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Audeze LCD-1 headphones review

The high-end headphone brand dips under the £500 barrier for the first time? We're all ears...

  • £399
  • €409
  • $399
Audeze LCD-1 headphones
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

A quality pair of headphones which combine classy looks and detailed sound. Excellent for the price.

Pros

  • Excellent, detailed sound.
  • Classy, subtle design.
  • Lightweight and comfy.

Cons

  • Cables connect to both ears at once.
  • Lots of audio leakage, even by open back standards.

What is it?

Californian brand Audeze are known for their high-end studio headphones built to appeal to both pro audio and audiophile users.

With a sub-£400 price, the LCD-1s – part of the company’s Reference Series – are by some margin the most affordable Audeze cans to date (for reference, their original LCD-2 design retails at just under £800, while their flagship LCD-4s go for a whopping $4k). 

Despite the drop in price though, these open back headphones still boast the company’s signature planar magnetic technology and such sci-fi sounding features as Uniforce Diaphragms, Fluxor Magnet and Fazor Waveguides.

Design-wise, the LCD-1s are simple and classy looking. They’re lightweight, with memory foam pads around each ear cup and across the headband, all of which makes for a very comfortable set of cans, although the ear pads can get a little sweaty after long periods of use.

They’re a folding design too, and come complete with an equally smart-looking carry case to keep them safe from harm. These are wired headphones, coming supplied with a nicely braided 2m connector cable that requires connection to both left and right ears. 

The fact that both sides of the headphones have to be plugged in at once is a mild annoyance – but at least these two connections are reversible, meaning you don’t have to faff around working out which connection is supposed to connect to which ear.

Performance and verdict

These are open-back headphones, so expect a lot of sound leakage. In fact, even compared to other open-backed studio headphones we’ve used, a lot of sound seems to get both in and out of the LCD-1s when in use. 

This is something worth being aware of – in a recording situation, you’re almost definitely going to hear that leakage, and if you’re using these in a noisy environment don’t expect them to cut out a lot of that background din.

Also consider...

(Image credit: Audio-Technica)

• Audio-Technica ATH-R70x
A lovely balance of comfort and sound quality creates headphones that can help craft great mixes.

• Focus Listen Potential
Honest, transparent circumaural phones that cause little fatigue over long periods. A new favourite in the all-rounder category.

Sonically, the LCD-1s are absolutely excellent. There’s a huge amount of detail in the sound, making them an excellent choice for mixing and sound design duties. There’s plenty of power here too; even at high volume there’s no audible distortion to the sound, and there’s a pleasing amount of low end on offer too.

I spent some time working on a crowded kick/bass pattern and was impressed with how easily I could pick out and adjust the relevant frequencies.

Headphones that cross into the audiophile realm – at least at this price point – sometimes tend to flatter the music a little and artificially boost certain mid-range frequencies. The LCD-1s seemed very trustworthy though, and strike me as a good tool for mixing sessions.

In all, these are certainly some of the best headphones I’ve used at this price point. The only real downside is the leakiness of their open-backed design, which limits their use away from the studio somewhat. That aside, for studio musicians on the hunt for trustworthy, quality headphones below the £500 mark, there are few options better than these.

MusicRadar verdict: A quality pair of headphones which combine classy looks and detailed sound. Excellent for the price.

The web says

"There’s a lot to be said for how the LCD-1s allow you to analyse the music. If that’s what you require of your hi-fi, then Audeze has created a pair of headphones well worth a listen – especially if you’re hoping to use them for a bit of mixing as well."
What Hi-Fi?

"The LCD-1s’ overall presentation, no matter the material you’re listening to nor the volume at which you’re listening, is composed, engaging and entirely believable. Listen to music you’ve never heard before and you’ll never doubt you’re being given the full picture. Listen to music you’ve heard a thousand times before and there’s every chance the Audezes will find some nuance in there you’ve never really heard before."
TechRadar

Hands-on demos

Joshua Valour

Z Reviews

The HEADPHONE Show

Steve Guttenberg Audiophiliac

Specifications

  • KEY FEATURES: Open-backed, foldable headphones with memory foam ear pads,  90mm over-ear planar magnetic drivers, Fluxor Magnets, Ultra-thin Uniforce Diaphragms, Fazor Waveguides, inc. travel case
  • WEIGHT: 250g
  • MADE IN: USA
  • CONTACT: Audeze