Loaner: rhythmdevils modded Audeze LCD-X

Discussion in 'Loaner Programs' started by rhythmdevils, Nov 16, 2021.

  1. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Loaner: rhythmdevils modded Audeze LCD-X

    Over a decade spent modding orthos

    Over a year working on modding Audeze headphones

    I’ve finally finished my LCD-X mod and want to share it with you all

    [​IMG]

    Goals
    • Get the driver moving as fast as possible
    • Maximize resolution
    • Flatten out the frequency response to be neutral and balanced
    • Eliminate all resonance
    • Lower distortion

    Sonic Target
    • Clear, rich, lifelike vocals
    • Extended, peak free treble
    • Extended, rich, layered, deep bass response
    • Flat lower midrange for a full sound that isn’t thin but neutral sounding
    • Open, airy soundstage

    Comfort
    • The front fazors have been removed on all my modded Audeze’s. No more plastic knives resting against your ears
    • The earpads I’m using are 3mm smaller in diameter than the stock Audeze pads, and that tiny difference actually makes them much more comfortable because they don’t rest on my cheek bones. The earpads are also softer.
    More details about my modding process for these headphones

    I started out modding the LCD-2 Classic. My goal was to increase resolution, and even out the FR and eliminate resonance. I managed to do this successfully, and they sounded really good with certain excellent recordings, but they often had a "wall of sound" affect where there was no sense of depth or air to the sound, all instruments were presented in a single plane with no dimensionality. It got on my nerves and was hard to listen to. But I did get good resolution, FR and clean decay out of this mod. This is what I might call mod version .5.

    So I then started trying to increase the sense of space, air, soundstage and depth. Interestingly, IMO even the LCD-2 Classic is a better driver than the HE6 in every way except for one thing. The HE6se has much better soundstage and sense of spaciousness. As if you can hear through the drivers. I don’t know why Audeze drivers don’t do this as well.

    So I worked for many months on ways to increase the soundstage, and that work resulted in this final mod, version 1. They could be more spacious if the Audeze drivers sounded that way, I’m creating most of the soundstage on the front side of the driver. But the result is pretty good, it could be better II think as far as ortho tech potential, but it’s much better than stock

    These are probably my most well rounded modded orthos in terms of cost and performance and I expect them to be at a sort of sweet spot in all the modded headphones I am making and will be selling. My modded LCD-4 sounds better, and the LCD-4 is not that much more expensive used now that the LCD-5 is out, but it’s in a price range that certain people won’t go to. My modded LCD-R also sounds better, but is unobtanium. I will be doing loaner tours with many more orthos in the near future, hopefully including a modded LCD-4, some vintage orthos, Hifimans, T50rp, etc. Maybe my modded LCD-R too. :)

    This mod will cost $500 plus the cost of a Forza Audioworks Claire HPC mkii cable which I will include at cost. And plus the cost of the headphone, used or new, its up to you but I only mod the 2021 LCD-X, not earlier versions.

    This modded LCD-X will come with a Forza Claire HPC mkii cable terminated in balanced 4 pin XLR with a 4 pin XLR -> 1/4" pigtail so they can be used on any amp.

    I made a playlist of songs that I have found show off the strengths of my modded Audeze headphones. I skipped the most obvious general audiophile stuff for the most part. You know how to play Eric Clapton unplugged. There’s quite a variety of music I tried to cover everything except classical because I don’t know it well enough. You may not like a particular song, but try to listen to the sound that the headphones are making with that song anyways. For example there are a few metal songs, but even if you don’t like metal, the sound of rich distorted electric guitar on these headphones is magical to me. The playlist is best on Tidal and Amazon music, Qobuz and Apple Music have some key tracks unavailable, but I tried to fill them in with alternatives. Spotify is included because of it’s popularity though discouraged because it’s lossy. Not a great way to test headphones.

    rhythmdevils modded Audeze Playlist

    Tidal

    Qobuz

    Apple Music

    Amazon Music

    Spotify (if you don’t have any of the above services, it’s compressed though :( )

