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Advice for a novice with LCD-3s. Help me, please!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I recently got a pair of LCD-3s from an overly generous family member. I love music, and I get completely entranced in it when I listen even on my current in ear phones (Westone 1). So I have these unbelievable headphones, and I don't have the equipment or the knowledge and real education to fully enjoy and appreciate them.


I've been reading a lot of posts about amps for the LCDs, and it seems like I need a pretty expensive set up to do them justice. Can anyone recommend a starting kit (amp and DAC) for under $600? I don't know if that's even practical. I know it may not bring the best out of the LCD-3s, but I'm sure almost anything will beat my current setup. And do I need a separate DAC and amp, or can I get a combo unit?


I'm sure I'll have many more questions. I look forward to enjoying those gorgeous headphones. Thanks for your help!

post #2 of 11
Sometimes all that is needed if you do more listening at your PC than anything else is a good external DAC. This helps reduce the noise and often jitter from the internal workings of the PC. In many instances an amp is only needed if volume levels with your current gear is too low or distorting at moderate listening levels.

That said a great place to start would be the JDS Labs O2+ODAC combo which runs about $300 new. This is both a DAC and good headphone amp.
post #3 of 11

I would say you should go the speaker amp route, so that you at least can power the 'phones properly. Then get a DAC.

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice. I think I'm gonna go this route. I really appreciate the input.

post #5 of 11

The Schiit Modi + Magni would be a good basic set at $200 together. (Not that I've heard the Modi, just throwing it out as an option.) The obvious next step up, if you can afford to go higher, would be their Bifrost (w/ USB) + Asgard 2 at $700 together.

post #6 of 11
A vintage amp from the 70's has a powerful headphone out that will drive these amazing phones for you and can be found for $100ish easily. No Magni or 02 can compete.

Congrats on having a generous family member with taste!
post #7 of 11
post #8 of 11
The Objective combo seems to be the go-to budget amp+DAC set-up around here, but the Schitt stack is similar sounding for less money and is much better-looking to boot. However the Schiit Magni does have a big weakness in that it does not have adjustable gain, so if you ever get very low-impedance headphones (or IEMs) you're kinda stuck with a very limited volume control range.


Other than that,the Matrix M-Stage amp is an exceptional bargain at under $300 and rivals the sound of some $1000+ amps (I can't verify this from personal experience because I don't own any amps other than the M-Stage, but some very well-respected reviewers were of this opinion). Also consider the iFi iCAN, which is very versatile with bass and soundstage enhancement functions that actually sound very natural and aren't overdone, unlike much of the competition, as well as an obscure amp called the Original Master which, despite being devoid of bells and whistles, was hailed as a giant killer years ago.
post #9 of 11
I'm having very good results with Audio-gd gear, although some of the slightly more expensive offerings. From what I understand, some of their lower priced stuff also works very well with the LCD's, and is really good bang for the buck. Search some of the audio-gd threads for specifics. Kingwa from AGD is extremely helpful (even with the language barrier)

Also, the CEntrance DACmini CX is a very good unit that pairs extremely well with the LCD-3/2. Without sounding like a shameless plug, I also happen to have one for sale in the classifieds...wink.gif

Best of luck, keep us posted on what you choose!
post #10 of 11

Another vote for the Schiit Audio Magni/Modi combo. Great place to start and then you can start doing more research and get used to all the chatter around Head-Fi and buy something more expensive. You can also go Schiit Asgard 2/Bifrost if you have the budget. Audio-gd products are also popular around here but I haven't heard any. If I was to try a Audio-gd product I would probably go for the Compass 2 or maybe even the NFB-10SE2. Just throwing out some suggestions to get you started. And start reading the LCD-3 thread and also the LCD-2 threads to get an idea of what other people are using. This place is filled with information it just takes patience to read through the relevant threads.

post #11 of 11

The O2+ODAC or the Schiit Modi/Magni is a good place to start, but you will not be getting the most out of your LCD-3s. Gee, I wished that I had relatives who would give me a LCD-3. 

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