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Audeze LCD-3


johnwmclean
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I like Rob as a person and he has always been really nice to me. He brings his kids to all the meets and they are very well behaved and respectful which also speaks of robs character. Whenever I've talked gear with rob in person he has always done it intelligently and when disagreed with never has gotten defensive. While I disagree with some of his aural conclusions I know and trust that their is nothing malicious or conspiratory about his motivations and I do believe he provides a benefit of some sort to the head fi community. His reviews have gotten better, more concise, and he has shown a certain degree of objectivity. That's all you can really ask for from a random Internet review IMO.

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I like Rob as a person and he has always been really nice to me. He brings his kids to all the meets and they are very well behaved and respectful which also speaks of robs character. Whenever I've talked gear with rob in person he has always done it intelligently and when disagreed with never has gotten defensive. While I disagree with some of his aural conclusions I know and trust that their is nothing malicious or conspiratory about his motivations and I do believe he provides a benefit of some sort to the head fi community. His reviews have gotten better, more concise, and he has shown a certain degree of objectivity. That's all you can really ask for from a random Internet review IMO.

^This. Ryan, you and Boomana say things with such precision and dignity ... you often say what I'm thinking better than I can say it myself!

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I've done some work for Rob on a few occasions. He was pleasant and easy to work for. I also don't believe Rob has any malicious intent. I think he's a trustworthy guy, that anyone could feel comfortable buying from or selling to.

I also don't think rob is a shill. Rob seems to make a comfortable enough living to buy whatever gear tickles his fancy (within reason of coarse).

I don't personally find his reviews to be all that accurate. I never walk away feeling like I have a better grasp on a product after reading them, though I do admit he's getting better with time.

I've always felt that Rob's motivation for his reviews had more to do with his social standing on HF than a real desire to impart important information. That however is just my opinion, and I've been wrong numerous times before. Not that I see that as any great crime at any rate, as I feel most of us suffer from the same desire of popularity to some degree.

The danger I see is probably something that Rob has never considered. When you reach a status such as his, many people will base their purchasing decisions weighed heavily by his reviews of a given product. That's fine in most circumstances, but I've seen numerous times how members can turn a personal relationship with a vendor into a blind fellowship. Products A, B, C and D were all great, so therefore product E must also be great. Many vendors we've trusted in the past most likely started out with good intentions, but the need to keep the money coming can most certainly change those intentions, and most of us have seen that more than once.

When the fallout started with SinglePower, there were many that contributed to the continued wallet raiding, just because their blind fellowship and their status obscured the reality. I doubt any of it was intentional, but it did cost people money.

Just my two cents.

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I pointed out how everything he reviews ends up being 'great' to him; wonder if Jude, Kevin or Amos will delete my post since we can't throw pennies on the tracks of HF hype trains.

You need a black t-shirt with cut-off sleeves and REBEL plastered across the front.

I wouldn’t agree that Skylab is untruthful in his reviews. I agree that he doesn’t have the critical ear as we do in HC, and because of it, he tends to give good reviews to gear that we don’t like. He also doesn’t have the degree of technical knowledge that many of us do, nor does he care about that level of technical knowledge. And because of that, he can gloss over technical problems in design that most of us can’t. I don’t have that technical knowledge either, but I do know that my ears don’t often agree with his. And I also know that technical design does influence sound; even if I don’t have the knowledge, I like to read about it. And I can’t pretend that poor design or bad parts don’t matter because ‘the sum is greater than the individual parts’ or ‘synergy’ or something of that sort. So I read his reviews with that in mind.

But I do think he is genuinely reporting what he hears, and therefore not being untruthful, even if what he hears is in total disagreement with what we hear. Yes, I’m sure Skylab gets a rush out of the attention and validation. I just don’t think he does it to be dishonest, or to be a shill. He is also a charismatic guy, and people are drawn to that at HF. So yes, manufacturers like to have a charismatic guy with the ear and technical knowledge of a layperson report great things about their stuff online. It’s great for their business!

I think it’s important that those with a more critical ear and/or more technical knowledge call him out when they hear something that he doesn’t, or when he doesn’t state important technical info. The folks at HF do also need to see the more critical stuff in their threads. There might be someone who really gets it - maybe some who is new, or someone who doesn’t mind the HF noise, but does enjoy seeing the critical and informative posts. Kudos to you folks who can stand going over there and who are even willing to post there. I don’t have the patience.

