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Joseph Grado Speakers Review

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Joseph Grado Speakers Review Version 1

As some of you know, I won the Grado speakers auction on Ebay not too long ago. Those are supposed to be 1 of 2 pairs in existence, made by Joseph Grado himself. I just received those today (shipping was complicated and seller took 1 week to pack them up). They arrived in a mint/ near like new condition. Here’s my review for all of you who wonder how Grado perform in the speaker medium.

You should know I bought those for the fun of it, because I’m a Grado fan, and I wondered if they sounded good. I also tough I could resell them if I didn’t liked them so there was no problem. I was also on the speaker market; I was about to buy some Quad ESL63, but the price was always a little too high for my taste. The Grado speakers arrived just in time and I couldn’t resist.

First of all, my setup is temporary. I’m trying to get most of Grado vintage gear (as well as Melos) for fun and for the sound so my setup is always evolving. (btw I just missed that sweet Grado TT on Ebay because Vidéotron internet crashed here in Sherbrooke and GlendaleViper couldn’t also bid because of electricity failure… it wasn’t meant to be mine)

For the moment, the setup is:


Source: Squeezebox V3
DAC and amplifier: Denon AVR-1707

I don’t have a good speaker amplifer, but the Denon is doing the job quite nicely for the moment. The speaker cables are also crappy and rusted, but I’ll get some better one this weekend.

The test:

I choose 4 tracks to test these:

1-Pirates of the Caribbean OST - The Medallion Calls (orchestra, lots of instruments)
2-Massive Attack – Teardrop (special song for Philodox, I’m also a House (TV show) fan so it’s appropriate…)
3-Groove Coverage – Holy Virgin (good female voice techno with good bass)
4-Katie Melua – My Aphrodisiac is You (female vocal jazz)

That should show me the lows, mids and highs of the speakers.

Here we go:

1-Pirates of the Caribbean OST – The Medallion Calls:

First impressions: wide soundstage. This song needs soundstage and the speakers are more than appropriate to produce some. The Grado’s classic excessive highs are not present; those speakers sound more like HP-1000 headphones than RS-1 headphones. The midrange is just unbelievable; smooth as you like it. I could just listen to that song again and again and again. For the bass, it is appropriate; there’s just enough to make a wide soundstage, but not too much to overpowered the highs. Makes you fell like you in front of the orchestra; the separation is perfect (yes, it is).

2-Massive Attack – Teardrop

That song has soul. Everytime I listen to it, I have feelings that music is a higher way of life. I’m looking for the female voice to be in front of everything else, because that song has a lot of little details when everything is too much blended together, it just doesn’t sound right. The speakers get it beautifully. The little vinyl background sound is present and distinctive in the whole song, which is something special, because I’ve never noticed it before; this show you that the speakers have keep the ability of Grado to reproduce details in sound. The soundstage in present, but not as noticeable as in the POC OST (I suspect the song type to play a role); it is just right. The highs are smooth; the female vocals are not harassing as it could be with the SR325i I add (which by the way is the worst Grado I ever had). The midrange is really something to try; it’s pure Joseph Grado midrange HP-1000 style. The bass is present, although the song doesn’t contain a lot; it’s just right.

3-Groove Coverage – Holy Virgin

I love that song. I think it’s one of the best from Groove Coverage, you can also try God is a Girl. I was hesitating between the two songs, but this one has better bass and is an overall better test. First thing I noticed: the bass. Damn, exactly the way I like it. It’s really punchy but not too abundant. The detail in the bass is unbelievable. Even better than the one on Grado SR-100 with HP-1000 drivers. The highs are good, idem as other songs; they are present, but smooth, pretty much neutral. The midrange again is the strength. Everything just sounds right.

4-Katie Melua – My Aphrodisiac is You

I took this song because it has some passage with good highs (Katie Melua singing) and I wanted to see if the speakers would ruin the song with harsh highs. But they didn’t, this can give you an idea of how much those are HP-1000 style. Try this song with your Grado headphone (RS-1, GS-1000, etc.) with a relatively good volume and you’ll understand what I mean; Grado tends to ruined this song with harsh highs. But the Grado speakers do them beautifully. Highs are perfect: just the right amount, a little more would have been harsh. The midrange is beautiful; this can be appreciated with the constant piano instrument behind the song and particularly at the beginning of the song. The bass is there, enough to make a wide soundstage and make the song equilibrated. The separation of the female vocal is excellent. Very good at jazz.

Conclusion:

Those speakers are a STEAL at the price I got them (690$US). I must admit they have a slight channel imbalance (very small, but noticeable with good listening and fixed with amplifier balance). As a reference, I’ve listened to many speakers this year at the FSI show in Montreal, speakers going from 1000$ to more than 100000$, and I can tell you the Grado speakers are unique. They produce true Grado sound, HP-1000 style, exactly as described in the auction, and exactly what I wanted. It just makes me want to get more vintage Grado and Melos gear to get the complete setup.

My advice: if the other pair of those pop someday on Ebay, jump on them, or I will. Again.

Here’s the pic from the auction. I don’t have a camera with me for the moment but will take some pics maybe.



Don't hesitate to ask questions.
post #2 of 11
Very nice !!! I am really curious as to the drivers Mr. Grado chose to use in them. Is there any markings etc. on the cabinets with a manufacture date/year and any other info ?
post #3 of 11
Are the grills nailed down?
Very curious about the drivers in those speakers.
I imagine that they would do very well with some
age appropriate amplification of the vacuum persuasion.
post #4 of 11
long awaited review =)
nicely done
post #5 of 11
Can you compare these speakers with any others you've heard in your setup or a similar one?
post #6 of 11
Very interesting. Any idea on the exact vintage of these speakers?
post #7 of 11
I too would like to see the drivers in those.
post #8 of 11
Are you sure you didn't listen to HP 1000? Just kidding

Congrats!
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by infinitesymphony View Post
Can you compare these speakers with any others you've heard in your setup or a similar one?
I had Realistic Optimus just before (which were suprisely not that bad) and it'S night and day. The level of detail is what makes the difference so obvious.

I also had some rare vintage Messina that sounded damn good, but not as good as the Grado.

I also got some Dynaco A25. I would say the Grado speakers are closed to the Dynaco. Same type of sound. It also look cosmetically like Dynaco A25. But again, Grado are unique, no doubt about it.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dept_of_Alchemy View Post
Very interesting. Any idea on the exact vintage of these speakers?
Max 1963. Production in pre-1963.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JadeEast View Post
Are the grills nailed down?
Very curious about the drivers in those speakers.
I imagine that they would do very well with some
age appropriate amplification of the vacuum persuasion.
Grills are sorta glued I think. I didn't look closely, but I don't think I'll try to open them, just like the seller didn't want to open them.
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