Audeze is a brand that needs no introduction; the American audio manufacturer makes some of the best planar headsets, and its products are used in recording studios around the world. While the brand has diversified its offerings in recent years — introducing gaming-focused headsets and budget options that are available for under $500 — the LCD series forms the core of its portfolio.
And in that series, the LCD-X reigns supreme; introduced nearly a decade ago, the LCD-X is Audeze’s best-selling headset, and the brand rolled out a new version in 2021 with a slightly lighter design and better weight distribution, tweaks to the sound signature, and new ear cushions.
The result? The LCD-X is among the best — if not the best overall — headset you’ll find in this category, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
Audeze LCD-X: Pricing and availability
Audeze unveiled the LCD-X back in 2013, but the version I’m testing today is a redesigned model that was introduced in 2021. The redesign doesn’t change the visual aesthetic of the LCD-X, with Audeze instead focusing on tweaking the sound. Along with those changes, Audeze now offers the LCD-X in two variants: a Creator Package that costs $1,199 and includes the headset and a braided 2-meter cable with a single-ended 6.35mm connector and a standard LCD hard shell case for use on the road.
There’s also a Premium Package that retails for $1,699, and this version has two braided cables — one with a 6.35mm connector and the other with a balanced 4-pin XLR — as well as a 6.35mm to 3.5mm plug, and a premium travel case. Both versions are available in leather and leather-free materials, and are sold directly on Audeze’s website as well as Amazon (opens in new tab) (where it’s marginally lower at $1,139) and all major audio retailers.
Audeze LCD-X: Design and comfort
Before I get to the design, the first thing I need to talk about is the weight, as that ultimately is a deciding factor in your purchasing decision. Although Audeze shaved off 50g from the original version, the LCD-X 2021 still comes in at a hefty 612g, and it is the heaviest headset in my collection by a sizeable margin.
The weight is noticeable when you start using the headset, and while I initially figured it would be an issue, that hasn’t proven to be the case. I used the LCD-X for just over a month now as my daily driver, and in that time, I haven’t felt any fatigue even after extended listening sessions of six hours or more. I’m at my desk for 12 hours a day on average, and I listen to music for at least half of that duration, and having used the LCD-X extensively, the weight hasn’t been a problem in my use case.
One of the reasons for that is the weight distribution; Audeze did a brilliant job distributing the weight evenly across the headband, and the result is that you don’t feel the heft once you put the headset on. The redesigned ear cushions also go a long way in making the LCD-X comfortable for extended use, and while they’re not as breathable as velour pads on the likes of the HD6XX, they don’t get too warm either.
On the whole though, I’d suggest trying on the LCD-X at a store before picking it up; while I didn’t have any issues with the weight, that won’t be the case for everyone.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the design. The LCD-X is all about making a statement, and the oversized grilles along with the massive ear cushions give it a distinctive look that’s immediately recognizable. The headset is made out of metal, and the visible screws give it an industrial look — and make it easier to switch out any parts down the line should the need arise.
I also like the stylized design over the grille that forms a large A; there’s no mistaking who made this headset. The LCD-X isn’t meant for outdoor use, but the bundled hard shell case means you can take it on the road without any issues. The cables connect to the earcups via mini-XLR plugs, and they securely lock in place.
The ear pads are among the most comfortable I’ve used to date, and while the headset is heavy, the clamping force is mild. This goes a long way in ensuring the LCD-X is comfortable for extended listening sessions.
Build quality is exquisite — as you’d imagine — and I have no doubt that the headset will last a very long time. The headband uses a suspension-style design and is made out of metal, but just underneath you’ll find a perforated leather band that does a great job with weight distribution. That said, I would have liked more padding on the headband itself, and a slightly easier mechanism for adjusting the sizing.
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Other than that minor quibble, I have no problems with the design or comfort of the LCD-X. Like I said earlier, this is the heaviest headset of the dozen or so in my collection, so if you’re eyeing this model, I strongly recommend trying it out before making a purchase.
Audeze LCD-X: Sound quality
I knew before I got started with the LCD-X that it would sound great, but I didn’t realize just how nuanced the sound would be until I actually used the headset. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is among the best-sounding headset you’ll find in the sub-$2,000 segment.
