Audeze x RhythmDevils LCD-X Definitive Edition Review and Measurements

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by purr1n, Jun 20, 2022.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n On vacation

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    79,418
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    I feel like a butthead for sitting on these for several months. Normally I bury these modded headphone reviews and analysis into this thread: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/rhythmdevils-modded-orthos.11649/

    DSCF0156 (Large).JPG

    This time around, I felt differently, much differently. This one most certainly deserves it's own thread. And oh, by the way, the "Audeze x Rhythmdevils" and "Definitive Edition" was my touch 100%. No one put me up to it. This is how much I'm impressed with it. Or maybe it's those shiny new Western Electric 300B tubes affecting my mind. Whitney has been sending me a bunch of modded headphones for the past year. Most of them are good. Some of them are very good. He solicits input and I tell him how it is without bullshiting or fluffing him up. This is why he sends stuff to me, being ever super duper patient until I get to them. Then going back to his lab, tweaking stuff iteratively, until something really specially happens. Wanna know a secret about good audio gear? It's that last 5% of performance that makes something click. And that last 5% takes 95% of the effort.

    The Audeze x RhythmDevils LCD-X Definitive Edition is fucking good. These are overall the best Audeze headphones I have ever heard. It's not even close. Tonally it's the best. Technical performance, maybe the LCD-4 just pips it a bit (and this was a handpicked LCD-4 from a dozen). Note that I have not heard Audeze's latest and greatest. If I had to use a Japanese RPG character tiering system, I'd give the tonal signature an S- and technical performance A+. Please understand that I am super stingy as the only transducer I'd give a tonal signature of S would the Gaudio Nair IEM. For technical performance, only the Utopia (S) and LCD-4 (S-) are above it. HD800 equals it at A+. But really, none of these tiers matter. What's important is that the music from these headphones speak to me, convey the music emotionally. S-tier and A-tier only belong to the best. Ten films shouldn't be nominated for Best Picture, more like three.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2022
  2. purr1n

    purr1n On vacation

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    79,418
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    The tonal signature actually reminds me of the HD650 that has its bass fixed. By fixed, I mean having its wide mid-upper bass bump pushed down and the veil removed. There's a little bit of a tradeoff involved as low and sub-bass aren't as evident as on regular Audeze. This is fine my me as even the big speakers I design with 15" woofers only go down to 37Hz. It's all about clean and fast mid-bass. If you want heft and sub-bass awesomeness, best to go elsewhere. Or add a true subwoofer to cover 20Hz to 40some Hz.

    My prediction for the frequency response is as follows: 1) there will be rolloff in the lows, but we won't see anything drop to shit, it will be gradual to 20Hz. 2) there will be a very desirable small mid-bass bump - a small reminder of the HD650's bump, something that any regular Audeze or planar headphone doesn't have. 3) the response will shelve down a bit past 1kHz, but remain very even toward 20kHz. There will not be any of the big dips, see-saws, or localized spikes typical with Audezes. 4) In fact, there may be a small bump at 5-6kHz reminiscent of the HD650 for some added energy.

    To be continued. I'll come back with a frequency response measurement. Need to get my kid an iPhone. I've been promising him one for several months now, making him suffer as I force him to wait.

    P.S.

    Heh, took another sneak listen to Marian Hill before I head out to the door. Son keep bugging me because the store will close soon. BTW, thanks for Marian Hill recommendation in the Recommend One Album Thread. Either that or I have no idea how I got it since I cancelled all my music streaming services.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2022
  3. purr1n

    purr1n On vacation

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    79,418
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    Audeze x RhythmDevils LCD-X Definitive Edition
    Frequency Response
    upload_2022-6-20_20-20-17.png

    I didn't think the measured frequency response would have dropped as much in the lows, but this could be attributed to less than optimal pad seal during the measurement. The pads are rather large and super squishy. The frequency response suggests but more laid-back sounding headphone, but this doesn't seem to be the case. Some people worship the frequency response graph as the primary determinant of tonal signature. I do not. Perhaps it's lowish distortion from the midbass to the midrange that most dynamic drivers don't have which makes this headphone sound leaner or less shelved up top than it really is. I know @rhythmdevils tunes purely by ear. As I mentioned there's a bit of that Sennheiser HD800 / HD650 (more toward the latter which is slight) emphasis in the upper mids. We may be see a hint of this with that small localized bump around 5kHz. Perhaps a CSD would be more telling? Finally, the last contributor to the tonal signature could Audeze's zippy transient response in the highs.
     
