Audeze headphones have always been a favorite in the Digit Test Lab and the new LCD-i3 has made our choice for this audiofile-grade brand even greater. The Audeze LCD-i3 is a pair of open-back, planar-magnetic IEMs that borrow a lot from the design flagship Audeze LCD-i4 earphones, which are significantly more expensive than the LCD-i3. They mimic the iSINE range of Audeze products, even in the case of low barriers. As a company, the planners used in Audeze IEM nail the magnetic technology as they open-back the headphones. Closed-shell IEMs with Planar Magnetic Tech often make sharp noises between 3-5khz, and Audeze avoids this because of the decision to open-back the LCDi-series. The Audeze LCD-i3 is priced at Rs. Let’s go deeper into these earphones.
In the box
- 3.5mm audio cable
- Lightning iOS Cipher Cable (for iPhone)
- Bluetooth module cable
- Micro-USB charging cable for Bluetooth module
- eartips five sizes
- Angular ear hook
- Cleaning tool
- Wire clip
- Carrying the case
- User guide and driver download card
- Certificate of authenticity card
- Audeze LCD-i3 Earphones
Construction and design
The Audeze LCD-i3 earphones, like the iSINE LX and iSINE20, are packaged in a sturdy plastic box that looks extremely premium due to its textured design. When unveiled, the earphones sit neatly in a dedicated cavity at the top of the box, while at the bottom we hold a carrying case with an excess of the goodies mentioned above.
The wide array of angular ear hooks and eartips of different sizes ensure that you can get a good fit. However, despite donating the exact size of both the hook and eartip, we found these earphones to be rather slim due to their weight. They would feel moderately safe when we were sitting in one place, but walking would make them loose and sometimes pop out. So, naturally, these earphones are not ideal for use while traveling or walking. Don’t think of bringing these with you when jogging or worse, at the gym.
Multiple cables allow users to easily connect to multiple devices as they can be used passively with a standard 3.5mm audio cable or lightning cable for the iPhone, or you can simply connect the Bluetooth module and connect wirelessly. Having an array of choices is great, and the price seems more reasonable because of the different connectivity options. Still, we would have preferred it if these cables were tangled, which is not an unreasonable question at this price point. The wires for connecting to the IEM come with a standard 2-pin connector at the other end.
Audeze LCD-i3, as mentioned above, as an open-back earphone which basically means the sound leaks both inside and out. Compared to a number of open-back headphones, the outside of the earphones still has a manageable level of leakage noise, passive isolation is extremely poor and you need to be in a relatively quiet area to hear them efficiently. The office environment, commuting on public trains and buses, and the outdoor environment in general are not ideal. The i3 Sports is a 30mm transducer that uses a Neodymium N50 magnet. The magnet is housed inside a plastic shell with a semi-gloss finish. A silver aluminum mesh grill sits directly underneath it and the overall look is premium. The design is almost identical to the LCD-i4, although it weighs the same as the iSine 10. Plastic chassis is a good choice because a metal makes the comfort worse and fits more.
The nozzle fitted inside the ear is thicker, longer and larger than the traditional IEM, and when it feels quite light in the hand, it weighs more inside the ear than other IEMs. For us, comfort and fit were rather awkward, as mentioned above, but you can get a different result using ear tips and hooks. One of the things we missed most was the foam tips that we thought should have been included in this exorbitant price point. The LCD-i3 goes far enough out of the ear and looks pretty weird, but still premium.
The Lightning Cable for iPhones included with the Audeze LCD-i3 includes Audeze’s cipher technology, which is primarily owned by DSP. Its DAC is converted to 24 bits and is compatible with the Audeze DSP app which allows users to complexly customize their EQ. You can also use Audeze’s app to access various prepaid DSP modes. The lightning cable also has a microphone and in-line controller. The in-line controller lets users pause / play tracks and control volume.
The Bluetooth module, sporting Bluetooth 5.0 standard, similarly comes with cipher technology and an in-line controller. This module supports high-res audio codecs like AptX and AptX HD and has a respectable 8-hour long battery life. We were able to pressurize about 60 percent of the volume in about 7 hours and 15 minutes, which is not too far from the company’s claim.
The analog 3.5mm connector cable, however, does not include DSP, so to get the most out of this device and listen to Audeze the way you want, you need to use an Apple device or a Bluetooth module. We evaluated the i3 with both the 3.5mm cable and the Bluetooth module in this review.
The Audeze LCD-i3 dramatically recovers detail in audio. The stock experience, cipher tech allows you without any intriguing dimensions of tweaking, will delight flat and the toughest audiofiles. Competitors like Campfire Andromeda and RHA CL2 Planner have a hard time stacking up to the i3 when it comes to speed and driving, especially on the base. The shaft is tight, controlled and well pierced. Kick drums and bass guitars sound fantastic and the sound never shakes too much in the middle. The lower extremities are stretched but not over-stretched and an increase in the area around 40kHz gives them extra vitality. The separation from the lower middle is excellent.
Low-mids are sometimes a little overweight for our choices and female vocals are a bit of a hit because of this. However, the rest of the frequency range in the middle is delicious and sounds forward. They offer a wealth of detailed range. However, on some jazz tracks, the mids are a bit weak-sounding. Mids are by far the weakest component of the Audeze LCD-i3 but they still manage to lose most of the IEM out there, which is to say. It is not as commanding as the excellent breeding of low and high.
Speaking of height, the Audeze LCD-i3 excels here. These extend quite a bit but at any given time, the sound is glossy or small and mostly does not sound delicious and full. Increased height makes tracks significantly more dynamic, adding omf to pop or rock tracks such as Something from Nothing By The Fu Fighters. Listening time Century By Fruit Out Boy Where most IEMs crack at high frequencies or at least make irrelevant noises, the Audeze LCD-i3 handles notes very subtly without rough or sharp noises.
The sound stage expected from the open-back earphones is extremely wide. The width is wide and so is the height. Imaging is also nice and specific tracks such as AKFG’s Blue Train, You will feel the closeness of the device which is not found in the off-back earphones. Breaking open-back restrictions IEMs usually stumble when it comes to the sound stage. The result is a remarkable gaseous quality that seems super-real.
The last row
If budget is not a problem for you, Audeze LCD-i3 is one of the best IEMs you can find on the market today. If you are an audiophile and mostly listen to music within the confines of your home or studio, these IEMs provide a life-like, balanced sound quality that highlights complex details and subtleties on the tracks as opposed to the traditional BA IEM. Planner Magnetic Tech provides airy, realistic sound with an open-back design that works great with almost all genres of music. Priced at Rs 79,900, these IEMs are definitely expensive, but they are totally worth every rupee and then some.