The Audeze LCD-2 Closed Back is the closed variant of the LCD-2 Classic featuring a non-Fazor 106mm planar magnetic driver. It is priced at $899.
Disclaimer: The Audeze LCD-2 Closed Back sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank the team at Audeze for giving us this opportunity.
To read more about Audeze products we have reviewed on Headfonics click here.
Note, this review follows our new scoring guidelines for 2021 which you can read up on here.
We are a bit late to the LCD-2 Closed Back since it has been out a while but with a new aesthetic and our recent quest to add some more closed-back planar exposure we thought it high time we reviewed it.
This is not the first time Audeze has launched a closed-back planar headphone. The LCD-XC launched in 2014 was their first and pitched just below the LCD-3, a position it still retains today. The EL8 Closed-Back was cheaper but positioned for Apple products as well as including a lighting cable.
The newer LCD-2 Closed Back positions alongside the LCD-2 Classic which was launched around the same time in 2018 and both are more affordable at $899 and $799 respectively. Both also offer a taste of the original LCD-2 or the original version before the introduction of Audeze’s Fazor tech. The pre-Fazor model is a production model that I have owned since 2010.
Many still love that sound and though the LCD-2 Classic is not a complete like for like it does evoke strong memories among many long-time Audeze fans. The question now is, what does the LCD-2 Closed Back bring to the table and how does it differ from the original?
The LCD-2 Closed Back is exactly what it says on the tin with a classic Audeze form factor closed-back circumaural headphone design. The driver inside is a planar magnetic 106mm which is pretty much their standard surface driver size for their entire LCD lineup except for the smaller 90mm LCD-1.
Though it does not use the Fazor airflow technology present in headphones such as LCD-1 up to the LCD-4 it does use quite a lot of the other current features. This includes their Ultra-thin Uniforce™ diaphragm design as well as Neodymium N50 Fluxor™ Magnets in a proprietary dual-sided staggerd array around the driver.
Unsurprisingly, the specified output of the LCD-2 Closed back is a little less efficient than their Fazor equipped models at 70Ω impedance and 101dB SPL. That is the same rating as the original LCD-2 that I have here and the same specification as the LCD-2 Classic open-back version they currently offer.
Ideally, that means a decent amplifier for it to sound optimal but not a huge amount of current similar to the 200Ω LCD-4 or something like the older HE-6. You can read more about our synergy findings on page 2.
Despite its classic innards, the LCD-2 Closed Back has a very modern Audeze circumaural form factor. That means big cups with thick luscious angular protein leather pads, wide gimbal composite arches with screws on both ends, pivot screws with blocks as well as an overarching headband with a pressure strap.
Like the Classic, there have been some material adjustments to keep the price competitive as possible. That includes a powder-coated spring steel finish for the headband arch as opposed to carbon fiber on high-end models such as the LCD-4.
Another change from the original is the removal of the classic wood ring from the original LCD-2 to be replaced by a matte black injection-molded polymer called Noryl similar to the one used on the LCD-2 Classic. This is a tough-looking but stable composite and probably a bit lighter than aluminum or similar metal options.
This finish also incorporates the connectors whose housing is directly molded into the ring as opposed to them being attached to the end of the wooden ring similar to the LCD-4. This was a style more in keeping with my own original LCD-2 ring finish though I dare say the single model composite is less prone to potential cracks compared to wood.
The LCD-2 Closed Back weight is 661g which is fairly beefy compared to the 595g of the original and the reduced 550g of the Classic. You are definitely going to feel that difference in weight when switching from one to the other. You can put that down to the LCD-2 Closed Back’s additional heavier full-sized faceplate compared to the lighter open grill of the Classic.
Now, this is a new cup aesthetic as far as I can tell though I am not entirely sure when this changed, perhaps 2019 or last year? The original was a matte black plate with a solid white A in the middle which looked ok to me but not as attractive as the new version.
This new plate has more of a dark nebula or swirl-type brush stroke design on a black background with a glossy perspex protective cover screwed in on top. For some reason, our pics didn’t quite pick up the true glory of these LCD-2 Closed Back cup designs as they are quite reflective. They do not attract visible fingerprints, however, so they stay very tidy after plenty of handling.
Comfort & Isolation
I do see a couple of changes to the LCD-2 Closed Back design that are designed to alleviate any comfort issues from the weight that are not on my older LCD-2.
These include the new powder-coated split spring steel headband with a vented protein leather pressure strap that is now on pretty much every LCD model except the LCD-1.
To all new LCD users out there, trust me, this is a help of a lot comfier than the older single thinner headband from the original production run. Not only does it dissipate spot pressure from the top of your scalp so much better but it also helps to balance the pressure remarkably well across the entire headphone.
I suspect the clamping pressure is much the same as the original but on the LCD-2 Closed Back you do not notice it as much due to the new protein leather pads that are a bit thicker and also softer than I had previously.
From what I can tell, these are also thicker than the current LCD-2 Classic pads which do seem to help mitigate the perceived horizontal clamping pressure significantly compared to the original. I suspect they are also a bit heavier which is another factor in the increased weight.
Overall, the balance is really good for a headphone of this size and weight. They sit quite steadily and isolate better than I expected though not quite on par with the elongated pad of the DCA AEON 2 but superior to the closed-back HE-R10D from Hifiman.
