Audeze LCD-GX Review - Planar magnetic high end gaming headset
The LCD-GX ($899) is probably one of the more interesting headphones I have come across recently. They are Audeze’s high-end “gaming” headset; complete with a red color scheme, and a boom-mic. I definitely did not know what to expect from it going into that first listen, but all I can say for now is that what I got was much, much more than just a gaming headset.
Sources and Music Used in Listening Tests
The Amplifier/DAC used in this review was the ifi Micro Black Label connected via USB to my desktop computer. For the listening tests I used music from a wide variety of genres including Rock, Jazz, Classical, Acoustic, Hip-Hop, and latin. I played tracks from my own FLAC library as well as from Qobuz streaming service played via Roon (exclusive mode).
What’s in the Box?
Included with the LCD-GX you get a lot of accessories. For starters, Audeze includes their Professional travel case, which is not very portable, but it will most certainly keep your headphones safe on-the-go. You also get two cables: Audeze’s amazing standard LCD-series ¼” cable (1.9m), as well as a 3.5mm TRSS connector cable (8ft) with microphone. Also included are a 3.5mm splitter to hook up microphone and headphones to desktop audio, and a OMTP to CTIA audio adapter.
The LCD-GX has an impedance of only 20ohms, and a sensitivity level of 100dB. From my testing, I had no issue driving these headphones with anything I tried them on; even from my MacBook I felt as though they delivered pretty good sound quality. For this headphone, I will not list an amplifier as required.
Build Quality and Comfort
The LCD-GX uses Audeze’s newer magnesium chassis which, although similar in size to the traditional LCD-headphones, saves a lot of weight. Just about everything on this build is made out of metal, with the only omissions being the pads and suspension strap, which are made of synthetic leather. The magnesium chassis itself feels very strong and durable. Despite being very lightweight, it is not malleable, and it does not feel like it would dent easily. The synthetic leather pads feel very nice and I do not think you will have to swap these out soon. The suspension strap is the only point of concern in the build for me, as it stretches quite easily compared to the lambskin variant; it might need replacing down the line. Overall the LCD-GX feels very premium and well put-together.
Comfort is also–for the most part–very good. The pads on the LCD-GX are deep, and large; allowing ample room for your ears to fit in. Thanks to the magnesium chassis, the weight on the LCD-GX is reduced significantly when compared to Audeze’s traditional design. They are definitely still hefty at 460g, but that is almost 200g lighter on average when compared to other full-size LCD-series headphones. Like with the build, the only real issue is that the synthetic leather headband stretches quite a bit, and it can cause the metal headband to come in contact with the user’s head; applying some pressure. I personally did not experience this issue, but I still wanted to point it out as it seems to be a very common point of concern online.
As I mentioned earlier, I had no idea what to expect when first trying out the LCD-GX. My past experience with a full-size LCD-series headphone was the LCD-2 (2020), which required some pretty significant EQ before getting it to the point where I thought it sounded great. There is also the fact that this is marketed as a gaming headset, so I thought that it might have a funky game-centric tuning–but it didn’t. Instead, what I found was that, right out of the box, the LCD-GX provided one of the most enjoyable music listening experiences I have had recently. I say this not because it has the greatest technical performance, or a perfect frequency response–it doesn’t. I say it because the LCD-GX’s presentation is a refreshing brew of having a very soothing, lush tonality paired with dynamics that really livened the music I listened to
Like on other Audeze headphones, the LCD-GX’s bass is really good. For the most part it extends very evenly, although I did feel like it rolled off very slightly at around 30hz. Now, while I definitely felt like the bass had a good sense of depth, I did feel like its overall level bass was a little on the leaner side; I found the bass on both LCD-2 and HiFiMan Ananda to have a bit more presence under 100hz. For resolution, I found the bass to be very well-defined on the LCD-GX, and it easily outperformed headphones like the Sennheiser HD 660S, and Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro. However, I still found the Ananda and LCD-2 to be marginally better-articulated and detailed in the lows. I personally find the bass on the LCD-GX to be both very defined and enjoyable.
