LCD 3 – Must Try Headphones

Video review here

INTRODUCTION

When I heard the LCD 2, I thought is was pretty awesome. I did not think it can get much better from that. One complaint I had was the comfort and I did expect some kind of upgrade in terms of that. I have to say here is that, going into this review as someone who expected not much of significant upgrade in terms of sound, I was quite surprised.

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ABOUT AUDEZE

From their website:

Audeze’s origins go back to 2008 when founders Sankar Thiagasamudram and Alexander Rosson met engineer Pete Uka who developed specialized flexible circuit materials for NASA. They quickly realized the material might be perfect for headphones. That’s when Dragoslav Colich, who has 30+ years’ experience in designing planar drivers, joined the team as CTO to create the LCD-1 headphone.

Then we created the legendary, award-winning LCD-2 and LCD-3 headphones, and the higher-efficiency LCD-X and XC models. More recently, we made planar magnetic technology accessible to a wider audience with the EL-8 and SINE series headphones. Audeze turned to their strategic partner Designworks, a BMW Group Subsidiary, for the cutting-edge industrial design for the new headphones as well as the Deckard DAC/Amplifier.

Audeze feature proprietary planar magnetic designs with extremely thin-film driver materials and powerful custom magnets. Planars overcome many limitations inherent in typical cone drivers; our lightweight diaphragms are, for example, faster and more responsive than heavier moving-coil or dome drivers. Planar magnetic diaphragm also have a voice-coil circuit spread across the diaphragm surface. The diaphragm’s voice-coil circuit interacts with the magnetic field to produce an electromagnetic force that moves the diaphragm back and forth creating the sound you hear when energized by an audio signal.

DISCLAIMER

This review unit was lent to me by Bay Bloor Radio, for a review. Nevertheless, my review will contain no bias

SPECS

Style Open circumaural
Transducer type Planar magnetic
Magnetic structure Proprietary push-pull design
Magnet type Neodymium
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
Impedance 110 ohms
Efficiency 102dB / 1mW
Optimal power requirement 1 – 4W

THE BUILD QUALITY

All you will see on these headphones is wood, metal, and Leather (you can opt in for vegan – leather free pads) just like LCD 2. However, LCD 3 does come with an upgrade.

Some of the upgrade includes;

  1. brown leather pads that I personally found to be more comfortable and more elegant looking
  2. brown leather headband straps that I personally found to be more comfortable and more elegant looking
  3. Zebrano wood that looks like tiger stripes giveing a very nice look to the headphones

I did find these headphones to be more comfortable than the LCD 2 which I had trouble leaving it on my head for a long time. However, LCD 3 still feels a bit heavy for my head.

Sound mechanism

The drivers used are planar magnetic drivers and to me, this is a plus because other than the fact that Audeze has great experience tuning these types of drivers, these types of drivers can make a more impactful sound.

Included is also their latest technology, the “fazor,” which is a wave guide to increase the clarity and lower distortion.

SOUND QUALITY

Lower Frequencies: I praised the impact bass presence in the LCD 2 but I was surprised by the increased amount of impact in the LCD 3 even more ! And all controlled to excellence. Not much to say here, It was one of the best experiences I’ve had in this frequency range. Go check out my LCD 2 review and come back to this one to get a better impression

Mid Frequencies: I found this headphone to excel with micro detail in this range, even more so than the LCD 2. Very lush sounding and I cannot emphasize this more. This is the one of the most pleasant headphone I have ever heard in terms of layering. Vocals seemed a little bit distant than the LCD 2 at first before I got adjusted to the headphones.

High Frequencies: Falls short in the upper range compared to HD800s but excels in the lower ranges. Again, same thing with LCD 2 here basically. However more pleasant than the LCD 2 in every way possible.

Soundstage/imaging: The soundstage was larger than the HD650 or that of the LCD 2 and tad smaller than the HD800s and Hifiman edition x v2. However, the imaging was quite impressive, although this also fell short compared to the mighty HD800s. In terms of imaging, it was quite similar to the level of the Hifiman edition x v2. A lot of you will disagree or agree with me in these comparisons but remember one thing. “these are mild differences, these headphone are pretty similar in sound stage and imaging.” To the extent of you not being able to correctly analyze it unless you had them all side by side like me to go back and forth on the sound stage test tracks.

Overall Thoughts

Bottom line, I would put these as my favorite planar magnetic headphones of this month. Perhaps this year –  This is what I said for the LCD 2 review. I cannot say I stand by it now that I heard the LCD 3. LCD 3 is the clear new winner.

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