Review: Audeze LCD-1

High-end headphones for your smartphone

Audeze LCD-1: There is no better sound for portable use in this price range.

Audeze LCD-1
Published 2020-08-31 - 10:27 am
Our opinion
Compact, light and perfect for mobile. Glass clear and neutral sound, with live bass reproduction.
The bass rolls off early and the soundscape is not as fine-meshed and refined as the reference.
  • Type: Open, over the ear
  • Principle: Plan magnetic
  • Foldable: Yes
  • Microphone / remote control: No / no
  • Cable: 2m 3.5mm incl. 6.3mm adapter
  • Elements: 90 mm
  • Impedance / sensitivity: 16 ohms / 99 dB
  • Frequency response: 10-50,000 Hz
  • Weight: 250 grams (without cable)
  • Color: black

Like the Hifiman Sundara, the California Audeze uses a planar magnetic element in the Audeze LCD-1. Which is much smaller, lighter and even collapsible, despite having a slightly larger element on the inside. The small LCD-1s are the only ones that can be plugged straight into the mobile, without the sound collapsing, and for people who want the good sound out, the Audeze headphones are the best choice among the open headphones. A handy case for LCD-1 is also included.

The compact earbuds reach right around the ears, and with a relatively short 2 meter fabric-covered cable, you avoid too much cable salad. Like most headphones in the test, the detachable cable can be replaced with a balanced cable should one wish to connect the LCD-1 to a headphone amplifier with balanced outputs.

Audeze LCD-1 in use

When the impedance is as low as 16 ohms, it does not make so new that the sensitivity is moderate 94 dB. With Audioquest Cobalt connected to the mobile, the LCD-1 plays playfully easy, and if you do not care that others hear what you are listening to, the small Audeze headphones are perhaps the very best among open headphones. For portable use.

The wearing comfort is not unexpectedly very good. The low weight turns out to be an advantage, but we experienced that the ear pads in artificial leather eventually gave a warm and clammy pressure around the ears. The earbuds can be turned quite a lot, mostly backwards in fact, but more than enough to make close contact when the watches are correctly placed on the head.

There is a lot of plastic on the LCD-1, which is not perceived as as robust as the Hifiman Sundara, with which it shares the operating principle. The planar magnetic construction is based on the same principle with a thin film membrane with conductive material, driven by small magnets. As is well known, it provides lower moving mass, and faster responsiveness than heavier, dynamic elements.

You notice this immediately on the sound. Which is unusually fresh and dynamic to be magnetic. As mentioned, the small earbuds house quite large membranes, it is noticeable on the bass which is relatively full in the sound. Those who think that all planetary magnetic headphones sound slim should try these. Sibilants (s-sounds) can sound a bit murky if you turn up the volume, otherwise there are no notable artifacts in the soundscape.

Compared to Hifiman Sundara, the soundscape is more prominent here, and the sound is not as warm as for example. on the Sennheiser HD 660S or Amiron Home.

The bass, on the other hand, does not go very deep, but in return it is rich in details and the sound is perceived as relatively neutral, without any parts of the frequency range protruding negatively. There is not as much air and the detail is not as fine-meshed as in Sundara, but they are equally suitable for both studio and home use.


There is probably no better open headphone for mobile use. The Audeze LCD-1 can be folded, unfolded, and threaded over the ears in the same way as small, portable headphones. But the sound is much better, with an open and fresh soundscape, which is well balanced and has lively bass, albeit not with any particularly deep bass. For sofa use, there are better choices than this, but for portable use, the Audeze LCD-1 is a bargain.

Audeze LCD-1 frequency
Audeze LCD-1 measured with miniDSP EARS and REW. Compensated for what miniDSP thinks is subjectively linear.
The bass is a bit gentle up to 100 Hz, where it peaks, but maintains a good linearity (with warm sound balance) over this. Slightly zigzag patterned frequency reproduction above 1 kHz, but reproduces up to 20 kHz with good energy.

Also in this test

Hifiman Sundara

Test winner in open class

Hifiman Sundara is not only the best buy in this class, you also get the best sound.

Perfectly balanced sound with potent bass and buckets of details. Super-defined sound image with almost complete qualities.
The size and weight can be inhibiting.

Neumann NDH 20

Non-engaging first attempt

Legendary microphone manufacturer fails to grab us with its first headphone model.

Appealing appearance, great aluminum finish and decent comfort. Seems to be a comfortable load on amplifiers, does not change sound very much from amplifier to amplifier.
The sound is dark, with too little detail at the top. It also sounds too sharp for our liking.

Sennheiser HD 660S

Classic in renewed costume

Sennheiser's best in the 600 series is the safe choice in this class.

Silky smooth sound rich in details, beautiful vocal reproduction and warm, full sound.
Limited sound pressure and deep bass.

Fostex T60RP

The music unfolds

Whether it is because they are semi-open is not known, but the Fostex T60RP has cleaner sound than most closed in the class.

Great resolution, rich bass and large room. Very musical presentation.
Very heavy duty! Forget about using these with your mobile. Slightly reclining treble. Looks like industrial hearing protection…

Denon AH-D5200

Fabulous closed headphones from Denon

Denon AH-D5200 is among the very best closed in its class.

Super nice and detailed sound image with lots of timbres. Nice workmanship and nice comfort.
The treble reproduction could have been a little more fine-grained.

Beyerdynamic Amiron Home

The most sensible choice

The Beyerdynamic Amiron Home is an exceptionally successful all-round headphone.

Detailed, warm and open sound image with very potent bass. Excellent wearing comfort and high quality.
Requires a serious amplifier. May sound a little too soft for someone's taste.

Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro

Sharp analyst

The studio qualities are the strengths and weaknesses of Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro, must be tested before purchase.

Super resolved and analytical. Steel control in the bass, very open and detailed sound, and excellent wearing comfort.
The analytical grade gives sharper, and less listening-friendly sound.

Sony MDR-Z7M2

The entertainment is saved

Sony has improved its premium model Z7 with technology from the flagship Z1R. The result is even more striking.

Extremely comfortable ear pads. Great quality feeling, a lot of metal. Hefty bass, very entertaining listening.
Dynamics could have been more outspoken, and the bass faster. Takes some focus from the overtones and air in the music.
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