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Old 07-02-2019, 12:07 PM
IM3CPO IM3CPO is offline
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Default Audeze LCD-X ; Do I need a dedicated headphone amp?

I bought a pair of Audeze LCD-X headphones a few months back but have not used them all that much thus far.... Having said this, I finally spent about 3 hours listening to them last night and have some questions I am hoping people here can help me out with.

First important part to remember: I use these exclusively for computer audio.

I have been attaching the headphones directly into my pre-amp. I split time between a McIntosh C2600 and a McIntosh C50. My main concern is that I really needed to crank the volume on the pre-amp to get acceptable sound levels. I know planar headphones are hard to drive, but my understanding was that the LCD-X's were supposed to be the exception to this rule.

Is this behavior normal? Or do I need to get a dedicated headphone amp??

Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 07-02-2019, 12:34 PM
PHC1 PHC1 is offline
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The LCD-X is indeed designed to be easier to drive with the "lowish" 20 ohms impedance and 103dB/1mw sensitivity.

The listening habits, such as what you perceive to be adequate and entertaining volume level will vary from individual to individual. Be careful as headphone listening is very deceptive and deceiving. All too easy to get carried away and listen at levels way too loud and cause some hearing damage long term.

The LCD-X is designed to produce over 130dB max SPL with ease and one would be surprised just how loud some of the transient peaks are with dynamic music passages. Use caution as to how loud you listen.

So technically the C2600 and C50 should have adequate drive for the LCD-X but a well designed and dedicated headphone amp is almost always a big step up in power reserves and hence often more engaging and effortless presentation from any type of headphone and especially planar.

Shame Audeze does not produce their Deckard DAC/Headphone amp anymore as it really is a wonderful headphone amp for the money. It is perfect for a computer interfaced/desk headphone amp. That is what I use. I also use the Deckard variable "output" to drive the "input" on my Woo Audio WA6 tube headphone amp (pre-gain setup) for my 300 ohm Sennheiser and ZMF headphones.

The real treat is sitting down behind the main system with the ZMF headphones and let the PrimaLuna HP drive them with all 14 Tubes direct! Talk about a liquid, romantic, lush yet dynamic presentation that makes me forget about the rest of the world in an instant. Close the eyes and you are there!

So yes, a high quality dedicated headphone amp is always a treat for serious headphone listening but the LCD-X can be enjoyed over portable and built in headphone stage devices up to a point and the results will obviously vary.

Last edited by PHC1; 07-02-2019 at 02:56 PM.
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Old 07-02-2019, 11:54 PM
rrwwss52 rrwwss52 is offline
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I have a set of LCD-X headphones. Will they work on your computer? yes, but even a very inexpensive headphone amp will make them sound better. Something with 1/2 watt output should be more than adequate. They are pretty easy to drive. Audeze recommends 100 milliwatt minimum, but over 250 milliwatt output is the recommended power level. Volume knob should be at around 11-oclock normal listening position.
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Old 07-03-2019, 12:30 PM
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I had a somewhat similar experience with the LCD-X.

I started my journey with a headphone "amplifier" instead of headphones as it has no gain, uses autoformers for volume control and is designed for headphones up to 50 ohms.

First I tried the Fostex TH900 (I think 25 ohms) with great results, so I then bought the fazor LCD-X thinking 20 ohm headphones would be no problem and be a step up; however, I found that the same setup that drove the TH900 too loud at 12:00 ran out of gas wide open with the LCD-X, barely as loud as the Fostex at 9:00. I finally settled on a 16 ohm pair of headphones that provide spectacular performance.

I then relegated the LCD-X to a bedroom system driven by a dedicated headphone amplifier (Auralic Taurus MKII), but with that setup I could hear music (very quietly) even with the volume knob turned all the way down and music became very loud before 9:00; the DAC was W4S DSD SE and had a variable volume control so I could turn it down to help attenuate the volume on the amplifier to higher than 9:00. I have since replaced that bedroom headphone system with a dedicated unit.

