Disclaimer: Audeze has stated continuous tweaks on every batch which I believe they keep doing in 2021. I don't think within-batch quality variance as horrible as before, but between-batch experience can vary drastically. Potential buyers should always acknowledge this and do the best to understand what they get (e.g., contacting customer service prior to purchases could be one way). Also see this. I originally intended to write up a 3000 word essay to describe a semi love-hate relationship with the company and how it transitioned dramatically, but instead I decided to keep it short and simple. Audeze did their homework. But they poorly label versions. This 2021 one should be given a dedicated name and product code. On behalf of Audeze, I’d like to first define what the f*** the “2021” version is. According to the company, substantial acoustic updates applied to LCD-X and LCD-XC models including new pads material and magnetic circuit revisions. Serials pasted from Audeze's subsequent post in HF. Enjoying them for slightly more than half a month, I should confess I was deeply impressed. Both subjectively and objectively. To the extent I personally think the so-called “dark age” is over. Let me start from the subjective side. New LCD-X (for my convenience, I will call it just LCD-X henceforth) is not only a complete reboot of LCD-X OG, but also experience-wise a tasteful mixture of every good LCD-2 and LCD-3 pair I ever heard... at much much higher technicality level. When we say Audeze bass (or planar bass in general) is good, we used to associate it with certain traits of bass reproduction. Clean, hard-hitting, and very neutral. This time around, LCD-X’s bass departed from its house bass characters a little. Lowest registers below 30-35hz feel a bit withdrawn, but anything upper sounds very organic and well-textured. The level of delicacy is leagues away from any LCD-2 I remember. Very slight bloom was also heard, which I have never observed in any of the previous Audeze products. Clear Mg did bass deeper and technically better in that bass stops with greater precisions, controls, and higher clarity. But not by a big margin. LCD-X’s gigantic drivers instead ensure less artificial, more engaging, and simply bigger bass. It’s quite obvious CMG shows its limitations possibly due to smaller driver sizes. Lower to middle treble was interesting. Audeze has given up the presence region for unknown reasons in their products. That could result in a little off stereo imaging of objects in certain angles (some may call this “three bulbs”). LCD-X lifted this region to meet agreeable tonal balance, and as a result, staging, layering, and placement are all consistent with today’s top league players. But Audeze kept mid treble recessed to make less forwarding and more laid back sounding. Conjunction from lower to mid treble was surprisingly cohesive and didn’t feel muted to my ears. There are small CMG-like sparkles in upper highs, which added a spot-on clarity to its dark-tilted tonality. The entire voicing largely feels like souped-up Focal open back with being rotated clockwise. Interesting to see both companies released products that seemed to benchmark each other smartly. Lol. The amount of perceived information is honestly no less than CMG. Except one LCD-4 I favorably heard years ago, I have not seen any Audeze products this much capable in technicality. Note that the LCD-4 I mentioned had less agreeable tonality than this. Overall, I can comfortably say LCD-X is the best (and actually the first as well) Audeze that doesn’t urge me to eq/mod/pad-roll. Great job, Audeze! But please please label this distinctly. PS. All my evaluation done with Soekris DAC 2541 and Schiit Jotunheim 2.