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Audeze LCD-X Review (2021 Edition Headphone)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the 2021 edition of the Audeze LCD-X open-back planar magnetic headphone. It was sent to me by the company and costs US $1,199 by itself or you can get the premium version with case and such for $1,699.

The LCD-X is one serious looking and feeling headphone:

Audeze LCD-X Review open back planar magnetic headphone  Response 2021.jpg


I am not a big fan of its adjustment mechanism as shipped. It is hard to adjust just one notch. It either doesn't move or overshoots. I understand there is an adjustment mechanism for this which I did not play with.

This is a substantial headphone clocking at 610 grams which I understand is lighter than its original version:

lighest planar magnetic headphone review.png


Wearing it though, I found them pretty comfortable. I quickly forgot about them until I took them off and then felt the pressure the pads were putting on my face.

The cup inside dimensions are rectangular at 67mm by 50 mm. The depth is variable and at its highest is 26 mm.

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 very easy given the large pads.

Audeze 2021 LCD-X Measurements
As usual we start with the headphone frequency response as comparison to our preference curve:

Audeze LCD-X Measurements Frequency Response 2021.png


We immediately see that the deep notch that existed in the original LCD-X is fixed:

index.php


A bit of boost is also provided around 2 to 3 kHz which is appreciated but still not enough to reach the natural gain of our hearing anatomy. The trough between 3 and 5 kHz will likely cause significant damage to spatial qualities of the headphones. Here is the relative frequency response which is useful for development of the needed equalization:

Audeze LCD-X Measurements Relative Frequency Response 2021.png


Bass deficiency is not much but still, you want to EQ that. It would be a shame to get a large driver like this and not let it produce proper bass!

Here is the best news:

Audeze LCD-X Measurements distortion vs Frequency Response 2021.png


Distortion is extremely low (ignore the bit at 10 kHz -- it is not repeatable). If you boost the response by 10 dB, you only travel from blue curve to red which is almost no difference! Even 20 dB gets you to green curve which is again nothing. Our 40 dB target is easily reached across the full range:
Audeze LCD-X Measurements THD distortion vs Frequency Response 2021.png


This makes the headphone a blank canvas to equalize as we wish.

Group delay says very little:
Audeze LCD-X Measurements Group Delay vs Frequency Response 2021.png


Impedance is flat as is typically the case with planar magnetic headphones:
Audeze LCD-X Measurements Impedance vs Frequency Response 2021.png


Sensitivity is slightly better than average:
Most efficient planar magnetic headphone review.png


Combined with low impedance, you should be able to drive the LCD-X with most headphone outputs.

Audeze LCD-X Headphone Listening Tests and Equalization
The sound out of box is quite boring and bland. So equalization tool came right out:
Audeze LCD-X Equalization 2021 EQ Parametric.png


I used dual filters to try to better shape the low frequency boost as it has a complex shape. I then used another pair to fill in the hole in 3 to 5 kHz. The final filter in yellow at 5.8 kHz is just a "stopper." I use a bit of negative gain to make sure there is no boost at that point and farther in frequency response. It helped keep the headphone from sounding too bright post EQ.

Once there, these headphones were a delight to listen to. The sound is now light and airy with really good spatial qualities. Dynamic ability is excellent letting you listen at any level with no hint of distortion. The sound is so nice that a day later, I am listening to them as I type this review.

Conclusions
It is great to see Audeze respond to clear flaw shown in measurements and fix the egregious rough/cancellation that existed in the older design. What is there now is improved in that regard from tonality point of view but is still far from ideal response. A lot of goodness is left on the table with deficient lower treble and deep bass. Once those are fixed the sound becomes wonderful given the exceptionally low level of distortion.

I am happy to strongly recommend the Audeze LCD-X 2021 revision with equalization. Without it, it is a pass for me.

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

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amirm

amirm

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I should note that these provide no sound isolation and let out incredible amount of sound from their back side. So you definitely don't want to use them in noisy environment or sitting next to someone else.
 

o7_brother

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Great review of a pretty cool headphone!

