Gaming headsets are ultimately just headphones with boom microphones. Different models add different features, like wireless connectivity, simulated surround sound, and lights, but at heart all a gaming headset needs is a driver on each of your ears and a microphone in front of your mouth. The $899 Audeze LCD-GX takes this philosophy to an extreme, combining an enthusiast-level pair of open-backed planar magnetic drivers with a simple boom mic to create the most expensive gaming headset we’ve tested. It’s wired, analog, and stereo only, but it offers the most accurate, detailed listening experience you can get in this category, earning our Editors’ Choice for super-high-end headsets. That said, the $200 JBL Quantum 800 will still do just fine for most users.
It’s not surprising to see this kind of headset from Audeze, since the last most-expensive gaming headset we tested was the $399 Audeze Mobius. The LCD-GX is bigger, sounds cleaner, and has an open back design for fantastic imaging.
From a design perspective, the LCD-GX shares an almost identical physical design to the company’s $1,000 LCD-2 headphones (a higher-end version of the LCD-1 we previously reviewed), with large, circular earcups connecting to a two-piece headband through thin, C-shaped struts and notched metal stems. The open backs of the earcups feature red grille rather than black, and are covered with a black aluminum grate bearing a large A design.
Each earcup connects to the headset cable separately, through a four-pin mini XLR port angled down and forward on the bottom. The boom microphone is attached to the left earcup’s connector, rather than the headset itself. The two halves of the cable connect a foot farther down at an inline remote with a microphone mute switch, then continue as one cable for another seven feet before ending in a four-pole 3.5mm plug.
The headset comes with a separate headphone cable that terminates in a quarter-inch connector, along with a 3.5mm splitter for the headset cable and a separate 3.5mm audio adapter that switches the mic and ground connections of the plug. Everything fits in a large carrying case similar to a Pelican case, with a plastic shell and foam inserts.
Don’t expect any simulated surround sound or USB connectivity from the LCD-GX. This is strictly an analog headset. If you want simulated surround, you can use an app like Razer THX Spatial Audio to provide the effect, but without any processing from the source hardware, this is pure stereo.
High-end headphones often have a high impedance and work best with a headphone amp. The LCD-GX has a low impedance of just 20 ohms, so it doesn’t require an amp to work well (the $4,000 LCD-4, for comparison, has an impedance of 200 ohms and effectively needs an amp). The headset worked fine plugged into a Google Pixel 3a XL, a Nintendo Switch Lite, and an Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 connected to an Xbox One X.
The LCD-GX uses 105mm planar magnetic transducers capable of a range from 10Hz to 50kHz. They’re larger than the transducers in the LCD-1 (90mm) or Mobius (100mm), and are closest to the LCD-2 in specs. Planar magnetic transducers, along with an open-back design, can produce much better imaging and a sense of space than closed-back, conventional-driver headphones simply can’t. This design and the engineering that goes behind it are the primary reasons this headset costs $900.
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Unsurprisingly, music sounds fantastic through the LCD-GX, with accurate, well-defined response across the frequency range. The kick drum in Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” gets all of the low-frequency presence it needs to sound full and powerful without being overly thunderous, and the guitar plucks get plenty of delicate texture in the higher frequencies along with strong resonance to give them depth. With the open-back design, the soundstage feels very big and real; if it doesn’t quite give the impression that you’re listening to the band live, it at least produces the sense of hearing the track in a well-designed listening room with good speakers. It’s a cleaner, more accurate, and more realistic sound than the much less expensive Audeze Mobius produces (which also sounds excellent, but not to this extent).
Heavily produced electronic music also sounds excellent through the LCD-GX. The Crystal Method’s “Born Too Slow” sounds full and balanced across the board, with the driving backbeat getting enough low-frequency response to sound ominous, while the guitar riffs and vocals cut through the mix with proper treble presence.
Thanks to the headset’s remarkable clarity, I was able to hear the sample in The Crystal Method’s “Busy Child” as “get busy time.” The sample comes from Pierre’s Phantasy Club’s “Summertime (Is Get Busy Time),” and is distorted on the track to sound like “get busy child.” The original sample is indeed “get busy time,” which I could clearly discern through the LCD-GX, while nearly every other pair of headphones I’ve used makes it sound like “get busy child.”
Games also sound excellent though the LCD-GX. Playing Spongebob Squarepants: The Battle for Bikini Bottom: Rehydrated, the sounds of the ocean are full and realistic, with a big soundstage that makes it feel like you’re actually at the beach. The festive tropical music comes through clearly, and I could pick out each instrument in the soundtrack. Patrick’s jumps have a nice amount of bass, and the sounds of gates opening are crisp and detailed.
Every sound in Forza Horizon 4 comes through clearly on the LCD-GX. The whine of engines sounds forceful without being thunderous, while scattering debris, the whoosh of nearby objects passing by, and the sound of rain can all be easily discerned. Strong bass presence brings out the sound of large pieces of rubble flying and the low sweeping and thumping of the soundtrack without sounding unnatural or overtaking the other sounds in the game.
Doom Eternal sounds similarly full and detailed. The large soundstage of the headphones produces excellent stereo imaging for hearing enemies around you, and every growl and blast can be picked up easily. Shots from rockets and shotguns sound full but not overwhelming, while the game’s industrial soundtrack and violent glory kills get plenty of bass.
The microphone sounds very good, but since it’s on an analog headset it lacks the multiple processing options available with USB-connected and wireless headsets like the Razer Kraken Ultimate. You can coax warm, clean voice recordings from the mic with some computer-side tinkering, and it’s certainly good enough for voice chat, but it’s a bit limited, and can pick up outside sounds like computer fans. As always, we recommend getting a dedicated USB microphone if you’re serious about recording or streaming.
A Gaming Headset for Audiophiles With Deep Pockets
The Audeze LCD-GX is quite simply the best-sounding gaming headset we’ve ever tested. It outclasses other high-end headsets like the Sennheiser GSP 670, the Astro Gaming A50, and even the Audeze Mobius in audio depth and clarity, which should be expected for $900. It’s wildly expensive and doesn’t have any unique processing tricks like other high-end gaming models, but for the pure listening experience, you won’t find a better headset. The LCD-GX isn’t for everyone, but if you have a very discerning ear and very deep pockets, this is the headset to get, and an Editors’ Choice.
Audeze LCD-GX Specs
|Connection Type||Stereo 3.5mm|
|Active Noise Cancellation||No|