Audeze recently released the newest in its line of planar magnetic in-ear headphones. Sitting in between the flagship LCD-i4 and the iSine series in price, what can you expect from this dapper little IEM? Let’s take a closer look with this Audeze LCD-i3 Review.
Dapper Detail- Audeze LCD-i3 Review
In the Box
-Audeze LCD-i3 IEMs
-2-pin cable with 3.5 mm connector (1.5 m)
-2-pin cable with Cipher lightning connector (1.5 m)
-2 pin Bluetooth cable
Look and Feel
The Audeze LCD-i3 has the same magnesium housing as the LCD-i4, with a semi-glossy finish. and a silver metal grill underneath. As a result, it has a dapper, classy look. Additionally, it feels strong and durable in the hand, yet maintains a light weight.
Comfort and Fit
The Audeze LCD-i3, with such a large housing, has a few features to help them fit well in the ear. Firstly, it comes with a few different ear tip sizes, although I’ll admit, since the nozzle is large, it’s not going to be great for those with small ears (and I had a little bit of a difficult time getting it to fit right). Additionally, it has ear hooks, just like the iSine Series and the LCD-i4. Lastly, it comes with new Audeze ear fins, which sets this IEM apart from the other Audeze IEMs. And whole the fins were a little bit big for my ears, they will work well for those with medium and large ears who need that added security.
The Audeze LCD-i3 has super efficient planar magnetic drivers. It utilizes Audeze’s ultra thin Uniforce diaphragm, as well as Audeze’s Fluxor magnetic technologies. As a result, Audeze boasts that this IEM can deliver up to 130 dB (although please don’t listen this loudly for the sake of your precious ears) without distortion.
With three different cable options included in the box, the Audeze LCD-i3 cables are super versatile. First, it comes with a standard 2-pin cable which terminates to a 3.5 mm connector. This cable has a flat design, making it easy to coil and manage. Next, the LCD-i3 comes with a 2-pin cable which terminates to a lighting connector. This features Audeze’s Cypher technology, which is its proprietary DSP. Its DAC converts at 24 bit. It also is compatible with the Audeze DSP app, which comes stocked with a 10-band EQ for maximum sound customization. Additionally, this cable has a microphone and remote for talking on the phone and controlling playback. Ihas a more rounded wire design in comparison to the standard 3.5 mm cable. Lastly, the LCD-i3 comes with a Bluetooth Cypher cable. Like the lightning cable, it uses the Cypher conversion technology and has a microphone and remote for phone calls and playback control. Additionally it supports AptX, AptX HD, and Bluetooth 5 and has an 8-hour battery life.
The low frequencies of the Audeze LCD-i3 have an expressive sense of extension. A boost in the sub region around 40 kHz provides length to the lows and extra liveliness. Kick drums, quick moving sub synths, and bass guitars have punchiness and groove, with wonderful separation from the low mids.
For example, when I was listening to the song I’m Callin’ by Tennis, the kick drum felt punchy and full, with a nice feeling of extension. Meanwhile, the bass guitar was able to move and groove alongside its similar rhythmic pattern, yet maintained separation and differentiation.
The middle frequencies of the Audeze LCD-i3 have a sense of harmonic complexity, presence, and great separation. A boost in the low-mids provides weight and fullness, which contrasts well from a boost in the high-mids around 3 kHz which provides articulation. Another boost around 1 kHz gives a nice twack to snare drums, and forwardness to drums, strings, horns, and guitars. However, cuts at 2 kHz and between 4 and 5 kHz helps to even the levels back out. As a result, the LCD-i3 is able to maintain a sense of presence and detail, without attacks or vocals sitting to loudly in the mix.
For example, when I was listening to the song Carolina in My Mind by James Taylor, the bass guitar felt fat in the low-mids. This fatness worked well with the drum pattern, and yet maintained separation from the piano and electric guitars. Additionally, the acoustic guitars had a pleasant and detailed sense of attack and clarity. Likewise, the snare drum and piano hammers had strong, detailed and pretty attacks. However, they all kept an appropriate loudness in the mix, which helped to give the song emotional impact and clarity.
The high frequencies of the Audeze LCD-i3 has both presence and lift. A boost in the lower treble around what sounded like 6 kHz brought forward the attack of cymbals and drums, as well as the consonants of vocals. Additionally, a cut around what sounded like 8 kHz helped the LCD-i3 avoid harshness and sibilance. However, this cut, while wide and able to maintain harmonic complexity, had a slightly softer sense of texture than it would otherwise. Finally, a boost around what sounded like 11 kHz brought lift and extension back to the highs of the LCD-i3. Vocals, cymbals, and other high-frequency rich instruments had a sense of audible air, which gave it emotional impact and an overall feeling of prettiness.
For example, when I was listening to the song Fever by Ray Charles featuring Ray Charles featuring Natalie Cole, the finger snaps, hand drums, and vocals felt forward and articulate. However, the snare brushes felt a little bit quieter in the mix with a bit less texture. However, the long, sustained cymbal flares along with both Ray’s and Natalie’s vocals had a gorgeous feeling of audible air.
The soundstage of the Audeze LCD-i3 has a great sense of contrast in the feeling of depth, and height. The sense of width feels a little bit less extreme, but still has a feeling of nuance and great differentiation. Because of the shape of the midrange, instruments with high-mid info feel forward in space, and have great separation and contrast from darker, more midrange heavy instruments further back. A similar feeling came through with the sense of height because of the combination of high frequency and low frequency extension. Lastly, the sense of width had strength in its phantom center. However, it also had a good sense of movement.
For example, when I was listening to the song 1919 by Terri Lyne Carrington, the intimacy of the piano contrasted well from the far off upright bass. Additionally, the extension of the cymbals and snare brushes had extension which reached far above the head. This extension contrasted well from the equal but opposite extension of the upright bass, with the piano hammers in the middle. Lastly, the piano, which is recorded in stereo felt a bit less dramatic in its extension, but maintained separation and nuance in its left-to-right placement.
Overall, the Audeze LCD-i3 had a feeling of excitement to its sound. It had a sense of presence and clarity, yet also had a sense of harmonic complexity and fullness. With a nice feeling of extension in the highs and lows, it had a wonderful feeling of emotional impact and worked well for a wide variety of genres.