Audeze LCD-XC (2021)
The LCD-XC is a closed LCD-X : same diaphragm and magnets with closed cups. The newer variants of the LCD-X use carbon cups while older (2014-2019) models have bubinga wood cups. The weight is reduced to 677g – which is still very heavy. My pair is from August 2021.
The comfort is decent, the newer leather pads are extremely plush but I suspect larger ears might touch the fazors. The suspension headband does the job. I really dig the industrial and all-black look of the LCD-XC (and LCD-X), but I wish there wasn’t any “Audeze” lettering directly printed on the cups. Isolation is decent.
They are not so hard to power, but I recommend a decent source in order to swing enough current to drive these. A regular USB-C dongle, smartphone or motherboard output will get them to loud levels but might not be the best to drive them to their maximum.
○ Release : 2014
○ Current status : In production
○ Type : Over-ear / Closed-back
○ Measured weight : 677g
○ Impedance : 20 Ohms
○ Sensitivity : ~100 dB/mW
○ Average used price : $800-1000
While most open Audeze are warm sounding (with the exception of the LCD-5), the LCD-XC is mostly “neutral-bright” sounding. Depending on the song, it can even sound a bit mid-centric.
The bass is very good, but it doesnt seem to be perfectly extended to 20-30 Hz. Very tight response with solid texture. The very plush pads should be sealing well around my ears – but I still feel the need to add a little EQ boost below 50 Hz.
The lower-midrange is moderately recessed, by 2-3 dB between 300 and 500 Hz, while the rise from 1 KhZ to 3 KhZ is slightly sharper than the Harman curve. It gives the midrange a bit of an upward-tilted and thin sounding presentation from time to time. Without the good bass response, the LCD-XC would sound quite lean.
The treble is the problematic area – it is generally a bit too elevated from 5 to >10 kHz. For me, an EQ is required to smoothen out most of the area (especially around 6 kHz and 11-12 kHz) by a good 4-5 dB. Without EQ, it is a bit too bright for 50% of my recordings. So overall, a decently “balanced” tonality, but definitely on a bright side. Audeze seems to like tuning their headphones with a lot of upper-treble, and my younger ears are still very sensitive above 10 kHz.
Where the LCD-XC shines more is in its technicalities : I find it as resolving as the LCD-X 2021 (in direct A/B listening), while being even a bit punchier and better at macro-contrast. However, the stage collapses a bit going from the LCD-X to the LCD-XC, but it still sounds decently wide and open.
I usually do not EQ my headphones, but I have been doing it more and more lately, mostly after owning several Audeze (LCD-3, LCD-X and this LCD-XC). While I can enjoy the open LCDs in stock form, the LCD-XC is a bit too intense, forward and edgy for me because of the slightly shouty midrange and peaky treble. However, after EQ, it may be my favorite closed headphones : resolving, punchy, fast and with good separation. There is no cup reverb or “closed-in” feeling that makes the EQ difficult.
I havent heard some closed headphones I might like more (like the ZMF Verite Closed or Aurorus Australis), but the LCD-XC is among the best offerings on the market, in my opinion. Just be sure to be ready for the weight, and potential EQ. Below $500, the Sony CD1700 and E-Mu Teak are my favorite closed-backs.
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