Audeze LCD-3 Headphones (with Oppo Sonica SDAC)

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Freo-1

Audeze LCD-3 Headphones (with Oppo Sonica SDAC)
« on: 22 Oct 2019, 09:51 pm »
With all the recent activity in this circle, started looking into more headphone options.  Wound up pulling the trigger on a set of Audeze LCD-3 headphones for a really good price. 


These phones should provide years of listening enjoyment.  They do need a dedicated amp to drive them properly, so they are not good for portable usage. 


Will provide feedback once they arrive, but really looking forward to putting this through it's paces. 
« Last Edit: 7 Nov 2019, 10:28 pm by Freo-1 »

Dmason

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Re: Audeze LCD-3 Headphones
« Reply #1 on: 22 Oct 2019, 10:05 pm »
Wise decision.. Have the LCD2C. In years of on and off high rotation audio, I can share that the LCD2C are not going anywhere in the rest of the ride. Just rounding 3rd here, and they stay. With some good clean power of a good HP amp they are absolute monsters yet portray micro detail equally well.

Amps: Eastern Electric Minimax PP 6BM8, Audeze Deckard, Chord Mojo.

If you listen mostly to lighter stuff, like period acoustic instruments, the Mojo does just fine on its own. With the iron-rich alternatives, the LCD are astounding.

I think the OP would agree that under these conditions, to pull this sound off with a room rig would cost many multiples of the LCD head rig.

Freo-1

Re: Audeze LCD-3 Headphones
« Reply #2 on: 26 Oct 2019, 04:41 pm »

The LCD-3 headphones unexpectedly showed up early today.  Initial impressions are VERY positive.  The sound from them is much more of what I would expect from a high end headphone then I was getting from the Focal Elear. 


They remind me of listening to a set of speakers.  The sound appears to project beyond the boundaries of the headphones.  They provide a wide and deep sound stage.  Tonal balance is outstanding, as is dynamics.  Female vocals are a joy to behold.  The entire frequency spectrum is reproduced with no noticeable emphasis on any one area. 


Compared to the Focal Elear, the LCD-3 is quite a bit smoother.  Bass has a bit more drive and clarity.  Midrange sounds more balanced, as vocals seem to stand out as extremely clear, with zero hint of sibilance.  Treble is where the most noticeable difference is observed.  The LCD-3 treble is more relaxed, which makes long listening sessions easier on the ears. 


Will provide a more detailed set of observations after listening for a few days, but so far, so good.  The Mjolnir Dynalo amp does a excellent job to driving the LCD-3 phones. 

adydula

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Re: Audeze LCD-3 Headphones
« Reply #3 on: 26 Oct 2019, 05:56 pm »
Awesome!

Great to hear that they are working well for you!

Will be interesting if you try your Sonarworks profile with these and what it does to the treble balance.

Congrats!

Alex

Freo-1

Re: Audeze LCD-3 Headphones
« Reply #4 on: 26 Oct 2019, 06:13 pm »
Awesome!

Great to hear that they are working well for you!

Will be interesting if you try your Sonarworks profile with these and what it does to the treble balance.

Congrats!

Alex



Thanks, Alex. 


Good question regarding the Sonarworks.  They currently do not have a curve for the LCD-3, but they do have one for the LCD-2, which is not much different from a measurement perspective.  I'll try the Sonarworks at some point, but I don't think the dynamics will be there driving it from the computer.  These are not those kind of phones. 


The really surprising thing so far with these is that I don't notice the frequency deviation near as much as I do with the Sony of Focal cans.  I read that these are 110 ohms, and it's strictly resistive.  That may be why the frequency deviations are not as noticeable with these.  I can hear some deviation, but it's much less that I hear with most dynamic cans.


Honestly, I actually like these better than the Stax SR-007, which is saying something.  Guess all those years of owning ESL speakers and ESL headphones has altered my perspective on playback.   :lol:


At any rate, so far, these are perhaps the best headphones I've heard to date. 

Freo-1

Re: Audeze LCD-3 Headphones
« Reply #5 on: 27 Oct 2019, 01:09 am »
After listening for several hours with various types of musical genres, I can happily report that the LCD-3 is one of the very finest headphones available at any price point. I did not think this level of performance was available from a non electrostatic set of headphones, but these have proven that planar magnetic designs can achieve (and in some ways, exceed) ESL headphones. 


