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Thoughts on the Grado "soundstage"...

post #1 of 53
Thread Starter 
I opined to myself the other day that of all of the different types of "soundstaging" experiences one may obtain through conventional headphones, the Grado soundstage may actually be the most natural-sounding one. Why? Because, more often than not the Grado soundstage experience puts you smack dab in the middle of the performance instead of trying to put you back and away from it. Instead of trying to fake the stereotypical soundstage, it's as if Grado just "goes with the flow" and gives you the type of perspective that headphones can most naturally give. It often sounds as if you are centered on stage with the performers, rather than out in the audience somewhere. I can feel as if I am the one who is holding the guitar during a solo riff, looking down on the strings as they vibrate. Although such a perspective is an unlikely one, it is not not an impossible one. Once you realize that such a perspective is possible in real life, the "closed in" listening experience is far less fake-sounding, and far more sympathetic to the limitations of conventional headphones design. It may be that Grado is simultaneously more respectful of the limitations of the headphone experience and more clever at turning the disadvantages of conventional headphones into golden opportunities, than some other headphone manufacturers are.
post #2 of 53
I'm about to get my Grados and based on what you said, I agree!
post #3 of 53
Thats the stereotypical Grado soundstage. There are exceptions. HF-1 being the cheapest one, that can project images beyond the earcup given the right amplification and recorded material.

Garrett
post #4 of 53
I agree completely on many kinds of music. However, I still find the Grado presentation somewhat unrealistic for music involving large bands (orchestral, choir, chamber, big band, and even some live southern rock). IMO The lack of soundstage in those cases makes it more "fake" sounding compared to my recollections of my trumpet playing days (primarily classical/big band).

Ant
post #5 of 53
When listening to recordings through headphones, I don't think of being at a live peformance because I'm not. Artificial "soundstages" are bogus.
post #6 of 53
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by apostate
I agree completely on many kinds of music. However, I still find the Grado presentation somewhat unrealistic for music involving large bands (orchestral, choir, chamber, big band, and even some live southern rock). IMO The lack of soundstage in those cases makes it more "fake" sounding compared to my recollections of my trumpet playing days (primarily classical/big band).

Ant
All headhone listening is a big stretch in one way or another. When I listen to my Grados, I try not to do what you seem to be trying to do. That is, I try not to imagine myself out in the audience where I might "normally" be. Instead, I try to imagine myself surrounded by the performance. The Grado perspective, at first, forces you to think "outside of the box". But in doing so, it lands you "inside of the box" with the musicians, right where the headphone user might truly belong in the first place! A "centered" perspective such as this may indeed be the most "natural" one you could hope for with conventional headphones.
post #7 of 53
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kramer5150
Thats the stereotypical Grado soundstage...Garrett
Exactly. Truistic. My point is that this sort of "stereotypical" Grado perspective is one that most headphones (including the HF-1) might be better off doing. My AKG K-1000's are the big exception, but they are not "conventional" phones. In my opinion, the headphones that try to simulate the "out-of-head" experience regularly fail at doing so. In contrast, the Grado has a higher success rate at doing what comes naturally with a conventional headphone design.
post #8 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael G.
All headhone listening is a big stretch in one way or another. When I listen to my Grados, I try not to do what you seem to be trying to do. That is, I try not to imagine myself out in the audience where I might "normally" be. Instead, I try to imagine myself surrounded by the performance. The Grado perspective, at first, forces you to think "outside of the box". But in doing so, it lands you "inside of the box" with the musicians, right where the headphone user might truly belong in the first place! A "centered" perspective such as this may indeed be the most "natural" one you could hope for with conventional headphones.
Actually that's what I'm talking about as well. When performing in a large ensemble you are certainly not in the audience but there can be a considerable distance between your position and the individuals farthest away from you. When the drum player, that I know would 20 ft+ away, sounds like he/she is right next to me I find that to be unrealistic.

