Hello I thought I'd do a short review of the LCD2 since I just got the privilege of giving them an extended audition at home with my own equipment. Equipment used for the audition are:
Macbook Pro optical out --> Cambridge Audio DACMagic --> Schiit Asgard --> LCD2
For some background on my listening preferences, I own a Sennheiser HD650, an ESW10JPN, and a Fostex T50RP that I have done some damping modifications on. I've heard the HD800, the T1, the HE5, and many other headphones as well. My portable set up is a HM801 with either a Sleek CT6 or Westone UM3X. I've noticed that I dislike over-accentuated treble, and I tend to look out for midrange presence and detail, as well as good bass quality in a headphone. Used to have the RS1 and sold it off because it was too bright for my tastes. I generally listen to jazz, rock, and latin music, and sometimes some classical.
Now, I've always been satisfied with my audio set up, especially with the HD650 in my desktop audio chain. Its lush midrange and weighty bass have always impressed me, and I've spent many hundreds of hours with the HD650 on my head. Sure, I wish it had better soundstaging, and I wish the bass went deeper, but they have always been acceptable compromises for me.
I'm sure you all have heard of the LCD2 before, it's one of the most well-received phones I've seen on head-fi. I initially thought that it was a simple case of FOTM-itis but as the praises got more and more numerous, I couldn't help getting curious about this unique pair of orthodynamic headphones.
When I first put the LCD2 on my head and pressed 'Play', the best description of my reaction would be O_O. It was the best headphone I have ever heard, even compared to the T1 powered by the HP4 that I auditioned extensively at Stereo. It wasn't absolutely perfect, but I highly doubt any headphone can be 100% perfect, and generally view comments like "this is the best headph4n3 ev4rr!!" with a considerable amount of skepticism.
I'll go into more detail of the LCD2's sound, starting with the bass. The bass goes a lot deeper than the HD650's bass, with about the same quantity. In other words, bass quality is significantly heightened. I cannot adequately describe how REALISTIC the bass is. Percussion instruments are superbly detailed on the LCD2, and I can actually picture the drummer in front of me letting the drums have it. Bass guitars go all the way down and allow me to hear every pluck of the strings. I always thought that the HD650 was pretty good in the bass department, but the LCD2 totally trounces it.
The midrange is what I always look out for, and it's absolutely perfect on the LCD2. Remember I said earlier that no headphone is 100% perfect? That merely means that no headphone can get everything absolutely right, but some headphones can certainly achieve perfection in a specific area. To me, the LCD2 achieves absolute perfection in the midrange. I've read with some degree of skepticism about how people feel like singers are singing right in front of them with the LCD2, and guess what, it's ABSOLUTELY TRUE. Voices are perfectly weighted and detail is impeccable. I almost teared listening to Time To Say Goodbye by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli. I have never felt any way like that with a headphone before. Coming from what I thought was a really good midrange on the HD650, this was an utter revelation to me. Not just voices are perfect, pianos are perfect too. On the HD650, I always thought that pianos lacked some detail and were a little 'fuzzy', for lack of a better word. On the LCD2, piano notes were clean, clear, and beautiful and decayed into the background perfectly naturally. Listening to some Bill Evans almost made me tear again. darn, this is getting embarrassing.
Anyway, many people have commented on the highs of the LCD2 being recessed and the weakest point of the headphones. Although I've mentioned that I don't like over-extended treble, treble detail is still important to me and I wouldn't accept a phone that fuzzes up the highs. This is the reason I kind of dislike Denon headphones, I think treble sounds unnatural with them. The HD650 is not known for awesome highs, and I acknowledge that, but they are detailed enough and sound natural to me. With regard to the LCD2, I was happy to find that my fears about its treble were quite unfounded. The treble was clean, detailed, and natural, with good decay and sufficient sparkle. Granted, people who love Grados, Etys, the HE5, and the DT880 may not be entirely satisfied, but I'm sure Senn fans will definitely appreciate the LCD2's detailed and natural treble.
Speed is something pretty important to me in a headphone as well, and I acknowledge that the HD650 is not exactly the king of speed. When I heard the LCD2, its speed was a revelation to me, probably because of the nature of its driver technology. Transient response was perfect, and the speed of the drivers allowed each instrument its own space which never faltered even in very busy passages. Playing some Metallica and Arctic Monkeys fast tracks, I was amazed at how the LCD2 was able to deliver all the detail of each instrument even in the busiest passages.
The LCD2's soundstage isn't as expansive as the HD800 or T1, but it's enough for me. A 3D soundstage all around one's head is certainly delicious, but it's not really an important factor to me.
The biggest problem I have with the LCD2 is its build quality. The one that I tested had the new aluminium blocks and the fabric-sheathed cable, but it still looked pretty... ghetto, to be honest. I wasn't expecting HD800-level build quality, but at the very least, I think the hole in the wooden cups that is connected to the U-shaped metal ring should be reinforced with metal or even plastic. The wood around that area looks a little rough, which is kind of unpleasant in a headphone that costs a significant amount of money.
That's the end of the review. It's an amazing headphone, basically. I'm sure Senn fans will not be disappointed with the LCD2 as an upgrade from the HD650. Trebleheads should look elsewhere, but do note that the treble of this headphone is in no way unnaturally recessed, to my ears at least.
Now, for some pics: