Audeze furthers their display of command in the planar magnetic headphone category with their first sealed full-size model, the Audeze LCD-XC. Designed to provide listening isolation from ambient noise and prevent those nearby from hearing the music 'leak' out of your headphones (trust us, your cubicle mate will be overjoyed with these), the LCD-XC offers immaculate detail and a deeply precise presentation that excels at accuracy and neutrality. Bass texture and punch is excellent with a superb sense of control and resolution in the lowest octaves that's thoroughly impressive and very musically satisfying. Undoubtedly, these are an extremely well-engineered, well-tuned set of reference audiophile headphones.
Transparency and resolution are the modus operandi of Audeze LCD-XC headphones and despite its unabashedly authoritative bass response, the XC seems to add or subtract nothing from the recording. What it does allow is a genuine sense of musical engagement that’s hard to come by with most sealed cans given the typically claustrophobic soundstage presentation and billowy bass tone of average closed-back headphones.
Of course, the XC does not quite have a perfectly ‘flat’ response and its sheer neutrality is counterbalanced by a forgiving tonality that never gets screechy or harsh even at louder volumes, like when you have to overcome train or plane ambient noise for example. Even at unreasonably loud levels (not recommended! - ed.), the cohesion and seamless of the presentation always stays smooth and fully unified. It's a very easy to-listen to headphone for hours on end without premature audio fatigue setting in.
Although the midranges can poke a bit forward at times, there’s a round, pleasing plumpness in the mid-bass that’s bound to be engaging for most listeners employing digital portable music devices or less than perfect music files. It’s a congenial sound that hews fairly close to the open-back LCD approach, but with a less muscular low-end heft than heard in the LCD-3 and an audibly less expansive imaging ability - which is to be expected given the closed-back construction of the XC.
The adroitly balanced bass response allows for excellent top-to-bottom clarity and there is precisely zero sense of murk or audible congestion detected in any part of the frequency range. Detail resolution is excellent throughout but, again, not quite as perfectly extended or unclouded as with the open-back Audeze LCD-3. However if you need sealed headphones for listening privacy and isolation, the sound quality trade-off is a surprisingly small gulf between the two Audeze models.
The Audeze LCD-XC is amazingly efficient and sounds pretty darn good direct from the high-quality portable player of your choice - unlike its open-back LCD-3 or LCD-4 brethren that require dedicated amplification for satisfactory performance. Impedance rating is a low 20 ohms with 100 dB sensitivity, so there’s no doubt a nice amp will help to deliver all the considerable audio goodness potential lurking within the XC.
Not that it’s a particularly travel-friendly headphone given the large full-size dimensions and lack of folding ability. But should you wish to get footloose, the LCD-XC comes standard with a bombproof Pelican-style hard case that will survive rough travel bumps and probably even treatment by the Samsonite gorilla perfectly unscathed.
What's In The Box:
Audeze LCD XC Frequency Response
View our full featured 'Build a Graph Tool' for headphone comparisons and in-depth measurements.