Audeze LCD-X (2021)
The LCD-X is a reference class high-end open-back planar headphone, released in early 2014. It was targeted mostly as a more neutral option compared to the LCD-2 and LCD-3. A lot of changes have been made to the Audeze LCDs over the years, including the LCD-X, which received a revision in late 2020 with newer pads and a modified magnets structure.
The pair I have is a new model, and weighs around 610g, which is on the heavier side, even for a full-size planar. Hopefully, the suspension strap helps a lot with the comfort (although my head still touches the metal part of the headband), and the ear pads have reasonable depth (although less than the old LCD pads). The LCD-X is extremely well built and sturdy, but I find regrettable that Audeze ships it in a regular cardboard box (for the $1200 package, the $1700 package includes the nice pelican travel case).
It is rather easy to drive, but I still wouldnt recommend it with very low power sources like a smartphone, because planars tend to require more current than most headphones, and a smartphone might not deliver enough current (despite reaching high listening volume).
○ Release : 2014
○ Current status : In production
○ Type : Over-ear / Open-back
○ Measured weight : 610g
○ Impedance : 20 Ohms
○ Sensitivity : ~103 dB/mW
○ Average used price : $800-1000
The LCD-X (2021) is slightly more balanced than all the other LCDs I have heard, but still leans on the warmer side of neutral, with an overall recession from 2 to 7 khz and flat bass to upper-mids. I have compared it to a pair of LCD-3 (Fazor).
The bass is very tight, fast and well articulated. But I’m not sure it extends all the way down to 20-30 Hz. Most measurements of 2021 LCD-X show a small drop around 50 Hz, which can change a lot depending on the seal and air gap. After trying several positions around the ears, I still couldnt get and hear a perfect extension. On the other hand, the LCD-3 manages to rumble quite a bit more, with more perceived impact but it sounds a bit bloomier. The bass is still generally solid and I would take it over 95% of the headphones I’ve heard.
The midrange is generally fine, totally flat from 200 Hz to 1 Khz, but it is moderately recessed up to 3 kHz. The treble is a bit better behaved than on the LCD-2 Fazor, LCD-3 and LCD-4, and close to the LCD-2.2, as it has a better balance between 4-8 khz and 8-15 khz. Many Audeze have not enough lower treble but shrill upper-treble. Still, the LCD-X has a bit too much air for me around 10-13 kHz (just like the LCD-3 and LCD-4).
For $1200 (or $800-1000 used), this is a pretty detailed headphone, but I was expecting maybe a touch more resolving capabilities based on all the reviews I’ve read from trusted members. I do think it is slightly more resolving than the Focal Clear, and quite a bit more than the ZMF Aeolus and ZMF Auteur. The Hifiman Arya is probably on the same level, but has better imaging and nuances – very hard to give a firm assertion without hearing them directly in the same time.
I would say that the LCD-X is a competent headphone, but does nothing exceptionally well. It has what I would describe a good sense of dynamics and punch, below the Focal Clear, above the Hifiman Arya. The LCD-3 (only other high-end headphone that I’ve compared directly in A/B listening) is a bit more laid-back sounding. The LCD-X has a slightly forward presentation for an LCD (which I presume comes partially from the more present upper-mids). The staging isn’t particularly wide or narrow, but it images pretty well from left to right, with solid depth and separation.
In my opinion, the LCD-X (again, this 2021 unit) will appeal to most people, it is resolving, clean and with an agreable tonality (although not neutral at all). I would say its direct competitor is the Clear MG (I havent heard it), which is also a warmer sounding headphone. I am pretty sure (from my experience with the OG Focal Clear and based on trusted reviews online) that the LCD-X is a better sounding headphone, with better raw resolving capabilities, and that can improve a bit more with EQ.
But it may not appeal to those who are looking for a “more traditional” Audeze house sound, with a darker presentation and better midrange. Yes, I do find the midrange balance pretty good, but all the LCD-2s, LCD-3s and LCD-4s I’ve heard (except the LCD-2 Classic) had “lusher’ mids compared to the LCD-X, which sounds a bit “cooler” in comparison.
Measurements & Resources