Edited from webpage: "LCD-3 professional reference headphones. No compromise when it comes to...

Audeze LCD3 Planar Magnetic Headphone

Average User Rating:
4.38235/5,
  • Edited from webpage: "LCD-3 professional reference headphones. No compromise when it comes to the quality of sound. It provides the highest level of audio quality, unsurpassed bass extension, exceptional treble and the best mid-range. The LCD-3 is packed with many innovative technologies and new approaches. The all new LOTUS diaphragm that uses a special alloy for conductive traces gives us greater control, lower distortion.

    Translation - Music that sounds like original studio recordings."

Recent User Reviews

  1. SOULSIK
    1.0/5,
    "LCD 3 - Must try headphones"
    Pros - sound quality. build quality
    Cons - might be uncomfortable for some
    Video Review




    INTRODUCTION


    When I heard the LCD 2, I thought is was pretty awesome. I did not think it can get much better from that. One complaint I had was the comfort and I did expect some kind of upgrade in terms of that. I have to say here is that, going into this review as someone who expected not much of significant upgrade in terms of sound, I was quite surprised.


    ABOUT AUDEZE

    From their website:

    Audeze’s origins go back to 2008 when founders Sankar Thiagasamudram and Alexander Rosson met engineer Pete Uka who developed specialized flexible circuit materials for NASA. They quickly realized the material might be perfect for headphones. That’s when Dragoslav Colich, who has 30+ years’ experience in designing planar drivers, joined the team as CTO to create the LCD-1 headphone.

    Then we created the legendary, award-winning LCD-2 and LCD-3 headphones, and the higher-efficiency LCD-X and XC models. More recently, we made planar magnetic technology accessible to a wider audience with the EL-8 and SINE series headphones. Audeze turned to their strategic partner Designworks, a BMW Group Subsidiary, for the cutting-edge industrial design for the new headphones as well as the Deckard DAC/Amplifier.

    Audeze feature proprietary planar magnetic designs with extremely thin-film driver materials and powerful custom magnets. Planars overcome many limitations inherent in typical cone drivers; our lightweight diaphragms are, for example, faster and more responsive than heavier moving-coil or dome drivers. Planar magnetic diaphragm also have a voice-coil circuit spread across the diaphragm surface. The diaphragm’s voice-coil circuit interacts with the magnetic field to produce an electromagnetic force that moves the diaphragm back and forth creating the sound you hear when energized by an audio signal.

    DISCLAIMER

    This review unit was lent to me by Bay Bloor Radio, for a review. Nevertheless, my review will contain no bias

    SPECS

    Style Open circumaural
    Transducer type Planar magnetic
    Magnetic structure Proprietary push-pull design
    Magnet type Neodymium
    Transducer size 106 mm
    Maximum power handling 15W (for 200ms)
    Sound pressure level >130dB with 15W
    Frequency response 5Hz – 20kHz extended out to 50kHz
    Total harmonic distortion <1% through entire frequency range
    Impedance 110 ohms
    Efficiency 102dB / 1mW
    Optimal power requirement 1 – 4W
    THE BUILD QUALITY

    All you will see on these headphones is wood, metal, and Leather (you can opt in for vegan - leather free pads) just like LCD 2. However, LCD 3 does come with an upgrade.

    Some of the upgrade includes;

    1. brown leather pads that I personally found to be more comfortable and more elegant looking
    2. brown leather headband straps that I personally found to be more comfortable and more elegant looking
    3. Zebrano wood that looks like tiger stripes giveing a very nice look to the headphones
    I did find these headphones to be more comfortable than the LCD 2 which I had trouble leaving it on my head for a long time. However, LCD 3 still feels a bit heavy for my head.

    [gallery ids="1548,1547,1546" type="rectangular"]


    Sound mechanism

    The drivers used are planar magnetic drivers and to me, this is a plus because other than the fact that Audeze has great experience tuning these types of drivers, these types of drivers can make a more impactful sound.

    Included is also their latest technology, the “fazor,” which is a wave guide to increase the clarity and lower distortion.

    [gallery ids="1539,1540,1544,1543" type="rectangular"]

    SOUND QUALITY

    Lower Frequencies: I praised the impact bass presence in the LCD 2 but I was surprised by the increased amount of impact in the LCD 3 even more ! And all controlled to excellence. Not much to say here, It was one of the best experiences I've had in this frequency range. Go check out my LCD 2 review and come back to this one to get a better impression

    Mid Frequencies: I found this headphone to excel with micro detail in this range, even more so than the LCD 2. Very lush sounding and I cannot emphasize this more. This is the one of the most pleasant headphone I have ever heard in terms of layering. Vocals seemed a little bit distant than the LCD 2 at first before I got adjusted to the headphones.

