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Grado PS-1000 initial impressions

post #1 of 318
Thread Starter 
Grado PS-1000 initial impression


Yesterday I have great for every headphone-man pleasure to be able directly compared three great headphones: my own AKG K1000 and Ultrasone E9 with new big creature in the headphone jungle – Grado PS-1000.
First of all I must say, that this new Grado “king lion” was straight from the box and I have used them only about four hours, so that is only some impression, not a definite review. Thus I strongly insist to everybody, not to take out any definite conclusions from this text. That could be a big mistake.


The system

- sources: Cary 306 SACD Pro and Gamut CD3
- amplifier: strongly modified preamp/headphone amp. ASL Twin-Head Mark III with following tubes - 45 “mesh” Emission Labs, E188CC Mullard, 350B Valve Art, GZ-34 Mullard and 12AX7 Brimar
- power amplifier for K1000: Croft Polestar 1 with Mullard ECC83 “Long anode”
- IC’s Tara Labs ISM The One and Air1
- PS Audio Power Plant Premier


Writing in English is very difficult to me, so please, forgive language incapability.
To the matter. I very like and respect Grado GS-1000, so after many enthusiastic reports about PS-1000 I’ve been expected gorgeous things. On the other hand I remember that Grado headphones – GS-1000 particularly – needs a long period of playing to show up like they really are able to do they job. Straight from the box they are just annoying. PS-1000 are not, so that is unquestionable superiority.
First impression – sound is more natural, toward AKG K1000 style. Overall tonality is good, transparency fair. Bass is powerful and without sound condensations; sopranos are not noisy and not fatiguing. Generally clear and prominent sound, but…
But not better than the Edition9 one. Different, but not better. Soundstage is bigger, bass and sopranos are not so exposed. Quantum of details is comparable, but with E9 they are better visible. E9 sopranos are brighter and this is probably the reason. Also E9 impact was stronger and sound slightly much fuller. Only a bit, but fuller.
Was I disappointed? A little. But not due to Ultrasone’s. Due to K1000. I must say, that this completely fresh PS-1000 piece were definitely one level below old AKG flagship. The main reason is slightly difficult to me to describe in English, although otherwise obvious. But this is the thing which you can’t describe in one word. It goes like this: all space – not soundstage, space – just all air with K1000 is vibrate. This is not that standard way of playing: one sound here, another there, etc. That is living space. And this is one from the most important determinants of high-end kind of playing. I can even say more: Living space is the most sought-after thing in all audiophile affair.
But also K1000 precision, naturalness, transparency and refinement of highs were definitely better. I know, K1000 sings like this only with very good and powerful amplification, but I had superb amplification for all three headphones, so there is no excuse. Only excuse for PS-1000 was its freshness. I am quite sure, they will be do his job better in future, after few days of playing. But do they achieve K1000 level? I hope they do, but I have considerable doubts.
But honestly I didn’t expected that PS-1000 will be sings like K1000 and also didn’t wanted to. I need some headphones in GS-1000 style, with extremely huge soundstage and mild but very elegant sound. (In my system GS-1000 are much more mild than K1000.) Just something more easy to listen, because amount of details and crispness of AKG’s is after long period of listening slightly fatiguing. Beautiful but fatiguing, as live music is. (I can very easy do AKG K1000 sound more relaxed – switch over Twin-Head from OTL to non-OTL tribe and here we are – but I don’t want to do that, because of terrible, unacceptable sound degradation.)
Unfortunately I had no GS-1000 to direct comparison, but I know them very well and can responsibly say, that GS-1000 are more in artistic way, with some kind of magic and “flaying”, whereas PS-1000 are more in studio way, with realistic and direct manner of playing. I also can say that good heating GS-1000, particularly with Black Dragon cable, are more interesting to me than not heating PS-1000. However I had observed, that PS-1000 even within this yesterday’s four hours of playing clearly increased sound temperature, so theirs definitive sound is to me unknown. I hope it will be tremendous, but can’t say it yet. As my friend who also have listened them told: that is as yet PS-325, not PS-1000.


On the end some recordings impressions

“Song of White” from Vangelis “Antarctica”
Huge soundstage, but there is no clouds above horizon, which I know from GS-1000. And I feel lack of them.

“Farrucas” from Pepe Romero “Flamenco”
Very good PS-1000 presentation, but K1000 are more precise and natural, whereas E9 are more powerful and involving.

