RMAF Coverage 2011
Gizmodo blogged about our headphones in a terrific article here: Daily Desired: Headphones With Soft Ear Pads and Big Sound.
Additionally, Audio Beat, Digital High-End, Shoot Online had some great pictures and stories to share as well. Many thanks to all who participated and stopped by!
Audeze Welcomes New CTO
Las Vegas, NV (10 OCT 2011): Audeze Inc. is pleased to announce the hiring of renowned Industry veteran Dragoslov Colich as the new Chief Technology Officer.
“Mr. Colich brings over 30 years of experience in Design and Mass production of Planar Magnetic speakers systems. We are extremely delighted that he will be joining our team to take Audeze forward”, said Sankar Thiagasamudram, Co-Founder.
In this capacity Mr. Colich will be reporting to the President of Audeze. As CTO, Mr. Colich will be responsible for developing and executing Audeze's Technical strategy and research, including development of the new speaker line. In the past he has designed several iconic products including the famed Monsoon Series of speakers for Sonigistix. He has also worked at Nexxt and Level 9 Sound Designs.
“Both Sankar and Alex have done a tremendous job in the last two years and I am thrilled at the opportunity to be involved with this exciting company” said Mr. Colich.
Rocky Mountain Audio Festival (RMAF) 2011
||Audeze will be attending the Rocky Mountain Audio Festival (RMAF) from Oct 14 -16th in Denver, CO. Come visit us at CanJam@RMAF and at the Atrium 4th Floor, Room 477. At this year's event, Audeze will once again be showcasing our latest audio products.
We recently moved to a new vendor for our LCD2 cables. Because of this change, the LCD2 cables will look visually a little bit different compared to our existing cables. Internally, these new cables use the same material and the wiring diagram remains the same. This change in vendors has now afforded us the ability to offer a balanced cable as an accessory.
Additional Driver Information
Several customers have emailed us asking for more details regarding changes in our driver manufacturing. We want to be open and transparent with our customers on the changes we are implementing so below is some additional information outlining our manufacturing and thought processes.
We love the original LCD2 sound signature and as such we have not changed the overall balance or frequency response of the headphones. The newer LCD2s show a very similar response curve because we adheared to our original design intent. Quite simply, our revised drivers now use a thinner raw material. This thinner raw material results in reduced mass of the diaphragm. Less mass in the diaphragm results in greater acceleration and better impulse response. Better response in our driver results in higher resolution and extensions in both ends of the spectrum (and better imaging). The highs are more pronounced because of greater detail now created. We'd like to underscore that we are not boosting the high frequencies. Perhaps using the term "darker" in the previous post conveyed the wrong information. There is a significant difference between boosting high frequencies (peaky response) and pronounced highs. As we mentioned earlier, we love the original LCD2 sound signature and this is an improvement upon it. We are not changing the nature of the headphone, but rather finessing it and this is one of the reasons we decided to continue with the LCD2 name.
Frequency response charts:
The main reason we provide the frequency response curves for each headphone is to primarily assure our customers that each unit is measured and tested. The variations in graphs when you measure the same headphone (any headphone) twice with slightly different positioning (this is human nature of placing the headphones on the measurement tool) is noticeable. The amount of consistency on these curves over the course of hundreds of LCD2 headphones is quite astounding and we are very proud of this. However, not everything about the headphones can be discerned from just the frequency response graphs. The charts additionally show some differences when we changed over to our newer (and improved) pads.
Recent Purchase Upgrade
We have received a fair amount of inquiries about the LCD2 Rev 2 driver. Since some of you may have missed the new revision by a few days of purchase we thought it would be the right thing to offer those of who purchased the LCD2 in the month of June the opportunity to ship your headphones back to Audeze for a complimentary upgrade. At the time of the upgrade we will additionally offer those within the specified period of purchase the opportunity to upgrade to a leather headband for $50.
