During a phone interview with Evan Grimm, Audeze’s Head of Product Training, he admitted that when they’d released their new “Fazor” headphone waveguide technology in 2013, they’d expected near universal praise for the sound. Such was not the case. Many headphone dorks, myself included, preferred the warmth and soundstaging of Audeze’s 1st generation LCD-2 model. In fact, on several audiophile websites, a lot of headphone enthusiasts voiced a passionate preference for the sonic signature of the original pre-Fazor LCD-2 model.
Responding to consumer demand, Audeze have done something remarkable: they’ve released a 3rd generation version of the LCD-2 — the new LCD2 Classic — which seeks to return to the sound of the original LCD-2 model. When NOVO asked if I’d like to review Audeze’s new LCD2C headphones, I was more excited than Stormy Daniels’ legal team.
The new LCD2C is Audeze’s latest pair of the over-ear, open back, planar magnetic headphones. The Classic utilizes a double-sided magnetic structure and an ultra-thin film diaphragm. The headband is constructed out of a powder coated spring-steel arch and includes a perforated leather headband. The ear pads are made from a high-grade synthetic leather. The openings are 7cm x 5.5cm and will comfortably fit any human sized ears. The LCD2C has a 70 Ohm impedance.
My marathon late night listening sessions usually last for many hours. Any headphone that causes listening fatigue or neck-strain is a non-starter. To cut its weight, the Classic’s “rings” are formed out of crystal-infused nylon. Earlier LCD-2 models that used real wood rings occasionally cracked as the wood aged and/or dried out. Physically, the crystal-infused nylon is lighter and also more impact and scratch resistant than wood. Weighing in at 550 grams, the Classic is the lightest model in Audeze’s current LCD line. If you’re used to ultra light on-ear headphones like Grado’s RS-1, the weight, over-ear clamping pressure, and “seal” of the Classic may cause some issues. I had no problems with any of this.
To offer a discount alternative to their higher echelon LCD-3 and LCD-4 models, some frills have been cut from the new LCD2C. The Classic does not come with a protective travel case or a wood display / storage case. Audeze does, however, sell a hard shell Pelican case for an extra $125 USD.
The original LCD-2’s sound in the lower frequency registers was deep, extended, and powerful. Its textured presence and low-end weight is a big part of what earned the 1st-gen LCD-2 its now legendary status. Although some audio reviewers felt that they sounded a bit dark, most serious headphone listeners recognized the astonishing timbral accuracy that the LCD-2 created in the mid-bass and low bass. Audeze’s goal was to try to return to the warmer sonic signature of the original pre-Fazor LCD-2. So… how does the Classic sound?
The LCD2C comes with a 1.9m length 1/4” to dual 4-pin mini-XLR cable. The stock braided 6-nines Oxygen Free Copper (OFC) cord that Audeze bundles with the Classic sounded fine and moving it while listening resulted in zero cable-borne noise.
For perspective, I tried several after-market OCC Copper (Cu) and OCC Silver (Ag) cords. To my ears, the Classic sounded its best when mated with a 1.5m Audio Sensibility Statement OCC Silver headphone cable [$449 CAD]. As budget permits, to hear the full sonic potential of the LCD2C, I’d strongly recommend upgrading the stock OFC cord to an OCC Silver one.
For comparative testing, I borrowed pairs of Audeze’s original LCD-2 headphones, LCD-2 Fazor, and even their LCD-3 Fazor. [Thanks to Bernie and Andre for these]. The new Classic sounded very similar to the original LCD-2. Compared to the LCD-2 Fazor, the Classic’s sonics were warmer and had more weight in the lower frequency registers. The Fazor version had marginally faster transient speed, especially with high frequency instruments like cymbals.