Stop the press! Did someone say planar magnetic? Well, we aren’t going to stop, but yes, we did say planar (calm down). It isn’t a term you’d normally make use of when talking about an “affordable” pair of audiophile-level headphones, but it does come into play once in a while. This is an example of just that.
At this point, Audeze doesn’t need much of an intro. If you are familiar with terms like planar and audiophile, chances are, you are already familiar with the brand and some of their products. We have even discussed them in the past with models like the Mobius Gaming Headset. This round, however, we are focusing on their Audeze LCD-1 Wired Headphones. A wonderful entry-level pair of headphones for both the audiophile world, as well as their LCD lineup in general.
The overall design is like a mashup between brands like HiFiMan and Audio-Technica. They have that look to them that says “there is something special about these”, mixed with the swivel and headband flexibility of a folding pair of DJ headphones. The flex, they slide, they swivel, and they fold. All to get a solid fit to your head with.
The padding is comfortable and you can get away with long listening without much discomfort. In fact, hardly any at all outside of a little warmth from the pads over time, which is quite common with most models out there. They remind me of a pair of Bose QC 35 II headphones for some reason when it comes to fit and comfort, but I find the Bose would be a bit warmer (on the level of sweatier) after long-listening.
This is also true when it comes to weight. At 250 grams, these are incredibly light in weight and rest gently on your head.
As mentioned, this is a wired pair of headphones. So they will work with just about everything. This is also true thanks to a simple 16-ohm impedance, which means almost anything will be capable of driving them. Not that you’d want to stick something like these in just anything, but we will get to that in a moment.
They feature an open-back design to them, so they are best to be used indoors in a controlled atmosphere, as you will hear everything around you (and those around you may be able to hear what you are listening to, ever so slightly). So if you have a room dedicated to relaxing from the sounds of your environment, let it be reading or gelling to your favorite music, that is where these can really shine (unless your whole house is quiet).
The cable that comes packed inside is a nice braided Y-cable design with your usual 1/4-inch adapter. The cable looks and feels nice and doesn’t allow a lot of noise travel to your ears from it sliding across your clothes (not that you’d be running around with these on your head vs relaxing in place). We did, however, find that the cable does twist and curl among itself if you do find yourself moving around a lot. This will lead to you having to remove or unplug them so you can let the cable relax. This leads to an even bigger emphasis on “sit down, and relax!”.
When it comes to performance, these headphones are fantastic. However, this is also why we mentioned to calm down. Just because they are planer magnetic, it doesn’t mean they are going to blow you away. They do quite well with competing within their price range. There is no doubt about that. However, when it comes to some of the best models out there, there is a reason the LCD series take a hefty jump in price to the next model within the line (twice the amount in fact, and grows from there).
Instead, these make for an entry-level audiophile experience that competes with names like Oppo, or the before mentioned HiFiMan. Both companies offer equally impressive entry-level designs for both audiophile and planar magnetic.
When it comes to competing within this realm of it all, we found this to be one of our favorite entry-level planar options.
Having an open-back design does add to the size of the soundstage that you are listening to, giving you a much larger performance for your ears. The flat-like (but not completely flat) response allows for an even experience that can bring out the natural listening experience of what you are feeding them without over-correcting in one department or another (given you can still do this using an external device or app if you need to).
This makes them pretty good for easy listening to your favorite hi-res tracks, allowing them to show strength in many genres of music. They also are good for mixing music in a quiet atmosphere (again with the “quiet”). So, this means studio recording only and clearly not live event sound.
Although anything can drive these, if you plan to use a mobile device like your phone, we’d highly recommend using a proper DAC adapter to help bring out the quality of these headphones with. Else, the best fit is a stationary DAC or tube amplifier. We especially liked how they performed with both the Little Dot MK2 and Monolith Liquid Platinum amps.
We tested such a wide range of tracks with these headphones covering everything so many genres. Tracks including Elvis Presley – Can’t Help Falling In Love (1961), Bread – The Guitar Man, Goo Goo Dolls – Iris, Jimi Hendrix Experience – Purple Haze, Jewel – Foolish Games, Ariana Grande – God Is a Woman, Melody Gardot – The Rain, and so on. So many great listening experiences.
The highs are crisp and clear, the mids are balanced and the lows are too. The lows lack some of the deep low-end we are normally used to in some of these planar options, but still provides enough to put a smile on your face. It’s just the subsonic range we are missing with this model. Something you’d likely see moving up to something like the LCD-X model or the LCD-4 model (given, that is pure speculation as we haven’t listened to them). This is also partly because of the open-back design as you do get a lot of leakage with this style.
That being said, these have a response between 10Hz and 50kHz, which is wonderful and does show in everything you listen to. There is very little to complain about. The price range is a great match for their performance and can easily lure in new fans for the brand (gateway model to their nicer options).
It is pretty clear that we enjoyed these headphones. For an entry-level pair of headphones covering audiophile listening and planar magnetics, these really hit the nail on the head. The price point is well fit and their range is fantastic. They compete well with brands of similar reputation and price. Best driver by a propper headphone tube or DAC amplifier, we fell in love with these. Again, everything we mention, score, and all are all based upon price point and performance. Sure, we have heard better. However, better usually means a lot more when it comes to price. These make for one of our favorites within the $300-$500 range.
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
|Transducer type||Planar Magnetic|
|Magnetic structure||Single-sided Fluxor™ magnet array|
|Magnet type||Neodymium N50|
|Diaphragm type||Ultra-thin Uniforce™|
|Transducer size||90 mm|
|Maximum power handling||5W RMS|
|Frequency response||10Hz – 50KHz|
|THD||<0.1% @ 100dB|
|Sensitivity||99 dB/1mW (at Drum Reference Point)|
|Ear Pads||Memory foam, genuine lambskin leather|
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.
Don’t forget to subscribe for a chance to win cool prizes!