But the vast majority of regular people (ie, HF) just aren’t that critical or knowledgeable, and don’t get it when someone enters such a post. Just as we don’t care for their attitude or posts here. That’s why HC is here, and why I prefer HC. J

This. Whoever writes reviews, if they write any number of them and regardless of what they say, there are always going to be people who look up to them who will use their reviews to make choices and/or are too caught up in material desire they'll ignore any negatives. People will always take the lazy option (and who wouldn't when audio is so complex?).

Yeah, it sux that the LCD-3s have to be $55 shy of $2k. Just as we thought good, high-end headphones were getting not too unreasonable in price, they start to become otherwise. I think it's a case of the kids in the store who sees the shiny things and starts on at mum to "gimme gimme gimme" and mum says "no". Now they've seen it, they've created this desire in themselves which wouldn't exist if they hadn't seen it (and it didn't exist in their mind). In their mind it's mum's fault for saying "no" but really it's their mind that created the desire and unhappiness, just as the kids on HF created the desire and unhappiness themselves when the LCD-3s were announced.

I did think they sounded very "right" compared to the LCD-2s when I had a brief chance to compare them in Tokyo. I hope the imaging has improved, as the fast attack of the LCD-2s gives the illusion of detail, but in complex music it wasn't all there. This is obvious compared to 'stats, very especially the 009s, but less so compared to most other dynamics IMO.

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Why Hifi Experts Disagree.

Taken from Stereophile Test CD STPH 002 2

Extracted from Stereophile Vol. 1 No.4 March-April 1963.

"The high-fidelity initiate, bewitched, bothered , and thoroughly confused by the staggering selection of components he must choose from, often turns to a high-fidelity expert to assist him in assembling his dream system.

The expert may be a local consultant, a dealer, or a magazine that the prospective buyer trusts as a source of accurate, down-to-ear information.

"If this seeker of high-fidelity truth is wise, he will consult one expert and no more.

The more expert opinions he gets, the more confused he will become, because every expert opinion will be different from all other expert opinions.

"About the only thing that all high-fidelity experts agree about is that high-fidelity is supposed to be realistic sound reproduction.

They may even agree that Marantz amplifiers are pretty good, and that Thorens makes a passable turntable.

But try to pin them down about pickups, or other amplifiers, or tuners, or particularly loudspeakers, and one expert's preference is another's anathema.

"Of course, any expert worth his salt can tell you why there is so much disagreement.

The reason? Well, the other experts, although very nice guys, don't really know what they're talking about.

Oh, they're pretty good technical men, mind you, but they don't really have the perceptive ear that's needed for a truly valid musical evaluation of reproduced sound.

"This is the crux of the matter.

Measurements can help to describe a component's performance, but the final criterion for judging reproduced fidelity has always been the ear, and when we start to fall back on subjective judgements, we always end up with a diversity of opinions.

"A listener can train his ears to pick out all kinds of details in the reproduced sound -- peaks, dips, phase shift, imbalance and the like -- but many such trained ears have never heard a live orchestra, so they are hardly qualified to tell you what is and what is not realistic.

Also, if they have never heard a system with really low distortion or really smooth response (which many "experts" have not), they will be oblivious to small amounts of muddiness or roughness that will be quite evident to someone who is accustomed to listening to a truly top-quality system.

"Listeners with identical hearing acuity and identical standards of judgement will usually be highly critical of different aspects of a system's performance.

Thus, expert A may be terribly terribly critical of what happens in the high treble range, expert B may be hypercritical of bass, and expert C may have a Thing about mid-range smoothness or "coloration".

"We can see how this might influence their judgement of, say a loudspeaker system.

If it is a bit rough at the top, smooth through the middle range, and bass-shy, expert A won't like it much; it will offend his critical ear for treble.

Expert C won't be too crazy about it either, because of the low-end deficiency, but expert B , even while admitting that 'the top isn't a smooth as I have heard', and 'the low end leaves a little bit to be desired', will just as likely sum it up as 'one of the most natural, musical-sounding speakers' he has tested.

:they can all hear the speaker's shortcomings, in the sense that the treble peaks and bass thinness will register on their hearing mechanism, but each picks out that aspect of its performance that is of particular concern to him, and tends to judge it mainly on the basis of that aspect.

"No equipment critic worth his salt will judge a component solely by one criterion, but it is not at all unusual for an equipment reporter to 'slant' his evaluations on the basis of a few things he considers to be of particular importance.

