Knowledge Base/Announcements

Selecting an amp?

Audeze S2
posted this on January 15, 2012, 11:39 PM

When deciding what amp to buy It is very subjective and opinions vary a lot. Here are some thoughts on selecting a good amplifiers
for LCD-2. We have tested the LCD-2 with quite a number of studios and recording engineers.

The LCD-2 has an impedance of 50 ohms, which is purely resistive and is almost perfectly flat across the entire frequency range.

Lets us say you listen to symphony-orchestra. This type of music can have dynamic range of 60 dB. i.e if silence (room noise) is at 60 dB (LCD-2 is  pen type headphone design with almost no attenuation of ambient noise) and the maximum occasional peak needs to be 120 dB. I am just giving an example here, but depending upon the type of music and the recording this varies. 120 dB is very loud - almost Rock Concert level close to the speaker.

For the LCD-2, if you put 1 mw of power, you get about 90dB output. For this example, let us assume 90dB is the level you listen normally. To reproduce the occasional 120 dB peak without clipping on the LCD-2, the amplifier would have to output 1000 times more power than 1mw, i.e 1 W.

So, an amplifier that can output 1w is the bare minimum. Amplifiers will have distortion metrics at different wattage levels. If an amp can output maximum 1w it would be barely sufficient and might have a lot of distortion at full output.

So I would suggest an Amp that would at least be able to provide a couple of watts of output without any clipping. Damping in amplifiers is not a big problem for LCD-2 since the impedance doesn't vary.


There is also a very long discussion about this topic on found here.



User photo
Michael Davis

Thanks -  An amp offering 2-Watts rms per channel is recommended.  

But what about the amp's output impedance?  

The CEntrance DACmini CX, for example, has a standard output impedance of 10-Ohms, but they offer an upgrade that changes the output impedance to 1-Ohm.  

Which would be better for the 50-Ohm Audeze LCD-2  -   a 1-Ohm output impedance or 10-Ohm?  

Thank you!

September 5, 2012, 9:02 PM
User photo
Michael Davis

For the benefit of others, here is the reply I received from Audeze support:

Audez'e Support, Sep 06 14:58 (PDT):

We do not have this information, we would need to test them to be sure. However, I guarantee someone must have already done this on, our headphones operate 40-50 Ohms. Please update us if you do test them, we are curious to find out as well.

Thank you very much,
Audez'e Support 

September 6, 2012, 7:47 PM
User photo

Hello guys,

I have just bought a Burson Conductor:
It has these specs:

Input impedance: 36.5 KOhms 
Frequency response: ± 1 dB 0 - 50Khz
Signal to noise ratio: >96dB
THD: <0.03% at 30ohm with 1W ouput
Channel separation: >73dB
Output power: 4W at 16 Ohms
Input impedance: >8K Ohm @ 30 Ohm, 1W
Output impedance: <1 Ohm @ 30 Ohm, 1W
Power dissipation: >45W, internal, regulated power supply 

I previously had the ha-160ds from burson.  with Output power: 250mW (less than 1% distortion)

I thought it was a big difference between the conductor and the ha-160ds.

You said that the headphones must have at least 1W. I assume you are talking about 1W at 50 ohms. Am i correct?

If I calculated  correctly the Conductor has 1.6 W at 50 ohms. Am I correct? 

You have said that 1W is the minimum. What is the recommended output power?

Thank you,



November 27, 2012, 4:34 PM
User photo
Michael Davis

Hey Dan,

I'm not with Audeze; I'm just a happy LCD-2 owner.  

Given that the Burson Conductor (and the Soloist) output 4W per channel into 16 Ohms, if it's safe to assume that Watts are inversely proportional to Ohms, we can generate this table:

 4 Wpc into 16 Ohms

 2 Wpc into 32 Ohms

 1.28 Wpc into 50 Ohms (LCD-2 Rev. 1 and LCD-3)       

 1 Wpc into 64 Ohms

 0.2133... Wpc into 300 Ohms

 0.1066... Wpc into 600 Ohms


Showing my calculation for 50 Ohms...

