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HD650 vs Grado 225

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
Here in the UK I can get HD650s and Grado 225s for around the same price (maybe £20 pounds between the two). I simply wish to know which of the two I should get?

I currently own DT770 pros (80) and ATH W5000s. I mention this because it would be good to know which of the two new headphones would be the biggest departure and therefore the most worth buying.

I predominantly listen to classical and jazz but also listen to stuff like RadioHead etc.

Anyway I would be delighted to know how they compare and what each would offer me.

Cheers
post #2 of 34
If you have a worthy amp, then--particularly given your musical tastes--it's HD650 all the way, IMHO! : )
post #3 of 34
I'm interested in this as well. I've heard that the HD600 can compete with the higher-end Grado RS-1 headphone when paired with a nice tube amp (Woo Audio 6). Are the HD650 or 600 on the same level as the Grados in this sense? Or would a Grado and a lesser quality amp be on par with the HD650/600 and a quality tube amp (listening to rock/metal)?
post #4 of 34
I don't know about the 650s myself. I've had a set for a few days and they haven't finished breaking in-- but so far they clamp my head like a vise and sound dull and lifeless compared to my RS-1s. I bought them based on the raves around here, and while they have some strengths I don't find them exciting at all. I much prefer even my Grado SR-80s to the Sennheisers.
post #5 of 34
Thread Starter 
hypoicon,

This is certainly surprising given the rave reviews that are bestowed on the Sennheisers. This is not to say that you are 'wrong', just surprising.

What sort of music are you listening to on them?

How warm are the RS-1s (might push the boat out) when compared to the HD650s, and what is the soundstage like on each?

How different are the RS-1s to the SR225, which are more in my price range?
post #6 of 34
if you are looking for a departure from what you have now, my guess is the grado sr225 will get you further away with an upfront sound that gets your head rocking.

senn hd650 may be boring compared to the grado's, but it has a beautifull sound in its own right.
post #7 of 34
Come on, there's no way the SR225 should be worth the same price as the HD650... in America the HD650 sells for at least $400 while the SR225 can be had for $200. The Grados are bloody overpriced in Europe and it's difficult to recommend them at their daylight robbery prices. In any case with the W5000 there's no point in getting the Grados as you are getting more of the same, just get the Senns. Their relaxing sound makes a good companion to the W5000.
post #8 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by iainw View Post
I currently own DT770 pros (80) and ATH W5000s. I mention this because it would be good to know which of the two new headphones would be the biggest departure and therefore the most worth buying.
I've owned both the HD650 and SR225 and they are very different sounding. I would definately say that the SR225 would be the bigger departure from what you own now, both of which I listened to at meets. Whether you like the Grado sound (eg prominent midrange, smaller soundstage) is something you will have to hear for yourself.
post #9 of 34

Good questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by iainw View Post
hypoicon,

This is certainly surprising given the rave reviews that are bestowed on the Sennheisers. This is not to say that you are 'wrong', just surprising.

What sort of music are you listening to on them?

How warm are the RS-1s (might push the boat out) when compared to the HD650s, and what is the soundstage like on each?

How different are the RS-1s to the SR225, which are more in my price range?
Nice to answer questions instead of fielding attacks. I listen to a wide variety of stuff, right now I'm listening to K.D. Lang through them; they sound a bit "wooly" and overly warm on that. The RS-1s aren't particularly warm in my opinion, and have a great deal of depth surrounding the individual instruments-- the Grados make it easy to hear really specific details. So far I'm having a great deal of difficulty with that on the 650s-- everything sounds somewhat mashed together and flattened. I am a bit flabbergasted by that myself.

Though I do love smooth and not so smooth vocals (huge Tom Waits fan), I also love complex instrumental material. Zappa is a great proving ground for that sort of thing. I have a preference for a bit "warmer" sound than most-- that is why I opted for a tube amp (a Little Dot MK III). The Grados have been great to me-- but I was looking for something a little more expansive, soundstage-wise, for variety. That's why I picked up the Sennheisers.

Putting them on was the first big shock. I have a large head, and I find the Grados to be quite comfortable. However, because they sit on your ears my earlobes pressing against my head can get irritating after a few hours. So I thought a circumaural phone might be a nice variety as well. However, putting these on is like placing my head in a vise. I get used to it after a while (sort of like diving to the depths of the ocean), so it isn't a deal breaker but it was a shock.

The dullness is the biggest problem. The bass is stronger but not as well articulated, but I'm thinking that might be an amp problem. I was thinking about getting a solid state amp to play with anyway, and I'm sure that is probably in my future. The Little Dot sounds great with all my Grados, Shure SE-530s, Head Direct RE-2s, etc. No complaints with the amp really, but the match here may just be less than ideal. I do not think that buying an expensive Woo will get me what I'm looking for either. I think what these Sennheisers really need is the more analytic/articulated damping of a solid state amp to bring them out of the mud. That's my current theory at least.

I'm not giving up on the 650s anytime soon, I just think that the blanket recommendation they get is a bit undeserved. I wish I would have gotten AKG 702s instead at this point-- but I was a bit concerned with the fact that too many people had labeled them as "uncomfortable" compared to the 650s. That'll teach me-- comfort is the worst with these phones. Unlike the majority of people here, I'd have to say that the Grados are the most comfortable phones I've ever used.