    • Like Like x 8
    • Epic Epic x 3
    • List
  4. purr1n

    purr1n On vacation

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    79,418
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    Audeze x RhythmDevils LCD-X Definitive Edition
    CSDs
    upload_2022-6-20_21-1-49.png
    upload_2022-6-20_21-2-11.png

    Audeze x RhythmDevils LCD-X Definitive Edition
    Harmonic Distortion ~104db SPL
    upload_2022-6-20_21-3-19.png
    upload_2022-6-20_21-3-50.png
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2022
  5. purr1n

    purr1n On vacation

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    79,418
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    Audeze x RhythmDevils LCD-X Definitive Edition
    Harmonic Distortion vs Frequency at Various SPL upload_2022-6-20_21-18-25.png

    Mostly second order. Third order doesn't move until we get really loud. Really fantastic result considering the rolloff in the lows which usually results in very high distortion.
     
  6. purr1n

    purr1n On vacation

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    79,418
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    Additional thoughts:

    I'm not really big ortho fan, but this one really won me over. The Audeze x Rhythmdevils LCD-X Definitive Edition (RD-LCDX-DE) is responsive like a traditional dynamic. With most planars, I always get the sense that small signals get absorbed into the tensioned diaphragm. This doesn't happen here. There's plenty of plankton, down to the orientation of the magnetic particles that constitute tape hiss. With respect to timbre, there's no plastickiness, heard on the LCD2C or many of the mid-level HFMs. There is a very good sense of openness while stock Audezes tend toward claustrophobic. Unfortunately, the headstage still doesn't project depth. The stage is wide, there's no hole in the middle, but on occasion there is a three-blob effect. If headstage depth is crucial for you, then this isn't for you. I'd say that the headstage is about on par with a Utopia, but with wider stage. Not bad, very good for an Audeze.

    I don't feel this is tuned for the regular Audeze fan. The lowest lows lack that strong rumble and heft. What we get in return is a a dose of punchiness and warmth. This doesn't mean there's any shortage of explosiveness. In fact, I the RD-LCDX-DE sounds less restrained than the stock LCD-X. With respect to the upper mids, there isn't a deep scoop. Those who are expecting the Audeze house tuning may come away very disappointed. On the other hand, if you are one of those people who love Asian IEM tuning with extra pinna-gain, this isn't for you either. Both @rhythmdevils and I prefer this region to be scooped just a bit if not neutral. Think BBC curve. Some careful component matching may be needed, otherwise upper-mid bite, lower-treble sharpness, and the zippy transients may get you. For purposes of my initial evaluation, I quickly grabbed a MMB DAC (OPA2156 mod) to pair with the Studio B running Western Electric 300Bs. This combination provided excellent tonal synergy, despite me running the Bendix 2C51 which is less warm and much snappier and focused in the highs than most other 2C51/396A/5670 types. The 6N3/Ps I got from Ukraine work well too with more relaxed looser highs (shhhh, this is a surprising good sounding tube). I would be wary of using most delta-sigma DACs or solid-state amps that specialize in odd-order / high-order harmonic distortion. There is a little bit of room to use less warm amps as long as the highs are smooth. This EC 300B amp still sounds like a EC 300B amp with the RD-LCDX-DE.

    Otherwise, I really don't have much more to say. When it comes to headphones or IEMs, if you can get me to write more than five sentences, then it probably means something. I've heard everything and anything. New stuff doesn't impress me much anymore. Bottom line is that I have a hard time putting this headphone down.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2022
  7. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

    Friend Staff Member Gearmaster
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2020
    Likes Received:
    9,037
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Bay Area
    Thanks for listening to these and for the impressions! I worked so hard to get these to sound the way they do.

    I should mention that I figured out one last tweak that is implemented in the loaner LCD-X that opens up the soundstage more, increasing spaciousness, air and resolution by quite a bit. But the tonal balance is the same.

    I'm just curious, have you tried them out of the Liquid Gold X? I tuned them with that amp and I'm curious if the bass roll off and treble might change with that amp. I did significant listening and even compared them to a pair of stock LCD-X and heard no significant bass roll off like this. A little less "thump" but equally extended and tighter and faster. I used the SBAF favorite "Doin' it Right" and a track by The National that I think has an even deeper bass drop, in the beginning of "You Had Your Soul With Me" on the album "I Am Easy To Find" along with multiple other bass test tracks.

