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Grado GS1000

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #195 in Over-Ear


Pros: Imaging, clarity, mids

Cons: Price, Soundstage is a bit flat, the headband is still underwhelming

First, some boilerplate stuff -


Audio setup -

    FLAC files in MEdia Monkey -> Amazon Basics TOSLINK cable -> Schiit Bifrost w/Uber upgrade -> Knukoncept Shielded RCAS -> Project Ember with 80's Amprex 7062 tube


Music -

    Nabucco, Vienna Philharmonic and Vienna State Opera Chorus conducted by Lamberto Gardelli, 1965

    Why So Serious, Hans Zimmer, the Dark Knight OST


Grados are considered to be the best for Jazz music, but this Nabucco recording is one of my favorites in my collection, and thus the recording I'm most familiar with. It also helps that it is superbly recorded and mastered. Why So Serious was selected because 3:25 you have the best test track for bass I've ever stumbled across. Pure bass, no distractions.


I bought these headphones used on the "For Sale" forum here, and I was warned in advance that they actually have a bit of a "warm-up" time. I didn't believe that, so I plugged them in and started asap. Turns out, the original owner was right, they really suffer from an extremely flat and narrow soundstage when they were first plugged in, and the base was a bit lacking. I wasn't surprised about the bass, the ps-500 were even a bit on the low end of bass, but after they ran for a bit the music opened up, and the bass got into pretty good territory. Instrument separation was good, but not great, I could tell where a section was, but could not pick out exactly where the section was, much less the individual instruments (which can be done with french horns, try it sometime). The width of the soundstage was easily apparent during the funeral march, where the music gives the sense of a procession, starting far to the left, moving about 30 yards in front of you, then fading into the distance off to your left, but the transition is seamless, with no distortions of the soundstage. That being said, even in works where the whole orchestra is playing at once, with the soloists singing as well, you never really get much depth to the soundstage, which left me a bit disappointed. It's the musical equivalent of watching a movie, the details have all been compressed into two dimensions. That's really a good description of how they feel, like you're in the 20th row of a theater, watching a figurative movie. The sound isn't intimate, isn't holographic, and isn't super-detailed, but it's very, very good regardless. These aren't flagship level, but they never really claimed to be, so I thin all of us would be willing to let that slide.


Now, to cover tonal balance, I was very pleased with the phones. They're very lively, not analytical at all, but one look at the frequency response graph from Headroom would make that obvious.

Music is very lively, vocal and orchestral pieces are very engaging, and the bass is very good. I was actually also listening to some Beyer T1's this weekend, which were far more analytical. The bump in the upper bass around 100 Hz was very nice, and really allowed me to feel the bass test from Why So Serious. Nothing like my old DT990's but nothing I've tried was ever quite like those. The sound also doesn't fall into the "bright" category, and isn't fatiguing for me to listen to, and I'm personally sensitive to overly-bright music, so that was a pleasant surprise.


Now, onto the design and comfort - I have some major beef with Grado's design and comfort, and have for some time. The headband on grados is my second least favorite, and the only real reason it loses out to the old HifiMan is because the HifiMan's are heavier, so they hurt more. Also, some of the plastic parts on the gimbals have been replaced with what appears to be aluminum, but why didn't they replace everything? Please? Also, the fact that the cups are foam is just a bit disappointing. They sound great, and I've personally experienced how the G-cush cups improve sound on other grado headphones, but they're still foam, and they're still not the most pleasing. Having gotten that out of the way, the mahogany body is beautiful, and that makes up for some of the points lost by my other comments. Also, these are my 4th set of cans from Grado, so obviously they're doing something right :gs1000smile:


Overall, these are some great cans, and I really love them after just 10 hours with them. That being said, They are a bit pricy, so I knocked down the value rating because of that. That being said, to get close to them I used a highly modded HE-500, a special tube in my amp to tamp down on the runaway highs, and a special cable, all for a total cost of just below the price of these cans new, so they're still a very food set of headphones.