The LCD-2 Closed Back comes with one cable, which is the LCD Standard Single-Ended Cable. This is a 1.9m 20AWG high-purity OCC copper wire in what looks to be a very tight PVC double-braided jacket and split with a clean and light black aluminum ferrule tube for the splitter.
The cable connectors are unchanged with a pair of mini-XLR 3-pin barrels with channel color coding for the strain relief. The connectors are angled so the length of the connectors will not drag on your collar during use. The jack termination is 6.35mm which is ok for me but I would have loved to have seen a 4.4mm or balanced 3-pin XLR choice at the checkout.
I have had a few different cable designs from Audeze in my time but this one is closer to the LCD-4 stock cable in terms of aesthetics and handling. The double-braiding is nice and tight, the flex is supple and it is not too weighty either. You get next to no memory retention so it sits or behaves real nice around you when using the headphones.
Importantly, because there is a degree of passive isolation from the LCD-2 Closed Back you will not hear any kickback from microphonics traveling up the wire when using it. It is very quiet both below and above the splitter.
Packaging & Accessories
Honestly, I have no pictures to show you with regards to packaging and accessories because the LCD-2 Closed Back only comes with the cable, download and warranty card, and nothing more.
The classic travel or wood case is gone, and instead, you have a cleverly foam-contoured cardboard courier box that I honestly thought was a FedEx box. It is no looker and entirely disposable though I would advise retaining it if you need to transport it from A to B.
I guess this is another area where they managed to have a few cents of the product costs to get the price sticker as competitive as it is. You can, of course, buy the travel case but it will set you back $150 so bang goes some additional budget.
I do recommend it though if you intend to lug the LCD-2 Closed Back around a lot. If the budget does not stretch and you do want something more permanent for storage I know Monoprice do some similar sealed travel cases at a lower budget that might take your fancy.
The LCD-2 Closed Back is a surprisingly spacious and holographic presentation for a closed-back set of headphones. I was expecting a much more restricted staging quality to be honest.
That combination of a large driver and deep cups seems to be allowing enough space for the sound to remain remarkably free from distracting levels of reverb or a ‘walled-in sound’. I have heard open-back headphones that definitely sound more intimate or narrower than the LCD-2 Closed Back.
In terms of tuning, I came to this with very few expectations other than perhaps looking for that classic LCD-2 bass response. What I got was quite a bit different in terms of emphasis from my original LCD-2 Rev 2 open-back headphones.
I guess the key phrase here is ‘vibrancy’ in that the LCD-2 Closed Back is an energetic headphone with a little more bass to treble contrast and none of that typically relaxed Audeze upper-mids imaging. The FR here is much more pronounced from 2-3k with only a short 4-5k drop and then up goes the energy levels again into the lower treble and beyond.
That means vocals are quite forward, in fact, the whole lower-mids to midrange to around 2-3k is on an upwards slope giving instruments some lovely presence and solidity to their performance.
The bass response itself is relatively linear to about 100Hz before it starts that gentle rise and extends really well but it is not bumped like the HE-R10P so it doesn’t have quite the same rumble. It is still a bit beefier for me than the open back version though this is the older Rev 2 I am referring to rather than the newer Classic version.
The LCD-2 Closed Back has a very nice harmonic balance for my tastes with some excellent physicality in the lower-mids. Bass is not overwhelming so the fundamental on each note has more of a natural vibe without unwanted bloom and too much even harmonic emphasis.
The rising mid-bass to lower-mids tuning carries a nuanced level of warmth into instruments and lower register chest and some mixed male vocals that flesh out the texture quite nicely. It is not as liquid sounding as the AEON 2, the tonal emphasis is a little more neutral than euphonic.
The elevated treble is responsible for that neutral or higher contrast tone so the further up your go in the FR the more the LCD-2 Closed Back timbre is in terms of neutral and clean sounding.
Source matching is an important factor with the LCD-2 Closed Back timbre with some DAPs injecting the stronger mids response with a little bit of harmonic dissonance and emphasizing more sibilance in vocals than others. DAPs such as the HIBY R8 and FiiO M15 didn’t have the perfect synergy for me with a slightly metallic tone in the lower treble of the LCD-2 Closed Back.
However, a natural source, such as an R2R setup or an analog-sounding DAP such as the Musician Audio Pegasus, LP P6, or the DX300 offered a much better balance. This headphone will respond quite well to source matching or at least offering a more revealing insight into how your source sounds.
Probably one of the best staging presentations in a closed-back headphone outside of the HE-R10P which we just recently reviewed, that one is special but also has a special price tag.
The bass is not hugely forward, rather it solid and reaches impressively deep without annoying bloom or too much reverb. It gains momentum into the mids peaking at 2-3k so for me, this is the more forward aspect of the LCD-2 Closed Back imaging with vocals and lower-register instruments to the fore.
But here I like how the LCD-2 Closed Back pulls certain aspects of its imaging forward without dragging everything else with it. For example, the DCA AEON 2 has a neutral midrange FR but has an intimate overall staging quality that brings everything close, not just vocals.
The LCD-2 Closed Back does not do that, it keeps everything well separated with a deeper more holographic imaging quality. It is like moving from a nicely padded recording booth into more of a concert hall experience. Not as open sounding like a good quality open back can deliver but certainly more spacious with excellent clarity than I expected it to be.
Click on page 2 below for sound impressions and comparisons.