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seeking advice and/or opinions from members familiar with the sound signature of both the akg-k701 and audeze lcd-3

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

this is my first time posting here (after much reading over the past few years).  from the standpoint of someone who does most of their music listening through headphones, there have been some good reads here on various forums that i've enjoyed since first discovering this site.  it's been informative to read carefully written, well thought-out reviews of different equipment combinations where people seem like they try very hard to convey what they are hearing, as best they can, to others.


this site has been a great resource for some very specific information that i have used to my benefit, so to all who have posted here and those that continue to post, keeping this site relevant and useful to the headphone listener, thank-you.  (it's impossible to thank individual posters who started particular threads that i have found the most useful of course.  but there have been quite a few).


on to my specific question:  i have noticed a tendency of my lcd-3's to sound (distorted?) in the upper-mid / lower high-frequency area which is not present when i compare the exact same passage with the 701's. (all other equipment being the same when i compare one headphone to the other).   the 701's reproduce these same upper-level frequencies "cleaner" and without the distortion that the lcd-3's seem to present.


i listen to quite a bit of contemporary singer-songer (modern acoustic folk), and mainstream trio jazz.  (two problematic areas for my lcd-3's are the upper registers of an acoustic piano in a jazz setting, and the upper registers of a female vocal).


i appreciate the clear and clean reproduction of the 701's in the mids and uppers, while still liking very much the low-end reproduction of the lcd-3's.


was there a known defect with the (membrane/diaphram) with some of the audeze lcd-3's?  it sounds to me that there is a definite problem with unwanted resonance at certain higher-level frequencies.  i've searched here on this site, and on the audeze site and have found no specific mention of this.


has anyone here experienced this, or have heard of anyone here who has?


sent an e-mail to audeze tues. night (2/25/14).  i'm writing this on thurs., the 27th.  haven't heard anything back from audeze, but i thought i might pick up a gem or two of info from the community here.


thanks to anyone who may be able to help any.                             

Edited by terry parr - 2/27/14 at 8:00pm
post #2 of 10

There's nothing wrong with your lcd3's. That's just the headphone's sound signature. The k701's upper midrange/lower treble is quite forward. Making it bright, or more "hi-fi". It also makes it one of the most detailed headphone at its price range. The lcd3 is considered a dark/warm headphone, meaning the upper frequencies are lower in volume.


To me, it seems like you prefer brighter headphones. As for me, I definitely prefer the Audezes because they sound more like real life. (Real life doesn't sound bright! to me at least)


As for why i belive it's not a driver defect, i doubt that both drivers, on each side, would have the exactly the same problem.

post #3 of 10

Sorry to hear that you're having trouble. Have you asked on the LCD3 thread in the "High-end audio forum"?

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

no, b0000 this is heard only in the RIGHT CHANNEL.  right channel only.


but, hold the phone, guys.  i just got a message from audeze cust. support saying my request was received and that they are assigning someone to me.  their tech support closes at 9:30pt, and right now it's about 1:30am eastern (my time),  so i'll find out more from them tomorrow.


something within that right-side driver is just not quite right.  something sounds like it's just slightly out of adjustment.  (but enough to kill the joy of listening to these phones.  i've already just put them to the side and stopped listening to them).


i just wanted to put this question out for review here at head-fi, considering the very large knowledge base and the amount of experience here with these particular phones.


i'll still sing the praises of these phones once i get this issue resolved.  but right now, it's just annoying enough to make you not want to listen to them.

post #5 of 10
Originally Posted by terry parr View Post

no, b0000 this is heard only in the RIGHT CHANNEL.  right channel only.


Then that changes everything. If you're sure the connections are secure, then it's definitely a defect or a case of mismatched drivers, though the latter is unlikely. Hope audeze solves your issue.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

thanks, man.


i think i'll be fine (especially after i read the e-mail tonight that was waiting for me from audeze).  the tone of the message was encouraging and they sounded like they wanted to help me get this wrinkle straightened out.


  it sounds like they just need an adjustment or tightening of something somewhere within the actual driver. (but i'm not about to try and get in there and do anything myself).  the reason i posted this here at head-fi was, i expected some people to jump in and say something like:  "oh, yeah!  i know what that is.  here's what you do..."  but i didn't get any replies like that.


i think i'm in good hands with their cust. support.  they sound like they don't forget their customers if something does come up.  i'm not too worried.


i'll report back in a couple of weeks with (hopefully) good news!    

