Audeze furthers their command of the planar magnetic headphone category with their only sealed full-size model, the Audeze LCD-XC. Designed to provide isolation from ambient noise and prevent those nearby from hearing the music 'leak' out of your headphones (trust us, your cubicle mate will be simply overjoyed with these), the LCD-XC offers immaculate detail and a deeply precise presentation that excels at accuracy and smoothness above all. It's also efficiently designed so it will not absolutely demand a headphone amp when using the XC from smartphones, laptops or tablets.
In particular, we hear the XC low bass extension below 100-150 Hz as being robust yet tautly rendered with a solar plexus kick that is way fun but still nicely controlled and textured. Moreover, the upper highs ring out silky and edge-free, so in our Headphone.com review opinion, these are an extremely well-engineered, well-tuned set of sealed audiophile headphones. We think the Audeze LCD-XC is a truly competent top-level performer from top to bottom.
Transparency and resolution are the modus operandi of Audeze LCD-XC and despite its unabashedly authoritative bass response, the XC seems to add or subtract nothing from the music.
What it does allow is a genuine sense of engagement that’s hard to come by with most sealed headphones given the typically claustrophobic soundstage presentation and billowy bass tone of average closed-back cans.
Of course, the XC does not quite have a perfectly ‘flat’ response and its sheer neutrality is counterbalanced by a forgiving tone that never gets screechy or harsh even at louder volumes, like when you have to overcome train or plane ambient noise for example. So even at unreasonably loud levels, the cohesion and seamlessness of the presentation always sounds thoroughly unified and intelligible without audible gaps or absent frequency slivers disturbing the musical flow. This holistic sense of togetherness makes the LCD-XC a very easy-to-enjoy headphone without premature audio fatigue setting in.
Although the midranges can poke a bit forward at times, that round plumpness in the mid-bass saves the day and is highly engaging for most listeners employing digital music players or less than perfect files. We hear it as a congenial sound that hews fairly close to the open-back LCD approach, but with a less muscular 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 adroit bass response allows for excellent overall clarity and there is precisely zero sense of murk or congestion detected in any part of the frequency range. Detail resolution is excellent throughout but perhaps not quite as perfectly extended or unclouded as with the open-back Audeze LCD-3.
However if you need sealed/closed type headphones for listening privacy and isolation, the sound quality trade-off is a surprisingly small gulf between the two Audeze models.
As noted, the Audeze LCD-XC is decently efficient and sounds good direct from a portable player of your choice - unlike the open-back LCD-3 that significantly benefits from dedicated amplification for best performance. Impedance rating is a low 20 Ohms with 100 dB sensitivity, so an amp will still help to deliver all the audio goodness potential of the XC. Not that it’s a particularly travel-friendly headphone given the large dimensions and lack of foldability. But should you wish to go mobile, the LCD-XC comes with a flight-approved bombproof case for travel.
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.