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Headphones: 160 x 140 x 190 mm
Cable length: 1.5m
Gaming headsets have come a long way in recent years, maturing from hacky workarounds of existing headphones to becoming a product category in their own right. But we haven’t seen a gaming headset like the Audeze LCD-GX before. Passive, high-caliber planar-dynamic headphones with a detachable boom mic are something we haven’t encountered until now — but is this worth your attention? Let’s find out.
Editor’s note: this is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.
What’s it like to use the Audeze LCD-GX?
Taking the Audeze LCD-GX out of the included carrying case, you’ll immediately notice that it’s packed more like sensitive equipment than a gaming headset. And that makes sense, given the $899 price tag. Inside the case, you’ll find the headphones, a baggie containing the cables, mic, and an adapter, and quite a lot of foam holding it all in place.
The Audeze LCD-GX is a set of open-back planar magnetic headphones, so you’ll probably want a headphone stand for your desk. The metal construction of the headphones is anything but cheap, but the nature of the design means sensitive internal components are somewhat exposed to foreign objects, moisture, and dust. That’s easily avoidable if you keep your cans from hanging out on the same surface you clutter up every day.
Before you jump into a game, you’ll want to determine your best fit. The giant leatherette pads and sturdy yokes make this a relatively straightforward exercise. Still, you may need to take a moment in a mirror to ensure that the notched tension rod band is evenly adjusted. The super-wide leather band material will contact your noggin over a large area, so you shouldn’t worry about any pressure points on your scalp.
However, given that the headphones weigh more than 450 grams, you will want to get as secure a fit as possible to avoid neck strain in longer gaming sessions. If the Audeze LCD-GX slides around, trying to compensate can lead to a sore neck.
How do you connect the Audeze LCD-GX?
The Audeze LCD-GX is wired-only, so you don’t have to worry about Bluetooth or anything else: all you have to do is choose a cable and plug it in.
Cables connect at the bottom of the two ear cups using locking, mini XLR connectors. These are very robust connections but can be a bit fiddly. Two cable options are supplied in the package. One is a twisted, 1/4-inch TRS jack terminated cable with no mic, for connecting to high-quality source components when you’re just listening to content. The other, a 3.5mm TRRS jack cable which also houses the boom microphone and mute switch, transforms these high-quality headphones into a high-quality gaming headset. If you have a computer with separate headphone and microphone jacks, you can split out the TRRS audio input and output (mic and playback) into a pair of 3.5mm TRS jacks with the included adaptor. That ought to cover most of the common connection scenarios you’ll encounter.
6.3mm TRS, 3.5mm TRRS
If you want to customize your sound using an equalizer, you may need an amp to ensure adequate headroom. If you find that your computer can’t provide usable volume when you’re gaming with the Audeze LCD-GX, look into an amp that fits neatly on your desktop — you don’t need to agonize over the right piece of equipment, as headphone amplifiers nowadays outperform most requirements. Just be aware that you’ll need to use the jack splitter to use the boom mic, and it can only tolerate a 1.5-inch (5cm) distance from jack to jack. Keep the amp near the microphone jack, and you should be golden (or just buy a cable extender to fix the issue, and don’t agonize over picking the right one).
How well does the Audeze LCD-GX attenuate noise?
As the Audeze LCD-GX is a set of open-back headphones, it should not surprise you that it does not block outside noise from reaching your ears. Though a few gaming headsets are open-back, it’s always worth mentioning that this design has the notable flaw of making all sounds around you very easy to hear. We suggest looking at closed-back headsets if you game in a noisy environment or don’t want to listen to everything around you while you game.
How does the Audeze LCD-GX sound?
Because the Audeze LCD-GX is essentially a set of high-end headphones with a boom mic attached, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the sound quality is excellent. We rarely see planar magnetic technology applied to gaming headsets, and when we do, it’s usually made by Audeze — the Mobius and Penrose are both highly regarded examples.
Our measurements show that low frequency response is basically flat up to around 1kHz, which is unheard of in the overly bass-boosted gaming headset space. That said, discerning listeners should be more than happy with how the LCD-GX performs, though we’d generally prefer a bit more emphasis in the highs. Sounds above 2kHz are important for everything from speech intelligibility, atmospheric effects, and even little sounds like instrument attack or the clicking of footsteps. In deathmatch-style games like Overwatch 2 or Fortnite, this can mean life or death — so if you go with the Audeze LCD-GX, we suggest nudging the bands above 2kHz a few dB higher in an equalizer.