The LCD-X did perform well with the Aurender FLOW run through my computer as a dedicated headphone system, but that now has use in my shop as a dedicated variable volume preamp/DAC straight into an amplifier and fed by computer instead of a headphone system connected to a computer.

I guess it is a case of too cold, too hot, just right. There should be several satisfying amplifiers to mate with the LCD-X; I would suggest "try before you buy" if possible.
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Old 07-03-2019, 04:03 PM
IM3CPO IM3CPO is offline
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Thanks for the input everyone... Does anyone know how much power the McIntosh C-50 and C2600 output on the headphone output? McIntosh has the output impedance listed, but says nothing about how much power output it has.

If I go the headphone amp route, I was thinking of either going with a Schiit Asgard or Mjolnir. I dont necessarily want tubes on the amp section, but I cant tell for sure if the Mjolnir is tube only on the pre amp side or if its both pre and amp section.

Any ideas how these would compare to the C2600 or C50 with the LCD-X?
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Old 07-03-2019, 04:54 PM
PHC1 PHC1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IM3CPO View Post
Thanks for the input everyone... Does anyone know how much power the McIntosh C-50 and C2600 output on the headphone output? McIntosh has the output impedance listed, but says nothing about how much power output it has.

If I go the headphone amp route, I was thinking of either going with a Schiit Asgard or Mjolnir. I dont necessarily want tubes on the amp section, but I cant tell for sure if the Mjolnir is tube only on the pre amp side or if its both pre and amp section.

Any ideas how these would compare to the C2600 or C50 with the LCD-X?
Asgard is a very sweet solid state amp. I’ve posted my thoughts on it here before. The Mjolnir is a hybrid with tube gain stages and mossfet output. The Mjolnir will have all the power reserves and testicular fortitude to drive any headphones to perfection, not even a question. With 8w into 32 ohms, it is much more than can ever be realistically used.

You have 15 days to try it out minus a small restocking fee if something doesn’t work out. I’d go straight for Mjolnir. Good luck with your quest.
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Old 07-03-2019, 06:09 PM
rrwwss52 rrwwss52 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IM3CPO View Post
Thanks for the input everyone... Does anyone know how much power the McIntosh C-50 and C2600 output on the headphone output? McIntosh has the output impedance listed, but says nothing about how much power output it has.

If I go the headphone amp route, I was thinking of either going with a Schiit Asgard or Mjolnir. I dont necessarily want tubes on the amp section, but I cant tell for sure if the Mjolnir is tube only on the pre amp side or if its both pre and amp section.

Any ideas how these would compare to the C2600 or C50 with the LCD-X?
The Mjolnir 2 tubes are in the chain for both the headphone amp and preamp sections (per Grover N @ Schiit Audio). As indicated by PHC1, the Mjolnir2 has plenty of power. Enough to run just about anything from the balanced outputs. My hungriest headphones are HiFiMan HE6se, which require 2 watts minimum. No problem.

Last edited by rrwwss52; 07-03-2019 at 06:16 PM.
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Old 07-03-2019, 10:03 PM
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I would probably look at an iFi xDSD or something in that company's range to drive the LCD-X. They just sound cleaner and with more dynamics than the cheap headphone outputs on most computers (or integrated amplifiers) and comes with a really good DAC you can run off your computer.
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Old 07-08-2019, 01:13 AM
IM3CPO IM3CPO is offline
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I ordered a MJOLNIR..... Lets see what happens..
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Old 07-12-2019, 09:31 PM
IM3CPO IM3CPO is offline
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Well, the MJOLNIR showed up today.. I literally just got it set up and havent even finished listening to my first song and I can already report that its a MASSIVE improvement; well beyond my expectations even! Up to now, I was thinking the LCD-X's were a bit of a sham. I was not impressed with them whatsoever. Now these things ROCK! Holy smokes!!!
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