Headphones have a humorous method of dividing themselves into classes based mostly on issues apart from sound high quality. Planning to take them on sweaty exercises? You must get wi-fi earbuds, that are small and transportable. Trying to work at home with out the tiny tots in your life screaming into your morning emails? Strive one thing with noise-canceling tech. Enjoying video video games? You’ll need one thing with a built-in mic.

However what if all you care about is the very best sound? For that, you’ll need the Audeze LCD-1, a $400 pair of planar magnetic headphones that convey costly, audiophile-grade sound throughout the realm of chance for the center class. When you’re lacking the dwell sounds of your favourite bands, and also you don’t have the price range to spring for a flowery speaker system and all of the related equipment, the LCD-1 are the subsequent smartest thing. You’ll be able to plug them straight into your laptop computer too, no fancy headphone amp required.

Planar What?

{Photograph}: Audeze

Most headphones use one thing akin to a piston to create sound. Magnets pull on a coil hooked up to a diaphragm, creating sound in a method that is just like conventional audio system. Planar magnetic headphones, nevertheless, place two robust magnets on both facet of an ultrathin diaphragm that vibrates to create sound. They’re pricier to fabricate and sometimes require extra amplifier energy to supply the identical quantity, however they’re favored by audiophiles for his or her flatter total frequency response and deeper bass.

Open-backed headphones just like the LCD-1 aren’t sealed off from the skin world, so they do not make your ears really feel as remoted as conventional, closed-back headphones. Add to that the planar magnetic drivers, which usually create a bit extra of a vivid soundstage than audiophile-grade dynamic driver headphones, and you’re feeling tremendous immersed within the music.

Up till a number of years in the past, you’d must drop near $1,000 on open-backed, planar headphones like these. A snug, foldable mannequin that may very well be pushed by most laptops and cellphones (with a related adapter) was, so far as I am conscious, unprecedented.

Audeze could make reasonably priced planar magnetic headphones as a result of it has made rather more costly pairs earlier than (a minimum of, that is one of many causes). The corporate has lengthy been thought of by audiophile nerds (anybody that routinely browses the r/headphones subreddit) to be among the many finest within the enterprise.

A lot of the high-end tech and manufacturing course of has trickled down into the LCD-1, that are a few of the most reasonably priced headphones Audeze has ever offered. They’re made in the identical California facility as their greater brothers, with the identical glorious low-impedance driver expertise on-board. Not like different planar headphones, these may be powered by most conventional laptops, tablets, and telephones (normally, you want a separate headphone amp).

Light-weight, Heavyweight Sound

What actually makes the LCD-1 stand aside to me—and why I want them over the bigger, costlier fashions from Audeze—is the load.

At 250 grams, they’re so mild! The LCD-1 really feel like a “regular” pair of headphones in your head. You don’t must brace for neck ache or top-of-head ache such as you do with different planar fashions (an issue so widespread there is a operating joke on Reddit about individuals utilizing suspension ropes to assist the headphones). I used to solely pull out my planar drivers to take heed to particular albums. Now, I plug the LCD-1 within the morning and overlook they’re there till lunchtime.

To realize this weight, the headphones are made out of comparatively light-weight plastic. I wouldn’t name them flimsy, however these foldable over-ears ought to undoubtedly be positioned within the included exhausting case in case you’re planning on placing them in a backpack or keep it up, every time we are able to go wherever once more.

Audeze hasn’t been lauded for its building over time, however it is called an organization with distinctive customer support. So long as you’re cautious, the LCD-1 ought to final a few years of use. I like to recommend an affordable headphone stand to make sure they by no means fall off your desk.

Listening Impressions

{Photograph}: Audeze

For years, I used to be satisfied no one may make a greater sounding pair of sub-$500 headphones than the Sennheiser HD-6XX, a particular collaboration between the German audio model and Drop that I nonetheless preserve are wonderful.

The LCD-1 sound higher, with something, wherever. I examined them utilizing Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and a file participant. I used them as reference headphones when recording. I even stored them plugged in when enjoying video video games like Grand Theft Auto On-line (91.1 The Lowdown, the soul station narrated by Pam Grier, is the one selection for any self-respecting prison, and it sounded higher than ever).

They’re energetic, they’re clear, and so they have an enormous soundstage that makes you’re feeling like a tiny band is surrounding your ears. It’s not completely flat or sterile sound, both. I typically discovered myself dancing at my desk like an fool, propelled into movement by the tight, vibrant sounds of some Vulfpeck music or the like.

They’ve indescribable magic, and so they make you need to share. I’ve thrust them on the pinnacle of everybody in my quarantine bubble exclaiming, “You simply have to listen to these.”

Inexpensive Magnificence

As somebody who will get shipped a unending provide of the best and most costly devices on the planet, I’m satisfied that stuff is ineffective until it provides you a memorable expertise. Experiencing new issues makes us happier than shopping for new stuff. When you love music and want to get as shut as you may to audiophile-grade listening with out promoting plasma, these are the brand new normal.

Sure, they’re costly in comparison with the competitors in our Finest Wi-fi Headphones information. However for $400, you will get 99 % of the expertise you’d beforehand get for 1000’s.

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