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 

received my lcd-3's back tonight.  shipment box was packaged very well to protect the phones in shipment.  they arrived back to me without a scratch.  so, thank-you whoever repacked my phones for shipment.  excellent job.


what i received from audeze was a new frequency response graph.  they re-measured / re-tested my headphones.  no "defect" was found.  this freq. response graph is virtually identical to the one that was included when these headphones shipped new.


the upper mid-range / lower high-frequency "graininess", and / or "distortion" is just how these headphones fail to faithfully resolve certain vocal and instrumental brief peaks which happen to fall within this part of the frequency range.


these headphones can sound excellent if:  the original source was well-recorded to begin with.  and, if the recording was then mixed so as not to be "hot" in the upper part of the frequency range [where the lcd-3 appears to have trouble reproducing faithfully.]  ("clearly" and "cleanly" with no distortion).   if on the original recording the upper-mids and highs were "rounded-off", or "brought down" at the upper edges during mixing and the recording is otherwise "pristine", then you're golden.


on some recordings, these headphones sound just fine. with some material, these headphones can be a great, very enjoyable listen.  you're able to enjoy the rich, low-reaching bass and low-end reproduction as well as the midrange and the upper registers, too, without this problematic distortion annoyance.  but, this goes only for those "superb" recordings which are out-of-the-ordinary (and probably doesn't even make up half of my music collection).  i like to listen to quite a bit of stuff that still might not have been "masterfully recorded and mixed."


the lcd-3 can be an excellent-sounding phone.  but, to my ears and in my opinion (which is all any of this is, anyway), these phones are a bit "finicky" and are very dependant on the quality of the source material. 


bottom line is:  the issue is still there for me.  and secondly, it still appears to be more noticeable in the right channel, for some reason.


i've tried switching amps, and i still have the issue.  and when i switch headphones, the issue goes away, and the upper-mids and highs get "cleaned-up." (but, then of course i lose the "weighty" and impactful low-end of the audeze phones).   


looks like i'll just be limited to enjoying these particular phones only with certain recordings. or wait until there's a merger between harman (which now owns akg) and audeze.  maybe after that merger goes through they'll find a way to combine the best features of an audeze and akg phone.


well, wait a minute.  the companies don't have to merge.  all we need to do is put the engineers behind the 701's and the guys from audeze on a conference call.


i volunteer to moderate the conference call.


it seems as though audeze "measured and tested" my phones and found no issue.  (well, there is an issue with these phones, but sending me another frequency response graph without any other explanation or any additional notes was their way of saying:  "we know. but, it is what it is.")


my final verdict:  an over-rated headphone with an obvious deficiency for reproducing natural sounds (such as the human voice, and real instruments played by real people).


now, if someone is into hearing artificially-reproduced, synthesized, electronic and other unnatural sounds as music (with the obligatory metronomic, insistent boom-boom machine-like rhythm track, then this phone might fit the bill perfectly).  if you're a member of the "boom-n-sizzle" crowd, then this is probably the ultimate headphone for you!


but for those of us who appreciate the music of acoustic instruments and human voices, (with all the harmonic, timbral and textural quality of the music that you would like to be reproduced), then this headphone (while admittedly being very good for some genres), still leaves plenty to be desired.


for acoustic modern folk, singer-songwriter-type music, acoustic jazz, string quartet, etc., i can't recommend this headphone.  it simply leaves you wanting them to do more.


what these headphones do, they do very well. (as far as they go).   but, what these phones have trouble doing (see above), turns out to be the deal-breaker for me with these phones.     

