Audeze LCD-2 Headphones

When Steve Guttenberg, occasional Stereophile contributor and author of the excellent Audiophiliac blog on cnet.com, told me about the LCD-2 headphones from Las Vegas-based Audeze, I was intrigued. Could these cans rival the incredible Stax SR-007 MKII I reviewed last August?

The Stax are electrostatic, whereas the Audeze are planar magnetic. (These two technologies are embodied by MartinLogan and Magnepan speakers, respectively.) In both cases, a thin, flat membrane vibrates in response to the audio signal, so what's the difference? In an electrostatic design, the membrane is energized with a static voltage, and the audio signal is applied to metal grids called stators that sandwich the membrane, causing it to vibrate accordingly. By contrast, the membrane in a planar-magnetic design is sandwiched between two permanent magnets, and the audio signal is passed through circuits printed on the membrane itself, which yields the same result—a diaphragm that vibrates according to the audio signal.

As Guttenberg reports in his review, "I've never heard anything quite like the Audeze LCD-2 before. This headphone somehow produces extraordinary clarity, openness, and articulation, but without exaggerated detail or annoyingly overdone treble." Sounds promising, especially from trusted ears such as his. And at $945, it's less than half the price of the SR-007 MKII, not counting the dedicated amp you must buy with the Stax, which roughly doubles the price again. Thanks for the tip, Steve—now I know what to ask Santa for this year!

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