Today we feature the brand-new Audeze LCD-i3 monitors. A semi-open planar-magnetic IEM, and the spiritual successor of the iSine 20.
Disclaimer: Audeze provided the LCD-i3 at no cost. I only paid the import fees, VAT and customs. Audeze is not affiliated with Headfonia and not a site advertiser. Many thanks for the generosity and opportunity to review the LCD-i3!
I am sure, most of you have heard the name Audeze in the past. Audeze started out as Audez’e (pronounced like Odyssey) in 2009. They have been responsible for many popular products. Headphones like the LCD series, the Sine or the EL-8 have been around our place for a while. Their products have always found a lot of fans.
The LCD-2 was their first big hit, and it was probably the headphone that brought planars back. Since then Audeze has launched a whole lot of products in different price segments. Their main focus was always in the audiophile world, however, in the recent years Audeze has also looked intensively at the gaming and Pro Audio scene.
We have covered almost all of their headphones on this little space on the internet. You can check all our previous Audeze articles here: www..headfonia.com/tag/audeze/
Since 2009 Audeze has constantly tried to improve their products and to optimize technologies. In doing so, they have refined their headphones further and further. Audeze’s popularity went uphill with about every new headphone they released. The enthusiasts loved them, and Audeze kept pushing the limits. The only product that probably was not as well received as the others would be the EL-8. I owned one about four years ago. It needed proper amplification and a better cable to fully uncover its potential.
Unfortunately they also had to face downs. A few years ago there was a big robbery at their warehouses. Many LCD-2 and LCD-3 headphones went missing from their stock. I don’t recall if the thieves were ever caught. I remember the community doing their service though, as many helped track down stolen headphones. Audeze also faced reliability issues of their drivers a couple of years back. Since then not many reports of faulty headphones came out though. So I am sure, they have solved that problem.
If you want to dig a little deeper on their technologies, I suggest you check out their articles here: https://www.audeze.com/blogs/technology-and-innovation
In 2017 Audeze introduced their first planar magnetic IEMs. The iSine 10 and 20 were absolutely unique at the time, and we’ve seen a couple of brands follow Audeze’s lead. With the LCD-i4 Audeze trickled down the driver technology of their flagship headphone into a very small form-factor. The LCD-i4 is their flagship monitor and is considered one of the best IEMs available.
Fast forward to 2019. Audeze revealed the LCD-i3 as a successor to the iSine 20. Today, we are looking at it through a macro lens.
As mentioned above, the LCD-i3 is the successor to the iSine 20. It features a semi-open back design with a 30 mm planar-magnetic driver. Audeze characterizes the LCD-i3 as In Ear Monitor. I don’t fully agree. While it lacks an official term, it doesn’t qualify as an IEM to me. Yes, there is a nozzle that goes into your ear-canal. But the i3 is so radically different to all other IEMs, that to me it’s more of a Near Ear Monitor.
The i3 uses a Fluxor manget array and comes with Audeze’s fazor phase management. The magnets themselves are Neodymium N50 types. The LCD-i3 has a rated impedance of 20 ohms and a sensitivity of 110db/mW. This makes them fairly easy to drive to high volumes. Audeze states a frequency response from 10Hz to 50kHz.
The LCD-i3 sells for 899$ and can be bought from Audeze’s webstore, or one of their countless retailers worldwide.
Here is a full list of specifications (shamelessly copied from Audeze’s website):
In-ear, semi open-back
Fluxor™ magnet array
Maximum power handling
10Hz – 50kHz
<0.1% @ 100dB
110 dB/1mW (at Drum Reference Point)
Minimum power requirement
Buying customers get a sturdy and robust box. Once you get rid of the white outer part, you’ll see a magnetically closing box. Your new monitors are protected by hard plastic, which at the same time lets you peek at your new toys. Getting that plastic window out can be a bit frustrating if you have clumsy fingers like me. Luckily you are probably only doing that once.
The contents and accessories of the i3 are superb in my opinion. You get a complete set of ear-tips, ear-hooks and ear-fins. There are three different cables in the package. One 1.5m mini-jack, a 1.5m lightning and even a bluetooth (aptX HD) cable. The cables are all 0.78 2-pin, should you want to cable-roll. With this cable-set all your needs should be covered. Although it would be nice to have a USB C cable in there as well, just to take care of the Android users. Also, Apple is slowly but steadily supporting USB C as well. You also get a charging cable for the Bluetooth cable.
Audeze provides a nylon transport case, which can protect the LCD-i3 in your backpack. You get three sets of ripped and regular silicone ear-tips. Size wise these are S, M and L. There is one set of ear-fins and two pairs of ear-hooks. You also get a shirt-clip, a cleaning tool and certificate of authenticity.
I think it’s hard to argue with an accessory set like that. Sure, the USB C cable would have been nice. On the other hand, show me another manufacturer that provides like Audeze.
The review continues on the next page!