I have always been a fan of headphones. We have been using in-ear-monitors on stage since 1994 and I have used Stax headphones when I work on an album for almost as long. Over the years I have accumulated quite a few headphones for listening to music when I am not in the studio.
But, I have a new favorite way to listen, and I have used this new setup a lot in the past six months, while I am finishing two albums to be released by SSRI this Spring.
This is it:
I put ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec – 16bit/44.1kHz) files on my iPhone. I bypass the iPhone’s digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and headphone amp by plugging the Lightning-to-USB cable into the ADL X1, a Japanese DAC + headphone amp. Finally I connect the Audeze LCD-2 headphones to the X1 and enjoy great sound. One can also plug a USB cable into one’s computer and in that case the X1 will work with files up to 24bit/192kHz.
The LCD-2 headphones sound really natural to me. I don’t hear the unnatural boosted highs and bass that so many headphones push out. The bass is rich, but not flabby or tubby. The treble creates a clear and beautiful image, but without that biting brightness that fatigues the ears, and the mid-range is luxurious. I can listen to these headphones for hours, and have many times. My new absolute favorite pair of headphones!
It is not exactly a cheap setup – I have seen prices for the X1 range between $399 and $645 and the LCD-2 seems to go from under a thousand to around 1,200 – but this can easily become a person’s only stereo system. These days I can’t imagine spending many thousands of dollars on a regular, non-portable, hi-fi system. Mobile is the way to go, I think, and with this setup I am not sacrificing anything!