To my surprise, the mids here were generally pretty good, and they did not throw off the headphones tonal balance like they did on the LCD-2. I find the midrange tonality on the LCD-GX to be very “correct-sounding;” they do not come across as unnatural at all, and they’re very easy-listening. Still, I did feel like the upper midrange was a little bit recessed and could use a little more presence at around 4.5k; but it does not need it nowhere near as much as the LCD-2 or other Audeze’s do. Additionally, I personally found 2k to be ever so slightly lacking in energy. This meant that instruments of which body lies in that region of the frequency response could come across as a little quiet, and just generally thinned out the mids a bit. The timbre on the midrange was also very good and natural, it did not have any of the congestion I heard on the LCD-2 (pre-EQ). I also thought the midrange on the LCD-GX had very good resolution, and it improved slightly after adding some EQ at 4.5K. I personally found it to be a bit more detailed in this region of the FR as the Ananda, and almost as detailed as the LCD-2 (post EQ).
I really enjoy the treble on the LCD-GX, as it is very well-textured and easy-listening. Admittedly, I found the highs to be very slightly dark, but they were incredibly smooth and well-balanced; there were no peaks that I could hear or found fatiguing. The treble on the LCD-GX also extends very well into the frequencies above 10K, and like the LCD-2 has very nice air qualities. I also think that they have very good resolution. They are very clean in their delivery of the highs, and I think that they are on par for treble resolution with the Ananda; only a touch behind the LCD-2 in this regard.
Soundstage, Imaging, and Layering
I would describe the LCD-GX’s soundstage as being fairly wide-sounding, as it was about on par with the LCD-2. For reference, it was wider-sounding to me than the DT 1990 Pro, and much wider than the HD 660S; it just was not on the same level of width as the Ananda. I also thought its Imaging was very good. When playing games and listening to music I had no issues distinguishing where sounds originated from. Instrument separation is where I was little underwhelmed. They do distinguish instruments, vocals, and different layers composing the mix well compared to most headphones, but in my experience it did not do so as cleanly as the LCD-2 or Ananda.
Like on the LCD-2 , dynamics are without a doubt one of my favorite qualities of the LCD-GX. This headphone has a great punch and slam quality that delivers a very satisfying, engaging and immediate impact. The microdynamics on this headphone are also very good and they make instruments feel very lively as you can, in a way, feel the weight with which instruments are played. Listening to the percussive instruments that accompany Carlos Santana’s Outro solo in “Oye Como Va” would honestly give me chills. This dynamic quality adds so much energy to music, and just gives instruments a very realistic presence in the mix.
I do not think that the LCD-GX really needs EQ, but it does benefit from like all other headphones I have tried. I personally found the bass a little bit lean, so I like to add a bass shelf under 100hz. Aside from that I just add a little bit more energy at 2K and 4.5K to bring the mids a closer to my personal target. If you would like to try out the EQ profile I have made for these, you can input them in your equalization software of choice:
- Peak at 30hz, +1dB Q of 1
- Low Shelf at 100hz, +2dB Q of 0.7
- Peak at 2500hz, +2dB Q of 1.41
- Peak at 4500hz, +3dB Q of 2
I wish Audeze made a non-gamer version of this headphone, as I believe the “gamer” tag really undermines what this headphone is capable of for music listening. The LCD-GX delivers a very good, warm tonality (likely the best of any full-size LCD), a solid and comfortable build, as well as technical performance that I personally think is adequate at its $899 MSRP. If Audeze made an LCD-M (M for magnesium) out of the LCD-GX to replace the LCD-2 Classic’s spot in the LCD-series line-up I think it would become one of the best options under $1000.
A Note if you are trying to decide between LCD-2 vs LCD-GX
If you are trying to decide between the LCD-2 (non-classic) and the LCD-GX I think it really comes down to whether or not you EQ. I do think that the LCD-2 has slightly better technical performance, but it really needs EQ before it sounds like a headphone worth $995; whereas the LCD-GX is smooth-sailing from the get-go.
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For other perspectives, check out the LCD-GX reviews by Anthony Nguyen and Tyler Manuel
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