Rated at only 20oHm, the Audeze LCD-GX technically does not require any amplification, although, I have found it does benefit from some. If you are gaming, don’t worry about amplification needs, your PC tower or sound card will be more than sufficient for power needs.
Once you start using the LCD-GX for music enjoyment though, the game changes a little and the headphone does benefit from a solid amplifier. Although again, most portable sources these days can drop the recommended 250mW of power and then some.
Plugging into a dedicated amplifier that is connected to a great DAC, or just a great DAC on its own with a great amplifier included, is going to max the potential tonality firmness factor. Yes, the LCD-GX sounds more firm and controlled with more power but you don’t need to go past 1000mW, you don’t need a nuclear reactor for it, so don’t worry about power.
An Audeze Deckard is heaps more than you’ll ever really need. If you are going the route of fidelity, opt for purity in the circuit and not power.
The LCD-GX pairs much better with a semi-neutral source, than a very warm or very clinical setup. The older Objective O2, as well as my very warm Burson + Heron 5 combo, makes the LCD-GX sing regardless of the tonality type.
As mentioned, I think the name of the game here is a middle ground, you get a hint of warmth down below and a reserved treble, so I personally wouldn’t pair with an extremely clinical and cold sounding amplifier and DAC. I wouldn’t also pair it with something extremely warm either.
That way, the strengths of the matchability factor of the LCD-GX will shine through for more genres and applications, instead of becoming a specialized product that may only sound good with neutral sources, or warm sources.
The gray area in the middle plays well with both for the most part. If you pair with a cold sounding rig, the LCD-GX will sound cold. If you pair with a very warm sounding rig, the LCD-GX will sound warmer. It seems to respond differently to each rig pairing I’ve tested with and that is exactly what I want in my expensive headphones.
That means Matchability is very, very high on this headphone and that is a wonderful life fact for me.
Borderlands 3 just released near the time of my reviewing this Audeze LCD-GX. I’ve been playing Borderlands since day one and have clocked hundreds of hours in Borderlands 2 since 2012 and to this day, still, play it online with some friends.
Borderlands 3 upped the sonic loot size and clearly improved that already very good sound quality for music tracks and in-game dialogue. At the moment, nothing I am aware of has superior sound quality than CDProjektRed’s The Witcher 3. There are times where I just use a specific mod for the PC port of the Witcher 3, just to let the main character walk around the streets of a specific location that is seaside in the environment.
For testing purposes, I wish to denote how realistic the sounds and placements are in the void and how many micro details I can pick up. Nothing does this better than The Witcher 3. I am usually astounded by the level of dynamic flavor between dialogue, wildlife, and wind, as well as moving windmills and clanging of distant blacksmiths behind walls, constant horse clapping footsteps and much, much more.
Getting Lost in the Night
Turning my lights off and the monitor as well, just sitting there letting the environment in the game and the LCD-GX take me away is a real treat. True, nothing else does it like the HD800, but the Beyerdynamic T1 and this LCD-GX have a pension for coherency that the HD800 lacks severely.
My personalized bubble zone of sound is physically correct and more realistically placed when I get close to sounds and there are often times where the near-biaural sound field of this game allows me to raise my eyebrows and say to myself “oh, sounds like the guards of the city are patrolling this morning in Witcher 3’s city of Toussaint. I can hear the streams running in Velen and the constant chatter of individuals in Novigrad.”
Planar vs Electrostatic
Intimate and coherent headphones like the LCD-GX offer a different experience from the very, very wide field headphone monitors out there. For certain single player applications, I am going to opt for the LCD-GX due to the amazing bass quality and reserved physical impact, combined with the excellent imaging coherency factor.
This is a rare treat today, we don’t have more than one or two other Planars in this price tier that sounds this clean, this soft on physical strike and also this coherent in physicality. Only a few other headphones ever did this for me and they aren’t Planar’s, the most prevalent being the Stax 007, which was an Electrostatic headphone with a rig that requires at least a few thousand USD to sound its best.
The LCD-GX, contrary to the 007, sounds great directly plugged into the 3.5mm jack on my PC tower. No amp. No Dac. Just the 3.5mm port output on the computer or my phone is enough.
Vs Audeze LCD-MX4
At $3,000, roughly, the LCD-MX4 is absolutely the superior headphone in nearly every manner of speaking. Although, the tonality between the two is contrary and varying drastically.
The LCD-GX is more akin to the LCD-2 in tone and presentation, darker, more reserved and less likely to be considered a fully analytical or clinical headphone that was intended for accuracy. The staging and imaging are also noticeably less deep and realistically formed compared to the LCD-MX4.
The MX4 is hyper clinical and much more realistic feeling in terms of imaging prowess. The LCD-GX requires no amplifiers, although it does benefit a bit from some. Whereas the MX4 benefits very much from a better amplifier, although it still doesn’t need it.
I found the scaling effect to be more drastic and usable with the MX4 varying from a portable source to a very good home desktop and USB DAC rig. You simply can walk further along the amplification path with the MX4 if you so choose (that is called scaling).
Both share roughly the same comfort factor, although I would rate the MX4’s leather pads softer and less thick, which allows for less clamp effect and a more loose fit. Where the LCD-GX is similar to the LCD-2, I would rate the MX4 closer to a combination of the LCD-X and the LCD-4. Both play very well with portable sources, right out of my Hiby R6 DAP, I enjoy both very, very much.
Are you a serious gamer? Do you care about having fun and also having amazing sound quality? Then the LCD-GX is for you. It is a little heavy, but not overly so, at least not in my opinion. I seem to be able to use it for hours without fatigue. Team Audeze’s LCD-GX is a gaming branded headphone intended for gamers. This is the top tier gaming headphone. Previously, it was Audeze’s Mobius Now, it is the Audeze LCD-GX.
If you want the best overall gaming headphone on the market, this is it. You’ve reached the mountain peak. The purity factor is off the charts compared to other “gaming headphones”. This isn’t just a gaming headphone, this is a great headphone as well. Period.
You don’t see anyone using “gaming headphones” to plug into their audiophile rig. You will see a lot of buyers using the LCD-GX for pure musical enjoyment too because it is an Audeze. And Audeze does audiophile sound right.
This just happens to be a great gaming monitor as well that looks amazing, sounds amazing and is priced right for the sound quality it offers. Fantastic. Borderlands and The Witcher (my two favorite games) never sounded so good to me. Going back to replay the Witcher 3 with the LCD-GX was mind-numbingly nostalgic and simply breathtaking. They should have sent a poet.