"The Audeze LCD-1 has a beautifully wide soundstage and excellent clarity in a comfortable design."

  • Excellent clarity and attention to detail

  • Broad soundstage

  • Very convenient

  • Expensive

  • Questionable structure

There is a special place in my heart for open studio headphones. I come from a production background, so when editing, I always look for the purest sound reproduction to make sure my finished product is buttoned up.

So headphones like the $ 400 Audeze LCD 1 reference monitors really hit the right emotional notes for me. I know open-backs have some drawbacks, but I can't help but focus on them: I like the sound signature they generally offer.

So let's answer this important question: how does the Audeze LCD-1 stack up compared to others on the market?

What's in the box

Audeze provided the LCD-1 with simple packaging. It's not full of pomp and circumstance like Apple products. Although the box is very nice and wrapped in a simple Audeze case, the headphones come folded in the supplied hard carrying case.

This is very useful from a security point of view. If I want to use this case to secure the headphones when I travel, it should be of good quality to adequately protect them when shipping to me.

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Because of this, I'd expect them to require minimal molded cardboard insert so they don't roll around, but Audeze uses foam instead. While you can probably recycle the rest of the packaging, that foam needs to be removed and discarded first. It's not the most sustainable solution.

Aside from the carrying case, the headphones come with a 2-meter, 3.5-mm to 3.5-mm double cable wrapped in nylon and a 6.35-mm-3.5 mm converter. The only indication on the cable is that it is very long which can be uncomfortable for some people.

design

The Audeze LCD-1 look good despite their plastic construction. I'm more of a fan of how V-Moda constructed the M-200 monitors with lots of metal parts, but if you go for plastic, Audeze picked one that at least feels good to the touch.

Open ear headphones are more fragile than other headphones because they have many open and exposed parts. So it's no wonder that the LCD-1 is at the more fragile end of the spectrum. They don't feel like they are falling apart in my hands, but I will be very gentle with them. I wouldn't want to drop it.

Jaron Schneider / Digital Trends

The LCD-1 feels good on your head. They're snug, without too much pressure, and light, but not to the extent that they feel cheap. The headband is especially nice as it rests very gently on the crown of my head so that I don't feel it when I wear it.

Audeze said they designed the memory foam cups to be extremely comfortable so they could hold long listening sessions, and they manage to do that to a certain extent. After a few hours, I felt them squeeze a little near my temple, to the point where I had to take a short break.

But the focus is on short because this tiredness passed quickly and I was soon able to put it on again and listen for a few more hours. They aren't the most comfortable headphones I've ever worn – that goes to the Montblanc MB01s – but they're still great.

The Audeze LCD-1 looks pretty good despite the mostly plastic construction.

I found that I could extend my listening time by turning the cups slightly to shift the pressure if I didn't want to take them off completely, which was lovely. Each cup can rotate a little inward, towards the back of the head, and completely sideways when turned outward. That said, if you want to take them off and place them on your collarbone, that's where the hard plastic backs of the headphones rest instead of the cups. I would prefer it the other way around, but I really only wear these in my studio so I only wear them around my neck for a very limited time when my wife has something to say to me.

properties

Open, wired studio monitors do one thing and only one thing: they play music. Good guys do it exceptionally well.

The Audeze LCD-1 fits that description perfectly, but there are a few small advantages to be aware of.

The headphones are smart enough to tell which end of the double 3.5mm cable is plugged into which headphones on the left or right.

The detachable 3.5mm to 3.5mm twin cable can be detached if you want to store it away. The headphones are intelligent enough to automatically recognize which end of the 3.5 mm double cable is connected to which headphones on the left or right. If you can't get something like this wrong, this is an added bonus. It's even nicer when you only have one cord to worry about, like the V-Moda M-200, but it's nice that the cord can even be removed unlike the Grado Hemp headphones.

Jaron Schneider / Digital Trends

The headphones can be folded up for on the go. This is useful when you don't want to keep these where you listen to music. For recording artists or sound engineers, this may mean in a different studio depending on the week. They are packed quite small and fit nicely in the supplied carrying case. There is even a small sleeve in the top lid of the case to hold the cable.

