The landscape is bleak when it comes to high-end close-back headphones. But there’s a ray of hope, and it’s the Audeze LCD-XC – a thick-padded, wood-shielded, detailed-sounding beast-of-a-headphone. Of course, hope don’t come cheap: the XC is priced at $1799. But what kind of sound do you get for that much cheddar?
Audeze LCD-XC Review
The LCD-XC comes with all the usual Audeze goodies – a case that could survive a nuclear holocaust, two mini-xlr cables – one with a XLR plug and one with a 1/4” stereo plug. There’s also a 1/4” to 3.5 mm adapter in the box.
Where build is concerned, these headphones exude a sense of quality and solidity. Clamp force can be a bit unbearable the first time you put them on, but the genuine leather padding on the earcups and headband goes a long way to making these some comfy cans.
|Proprietary push-pull design
|Maximum power handling
|15W (for 200ms)
|Sound pressure level
|>130dB with 15W
|5Hz – 20kHz extended out to 50kHz
|Total harmonic distortion
|<1% through entire frequency range
|100dB / 1mW
|Optimal power requirement
|1 – 4W
These specs reveal a headphone with a wide frequency range, a low amount of distortion, a low impedance, and a decent-enough volume. It should provide a decent amount of detail, retaining a clean sound while working fine with a smartphone or portable player. It may not get as loud as other closed back models, but we can live with that.
In the low end, there’s a fantastic level of detail. There’s ample control, too, so it doesn’t bleed at all, leading to a refined sound that stays refined no matter what you’re playing.
The LCD-XC has an excellent midrange, with tons of detail, a surprising level of accuracy, and good separation and clarity to boot. While the closed-back design usually imparts a compressed or canned sound, these don’t fall into the same trap – giving you an open-back sound in a closed-back design.
In the high end, notes sound PERFECT. There’s a bright cast to the upper end of the frequency range, but it’s not too piercing and I’m liable to say it’s just downright awesome.
There’s an impressive sense of space and placement – a sense of real depth – that is just fantastic for closed-back headphones. Sure, it’s not entirely perfect, but it’s close so we’ll take it. Regardless of what you listen to, short of a squashed source, you’re pretty much guaranteed to feel like you’re right there with your favorite artists.
The LCD-XC is a competent headphone that could have easily bested the competition by sounding only half as good. But Audeze had the good grace to really give this headphone everything they had, and my ears thank them for doing that. While they may not be the kind of headphones you want to take out in public, they are the kind of headphones that you could use with a portable music device while not disturbing the people around you. It’s a headphone that sounds great with anything, even though it’s dynamic sound signature might be especially suited to rock and roll, hip-hop, and other similar music genres.
Got the cash? Got the source material? Buy these headphones and forget about the rest of the world for a while. Of course, if you’re a fan of cheaper headphones, or you detest planar magnetic headphones, you could always settle for the Beyerdynamic T5p Second Generation. Not to say that the T5p is necessarily bad, but it just doesn’t compete with a sound this righteous.
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