    But ultimately they sounded great across the FR to me regardless.

    thanks again @purr1n !
     
  8. purr1n

    purr1n On vacation

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    79,418
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    Pretty sure it's just an imperfect seal. I measured these in a hurry because I have a bunch of stuff I want to write about and I've on a roll since The Purge. :D On my coupler, there two wire tie strips that hold down the foam circle and the plate underneath. These extra squishy pads mush over these strips and over the foam circle past the hard plate causing some gaps. Objective types will freak out about this, but these people won't be interested in this anyway. They'll look for Pink Panther approved instead.

    With respect to subjective feel of bass, yes tight and faster, articulate, stops on a dime. (Try Bjork - Bastards). I get the sense that's still some small variability with the LCD-X, with units doing that plodding bass thing. Not so here. Compared to the Frugel-horn XLs, I'm not hearing any less bass extension (but much better bass quality and heft).
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2022
  9. lagadu

    lagadu Facebook Friend

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2019
    Likes Received:
    165
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Location:
    PT/DK
    From what I'm reading this looks like it brings the lcd-x a bit in the direction of the 2021 lcd-4z territory, with the removal of the upper mids scoop and extra crispness. Is that accurate?
     
  10. jaker782

    jaker782 Friend

    Friend Contributor
    Joined:
    May 6, 2019
    Likes Received:
    314
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Maryland
    Damn... if you tuned these using the National I can't wait for the loaner! A neutral leaning Audeze with a more even frequency response and some of that HD650 magic thrown in sounds like a winner to me!
     
  11. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

    Friend
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2017
    Likes Received:
    2,986
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Rapallo, Italy
    Hot damn ok I might have to take another bite at playnar land.

    You might get a PM from me once I get off my ass and sell some stuff, RD.
     
  12. purr1n

    purr1n On vacation

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    79,418
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    I have not heard the 4z. Now I have heard the LCD-4. This is like the LCD-4 but more energetic than that. The LCD-4 to me is still slightly relaxed, a tiny bit sleepy, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. If Utopia tended toward one way slightly in the upper mids, then the LCD-4 tended the other way slightly. This one is in-between, but more toward the LCD-4. Say 40% from LCD-4 to Utopia? I'd say that the tuning is still slightly forgiving that some badly (brightly) mastered modern pop will still sound good. With respect to transient response, there's more edge, better delineation, but not crispy because I do not like crispy. The RD-LCDX-DE isn't inherently faster, it's already zippy, wants to be zippy. The mods which let the darn thing "breath" and the de-scooping of the upper-mids make this "faster-tighter" all the more evident.

    The RD-LCDX-DE bring new life to Audezes, where I can get a new take on my music collection. Sure there's the new toy syndrome going on. But, I don't get excited about stuff these days. If a new piece of gear gets my attention for more than half a song, and I listen to music, getting lost in the music, instead of listening to moar detailer, moar harder, moar better, moar faster, moar stronger, more slammer, then it's going something right.

    All that tier-S or tier-A stuff is bullshit at the end of the day. I want to listen to music, not the gear, not the headphone, not the tubes. The gear is simply the vehicle. People who know me in person know that I will rip the headphones off from my head in a matter of seconds if I don't care for any part of the component chain. Shitty DAC, shitty source, I will rip the headphone off my head. Heck, there's a $6K DAC sitting on my component shelf where I've only listened to the technicalities, and only out of obligation for review purposes, but have zero time for listening for pleasure (and it will stay zero).

    FWIW, I wanted to cryptically type in random stuff I was listening to last night like: Yosi Horikaya -or- <random-japanese-anime-soundtrack>*.

    *A worker at Schiit gave me a much of anime music for the Texas Audio Show so it ended up as new stuff in my collection where Roon would serve it up. Any headphone show in 2022 must include anime music because this is the demographic. Get used to change.
     
    • Like Like x 8
    • Epic Epic x 1
    • List
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2022
  13. purr1n

    purr1n On vacation

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    79,418
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    Wait until you see the attack and decay envelopes for the bursts. Obviously there are some exaggerations typical of Audeze planars, but there's some stuff that surprised even me! Have a couple of meetings this morning. Will be back soon.
     