For things smaller than an orchestra I think Grado does a very good job of realistically presenting it as though you are in the band, for an orchestra I think it sounds compressed.

Ant
post #9 of 53
What grados have you listened to?

Some present soundstage (RS-1/SR325) in a much more realistic fashion than others (SR225 and lower).

-Matt
post #10 of 53
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by apostate
iWhen the drum player, that I know would 20 ft+ away, sounds like he/she is right next to me I find that to be unrealistic.Ant
Not necessarily "unrealistic", just "unlikely". Headphone listening is a highly artificial way to listen anyway, so why go against the grain? Why not exploit this to the fullest? Think about what headphones are, and what they might be best at doing, and perhaps you'll agree more readily with "the Grado perspective".
post #11 of 53
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyfrenchman27
What grados have you listened to?

Some present soundstage (RS-1/SR325) in a much more realistic fashion than others (SR225 and lower).

-Matt
See below...
post #12 of 53
Funny this comes up as I'm about to write up a review of my HF-1's vs. my HD650's...

Long story short: I completely disagree!

When it comes to electronic music or pop music soundstage doesn't really matter. But when listening to some operatic music (Sarah Brightman) or live recordings (Nirvana - MTV Unplugged) there's an obvious difference. The HD650's put you in the *room*. It's not about being in the audience or on stage, it's about being "there" so to say. Grado's put you in the *recording*. I don't feel "there". I feel like I'm getting a very high quality presentation of the recorded material.

Also the highs...Grados are pretty bright. Live acoustic or orchestral music doesn't sound that way. Even symbal clashes aren't right next to your head. With the HF-1 it's overly bright to me. My experience with live music is the bass is more prevailent and up front while the highs sort of bounce/echo around and fill the room, they don't fly from the instrument directly into your ear

Edit: After a bit more listening with 'Dark Side of the Moon' I actually find the Grado's a bit more involving than the Senns. I wonder if this type of music is John Grado's type of style and he caters toward it? Senns still have more soundstage but with this recording it's almost like there's soundstage 'built in' if that makes sense (reverb maybe?), and the Senns kind of double up on it.

Maybe it's a bit unfair comparing my custom recabled HD650's to the HF-1, but those are my impressions. I'm not saying Grado's suck, far from it! I'm actually very impressed with the HF-1, it's a great can. It's just no HD650

--Illah
post #13 of 53
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyfrenchman27
What grados have you listened to?

Some present soundstage (RS-1/SR325) in a much more realistic fashion than others (SR225 and lower).

-Matt
I have auditioned almost every Grado in the current lineup. I own the SR-325 and the SR-60.
post #14 of 53
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Illah
...Grado's put you in the *recording*. I don't feel "there". I feel like I'm getting a very high quality presentation of the recorded material...

... Even cymbal clashes aren't right next to your head...My experience with live music is the bass is more prevalent and up front while the highs sort of bounce/echo around and fill the room, they don't fly from the instrument directly into your ear...

Illah
Having had the experience of standing onstage with musicians at work, I can say that some of the soundstage perspectives you're objecting to are not impossible or unnatural. At times, the soundstage perspective I get from my Grados sounds almost exactly like the one I might get if I were surrounded by the players. Cymbals can be next to your head. Highs can emanate from close in. This perspective can sound a bit wacky at first, until you realize it is a feasible perspective. I say let your imagination go. After all, this is headphone listening!
post #15 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Illah
When it comes to electronic music or pop music soundstage doesn't really matter.
I understand how one would think this. However, there is processed music that uses channel effects to great effect. While an easy studio effect, the two Grado's I have heard were severly limited when it came to effect reproduction. Personally, the Grados were lacking for pop and electronica. Unless one couts guitar pop.

Your comments about orchestra are dead on.

IMO, the Grado soundstage excels in rock and jazz. The intimate feeling is very well portrayed. With jazz, I get a great club feel and the intensity of the artists bleeds through.

In fact, I am going to buy another pair of Grados for this specific application.
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