American headphone manufacturer Audeze has all kinds of good stuff on the market right now. For premium sound, though, which model do you choose? While the LCD-X and the LCD-4 have their accolades, the LCD-3 could also prove a viable choice.
Audeze LCD-3 Review
The LCD comes packaged with a heavy-duty carrying case and two cables – one terminating in a 1/4” stereo plug and the other terminating in a balanced XLR plug. There’s also a 1/4” to 3.5 mm adapter in the box.
There are two different build variations of this headphone – one featuring bamboo wood accents for $1495 and another featuring zebrawood accents for $1945. While both versions sound the same, they also weigh about the same – and the first thing you’ll notice about these headphones once you put them on, is just how damn heavy they are.
The leather padding on the headband and earcups go a long way in making these a bit more comfortable and managing some of that weight for you, but if you can’t tolerate a pair of heavy headphones, these aren’t the ones for you.
|Transducer type||Planar magnetic|
|Magnetic structure||Proprietary push-pull design|
|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|
|Efficiency||102dB / 1mW|
|Optimal power requirement||1 – 4W|
These specifications show an open headphone with a vast frequency range, good volume levels, and a fairly high impedance. As such, you would want to use them with an amp to get the best sound possible – something I did with the Hifiman EF-100 amp/DAC.
The low end on the LCD-3 is full, but not necessarily deep. While highly detailed, it still gives me a relaxed impression, with minimal-to-know impact in the bass, and just the slightest amount of bleed between low-frequency notes. While this underplayed low end is amazing for classical music or even jazz, it might seem a bit lacklust for some rock and roll.
Accurate with exceptional fidelity, the mids are amazing. Vocals sound especially good, but as a whole the midrange is still crisp and clean.
The LCD-3’s high end can seem a little too bright at times. There’s plenty of detail in there, though, making these headphones sound like heaven where strings are involved. Again, this sound may not be entirely optimal for rock and roll, but a definite shoe-in for anyone with a predilection for classical tunes.
Good gravy. These headphones have soundstage and then some. There’s depth and placement enough to sound like you’re in the middle of a concert hall, just soaking it all in. There’s also an impressive level of clarity and separation in there, too – coming in to play, it only makes the sound richer, with a greater impression of space.
The Audeze LCD-3 is a premium headphone with a premium price, but a premium sound, too. It’s the kind of headphone you really shouldn’t test out unless you’re going to buy it. Because it can and will ruin lesser headphones for you. (Already I’m looking around at the sorry collection of headphones on my review desk. Why God? Why?) The sound is clean and spacious, if a little relaxed in the low end. This isn’t the headphone for everyone, but for some it’s going to be a-freaking-mazing.
Okay, so should you buy it? If you’re a rocker, or you like bass, skip this model. I’d bet good money that you won’t like it. Because the bass is just a little more relaxed when compared to similar planar magnetics, like Audeze’s own LCD-X or the Hifiman Edition X. However, if you prefer that relaxed sound as mentioned above, this headphone may well be worth the listen. If you’re after detail and soundstage, game over, this headphone is it. You’ve finished the quest.
Of course, if you have any doubts, find a way to audition these headphones ASAP. Just go easy on your old headphones. It’s not their fault the LCD-3 sounds so sweet.
You can get these headphones for the best price at: