Audeze LCD-1 planar-magnetic headphone review: Nothing but the truth

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Audeze is likely one of the solely headphone makers devoted solely to utilizing planar-magnetic (PM) drivers in its merchandise. The corporate affords a variety of fashions, from reference over-ear designs to gaming-specific cans to in-ear screens, all of that are primarily based on PM know-how.

I’ve little expertise with planar-magnetic headphones. A few years in the past, I reviewed the Stax SR-007 MK2 electrostatic headphones, which use a considerably comparable know-how, however they require a particular amplifier and are extraordinarily costly. However I’ve by no means spent any high quality time with PM headphones. So, once I obtained the chance to evaluate the Audeze LCD-1, I jumped on the likelihood—and now that I’ve given them an excellent hear, I’m very glad I did.

This evaluate is a part of TechHive’s protection of the perfect headphones, the place you’ll discover evaluations of the competitors’s choices, plus a purchaser’s information to the options you need to contemplate when purchasing for this sort of product.

Planar-magnetic know-how

Most headphones use dynamic drivers to generate sound waves. In these drivers, {an electrical} audio sign is shipped by a coil of wire—the voice coil—which creates a magnetic discipline across the coil that oscillates in accordance with the waveform within the sign. The oscillating magnetic discipline interacts with the static discipline of a everlasting magnet mounted close by, which pushes and pulls on the voice coil, inflicting it to vibrate in response. The voice coil is connected to a diaphragm, which vibrates together with it, sending sound waves into the listener’s ear.

audeze lcd1 product2 Vendor-provided artwork.

Audeze wraps the scarf and earcups of its LCD-1 planar-magnetic headphones in tremendous mushy lambskin.

Planar-magnetic drivers are comparable in precept however totally different in implementation. As an alternative of a voice coil, the diaphragm in a PM driver is instantly embedded with a flat conductor that snakes forwards and backwards throughout its whole floor (see Fig. 1). That conductor carries the audio sign, and the oscillating magnetic discipline interacts with the static discipline of everlasting magnets mounted very near the diaphragm. That causes the diaphragm to vibrate in accordance with the audio sign, producing sound waves that enter the listener’s ear.

audeze lcd1 fig1 Vendor-provided artwork.

On this rendering, you’ll be able to see the “voice coil” (labeled “circuit hint sample”) on the ultra-thin substrate of the diaphragm. You can too see a magnet and Fazor on each side of the diaphragm, however the LCD-1 has a magnet and Fazor solely on the interior facet of the diaphragm.

On this “exploded” rendering of an Audeze earcup, you’ll be able to see the circuit-trace sample (aka, “voice coil”) on the diaphragm. You can too see the magnet and Fazor buildings, that are mentioned within the subsequent part.

The principle distinction is {that a} PM driver has no separate voice coil per se; the “voice coil” and diaphragm are a single part. Consequently, your entire diaphragm vibrates extra uniformly than a dynamic diaphragm, which is pushed and pulled at its middle by the voice coil.

Additionally, the magnets in a PM driver are typically bigger than these utilized in dynamic drivers, as a result of they have to be roughly the identical dimension because the diaphragm. That makes planar-magnetic headphones typically bigger and heavier than dynamic designs.

So, what are the benefits of PM headphones over dynamic cans? Usually talking, planar-magnetic headphones are inclined to have tighter, extra correct bass response. And since your entire diaphragm strikes uniformly, the planar soundwave creates a greater soundstage with a extra immersive high quality, and there tends to be much less distortion at excessive ranges. For these causes, PM headphones are sometimes most well-liked by crucial listeners reminiscent of recording engineers and audiophiles.

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