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Audeze LCD-XC Review (Closed-back Headphone)

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 4 2.5%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 11 6.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 68 41.7%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 80 49.1%

  • Total voters
    163
OP
amirm

amirm

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Why doesnt Amirm measure and plot a diagramm post his EQ settings?
First and foremost reason is that my measurement setup doesn't allow it. The Audio Precision software on the computer is what is sending out the test tones and collecting data. There is no way to put in the filters I create in Roon in that data path. There is a work-around which is a pain: use Roon to asynchronously play the test tone and then capture and analyze it with AP. I have done this and results are what you expect. What you boost is boosted, and what not, is not.

Note that since my filters are manually and visually created, they are not inverting the response accurately so you won't see an exact response. See an example of this testing here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-x-over-ear-open-back-headphone-review.16777/

index.php


On a technical level, frequency response variations are linear which means they have no secondary consequence. They simply raise or lower the frequency the filter instructs and there isn't impact elsewhere (unless there is extreme distortion).
 

Spocko

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Audeze LCD-XC (late 2021 edition). It was sent to me by the company and costs either US $1,299 or $1,799 depending on accessories.

View attachment 188134
The LCD-XC feels quite sturdy and solidly built. Alas, it is also the heavies headphone I have measured:
View attachment 188135
The cups are quite comfortable for me and other than feeling some pressure against the sides of my head, I didn't have any problem wearing it for a while.

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!

The LCD-X was easy to measure, fitting on my fixture with little adjustment.

Audeze LCD-XC Measurements
Let's start with our usual frequency response measurements:
View attachment 188136

I was pleasantly surprised to see good compliance with our target curve for a good part of it. Headphone fixture reliability is low in high frequencies but it is possible that the sound is a bit bright due to peaks above 10 kHz for those of you blessed to still have your full hearing range.

Relative frequency response (to our target) gives an easier view of what needs to be corrected using filters for optimal sound:

View attachment 188137

As with some of the other Audeze headphones I have measured, the LCD-X demonstrates stunningly low levels of distortion:

View attachment 188138

Even at 114 dBSPL (green) we have little to no distortion! At reference measurement of 94 dBSPL (blue), distortion reduces to some -84 dB which is audio electronic domain, not a mechanical transducer! Considering that there is some measurement noise in there as well, the actual distortion may be even lower. If some of that weight has gone toward making less distortion, I say keep on adding weight! :D

In absolute terms, distortion again proves to be incredibly low:
View attachment 188139

I suggest anyone performing audibility of distortion tests to use headphones like the LCD-XC.

Group delay is also very clean showing absence of secondary resonances that combine to create phase non-linearity:
View attachment 188140

Impedance is low and flat as is typical of this class:
View attachment 188141

I again suspect some of that weight has gone toward making this headphone quite sensitive:
View attachment 188142

Audeze LCD-XC Listening Tests and Equalization
Out of box response was fine. Not annoying but a bit ordinary. I first turned on the LCD-XC correction in my Roon player and it did improve the sound fair bit. I then developed my own:
View attachment 188143

The response is rather complex and my filters rather simple so a more optimal one may be developed using mathematical means. Comparing mine to the built-in profile, I found that they are two flavors of excellent sound. I have a slight preference for mine though. :)

Post EQ, spatial qualities were excellent with instruments taking up their own spot in 3-D space outside of each ear to the left and right with some depth. On tracks that have such qualities, it is quite a nice experience.

Bass performance with EQ was superb when combined with efficiency of these headphones. With modest power driving them you can still get reference quality bass down to 20 Hz. Turn up the volume some and dynamics become incredible.

Conclusions
Audeze is one of only two companies providing headphones to me for testing. For this alone, they deserve many kudos (as well as waiting some 6 months for me to test this headphone :) ). More importantly, I like how they have gotten closer to our preference curve and with it, provided a nice out of box experience. Given the ultra low distortion, you can easily make corrections to the response to create the sound you want. Efficiency is also high making it easier to drive than many other headphones.