I did try the sonarworks app using the computer driving the headphone.  Since there was no curve for the LCD-3, used the curve for the LCD-2, which is fairly close.  There was noticeable change in the frequency response, but the sound was lacking sufficient dynamics, and sounded a bit bright overall.  I would not recommend these phones for any portable music player without the use of a portable headphone amp. The LCD-3 needs to be driven from a dedicated headphone amp in order to achieve it's full potential.  Keep in mind it only outputs 91 db vs most other flavors that exceed 100 for the same source level.  I also think that the headphone amp should be a SS type.  A tube based headphone amp may be TOO lush/sweet sounding.  The Mjolnnir Dynalo headphone amp is an excellent match for the LCD-3.  Extremely quiet, plenty of drive, and a very overall balanced sound. 


In summary, the LCD-3 is worth a strong recommendation for audition.  It's difficult to describe just how good  they sound.  Be warned, once you hear these with proper equipment, other headphones suddenly may not be up to par.   




adydula

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Re: Audeze LCD-3 Headphones
« Reply #6 on: 27 Oct 2019, 06:08 pm »
Cool!

Thats a very strong testimonial for the LCD3's and they should last you a very long time!!

Congrats again!

A few years back I after having a set of large Magnapans was intrigued at Audeze and when they came out with their legendary LCD2's I hoped on that bandwagon and spent a good amount of money on them
They were big and heavy but had the most wonderful low end and E. Power Biggs Organ low end notes were to die for!!

That said over the next several months I went thru many sets of headphones and found several that did pretty good even compared with the LCD2's. After awhile I thought that they were abit on the "dark" side and longed for
a brighter set of cans and sold the LCD2's and bought T90s and then T1's pretty much happy with these for years then discovered Senns and now the Clears.

The local dealer here has the entire Audeze line including the LCD4's, much lighter and more efficient as well. I will make it a point to audition these in the near future but I will leave my wallet at home!!! LOL

That said I feel the same way as you do about the LCD3's as I do about the Clears..never heard a better dynamic transducers set of cans to date....

Enjoy your new acquistion...life is short...enjoy the music while you can!

Alex
 :D

Freo-1

Re: Audeze LCD-3 Headphones
« Reply #7 on: 1 Nov 2019, 06:41 pm »
In order to get better performance from the LCD-3 headphones, decided to pick up a Oppo Sonica DAC to supply the Mjolnir Dynalo headphone amp.  Will use the HDMI out from a Sony X-1100ES through a Kanex Pro audio de-embedder.  This allows for the doubling of CD/DVD/SACD PCM from the X-1100ES to be fed to the DAC. 


The Sonica employs the SABRE ESS 9038 DAC, and sports a excellent analog output.  I think the Sonica hits the sweet spot between price and performance. 


Will report on the findings from the listening sessions next week.   

adydula

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Re: Audeze LCD-3 Headphones
« Reply #8 on: 2 Nov 2019, 12:31 am »
I took a look at the PCM sampling rates and it does support 44.1khz!

 :D

Alex

Freo-1

Re: Audeze LCD-3 Headphones
« Reply #9 on: 2 Nov 2019, 02:24 am »
The Sony player has a proprietary algorithm that does more than just up-sample.  Here is an explanation regarding DSEE HX:


   https://blogs.sonymobile.com/2016/03/15/behind-the-acronym-dsee-hx-with-audio-engineer-kenichi-matsumoto/


I can report that it works pretty darn well.

adydula

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Re: Audeze LCD-3 Headphones
« Reply #10 on: 3 Nov 2019, 02:15 am »
I meant to say the Oppo Dac supports 44.1khz...so you could send PCM from a PC directly to the dac without any upsampling at all...

But I see the Sony player does some "enhancing" of the signal with this technique they have embedded in the device..interesting they talk alot about missing stuff and mention our smartphones in the article.

Very interesting, but as always being the purist I would like to hear the bit-perfect rendition and then compare to what Sony is doing with the bits etc..