A lot of that has to do with the bass response; the LCD-X delivers a fast attack that’s usually a characteristic of all planar headsets, but it do so with much better emphasis and lots of detail. You get a delightful rumble and texture, and the LCD-X does incredibly well in the sub-bass section, and you’re guaranteed to hear notes in your favorite tracks that you missed before.
In a similar vein, mids are detailed, and you get excellent instrument separation with a forward-facing vocal presentation that sounds great. The treble has good extension overall, but it misses out on a bit of sparkle. The overall sound signature is neutral, and that’s not astonishing considering the LCD-X is designed for mastering.
Audeze nailed the technical details here, with the LCD-X offering excellent imaging and dynamics. Honestly, other than a slightly laid-back treble, there isn’t a single flaw to point out here. The neutral tuning means the LCD-X works well across various genres, and I can attest to that, having listened to classic rock, heavy metal, folk music, classical, and a lot of DnB in the month I used the headset.
With a sensitivity of 103dB/mW and coming in at 20Ω, the LCD-X is remarkably easy to drive — you can use it with just about any portable source. I used the headset predominantly with the Fiio K9 Pro and the Fiio R7 network streamer, and using a source with a bit more power makes the headset truly shine.
Somewhat serendipitously, I started using the LCD-X at the same time I set up Roon, and that turned out to be a good thing, because the software has custom presets that unlock the full potential of the headset. Roon’s preset gives the LCD-X much more airiness and detail, and it is a fabulous pairing. If you’re buying the LCD-X or any Audeze headset and have a large offline music collection, I suggest signing up for Roon and giving it a try — you’ll love the difference it makes.
Of course, you can always manually tweak the EQ to achieve a similar effect, and the LCD-X affords a lot of headroom in this area thanks to the low distortion. The only drawback (as it were) when it comes to sound quality is that the treble is a little relaxed, but that can be easily corrected, and the terrific bass and mid-range gives the LCD-X a clear-cut advantage.
Audeze LCD-X: The competition
There are lots of alternatives in the high-end segment, and if you’re after a great-sounding planar headset, the HiFiMan Arya ticks a lot of the right boxes. It uses large planar drivers, has a similarly sturdy design as the LCD-X, and has a terrific sound that pairs well with a variety of genres. It also has a fast bass that’s energetic, and has good overall resolution and a wide soundstage. Coming in at $1,299 on Amazon (opens in new tab), it is in the same vicinity as the LCD-X, but the one factor in its favor is that it weighs 404g, over 200g lighter — so if you find yourself not liking how heavy the LCD-X is, you should try out the Arya.
Focal’s Clear is also a good choice to consider, with the headset delivering a refined sound and a gorgeous design that’s in line with the French brand’s other products. The headset is sensitive to be driven by portable sources, you get a lot of accessories in the box, and at 450g, it is comfortable to wear. The Clear is now available for $1,249 on Amazon (opens in new tab), so you’re not paying that much more than the LCD-X.
Audeze LCD-X: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if:
- You want a high-end planar headset with a balanced and neutral sound
- You need a durable build quality that will last decades
- You’re looking for a headset with plush cushions that are comfortable
- You need a planar headset that’s easy to drive
You shouldn’t buy this if:
- You want a lightweight planar headset
Ultimately, Audeze got a lot right with the LCD-X. Sure, the sheer size and weight of the headset would be a deal-breaker for a few, but honestly, having used it for over a month, I don’t mind the weight at all. The fact that it is distributed evenly ensures the heft isn’t an issue during extended use, and the build quality is phenomenal — this thing is built like a tank.
There’s plenty to like when it comes to the sound as well, with the LCD-X delivering a neutral sound that allows your music to shine. The low-end and mids are incredibly detailed, and the treble has no sibilance whatsoever and decent extension. But it’s the soundstage and imaging that set the LCD-X apart; this is one of the biggest reasons why the headset is so highly regarded.
While $1,199 is a lot to pay for a headset, you are getting a lot for your money, particularly with the Creator Package. I’m not going to say it is a good value, but what is clear to me is that the LCD-X is a phenomenal headset that’s built to last for decades, and the sound signature is incredible. The only issue here is the weight; if you don’t mind that, the LCD-X is an easy recommendation.
The LCD-X combines a robust design with comfortable leather ear pads, and the redesigned sound signature means they deliver a neutral sound that allows you to get the most out of your music.