Driver Update and Leather Headband
Audeze LCD2 headphones were introduced in October of 2009. Even among planar magnetic headphones currently on the market (and those of the past), our drivers were quite different with our unique structure and design. The LCD2 has gone through several minor cosmetic changes, but the driver has remained unchanged thus far.
We are now introducing revision two (Rev2) of our LCD2 driver. The model will remain the same but newer shipments from the middle of June 2011 onward will have the rev2 driver.
Does the sonic signature change?
The LCD2 Rev2 transducer has the same mechanical construction as original transducer, but uses newly developed, thinner and more reliable diaphragm material. The overall sound signature remains very similar. The low frequencies remain flat, but are tighter and even more extended (flat to 5 Hz), the midrange is smoother and more transparent, while high frequencies are more extended, detailed and even more pronounced. With the Rev2 we are addressing concerns of many customers who feel that original LCD2 had a darker high-frequency signature than many top headphones.
While the overall sonic signature remains similar, this new revision provides substantial improvement in sound quality (this is no hyperbole), the sound resolution and especially the imaging, which is wider, is more stable and 3-dimensional. If you loved the LCD2 sonic signature, then you will love the new one even more.
Does this mean there is a new model?
No. Although we considered this, we decided to continue with the LCD2 model. Though the changes are noteworthy, we do not believe it warrants a completely new model. The change will be seamless to new customers.
If you bought LCD2 headphones recently (mid-June), please email us your serial number and will tell you if you have the newer driver.
Why change it?
A few reasons. We were able to develop improved diaphragm material that offered several benefits and decided to pass these improvements along to customers. The issues we had with some older stock provided the impetus to move to the new diaphragm quicker than expected.
One of the major requests we have had from our customers is for more comfortable headbands. This newly designed leather headband will be a drop in replacement for the current headband. Additionally, we will provide the leather headband as an upgrade option for the LCD2 for existing customers. The headband is wrapped with high quality, soft lambskin leather with memory foam cushions for maximum comfort and accoustical balance.
May I still order the LCD2 with the older headband?
I do not like using leather. Do I have any options?
Yes. For users who do not like to use leather, we will provide leather-free options (both headband and earpads). These will be available from August.
What are the costs?
- LCD2 with the current headband - $945 (No price change -- comes with the new Rev2 driver)
- LCD2 with leather headband - $995 (leather headband, Rev2 driver standard)
- Separate leather headband accessory - $100 (comes with headband and blocks)
- Separate headband assembly (with yoke, pins etc) - $140
We have received a few emails about driver failures. We continue to stand behind our driver and will offer full warranty, repair or replacement for any headphone issue including this one. There is no co-relation between serial numbers on headphones and driver. The Driver assembly is done separately and the headband is done in a different facility ahead of time. These failures seem to occur after the final testing phase, a little while later. We have received some of the defective units back and we have done failure analysis on them. The defective units seem to be connected to a small batch of raw material. This issue is limited to a roll of the material lamination and we have added additional tests, QC processes etc to completely eliminate this issue.
Our manufacturing process includes several stages of testing and inspection of raw materials, components, subassemblies and final product. We have changed and revamped our production process and quality processes to do extended tests and quality control in order to catch potential problems like these that are not apparent initially.
Critical component of each transducer is diaphragm. We are now doing an additional 100% visual test on each diaphragm under microscope for uniformity of traces and have very high criteria for approval. Electrical tests are performed for circuit continuity and impedance matching. We have also added an extended very high power test to eliminate potentially bad circuits.
Normally assembled transducers are being tested for frequency response and distortion. Measurements are performed in IEC Baffle. At this stage we match transducer pairs for sensitivity and frequency response within +/-0.5dB.
For final testing we have added high power tests with sine tones with average SPL over 120dB.
Assembled headphones are being measured with Neumann KU 100 Artificial Head for Frequency Response and Distortion. Before Shipping we have now added a long burn in test on every headphone with Pink Noise at average level of 95 dB. We continue to stand behind our driver and will offer full warranty, repair and replacement for any headphone issue. We are quite confident these additional tests will ensure that these issues do not occur again. We have worked with our suppliers to completely eliminate this issue in future.
