RMAF 2018: Audeze LCD2 Closed-Back with Chord Hugo TT2 and M Scaler

CANJAM at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest this year was a beehive of activity with both young and old darting from table to table and eagerly throwing on headphones and spending extended amounts of time conducting listening sessions and asking a plethora of questions of those company employees tasked with manning the high-traffic booths.

The Audeze section was no exception, especially with new models like the LCD2 Closed-Back ($899 USD) set-up for demos, here with the daunting duo of the Chord Hugo TT2 DAC, preamplifier and headphone amplifier ($5,795 USD) and one million-tap digital upscaler Hugo M Scaler. ($4,995 USD).

This combo was getting a lot of attention and it was always a challenge to slide into the driver’s seat and get some head time, but the wait was worth it as this set-up was producing some of most timbral and tonally accurate sound coupled with astonishing resolution.

Listening to a mix of Tidal Hi-fi 16/44 files that were being juiced to 768kHz (16x CD’s 44.1kHz native resolution) via dual-BNC connectors to the M Scaler, I threw on Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song” and was immediately struck at how natural and weighty every piano felt-hammer-on-string note was struck through the LCD2 Closed-Back. I have the LCD2 Classics on loan and found the upper treble region to be less peaky on this track than what I’m used to hearing from the Classics. The sound stage was wide open and presented a vista without exaggeration in either the vertical or horizontal focal planes.

The overall presentation was slightly warmer and more forward in the presence region compared to the Classics (the Classics are one of the most neutral, dynamic and laid-back headphones I’ve spent time with) and lacked any pretence of edginess or peakiness, two things that send me running from any DAC/head-amp combo. This was a lesson in smoothness (less grainy treble than the Classics) and linearity across the audible frequency bandwidth with songs presented as the sum of their parts in a natural, cohesive manner as opposed to any deconstruction or emphasis on certain instruments or sections of bandwidth. Treble merged seamlessly with midrange and the bottom end had real pressure to kick drums and floor Toms.

Radiohead can get congested quickly with the myiaid, layered analog and digital-instrument effects, multi-track vocals and overdubs, but the Audeze LCD2 Closed-Back and the Hugo TT2/M Scaler never missed a step in presenting every instrument and vocal in it’s right place.

While not exactly a budget system, and one that I feel would produce even further extraction of information/resolution if paired with an LCD-4z for example, the Chord duo nevertheless showed just how capable the more budget-friendly LCD2 Closed-Back was at articulating every nuance, dynamic swing and guttural bass slap that Thom York and Co. were capable of throwing at it.

A show standout for me.

This is my last post from RMAF 2018 on InnerFidelity for this year, I hope you enjoyed our coverage and I’d like to take a moment to thank all the wonderful people at CANJAM whether they were attendees, manufacturers or reps and distributors who went out of their way to welcome me into the fold of the headphone side of this hobby and in particular a heartfelt “thank you” to Jude Mansilla of Head-fi who went out of his way at an industry dinner one evening during RMAF to connect with me in a truly honest, open, funny and empathetic manner.

It’s time to get back to more homegrown endeavours and take a look at what just came in for review, which I’ll be highlighting in my next post. Stay tuned.

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Simply Nobody's picture

Chord nailed it with Mojo, Hugo2 and Hugo TT2 models ........... Almost all of the headphone/IEM market is covered :-) .............

Simply Nobody's picture

High impedance or low impedance ..... High efficiency or low efficiency ....... There is a Chord for everyone :-) ...........

jaredjcrandall84's picture

Sounds like a good demonstration of what happens when more money as a % is spent on equipment over headphones. I still enjoy my focal utopia and lcd4 out of my old ipod touch....I am kidding, but in seriousness I have experienced decent headphones sound better with great equipment than I have with great headphones on decent equipment. A lot to discuss in this topic which as a start would consider costs, budget, synergy....Just fun to see a bit of headphone to equipment permutations.

AGB's picture

Audeze LCDi4 with Mojo, iFi USB3.0, Curious USB wire and you will save big bucks. The USB3.0 drives the Mojo with its very good PS, making that DAC into a wondrous overperformer. The LCDi4 is a knockout, even compared with the X. A solid triumph that moved the headphone art forward.

Rafe, you are a terrific head of the mag, much better than whom you followed. Modest, sensible, and you will be hard to replace. Good luck.