“Hungarian Rhapsody No.2” from “Liszt 10 Hungarian Rhapsodies, Georges Cziffra”
Also good presentation, but far behind AKG K1000 3-dimentional sound. E9 are more prominent too.

“Quintettino In Do Magiore” from “Luigi Boccerini Fandango, Simphonie & La Musica Notturna di Madrid”
PS-1000 in its best repertoire. Beautiful space, not fatiguing sound on very high level. Not as detailed and sophisticate as this by K1000, but simply beautiful.

“Sweet Jane” by Cowboy Junkies from “The Tarantino Collection”
All three headphones perform sibilates, but sibilation is on the record so that is obvious. With PS-1000 this sibilation is less fatiguing, but with K1000 song is far more interesting.

“Moby Dick” from “Led Zeppelin II”
Good but not grandiosely. In comparison to K1000 you lost many details and grace of presentation. Also heating GS-1000, as I remember, are definitely better.

“Amazing Grace” from “The Space Sound CD” by Stax (Sampler)
Oh, my God, why only Stax’es and K1000 can play this dummy head recordings in beautiful way? Why no other headphones? I don’t know, but PS-1000 unfortunately is not an exception. Beautiful soundstage from GS-1000 and PS-1000 don’t help. Pity.
post #2 of 318
Would it be fair to say that the PS1000 ARE NOT WORTH THE EXTRA $$$$ over the GS1000???
What about the condition of the Phones? Many people have complained about visual scratches and scuffs.
I am still in love with the GS1000 and have no intention of upgrading but being a Grado lover enjoy reading about other phones and have to admit i am curious about sonic improvements over the GS.
BRYSTON CD1...LEHMANN BC...GS1000
post #3 of 318
thanks for the impressions. Be sure to keep us posted in a few days.
post #4 of 318
Piotr Ryka, thank you very much for a very informative and enlightening review! My only Grado experience is with the GS1K so your observations were invaluable to me. This comment was especially helpful: "GS-1000 are more in artistic way, with some kind of magic and 'flaying', whereas PS-1000 are more in studio way, with realistic and direct manner of playing. I also can say that good heating GS-1000, particularly with Black Dragon cable, are more interesting to me than not heating PS-1000."

This distinction between the GS1K's artistry (magic and aeriness) and warmth and the PS1K's studio-like clarity and lack of warmth is very interesting. As you say, though, with burn-in, the warmth will probably increase. BTW, I also have the Black Dragon cable with my GS1K.

I appreciate your objective approach and honesty, and I especially appreciate your taking the time to explain your methodology and equipment, to compare the PS1K with other excellent reference cans, and to share your experiences with a fascinating range of music.

I'm looking forward to your follow-up posts as the PS1K gradually burns in.
post #5 of 318
Thanks for the review.
I also have the GS1000 with Black Dragon and ED9( I haven't heard the PS1000). I like them both and find them very, very different. the GS1000 seem to take me to the environment where I can be surrounded by the music. I like the wide soundstage and the way they present the details in a very "balanced' manner. The ED 9 just puts me right in front of the musicans with a slightly compressed soundstage compared to the GS1000.
The way you discribed the differences between PS1000 and ED9 is very similar to what I think about GS1000 and ED9.
I like the GS1000 a lot, especially with the new cable but often hope they can have a bit of the more aggressive quality of the ED9. Would you say the PS1000 has achieve some of that?
By the way, I have been listening to the new HF2 today and comparing them to the other Grados I have. GS1000 is difinitely the odd one out (not in a bad way). Is PS1000's sound signature more in the GS1000 area too?
Thanks!
Paul
post #6 of 318
Quote:
Originally Posted by pcf View Post
Thanks for the review.
I also have the GS1000 with Black Dragon and ED9( I haven't heard the PS1000). I like them both and find them very, very different. the GS1000 seem to take me to the environment where I can be surrounded by the music. I like the wide soundstage and the way they present the details in a very "balanced' manner. The ED 9 just puts me right in front of the musicans with a slightly compressed soundstage compared to the GS1000.
The way you discribed the differences between PS1000 and ED9 is very similar to what I think about GS1000 and ED9.
I like the GS1000 a lot, especially with the new cable but often hope they can have a bit of the more aggressive quality of the ED9. Would you say the PS1000 has achieve some of that?
By the way, I have been listening to the new HF2 today and comparing them to the other Grados I have. GS1000 is difinitely the odd one out (not in a bad way). Is PS1000's sound signature more in the GS1000 area too?
Thanks!
Paul
Paul, I'm definitely interested in hearing Piotr's responses to your questions. I also ordered the HF2 and am waiting for its arrival. Your comment re the GS1K and the HF2 is intriguing. Can't wait to A/B the two!
post #7 of 318
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piotr Ryka View Post
Unfortunately I had no GS-1000 to direct comparison, but I know them very well and can responsibly say, that GS-1000 are more in artistic way, with some kind of magic and “flaying”, whereas PS-1000 are more in studio way, with realistic and direct manner of playing.
This is how I would describe the PS1. They had this studio quality about them. Lots of refinement but still very enjoyable. There was still something missing about them that the RS-1 have. I also think it's this missing quality that my L3000 have and that's one of the reasons I ended up preferring them over the PS1. Based on most reviews it seems like I'd end up still preferring my L3000 to the PS1K.

