This is a detailed comparison review between Hifiman Arya and Audeze LCD-3 (2018/fazor), both of which I own, so I’ve had time to really get to know them. I think it makes sense to review through comparison, since on their own they are both great cans (and also people read reviews to help figure out what to try out or buy). Let’s go straight to the sound: FR: Overall, the Arya’s FR presents as more cohesive, whereas the LCD-3 presents more segregated. By that I mean that the LCD-3’s response feels like it comes across more in parts, whereas the Arya comes across more connectedly. Which is preferable depends on the track, but for me in this aspect Arya is preferable more often. It’s a safer presentation. The soundstage also influences this. Overall I would describe Arya as clean and LCD-3 as (mostly) warm. Bass: Both cans have great, planar bass, extending deep and having good impact. LCD-3 is a bit rounder and warmer, often with a just a tad more impact (the word “phat” comes to mind, now and then), while Arya is cleaner and more detailed/textured. On LCD-3, the sub bass separates a bit from the rest a little, sometimes feeling a bit like a second instrument in unison (because it’s less warm that the rest, perhaps). There’s certainly a difference here (each has won a track at least once due to their bass), but it’s not the biggest one between the cans. Mids/lower treble: The biggest difference in the FR is in lower treble. I include this with the mids because its function is mostly to color them (and actual mids are quite similar). LCD-3 continues down after 2k, while Arya starts going up, so that by 3k they are pretty far apart. This is responsible for the LCD-3 warmth and sweetness, as well as Arya’s presence and clarity. Spoiler: Arya won more often than LCD-3 head to head on tracks, but when LCD-3 won, it was usually because of the tonality of the mids/lower treble (female voice, violins, etc.). But it has to be the right track. Baroque classical for example, often favors LCD-3. Anything where the music wants lusciousness, but the mix doesn’t have added warmth already. Sometimes also, in popular music LCD-3 has a bit more meatiness, leaving Arya slightly thin feeling. More often though, LCD-3 feels slightly veiled instead, and Arya doesn’t feel thin. (Upper) Treble: While LCD-3 is warm from the bass through the lower treble, in the upper treble it cools off, and can be just as icy sharp as Arya at times (tambourines and ride cymbals, for example). This is part of what causes the segregation in the FR for LCD-3. This is exaggerated in mixes with artificially elevated treble, however on more natural mixes (like the aforementioned Baroque music), it sounds very lifelike. I could imagine someone liking this all the time, though. Arya can be a tad sharp or sibilant sometimes, however this is mostly (but not always) due to poorly mixed recordings (elevating treble to give “detail” to bad systems). Mostly, it just presents fantastic detail and silvery texture without being too bright (or etched/brittle). I am treble sensitive, and Arya is about my limit without causing fatigue, but sometimes crosses that border on certain tracks. I had HEX earlier, and found LCD-3 winning against it sometimes due to its increased treble energy. I don't think Arya ever lost for that reason. Resolution: This is another big differentiator. Arya really steps up the game for this price bracket. Arya’s resolution across the whole spectrum is fantastic, clearly outdoing LCD-3. The only thing I’ve heard that out-resolves Arya is HE1000SE (though I haven’t heard LCD-4), and that’s only by a tiny bit. The FR lends a hand to this “cleaner” impression, as does the blacker background, and the spaciousness, but the resolution is an important part too. LCD-3 isn’t “grainy” though, more slightly blurry (less resolving but not harsh at all) - but it’s only through comparison you’d ever notice (just saying it’s “blurry” is misleading - it’s not, only compared to Arya). Soundstage and imaging: sometimes a larger soundstage requires a tradeoff for less precise imaging. In this case Arya somehow has both a larger soundstage and more precise imaging. The only dimension LCD-3 equals Arya in is depth. They have similar width, although Arya is a little wider. The main difference in size comes from the height, and it’s a factor of 2, at least. Arya is the tallest stage I know, other than HEX: it is like a halo of sound, while LCD-3 is like a baseball cap: things sit closer to the head, and it projects forward some information that Arya projects upward instead. But, unlike HEX, Arya also has decent depth to the stage, about equal to LCD-3, though it’s difficult to measure because of the difference in height that’s going on at the same time. With orchestral music, LCD-3 is more realistic in a way - musicians all sit at about the same height - however it’s like a miniature model, compared to being there (or Arya). Arya is tilted upward (imagine watching from above instead of the front), but gives a much better “big, immersive” feeling, despite being less realistic in terms of height differences. I like it both ways, but it’s much easier to pick out all the instruments on Arya (also due to more precise imaging). The soundstage on Arya also works in tandem with the resolution to make it very, very clear what’s happening, even in complex passages. For example, in Daft Punk’s excellent “Within”, there is a repeated stepwise synth glissando toward the end, and on LCD-3 the ending of it gets lost down among the piano and kick drum, whereas on Arya it’s possible to distinguish them. Arya is never congested in the slightest, and while LCD-3 usually isn’t either, occasionally it feels that way when comparing with Arya. Lastly, LCD-3 gives the impression in music recorded in churches like the walls have been covered in felt, and often sounds like the room is long and wide, but short. On Arya you hear the walls clearly, made of stone, and the sound goes way up, like a Cathedral. For vocals on popular genres, Arya presents slightly higher and slightly farther out than LCD-3. Sometimes, like with Diana Krall’s “I’ve got you under may skin”, I slightly prefer LCD-3 for this reason (complimented by the tonality). Amp/DAC pairings: for me, LCD-3 wants neutral and transparent gear, to let its natural sound signature come out and provide the warmth. It’s already sometimes a tad too warm as it is; adding more is a little overkill. Also the MCTH exaggerates the already segregated FR in the sub bass and upper treble. Arya on the other hand plays well with transparent and more colored amps. With popular music, I tend to prefer it on the MCTH (slightly warm/smooth), while on classical I usually prefer the NFB-11.28 or Atom. I’ve never tried an OTL amp, but a 10ohm impedance is probably too high for Arya, from what I hear - and I'd imagine too warm for LCD-3. Comfort/build: Arya is more comfortable. You can forget you’re wearing it, which helps with the “immersive” feel in some music. LCD-3 isn’t uncomfortable, for me, even for long periods, but you certainly don’t forget you’re wearing it either. The LCD-3 does have gorgeous build, though. I like how Arya looks too, but it certainly doesn’t feel luxurious like LCD-3 does. Conclusion: Arya is a great all-rounder. LCD-3 is more picky, but when it’s good it’s near impossible to beat. The warm, sometimes sweet tonality is quite alluring, as evidenced by the fact that Arya doesn’t always win, despite being more spacious and clean.