Audeze LCD-X vs Sennheiser HD800
I know that I already did a review on LCD-X, but I am sure that a lot of you will ask yourselves how does the X stand next to Sennheiser HD800. Well, this is what this review is for, as I will explain my perspective on the matter.
So, consider this the Part 2 of from the original LCD-X review.
I have now spent days with LCD-X, trying to determine which I like more between the LCD-3 and it. I really didn’t managed to reach a conclusion in that department.
Just when I thought LCD-3 was it, the X pulled me back in ( read that with Al Pacino‘s voice ) and the other way around. I also tried to make my mind between LCD-X and HD800 with the same results.
I have used the Toxic Silver Widow with LCD-X and I found to be a very good match for it, as it puts you a little further in the scene. It actually relaxes the treble a little more but gives it more extension and detail, improves the bass impact and makes it faster, the instrument separation is better and the sound is more detailed overall.
With HD800 I used a diy cable made by a friend from rectangular occ copper which i found to be very good with HD800 improving the lower end and relaxing the treble a little, without loosing from attack and details.
Let’s get into the heart of the sound and explain it on some songs.
LCD-X never seizes to amaze me with it’s treble, air at the top and soundstage height. The treble is extremely clean and doesn’t have any touch of grain or sibilance. The harp has a great sense of tactility, giving me goose bumps. It is so clear as I think of a clean mountain river with fresh, cool water and I get thirsty. The instruments positioning is well determined they are well separated in space. What I find amazing is that the sound opens up in some ways even compared with HD800, as LCD-X has more air at the top and a taller soundstage which gave me a more precise image of the concert hall sometimes. The sound had overall more tactility than with HD800 on this song.
As I thought, this song sounded excellent with HD800. The treble was very good here too but not so smooth and tactile as with LCD-X. Also when the trumpets began to sing at the end, the treble was a little dirty and peaky with “ss”-s in it compared to X.
The soundstage was wider , deeper and the sound had more layers, but doens’t have the height of LCD-X, and I have the impression that sometimes the depth and width are not well determined with HD800 compared to LCD-X, as they seem endless.
The energy LCD-X starts with is very engaging and makes me dance. The PRAT is just awesome. The trumpets have a very good extension and clarity without being bright at all. The instrument separation is amazing. I never feel that the instruments blend into each other. The bass is fast, punchy and still has a good body. The voice is very clear and I felt that it integrates very good between the instruments, not being surpassed by any of it in tone.
The first thing I observed is the bigger depth and better layering. When the voice from the beginning started to sing it was further in the back than with LCD-X. The guitars are more detailed with hd800 with a better extension. However the treble was again more peaky and sibilant and not as linear and present as with LCD-X. The voice was quite good but the sibilance took away some of the fun.
The guitars are amazing with HD800 in this song. They have amazing body with excellent extension, good tactility and texture. You can hear the plucks and the fingers on the chords. HD800 is excellent with details. The voice is very clean, and in this song it has no sibilance.
The guitars are very impressive here too, but they aren’t as clean as with HD800 or as detailed. The voice is excellent with the X too. I felt that it had more presence and better texture and it was brought closer to you. The treble was again better extended and present here than with HD800.
This song has a lot of sub bass going on so I felt it was interesting to test it against LCD-X. The details are of course as you would expect very good with HD800. Overall the bass was good, very fast, punchy but lacked some body.
Well this is what I am taking about. This is the bass presence I felt it was missing on HD800. The sub-bass here is much more present and fun. Again, the sound opens up as there are a lot of details on the upper mids and treble that are better extended and more present on X.
When the voice started it literally sent shivers down my spine. That voice is amazingly transparent and clear, with very good texture. The cymbals are very sparkly but not sibilant or bright. The instruments dance around the voice with grace and enough space between them but a little closer to each other than HD800.
The voice starts amazing with HD800 but is a little more laid back than with LCD-X and lacks some of the presence. On some parts it even presents a few more “ss” than needed. The cymbals are a little too sharp and tend to have a start of sibilance.
HD800 puts you a few seats back in the room. The depth incredible with it, the sounds going and going into depth without a delimited end. The guitars have a wonderful extension and all the instruments are incredibly detailed and well separated. The voice is clean with some “ss”-s from time to time. The dynamics and micro dynamics, details and micro details are wonderful. Every instrument is well extended and can be heard clearly, no matter how further in the back it is and even it isn’t so loud.
The sound is very smooth and it flows with ease and musicality. The x brings you closer to the scene and especially to the singer as the voice is more forward with more presence and better texture. Even if the depth is not as deep as with HD800, it is still enjoyable as I can get a better understanding of the room, as the X delimits the room’s ending better. The instrument separation and positioning is excellent here too. The dynamics are very good, but HD800 still wins in the micro department.
