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Alexander Rosson: "We've been working on planar speakers for a while and decided to create a prototype headphone driver. At around the same time, Head-Fi hosted the Los Angeles CanJam 2009. We spoke with the organizers and took the headphones to their event to get some feedback. The response was tremendous. Afterwards we made some 25 sets of what became known as the Audez'e LCD-1 and sold those units very quickly. For the eventual LCD-2 we decided to create a very accurate reference-grade headphone that would have an absolutely gorgeous and unique sound signature. During this development process we worked with several studios in Los Angeles and many of their sound engineers. We are especially thankful to the Village Recorder in Santa Monica whom we've been working with for the past year.
"There were quite a few improvements during the LCD-1 to 2 progression. The LCD-1 used an off-the-shelf housing which suited our initial design needs and constraints. For the LCD-2 we designed everything from scratch. The driver is a very advanced push-pull design with a self-closing Neodymium magnet structure and absolutely symmetrical driving force for extremely low distortion.
"The housing is made from Caribbean Rosewood after we tested many different wood types. This species had both a very nice look and the right amount of material density and firmness to make it ideal. The circumaural ear pads use premium lamb skin. Each driver has 12 magnets for a total of 24 per LCD-2. We put a lot of effort into making it a physically very balanced design so the wearer won't feel its weight as much. The drivers are properly angled inside the housing to mimic the way sound waves hit the ears during live listening. This makes for far more precise soundstaging. The diaphragm itself is also thinner than it was with the LCD-1.
"Sonically the LCD-2s have a unique signature. They are very fast and clean and exhibit no sibilance whatsoever. One of the things we are really proud of is the consistency of these qualities. During manufacturing we laminate thin film with aluminum, then etch the aluminum layer to create our diaphragm. Our motor's architecture gives us an extremely uniform and very strong magnetic field. This translates to a highly efficient planar headphone that can even be driven directly from an iPod. We inspect and test each diaphragm under a microscope. This insures that the voice coil trace etchings which cover more than 80% of the film's surface are consistent. Then we pair-match drivers to keep sensitivity and frequency response within ±0.5dB tolerances. Once the transducers are paired up, they undergo a battery of tests. First we test them on an IEC baffle. Then we run a high-power test at 15 watts. After this we complete the housing assembly. Now we measure frequency response and other characteristics on a dummy head. We document each finalized headphone's test results and the owner is provided a print-out of the pair's actual frequency response chart*.
*For a startup that's unusual. Only Sennheiser provided me with such a chart for my HD800 but it wasn't included. It had to be requested online by providing my serial number and address. - Ed
"The LCD-2 is very accurate even at full output which exceeds 130dB. To enable such high undistorted SPLs, push/pull excursion is 2.5mm**. Typically our design measures less than 0.5% THD at 90dB and less than 1% even at full output well above 100dB. Independent tests have confirmed these results. The LCD-2 is perhaps the most accurate headphone measured yet. The 5Hz LF response is the best of any headphone. It is extremely accurate and extended without any distortion. If you put in a 30Hz square wave, we will output a square wave. Our transient response is
very clean as the waterfall plot documents. The HF response to 50kHz is very detailed." _________________________
** That's more than a Lowther driver for regular speakers to provide some perspective. - Ed
"The impedance of the LCD-2 is 50 ohms, the efficiency 91dB/1mW. Maximum power handling is 15 watts which correspond to a 133dB output. The active transducer surface extends over 6.17 square inches and the input cable is a custom harness with detachable mini XLRs. Contact pressure is 1.5N and the comfortable headband is adjustable. Weight without cable is 550g."