The LCD-1 is compatible with balanced audio, but it is not easy. Audeze does not manufacture the required cable and no cable is commercially available. However, Audeze offers the pinout specification so that it can be made to measure by third parties. That's a lot of trouble.

Sound quality

Let's get one right out of the gate. Studio monitors are tuned for a balanced EQ, which means you shouldn't expect crystalline highs or chattering lows. The idea here is that what you hear is flat, neutral, and produced straight out of the studio. Studio monitors are intended for audio engineers and video editors who want to hear exactly how something sounds without additional sound profiles.

The thing is, part of what we as listeners like about headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM4 is that they have a good mix of sound profiles, usually with more juice to the bass and an overall warmer, more approachable tone. For most casual listeners, you probably don't want studio monitors like the Audeze LCD-1.

However, if you like the general sound of neutral audio, you will love these cans.

Jaron Schneider / Digital Trends

I'm not going to go so far as to say that I think the LCD-1 is perfectly neutral – I think they have a bit more lows than monitors usually do – but they are close and great for picking out critical details.

The main advantage of the open-back design is that these headphones have incredible sound reproduction – music sounds like it came from a large, perfectly designed studio.

When tracks are vocal focused like in Photographs by Professor Green, Rag & # 39; n & # 39; Bone Man, it sounds like you're being directed straight to the soundboard in the recording studio. In Brenden James & # 39; The Sun Will Rise, it's like I'm right there in the room. I can see every detail in his voice and the piano is beautifully rendered which supports him.

That added emphasis on the lows means that I'm presented with a slightly warmer rendition of Mumford and Sons' If I Say, which I have to admit I really loved. The singing in Didos Hurricanes also benefits from these beautiful lows.

These headphones have incredible sound reproduction – music sounds like it was coming from a large, perfectly designed studio.

The sound produced by the LCD-1 is more accessible to the average ear than other studio monitors without sacrificing the details audiophiles look for. They do all of this while being more restrained in the highs than the Grado hemp headphones (no almost sore highs), but more robust in the lows than the M-200 (more strictly neutral).

Although the design means the soundstage is open compared to closed designs, these don't isolate the sound well for you or anyone around you. This music in particular bursts the pages with a considerable volume. So if you want to use these in a shared room, all you need to know is that everyone around you can hear what you are hearing as clearly as possible. My wife works in the next room and can clearly hear the words to the songs that I hear from this distance.

Jaron Schneider / Digital Trends

For the same reason, these headphones degrade the perceived quality in louder environments because they cannot keep out noise.

That's the price you pay for the outstanding soundstage of open-backs. For one thing, I am ready to make this sacrifice.

Our opinion

The Audeze LCD-1s are very good studio monitors, but they are expensive considering the construction – they're made mostly of plastic, which can raise concerns about durability – and the ability to get some balanced audio support.

But if you plan on leaving these in your home studio and aren't worried about them, they are really excellent monitors that just have a bit more juice in the lows to make music more enjoyable without losing detail. They also have a wonderfully wide soundstage, a hallmark of high quality open-back cans.

Jaron Schneider / Digital Trends

Are there any better alternatives?

I would say if having that superb surgical detail and true neutral profile is more important to you, the cheaper V-MODA M-200s are a better choice, with a more robust construction and out-of-the-box support, balanced audio. However, if you like a little more lows and want to enjoy a wider soundstage, the LCD-1 is a better choice.

Also great are the open-design Sennheiser HD600s, regularly available for just $ 350.

How long will they last?

If you don't handle these too roughly, they will last until the plastic crumbles. The last time I checked it wasn't for at least several human lives. Audeze covers the drivers for three years and the rest of the parts for one year from the date of purchase, which is way above average support.

Should you buy it?

Yes. The Audeze LCD-1 studio monitors offer a wide soundstage, beautiful details and just a pinch more low pressure than other monitors, which makes listening a pleasure. They are not for everyone, but they might be for you.

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