Notes about Weight, Clamping Force and Earpad Materials

May 10, 2019

Notes about Weight, Clamping Force and Earpad Materials

What’s Going On?

We occasionally get asked about why our LCD headphones weigh as much as they do, why they tend to be a bit “squeezy” on the head, or why we only offer earpads in genuine leather or artificial leather. There are good reasons for all of these, but the most important one is the same for all three: that’s part of why they sound so amazing!

You’ve Got to Carry That Weight (for Good, Good, Good… Good Vibrations)

We’re not gonna lie: planar magnetic drivers need some hefty, powerful magnets to work well, and those magnets require a firm supporting structure. The diaphragms need to be stretched on a strong and rigid frame, and all the other parts need to be stiff to keep them free of resonances. We can and do make lighter headphones, but our premium LCD headphones remain the Kings of Audiophilia partly because they don’t resonate with the vibrations of the diaphragm-- even when they’re cranked up to head-pounding levels.

See, the reason we use such hefty materials is because we don’t want the sound to suffer when you start rocking. Less substantial headphones can vibrate in ways that cause distortions to appear; whether it’s a subtle deforming of the diaphragm, some light buzzing, or a major rattle, you don’t want any extraneous or improper noises coming from your cans, and we’ve worked hard to eliminate all sources of these unwanted resonances, leaving you with only the most positive vibration, yeah.

Mama’s Got a Squeeze Box, Daddy Never Sleeps at Night

We like it tight. A few have even accused us of making Medieval Torture Devices, but there’s a good reason why our LCD headphones have a fair amount of clamping force -- it’s all about that bass. One reason Audeze is famous for being Bass Champions is because our headphones create the necessary seal to recreate those important and difficult low notes. Without a tight seal, you might as well throw the bass out the window.

For the kind of full, accurate bass response that’s required of the best headphones in the world, you need to have a sealed chamber that helps transfer those deep vibrations into your head and prevent them from escaping out into the atmosphere. Especially if you’re one of those lucky folks who wears glasses, likes piercings around your ears, or has hair on your head, a bit of extra clamping force goes a long way toward maintaining that all-important seal. That’s why our headbands are snug, and if you want to test this theory all you have to do is pull our earcups away from your head by about 1mm -- hey, who turned down the bass?

All Dressed Up and Naked

Yes, you can get pretty earpads that absorb sweat, and maybe they’re even vented to allow for air to flow more freely between the pad and your skin, but let’s be honest: there’s a tradeoff for that prettiness, and you wouldn’t want us to sacrifice quality for convenience, would you? For the same reasons we mentioned about clamping force, we’ve maintained our position that smooth yet pliable earpads provide the best seal and the best sound. Those soft, fuzzy materials offered by other manufacturers may feel plush, but they absorb dirt and let the bass escape too. Why throw the bass out with the bathwater?

Our handmade, premium leather earpads mold to your head shape, and after years of searching we finally found an equally premium, PU-based leather-free option for those who prefer it on the veggie side. We feel these materials offer the finest finish possible for your headphones. When we found our current open-cell foam filling, we knew we had the recipe for long-lasting pads that would create the best possible seal around your ears. The foam and wrapping get softer with use and your body heat helps to customize their shape, so the more you wear your LCDs, the better the fit of the pads, and this results in even better sonics. As a bonus, they’re easy to clean -- just wipe them regularly with a clean soft cloth (you can use a little water for tougher issues), and they’ll stay supple and beautiful for a loooong time.

We Can Work It Out

We’ll admit it: Audeze LCDs aren’t the lightest or the daintiest headphones on the market (though they are pretty darned handsome). We’re always working on improvements, but we think you’ll agree they’re the best sounding headphones in the known universe. If that’s what you’re looking for, we trust you’ll be willing to put in the small extra effort it might take to get there.

We look at it this way: for easy lightweight jobs most people can get away with an easy lightweight tool, but when serious people need to do some serious work they turn to a more specialized and serious tool. Audeze LCD headphones are serious tools for serious listening, and we won’t compromise their performance just to shave off some grams or boost their Glam. That’s just one of the many ways we achieve Uncompromised Audio.