First, let’s discuss changes that affect the LCD-2’s overall tonal balance or response curves. In my review of the original LCD-2 I wrote that, “the headphone sounds extraordinarily smooth and evenly balanced from the lowest bass notes right on up through the middle of the midrange.” That statement is still true, but with several small yet significant differences. The original LCD-2 measured virtually dead-flat from the bottom of the low end right on up to about 1kHz, above which point the response curve rolled downward until—at about 2kHz—output reached a plateau, of sorts, where upper midrange and treble frequencies were fairly evenly balanced, but shelved downward in level relative to the bass and mids. These balanced by downward-shelved upper mids and highs lead me to say of the original headphone that some listener might find it had a “slightly ‘dark sounding’ cast.”
With the new Revision 2 drivers in play, the LCD-2’s broad region of flat response now reaches higher than it originally did (up to roughly 2kHz), with a more gradual decline in output above that point that reaches an approximate plateau at around 3kHz - 4kHz, and with noticeably more upper midrange and treble output above that point than before. These sonic changes do not alter the fundamental character of the new-generation LCD-2, which is still very much anchored by that incredibly broad, smooth, neutrally-voiced response curve from the bass region on up through the midrange. However, these changes do directly address the original LCD-2’s potential problem of a slightly dark-sounding character. With current-generation LCD-2, mids seem to open up more, as do upper midrange and treble transient sounds, reverberations, and high harmonics. In short, the Revision 2 drivers make current generation LCD-2’s more accurately balanced headphones overall.
But the changes don’t stop with these frequency-response changes, because the new Revision 2 drivers also improve other more qualitative aspects of the LCD-2’s sound. Specifically, they improve the LCD-2’s already exceptional ability to resolve extremely fine, low level textural details, so that the ‘phones now exhibit an even more finely focused and fine-grained sound than the original version did. Moreover, the Revision 2 drivers give the LCD-2’s even faster and—where recordings so warrant—more energetic transient response than the original version could provide, which is no small improvement given how good the LCD-2 was to begin with.
Together, the qualitative and frequency response changes detailed complement one another in a synergistic way, so that the net result is an updated LCD-2 that has become, in subtle and yet pervasive ways, more accurately balanced, more transparent and more revealing than the original version—which is saying a mouthful!
Are these changes beneficial, or just “change for the sake of change?”
I found these changes to be musically valid and (almost) always beneficial, so that they unquestionably make the LCD-2 even more engaging than before, and more capable of revealing the intricacies and inner details of great recordings. The only downside I can think of, and it is the reason I used the word “almost” as a qualifier above, is that the changes also make the LCD-2 somewhat more prone to exposing the sonic flaws in not-so-good recordings. Given the benefits the changes bring, however, this is a tradeoff I could and would readily accept. Listeners who might have felt the original LCD-2 sounded a bit too “dark” will, I think, find the new Revision 2 drivers give the LCD-2 a noticeably more balanced sound, yet without undercutting any of its inherent richness, smoothness, or midrange “magic.”
Audeze’s Revision 2 planar magnetic drivers take an already superb top-tier headphone and make it—in subtle yet significant ways—even better. Audeze has been installing Revision 2 drivers in all LCD-2 headphones built since mid-June 2011, and will continue doing so for the foreseeable future. Revision 2 driver equipped versions of the LCD-2 sell for exactly the same $945 price as the versions equipped with the original drivers.
Along with the Revision 2 drivers, the LCD-2 carries one other running production change, which is the arrival of a new configuration for the headphone’s signal cable. Although the basic conductors used in the cable remain unchanged, the cable is now packaged in the form of a flexible ribbon cable, rather than as a comparatively stiff, round-jacketed cable as before. According to Audeze, the new cable format will soon make it possible to offer an optional cable for use with true balanced drive amplifiers. Again, this is a change for the good.