Audeze LCD-2 Classic Review: Overview
Audeze LCD-2 Classic
(out of 5)
- Impedance: 70 Ω
- Drivers: Planar Magnetic
- Frequency range: 10 Hz – 50 kHz
- Sensitivity: 101 dB
- Weight: 544 grams
- Cable length: 1.9 meters (straight)
- Technically capable, respond very well to EQ
- Outstanding transient response
- Full, quick bass response
- Cushy and comfy
- Premium build quality
- Without EQ, they sound unnatural in some genres due to a confusing dip in the high mids
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Technically adept, premium-quality, planar magnetic headphones with outstanding transient response and full, defined bass. The overall frequency response could be better tuned out of the box.
Introducing the Audeze LCD-2 Classic
The Audeze LCD-2, released in 2009, were some of the first planar magnetic headphones to become popular for studio use. The LCD-2 saw a lot of tweaks and upgrades since their release.
The LCD-2 Classic is a new incarnation, the most affordable of the line. It has the same drivers as the more expensive LCD-2 without the ‘Fazor waveguide technology’ which is supposed to reduce interference and improve resolution.
Being a big fan of the Audeze LCD-X, we were curious to see how this more affordable cousin would far in our tests. See here for all of our headphone, microphone, and audio gear reviews.
What’s in the Box?
Who are the Audeze LCD 2 Classic headphones for?
These headphones are for audiophiles and audio enthusiasts.
We found them to be suited best for hifi listening, (particularly EDM and rap genres) out-of-the-box. With EQ adjustments, they can be used for a wide variety of applications including mixing and critical listening.
They have an open-back design which allows the sound to travel past the earcup, resulting in a more natural resonance.
Who are the Audeze LCD 2 Classic headphones NOT for?
Due to an open-back design, the Audeze LCD-2 Classic headphones are NOT suited for anyone in the market for a pair of headphones with good sound isolation or active noise-canceling.
The open-back design allows sound in and out. In noisy environments or for applications where you cannot tolerate sound leakage (such as tracking), these are not your cans.
The sturdy headphones are constructed primarily of metal, pleather, and leather, weighing in at 544 grams.
The LCD-2 Classic is the most affordable of the Audeze LCD line but has the same premium build quality as the LCD-5 (currently going for $4500).
The plush pleather earcups are nearly 2 inches thick, separating the driver a nice distance away from your ear. Although the cups are perfect circles, they are big enough not to touch any of the outer edges of my (medium-to-large size) ears.
The leather headband (they also have a no-leather version) is a dual-layer weight-dispersing design. It is my preferred headband build. Regardless of the weight of the headphones (in this case a hefty 544 grams), with this headband design, you barely feel the headband on your head.
The large earpads make a fantastic seal with my head. Their large size should make them more likely to seal to most heads and ears. The clamping force of the headband gives enough pressure for a good seal and the giant earpads absorb any excess pressure.
Overall they are a very comfortable set of headphones and can be worn for long sessions. As they are essentially tight-sealing pleather ear muffs, they could get a bit warm in the summer.
Audeze LCD-2 Classic: Frequency Response Chart
Overall, the Audeze LCD-2 Classics have a quick transient response, warm high-end, nice bass response.
After experiencing the refined balance of the LCD-X, however, these were a little disappointing. Out of the box, the LCD-2 Classics have a less pleasing overall balance in the frequency response compared to the LCD-X.
Thankfully, these headphones are technically more capable than most. In other words, they respond very well to EQ and their performance will scale with the source equipment used.
We drove these with a SMSL SP200 amp, a Rupert Neve RNHP amp, and a Benchmark AHB2 amp. The results were progressively more impressive. And the EQ adjustments made them sound like a completely different set of cans.
Without EQ adjustments, the high frequencies have a nice warm quality, still retaining detail and air at the top.
Hi-hats and cymbals have incredible clarity with an ultra-fast transient response. Sometimes the transient response is so fast it almost sounds like there’s a noise gate on.
I found the midrange to be the most problematic area without EQ. From 300 Hz – 1 kHz, the frequency response is slightly too boosted. This bulge and the dip in the high mids (2-5 kHz) contribute to a slightly unnatural sound.
