Audeze LCD2 Classic Open Over-Ear Planar Magnetic Headphones

This story originally appeared at InnerFidelity.com

It's deja vu all over again. Maybe Audeze decided to reverse the trend for ever more expensive headphones. Maybe they were just aware of so many people longing for the LCD2 of old. But whatever the reson, I do like seeing them breath new life into the more affordable end of the LCD line-up with their newly released LCD2 Classic.

Audeze LCD2 ($799)
The LCD2 Classic is an open acoustic, over-ear, planar magnetic headphone. While the LCD2 Classic has the same double-sided magnetic structure and ultra-thin film diaphragm of the LCD2 it forgoes the Fazor elements and wood ring in an effort to further reduce costs.

Audeze's LCD series is definitely a form-follows-function design; styling is utilitarian...but it's a look I've grown to enjoy. This is a very mature design; every bit and piece of the LCD2 Classic has been thought through over and over again in preceding models. For me, evaluating an Audeze LCD model stripped down to its bare essentials is an intriguing exercise...and to see it done so well is quite satisfying.

Materials and build quality are very nice. Headband arch and yokes are powder coated spring steel. Headband and ear pads are a very good grade of synthetic leather. Ear pads are memory foam and have generous 70mm x 55mm openings and are angled providing about 35mm depth at the rear of the opening. Folks with big ears should fair well with these cans.

The capsule housings—or 'rings', as Audeze calls them—are crystal-infused nylon. These feel extremely hard, scratch resistant, and durable. I particularly like the return to the older style of connector housing that's molded right into the ring. (The wood rings of some years ago also looked like this, but tended to be a weak point and crack as the wood dried. The new nylon ring should be immune from this.) Covering the rear of the driver is a large, black, powder coated metal grill.

Even though there are quite a few differing materials in the build, I'm struck by how well parts are matched in color and texture. The only exception is the paint covering the metal of the headband ends is slightly more glossy than other surfaces. Maybe that was done to add a little excitement to the headphone and highlight the Audeze logo on the outside, and 'L' and 'R' indicators on the inside.

The LCD2C has a new braided cable similar in construction to the flagship LCD4's cable. I definitely like this type of cable as it lays flat and is suple when moved; very little cable-born noise is transmitted up this cable. Much nicer than the previous four conductor ribbon cable. The cable is terminated with an Audeze 1/4" TRS plug on the player end, and two mini XLR 4-pin female connectors on the headphone end. A very nice black anodized aluminum ferrule secures the cable at the 'Y'-join.

No adapters or case are included with purchase, though the plain cardboard shipping box with foam cut-outs for the headphones can double as a storage case. (See photo at top of next page.) This is an area I feel a little conflicted about. I understand and appreciate Audeze's desire to trim costs on this product, but at the $799 price point I think a headphone should come with a case.

On the other hand the new crystal-infused nylon rings are really nice, as is the new cable. It wouldn't surprise me to hear that the rings and cable were strong cost drivers with this headphone, and I do think they add value to the purchase. Audeze does sell a very nice hard shell, Pelican Case-like travel case for the LCD line for $125, so an appropriate case is readily available. It seems reasonable to me to think of the LCD2C and the case as the completed package at $924.

I don't think it rises to the level of a bait and switch, but the initial $599 holiday price has put a low number into people's heads when, one could argue, this is really a $924 product. On the other hand, it does give the consumer the option to purchase a no-frills, well built headphone for a decent price, and purchase the case separately if desired. As I said, I'm a little conflicted on this, please feel free to comment below with your thoughts on this accessorization approach.

Well, as long as they sound good, I'm not going to get knotted up about it. Let's have a listen...

COMPANY INFO
Audeze
3412 S. Susan St.
Santa Ana, California 92704
info@audeze.com
(714) 581-8010
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