So I got to try the Audeze LCD3’s, and I have to say I was impressed. Now, are they worth the asking price? I don’t really know about that. They are some brutally honest headphones, that’s for sure. To my ear, they really make music sound different. Or, is it the fact that we have heard music wrong for so long, that the LCD3 is actually presenting it to us the way it was meant to sound? This is an interesting conundrum.
I like to use Pink Floyd’s Time as a reference point for testing new headphones, because I know the song basically inside and out. I know exactly how David Gilmour is supposed to come in with the solo, and with what type of energy. Roger Waters’ bass happens to be extremely articulate on this song as well, but it’s Gilmour’s jangly guitar’s that really come alive. In fact, the instrument separation is immaculate. I’m clearly able to hear both of Gilmour’s guitars: The lead, and the scratchy, odd sounding second rhythm guitar that I didn’t realize sounded so strange. I’ve been listening to this song for over 14 years and I have never heard it in this way. It almost didn’t really even sound like the Floyd classic that I was so accustomed to. It threw me off. The clarity was outrageously accurate. I felt like I got sucked into the music Matrix and I had taken the Red Pill. Again, I don’t know if hearing David Gilmour in that light was necessarily good or bad, but the honesty that comes out of these cans is simply astounding.
On Yes’ Starship Trooper, I can distinctly hear a second guitar in the middle section. Again, the instrument separation is really second to none. With most decent to good sounding cans, the instruments tend to kind of merge or blur together, and you never really know what you’re missing out on. I suppose ignorance is bliss, but putting on a good set of headphones really is a game changer.
Flabbergasting instrument separation and detail. It’s like putting music under a microscope.
Honest, clean as a whistle sound. Extremely life like. It doesn’t feel like you’re listening to sound through headphones; it feels like the instruments are right there with you.
Heavy. Because Planar Magnetic headphones use an array of magnets to generate the signal, they are much heavier than your typical dynamic driver outfit. What is a Headphone Driver?
Not really practical for using with your phone. The sound won’t be ideal and the headphones themselves are pretty bulky, with a thick cable.
They will need an excellent amp to shine. If you don’t plan on purchasing an amp to go with these, I wouldn’t bother. They are also picky with what you go with, so try to stick with one of the following.
The Oppo HA-2 DAC/Amp
Schiit Ragnarok + Schiit Gungnir DAC
Woo Audio WA6 SE
Ray Samuels Audio “Dark Star”
ALO Audio RX MKIII balanced portable amplifier
Musical Fidelity’s V-DAC II and V-CAN II
The Beta 22 Amp
Who these headphones benefit?
These headphones have a darker sound.
A heavy set of headphones with a crystal clear sound. Pricey. Comfortable. Needs beefy amplification to truly shine.
Thoughts from Stu’s notepad
If you’re going to purchase these, I would definitely buy from Audeze’s website, and double check the serial number (if you’re buying from someone else) to make sure they are a legit set of LCD3’s.
Comes with 2 detachable cables: A balanced 4 pin XLR cable, a 1/4″ cable with 3.5mm adapter, a quality hard case, and a 3 year warranty. There’s also a small kit to take care of the wood, which includes a soft cloth, and some lemon wax to shine these babies up. What is XLR?
The cool thing about the wood is that because it’s real, No two pairs of LCD3’s will be completely alike. Each pair is hand crafted with a different piece, so the patterns in the wood will vary from headphone to headphone.
If you don’t want leather, Audeze offers optional faux suede ear-pads and headband at no extra cost.
Similarities & Differences
Both use lambskin leather for their ear padding.
Both of the headphones are at about the same comfort level.
Both have the same grill that covers the outside, as well as the same amount of cloth behind the drivers for damping purposes.
Both have an 8 foot cable with a 1/4″ termination.
Both have a Y split with 2 mini XLR plugs that attach to each ear piece.
While both are encased in wood as mentioned above, the LCD2 comes in either Rosewood or Bamboo, and the LCD-3 is Zebra wood.
The LCD-2’s headphone jack connector housing was prone to cracking, so they improved it in the LCD-3 by constructing it out of metal.
Both use bar magnets, but the LCD-2 has 6 while the LCD-3 has 8.
The LCD-2 comes with a Pelican carrying case, while the LCD-3 comes with either the Pelican carry case or a Wooden presentation box.
Bass. The LCD-2’s bass is a little more noticeable, while the LCD-3’s is more textured and detailed. This is very subtle.
Mid-range. The LCD-3’s mid-range is smoother than that of the LCD-2. The LCD2’s is rougher by contrast, and not as lifelike.
Treble. Neither has a particularly great treble range, but the LCD-3 does outperform the LCD-2 in this regard.
Forgiveness. While both are pretty forgiving of bad source material (in comparison to other high end gear), the LCD-2 is a little more forgiving than the LCD-3.
Application. While the LCD-2 is better suited towards general work like audio recording and production, the LCD-3 gives off a more accurate representation of sound.
I would say that while the LCD-3 may be a better headphone overall, it’s not worth twice the price of the LCD-2.
So in the end, are either worth the price? If you’re an audiophile, I would say that’s a resounding yes. If you’re reading this, that’s probably the case. However, if you’re just a casual consumer or even a budding audiophile, there’s no real reason to spend this much on headphones in your first foray.
For a budding audiophile, something like the Sennheiser HD600 is a perfect entry level audiophile headphone, and will amaze you just the same. It’s the headphone I always recommend first because it really does no wrong. It’s got the best price to performance ratio on the market, and serves as the Gold Standard benchmark to which all headphones should be compared. Interested in learning more about these babies?
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.