Today we have in our test laboratory the most affordable LCD-1 model from the American manufacturer Audeze. Audeze LCD-1 also the lightest in the LCD line among all and the only folding one. The manufacturer responded to user requests to make planar magnetic headphones for the most versatile use possible.
Audiophiles do not need to represent the Audeze brand. The manufacturer is well known for advanced planar headphones: extremely impressive not only in size, but also in price. Audeze LCD-1 model is much more restrained in size, and most importantly, does not require extreme financial investments.
Audeze LCD-1 is a foldable, full-size headphone. They weigh 250 grams: average for similar headphones on the market, but for the Audeze family they are just a fluff. It should be noted right away that there is no Bluetooth connection, no built-in microphone, no active noise cancellation system in the model. Before us is a real classic, addressed primarily for whom sound is important, and not fashionable electronic gadgets. Let’s say more: the headphones have emitters of an open design, and therefore, on noisy city streets or in the subway, being alone with music will definitely not work. The point of this design solution is to give priority to sound. Let’s try to figure out how this all as a whole influenced the sound and practicality.
The main structural elements are made of plastic, but its hardness and quality of the external surface are at the highest level: the parts are clearly high-pressure molded. A hardened steel, decorated with an overlay trimmed with natural leather, plays the role of a power frame. The ear pads are also finished with it, and in some places there is a memory foam material under the delicate coating, and therefore the headphones sit on the head as if they are made to order.
Cup hangers not only fold, but also rotate, which means compactness when carrying and easy to put on. Yes, on the table, the LCD-1 can lie neatly with the emitters down.
The outer surface of the cups is a large lattice on which the stylized letter “A” can be guessed. Well, so that no one has any doubts about the music lover’s steepness of the owner, there is the full name of the manufacturer at the bottom. A thick metal mesh is visible behind the decorative grille, so that the delicate diaphragm cannot be damaged even with great effort.
As you can see from the specs, the Audeze LCD-1 takes quite a lot from the latest Audeze technologies. Modern magnets and Fazor plates are available here. At the same time, the headphones are quite universal, that is, they do not impose great demands on the sound path – judging by the impedance and sensitivity.
Of course, the main feature of the model is magneto-planar emitters. The developers have implemented a bunch of advanced proprietary technologies. The main one is called Ultra-thin Uniform, it is in accordance with it that ultra-thin polymer membranes are made, directly on the surface of which a layer of conductor is applied, which acts as a sound coil. Interestingly, the width of the tracks differs in different places to compensate for the inhomogeneity of the magnetic field. In turn, this field is formed by the Fluxor magnetic system, consisting of thin bars of high-grade neodymium alloy N50.
This is a versatile compact foldable model to take with you on the go, but listen indoors or outdoors in a quiet place like on vacation. Indeed, the classic Audeze LCD headphones are not very suitable for these purposes due to their large dimensions and weight. There is nothing to say about the size of the case: the new headphones have it ten times smaller than that of other models.
Сarrying case turned out to be just perfect: it is rigid, compact and looks like an expensive designer accessory. There’s a layer of padding on the inside to preserve the look of the headphones. Everything is well thought out. There is a velcro insert between the two cups. In the second half there is a compartment for a removable cable and a standard adapter from a mini-jack to a full-size jack.
The two-meter cord is enclosed in a thick fabric braid, and therefore practically does not twist and does not get confused. It connects to both emitters through reliable metal connectors with 3.5mm jacks. When you turn it on for the first time, you can look for the “left – right” markings on them for a long time, but it’s easier to look at the instructions. It turns out that a special circuitry is used here, which ensures the correct layout of the channels, regardless of their connection. Surprisingly, it really works.
The appearance and quality of the LCD-1 headphones are excellent. Plastic was chosen to reduce weight, but it does not look cheap. The paint imitates metal, like the silver inserts. The earbuds are really light – weighing only 250g. It’s about half the lightest models in the LCD series.
The headband has a metal plate inside. The pillow is quite soft. Although the size of the cups is small, they confidently cover the ears. The ergonomics are slightly inferior to the older models, but are competitive in their price range. The emitters are much smaller than the classic Audeze models. But compared to traditional dynamic headphones from other manufacturers, the LCD-1 membrane still has an impressive size. The sensitivity is quite high for planar magnetic emitters, 99 dB/mW. The impedance of 16ohms is one of the lowest for this type of emitter.
Summing up, we can say that these are the highest quality and thoughtful headphones in their segment, appearance is of course a private matter, but in our opinion they look just great.
We tried connecting the Audeze LCD-1 to a portable EarMen TR-Amp and found good consistency. There was enough volume, and in general, the headphones played quite attractively.
The Audeze LCD-1 have shown just the same monitor accuracy and pedantry. They presented the insinuating vocals of Sade extremely carefully, without the slightest distortion of intonations and smoothing out the overtones. At the same time, sharp instrumental intros were worked out with excellent dynamics practically throughout the entire range.
Low frequencies should be noted separately. There is no shortage of them, but the excessive massiveness, which other brands sin, is here replaced by a high attack speed and excellent controllability. Also worth noting is the fairly flat mid/low range overall, which provides excellent intelligibility, clarity and precision required for studio work, and also makes the Audeze LCD-1 genre neutral.
Fast metal and melodically complex jazz like John McLaughlin, LCD-1 reproduce no less expressively and accurately than classical chamber music and standard smooth jazz.
In their price range, Audeze LCD-1 offer excellent detail. More information from the records can only be obtained with a significantly larger budget. Although for the current work with sound – not only at field sessions or a rehearsal base, but also in a home studio – these headphones may well become the main and only solution.
Audeze LCD-1 – lightweight and quite compact headphones for conscious connoisseurs of the right sound. They sit very comfortably, they are convenient to carry and use with mobile gadgets, but the open design does not imply listening in the subway or on a noisy street – this is probably the only thing that should be kept in mind. It is also worth noting the extremely comfortable sound, which allows you to spend a lot of time listening to completely different musical material.
Audeze LCD-1 combine so many attractive features that even after our detailed and lengthy test they seem like something fantastic. This model simply has no direct competitors. All possible alternatives in any case loses by the totality of qualities: price, technology, sound quality. Audeze LCD-1 is a real gift for both professionals and audiophiles.
|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|