AVGuide on LCD-2
AVguide: “The sound: full-bodied, very revealing, and yet almost shockingly smooth. A true sonic “chameleon,” the LCD-2 instantly and effortlessly reveals even small differences between associated electronics”
Review of Audez’e LCD-2 by Donald Basel
Originally Published on May 24th, 2010. Ported over to the new blog.
They have a richness of tone that very few headphones or speakers reproduce, without sounding “lush”. There is no hint of sibilance and will bring even the toughest logger to his knees
I felt extremely privileged to be included in the first group of people to hear the long awaited and much anticipated release of Audeze’s LCD2. Some history: I am not new to planar magnetic technology and have been an avid fan and disciple of planar magnetic headphones ever since I was lured into the murky waters by the vintage yamaha orthodynamic headphones. If not for the keen efforts of wualta on HeadFi, this dream would most likely not have been realized. I first heard about Audeze when a friend and fellow disciple of orthodynamic headphones discovered this small company in California, managed to make contact with them and establish that initial dialogue which brought to us the LCD1 and now the LCD2. I really liked the LCD1, it was my first glimpse at what modern planar drivers were capable of. The LCD1 was a top performer and finally offered a modern headphone that had better performance than the venerable Fostex T50vx. It did most things that one would want from a headphone but finally didn’t have the ability to reproduce the bass notes with the authority that they deserved. The LCD1 was always aimed at being a market entry headphone with limited production, as it used an off the shelf foster frame and cup the biggest weaknss for these drivers in the end as they were more than capable of superb performance. The LCD2 is finally here to continue the promise from this dedicated company. An aside on Audeze – they have been very open to guidance from the experience of the headphone community and have worked hard to address most people’s concerns/requests in their development process. I would be remiss if I did not mention the HE5 from HeadDirect. This is another planar magnetic headphone which made a surprise appearance at CanJam 09 and has garnered much popularity amongst headphiles. I have had the opportunity to hear 2 versions of this headphone, the earliest suffered some congestion on the bass and a peakiness in the upper mids, the later version had cleaned up the bass with some damping but the peak remained and although it was still a very good headphone, it still needed some fine tuning. I have not yet heard the HE5LE but this was version is supposed to address the concerns noted in the HE5.
Back to the LCD2.
Music chain – RED BOOK CD – Yamaha DVD1700(SACD) – highly modified Sonic Frontiers Transdac – direct coupled tube hybrid amplifier with class A mosfet output.
My music preference is vocal/acoustic/jazz/rock/blues/classical
Initial impressions on opening the box were very positive. My review sample did not come in the wooden box but that did not detract from my initial impressions. The black grills against the wood immediately caught my eye , not sure if they had me in mind when they were designing these but they sure had my attention. Weighing in at 1/2kg, these headphones leave you with both visual appeal and a tactile sense of anticipation. The overall engineering is rock solid. Steel sprung headband with metal ratchet type arm adjustments allow for a very sturdy feel. No slipping and no movement once they are positioned where you want them. The foam headband has caused a little stir of disappointment in the community but make no mistake, they are very comfortable. They do not retain the impression of my sophisticated headphone stand ( a large hand clamp). The cups themselves are solid, lovely wood with a simple finish, as it turns out “Hand selected Caribbean Rosewood”. The addition of the mini xlr is a welcome addition and offers an elegant solution to custom cable connectors of many manufacturers. The steel rill is attractive and finishes the overall look of these headphones. Someone described them as “steampunk”. The grill trills when you drag a nail over the surface but I cannot hear any resonance concerns with them. They also are able to screw off, allowing the more adventurous to modify and fine tune the sound to their liking. The Pads are substantial and offer great support and seal to create the sound scape that enables notes to be be free and create that ever important soundstage. I was a little concerned about how hard the leather was, but the lambskin do not sweat ( a huge negative of the stock O2 pads ) and they are more comfy than I had anticipated. You are most definitely aware that you are wearing a serious pair of headphones, none of this ” I forgot I was even wearing them” but after 3 hours, I still felt comfortable.
