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Grado Amp Mods! - Page 2

post #16 of 33
Still, as a designer/manufacturer of premium products, it's suprising that they did not use at least slightly higher quality parts or design. That's the gist of this whole thing. The wood enclosure and price aligns it with their top products. One would expect something a little more substantial.
post #17 of 33
Agreed. We as individuals can easily and justifiably add 10 bux worth of mods to a $350 amp but for the manufacturer to do the same, would kick the retail price of the amp up 100 bux!
post #18 of 33
True, and yet maybe not so true. kwkarth, crack open your Creek and compare it to what's in the Grado. Now compare prices. Whataya think???
post #19 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by pigmode
True, and yet maybe not so true. kwkarth, crack open your Creek and compare it to what's in the Grado. Now compare prices. Whataya think???
Well, now you've put me on the spot!
Comparing the quantity and quality of parts and circuit design, I honestly feel the Creek represents easily 20 times the value of the RA-1.

Comparing the sound, I can't because I haven't heard the RA-1 personally.

Frankly, the only thing that appeals to me about the RA-1 is its battery operable portability, but on that score, I think I would rather have a good JMT from what I've read. I actually built a battery supply for my OBH-11SE, and it works ok. It doesn't sound as good as the OBH-2 PS at home, but that's sort of understandable.

The other thing that appeals to me about the Creek is its versatility with a wide array of headphones.

The RA-1 happens to work well with some other cans, but it was designed for the Grados, period.

The Creek works very well with everything I've thrown at it.

Anyway, you asked, and now I've told. Oh Well.

Honestly, I think the deal is that Grado did as little as they felt they could get away with and traded on their name.

The Creek's design and construction shows a love for the art and science of audio reproduction and music.

There's an analogy that comes to mind.
The Grado is like a cheap timex quartz watch and the Creek, like a Breitling Aerospace, both sold for the same price.

They're both modern quartz time pieces, they both keep fairly good time, and no one can argue with their ability to keep good time, but one reflects abject pragmatism and thrift in manufacture while the other reflects a love for the watchmaker's art and the medium.

My .02
post #20 of 33
Well, too be fair, I've seen many good comments about the RA-1 made by some pretty discriminating users here, so I take it as a given that it's a sweet sounding amp. If I saw one for a good price and I didn't already have my JMT, I'd snap it up. Nuff said.
post #21 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by pigmode
Well, too be fair, I've seen many good comments about the RA-1 made by some pretty discriminating users here, so I take it as a given that it's a sweet sounding amp. If I saw one for a good price and I didn't already have my JMT, I'd snap it up. Nuff said.
Yeah, probably me too, but I would snap it up more out of curiousity than anything else. I feel truly satisfied with the OBH-11SE. I am also curious about the Sugden Headmaster and the Corda and the Headroom MAX.

I rolled too many tubes in my youth, so I'm denying myself that pleasure for now.
post #22 of 33
pigmode, by all rights your JMT is probably better than the RA-1. But hey, maybe you could do a little project and make your JMT into an RA-1 (itf it's a cmoy). I'm sure you could find the opamp used in the grado alright; isn't it a ratshack cheapy? If JMT made your amp with DIP sockets you could easily swap the opamps by pulling the original opamp out and inserting the new one. Turn off the crossfeed if you have it, and there, you've got an RA-1. don't you feel proud?
post #23 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by Neruda
pigmode, by all rights your JMT is probably better than the RA-1. But hey, maybe you could do a little project and make your JMT into an RA-1 (itf it's a cmoy). I'm sure you could find the opamp used in the grado alright; isn't it a ratshack cheapy? If JMT made your amp with DIP sockets you could easily swap the opamps by pulling the original opamp out and inserting the new one. Turn off the crossfeed if you have it, and there, you've got an RA-1. don't you feel proud?
Lol, I'm sure you could, but I'm a dork when it comes to stuff like that. Now just hand me a beautiful piece of Honduras Mahogony and I'll go to town. Anyway, I'm really happy wth the JMT so I have no urges to change it.

Yes, I find the Corda very intriguing, but the Max may as well dwell in Mt. Olympus as far as my budget is concerned. Next year is for a new turntable and speakers.

cheers
post #24 of 33
hey, this is easy! even i can do it! no soldering, no taking things apart, just pull the opamp out with your fingers (or with the aid of a small pair of pliers), and put the new one in. simple, even for a non-diyer like me
post #25 of 33
Quote:
True, and yet maybe not so true. kwkarth, crack open your Creek and compare it to what's in the Grado. Now compare prices. Whataya think???
You should read the other thread on this topic (the one about the RA-1 schematics). There is a good discussion of manufacturing costs.

Quote:
Honestly, I think the deal is that Grado did as little as they felt they could get away with and traded on their name.
I think that's a *very* unfair statement. Grado can't afford to put as much money into their amps as Creek. Plus they sell Grado headphones. So their goal is to make an amp that sounds good with Grado headphones, and make it as affordable for them to produce as possible -- otherwise they wouldn't be able to make it given that amp-making is not their business and they don't have the economies of scale that amp-makers like Creek have.

Regardless of the cost of parts in the RA-1, it has been engineered to provide very good sound, especially with Grado headphones. Everyone who uses one thinks that it succeeds at that goal. To say that it's "traded on a name" and to imply that the manufacturer does not seem to share "a love for the art and science of audio reproduction and music" is IMO quite unfair. Again, I would urge people to read the other thread and to try to understand the costs of production before damning the RA-1 as a ripoff.
post #26 of 33
I'm not damning anything as a rip off. I'm not really questioning their ethics. I was an early adopter of Grado phono cartridges and I highly respected Joe Grado's obvious love for music and the arts and the results he achieved with his cartridges. I spent time on the phone with John Grado in the early days of the Grado headphone business. I think what the Grado company has gone through reflects the reality of business in the 90's and beyond. They're doing the best they can. To think that Grado isn't trading off their name is foolish. It's good business.