  4 W / x = 50 Ohm / 16 W

  x = 4 * 16 / 50 = 1.28 Wpc into 50 Ohms

Note:   I currently run the LCD-2 with a CEntrance DACmini CX, which sounds great with only 0.48 Wpc into 50 ohms.  (CEntrance specs an output of 0.75 Wpc into 32 Ohms.)

Converting the DACmini CX' 32-Ohm rating to 50-Ohm:

  0.75 W / x = 50 Ohm / 32 W

  x = 0.75 * 32 / 50 = 0.48 Wpc into 50 Ohms

Thus, the Burson Conductor or Soloist offer 2.67 times as much power as the DACmini CX.  


December 1, 2012, 12:14 PM
User photo

Hey Mike,


Thanks for the answer. Yes. I have miscalculated there. It was 1.28, not 1.6. I was wondering if it has a higher power output than my calculation showed but Burson confirmed 1.28. What I was very curios is how it can drive these cans so good (with only 1.28)  :D, and how can it drive HE6 as it says on six moons , considering some use speaker amps for that :P


December 1, 2012, 12:45 PM
User photo
Michael Davis


I'm glad my math was confirmed by Burson - that's great.

Regarding your latest question, from what I've read and experienced personally (with only the LCD-2), it seems that all of the planar magnetic headphones can "sound good" with a fairly broad range of power output from various amps.  The HE-6 is known to be about the most power-hungry of them all, but lots of people find that it "sounds good" with an honest  1.0 Watt per channel into 50 Ohms, where the LCD-2 can "sound good" with much less power - on the order of 0.5 W per channel into 50 Ohm.  Some would say even less for the LCD-2.  

But just as with the HE-6, the more power you make available to the LCD-2 or LCD-3, the better will be the dynamics, the bass control, and perhaps even the bass extension - all that same traits that improve whenever you increase the available power to a pair of loudspeakers - assuming you weren't already so under-powered that peaks were being clipped.

If you're interested in either the LCD-2 or LCD-3, in my opinion, you will be VERY pleased with the Burson Conductor (or Soloist), as it puts out 2.67 the power of the DACmini CX (that I am currently using with my LCD-2) and  it's easy to find evidence of many very satisfied LCD-2 and LCD-3 owners who are thrilled with the DACmini CX' output of only 0.48W pc into 50 Ohms.   The Soloist will likely be all the better.   

In other words, you definitely do not need to buy a speaker amp, or a Leben, or some other 15 Watt per channel beast to drive these wonderful Audeze headphones...  



December 2, 2012, 2:56 PM
User photo

Give my advice, please. Is "SPL 2 control Model 2861" good for Audeze LCD 2? I will use phones for mixing, and afraid that this amp possible be quiet. 

February 21, 2013, 11:08 AM
User photo
Michael Davis
Hi Nikita, This is just my opinion, and I consider the LCD-2 to be my absolute favorite headphone for listening to many genres, for just enjoying music, but I wouldn't recommend the LCD-2 for mixing. :-) It's a little too warm, colored, and energetic in the bass, with slightly shelved highs - all of which sounds absolutely wonderful when used with a neutral source and amp, but would likely ruin your mixes. Your music could end up sounding bass-shy, cool, and bright. :-( As for the SPL amp, I have no experience with it, but for mixing, I suggest you start with a more neutral and, frankly, more "boring" headphone - (Hint: T1)
February 21, 2013, 7:30 PM
User photo

For those with any interest, the Hifiman  EF-6 (usually optimally paired with the power hungry HE-6) runs very clearly and with a very good soundstage with LCD3, compared to some other equivalent priced amps. This is my subjective feedback.


June 15, 2013, 10:42 PM
User photo

Any one tried using O2 amp?

December 6, 2013, 10:19 AM
User photo

Can i not use a amp to play music on my ipod? Im using audeze lcd3

January 6, 2014, 5:17 AM
User photo

Here is a confirmation from support regarding headphone Luxman P-200 and Audeze LCD-XC

Question: I'm owning headphone amp Luxman P-200. Do you by any chance now if the amp will drive LCD-XC good enough?

Answer: Thank you for contacting us. I have reviewed the specs of your amp and it will drive our XC's just fine. General rule of thumb is that an amp needs at least 1 Watt of power to drive the headphones. Is there anything else I can assist you with?

May 16, 2014, 10:49 AM
Topic is closed for comments