First Listen: Audeze LCD-3 Planar Magnetic Headphone Review

August 04, 2014

For three glorious weeks I relived my music collection with Audeze’s flagship headphone and what an experience it was.

Guest post and impressions by Charles Bonn (AKA TrollDragon).

When Burson Audio of Melbourne, Australia announced their Audeze LCD-3 loaner program, I gladly jumped at the chance to try put these top-tier planar magnetic headphones through their paces.

The Audeze LCD-3’s arrived in their rugged IP67-rated SKB travel case with a custom molded foam insert that keeps the headphones safe and secure. Here’s a little rant, however; why is it that nearly every case that manufacturers provide for headphone storage require you to fully retract the yokes in order to put them back in the case!? I don’t want to adjust my headphones every time I take them out or put them away! 

Anyway, upon lifting the LCD-3s from the case I was immediately blown away by their weight. After you’ve handled the LCD-3s for a while they make the Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro, for example, feel like a set of Koss Porta Pros. In other words, the LCD-3s are not a pair of cans you want to headbang with because they will most certainly fly off your head and seriously hurt any bystanders.

That said, the luxurious leather ear pads and headband give the LCD-3s a very comfortable fit regardless of their heftiness. Beyerdynamic’s DT880s are one of the most comfortable headphones I have ever tried, but the LCD-3s take that comfort to the next level. I’ve heard from other listeners that the weight of the LCD-3s is hard on the neck, but I didn’t find this to be an issue at all and I have put in some long listening sessions with these.

As for the sound, I’m not going to try to describe the LCD-3s in great detail, because there are so many reviews on and around the web from those who are quite a bit more fluent in Audio Speak than I could ever be. In fact, I have only compared these to the DT880s, and to my ears, there is a night and day difference between the two. 

I find the DT880 to be a great neutral headphone whose sonic signature I enjoy across a wide spectrum of genres. Listening to the same music through the LCD-3s was an amazing experience. In my opinion, every quality the DT880s have, the LCD-3 has in spades above them. I find the DT880s a little lacking in the bass department, the bass is there but for any type of electronic music I’d rather listen to my Ultrasones. Then you listen to the same electronic music through the LCD-3s and the bass is there, hitting strong and deep. Acoustic, Metal, Progressive Rock, World Music and so on, there wasn’t a genre that I could throw at the LCD-3s that wasn’t reproduced in a very enjoyable way.

The LCD-3s are quite a bit more open than the DT880s, and I don’t have a “perfect” listening environment, so when you crank up the power, there is no peace and quiet for anyone nearby or even in the next room. The recommendation from Audeze is 1-4W of power to properly drive the LCD-3s and they will take a momentary burst of 15W if only for a few milliseconds, which is incredible considering the DT880s maximum power rating is a very tiny 100mW.

During my time with the LCD-3s, I auditioned them with a Burson Audio Conductor SL and a Little Dot MK IV. A pair of Soviet 6Ж5П’s or the Hytron 6CS6 tubes brought a very warm and liquidy-smooth sound that solid state amplifiers just don’t seem to provide.

All said and done, it was a glorious three weeks that went by way too fast. The LCD-3s are a stellar set of top-tier cans, which should be expected when they retail for $1,945, but now I want to hear the T1’s, HD800’s, LCD-2’s, LCD-XC’s and as many other high-end cans as I can my ears on. 

Until next time,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Burson Audio of Melbourne, Australia for the opportunity to experience the Audeze LCD-3 planar magnetic headphones.

Be sure to check out TrollDragon’s blog, The Audio Journey of TrollDragon, and give him a follow on Instagram to see a lot of great head-fi photos.

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