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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core with 16GB of RAM (AIFF) running OSX 10.8.2 and PureMusic 1.87g in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM, Audirvana 1.5.5 in direct/integer mode 1, Metrum Hex, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, AURALiC Vega, 160GB iPod Classic, Pure i-20 dock, Cambridge Audio iD100 dock, RWA-modified Astell & Kern AK-100
Headphone amp/DAC: Burson Conductor, April Music Eximus DP-1
Headphone amp: Bakoon AMP-12R
Headphones: ALO-recabled Audeze LCD-2, Sennheiser HD-800, beyerdynamic T1 and T5p, AKG-K702; HifiMan HE-6; Mad Dog
Cables: Complete Zu Event loom
Powerline conditioning: Vibex Three 11R
Equipment rack:
Artesania Exoteryc double-wide three tier with optional glass shelf, Rajasthani hardwood rack for amps
Art: paintings by Ivette Ebaen,
Indian bronze musicians and other Rajasthani furnishings from with jewelry from
Music sources:,,,
Review component retail: $1.995
Audeze. Around the globe the company's breakout LCD-2 planarmagnetic headphone had garnered huge and quite unanimous accolades when first launched. With it the brand had moved from zero to hero and placed itself four square at the very top of luxury high-performance marquees like Sennheiser, beyerdynamic and Stax. Quite the career move for two guys starting out after hours whilst running paying day jobs on the side.

I'd been amongst this loudly applauding crowd. In the wake of my review I'd purchased the pair and recabled it with ALO Audio's best braid. When the LCD-3 bowed, its doubled sticker generated obvious questions. Had inevitable evolutionary progress moved beyond its natural fit nadir into the bloated porcine finale? So happy was I with my 2 driven from Bakoon's AMP-11R that the usual itch about still better didn't manifest. Peace from happiness? You bet!

This lack of lust bumps meant that I'd never requested an LCD-3 sample for review. Relative to my pair's stunningly good sound driven from Bakoon's double decker preceded by AURALiC's Vega converter, the stretch from $995 to $1.995 seemed too vast to get bridged by a commensurate leap in performance. You might say that I was far from sold on the upsell. So what happened?

It hadn't. Happened. In eleven years. If it had, I couldn't remember. I'd burnt through my entire review backlog. I was running on empty. Whilst new things were duly committed to, they hadn't arrived yet. Nor was it certain when they would. I was in a hole, how deep unclear. Time to solicit from my end for a change. I mentioned as much to Fred Crane. He is a long-time reader and US importer/dealer of unusual brands for his StereoDesk and Audio Prana enterprises. We share similar tastes in gear too. He promptly came back with an email list of stuff I might fancy. This included his personal LCD-3.
Bakoon AMP-12R proto board left | Bakoon AMP-11R right

What's more, being a dealer for Fostex (HP-A8), Trafomatic Audio (Head One), Burson (Soloist, Conductor), Bakoon (HPA-21) and Mal Valve (Head Amp 3), Fred had already let slip about his favorite headphone amp. It wasn't any within that illustrious lineup but actually forthcoming from Austrian brand Crayon Audio. They are makers of the CFA-1 integrated I'd reviewed years ago and still was sorry to have let get away. I really should hear the new $10.500 Crayon CHA-1 statement with Audeze's best Fred said. And Bakoon too had gotten infected by unadulterated LCD-3 luv. To celebrate it they had in the wake of HighEnd Munich 2013 created a package deal with their HPA-21 and a matching Klutz Design headphone stand. Add that I'd already shipped my AMP-11R back to Japan to be reworked into the newer better 12R. I was surrounded. No place to go but up.

Even Burson's HA-160D had done the LCD-3 tango in a factory-sponsored reader review survey. And Polish contributor Marek Dyba had written up the 3 for us too. Clearly I was way late to this unavoidable party. At least I didn't have to cover usual ground. No tech specs and such. I could head straight for the cliff and dive into the juicy stuff. How much better than my favorite LCD-2 could it get?