Audeze LCD-3 Review - best planar magnetic headphones

Warm and Detailed – Audeze LCD-3 Review

Audeze makes some of the greatest planar magnetic headphones out there! They have some of the biggest, most detailed soundstages out there. So what can you expect from these high-end headphones, and are they worth the money? Let’s take a closer look with this Audeze LCD-3 Review.

Warm and Detailed – Audeze LCD-3 Review

In the Box

-Audeze LCD-3 headphones

-Detachable mini XLR cable with 6.35 mm connector

-Hardshell protective travelling case

-Documentation

Design

Look and Feel

Audeze LCD-3 Review - headband

The Audeze LCD-3 has a mature and high-quality look, sporting a two-tiered steel headband with a strip of perforated leather. It has gorgeous earcups made of African Zebrano wood. Additionally, with an open back design, it has a matte black aluminum grill. At the base of the earcups, are metal ports for the mini XLRs. 

Comfort and Fit

Audeze LCD-3 Review -leather earpads

The Audeze LCD-3 feels heavy in the hand. On the head it feels a little bit lighter because of the comfortable and flexible headband along with the leather earpads. But it won’t be for those with weak necks. As for the fit, it fit well on my relatively small head. And because the headband is so flexible and because of the metal extenders, it will fit a wide variety of heads.

Cable

Audeze lcd-3 Review - mini xlr cable occ copper

The cable of the Audeze LCD-3 connects to the earcups via dual mini XLR connectors and terminates to a 6.35 mm connector. In between, the cable is made of OCC audio-grade copper. Additionally, with 20 AWG, Audeze says the cable has a low impedance, provides high frequency extension, and allows for higher currant. The cable has individually insulated conductors which braid together. At 1.9 m, it has a solid length, and is easy to manage and coil. 

Drivers

Audeze LCD-3 Review - earcups and planar magnetic drivers

The Audeze LCD-3 has planar magnetic drivers. It uses Audeze’s patented Fazor technology to maintain phase coherence which helps with its impressive soundstage. Additionally, it uses Neodymium N50 magnets in a proprietary magnet array. Together with an ultra-thin diaphragm, this gives the LCD-3 a quick, powerful sound. 

Sound

Low Frequencies

Audeze LCD-3 Review - headband extender and yolk

The low frequencies of the Audeze LCD-3 felt round and punchy. Boosts around what sounded like 40 Hz and 80 Hz provided a sense of extension and tight power. They came through with a feeling of quickness, however maintained a feeling of solidity and density. With lots of space around them, they had great separation from the low-mids and contributed to the groove of songs as a whole. Additionally, while they emphasized a few areas of the low end, they were able to produce low frequency harmonic complexity. 

For example, when I was listening to the song Normal by Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, the kick drum felt had a great sense of spaciousness around it. It felt full and thick, however had complete autonomy, without any risk of stepping on the bass guitar’s toes. And while the subs of the kick gave it extension and the other boost gave it bigness and emphasized it in the mix, I could still hear the overtones of the kick in the room. 

Middle Frequencies

Audeze LCD-3 Review - best audiophile headphones

The midrange of the Audeze LCD-3 felt warm, detailed, and spacious. Cuts in the high-mids between 2 kHz and 4 kHz softened the attacks of vocals, guitars, strings, and horns and provided an overall sense of warmth. Despite this cut, the low-mids and the middle part of the midrange felt full and even. As a result, guitars, strings, pianos, and synths felt harmonically complex and thick. However, this sense of thickness is not to imply crowding. In fact, the mids had remarkable separation and spaciousness, which helped maintain detail despite the gooey feeling of warmth. 

For example, when I was listening to the song Born of a Broken Man by Rage Against the Machine, Zach De La Rocha’s vocal sat backward in space a bit, and felt warm and full. The electric guitars felt huge and smooth at the same time. Their distortion was less pokey than usual, and instead just felt heavy. However, the various guitars had a great sense of separation from each other, from the bass guitar,  and from the drums and vocals. 

High Frequencies

Audeze LCD-3 Review - Best Audiophile Planar Magnetica Headphones

The high frequencies of the Audeze LCD-3 feel present, detailed, and smooth. This is a unique combination, because how can something feel smooth and present at the same time, you ask? The LCD-3 had a boost at what sounded like 6 kHz. As  a result, the snappiness of drums which was softened from the warm midrange, came back to life with quickness and detail. This boost was followed by a cut around what sounded like 7 kHz which helped to bring back that feeling of smoothness and helped the LCD-3 avoid harshness. Finally boosts at around 8 kHz and across the upper octave provided texture and extension. It also helped to provide high frequency harmonic complexity. 

For example, when I was listening to the song Fever by Ray Charles featuring Natalie Cole, the finger snaps, hand drums, and snare brushes had presence and detail. The snare and toms had spaciousness to their attacks. However, they along with the vocals and cymbals still had an overall feeling of smoothness. The cymbals had wonderful lift, harmonic complexity, and sustain. Additionally, the vocals had a beautiful sense of air and breath, as well as texture in the face in particular, as opposed to the throat and chest. 

Soundstage

The soundstage of the Audeze LCD-3 sounded vivid and had dramatic extension in all three dimensions. The sense of depth gives LCD-3 a feeling like speakers. It’s extended highs and lows provided not only a sense of tallness to its height, but a sense of extension that reached far above the head and below the chest. It gave the headphones an otherworldly feel. Lastly, the feeling of width felt accurate and expansive, It had a strong sense of phantom center, but also a strong gradient of gravity giving weight to the placement of each individual note.

For example, when I was listening to the song 1919 by Terri Lyne Carrington, the piano (which, as an aside, sounded absolutely beautiful), felt spread across the stereo field in an accurate and precise way. It had a sense of extension, especially when it reached up to the highest notes. The drums felt pushed backward in space, however all the instruments seemed to feel back in space a bit. However, there was an exceptional nuance in the depth, which really brought this song to life and provided significant emotional impact. Lastly, the sense of height was dramatic, with the cymbals and brushes reaching high above the head. This contrasted strongly from the low parts of the piano, bass, and drums. Most interestingly in the height which usually doesn’t come across was the sense of height in the upright bass. It seemed to move as the notes moved up and down the neck and gave a beautiful feeling of life to the sense of height. 

Overview

Overall, the Audeze LCD-3 has a gorgeous, warm sound which also has spaciousness and detail. The deepness of its lows, extension of its highs, and warm, thick, harmonically complex mids are quick and emotionally impactful. Lastly, its soundstage is remarkably expansive and brings life to mixes as a whole.

The Audeze LCD-3 is available for the best price here:

Audeze LCD-3 at Audio46

Audeze LCD-3 on Amazon

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