CanJam at RMAF - Show Stopper: The Amazing Audez'e LCD-3
Audez'e LCD-3 ($1945)
The rise of planar magnetic headphones over the last few years has been breathtaking. In rapid succession both HiFiMAN and Audez'e have released headphones of this type, stepping up their game at each point along the way. Both have been steadily narrowing in on great sound and, until a week ago, the Audez'e LCD-2 and HiFiMAN HE-500 were neck and neck (in my opinion) in the race for greatness. And then, in one swell foop, Audez'e arrives at CanJam with a headphone that races lengths ahead in this category.
Okay, maybe I'm overstating the case, but man, I simply can't believe how Audez'e has managed to make such significant improvement to this category of headphone. Some might simply call it an incremental improvement, but when an audio device is so clearly better on first listen I take that as a major accomplishment.
The previous LCD-2 Rev 2 is a very good sounding headphone with luscious bass and heft. It improved significantly over the Rev 1 version of these cans with significantly more articulate treble. But it doesn't have the clarity and speed of top-of-the-line electrostatic headphones like the Stax SR-007 or SR-009, or the dynamic ring-radiator driver of the Sennheiser HD 800.
The new LCD-3 is a significantly faster sounding headphone without going overboard with an overemphasized treble. This has been achieved with a completely new planar magnetic driver design that uses a much thinner diaphragm than previous models. Other changes include softer ear-cushions (which also effect the sound), a more comfortable headband, and a more durable ear-piece connector design.
But more importantly for this report, the show floor was abuzz with cudos for these new cans. Every conversation started with, "Have you heard the LCD-3?" Headphone geeks cheer good new products certainly, but we really get excited when new technologies in headphone design yield game changing dynamics in the industry. I've got to believe Sennheiser, AKG, and Beyerdynamic have noticed the rise of the planar magnetic cans in the last few years and are thinking about what to do about it. 'Cuz if they haven't, they'll be quizzically brushing dust off the boxes on their stocking room shelves.
I consider the LCD-3 the very best headphone you can get for use with a traditional headphone amplifier. You'll have to step up to the big bux of electrostatic headphones and amplifiers to best them. Simply put, if you're not ready to spend $10,000+ on headphones and amp, the LCD-3 is the way to get world class sound on headphones.
Congatulations Audez'e! What's it feel like to sit on top of the world?