I am going to recommend the Audeze LCD-XC. With EQ, I will up my recommendation to highest level!

-----------
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/
If it wasn't for the weight, I'd get it!
 

edahl

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Impressive improvements over earlier models! How much does the thing weigh? I think you forgot to bring out your scale!
 

Fifoumed

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@amirm : how does it sound compared to your DCA Stealth?

Also, Dan Clark said quite some time ago that he will send you the Aeon 2 Noir, did he forget it? :)
Yes, hugely waiting for the Aeon Noire review from @amirm , hoping that the quality would become closer from the Stealth, thus getting a great quality/price ratio.
I note that the Dan Clarcke's are much lighter and easy to pack, they have real leather pads
 

Bleib

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Jmm22

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Regarding the weight, I just returned a pair of LCD-X, which are fairly close in weight. I found them to be very comfortable, but holy hell were they hot. I can’t imagine how hot the closed backs would be. I started sweating from them.

They can also take an insane amount of EQ and essentially conform to any sound signature/genre you like.
 
OP
amirm

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Regarding the weight, I just returned a pair of LCD-X, which are fairly close in weight. I found them to be very comfortable, but holy hell were they hot. I can’t imagine how hot the closed backs would be. I started sweating from them.
When it is hot, I switch to IEMs for that reason.
 

Jmm22

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When it is hot, I switch to IEMs for that reason.
Unfortunately I run hot all the time. It’s a bummer because I loved the sound of the LCD-X. The only over ear headphones I can wear so far are Fidelio X2s,2 which are “fine”.
 

Spocko

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Regarding the weight, I just returned a pair of LCD-X, which are fairly close in weight. I found them to be very comfortable, but holy hell were they hot. I can’t imagine how hot the closed backs would be. I started sweating from them.

They can also take an insane amount of EQ and essentially conform to any sound signature/genre you like.
Good to know thanks - I plan to use these for post editing, so I could be wearing these for 4-6 hours straight! Heat would be terrible, but then I guess it forces me to take a break for my own good LOL
 

Jmm22

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Good to know thanks - I plan to use these for post editing, so I could be wearing these for 4-6 hours straight! Heat would be terrible, but then I guess it forces me to take a break for my own good LOL
I was hot and sweating after about 10 minutes. It was gross. I wear DT770 without issue. My guess is that the leather pads are so large that there’s little breathability, essentially trapping hot air.
 

Spocko

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I was hot and sweating after about 10 minutes. It was gross. I wear DT770 without issue.
Hello brother, I have the exact same pleasant experience with my DT177X - I should just stop looking for an excuse to replace it "with something better" when in fact, it's about as good as I need. Damn this FOMO
 
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Is that a better option for magnetic planar to be close-back? It seems the open-back always shows a mess group delay.
 
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amirm

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Is that a better option for magnetic planar to be close-back? It seems the open-back always shows a mess group delay.
We don't know enough to ascertain the impact. Timing analysis is like holding the end of a wet noodle on your plate. Tugging on it doesn't necessarily make the other end move. :)
 

Maiky76

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Audeze LCD-XC (late 2021 edition). It was sent to me by the company and costs either US $1,299 or $1,799 depending on accessories.

View attachment 188134
The LCD-XC feels quite sturdy and solidly built. Alas, it is also the heavies headphone I have measured:
View attachment 188135
The cups are quite comfortable for me and other than feeling some pressure against the sides of my head, I didn't have any problem wearing it for a while.

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!

The LCD-X was easy to measure, fitting on my fixture with little adjustment.

Audeze LCD-XC Measurements
Let's start with our usual frequency response measurements:
View attachment 188136

I was pleasantly surprised to see good compliance with our target curve for a good part of it. Headphone fixture reliability is low in high frequencies but it is possible that the sound is a bit bright due to peaks above 10 kHz for those of you blessed to still have your full hearing range.