I haven't really listened to the 225s to make a comparison. I listened to the 325s for a while before buying the RS-1s and I really liked the RS-1s better. The 325s seemed a bit bright. However, since the 225s are supposedly closer to the 80s in sound signature I suspect that wouldn't be a problem with them. I am amazed at just how close my SR-80s are to the RS-1s. Yes, the RS-1s sound better, just not necessarily $600 worth of better. The 225s are generally held to be a great value.

In the process of writing this, I've switched to listening to U2's Boy album and the HD-650s tame down the brightness of that one pretty nicely-- but it sounds awfully dark on my set up right now. I'm really looking forward to trying them out on a solid-state amp. I have an iBasso D3 I could try, but that just seems a little silly. I'll probably go with a CIaudio VPH-2 when my bank account recovers.
post #10 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by scytheavatar View Post
Come on, there's no way the SR225 should be worth the same price as the HD650... in America the HD650 sells for at least $400 while the SR225 can be had for $200. The Grados are bloody overpriced in Europe and it's difficult to recommend them at their daylight robbery prices. In any case with the W5000 there's no point in getting the Grados as you are getting more of the same, just get the Senns. Their relaxing sound makes a good companion to the W5000.
Goodness it seems to be entirely the other way round here in the UK: I have sourced the HD650s for as little as £215 which I make to be $318 - and the UK is supposed to be, nay is, more expensive generally. The Grados, on the other hand come out at £179 (roughly $265). So you seem to be right about the Grados but I fear that you good Americans may be getting a raw deal on the HD650s
post #11 of 34
Thread Starter 
hypoicon certainly makes an interesting point about the amp (among other things). I am currently running the Yulong DAC/AMP with lossless music files via optical cables. From what he is saying, with the current set up, the HD650s may be more appealing that he finds them with his set up i.e. not quite as moody due to solid state rather than a tube amp.

I wonder then how my, or other, solid state amps would influence of the Grados (SR225s or RS-1s). Perhaps they would be rather more harsh and trill, though more articulate?

I know it's cheeky (given that this is the headphone section of the forum), but does anyone have suggestions for a good tube DAC/AMP that isn't ridiculously expensive?

Maybe the upgrade from SR225 to RS-1 is not worth the money - unless I am made of it of course and alas I certainly am not.

Given that I am already lucky enough to own the ATH W5000s I think perhaps AKGs may be to small a departure given that my current phones already give a lot of detail but lack some feel. Again this could be the amp I suppose... hmmm ... goodness decisions decisions. One of the them just has to be bought!

Oh I forgot to mention I also own the Sennheiser HD280 pro which I some times use at work because of their great sound isolation. I don't suppose this would change any of my decisions?

hmmm all your help is appreciate greatly
post #12 of 34
As far as I know, using the HD650 with out a good AMP, won't give you a good sound. The HD650 need a very good amp. The SR225 is less picky
post #13 of 34
The Little Dot MK III is an excellent inexpensive tube amp-- search around here for some fine and detailed reviews. I did listen to the Grados on a Grado RA-1 amp (which gets very mixed reviews around here) and they sounded great-- somewhat "lighter" than they do with the Little Dot. But the detail was pretty astounding. If I were an instumental music man, I might consider that combo. But that amp won't drive Sennheisers due to the impedence problem and it isn't that great of a value for the price. That's why I'm considering the CIaudio-- it's not that much more expensive over here (about $400 compared to $350) and it will drive the Sennheisers.

It's not really a matter of having a "good amp." The Little Dot is a "good amp." it just doesn't make the Sennheisers "come alive" the way that everyone around here seems to claim that they are capable of. With the Grados, that inexpensive ($200) amplifier sounds great.

I think it's important to aim for a "good system" of components that work well together. I was lead to believe in other threads (and by the Little Dot distributor who voices their amps through Sennheisers) that this combination was good. So far, I disagree.
post #14 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by hypoicon View Post
I don't know about the 650s myself. I've had a set for a few days and they haven't finished breaking in-- but so far they clamp my head like a vise and sound dull and lifeless compared to my RS-1s. I bought them based on the raves around here, and while they have some strengths I don't find them exciting at all. I much prefer even my Grado SR-80s to the Sennheisers.
I have just bought a new pair of HD650s, and am also coming from many years of using just the RS-1s, which I love, but I really wanted a pair of headphones that excelled at classical, which the RS-1s do not, in my opinion. I'm so glad I did. I find the HD650s to be the perfect contrast / compliment to my RS-1s. I had heard the HD650s at a hifi store a few years ago and was underwhelmed, having much the same impression that you have now. But recently I just decided to take the plunge because of all the reverence showered upon the HD650s for classical. I am blown away by the beauty of the HD650 sound. I don't find them veiled at all. They sound completely different to the HD650s I tried at the hifi store so it must have been some kind of synergy issue. My source is Apple lossless files played through iTunes on my MacBook Pro to an Apogee Duet DAC and then to a Ray Samuels SR-71 solid state amp.

I suspect there is a lack of synergy somewhere in your setup. I doubt it is burn-in because my HD650s sounded good within the first couple of hours, and are just getting better and better each day. I suggest experimenting with your setup, if you can. I'm sure you will be happy for it in the end. I'm just sorry I waited this long.

By the way, I still love my Grados too!
post #15 of 34
I agree, Jeremy. That's why I'm not giving up on the 650s just yet. I think a good solid state amp will straighten things out, when I can afford to get it (probably January).
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