Thanks for a great review. Look forward to hearing the PS1K for myself soon.
post #8 of 318
I don't think the PS1Ks will beat the L3000s at all.

Piotr, great review! You are someone that I know will give an unbiased review. I know exactly what you mean by "artistry" in regards to the GS-1000. The GSs timbre seems to be one of a kind and brings life to the music without trying to win technical points for accuracy.
post #9 of 318
Thread Starter 
Tank you all for yours thanks.

Is it possible to PS-1000 artistic way of playing? Frankly saying, I don’t know. That is the question. My friend – GS-1000 owner and lover – said to me: “with GS-1000 it is like you have not ground under your foots. You just flaying. With PS-1000 (this not heating PS-1000) you have.”
With GS-1000 you have some far echoes, some clouds on the sky, some mystery; simply – some magic. That is not normal, trivial kind of presentation. That is like artistic painting against touristic or usable photography (I mean normal headphones).
In comparison to GS-1000 PS-1000 are faster, more transparent in all scene aspect, more direct, more powerful and with more strongly exposed mids. Generally its sound is slightly more common, not as artistically “whirled”, but very, very good – no doubt. More in rock music manner, I can say. But scene is much bigger than this from E9 or RS-1 (classical rocky headphones) and presentation is darker, particularly highs.
To sum up someone could say: PS-1000 are more athletic, GS-1000 are more gentle, more thoughtful and dreamy.

But once more - that all is about completely not heating piece of PS-1000. And I good remember that when I first time had listened completely new GS-1000, I was thinking they are broken. So everything is still possible.

About appearance, or more strictly saying – quality of finish. Yes, that is the problem. There were no scratches on specimen I had, but metal rapidly begun to cowered by some coating or patina. And not even, but spotted. In result man who came to buy them (I was heard at dealer’s shop) said, he don’t want to pay two thousand of bucks (polish PS-1000 price) for something defective. And he was right.
post #10 of 318
Great mini review. Piotr, if you hadn't told me that English isn't your native language, I never woulda been able to tell.
post #11 of 318
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piotr Ryka View Post
To sum up someone could say: PS-1000 are more athletic, GS-1000 are more gentle, more thoughtful and dreamy.
That's a cool way of describing it. They seem to be very different kinds of headphones.
Quote:
But once more - that all is about completely not heating piece of PS-1000. And I good remember that when I first time had listened completely new GS-1000, I was thinking they are broken. So everything is still possible.
You're right. Once they're sufficiently burned in, they're probably going to have that organic warmth that Sanderman mentions in his review.
Quote:
About appearance, or more strictly saying – quality of finish. Yes, that is the problem. There were no scratches on specimen I had, but metal rapidly begun to cowered by some coating or patina. And not even, but spotted. In result man who came to buy them (I was heard at dealer’s shop) said, he don’t want to pay two thousand of bucks (polish PS-1000 price) for something defective. And he was right.
That's not so good. Is it a kind of oxidation? Or is it like brand new coins that seem to lose their luster as soon as you handle them? I wonder if there's light polish on the surface that quickly comes off the more you handle them.

Anyway, thanks for the additional info! Please keep us posted on how the burn-in is affecting the PS-1000.
post #12 of 318
I expect that your pair will get better with break in. But they will keep their sound characteristic I'm sure.
post #13 of 318
OK, so I was the one who listened to these PS1000 in a slightly different environment - thanks Piotr for letting me know when they were available!

