Audeze has the LCD-1, their open-back and foldable circumaural (they cover your ears) headphones that feature planar magnetic drivers. Most headphones use dynamic drivers with a conical-shaped diaphragm attached to a voice coil that moves back and forth like a piston within a magnetic field. A planar driver’s diaphragm is flat with the voice coil embedded within it. Because it moves more freely, it is more accurate in responding to the audio input signal.
The LCD-1s use 90-mm transducers that are capable of more than 120dB SPL with a frequency range of 10Hz to 20kHz. Most dynamic headphones start rolling off at about 50Hz. Total harmonic distortion is stated at less than 0.1% at 100dB SPL and they handle up to 5-watts of power.
The new pair of LCD-1 headphones came folded up in a nylon semi-rigid carrying case and I absolutely love the soft lambskin leather ear pads and headband. They are lightweight (250-grams) and comfortable on my head.
I put the LCD-1 to a “fresh ears” test first thing in the morning at my mix room by comparing the sound quality of my studio monitors (in an acoustically treated control room) of a mix for a song I know well that has a full-range sound and good transients. I found the level of detail better than over my monitors. The deep sub bass of this song was at a consistent level comparing back and forth between the monitors and the LCD-1 headphones.
Concerned about the inherent ‘‘spill” from open-back headphones, I found that unless you have them super loud or not on your head properly, the sound leaking out was minimal. But I probably would not give these to a vocalist who sings softly and close to a sensitive, large diaphragm condenser microphone. That’s too bad because they sounded great on a wide variety of music genres and at different volume levels.
My first pair of open-back planar driver headphones, and it’s an awesome experience! The Audeze LCD-1 headphones sell for $399 MSRP.