It should be noted that the drop-off in the sub-bass is likely down to seating conditions (getting a good acoustic seal). As far as I know, every one of the Audeze LCD headphones, except the LCD-1, is capable of flat bass extension, as can be seen on other measurements on industry-standard GRAS rigs:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/sloaf7ptogjmjkx/Audeze LCD-X (2021 revision).pdf?dl=0

Oh, and I just realized your graph of the old LCD-X version shows this flat bass extension too.
 

sweetchaos

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To import this PEQ profile into 'Equalizer APO', use:
Preamp: -11.2 dB
Filter 1: ON LS Fc 31 Hz Gain 6.7 dB Q 1.0
Filter 2: ON LS Fc 127 Hz Gain 4.0 dB Q 0.8
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 2542 Hz Gain 4.0 dB Q 2.5
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 3700 Hz Gain 8.0 dB Q 4.5
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 5800 Hz Gain -1.0 dB Q 5.0
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.
 
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m8o

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I am happy to strongly recommend the Audeze LCD-X 2021 revision with equalization. Without it, it is a pass for me.
Not sure if you ever touched on this in the past. Pardon if so but I never saw it. My question ...

Audeze has that neat Reveal plugin integrated into Roon. And provides profiles for [most] all of its headphones. I know that that is a blackbox (though its effect on a sweep or pink noise can be measured). Whereas making your own EQ provides you and us with the clarity of the equalization parameters utilized.

But have you ever given them a try? Further perhaps a/b-ing it to your own curves?
 

o7_brother

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Also, I have to ask, since Amir now has a good number of headphone reviews under his belt:

What is the point of that group delay graph? Besides "don't EQ sharp dips in the treble", I don't see what it can tell us or how it correlates to sound quality.

Is there any research done on this? RTings has some studies quoted for their group delay graphs, but it would seem like the vast majority of headphones fall well within the "fine" category.
 

GaryH

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Also, I have to ask, since Amir now has a good number of headphone reviews under his belt:

What is the point of that group delay graph? Besides "don't EQ sharp dips in the treble", I don't see what it can tell us or how it correlates to sound quality.

Is there any research done on this? RTings has some studies quoted for their group delay graphs, but it would seem like the vast majority of headphones fall well within the "fine" category.

It tells you next to nothing. What's needed is an excess group delay graph, and even then hardly any headphones would show any audible problems there.
 

Doodski

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That single screw look like it's prime for loosening. Anybody have any issues with that?
Audeze LCD-X.jpg
 

BrokenEnglishGuy

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Debatable, especially considering DCA's planars are very sensitive to how the pads fit your head. Got glasses or a beard? Say goodbye to bass and lower mids.
Dca change his pads with the ethers flows, i had the first pad and i had problems with the fit in my head, but dca send me a much better pad and i the problem its gone, also the sub bass improve with the newer pad.

Look this pad:
1627329625391.png


And this:
1627329727274.png

1627329817126.png
 

phoenixdogfan

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My understanding is that new pads fix most if not all the deficiencies of the OG LCD-Xs. Personally, after getting my pair custom EQ'd by Sonar Works around five years ago, I never felt they gave me anything to be unhappy about. I've always loved them.
 

Matias

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It's a shame they are still shipping the long leather strap that touches the headband. Defeats the purpose of being suspended!
And they do carry a shorter leather strap, so I don't know why they keep sending out the longer ones!

This is my former XC with short leather strap bought from Audeze's Customer Service. Comfort increased 1000x.

IMG_20200831_085512 (1).jpg
 
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Jimbob54

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Not sure if you ever touched on this in the past. Pardon if so but I never saw it. My question ...

Audeze has that neat Reveal plugin integrated into Roon. And provides profiles for [most] all of its headphones. I know that that is a blackbox (though its effect on a sweep or pink noise can be measured). Whereas making your own EQ provides you and us with the clarity of the equalization parameters utilized.

But have you ever given them a try? Further perhaps a/b-ing it to your own curves?

I think in the original LCD X review he compared his EQ to the plugin.
 

ezra_s

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...I used dual filters to try to better shape the low frequency boost ..

Oh, this is nice method, I will try it to bring up the bass a little more in the DT800
 
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