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    Review: Audeze LCD-1 Open Back Planar Headphones

    The LCD-1 lean towards a more balanced sound signature, with a dash of added colour for an enjoyable and easy listening experience.

    LCD-1

    Fit and Comfort

    The LCD-1 are a small, portable sized headphone with a mainly plastic build to help keep the weight down. The earpads do go around your ears and are quite snug, the clamping force is moderate to retain a secure fit. There is plenty of adjustment in the headband sliders to fit most head shapes and sizes. They fit well and have an understated look compared to higher end Audeze models.

    Comfort wise the moderate clamping force is noticeable during longer listening sessions, and the small-ish earpads are plush and soft but not the most spacious. Being open back they don't heat up as quickly as a closed back model though. The headband has fairly good padding, but it is a little narrow and does create a small pressure point on the top of my head.

    Compatibility

    The LCD-1 might look like a portable headphone, but it's open back nature mean it is better used in environments where you won't disturb others with sound leakage. Also they are a planar magnetic headphone, and in my opinion fare much better when a powerful source is used. Something like the JDS Labs Element II or Burson Audio Conductor range would be perfect with them. They don't sound all too good out of a mobile phone, they definitely benefit from a bit more power to get the best out of them.

    LCD-1 Cable

    Sound Quality:

    Bass: Whilst Audeze cut their teeth with the LCD-2 and its famous bass, the LCD-1 does not follow in its footsteps. Instead Audeze have created a tool for the sound engineer on the go, or for the travelling audiophile who wants a more reference sound when away from home. The bass hits fast and clean with minimal boost in terms of quantity, there is a tightness to the sound yet with body that is subtle yet pleasant. It is in the bass region where a good amplifier will make or break the LCD-1, don't give them enough power and they do sound thin and a little anaemic, but when you have a good source behind them the articulation and slam is excellent whilst retaining clarity and control at all times. Full bodied, but not overblown, musicality and technicality mixing in perfect harmony down low.

    Midrange: Here is where the LCD-1 really got me, such a clean cut and alluring midrange that has all the detail you could want at this price range. It is natural, with realistic tone and yet it is always crisp and kept clear of any bloom from the bass. In my opinion the midrange is pretty flawless on the LCD-1, it has excellent timing, tonality and overall just sounds accurate and right. No matter the genre, give them a good source and recording and you will hear all the nuances you could want but never in a harsh or annoying way. Much like the bass they manage to mix technical ability with a slight smooth musicality to great effect.

    Treble: Here is possible where the smoothness slightly outweighs the technical abilities and they have a bit of that typical Audeze lushness. Not as extended or present as some of the competition, the treble region is where I personally would have preferred a little more energy. Those who are a little more treble sensitive though will welcome the natural and smooth treble, with enough presence to keep the LCD-1 sounding well balanced, but without any fatigue inducing peaks. Luckily the resolution up top is excellent with plenty of detail to be heard in the treble region.

    LCD-1 Folded

    Genres and Soundstaging

    Due to their fairly balanced sound signature, the LCD-1 seem to handle most music you throw at them with relative ease. Their presentation is a little more on the engaging side of things so they fare well with more upbeat music than classical for example.

    The LCD-1 soundstaging is good, there is plenty of width and good height too, but the layering also stands out. They are an agile headphone and expertly pick apart even the most complex of mixes.

    Conclusion

    The LCD-1 is an instant classic in my opinion, from the moment you put them on you hear that a lot of work has gone in to making them balanced, technically proficient, yet always slightly musical and enjoyable. The midrange stood out to me, being excellent in terms of clarity and tonality, backed up with by full bodied yet controlled bass and sweet yet detailed treble. All packaged in a small, comfortable and well built package, and for an affordable price. The LCD-1 are a truly excellent headphone.

     

    • Value: 9/10
    • Comfort: 8/10
    • Sound: 9/10
    • Overall: 8.5/10

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