Back in 2010, Hi-Fi audio and Audeze become synonymous with each other, a hand in hand and a brothers in arms sort of thing. Funny now that I think back on it, Audeze is the only company that I’ve ever known to have it’s manufacturing name often used as a noun to describe other headphones.
Audeze did something very right, but still has a great deal to learn about design and implementation. To be honest, I never really understood their appeal until a long while after the upgrade to the LCD-3 model( $1945 ) was released. I am sad to see that Audeze is sticking to their guns when it comes to the physical attributes of their headphones. I have a lot of gripes, but generally the LCD-3 Planar Magnetic headphones grant me more sonic bliss than some of those hyper expensive Electrostatic headphones out there. I really disliked the LCD-2 and each revision that was released to the masses, it just never clicked with me and when I’d heard the LCD-3 model was audibly superior, I wasn’t even remotely interested…that is until I hopped a plane to Japan to visit some of my friends.
Alone, unable to speak Japanese and sweating profusely in a meeting room filled with elderly, stern faced and stone silent men all staring at me for almost an hour, a good friend of mine finally made it out of his extended meeting to greet me. After shaking hands and a brisk walk to Tokyo’s version of a pub for a bite to eat, he’d pulled out a few of his toys for me to listen to after a long time of getting reacquainted. The place was located in one of those horrifying dark alley ways, complete with steam vents and boxes littering the ground and useen voices in the distance yelling at each other
Naturally, I’d felt absolutely terrified once I saw what was in his bag, I just knew someone was going to throw a knife into my chest or try to steal those Audeze LCD-3’s before he could hand them to me. Thankfully, the pub was extremely friendly and clearly a place for business people to wind down after work. I’d listened to his LCD-3 on his portable rig and was hooked. This model was a lot more to my liking than the LCD-2. From there, I’d saved up for an entire year to try to buy my own LCD-3.
Design and Lack of Comfort
Well, Audeze doesn’t understand comfort in the slightest but they sure do understand how to be extremely bold and beautiful in their exterior design. Planar Magnetic drivers are heavy, there is no getting around it. All of the Audeze headphones have a strong Vulcan Death Grip and an unbalanced, oddly positioned fit to how the headphone rests on your noggin. That annoys and upsets a great deal of normal people. Most regular, non audiophiles whom I’ve allowed access to the LCD-3 found it to be extremely uncomfortable. My niece is often used as a science experiment and…well…I will let the timeline and sequence of events snapped in real time tell the story.
11:40 AM – She wears the headphones for the first time and offers the perfect expression that we all felt the first time we’ve worn an Audeze headphone.
12:30 PM – Her favorite Katie Perry song comes on…yes, I listen to Katie Perry…
12:33 PM – She accidentally clicks the touch screen button on my portable music player and a track off of the Superman The Movie OST begins to play, she immediately takes them off and looks around the room for the source of the song she is hearing. She thought a nearby TV was playing the track, not the headphones. She’d gotten embarrassed when I told her that wasn’t the TV and put them back on.
12: 41 PM – She is still listening to music and asked her dad to buy her one. He looked at me and asked how much they were…I respond ” Around $2,000.00″.
I think the Audeze headphones are among the most beautiful headphones out there in terms of aesthetics. Simply gorgeous hand crafted wooden rings and supple leather or vegan pads, your choice these days, make for stunning eye-candy to anyone who looks upon you. Topped with metal framework, there isn’t much to gripe about beyond the weight which is a staggering 550 grams or so. The cable itself is nothing special but it is terminated in really nifty mini XLR adapters that protrude at an odd angle near the bottom end of the headphone ear cups.
Depending on your preferences, you can purchase the headphone with a wooden box case, or something that will really scare the TSA agents at the Airport with a smaller, more explosive device looking hard shell travel case. Both are quite nice but I certainly prefer the travel case, despite being fairly bland looking with an Audeze logo on top of it.