New Audeze LCD series earpads - everyone should upgrade

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by rhythmdevils, Jul 2, 2021.

  1. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    [​IMG]

    Audeze has changed their earpad design for their LCD series headphones and use the new version on all LCD models now. It’s not a subtle change. They are shallower, and made with a radically different kind of foam. The old pads use dense memory foam, while the new pads use low density regular non memory foam. It’s a good choice, most memory foam actually does not have great acoustic properties. Though it does work in ear pads sometimes. Eearpads’ affect on sound is extremely complex and I believe is not a science for any headphone manufacturer but a matter of guess and check pretty randomly until something works.

    The new earpads still have the suspicious felt material between the adhesive ring and the earpads which seems to be an intentional filtered leak to increase soundstage. It seems to be there on purpose and this is what it would achieve. Better soundstage while holding onto bass response.

    The most important thing though is the difference in sound. Audeze has switched to these new pads on all their headphones for a reason. They sound much much better than the old pads.

    SOUND

    The new earpads elevate the typical recessed upper mid-treble FR range making them more neutral, though still an Audeze. Still on the warm side but the new pads pull them away from “too recessed” territory.

    They are also much more open sounding with bigger soundstage and sense of air. This is the biggest difference an its not subtle. The old pads sound very congested, closed in and veiled in comparison.

    Unfortunately for me, the new pads are too shallow for their Fazors and my ears touch the Fazors and it hurts. I pull the Faros off all my Audeze’s. They might do something good but it’s quite subtle. I believe it’s a measurement chasing thing like THD. They make the sound a bit smoother to my ears, but I cannot modify them without removing them and my mods do more for the sound than the fazors.

    But I’m guessing Audeze did their homework. I have big ears. For most people, I’m guessing ears touching the faros probably won’t be a problem.

    The only other unfortunate thing is Audeze is still using a thick fuzzy dust cover that kills a lot of the resolution their drivers are capable of. I have experimented with replacing it with panty hose material (the best dust cover material, it’s very acoustically transparent while still having a tight enough weave to keep out particles). This makes them much more resolving but does not work ultimately, because the headphones are tuned for this dust cover to lower the upper frequencies. When replaced with pantyhose material, the upper mids are actually too forward. Some would probably love this though.

    My point is that everyone with LCD headphones from the LCD-2 Classic to LCD-X and I imagine LCD-4 as well should upgrade. It’s a drastic and relatively cheap sonic improvement and even if they don’t work out because your ears touch the Fazors it’s worth the expense for the chance at the improved sound.
     
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  2. edd

    edd Facebook Friend

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    @rhythmdevils did you try the leather or leather-free version?
     
  3. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Leather. I can’t vouch for the non leather specifically because I haven’t heard it. But they are both going to sound better because it’s the internal foam change that is making the big difference.
     
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  4. mk801

    mk801 Facebook Friend

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    It seems like they went back to their old smaller pad widths (pic from my LCD-2 rev. 1):

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    Good to know.

    I might give my classics another spin when I get my second shot in August and can risk going back to the workshop.
     
  6. scapeinator1

    scapeinator1 Once You Go Black You'll Never Go Back

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    I might have to check these out. I have been using ZMF eikon suede pads basically as far back as I can remember because it made the LCD-2C less veiled.
     
  7. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    The difference is not subtle. You should definitely get a pair. Everyone with LCD headphones should. Hence the title. :)
     
  8. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    Too bad they still use glue. If only it is easy to swap pads around, the LCDs would be much more versatile.
     
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  9. wormcycle

    wormcycle Friend

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    Good stuff as always. I got my 2021 LCD-X with , according to Audeze, new pads. I have never heard the "old" LCD-X but @Vtory said 20121 LCD-X are very different. It would be interesting to compare 2021 LCD-X with "old" LCD-X with new pads. From Audeze about the 2021 update:
    "LCD-X and XC have improvements for more consistent performance, with newly optimized
    magnetic circuits that offer the sonic excellence our users have known for many years.
    We also modified the LCD earpad material to get a better seal around the ears on
    differently shaped heads for a more consistent sonic experience."
    So the pads and unspecified optimization of magnets. Or maybe just pads?
     
  10. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    They do not use glue they use double sided adhesive. You can pull them off and put them off many times before they loose stickiness and even then you can buy double sided adhesive and cut out a ring to replace the old adhesive.

    but it would definitely be better if they used a baffle lip like most headphones.

    this is just marketing mumbo jumbo probably not written by the people who designed the new pads. They do not seal better than the old pads. The benefit is primarily the kind of foam used as I explained in my first post.
     
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    Last edited: Jul 11, 2021
  11. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Here is a picture showing the difference between the stock dust material on the new stock pads vs a pair of new pads that I replaced with pantyhose material which is far more acoustically transparent while still protecting the drivers. Resolution is greatly improved with the pantyhose material.

    Unfortunately I do not recommend making this change without other modifications to the headphones because it also increases the upper mids and treble which does not sound good.

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Any measurements for the stock vs nylons? visual transparency does not necessarily equate to auditory transparency, even if the gutcheck feeling goes that way, but it'd be nice to see some figures.
     
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  13. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I don’t take measurements. I listen. My observations are not based on visual transparency. I have a lot of experience with this. You’ll have to trust me or not. ;)

    The pictures are just for representation purposes. I've got some visualy opaque material that's pretty acoustically transparent. But Audeze's dust cloth material is not just the density that makes it kill resolution and lower the upper frequencies but also the fact that it's fuzzy. It's a very absorbent material.

    the difference is huge. Along with the increase in resolution, the upper mids become too bright for me with pantyhose. I use different pads in my mod because of this.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2021
  14. Scubadude

    Scubadude Almost "Made"

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    Interesting. The conspiracy theorist in me would argue the softer foam will loose form rather quickly. Which causes more changes in the sound. So it becomes a new vs old pad age debate with die hards replacing earpads every 6 months like they do on HD6xx. Could be great for pad sales.
     
  15. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Even squished new version pads would sound better than the old version pads. And being soft foam doesn't necessarily mean they will loose shape and compress. It depend on the quality of foam used. I still recommend upgrading to everyone. It would honestly be stupid not to. 50 bucks for a huge improvement in SQ.
     

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