As a matter of fact, it is almost impossible for him to avoid doing this, at least to some extent.

"High-fidelity may be a science, but it isn't an exact science.

There are enough things about it that aren't understood to leave room for a goodly amount of educated opinion.

This is one field, though, where one man's opinion is not as good as anothers'.

"Many writers of books and articles about high-fidelity advise the prospective buyer merely to choose what sounds good to him.

Certainly there is no sense in anybody's choosing a music system whose sound he doesn't like, but in a field where definite standards of quality exist, simply liking something does not necessarily mean that it is good, by those standards.

"A person who likes abstract art, for instance, may judge it by any number if criteria, but resemblance to the original scene is not one of them.

If it were evaluated on the basis of it's 'fidelity', or resemblance to the original scene, it would have to be judged a very poor copy.

Similarly, the listener who prefers his sound shrill and brassy is perfectly entitled to his preference, but he is not choosing on the basis of fidelity, either.

"This raises the question of whether high fidelity can, or should be, better than the real thing.

Certainly it can be made to sound richer, or bigger, or more highly detailed in a recording than it ever is in a concert hall, and the net result may be actually more exciting than anything heard at a live performance.

The gimmicked recording may even, on occasion, serve the intent of the music better than a concert hall performance, but whether it sounds better or worse than the original, it is not true to the original, and thus cannot be considered as a high-fidelity reproduction.

"Sound recording may eventually become a creative art in its own right, producing sounds that bear no relation to any natural sounds.

Indeed, some branches of it -- pops and so-called electronic music == are already well on their way in that direction.

This is not high-fidelity, though and there is no sense pretending that it is.

"As long as we are concerned with the realistic reproduction of sound, the original sound must stand as the criterion by which the reproduction is judged".

Edited by wink
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I hope the imaging has improved, as the fast attack of the LCD-2s gives the illusion of detail, but in complex music it wasn't all there. This is obvious compared to 'stats, very especially the 009s, but less so compared to most other dynamics IMO.

By fast attack, do you mean driver speed and fast decay rate? I think this is what creates real detail, and frequency response tricks are what create the illusion of detail. I mean if not real speed, what makes a headphone more detailed than another? Stats are even faster than orthos, so wouldn't that be why they are more resolving?

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Wow. First off, thanks for reminding me that Debbie Harry was/is a major babe. Who can sing. I'll have to dig out an old LP or two. I liked her back in the day.

Half a dozen pages ago, Grawk said that if Tyll can trash a piece of gear in a review, some random schmuck should certainly be able to.

Gotta disagree. Tyll CAN trash a piece of gear. He has the expertise and the reputation to say that something blows and back up his point. The best (or worst) some random clown like, say - me - can do is say we didn't like something. Or that we liked part of it and didn't like some other part. It's totally subjective. Some extreme cases aside, you can't really peg something as awful without making some technical judgments. It's way presumptuous for some amateur clown to go there. <rant-within-rant> And it burns me up, BTW, when somebody without the background to do so tries to make technical arguments about subjective observations. I hate that.</end sub-rant>

So, I would argue that amateur clowns of good will, honesty and reasonable intelligence will usually write favorable reviews because they really aren't qualified to do otherwise. Then there's motivation. I would imagine the first instinct of the non-douche amateur would-be reviewer would be to tell his or her friends about some wonderful discovery. That's another filter that favors positive reviews.Then ego steps in and said person wants to be the first to break the news, the loudest voice in the chorus and whatnot and before you know it, amateur reviewing becomes a hobby in it's own right.

Then it's a slippery slope. People who don't have the inhibitions and responsibilities of the pros find themselves in the payola-filled universe the pros live in without the background to deal with it as well as the pros do. (which isn't quite spotlessly, shall we say). Vendors would have to be nuts not to take advantage. Yeah, if I was really confident in my product, I'd risk a shot with Tyll and the guy from that other magazine. They have credibility and authority. Do well there and you'll move some product. But I'd make damn sure I hedged my bets with some of these amateur guys.

For all those reasons, I take all that stuff with a huge grain of salt. While we don't want the noise here on Head-Case, I guess it's fine where it's fine. For me, if Vicki (to unfairly single out one person) says she likes something, that's all she's got to say, because I know she can hear and I know she usually hears more or less the same stuff I do. If a stranger is talking, and he wants to exert more influence than some random voice in a crowd, he better be a stranger with some authority and a track record. Which usually describes a professional.