    Please see the next two posts for details about participating in the loaner

    Rules
    • Open to ALL friends and contributors on case by case basis but do not be shy to ask
    • 5 days per person
    • Insure for 600$ For LCD-X only and 950$ for both LCD-X and LauX. I will cover the rest personally
    • FedEx UPS only
    • Impressions required here
    • Do not change the headphones in any way
    • If interested, post with your location and whether you want the LCD-X plus LauX or just the LCD-X
     
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    Last edited: Nov 16, 2021
  2. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Handling and Care

    I’ve put great care into this mod and they are durable and you don’t need to worry about handling them or storing them, but they have one Achilles heal that is only an issue if they are mishandled. Normal everyday use and handling is not an issue, but if grabbed in a specific way, they can be damaged (reversibly).

    I have 8 earpad vents between the earpad and baffle on each side of the headphone to enhance the soundstage and tune the FR. I don’t have a machine shop at my disposal or I would have them made out of thin aluminum. I’m going to be looking into this. For now they are made of pieces of strong plastic sipping straws.

    [​IMG]

    They are strong enough for you to hold the headphones in any normal way without any damage. But if you press the earpad in, so your thumb is resting right on top of the straw, and press down hard directly on the straw, you could flatten and crease it and ruin the venting and tuning of the headphone. Please see pictures below.

    This honestly isn’t a way you are likely to hold the headphone, it’s just something to have in the back of your mind, but not worry about. I’ve had like 6 pairs of Audeze headphones modded here in this way for months and haven’t thought about it consciously and haven’t ever crushed a vent. So no stress, just something to keep in mind. It’s fixable too.

    I would simply like to ask that each person in the tour do a quick visual check of the headphones when they arrive. Check the 8 vents on each cup (8 on the left side and 8 on the right side) of the headphone and make sure they are each round and not flattened. I know shit happens on loaner tours, so if you find one or more flattened, you can simply send them back to me and I’ll fix them and send them back and even pay for shipping both ways.

    My concern is not for the headphones, but for you to have the proper experience listening to them.

    Pictures:
    Ok to hold them any normal way, here are some examples:

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    DO NOT squeeze against the vents like this with a finger:

    [​IMG]


    Lastly, this should go without saying, but do not open them or change anything in any way. These are not modular or tunable headphones, but tuned very specifically to a target sound and I want everyone to experience that sound. I have put a lot of my heart and soul into creating it - from my imagination to reality.

    [​IMG]
     
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    Last edited: Dec 15, 2021
  3. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Amplifier Synergy

    I have discovered some strange things about amplifier synergy with Audeze headphones, from the Classic to the LCD-X to the LCD-4. I believe no one has noticed this before because my mods have enabled the listener to hear the sound coming from the driver so much better than stock.

    There seem to be certain amps that cause vocals to be a bit recessed and sometimes hazy. So far Ive only heard it with tube amps, but all very good tube amps. The Eddie Current Surer 7, Cavalli Liquid Glass and Cavalli Liquid Fire all have this affect even with all the plethora of tube types I tried (a lot) and when compared to my reference Liquid Gold X, it’s not subtle. They still sound good with most tubes, but vocals are back in the mix.

    I know some of you are wondering whether the tube amps are showing how they actually sound and the Liquid Gold X is colored. But they sound virtually the same in FR and tone on the Magni 3+ and my SOHA1 as they do on the Liquid Gold X (just better on the LauX). So it is an issue with synergy with the tube amps of some sort.

    The vocal presentation of this headphone is something I literally have spent months working on, so it’s important to me that participants get to hear what they’re capable of.

    So without knowing what is causing this, until it is figured out, I’m a bit worried about amp synergy with loaner participants. If you hear recessed vocals, it is your amp and you should try them out of something else if you have something, even something cheap like a Magni 3+ just so you know how they actually sound FR and tonality wise.

