obviously a bit behind on the current trends, something like the Qudelix 5K can configured by the manufacturer to do any Target curve you want and store several tonal 'profiles' simulataneously for the low price of 100$.

In fact honestly most active mainstream headphone brands sound pretty good, it's just stagnation in the high-end market that is pushing it behind.

why make a better engineered product when people obviously don't care or know enough about it?
 
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