I found this especially frustrating when playing Overwatch 2, as many of the lighter footsteps of flanking characters like Tracer or Sombra were that much harder to hear. It can also make other smaller characters challenging to hear in a firefight if they wait for others to take the heat before cleaning you up. If you’re going to game on the PC, some equalization helps enormously here.
As far as use with consoles goes, the experience is less rosy than it is on the PC. For example, the above issues will still be present on PlayStation 5 or whichever flavor of XBOX you’re using — all without the ability to fix it. If you’re playing single-player titles or anything that doesn’t require a microphone, you should be fine (provided your platform supports a 3.5mm headphone jack). Gaming on the Nintendo Switch is still a mess for multiplayer, but the console can handle audio playback if you’re hoping not to wake anyone up in the next room.
This is merely a suggestion, but a good starting point to get your Audeze LCD-GX close to sounding like our Studio curve will use these parametric EQ settings:
How good is the Audeze LCD-GX’s microphone?
The boom microphone that mounts to the Audeze LCD-GX is very competent, even if it takes some fiddling to find the sweet spot for you. We found this spot to be a couple of inches away, angled toward your chin instead of upward to your mouth and nose. A good mic means a lot more to streamers than your average gamer using Discord — but it’s always nice not to have to troubleshoot lousy audio.
The boom mic attachment relies on the mini XLR connector on the left earcup, potentially increasing the strain on that connector. Once attached, you can bend and position the mic to your whim using the flexible boom. A foam windshield is supplied to protect the mic from harsh plosive (p-pop) sounds. Your mouth rocketing out air will cause issues you won’t hear on our standardized test recordings below, so it’s a good idea to move the mic out of the area where you breathe to avoid annoying blast sounds.
Audeze LCD-GX microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Audeze LCD-GX microphone demo (Office conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Marketed as a directional, noise-attenuating boom microphone, we found the performance to be quite good though a little bassy compared with other passive, wired headsets. Keep in mind that any noise you do hear in the sample above would be further attenuated by whatever software application your voice is running through.
Should you buy the Audeze LCD-GX?
As much as it pains me to say it, we don’t recommend the Audeze LCD-GX as a gaming headset. In fact, the main draw to the Audeze LCD-GX is the fact that it’s a convincing entry into Audeze’s LCD line of planar magnetic over-ear headphones — but with an attachable boom mic. The headset is a very competent device that will satisfy audiophiles without too much fiddling. However, it’s a premium item with a premium price tag, not something a general audience will want to shell out for.
That said, this is easily one of the best “dumb” (passive, wired) gaming headsets out there if you’re not looking for special features or wireless capability. At $899, it may be a tough sell for anyone just looking to play on a console, but this is the right kind of headset to get if you’re looking to upgrade your headphones and gaming headset in one fell swoop.
What should you get instead of the Audeze LCD-GX?
It’s tough to pick alternatives for the Audeze LCD-GX because of its unique market niche. Virtually all of the other options out there will be much less expensive. They offer various features that carry their versatility farther than “audiophile headphones with a boom mic attached.”
Still, we’d like to call attention to the Audeze Maxwell. Once the supply chain issues are figured out, this headset has much to offer, including next-gen Bluetooth codec support, wired use, and compatibility with all major consoles. This headset also allegedly has a monster battery — though we haven’t been able to give it a spin in the lab yet.
You could also take a page from the 2010 audiophile’s book, go with a set of open-back headphones, and then grab a dedicated mic for the job. Though it’s less convenient than having an all-in-one solution, grabbing a decent gaming mic and a pair of audiophile headphones may be the right way to go. I recommend any iteration of the Sennheiser HD 6XX will be an excellent choice for gaming because of its much lighter design and high performance.
Frequently asked questions about the Audeze LCD-GX
No, you don’t need an amp to use the Audeze LCD-GX. However, plan on doing any equalizing with your headphones. A relatively inexpensive one might be a good idea to ensure you can get a usable playback volume.
These Audeze headphones are manufactured in Costa Mesa, CA (US).