    High Frequencies: Falls short in the upper range compared to HD800s but excels in the lower ranges. Again, same thing with LCD 2 here basically. However more pleasant than the LCD 2 in every way possible.

    Soundstage/imaging: The soundstage was larger than the HD650 or that of the LCD 2 and tad smaller than the HD800s and Hifiman edition x v2. However, the imaging was quite impressive, although this also fell short compared to the mighty HD800s. In terms of imaging, it was quite similar to the level of the Hifiman edition x v2. A lot of you will disagree or agree with me in these comparisons but remember one thing. “these are mild differences, these headphone are pretty similar in sound stage and imaging.” To the extent of you not being able to correctly analyze it unless you had them all side by side like me to go back and forth on the sound stage test tracks.

    Overall Thoughts

    Bottom line, I would put these as my favorite planar magnetic headphones of this month. Perhaps this year - This is what I said for the LCD 2 review. I cannot say I stand by it now that I heard the LCD 3. LCD 3 is the clear new winner.

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  2. QwertyQmin
    3.5/5,
    "The untamable Stallion of Headphones"
    Pros - Provocative low-mid/bass, good EQ does wonders, classic design, great customer support.
    Cons - Untamable bass, heavy, poorly designed headband, aftermarket cable required.
    The LCD-2 pre-fazor was my first Hifi headphone, and so in that way Audeze holds a special place in my heart. Back then, I had them with a Norne Draug2 cable hooked into a Schiit Valhalla, which was directly plugged into my computer with no DAC. Not really a hifi setup by any measure, but it stole my virginity as far as deep bass was concerned. After listening to a few popular Gorillaz tracks on the headset, all other bass became petty and cheap to me. I figured that upgrading to the LCD-3 would be an upgrade in high-frequency response, and unfortunately for me I was wrong.
     
    Now I have a Schiit Gungnir and Mjolnir 2 set up balanced and I don't mess around with low-fi file formats anymore, and a solid-core silver headphone cable into my LCD-3Fs. Admittedly, using a tube amp to power dark headphones is a poor way to pursue a crisp, clear sound. In that spirit, I'll refer to what this headset does well here and what would be wrong with the headset even if I had a solid-state amp.
     
    The first issue is, as stated above, that no matter how aggressively one EQs this system, bass and low-mids reign in tyranny over your listening experience. If that's something you enjoy, then grab a good DAC and a tube amp of any decent manner and have a blast. For me, bass comes a dime a dozen and doesn't really impress me. Especially after having heard headphones that make you feel like you're in a massage chair, other speakers and headsets don't cut it in terms of bass response. Even headsets touting 'basshead' qualities lack even the ability to be compared to the massive and sometimes overwhelming atomic shockwave  that is Audeze. In short, buy planars if you want to get that nice head massage you've always wanted out of your headphones.
     
    The second issue is comfort. Honestly, seeing as how they've released the LCD-4 with the newer headband, I don't see why they don't do this with all their other LCD headsets, but maybe I'm just a Plebeian who doesn't know how marketing works. The headband is a thick leather strap that fits rather blindly over your head and feels often times like you've taken a rope and using both hands pulled down so the rope just digs into your head. Then there's the weight, which in itself is a ridiculous and often obnoxious reminder of how little product testing Audeze seems to have done. If they felt they had to keep the weight to provide some advantage, they're wrong. After hours on the head, both the LCD-2 and 3 put a crook in your neck that stays for hours after wearing. After making a habit of wearing these headphones, you begin noticing that your neck just aches more often. This is an issue that can be resolved easily enough by removing all these metals and dense materials from the construction, but I'm still waiting. However, at the end of the day, the Audeze look is still irrefutably timeless and modest.
     
    I always say you can tell how serious a headphone manufacturer is by the cables that come in the box, and how well versed an enthusiast is by noticing the importance of this. Headphone cables make or break a driver's ability to be taken full advantage of. You want to hear the best out of your headphones? Get a silver plated or a silver-core cable from a reputable company. Norne's great at what they do, but their cables do add a pretty substantial weight. Find a cable that suits the headphone, not just in quality but in comfort as well.
    My point here though is that some headphone companies don't bother to make substantial cables for their headphones, and unfortunately Audeze is one of those companies. If you choose Audeze, or indeed Sennheiser or Sony or just about any other (good) 'mainstream' headphone brand, take the time to account for the cost of the cable as well, because you'll be remiss without.
     
