What about the Audeze LCD-3 stands out? Who is it for?
All of these answers and more, comin’ up in this Audeze LCD-3 Review and look back!
Greetings bass head, Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions leading to a beautiful audio experience that will make you fall in love with music (NOT gear), all over again, so…
At A Glance
Audeze LCD-3 Over Ear Open Back Headphone Zebrano Wood Rings with New Suspension Headband
This is another headphone that left a really profound impact on me back when I heard it around 2017-2018. Its raw, visceral nature was one of the most startling things I’ve ever experienced; in this hobby or otherwise. I haven’t since felt anything like it, and I’ve demoed over 100 headphones at the time of this writing.
It was the first time I remember really coming to terms with the fact that headphones themselves can have a monumental influence on your own perception of how a track was recorded.
It went beyond feeling like I was hearing the track for the first time; no, it actually made me feel uncomfortable.
The LCD-3 can and probably will change your life, but perhaps not for the reasons you were expecting.
I remember vividly the track in question; Pink Floyd’s “Time” off of Dark Side Of The Moon – a song I’ve heard probably a thousand times at this point in my life. This time paired with Bryston’s venerable BHA-1.
It sounded different, sure. But there’s more to it.
This was like micro-detail on steroids. I honestly felt like I was catching a glimpse into David Gilmour’s soul. During the rhythm section and into the solo, there’s a seemingly inconsequential guitar that you can never really make out with any sort of clarity.
With other headphones and speakers, it always kind of sounded like an afterthought; something used to give the composition a little more body. For me, it was never articulate and really was only somewhat heard but never felt on an emotional level.
I could never understand where it was in the mix, but it was always there. I could hear it, but it sounded sort of distant and muffled; jumbled together with the other sounds.
I’ll never forget how it sounded with an LCD-3 though. I could pinpoint exactly where it was – down and panned almost extreme right, which speaks to its imaging capabilities. Imaging on the LCD-3 is laser-like; another quality that makes high-end headphones really stand out. Not only do they all seem to do a fantastic job at placing sounds in exactly the right positions, but you’re actually able to hear and see exactly what they’re doing. It’s like the NSA or something. xD
It was almost as if the guitar took on a life all its own. As if it were actually breathing and pulsating. It sounded “jangly.” Kind of loose, but incredibly rich, clear, and raw.
It drew so much attention to itself, in fact, that I was forced to block everything else out and focus on it – as if it were an Ant under a microscope. It was like all of Gilmour’s pain, frustrations about life, his uncertainty, his doubts, his fears, and his attitude about time itself were all concentrated into that one esoteric-sounding guitar.
It sounded apathetic almost. As if the guitar had a distinct personality with feelings and emotions, but those emotions were kind of just ho-hum, or business as usual, or too laid back. As if it were existing, but didn’t care quite as much.
Its rhythm meandered, but still somehow stayed intact long enough for the solo to play out. It reminds me a lot of Syd Barrett, the founding member of Pink Floyd who, for much of his short career, meandered seemingly in and out of consciousness and seemed directionless; mostly due to a large number of psychedelics he ingested.
He held it together, but only for so long. It’s almost as if Gilmour used this mysterious guitar to describe Syd – a person with a lot of energy and life but who ultimately lost his way. A vastly important, founding member of the band, who never really received his due recognition – at least in comparison to Waters and Gilmour.
Who is it for?
The LCD-3 is most certainly a unique sound in every sense of the word.
All of what I described above was most certainly not “good” in the sense that I can say I actually enjoyed it.
It was more of a cerebral experience than anything, meaning it appealed to my intellect and my sort of analytical nature. I appreciated being able to dissect the song as I did, but it’s not a headphone you’ll want to kick back with to relax with; at least in my opinion.
No, the LCD-3 demands your complete and undivided attention. It’s like a blink and you’ll miss it type of thing. It forces you to be completely present with the music and in the moment; not thinking about something else or being distracted by the cares of this world – something we all are guilty of.
Even so, another thing to keep in mind about this headphone is its speed; or lack thereof.
Part of the reason I was able to clearly define every aspect of “Time” with unparalleled precision and accuracy is that it was almost moving in slow motion.
This isn’t quite a knock, but it’s also not really a compliment either. It just sort of, is.
It was cool in the sense that the song took on a different personality and I could focus more, but at the same time, the perceived speed almost altered it in a way that seemed sort of artificial and fabricated now that I look back in hindsight.
At 110 Ohm and 101dB/mW Sensitivity, an amp is highly recommended; not because it’s hard to drive, but rather it comes with an extremely bulky 1/4″ adapter which most higher-end amplifiers have. What is Sensitivity in Headphones? [Explained] This headphone was made to run with an amp of some sort. I used the Bryston BHA-1.
I may not recommend these for Metal, based on speed, but they’ll work with most genres regardless. The bass digs down incredibly deep, and for the most part, it’s a neutral-ish response with a non-fatiguing, detailed treble.
Comfort & Build
The build is incredibly rugged, but comfort will be a point of contention with many. I personally cannot wear Audeze headphones for more than an hour without having to take them off.
My neck issues certainly contribute to that, so your mileage may vary. They tend to sit pretty well on my head, but they feel like a bowling ball. Clamping force on the sides of your head is fine, but the headband may dig.
Check out Metal 571’s Review. Pretty much everything he says in this video aligns with my own opinions, therefore, he’s right. LOL. Nah, but I really think this review was bang on.
The LCD-3 was most certainly the most eye-opening experience I’ve had listening to headphones, with regard to clarity and detail. You could almost reach down and touch Gilmour’s guitar – that’s how articulate and real it sounded.
As for it being a sound purchasing decision? It’s hard to say. At its asking price of around $2k, I almost want to say yes based on its visceral nature alone.
Even so, if I were looking for a perfect-sounding end game type of headphone, the Utopia is it hands down.
Stu is determined to help you make sound decisions, and strives to deliver the best and most in depth content on the internet! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, pray, rap, make beats, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His sense of humour, coupled with a knack for excellence and strict attention to detail are what allow him to stand out in an crowded industry.