I just read Skylab's review. it all seems reasonable enough, but I just don't trust his ears as far as I can throw them with the rest of his body attached. Tyll and JP are gaga over the 'phones in question.Them, I trust. And Tyll is in fact a professional. So there.

It's just an artifact of the internet world that we have hobbyists trying t take the place of pros. It's up to us to apply the grain of salt and it's up to them to realize they're gonna get trashed just like the pros if they take themselves a little too seriously.

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FWIW, I'm not so sure I'm "gaga" over them anymore. Details eventually ... one thing about being a professional is that you feel the pressure to be right. My reviews are pretty simple affairs on the surface, but when I'm writing them I'm very aware of the need to be "right." (Whatever that means; as right as I can be, I guess.)

So, I think one of the differences between pro reviews and member reviews is that the consequences for error are much steeper as a pro, so there's a lot more at stake (a reputation you get paid to have) ... if you take it seriously.

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As an amateur, I'll add to the chorus - Nice post, Carl. I have only had conversations in person with four of you here, so an insider I am not. But I have, over the years (thirty-six) that I have used Stax, noticed a pattern about headphone comments and reviews.

Everyone who likes some non stat phone better than whatever the current Stax flagship may be is after something Stax does not yield. More often than not (= between usually and always), it is a desire to hear more bass than there is on the recording. Nothing wrong with that, but the point to me is that they are after something Stax has gone to great lengths to avoid.

I use this "knowledge" in two ways. In most cases I note that, not being a bass head to that extent and being a consistent seeker of realism and transparency, I simply conclude that the reviewer probably hears just fine but has a very different set of audio priorities than I do. Secondly, if said writer/poster is very high on a new offering, I wait for it. Sooner or later the initial impression wears off and is modified downward. If it is not about the new Stax flagship, that is. When someone who is seeking the same flavor of sonic bliss as I am continues to feel the Stax flagship inferior to something else, then I take notice. It is just that I haven't seen it happen yet. Then again I haven't read everything ever written...

BTW, I am very high on Tyll's reviews and trust what he tells me with only the test of time to moderate my impression - and his.

Edited by Clarkmc2
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Everyone who likes some non stat phone better than whatever the current Stax flagship may be is after something Stax does not yield. More often than not (= between usually and always), it is a desire to hear more bass than there is on the recording. Nothing wrong with that, but the point to me is that they are after something Stax has gone to great lengths to avoid.

How do you determine how the bass that you hear on the headphones compares to what is on the recording? I use my speakers setups as a reference. In terms of bass, the LCD-2 headphones give me something closer to what I get from the speakers when compared to Stax headphones. However, some other aspects of the LCD-2 sound (even rev. 2) are definitely inferior. Don't know yet about the LCD-3, but it would be quite a leap from the LCD-2 for it to match what the SR-009 can do in treble, detail, soundstage, etc.

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visualguy, again, your dynamic headphone bass is more likely than your electrostatic headphone bass to sound like your speaker bass because your speakers are dynamics.

My point is that you need a reference to determine what's "on the recording". I use full-range speakers. I was wondering what Clarkmc2 uses as a reference when he determines that people are usually looking for more bass than what is on the recording when they prefer a pair of dynamic headphones to the Stax flagship.

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"Reference" should mean something and provide some objective baseline. Your speakers don't become magically reference just for they fit your room and taste.

Ok, so what's your reference? The measurements that I know of unfortunately aren't enough. For example, they don't seem to explain the significant difference in the sound of the bass between the LCD-2 and the SR-009.

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Ok, so what's your reference? The measurements that I know of unfortunately aren't enough. For example, they don't seem to explain the significant difference in the sound of the bass between the LCD-2 and the SR-009.

What are you talking about?

Have you seen Tyll's measurements from his "world-class" shootout?

The frequency and square wave responses sure as heck seem to do a good enough job of explaining the "significant difference in the sound of the bass between the LCD-2 and the SR-009" to me.

Edited by TMoney
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I also believe it may be difficult to speak in absolute terms. One thing easy to imagine though is that someone going back an forth between speakers and headphones would probably favor a (relatively speaking) bassy headphone to compensate for the lack of chest impact.

On the other hand, someone using headphones exclusively may have more tendency to seek texture than bass quantity or at least establish a frame of reference with its existing headphones.

In my case, I listened to the LCD3 coming from months of listening to the 009 and naturally found it bass heavy. Who's right? I have no clue but suffice to say, I am plenty satisfied with my current rig...

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