I was told that these drivers had only had an hour of play on them and thus I anticipated the need for a little burn in. I naturally could not wait indefinitely to hear them and I am not completely sold on the idea of prolonged burn in. To me if it takes 500 hours for a headphone to sound good to you, you have acclimated to the sound signature and learned how to appreciate it. But that is a can of worms for another debate. I had a few hours before I could sit down with them so I put on some white noise and let them warble.
The first night I just sat back and listened to them, I can normally pick up on idiosyncrasies pretty quickly with casual listening. Nothing jumped out at me and I thoroughly enjoyed the following 3 hours, would I be a prat to say they had PRaT .
The next round comprised listening to some white noise, pink noise and frequency sweeps ( stereophile editors choice test CD ) – subjectively there are no peaks, no inconsistencies, white noise is homogenous , it extends both high and low.
An emphasis on impressions – subjective attributes based on personal preferences.
I like my headphones to present a detailed top end with air and delicacy. This is evident in most all recordings. Live recordings sound just that, live. The acoustic space and pinpoint timing of a Jazz band is reflected in the percussion, ensuring a particularly intimate experience. Is it the most detailed ortho I have heard, no, some of my orthos are damped to enhance the top end and moving from such an orthodynamic headphone to the LCD2, the initial reduction in top end energy is noticeable but that feeling is soon replaced by a sense of overall balance and enjoyment. I am sure there will be some who
would like a more pronounced top end, this is after all a selfish hobby which promotes personal preferences but for me, these headphones offer a perfectly balanced sound.
The mids are what particularly stand out for me. They have a rich tonal balance with no loss or emphasis, sound “organic” yet are not boring. They have a richness of tone that very few headphones or speakers reproduce, without sounding “lush”. There is no hint of sibilance and will bring even the toughest logger to his knees if he hears xxx (insert favorite female vocalist here) Not many headphones reproduce the lower mids well as many headphones have a low mid upper bass bump – this directly impacts on the baritone and can often paint a muddled picture in this department. I listened to an assortment of recordings which focus on the voice within an acoustic space, I wish I could share this experience with you. Just breathtaking and absolutely natural.
The downfall of so many great orthos – do you leave them slightly under damped so that the bass throbs with a little less control than would be ideal or do you tighten it up so that the bass is several dB down but very tight and accurate. The LCD2 has no problem here – it just keeps going down. The acoustic bass of YoYoMa’s cello on the Appalachian Waltz reverberates with multilayered bass that it transfixed me for the moment. I initially thought I heard some low bass warble but it turned out after much listening and reflection that I was hearing bass notes in the music which had never featured in my experience
of the music before. This was only on one particular electronica piece of music which I don’t listen to frequently but does extend the bass notes pretty low. Bach’s Toccata’s and Fugues sound vivid, Ulanji’s bass drum virtuoso is thunderous and never did I feel the bass was congested or lacked definition. The bass is tight, punchy, fast and layered with all the texture of the mids. Does it sound as deep as the venerable TP , no, the TP’s feel like they have greater impact but they are also closed and lose some of that depth and layering as a consequence.
I have been modifying vintage orthodynamic headphones for some time and have a good feel for what I am trying to achieve when I start out with any given model. The LCD2 accomplishes many of these objectives and manages to retain an open soundstage without compromising the depth of bass extension or delicacy of treble articulation and the mids are just “to die for”. I knew that my time was coming to an end with this pair of headphones and my final wow came when I listened to a piece of Scottish Folk music recorded by Linnrecords , William Jacksons CorryVrechan. It is a very dramatic piece of music with wide dynamic swings, drums, bass, bagpipes, pennywhistle, just a lovely shamble of music. It was the perfect note to finish my experience as it left me feeling invigorated and so completely convinced that these headphones were a must have for my collection. I for one am convinced that this is the advance in magnetic planar technology that I had hoped it would be.