The piano at the beginning is amazing. You can immediately here it as further in the back and pinpoint it’s position. The notes have tactility even if the piano has a lower volume. The voice is as you would expect with X a pleasure to listen to. The bass has very good impact and body, but I thought it to bee too much on this song compared to HD800 ( it may be the song’s fault with the bass here) .
The piano in the back was on par with LCD-X. The bass was faster, but still with a good impact and body, making the sound clearer than on LCD-X. The voice, even if not so in front, still was very detailed and had very good texture.
The guitar begins strong impressing me with it’s body, extension and detail. The details come from every direction and you can hear any one of them. The bass is very engaging being very fast with a very good impact and a good depth. If there wouldn’t have been the ocazional “ss”-s in the treble it would have been close to perfect.
The guitar begins strong here too. It has better body and impact than with HD800 but it is not so well extended and detailed. The prat and energy are awesome with the X. The bass has more weight and depth and the treble doesn’t have signs of sibilance.
I am surprised and happy to say that LCD-X competes with HD800 in this department . I said I am happy because it takes a lot to pull something that competes here so well with the HD800s in the dynamic headphones world. And to us, the headphones lovers, there’s even more choice now.
It doesn’t have the depth of HD800 and all that air between the layers, but the sound is still opening in some ways compared to HD800.
LCD-X has more air at the top and gave me a more precise image of the room. With HD800 the sounds go further in the depth than with LCD-X, but sometimes they loose themselves in the back. With LCD-X the sounds hit the ending wall in the room and come back, giving you a more accurate presentation of the room. This could be from the treble, as overall, it is more linear and present on LCD-X than on HD800. The treble reflects more easily from objects, in this case the scene’s wall.
I think that treble contains the most reflective sound waves, thus creating the sense of space, room delimitation and air.
Both have a very good soundstage in my opinion, and it is incredible that LCD-X competes with HD800 in this department and even surpasses it in some ways.
Imaging and instrument separation
The instruments still have more air between them on HD800 which overall has better layering. However, I feel that the instrument separation is comparable, as they are very well delimited on LCD-X as well. Sometimes I feel that instruments that live in the upper mids and treble are more present and more easy to distinguish and separate on LCD-X. Even if HD800 is still best here, LCD-X is very close to it and is a very strong contender here.
The treble on LCD-X is excellent and doesn’t have the annoying peak from HD800. One very important aspect here is that the treble is linear compared to the senns. I feel that before the peak and after the peak from HD800 the treble is more present on LCD-X. This can also be seen if you compare Tyll’s measurements on LCD-X and HD800.
The X gives an incredibly smooth, clean & transparent treble which I absolutely love. I very much like the treble on HD800 but the sibilance and brightness ruins the fun sometimes, and it isn’t as present on all frequencies as LCD-X.
The mids on the LCD-X have some of the magic from LCD-3 and are more smooth than on HD800. I feel that the upper mids are more present on LCD-X. However, overall, HD800 has more extended and detailed mids . I like them both.
The bass is faster on HD800 having a quicker decay. LCD-X however has more impact, better depth and more body. Overall, I enjoyed the bass on both but favor the X.
Both have very good transients being very good in the attack department. The decays are smoother on LCD-X giving a smoother presentation to the sound than on HD800 (which have faster transients overall) but still very energetic.
Even if the details are more apparent on LCD-X in the treble department, the details and micro details are still quite better on HD800.
The dynamics are very good on both headphones but HD800 still wins in the micro dynamic department.
The voices are amazing with LCD-X as I stated a lot of times before. They are more forward than with HD800 with more presence, texture and incredible transparency. The voices are very detailed with HD800 too, but are a little more laid back and sometimes the sibilance takes away the fun.
I think that LCD-X is very close to the neutrality of HD800.
I am going crazy here. Why can’t I just prefer a type of sound and go with it? No… I must be the guy that loves all of them…
Ah…The voices on LCD-X, the smooth and transparent treble, clean as a whistle, the incredible openness due to the air at the top and the treble, ah..the very engaging and deep bass from the X.
Then HD800 invades my mind : Ah, the details & micro-details, the layering and depth, the dynamics and micro-dynamics.
And then it gets “better” as LCD-3 gets into my head too and it starts to become crowded there: Ah… that excellent deep bass with full tonality, that euphonic, organic & visceral sound with wonderful instrument extension .
I am going nuts here:
I don’t know how Audeze managed to pull this, but X hits a very interesting spot against the HD800 and LCD-3 without actually replacing any of them, making all of them complementary to each other. However, in the end, the X can be seen as a compromise between the two, but for me it is not that simple it seems .
However, if I would be forced to pick just one from the 3, I would go with the X because it excels at all genres from classical, jazz to rock and electronic.
LCD-X is a wallet killer. I really think that we will start seeing people owning LCD-X, HD800 and even LCD-3, all at once, yes . I am talking about hardcore audiophiles here. So don’t worry, as any of those 3 would make you happy depending on what you are looking for.