In some ways, it’s amazing all the different ways you can improve the sound. There are amplifiers, DACs, better audio players, technology like Waves Nx, and, of course, improved headphones. Over the years I’ve listened to a lot of different headphones at a wide variety of levels, with the latest being Audeze LCDi3 open-back planar magnetic IEM, which boasts some impressive details. After rather an extensive testing across a wide range of devices and situations, are these another hit for Audeze or do they offer a marginal increase in quality for a substantial increase in price?

Immediately, it’s easy to see a lot of time, effort and thought went into making the LCDi3 headphones. Emptying the pouch reveals a startling number of accessories to make practically any audiophile delighted. These include multiple different clips to loop around your ears, a wide variety of styles and sizes of ear tips, plus a couple of different cords. Given these use a proprietary connection, you’re going to need to use the included cords or adapt them to another type, making this inclusion most helpful. Here you’re given a standard 3.5mm connection, a lightning specific one for Apple users that includes a mic and more functionality, plus another connection that enables a Bluetooth connection. There is also a card with a serial number on it, complete with the back featuring a hand-signed signature confirming they passed inspection.

That said, the sound quality is really something else. When playing music I was hearing far more details, even with lower quality sources, making them fun to rediscover my favorite songs. The sound stage feels fairly spacious and able to create multiple levels of separation allowing every song to stand on its own. Even without a DAC or amplifier, I found myself rocking out and enjoying a lot more range than I typically get out of the headphones I test with fairly basic sources.

Interestingly enough, I also started using these with a wide number of games and they were able to beat out most headphones I attempted. Just based off the sound stage alone I was able to easily pick up on where enemies were coming in Rogue Company, or feel the dark horrors of Hellpoint. In terms of sound fidelity, they couldn’t be beat, though my HyperX Cloud Orbit S still offered greater immersion. Still, when paired with even my DualShock 4 they performed extremely well and with a DAC and amplifier, it’s hard to imagine going back to more humble offerings.

Having spent a lot of time testing the Audeze LCDi3 and listening to a wide variety of music and options, I think I can safely say they’re the best pair of headphones I’ve ever used. I had very few things that could match the sound quality and nothing that could touch the overall attention to detail. Despite the high price, these feel like an all-in-one solution that gives people a little something for everything. I got a great fit, a wide variety of connection options, and even Bluetooth right outside of the box and that alone makes them easy to see the value in. Toss in an incredible range and absurd details with even modest sources and I legitimately can’t think of a reason not to recommend them to someone and that alone says a lot."