Pros: Amazing Soundstage, Precise Imaging, Nothing Short Of Breath-taking

Cons: Expensive


I have just acquired my first set of Grado GS1000's, at approximately 3-4 years old, these are the non-i version.

They have only had a claimed 15-25 hours use prior to my initial testing, these cans are not broken in, they will require 100-200 hours before properly warmed.

I shall start by saying that I am far from an audio or electrical engineer; I just know what I like and what I don’t. Most of my HiFi experience comes from larger gear, but I ventured into the world of HiFi Can’s when I purchased a pair of Grado SR80i’s three or so years ago.

Since then, I have been using a pair of re-cabled AKG K701’s (Don’t even get me started on weather I think cabling actually does anything!).

Running gear:

- FLAC / M4A lossless audio
- 2011 Macbook Pro
- Fiio E10 DAC
- Little Dot MK/II can-amp
- Grado GS1000’s, with 15-25 hours use since new

Reference recordings:

- Wish You Were Here (Mastersound Limited Edition)
- Tool - Lateralus
- Hazmat Modine - Bahamut
- Cocorosie – Grey Oceans
- Doug Macloud - Brand New Eyes
- The Weekend – House Of Balloons
- Mighty Sam McClain – Sweet Dreams
- Telarc Collection, various tracks on Vol. 1 through 10.

The first thing I noticed about the GS1k’s (Other than the price tag!) is their, imaging – I’m not talking just about vocal imaging, not just treble or bass – The GS1k’s impress right through the range.

I found to obtain comfortable listening, I set the Macbook Pro to 70% volume, the Fiio 3.5 out of 8 and the Little Dot MK/II between 50 and 90%.

Comfort – Grado really have swayed from their pack here, the GS1k’s are very easy to wear, the large bowls, light cups and frame leave almost no pressure on the top of your head. I was quite surprised how good they sounded straight from my work computer’s sound card with no extra amplification, where the AKG’s would be struggling and flat the Grado’s sounded a lot more real.

As is well documented, the GS1k’s don’t conform to Grado’s usual strongly middle-focused display, they are much more well-rounded and so far have not been uncomfortable to listen to on any decently recorded albums.

Notable encounters with various recordings:

Listening to ‘Here I come again’, a track on Might Sam McClain’s album Sweet Dreams the GS1k’s carried the trumpet so well that I found myself looking over my right shoulder looking for a life band.

Telarc Collection – Vol 10 - Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves: Overture
Not my favorite piece of music, however, very well recorded and I think this track really displays systems capability to image sound that has been recorded from quite some distance (I’d love to see how they mic’d the room for this), the Grado’s performed well, although I did feel a bit disconnected from the music, feeling it sat a little far behind me, but I have found that with much of Volume 10.

Telarc Collection – Vol 8 - Montagues and Capulets: The GS1k’s performed well again, the bellowing of the tubers(?) sounded as sinister and as demonic as it should rightly do. As the music fades off to as whisper, I noticed no ‘bass-fade’ or lack of expression, for this I give the GS1k’s a big thumb up.

Tool – The Grudge, I was concentrating on spatial separation through a good part of the track, excellent cross-instrument differentiation (as you’d expect from one of the most well recorded albums of recent times), but the GS1k’s again impressed me. I believe Danny Carey’s drumming may have left me with two black eyes and sever bruising after the second time I listened to this.


Sit back with a nice peaty scotch and enjoy, I am love these cans.
Shame about the price when purchased new, I’d suggest looking for a quality second hand pair before splashing out the ridiculous asking price new.

If you have some no-so-well recorded albums – bin them, no, set them on FIRE because that is what owning these cans will make you want to do.

Edit: Reduced design score as the cable design could be a lot better, I'm pretty sure the stock cable won't last very long around the Y splitter.


Pros: Portable, amazing sound quality, best one of Grado headphones

Cons: None

These headphones are better than any headphones I have auditioned. No cons at all.

Grado GS1000

Grado’s GS1000 cushion design actually creates a “room” for the ears to sit, creating a larger soundstage and greater spatial experience for the listener.

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