Edited by terry parr - 3/19/14 at 5:30pm
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

UPDATE:  what i tried fri. night was to switch out the interconnects leading from the cdp to the amp.  i drug out a pair of TRANSPARENT i/c's (the "music link" model), and these did seem to help the overall sound of the lcd-3's.


may not have improved the over-all sound of the music (meaning by changing the i/c's this didn't add more texture, detail and resolution in the upper-frequencies), but the change does seem to make the lcd-3's less irritating and less distorted up-top, and therefore more listenable. 


what i suspect is that the transparent i/c's are made of copper, which seems to be a better pairing with the audeze lcd-3 phones (at least to my ears). or, it could be that the transparent cables are simply "less resolving" in the upper range, and while "rounding-off" the upper edges, makes the lcd-3 sound "smoother."  (while still lacking upper-level detail).


an interconnect made primarily of silver seems to highlight the upper-frequency range, and seems to accentuate the fact that these phones have trouble in this part of the sound spectrum.


i'm planning on auditioning a few different sets of i/c's in the next couple of weeks (primarily copper cables, but one cable will be a silver-plated ofc), just to compare and contrast the different cables and to see if i can't make these phones a pair that i can live with.     

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

shipment from THE CABLE COMPANY arrived yesterday with three different pairs of interconnects to try out and i spent the whole night listening to a couple of cuts from a few cd's which were known to be problematic for the audeze lcd-3's and switching out the various cables.  volume level stayed the exact same as i switched out the cables after listening to a few selections with each one.


there were noticeable differences between these interconnects.


first up was the Purist Audio Design (Museaus-Praesto Revision) cable.  this would be a good cable for someone whose other components might sound a bit too bright, and may need some "warming up."  but, heard through the lcd-3's, this cable is waaay too dark for these phones.  this cable also seems to exacerbate the already problematic area of these audeze phones (which is, to sound very "etchy" or "grainy" / "scratchy" in the upper mids and higher frequencies).  i was getting excellent low-end reproduction, though. but, this cable was not a good pairing with the lcd-3's.  not all all.  it seemed to hightlight the strengths of this headphone, but at the same time highlight its' weaknesses.


next up was the Acoustic Zen Matrix Reference II cable.  it didn't take me long to notice the tonal and timbral qualities in the acoustic bass which seemed to be lacking a bit in the first cable i tried.  even though the acoustic zen didn't have quite the slam or impact that the purist audio cable had in the low end, it allowed more subtle detail to come through that i was missing with the purist audio cable.  i remember thinking last night that this was definetely a good "compromise", if you want to call it that.  i didn't feel as if i were compromising in the bass reproduction dept. 

what surprised me about this cable is how well (and how differently) it presents the mids and uppers with this headphone.  this was the absolute best i have heard these headphones sound so far.

period.  the difference was just that clear.  i really appreciated how the mids and uppers seemed to be "attenuated", while at the same time not losing the fundamental notes and chords in an acoustic piece, for instance.  it seemed to put the upper-registers "just a bit "back" or "removed" slightly, so that the high notes didn't sound piercing or distorted.  this cable really did smooth-out the mid and upper range.  (now, on some recordings that are known to be "treble-hot" to begin with, the treble "spikes" would still be heard.  just not to the degree that they are usually heard with other cables that i've used).


last cable i tried was the Acoustic Zen "WOW".   while the low-end reproduction with this cable was very good, i remember thinking last night that "the sibilance is back."  this cable was not a very good pairing with the lcd-3's.  i missed the fine-level detail that i was getting with the reference II, plus the "wow" cable didn't seem to improve very much the mids and uppers.  i didn't spend very much time with this cable. 



"test tracks" from cd's that i used:


Charlie Faye "stone in the road", "knocked down"

Alan Broadbent "easy living" (both a downloaded file [burned to disc] and the commercial cd track)

Doobie Brothers "it keeps you running"

Steely Dan "home at last"



all in all, a surprising and productive night of comparing different cable.  glad i did it.


i think audeze could do all of their customers a favor by publishing at least some general guidelines as to which types of connectors seem to work best (and which to avoid) when using these planar phones.  (unless, of course you want a headphone which excels at bass reproduction, but which distorts the mids and highs.  in which case pretty much any garden-variety interconnect should do for that).


my final thought from last night was:  "i've finally got these things listenable!" 

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

bernard purdie's hi-hat on "home at last."  one of the things i was listening for last night. if you can't hear this part of the tune, then you're missing the very part that drives it, or pushes it

or "shuffles" it along.


fast-foreward to about 1:44 for the "short version" to get the idea.




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