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Oh Dear....

A Review On: Sennheiser Grado Hybrid a.k.a. SennGrado

Sennheiser Grado Hybrid a.k.a. SennGrado

Rated # 279 in Headphones
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Review Details:
Audio Quality
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Pros: Fantastic performance for cheap

Cons: Requires DIY Skills

I like to mod…yes, I am one of those head-fiers.


My specific area of interest is Grados, and wooden cups for them. I delight in sourcing cups, finding the drivers, and transforming a prosaic pair of Grados (a triumph of dogged determination in industrial design in their stock form) into a personalized, beautiful-sounding, pair of killer conversation pieces to listen to at my office.


I have been watching the “non-Grado Driver” thread for a while now, and have long been interested to find out why there has been so much fuss over the new build currently in vogue, the SennGrado. When JoeDoe and 7Keys very graciously offered to do a tour of a pair lovingly built by JoeDoe using some of 7Keys beautiful Cherry cups, I leapt at the chance to spend a little time comparing them to my Magnum X build. As I understand it I was the first in line, I hope more folks get to hear these. My impressions follow…all listening was done on a FiiO X5, with no amp and using FLAC 16/44 files.


I switched between high and low gain a few times. The SennGrado definitely benefits from high gain for some reason, even though both the Sennheiser and the Magnum drivers have a 32 ohm impedance. I did my best to volume match simply by ear. My impressions below are probably minimally, if at all, biased by the “louder sounds better” slant.


The SennGrado showed a more natural presentation, and performed better with bass. It wasn’t shy, didn’t repress it and try to compensate with mids and treble as the Magnum X did. The Magnum tends to have a slightly one-dimensional bass presentation. Think doof-doof as opposed to boom-booooom. In addition, the SennGrado actually sounded a little more open sometimes, but at the same time a touch less controlled as a result. Both headphones showed similar levels of detail retrieval.


The SennGrados, surprisingly (given the drivers cost just over half of what the Magnum ones do) go head-to-head with the Magnum X. I found that comparing the two is more a question of sound signature preference, and not a “…yes, they will do as a poor-man’s substitute…” thing.


It’s clear that wje really did create a beautiful monster in the SennGrados. He needs to be credited with bringing the gorgeous sound the modding community craves in every build a little closer to everyone by discovering a very worthy driver substitute in the rough. A very worthy driver that costs very little. In all of my listening, I found a little more air in odd passages here and there using the Magnums. This came at the cost of a little bass though. The SennGrado consistently delivered a richer bass experience.


The only thing I need to verify now is…how do the PX100 ii sound in their stock form? Is this the end of my world as I know it?


Here is my listening list:


Diggable Planets – Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Space and Time)

A thumpy, warmer album from the mid-nineties, with a definite, strong lean toward warm analog, hip-hop production.

The Awakening – Hear, Sense, and Feel

Jazz from the early seventies off a short-lived but super-hip label called “Black Jazz”. Production on the albums I have heard from the  label tends to be great, some would say in the Rudy van Gelder style I suppose.

Jobriath – self-titled

The US’ answer to Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust in the seventies. A tragically overhyped and later discarded artist. All that aside, a nice example of glam-rock realized on a grander scale. Pleanty of great, elaborate arrangments.

Pink Floyd – the Dark Side of the Moon

No explanations needed here…I believe I am listening to a bog-standard, regular copy (none of the new remasters/re-issues/digital orgasm versions that have since been released) and it’s the best production job on a Floyd album in my humble opinion. Mr. Parsons deserves a medal for what he did here…

Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes

The latest from the LA beatmaker with a serious side. Flying Lotus’ albums stand out in that despite his shows being geared toward a party atmosphere, they are built as continuous, themed pieces, made to stand alone as serious listening. The only downside is that he has no qualms about pushing all of the levels and compressing the hell out every track. This means some headphones battle to make sense of what, if more delicately mastered, would be a sublime body of work…

Taj Mahal – The Natch’l Blues

Great, simple blues from the late sixties. Lots of acoustic and electric guitar, and nicely recorded, unlike a lot of the blues canon out there.


OH WOW. Great review. And beautiful headphones while at it too. Grado is one of those brands where expensive isn't necessarily better (i.e. PS500 > HF1 > SR225i in terms of performance to value ratio, imo; I'd take the PS500 over the PS1000 anyday, actually). 
Instead of using the PX100ii's have you tried using the original, glorious 1st gen PX100's (rare, hard to find -- kinda legendary for a cheap headphone like the Koss Portapros)? The original PX100's >> the PX100ii's IMO, but idk where to get one (mine broke way back when).
I just want to point out that I bought the PX100ii drivers that were used in this review for $39 CND.
How do you go about getting these headphones, and what is the price?
@Widdig To get a pair of SennGrados, you must build them, or find someone to build them for you. They are made with Sennheiser PX100ii drivers, the cable of your choice, wooden cups for Grado drivers and the headband of your choice (most use a Grado headband).
Most of the fun is sourcing the parts and making yourself a custom pair of headphones.
@gradofan1 I haven't tried the PX100 drivers, but heard some had, with results they didn't quite like. YMMV of course. The joy of modding/building is chasing your own sound preferences...:)
@7keys That was an awesome deal you got :).
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