Alex


Freo-1

Re: Audeze LCD-3 Headphones
« Reply #11 on: 3 Nov 2019, 08:26 pm »
I meant to say the Oppo Dac supports 44.1khz...so you could send PCM from a PC directly to the dac without any upsampling at all...

But I see the Sony player does some "enhancing" of the signal with this technique they have embedded in the device..interesting they talk alot about missing stuff and mention our smartphones in the article.

Very interesting, but as always being the purist I would like to hear the bit-perfect rendition and then compare to what Sony is doing with the bits etc..

Alex


While I totally understand where you are coming from, there has been enhancements to the basic digital file for quite some time, such as HDCD as an example.  I just view the Sony DSEE-HX as another enhancement tool.  It only is invoked for 44 and 48 KHz.  I have tried listening using the Sony as a transport to a Devialet Expert, with and without the DSEE-HX, and in every case, the DSEE-HX sounds as good or better than the non-enhanced data stream.  The Oppo Sonica should also show the same results from the Sony transport. 


The Sony up-scaling function is the first one I've come across that actually works as advertised. 

adydula

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Re: Audeze LCD-3 Headphones
« Reply #12 on: 3 Nov 2019, 09:09 pm »
Interesting for sure, especially the HDCD stuff.

Here is a good discussion on the merits of HDCD.

https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/sacd-vs-hdcd.810187/

http://www.audiomisc.co.uk/HFN/HDCD/Enigma.html

http://www.audiomisc.co.uk/HFN/HDCD/Examined.html

FYI...

Alex

Freo-1

Re: Audeze LCD-3 Headphones (with Oppo Sonica SDAC)
« Reply #13 on: 7 Nov 2019, 10:39 pm »
The Oppo Sonica SDAC arrived to day.  Hooked it up and currently putting it through it's paces.  So far, it's a VERY impressive product.  The sound form this DAC is exceptional.  This is a big improvement from the DAC/analog section in the Oppo BDP-105.  The sound from the Oppp/Mjolnir Dynalo headphone amp is very seductive.  One wants to go and re-listen to the audio collection.  The Oppo is hard to beat at the price/performance point.


Will provide a more expended report after a few days of listening, but so far, so good.  Even old recordings sound somewhat better with this setup.  The ESS 9038 DAC is an exceptional performer, and the analog section in the DAC most enjoyable indeed. 


It's nice to have a remote volume control for headphone listening again. 

adydula

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Re: Audeze LCD-3 Headphones (with Oppo Sonica SDAC)
« Reply #14 on: 7 Nov 2019, 10:53 pm »
How about some pictures!!

 :D

Alex

Freo-1

Re: Audeze LCD-3 Headphones (with Oppo Sonica SDAC)
« Reply #15 on: 8 Nov 2019, 08:31 pm »
I'll try to get a couple of pics taken and posted over the weekend. 


The Sonica DAC continues to impress with it's ability to make the LCD-3 sound as good as it does.  The LCD-3 really shines when fed a quality input, and the Sonica delivers in spades.  The Sonica appears to be the same electronics as the Opp UDP 205, minus the video playback. 

Freo-1

Re: Audeze LCD-3 Headphones (with Oppo Sonica SDAC)
« Reply #16 on: 9 Nov 2019, 09:24 pm »

Here are some pics:











Not sure how to rotate these. 

adydula

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Re: Audeze LCD-3 Headphones (with Oppo Sonica SDAC)
« Reply #17 on: 10 Nov 2019, 01:34 pm »









There ya go!
Alex


Freo-1

Re: Audeze LCD-3 Headphones (with Oppo Sonica SDAC)
« Reply #18 on: 10 Nov 2019, 05:55 pm »
Thanks, Alex! 


This headphone combo is most enjoyable.  The Sonica DAC really have elevated the performance of the LCD-3 headphones.  Will provide more details later this week, but so far, may strengths, and no noticeable shortfalls noted to date. 

mresseguie

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Re: Audeze LCD-3 Headphones (with Oppo Sonica SDAC)
« Reply #19 on: 10 Nov 2019, 09:05 pm »
Nice write up, Freo-1!

I haven't heard the LCD3s before, but I hope to in the next several months.

It'll be interesting to learn how they sound with other amps.  :wink:

Michael