Relative frequency response (to our target) gives an easier view of what needs to be corrected using filters for optimal sound:

View attachment 188137

As with some of the other Audeze headphones I have measured, the LCD-X demonstrates stunningly low levels of distortion:

View attachment 188138

Even at 114 dBSPL (green) we have little to no distortion! At reference measurement of 94 dBSPL (blue), distortion reduces to some -84 dB which is audio electronic domain, not a mechanical transducer! Considering that there is some measurement noise in there as well, the actual distortion may be even lower. If some of that weight has gone toward making less distortion, I say keep on adding weight! :D

In absolute terms, distortion again proves to be incredibly low:
View attachment 188139

I suggest anyone performing audibility of distortion tests to use headphones like the LCD-XC.

Group delay is also very clean showing absence of secondary resonances that combine to create phase non-linearity:
View attachment 188140

Impedance is low and flat as is typical of this class:
View attachment 188141

I again suspect some of that weight has gone toward making this headphone quite sensitive:
View attachment 188142

Audeze LCD-XC Listening Tests and Equalization
Out of box response was fine. Not annoying but a bit ordinary. I first turned on the LCD-XC correction in my Roon player and it did improve the sound fair bit. I then developed my own:
View attachment 188143

The response is rather complex and my filters rather simple so a more optimal one may be developed using mathematical means. Comparing mine to the built-in profile, I found that they are two flavors of excellent sound. I have a slight preference for mine though. :)

Post EQ, spatial qualities were excellent with instruments taking up their own spot in 3-D space outside of each ear to the left and right with some depth. On tracks that have such qualities, it is quite a nice experience.

Bass performance with EQ was superb when combined with efficiency of these headphones. With modest power driving them you can still get reference quality bass down to 20 Hz. Turn up the volume some and dynamics become incredible.

Conclusions
Audeze is one of only two companies providing headphones to me for testing. For this alone, they deserve many kudos (as well as waiting some 6 months for me to test this headphone :) ). More importantly, I like how they have gotten closer to our preference curve and with it, provided a nice out of box experience. Given the ultra low distortion, you can easily make corrections to the response to create the sound you want. Efficiency is also high making it easier to drive than many other headphones.

I am going to recommend the Audeze LCD-XC. With EQ, I will up my recommendation to highest level!

-----------
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/

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 (and other constrains) 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 therefore more neutral.
  • The EQs are starting point and may require tuning (certainly at LF and maybe at HF).
  • 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 (loss of Dynamic range) need to be carefully considered to avoid issues with, amongst other things, too low a Max SPL or damaging your device. You have beed warned.
  • Not all units of the same product are made equal. The EQ is based on the measurements of a single unit. YMMV with regards to the very unit you are trying this EQ on.
  • I sometimes use variations of the Harman curve for some reasons. See rational here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...pro-review-headphone.28244/page-5#post-989169 NOTE: the score then calculated is not comparable to the scores derived from the default Harman target curve if not otherwise noted.
Good L/R match.

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

Score no EQ: 81.2
Score Amirm: 88.7
Score with EQ: 90.2

Code:
Audeze LCD-XC APO Score EQ [email protected] 96000Hz
March102022-123909

Preamp: -7 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 23.36 Hz Gain 7.00 dB Q 0.50
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 214.68 Hz Gain -1.29 dB Q 1.75
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 407.23 Hz Gain 1.66 dB Q 3.52
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 725.57 Hz Gain -0.72 dB Q 2.98
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 2005.82 Hz Gain -1.92 dB Q 2.39
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 1411.66 Hz Gain -2.29 dB Q 2.28
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 4142.48 Hz Gain 5.24 dB Q 3.43
Filter 8: ON PK Fc 5643.90 Hz Gain -2.63 dB Q 5.73
Filter 9: ON PK Fc 7936.89 Hz Gain -0.41 dB Q 5.99
Filter 10: ON PK Fc 12522.55 Hz Gain -11.31 dB Q 5.74

Audeze LCD-XC APO Score EQ Flat@HF 96000Hz.png
 

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