    Audeze is a great 'statement' headphone, or rather it's a brand or series of products focusing on their entertainment value rather than absolute purity. Most headphones push or pull at the sound signature in different ways to provide the desired effect, and Audeze's desired effect is one that makes an impact (pun intended) on the user's perception of how a 'warm' headphone should sound. If you're looking for a headphone that focuses on the luscious, sensual aspects of the music it plays and sucks you into it's bass like a giant blob monster, then spend your ticket on Audeze. If you're looking for clarity and detail that feels like a microscope into the music, you should look elsewhere. For the buck, the LCD line provides a sound that is both warm but without prominent distortion or sibilance. With the right EQ, these headphones can almost give off the illusion that they give a damn about being resolving.
    asymcon likes this.
  3. cvbcbcmv
    5.0/5,
    "A Top Notch Headphone with Outstanding Looks and Sound"
    Pros - Incredibly wide and open soundstage, Fantastic balance of sounds, relatively forgiving to bad recordings
    Cons - A bit heavy and fatiguing (due to physical heft) over long periods of time
    Time for one more review–this one I've been thinking about for a while. I've been trying to think of how I can describe the LCD-3's in depth without just saying they sound AWESOME. Well, I think I'm finally ready to give some in-depth analysis. 
     
    Design (Looks):
    I'd like to begin with everything included with the LCD-3's. When buying the LCD-3's brand new, you get the option of either the presentation box, or the rugged box. After seeing both in person, my personal recommendation would be to choose the rugged box. If you ever need to take your headphones out of your home, putting them in that massive, padded case will give you a lot of peace of mind. The presentation case looks nice, but it is not very practical. Audeze includes 2 cables: a 4 pin XLR cable, and a 1/4'' cable with a 1/4'' to 3.5mm adapter. Additionally, you get a little kit to take care of the wood. It includes a soft cloth, and some sort of lemon wax to coat the wood with.
     
    IMG_0808.jpg
     
    Next, I feel as though the wood deserves its own paragraph. The wood that surrounds the ear cups on all of Audeze's headphones is absolutely gorgeous, and it is the perfect complement to the LCD-3. Aside from just being beautiful, though, I love that it adds a bit of personality to each unique LCD-3. Of course, the wood is real wood, not that I would expect anything less for $2,000. Just like any real wood, each cut is going to have a different pattern. A few months ago, I went to a Head-Fi meet up where there were several pairs of LCD-3's, and I loved how everyone's was unique, with its own special look revealed through the wood. Just like a fingerprint, no pair of LCD-3's is exactly like any other.
     
    IMG_0809.jpg
     
    Every company has their own way of creating the "openness" on the ear cups of their open back headphones. There's the mesh of the Sennheiser HD600, unique styles like on the HD7/800, and the grill look, like how Audeze does it. However, Audeze does create their own unique style by incorporated the Audeze "A" into it. I think it all comes together very nicely.
     
    IMG_0810.jpg
     
    The LCD-3's are a BIG headphone. It doesn't feel like it quite so much when you have them on, but if you ever look at yourself in the mirror, you'll realize that they borderline look ridiculous. However, Audeze has created such a beautiful product, no matter how big they are, it's impossible not to fall in love with them. 
     
     
    One thing that I feel I should mention here is that when I first got my LCD-3's, I had some issues with the yoke. When I moved the ear cups side to side, I would occasionally get some popping from the connection of the yoke to the headphone. However, when I mentioned this to Audeze, they were quick to replace the yoke for me. 
     
    Design (Comfort):
     
    Comfort is the only place where I can find a negative with the LCD-3's, and it's pretty minor. This headphone is big; as a result, it's heavy. For the first hour of listening, I never experience any fatigue. Once I get around the 1.5-2 hour mark, though, I begin to feel just a bit fatigued. At that point, it's not too much to stop listening, though. By about 3 hours, I usually find that I've had enough. It's not like I'm in pain and I take them off in frustration and discomfort, but it all kind of adds up, and I just feel as though I've had enough. I think this is reasonable for such a large headphone, though. If there had to be a hit in sound quality to make them lighter and more comfortable, then I don't think it would be worth it. 
     
    The ear pads on the LCD-3 are very nice. They're very big and "puffy" for lack of a better word, and I don't think most will have any issue with their ear touching the drivers–something I find very awkward and uncomfortable. Especially with the "ruffled" feel of the fazor drivers. Again, I don't think this should be an issue for most users since the ear pads are very wide. 
     
    Sound:
     
    Well, how do these bad boys sound? For $2,000 it must be pretty good, right? Well, they sound better than good. They sound better than amazing. They sound better than incredible. Listening to these headphones is a life-changing experience, and you'll never be the same afterward. All kidding aside, they really do sound amazing. I have made several of my friends quickly fall into the world of high-end audio after listening to just one song on these headphones. I'll dive into the specifics.
     
