- 1/30/21. Article/link cleanup. Added some images.
Hi friend and Welcome aboard!!
Before we get into the Audeze LCD-2 vs. LCD-3 comparison, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this review
For this article, I will outline the Audeze LCD-3, and then compare and contrast them with the LCD-2 towards the end! 🙂
- Video Review
- Amp/DAC requirements
- Who these headphones benefit?
- Thoughts from Stu’s notepad
- Similarities & Differences
- Final Word
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!!
- Type: Open Back. Closed back vs. Open back headphones
- Fit: Circumaural
- Driver Technology: Planar Magnetic. What is a Headphone Driver?
- Frequency Response: 5Hz – 20kHz
- Impedance: 45 Ohm. What is Headphone Impedance?
- Housing: Zebrano Wood
- Material: Lambskin, Wood.
- Cable: Mini XLR, 1/4″ with 3.5mm adapter.
- Magnet: Neodymium
- Sensitivity: 91dB at 1mW
- Maximum Output: 130dB SPL. What is SPL?
- Weight: 543g
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 the 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.
- Pretty comfortable.
- Quality build.
- Very neutral.
- 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?
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 a 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 handcrafted 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 earpiece.
- Overall Sound. Both sound very much alike.
- Both play very well at extremely high levels with no sibilance or distortion. What does Sibilant mean?
- While both are encased in wood as mentioned above, the LCD-2 comes in either Rosewood or Bamboo, and the LCD-3 is Zebrawood.
- 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 mid-range on the LCD-2 rolls off more gradually after 1kHz, while the LCD-3’s is a bit of a sharper dip.
- Treble. The treble on both rolls off and is fairly dark sounding.
- 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.
- Overall. I personally enjoyed the sound of hte LCD-2 more. You’ll notice that it’s going to be a smoother, more enjoyable overall sound, whereas the LCD-3 had that raw, almost visceral sense of neutrality which can be a bit off-putting at times. It’s not that it sounded bad, it’s just that I may use an LCD-3 during the times when I want to pick apart individual instruments and sounds, whereas the LCD-2 is something I just enjoy listening to music as a whole with. Both are pretty similar headphones at the end of the day, but those were my thoughts and feelings regarding each. The Amps & DACS used at the time of each respective demo also likely played a small role, but both used
You can also check out my LCD-2 Review here.
The LCD-3 is still one of the best headphones I’ve heard in this hobby. The LCD-2 is right there with it. Just be advised that Audeze headphones aren’t for everyone. I personally enjoy them, but you may not because of that signature dark treble. Some people just can’t get on board with it. As far as the LCD-2 vs. 3, the differences between them are pretty subtle, but I may recommend the LCD-2 for people who just want to enjoy the music a bit more.
The LCD-3 is more of a raw experience, and I think a bit brighter and more crisp sounding than an LCD-2.
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Audeze LCD-2 vs. LCD-3 comparison.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
Which of these tickles YOUR pickle? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,
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