I must admit, team Audeze has been up to some deviancy lately and I couldn’t be happier. Planar Gaming headphones were a notion that most of us only considered possible in a distant future timeline. Oh. how the times have changed.
We are now living in one of those timeline variants with their newest over-ear Planar model: The LCD-GX. Branded as a gaming headphone, complete with a goose-neck microphone, I can safely tell you that newbs online are going to salivate all over their keyboards at the mere sight of the LCD-GX on their opponent’s noggin’.
As always, Audeze includes one of the best, if not the very best, carrying cases available in the audiophile world for their over-ear models. This tote is simply incredible, a hard shell travel case, complete with two hefty locking mechanisms, interior foam cut out for the headphones and a high-quality handle that does not feel cheap in the slightest.
This is what I like to see, especially considering gaming events are still a thing with us. I still enjoy a romp now and then at a friend’s home, being able to bring this behemoth with me is one of the best feelings I can imagine. It will stay safe in there and the process of un-flipping the hinge locks is something that I take as a slow process when others are watching me.
This is my weapon of choice for gaming, no doubt about it. Just do me a favor. Do not put any of the radiation stickers from the game Fallout on your LCD-GX’s case here and then try to go travel on a plane…I’ve learned from experience not to do that, take my word for it.
Due to being set up as a gaming model, the Audeze LCD-GX comes with a mic enabled cable, a standard ¼ cable and also a goose-neck styled boom mic that appears very flexible and stable. Thankfully, it also came with a foam protector as well. Dampening shrieks to your friends online will be less of a worry and your voice will carry in a higher fidelity overall that is going to be appealing for all listening to your chatter.
They’ve also made sure to include a built-in mute button, so a user can quickly deny the voice chat listeners access to hearing your girlfriend or wife ask if you want a hot pocket pizza, who then lobs it at your head before it thaws out, like a cooked grenade in Call of Duty or Battlefield.
Beyond that, a basic ¼ to 3.5mm split adapter cable is included, so you can use the LCD-GX on your portable sources as well as any ¼ enabled amplifier.
Despite existing on the heavy side, I do find them comfortable for extended usage. The open back nature of the headphone provides a natural cooling effect, of course, as most, if not all open backs tend to and there is plenty of air transfer between the outside zone and interior earcup area to prevent me from sweating.
The clamp factor is a bit on the strong side but that changed over a short period of time for me, loosening enough to remain comfortable on a subjective level. The headband is excellent, the fabric and perforated strip allows some breathing room and this is vastly preferred to a solid strip of material that has no venting what so ever.
The strip itself allows for a balanced fit on my head without any pressure in one given area, which then allows the headphone to remain comfortable for hours, even though I consider them on the plus side in weight.
Audeze is known for dishing out some of the yummiest bass quality in the business. Similarly to the older Fazor LCD-2, this newer LCD-GX seems a variant of the LCD-2 in terms of physical setup overall. The low end offered on the LCD-GX is plentiful in quantity and does not really require any boosting at all for gaming needs.
However, with music needs, I do tend to boost up just a few dB via HiBy’s MSEB DSP or my EQ systems in general. The reason is that planar bass is the tastiest bass of all in tonality and texture, at least, in my opinion. I enjoy a deep response, but not during the in-game time.
Online, I do not want low end boosting to mask any of the important micro-details out there in the sound field from enemies sneaking around, so I never touch any EQ while I am online playing. However, I do boost when I play single player modes in Borderland 3, The Witcher 3, and similar excellent story mode driven experiences where you can boost to your heart’s content and enjoy explosions that sound incredibly powerful and deep.
With the EQ disabled, the LCD-GX is very linear feeling from top to bottom, what is there on the low end in stock form is just perfect to my ear for gaming needs. I can’t see anyone insisting on more or less for online experiences.
The LCD-GX, surprisingly, is relatively mild on physical strike and impact down yonder. Once again, whoever is designing these products at Audeze HQ, is someone I need to take out for drinks just to thank. The reason is that they care and it is clear that they care about enjoyability.
When you game, especially for hours on end, fatigue will set in rather quickly if you are constantly bombarded with loud and sudden instances of gunfire or explosions in the game zone. Most of us likely do not want high engaging bass, meaning, wince factor, physical strike and shoulder shrugging physical slam effect.
Does anyone ever play Call of Duty Advanced Warfare? My goodness, the explosions in that game are rendered immensely low and powerfully. That gets annoying and painful real quick on most highly engaging headphones.
The Audeze LCD-GX offers a more reserved physicality in that regard and I do not find them fatiguing for extended usage. They simply do not hit hard, but they do reach deep, so you can enjoy the very low explosion reverberate in distance sounds while you play games. That low hum and rumble of someone being fragged or hit with an RPG always feel incredibly satisfying.
As a gamer, this is something I tend to look for: that casual and distant rumble of an explosion in the distance in my headphone and how it is physically portrayed to me. With Planar bass, you get a deep sense of it at all times when it appears in the sound field. It always puts a smile on my face.