    1. Lows: I really love the presentation of the low-end on planar magnetic headphones, LCD-3's included. The low end is very apparent, but not overpowering, and always remains controlled. What I really love about the low end though, and I feel this is a characteristic of planar magnetics in general, is that the low end carries a certain punch with it that is hard to match. It's not even necessarily that there is more low end than another headphone, but somehow the same amount of bass just carries more "umph" with it, and it is a great experience. I certainly wouldn't call the LCD-3's bass heavy, but I find them carrying plenty of power to suit the bass head in all of us. All in all, I think the low end is tuned just right. 
    2. Mids: I regretfully say that the mids are the weakest link of the LCD-3's. I say that regretfully, though, because they're the weakest link by about the width of a hair. No headphone is perfect, but when I was trying to come up with the negatives to this headphone, I was really struggling. The mids are right in your face, and it truly sounds like the artist is standing right there, performing a private concert just for you. The clarity of the mids is absolutely fantastic. The resolution of artists' voices is unreal–it's almost as though you can reach into their throat and hear the tiny vibrations of their vocal chords. So why are they less than perfect? As I will get to later, the soundstage of the LCD-3's is generally very open and wide, but while the lows and the highs feel as though they are engulfing you from all directions, the mids feel ever so slightly more narrow, and remain more toward either side of you. Again, this is very very slight–I'm in no way saying the mids are narrow, but they are more narrow than the rest of the sound, especially the shimmery highs. 
    3. Highs: Some may disagree with me here, but I honestly feel that the fine details in the highs are one of the strongest aspects of the LCD-3. This headphone is an example of treble shimmer at its finest. When I listen to a well recorded track, like some of Chesky's test tracks, or some of my favorites by Bon Iver, it just stuns me how much extension I can hear in every cymbal crash and beat of a snare drum. When I really think a headphone shines is when you do not just hear the sound of a particular instrument, but everything that goes into it. You hear when the drummer's stick hits the cymbal, the crescendo, and the sound extends until the final vibration. The LCD-3 represents this in every way. Not only that, but there is so much width of the soundstage in the highs. When highs are intentionally distant (I hate to go right back to Bon Iver, but they do this frequently), the LCD-3 perfectly represents that open distance that the artist intended. 
    4. Overall sound stage: As I alluded to earlier, the soundstage on the LCD-3's is very wide. It has one of those sound stages that is easy to get lost in. If I close my eyes, and let the music take over, I find myself in a complete other world, with my entire body surrounded by whatever I'm listening to. First, that "punchiness" that planar magnetics have takes over, and after a few minutes, the width and openness dominates, and I'm gone–lost in the airy soundstage Audeze has created. The only downside is that it's easy to lose track of time once you get put in that world, which will inevitably happen every time. I don't think I've ever had a listening session less than 2 hours. The sound is addicting; once you start listening, it's very hard to stop.
     
    Final Thoughts:
     
    There is one question I always ask myself when I listen to a headphone. Is it fun to listen to? In the end, a headphone sounding good is not all that matters. Obviously, a headphone this expensive isn't going to sound bad. But why would you spend $2,000 on a headphone if you don't have fun listening to it? When I compared the LCD-X and the LCD-3, this was the question I always kept in mind. Not what sounded better, but what did I have more fun listening to? The answer I came to was the LCD-3, and I find the LCD-3 very fun to listen to in general. 
     
    Another thing that I find important with headphones is how well they allow you to connect with music. Everybody has certain songs that they pair with very intense memories and emotions, and certain headphones can help us connect to these songs better than others. I have listened to a lot of headphones, and the LCD-3 stands out to me as one of the easiest to channel an emotional connection to music with. To me, playing a song that carries a lot of memories and emotion, and having the headphone I'm wearing allow me to feel all of those memories again and put me right back in that moment, is absolutely priceless. When I want to connect to the music I'm listening to, I am always going to reach for the LCD-3. 
     
    One final thing I would like to return to is value. Are the LCD-3's really worth $2,000? I think that really depends on the person. If you are the kind of person who just wants good, even great audio quality, then I don't think the $2,000 price range is for you. However, if you are the kind of person who shares an emotional bond with the music you listen to, and you are looking for the best way to get the entire experience of music–not just the sound quality–then you are the kind of person the LCD-3 is meant for. For me, the way the LCD-3 allows me to feel the music I'm listening to and connect with memories I have is a priceless trait. 
    necip494 likes this.

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