In reality, I doub't there's much "engineering" in the RA-1. John Grado may have paid good money to some engineer for its design, but it's at least 90% cookbook and it's with some luck that it ended up sounding great rather than just good. That doesn't make them bad people, that doesn't make it a bad product. I think it's just the reality of a small company trying to survive against the mega companies of this world. BTW, Creek isn't a mega company by any remote stretch either.

I'm well aware of how the design, engineering, manufacture, and distribution of a product works in this world. I've been in the consumer electronics, Pro Video/Audio, CAD, and computing business world since the 70's.

Don't over-react to my posts. Take them for face value, there are no hidden agendas. If I think something is a rip-off I'll say so outright, I won't beat around the bush. The RA-1 is not a rip-off, it simply does not represent a good value to me. If it represents a good value to you, buy it, enjoy it, and be glad when somebody comes along and offers you a way to improve the value of your purchase. Pretty simple.
Happy Listening!
Cheers
post #27 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by MacDEF


You should read the other thread on this topic (the one about the RA-1 schematics). There is a good discussion of manufacturing costs.

I did. I followed it closely and with great interest. The fact is, none of us has seen the tally sheets behind the RA-1 so all of that is more or less theoretical. Whatever points I made were based upon the information at hand and they were made with no prejudice upon the product, or its users. To me its just a piece of equipment, and Grado is just the company that made it.
post #28 of 33
Quote:
it's at least 90% cookbook and it's with some luck that it ended up sounding great rather than just good.
You don't think the fact that it sounds "great" rather than just "good" has anything to do with Grado tweaking it until it sounded great with their headphones? Of course it does

Quote:
BTW, Creek isn't a mega company by any remote stretch either.
No, but they have much better economies of scale working for them when it comes to designing, producing, and selling amps. It costs MUCH less for them to produce a headphone amp than Grado, so they can use "better" components.


Quote:
Don't over-react to my posts. Take them for face value, there are no hidden agendas.
I don't think I overreacted at all, I just disagreed You said "I think the deal is that Grado did as little as they felt they could get away with and traded on their name" and then made the analogy that the difference between Creek and Grado amps is that "one reflects abject pragmatism and thrift in manufacture while the other reflects a love for the watchmaker's art and the medium." I don't feel that taking issue with both of those statements is overreacting. It's simply disagreeing.

Personally, I would never buy an RA-1. I don't like that it uses batteries but isn't a portable amp. Plus, it's too pricey for me given that I have a wide variety of headphones and the RA-1 doesn't mesh well with all of them. That said, I think people are being far too hard on the RA-1. It's a very good amp, and if someone had never opened it up and seen that the insides appear to be constructed using relatively inexpensive components, a lot of people would be talking about how much of a "bargain" it is at $300.

P.S. Of course, some (like yourself) would still feel that the Creek is an even better bargain, and it probably is, IMO.
post #29 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by MacDEF
You don't think the fact that it sounds "great" rather than just "good" has anything to do with Grado tweaking it until it sounded great with their headphones? Of course it does
Of course, that's why I said it was with "some" luck. I believe if it hadn't sounded good at its current stage of development, they would have continued to tweak until it sounded better before releasing to production.

It does fairly reek of a minimalist approach of;
"how little can we do and get away with selling at this price point"
as opposed to;
"how much can we afford to do and still sell at this price point."

The most obvious evidence of that is how they treated the power supply issue. Again, it doesn't make them bad people or a bad company, it simply reflects the hard reality of their approach to product design. I don't believe it was always that way with the Grado company. Evidence HP-1 vs RS-1. Hey man, times are tough! I used to work for a company whose motto was "Committed to Excellence" and we meant it, we lived it, we designed it into our products, and we were world renowned for the absolute excellence of our products. Now that same company has removed that motto from its masthead, banner, and products, and it's largly a "me-too" company instead of the world leader it used to be. Still hurts me to think about what it could have been instead of what it is today. Some of the finest engineers and scientists in the world spent a significant portion of their lives and careers there. I was proud to be part of that for 12 years of my career. Well, the new corporate leaders decided they couldn't afford that any more. So guess what? Eventually it became true. They went from the pinnacle of greatness and "Committed to Excellence" to "ah, so what, me too" in about 8 years. Sad, very, very sad. Gotta keep the shareholders happy! I hope Grado doesn't end up the same way. We shouldn't ever let our standards of excellence down.
Cheers!
post #30 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by kwkarth
It does fairly reek of a minimalist approach of;
"how little can we do and get away with selling at this price point"
as opposed to;
"how much can we afford to do and still sell at this price point."
That's a good point to make, kwkarth. I would certainly imagine that they chose the former when making this amp.

I dunno, MacDEF...I'm really not sure they went to very much trouble making this amp. As Daniel pointed out, there are some very obvious changes they could have made to improve its quality, such as eliminating (or reducing) that pop sound when you turn it on. The thing I also wonder about is how necessary it was to put this amp in a wood case; if they wanted to keep the price down they certainly could have eliminated that! It seems to me that they wanted to make a pretty product that would sell quickly, without putting much trouble into it. That's my opinion though.
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