The vocal experience of Audeze is second to none and most of us are aware of this who has experience with Audeze headphones. Similarly to the LCD-2 variants, the LCD-GX is more moderately setup in placement, which means it is neither LCD-3 forward and intimate, nor is it very recessive in nature. It is set up for compatibility with pretty much everything you toss at it, regardless of music type or gaming mode.
You don’t want sounds to appear overly forward and that is why most “gaming” headphones do not offer a very, very forward midrange appeal. They also shouldn’t be extremely recessed. Somewhere in the gray area middle zone is ideal and that is exactly where the vocal experience tends to lay with the LCD-GX.
Again, the designer seems to know his stuff and knew this was the ideal choice for a gaming branded sound. As far as fidelity goes, at the $899 level, I consider the LCD-GX a very good sounding over-ear. I wouldn’t place it at the top of the list for the price range, but it is certainly a contender for one of the better choices out there for raw purity factor in this tier regarding only midrange fidelity.
I do enjoy it for vocals, but it seems to play nicer with casual listening experiences and not extremely intimately recorded music tracks.
The top end is clearly reserved and similarly to the low end, non-fatiguing. I can use this set for hours and never scuff at harshness or sibilant instances of entertainment, nor any annoying physical strike and impact in physicality factor. The entire experience from top to bottom is well suited for extended usage.
I would rate the treble tonality as reserved, perhaps even, a little dark. Although I do not consider the LCD-GX’s treble to portray a needed boost to generate any more brightness, I do however think it can benefit from just a smidgen of it now and then when tracks call for it.
Guitar Fusion and Melodic Metal are among my favorite genres and I find the high pitched guitar tapping and frequent harmonics, used by artists, to require just the slightest amount of aid up top. Again, that is because the set is intended to be an absolute pleasure to use for hours. And it certainly is.
The fidelity factor is excellent overall, no question, and thankfully, it responds nicely to both bass and treble boosting if you so desire it.
Soundstaging is not the strongest suit of the LCD-GX, at least not in terms of width. However, the coherency factor is excellent, similar to the older Beyerdynamic T1 from years ago. While large awesomely large and vast, it is very intimately set up and what is available tends to showcase a deep sense of personality.
Coherency is a big deal to me when gaming, some headphones can overdo it and sound stretched thin, lacking a realistic sense of a void around you. When that happens, you lose sight of placement of sounds in the gaming sound field and you can easily mistake an enemy at your 2 o’clock position for someone at your 4 o’clock position nearby.
The LCD-GX is typical of Audeze’s house sound and sounds similar to every other open back they’ve made recently. They are not small and lacking in height and air, but they do lack a sense of width and again, width is not something I desire when gaming. I want hyper-coherent physical setup and that is what Audeze does best.
The LCD-GX is no different, it offers a great sense of equal width, air, height and separation qualities, all without one trait in the soundstaging element to appear larger, or lacking over the rest of the elements you can pick up on.
The headphone isn’t the best for pinpoint accuracy, but it is certainly one of the better I’ve had for single-player enjoyment or team-based video gaming where the location of sounds in a battlezone is not vital to your objective. Ultra-wide is bad when you play online FPS games, or really, anything tactical with a focus on pinpointing sounds around you.
The goose-neck style mic is ideal for placement and adjustment on the fly. There are times where you know you are going to yell a bit. Perhaps, someone lobbed a knife through the air and over a structure, landing in your forehead for the end round kill that everyone gets to see on replay.
Raging is okay. We all do it. When that happens, you want to be able to move the mic away from your mouth a little, or if you are just chatting normally and not in the game zone. While in the game zone, I’ve found that single-player games without action, such as RPGs like old school Ragnarok Online, are games that I tend to keep the mic close to my mouth during any speech with teammates.
The reason there being that I am soft-spoken in those instances and want detail and softness, a casual non-gaming action tonality in my voice, so to speak. When I am playing a FPS online, such as Call of Duty, I tend to raise my voice a lot and even shout, especially so when barking commands to teammates or calling enemy locations. Or again, that forehead knife kill, sigh., is where I move the microphone quickly a bit further away.
You don’t tend to think of it until you actually realize you are doing it, so having a boom style mic with a foam cover on it that can be freely moved around is a blessing. A stationary mic that is on a plastic rod that cant be moved or adjusted is something undesirable to me.
As far as fidelity factor goes, the experience sounds pretty much the same as the Audeze Mobius, which seems to be the same style microphone included with that model. So far, I’ve heard no quality complaints against me. My audio transmissions are of what I consider a very good quality overall.
Thankfully, there isn’t too much low end and there also are no problems with sibilant treble and hissing. If not for the pop-filter, I think there would be more “puh” sounds that would be considered annoying, but as per what my friends online say, they’ve yet to hear that from me on my LCD-GX or the Mobius.