That said, this does contribute to vocals and guitars sitting nicely forward in the mix.
The bass response is icy, fast, and full. I daresay, it even has a bit of punch to it, which is not something I can say for a lot of planar headphones.
The LCD-2 Classics are adept at distinguishing layers of all frequencies, but this ability shines in the bass. I can follow bass lines that travel deep into the sub-bass frequencies with ease. For example, the bass line on the disco track Beat 54 (All Good Now) by Jungle has never been clearer to me.
Best Headphones for Mixing
We shortlisted 10 popular cans, tested them, and carefully considered how they might affect your mix.
Responsive to EQ
Certain genres like rap and EDM sound fantastic on these cans. In these cases, I have very few complaints on the sound.
For other genres, the dip in the high mids can create a distance between the listener and the music. In acoustic music, classical, and all live performances, you get the feeling that you are listening to a recording, rather than a performance. All in all, this dip creates a lack of edge and definition on a lot of tracks.
But I want to stress that these respond very well to EQ adjustments. So much that you will notice a dramatic difference in the overall performance with a few tweaks.
If you use the Audeze Reveal + plugin or just a bit of EQ, it is as if they become a completely different set of headphones. I made the EQ adjustments in the image below and found a huge difference in the overall performance.
These headphones outdo rival planar magnetic headphones, especially in terms of dynamics.
A lack of dynamic punch is a frequent complaint from audiophiles about planar magnetic drivers. While these cans still don’t have the kind of dynamic climax that good moving-coil drivers have, they do have a unique punchy quality of their own.
Compared to the Hifiman Ananda or the Hifiman Edition XS there is noticeably more slam in the sound, particularly in the bass.
The LCD-2C gives you a fantastic sense of quiet dynamics with crystalline precision. This is evident also in our clinical tests, where it’s just easier to understand spoken text at very low volumes.
Soundstage and Imaging
The imaging is exactly right and left without providing much of a feeling that there is a center channel. They deliver a lovely consistency laterally with no gaps in the imaging as you pan.
Like the frequency response, these are technically more capable of making adjustments to the soundstage than most of their rivals. Using the Audeze Reveal + plugin, it is possible to give these headphones a wider or tighter soundstage as you see fit.
Without any adjustments, the LCD-2 Classics have a relatively cozy, tighter soundstage. It could be bigger but it never felt too small or only in the center of my head.
Alternatives to the Audeze LCD-2 Classic Headphones
These have all the good qualities of the LCD-2 Classics but are also tuned very well.
A bargain pair of planar magnetic headphones, with a relatively neutral frequency response.
Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro
Some of our favorite reference cans. Detail, Punch, and the best soundstage.
Hifiman Edition XS
Quality planar magnetic cans with a superior earcup design.
Conclusion: Are they worth it?
You’re getting some pretty fantastic headphones here. Compared to rivals in the same price range like the Hifiman Ananda, I prefer the Audeze LCD-2 Classics.
That said, it’s difficult to not be slightly disappointed by these after hearing the Audeze LCD-X. They are price $400 more, so they should sound better. But the tuning of the frequency response is just right with the LCD-X. They are what the LCD-2 Classics want to be.
How We Tested the Audeze LCD-2 Classic
As a reminder, we test everything on this site ourselves.
These headphones were tested under controlled conditions in a sound-treated room and also in a noisy household environment.
Don’t believe any ‘objective’ measurements you see about headphones! The shape of your head and ears alone will have a significant effect on frequency response and other factors. Therefore, all headphone reviews are subjective, this one being no exception.
Our comparisons for the Audeze LCD-2 Classic headphones were limited primarily to other open-back planar magnetic and dynamic driver headphones in the same class. Although we did directly compare a few closed-back and consumer headphones just to keep our ears honest.
In addition to testing these headphones on music of all styles, we conduct extensive clinical tests on frequency response, dynamic range, driver matching, harmonic distortion, binaural tests, wiring, and stereo imaging.
Our rating assumes that you value sound quality above all other factors, followed by comfort/build, then price.
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