There was the same GamuT CD-3 and the amplification was provided by the Cary SLI 80 at that time. It's not only a powerful speaker amp but also a great headphone drive - you can enjoy both triode and penthode mode from this gorgeous device, so I tried both. I also had a pair of my GS1000 for comparison.

I appeared in the shop shortly after they opened, so the amp just started. I put one of my CD's into the player, plugged in the GS1k's and started to listen. The sound was a bit bright, hazy and slow. No, please! I took the PS1000's. Aha! Better bottom end, speed, overall authority and clean space. This is what I know from my system and the GS1k's. So, the cold Cary and the PS1000 fake up a GS1000 driven by transistors. OK, so we have - clarity, great technical correctness, strong but not overly emphasized bass, and strong but smooth and clean trebles. The midrange is... kind of SR325i just sweeter. As the tubes were warming up... the GS1000's got better. In the meanwhile I realized an effect of very good depth assigned to each appearing sound on the PS1000's. It was like a dynamic soundstage shaping due to instruments appearing and vanishing. Well, something new for me in the headphone world. But it was a temporary impression which I later lost, or maybe the other albums didn't make this appear.

I switched to the penthode mode, and actually I found it as the reference, going back to the triode mode was like making things a bit messy in quick comparisons. The tubes warmed up in the meanwhile, so I'll try to point out the differences between the headphones.

The GS1000's bass is a bit softer and with less present bottom end. The higher bass is a bit dominating. The PS1000's bass is hard, quick and punchy. I'd say, it's a reliable pedestal for the rest of the spectrum.

Midrange - well, the PS1000 are U-shaped, while the GS1000's are ???-shaped. There is nothing like fuller midrange in the PS1000's. Just the treble peak is further, and there is that sweet in mid-high midrange. Their sound is clean, not getting harsh from time to time like that from the GS1000's but also lacking the finest texture content, at the level of detail comparable to the hair on fabric. This affects other apsect like spatial presentation but more on this later.
Highs - the PS1000 have the emphasis on low to mid treble, instead of low treble/highest midrange in the GS1000's. Don't worry, there is no sibilance, the trebles are actually like in the K1000's - very well controlled smoothed or textured as needed, neither bland nor colored. Maybe there was too much of them for me in this specific setup. However I fully enjoyed the music regardless the loudness curve tendency of the headphone.
Soundstage and imaging - the GS1000 have that unique ability to play indirectly, as if using the air to recreate what the transducers generate. The PS1000's have classic, direct presentation which helps the foreground to act like a true foreground. On the GS1000's you feel the ambience filling up the whole soundstage while on the PS1000's there is pure holography in big, black, dead silence. The sound images are bigger, less airy and flatter but very precisely drawn. There is no melting into the ambience, they just occupy their borders. Grado knew why they called them Professional Series. These headphones are very accurate in spite of not so flat frequency response. They let you know what, where and how - for each instrument separately. But there is no solvent, just that black background. The GS1000's provide the material ambience. It's filling up the headstage with air kind of repeating what comes from different sntrument but it's something that the GS1000's do only in high end systems. I guess it was the case. The instruments were smaller but producing more music to the ambience and giving impression of threedimensionality. Instead of silence you have air with it's own behavior. What kind of behavior can it be? Oh, man! With some albums, when switching from the PS1000's to the GS1000's I had impression of disappearing floor, I started to levitate! It was purely physical impression, and only on some music. With the PS1000 you are dead stable on the earth. These headphones are technically superior to the GS1000's in terms of accuracy, timing, speed, cleanliness. However, the magic didn't appear. I hope the burn-in process will let the PS1000's explode as it happens to the GS1000's some day, and then they get great dynamics, soundstage and texture abilities.

Music used:
Body Count "Born Dead"
Anna Netrebko "Souvenirs"
Haydn - Violin Concertos
Depeche Mode - Greatest Hits vol.1
Arve Hendriksen "Cartography"
some more but not sure I played them.

The story will most porbably continue with another amp and source, and after some burn-in.
post #14 of 318
Thank you very much for your impressions. You definitely write a language I can understand. It actually seems that the PS1000 have some qualities of the PS1, mixed with the GS1000 airiness.
post #15 of 318
Very interesting. My impression from reading other reviews was that the PS1000 is more or less just an improved GS1000. Here it sounds like they've actually got quite different personalities. It will be interesting to see if the PS1000 will replace the GS1000 for you guys after some time, or if they can co-exist.
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