    • Like Like x 4
    • Epic Epic x 1
    • List
  14. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2016
    Likes Received:
    4,053
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Weirdly went down the youtube rabbit hole last night and ended up watching a bunch of old Macross/Robotech episodes I remember from childhood, and was struck by the music.
     
    • Like Like x 3
    • Agreed, ditto, +1 Agreed, ditto, +1 x 3
    • List
  15. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

    Friend
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2017
    Likes Received:
    2,986
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Rapallo, Italy
    One of the chorus songs from GitS: Innocence has been in my critical listening playlist for as long as it's existed.

    Female chorus + big drums is a surprisingly good test of audio gear.
     
  16. purr1n

    purr1n On vacation

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    79,418
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    RhythmDevils Modded LCD-X
    B1696 LCD-X RD.wav_burst.jpg

    Audeze LCD-X (stock)
    B1696 LCD-X 2022.wav_burst.jpg

    Notice anything different?
     
    • Like Like x 14
    • Epic Epic x 1
    • List
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2022
  17. CEE TEE

    CEE TEE Free Agent

    Staff Member Friend IEMW
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,204
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    California Bay Area (San Francisco)
    ^Wow, the modded bursts look so good!
    -1500Hz rise has a bit more bite/energy.
    -Definitely tamed the 4800Hz attack (which is off-the-charts stock).
    -Decay at 500Hz, 1500Hz, 4800Hz looks much more consistent and even in modded version.

    I have heard these and really like them too...
     
  18. CEE TEE

    CEE TEE Free Agent

    Staff Member Friend IEMW
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,204
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    California Bay Area (San Francisco)
    My notes from a couple weeks ago:

    After hearing lots of LCDs (modded and unmodded) for short periods of time at Rhythmdevil's house, I think the LCD-X is a sweet spot in terms of price-to-performance in the Audeze range.

    LCD-X base price + RD mods + LauX = pretty great system if you are going the planar route, IMO.

    What I like about the RD-modded LCD-X is:
    -emphasis on great mids
    -presentation is pretty up-front with an engaging sound
    -not too rich/warmed over and has space/layering
     
    • Like Like x 5
    • Agreed, ditto, +1 Agreed, ditto, +1 x 1
    • List
  19. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,439
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Europe
  20. purr1n

    purr1n On vacation

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    79,418
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    I didn't comment on these intentionally because I wanted others to look and think about them. So ahh, someone is studying them. These are still experimental in the sense that we don't have enough data and I'm not totally sure how they correlate to what we hear.

    Some of my thoughts:

    I'm not sure much that we get that much out of the existing decay charts or that we may be getting extraneous information. I am thinking that moving the lowest level on the Y-axis on the graph from -40db to -30db would provide more meaningful information that better reflects what we can actually hear.

    I get the sense that the 500Hz and 1500Hz envelopes may have something to do articulation in the lows. Why this? Because it's often the higher harmonics (the odd order ones) that square off the edge of waveforms. There's no such thing as fast bass. But there is such thing as transient attack on bass instruments.

    upload_2022-6-22_8-2-26.png

    The crazy rise in the stock LCD-X for the 48000Hz burst is less bad than it looks. The Y-scale of the attack envelopes are in linear scale, not log scale, so some changes will be exaggerated. The green circled area below would cause me some concern. (Reminder that we are still figuring these out). I think this may be an indicator of why I mentioned that we should be a bit careful with some solid-state amps and delta-sigma sources. The good thing is that there isn't a rise at t=2, the red arrow. Little rises or peaks in this area have always sounded undesirable to me: pricky highs, sandy highs, glare, etc.

    upload_2022-6-22_8-15-59.png

    Ugh. Setting all the other stuff aside. I do very much like the Verum and would not hesitate to pick them over anything else near or even above their price point. I like the tonal signature and timbre of the Verum. However the Verum don't resolve anywhere near even the entry level LCD-2C. The Verum also has a lot of undamped resonances that result in choppiness of the frequency response. Some people are more sensitive to this than others. The question is moot anyway as we don't know how much of the city Kharkiv / Kharkov is working, if the necessary material is obtainable to manufacture them any time soon, much less ship units outside of the country, or if Igor is even alive or in Ukraine right now. Last I heard, there were explosions not too far from him, and he was taking a lot of people to the train station to get out. This was months ago.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2022

Share This Page