I’ve written a lot of these openings and a lot of them are centered on the idea of good versus gaming headphones. One relatively common aspect has been placement. With almost every product falling in the $100 to $250 range, there is a lot of choices, options, and things to consider, but most chase after the competitive or streamlined the market. Audeze originally got into gaming with Mobius, their amazing and affordable WavesNx supported headset, but they made waves with the LCD-GX. With a strong focus on what made the LCD line great, some gamer based elements and massive drivers, does it accomplish what the audiophile gamer wants or is it a really expensive product that misses the mark?
Another thing I love to do in these reviews is to talk about the packaging. I’ve explained in a few why that is, but it follows an odd curve. Typically the best-looking products are meant to appear in a retail store and stand out. Given LCD-GX was not meant for retail stores, it shipped as the product in the carrying case inside of a shipping box with a good amount of packaging. This would normally leave an interesting impression, as was the case with the Schiit products we reviewed, but the quality of the case managed to stand out.
Unlike most carrying cases we’ve seen with headphones, these come in a giant plastic box, complete with handle, latches, and a good amount of padding. Inside are two foam inserts, one to hold items in place and cut and layered specifically for the headset, with a small opening below for wires. This is a well-constructed case, one that requires a little force to open but makes an amazing impression. Not just when you first get the product, but even going to a friend’s house, competition, or listening to something.
Similar to other Audeze products, everything you could want is included. There is a wire that includes a microphone and 3.5 connection, a cable without the boom mic that has a ¼” connection, and a splitter adapter for anyone using a soundcard that uses both. The only slight negative is that a ¼” to 3.5 adapters is not included, though one can be obtained for next to nothing or you can stick with the microphone cable.
Even at first glance of the actual unit, you can tell it’s a premium product. With massive earpads, suspension headband, and massive size suggest LCD-GX is not your average pair of headphones. Like the LCD-1 we previously reviewed, these have a similar grill pattern, just with metal and striking red accents. On the bottom there is a TA4F connection, providing better balance, at the cost of limiting which cables can be used with LCD-GX.
Wearing them is an interesting journey. The way they fit is somewhat counter-intuitive to how headphones typically fit. The metal bar on each side determines how wide they fit across your head, so you might want to avoid pushing it in before trying to get a proper fit. The plush earpads feel amazing and the suspension headband provided less irritation than padded ones. That said, the fit on my head was kind of weird. Due to the size of the actual earcups, it was hard to find a suitable place and it wasn’t uncommon for my cheekbone or something in that area to be irritated by the positioning. It will take some trial and error to get right, it just takes a bit to find the right place for them to feel oh so good on my head.
The in-game performance was out of this world. Largely thanks to the massive drivers and open back design, LCD-GX has an amazing soundstage that brings the world to life. By doing this they reproduced a more immersive experience than you could find on your typical 7.1 headphones or another 3D audio program. The only thing that provided a more immersive soundstage was WavesNx, due to the world adjusting based on your heads position.
While I tested LCD-GX with a lot of games across a diverse range of genres, where they did best was anything with a lot of range. Torchlight III was a good example of that. Subtle sounds created by movement, interacting with items, or goblin attacks felt natural and real. The large drivers make it easy to separate the voices and give them different positioning that sounded separate, even if the characters themselves were pretty close together.
In Control it made it extremely easy to tell where enemies were and bring the crazy world to life. Powers felt impactful, there is a strong sense of motion when bringing objects to you and the impact they left is something that hits you as hard as your enemies. It’s the little things that you can’t always pick up that makes LCD-GX a cut above. There really wasn’t a situation where I put them on and things felt the same as more traditional headphones.
Even a fighter like Mortal Kombat 11 benefited from the superior audio. These are where punches deliver the same impact a nice subwoofer would and the finer points stand out. Swinging a blade, the rustling of chains, and things of the like deliver a fuller experience that audiophiles will appreciate.
In addition to testing games, LCD-GX provided impressive music performance. Most songs sounded much closer to the group playing and sounded crisp and clear. Depending on the sound itself, they were able to bring about the soundstage to a level slightly above LCD-1. The increased soundstage also made more arranged pieces the proper positioning to make the most of the drivers.
Unfortunately for some, this does mean LCD-GX is based used with an amplifier of some kind and possibly a DAC. When I opted to use them with, say, a DualShock 4, they were still great, you just need the additional power to really make the most of them. Those looking for a simpler set up might even want to consider the Helm Audio DB12 AAAMP, which paired quite nicely with this headset and a simple source like a controller.
Since LCD-GX features an optional boom mic and is meant to be used with gaming, that provided good performance. I would say tests showed it performed above something like a ModMic, but a little below an actual microphone. That said, I’d be shocked if you used them for anything short of professional streaming and get complaints, and even there it would probably be uncommon. This was a pleasant surprise, as it allows for more control and configurations.
LCD-GX Review – Verdict
Audeze made the LCD-GX with a purpose and it shows. Having done tons of these tech reviews, I have not encountered a better pair of gaming headphones. The look, feel and actual performance are nothing short of impressive. Often times I would start one song, either via Tidal or Mad Rat Dead, and find myself playing four or five before finally deciding to do other things. The lack of certain features, like being able to control chat and game audio from the headset might be a deal-breaker for some, this choice allows Audeze to deliver a much better overall experience. In so many ways, they’re able to bring gaming to another level and for that reason alone it’s hard to say no to them.
[Editor’s Note: Audeze LCD-GX was provided to us for review purposes.]