Pros: Comfort, Sound, Value, Versatility
Cons: Availability, Lack of Premium Packaging
So Grado's newest headphone, the limited edition GH1? Well, the total of it all is that it's the best sub $1000 offering from Grado yet. It marries several of the best qualities of the RS, PS, and GS series in one gorgeous maple package. Read on to see why!
From my 325e review, "I've listened to a lot of headphones. A lot a lot. More than anyone should. And as such, I've developed some preferences. To keep this from dragging on... Grado is where it's at if you want lifelike reproduction. Back when I reviewed my RS1i, I mentioned that it was the first and only headphone (to that date) I'd heard that made me feel like I was listening to actual instruments. The 325e was the second and now the GH1 is the oh-so-sweet third. After further investigation (a few meets and lots of forum discussion) I've learned that a large number of Grado-heads are actual gigging musicians. Coincidence? I think not."
Gear used: Macbook Pro running JRMC20 > Bladelius DAC > MAD Ear+ HD with Raytheon 'Windmill' 5751
"Love is a Verb" by John Mayer - Born and Raised
"Trampled Underfoot" by Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti
"Strasbourg/St. Denis" by The Roy Hargrove Quintet - Earfood
"Thing of Gold" by Snarky Puppy - groundUP
"Gold" by Chet Faker - Built on Glass
"Common Ground" by The New Gary Burton Quartet - Common Ground
"Jupiter, from The Planets" per Sir Adrian Boult and the LSO
From the bottom up...
Punchy, thick, very textured, and tasty! Fairly certain this is my favorite version of low end I've ever heard from Grado. The PS500's low end is lush and the GS1000 has the punch, but the GH1 strikes an incredible balance between those. Whether it's the thick, room-filling sound of the upright in the Hargrove or the tasty tom/bass drum fills in the Snarky tune, this low end just excellent. It has the speed that Grados are known for, but adds a little more meat without muddying or subwoofer-izing the bottom end of the frequency range. Just a great tuning down low.
And P.S., this low end is pretty stellar through L AND G cush pads. There are very few Grados that can really pull that off!
From my 325e review, "Vocals, guitars, and horns sound just... right." Yeah. That's about it. Imagine taking the incredibly lifelike sound that the RS1 yields, dialing it back maybe 10% and framing it with a weightier low end and slightly less energetic treble. That's the GH1. I've owned/heard more 50 headphones in my short head-fi career, and the RS1's mids are by far my favorite. They sound like real vocals, real guitars, and real horns. No offering from Senn, Audeze, Hifiman, or Beyer has gotten it right like the RS1. After the two weeks I've spent with the GH1, I can confidently say that these are a very close second to the RS midrange. Just yummy!
Check out John's voice and guitar work on "Love is a Verb." The nuance in this track is really pretty awesome and if you don't have the right gear to pick up on it, you'll miss it!
I was really pretty worried that the upper end would be a little too consumer-friendly in it's presentation.The PS500's treble is still Grado-esque, but it doesn't bring the energy and raw texture that the 325 and RS1 are capable of. The GH1 however, gets the good stuff! Intricate cymbal work in "Thing of Gold" is killer. The transients in "Jupiter" are as good as I've heard (without sounding digitally enhanced of course) and frankly, well, the treble on the GH1 is just great. Every once in a while, the sizzle on the RS1 can be a little fatiguing especially if the recording is already a little treble-hot. The GH1 is dialed back just enough to where that doesn't happen.
Here's one of my favorite things about this headphone. If I leave the included L cush pads on it, I get the normal, smallish Grado soundstage with decent separation and mediocre-at-best depth/layering. However, when I slap the large bowl pads from the GS/PS1000 on them, the GH1's take on another dimension of sound! They develop depth! They develop width! They even get instruments a little further away from me, which to these ears makes the sound largely more cohesive! If you don't believe me, check out some of the longtime Grado junkies' impressions in the appreciation thread or the Grado Fan Club. There are a few people who claim that the GH1 with big bowls gets you more than halfway to the PS1000's sense of depth...
Not really anything major, as far as comfort or sound quality goes. The only real eye-rolls I have are that 1. this headphone came in the same bottom-of-the-line packaging as the Prestige Series models. I'm sure this was a cost-cutting decision, but for the incredible sound quality I'm getting, a little more premium presentation would've been nice. Same reasoning goes for my wanting to see some metal gimbals here. The plastic ones look and feel cheap. At least I got the padded RS-style headband... sheesh.
If you didn't gather it in reading above, I think the GH1 is my new favorite Grado. The RS1 is a permanent keeper and it'll never leave, but the more 'fun' tweaks in the GH1's signature make it hard not to reach for every time I sit down at the laptop! From it's lightweight design, to it's gorgeous maple cups, to the incredible detailed, yet enjoyable tuning, the GH1 probably represents the best value in the Grado lineup that's gonna run you more than $300. If you can get your hand on one of these limited edition cans, I can't recommend it enough. Truly a wonderful product from the Brooklyn boys!