At every step along the way, the LCD3 proves capable of showing new elements, even in recordings one knows well. Of late, I’ve been using John Hammond’s incredibly well recorded solo acoustic blues album Rough & Tough [Chesky, SACD] for some of my listening tests, partly because it contains great music, but partly because it can—at its best—sound tremendously lifelike and real. The disc sounds good through most headphones, but its sound jumps to a whole new level through the LCD3. I particularly enjoyed the title track "She’s Tough," which is jauntily paced blues shuffle that’s full of great acoustic guitar and harmonica work, plus vocals loaded with sly, sardonic humor. As Hammond sings about his “baby,” the chorus becomes a real treat as these lyrics sweep past: “Now when she walk past the clock/the clock don’t tell time/ walk through the college/the professor lose his mind/’cause she’s tough/…ooh, ooh baby you tough/ my baby touch/she’s rough and tough.” Hammond sells these lines partly by delivering them with sincere conviction seasoned with just a hint of grit, but also by inserting sly, just barely audible spoken side comments in between the words being sung. The uncanny impression you get is of being present in the interior of St. Peter’s Church in New York as this recording was being made, seated perhaps a few feet away from Hammond as he sings and plays. This sort of realism is what makes the LCD3 so musically satisfying and, we think, well worth its asking price.
Consider this headphone if:
Look further if:
Ratings relative to comparably priced headphones:
The LCD3 is one those headphones that seems very impressive right off the bat, but even more so after you’ve spent long hours listening through it and to it. The headphone finds that oh-so-elusive balance point between being accurate and highly revealing on the one hand, yet capable of bringing to light all that is good and right in less-than-perfect recordings. In an absolute sense, we think this is one of the two best headphones available today (where the other would be the Stax SR-009 electrostatic headphone—a headphone we regard as the benchmark to which all other top-class ‘phones must be compared).
In pragmatic, real-world terms, however, Audeze LCD3 may be the best of the best, partly because it works so well with moderately-priced, high-quality headphone amps, and partly because its prices falls thousands of dollars below that of its closest competitor (namely, the SR-009). Add to this the fact that the LCD3 is lovely to look at and beautifully made, and you can see why the LCD3 is likely to take its place at the top of many serious headphone enthusiasts’ “most wanted product” lists.
Audeze LCD3 planar magnetic headphone
Type: Open-back, circumaural, planar magnetic headphones.
Accessories: As under FEATURES, above.
Driver complement: Full-range planar magnetic drivers with thin-film diaphragms and premium-grade Neodymium magnets. (See description under FEATURES, above)
Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 20kHz, with useable frequency extension to 50kHz
Sensitivity: 93 dB
Impedance: 50 Ohms
Weight: 550 grams (without cables)
Warranty: Not specified.