    They synergize very well with the Liquid Gold X and we happen to have a loaner right now, so I’m going to offer them both at the same time to those who are interested (I would just send both to everyone but it means shipping two boxes). So I will make two loaner tours one with and one without the LauX and you can decide. But I encourage you to sign up for both to make sure you hear what they actually sound like. The LauX will also likely be sold at a huge discount this Black Friday so it’s a good time to decide you want one. It is so far the best I have heard Audeze headphones, though I’m sure there are better amps out there for them I just haven’t found them yet (I’m working on it)

    Keep in mind that the LauX is a balanced amp, but it sounds just as good with SE input as with balanced input. So you don’t need a balanced source. And the headphones come with a balanced cable.

    Maybe with measurements and more experiences we will figure out what’s happening here. It could be a strange impedance matching issue, I don’t know. I just want you to get a chance to hear them as they sound.

    NOTE: This could just be my personal sensitivities or preferences. At a mini meet both @loadexfa and @CEE TEE (both have great ears) preferred my modded Audeze’s with the Liquid Glass over the LauX. So don’t take this too seriously. I just want to make sure the most people have the best experience possible.

    Thank you!
    Whitney
     
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    Last edited: Nov 17, 2021
  4. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Last edited: Dec 30, 2021
  5. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    LauX plus LCD-X or just LCD-X?
     
  6. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    wow! amazing amount of time and effort on these!
    would love to hear a good planar, will connect to my Aficionado, Black Widow 2 and Vali 2+.
    and hope for synergy.
    cheers!
     
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  7. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    with the LauX? Thanks!
     
  8. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    headphones only for me.
    (I’m already on the Cavalli Liquid Gold X loaner tour.)
    location: Colorado
     
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    Last edited: Nov 16, 2021
  9. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I forget where you live sorry.
     
  10. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I may just combine the two loaner tours, so you get them at the same time. there is't a ton of interest in the LauX anyways. So I'll sign you up for both :)
     
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  11. tommytakis

    tommytakis MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    I've always wanted to hear your mods @rhythmdevils ! please sign me up :D

    Also, I haven't forgotten about your request. Sorry, I'm so backed up with projects and life :(
     
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  12. dasman66

    dasman66 Self proclaimed lazy ass - friend

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    I have an LauX, so just the LCD-X
     
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  13. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Ok so if you don’t specify I’ll just sign you up for both the modded LCD-X and Liquid Gold X amp at once. I think that will be the most fun fir everyone.
     
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  14. Ksorota

    Ksorota Friend

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    Would love to Join, Massachusetts.
    Wish I still had the LAuX to match with it, but c'est la vie
     
  15. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I’ll just put you on the loaner for both! :)
     
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  16. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    Another PA applicant here. I'm on the tour list of LAux but unsure when I would get it. I'll check and update this post shortly.

    PS. Just checked with the laux loaner thread. I have no objection to get the both together! (By the way, I wasn't notified by the system.. weird)
     
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  17. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    Put me down! I forget if I'm on the LAuX tour or not, but would like both at the same time if the synergy is ideal to you. Staten Island NY
     
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  18. Tchoupitoulas

    Tchoupitoulas Friend

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    Thank you @rhythmdevils for being so generous and for all your efforts in modding these headphones. I’d love to hear them but am going to receive the LAuX today, so it’d be easier just for me to check out the modded headphones, if possible, please. NJ.

    Feel free to skip over me, though, if the following issues are problematic:
    1. If it’s too much hassle to organize a separate tour for the headphones without the amp
    2. If my current amps (Mjolnir 1, Magni 3, Massdrop Cavalli Tube Hybrid, or SW51+) make for poor pairings with the headphones
    3. Since I don’t have much experience with planars; I have only my LCD2-Classic to compare with your headphones
    4. I don’t deserve to hear them on general principles (and because I have cloth ears)
     
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  19. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    nonsense! I really want to share them! And I have no idea what’s going on with amp synergy. Also I’ve become very very sensitive to recessed vocals so others might not even notice.

    please don’t hesitate to join this tour it’s not meant to be exclusive.
     
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  20. Soups

    Soups Sadomasochistic cat

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    If possible, I'd love to hear these in conjunction with the LauX, which I'm already in the loaner que for.
     
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