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What I think... GS1000 vs RS1 vs RS2... and vs SR80.

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
Yup, I've been listening to a lot of Grados...
I've finally acquired all the Grados that I wanted to hear, listened to them, and compared them side by side. Now I'm writing about them as I wanted to give something back to the head-fi community. Hope someone found this useful.

RS2, GS1000, SR80 and RS1. I acquired them in this order. For each new headphones I got, I compared it to whatever I had at the time. I bought all the headphones used, so they all should have at least 100 hours on them. My setup goes something like this (signature style!):
FLAC -> EMU-0404 -> Little Dot I+ -> Grados

I'll try not to use words like warm, bright, fast, etc. to describe sound since I'm not exactly sure myself what they mean. I'll use simple words like detail, bass, treble, since we can all agree what kind of sound they represents.

It all started when I needed a "reference headphones". So I thought, OK these "reference series" headphones should do the job. And it sure did the job. Are they accurate? A bird sounded like a bird, a girl screaming sounded like a girl screaming, guitar sounded like guitar, and bass sounded like someone shot an air cannon into my ears... Accurate enough for me.
When the RS2 first arrived, my first impression was "Awesome! these things sound great!" (or in Grado speak GR8! ...ha ha... get it? Good). Soon after I bought the EMU-0404 and the LDI+ to make sure I'm not butchering the audio data too much before it gets to the headphones.

The fun begins when ebay, based on my previous searhes, suggested me a pair of GS1000. I placed a bid just for fun. My bid was way lower than what you guys have been selling in the For Sale forum. I won the auction. Sweet.

So, first round. GS1000 vs RS2. GS1000 wins. End of story... really... It sounded better.
Let me tell you what's the differece between a $500 Grado and a $1000 Grado:

- The giant earpad. That's what gives the soundstage, no surprise here. But the difference is major. You'll hear the positions of where each sound was recorded much much better. The vocal will sound more distance. You might feel like turning up the volume when you first try on the GS1000; but you'll soon notice that you no longer feel like the singer's mouth is touching your ears and you can still hear all the details of the voice. And you can hear the instruments better. GR8!

- Higher frequency response. Even though the drivers are furthur away from the ears, all the details in the sounds are easier to hear. Whether or not the details make the song better, that's really depends on the song. I think this also makes the bass a bit better as well.

But wait! What if I put the GS1000 earpad on the RS2? Yup, the RS2 suddenly have the soundstage of the GS1000. With the same pad, the RS2 sounds unbelievably similar to the GS1000. The biggest different is that the details doesn't come out as much, thanks to the mroe limited frequency response and the added distance from your ears. The bass is a little softer too. But I can assure you, these two headphones have the exact same sound signature. I believe most people that listen to music while they work will not hear the difference, unless your music is very bass heavy (or unless your work is to listen to music, duh).

So, next up is our favourite lower-end Grado. The SR80. Again, I bought these pretty cheap on ebay. I actually wanted to mod the **** out of this SR80, but the mod is still being worked on. So, how does this compare to the RS2? It sounded like poop. Ok, that's may be that's a little mean... but you definitely hear the difference... I can't really describe exactly what make the sound worse, but overall, the sounds is just less pleasing to the ears. I believe "harsh" is the term we like to use around here. Of course the details and the bass is not nearly as good, but that's not why I think it sounded worse.

So, now it's time for a headphone I've been wanted to hear ever since I started reading Head-Fi. The RS1. Everybody know them. Many own them. Many love them. And the RS1 is probably the reason why I decided to sit down and share my experience with head-fi.
First of all, I'd like to point out that as I'm writing this, the RS1 appreciation thread is over 40 pages long. The RS2 appreciation thread? You mean RS2 appreciation threadS. Yes we got 2. The first one started out strong but sadly ended at just over a page. The second RS2 appreciation thread, started pretty ecently, shamefully ended at 7 replies. Why are there 2 threads the RS2? May be when the guy who started the second thread tried to google it, he didn't expected the thread to be so unpopular that one had to be looking in page THREE to find it. Srsly, guys... give the RS2 some love.

OK, back to the comparison... now that I have acquired the legendary Grado "40 pages long" RS1 (though head-fi this time). It's time to test it against the GS1000 and RS2, and see if it actually sound like the middle between GS1000 and RS2... short answer? No. Sorta... Let me first explain the $200 difference between the RS2 and RS1:

- Same packaging as the GS1000/PS1000. The box is nicer. The Foam is nicer. Comes with extension cable and 1/8 adapter. RS2 gives you nothing and came in the same box and foam as the prestige series.
- Because the driver is set deeper into the cup, your luxurious Mahogany wooden cup is attached to a nice metal ring instead of a piece of crappy plastic that I once broke.

Sure, all these things I mentioned above have nothing to do with how it sound, but it does make you feel like you're getting a "top of the line" treatment. While the RS2's packaging just left you with "For $500, this thing better sounds f**kin' AMAZING".

The sound... Let's see if I can find a way to describe the difference between the RS1 and RS2/GS1000 in words... The RS1 sounded like you're listening to an RS2 with slightly louder volume, and your equalizer preset set to "ROCK". The RS1 has a distinctively higher treble than both GS1000 and RS2; with about the same bass as the RS2. The RS1 might be able to produce better bass than the RS2, but I CAN'T HEAR IT WITH ALL THOSE TREBLE. However, I think the stronger treble helps the RS1 brings out more details from the sound than the RS2.

I won't bother writing long comparison between the RS1 and SR80... because it's the same story, the SR80 still sound like poo (again, like poo in comparison to RS1)... However, I'd say that the SR80 has a sound signature that matches the RS1 more than the RS2.

Now some of you must be asking, how about the RS1 with the GS1000's giant pads? As you would expect, the sound stage is increased significantly and the treble is not as strong, but it still stronger than the GS1000. I think the stronger treble might be killing the soundstage a little because the vocal still sound pretty close to your ear with the RS1. I can also say that with giant pads, RS2 sounds more like GS1000 than RS1.

So, to my ears, while the GS1000 was clearly sounded better than both the RS1 and RS2, the RS1 didn't sound "better" than the RS2, but different, in not in a bad way. If you're still unsure of whether or not to spend the extra $200 on the RS1, here's my BEST advice: If the RS2 make you feel like Avril Lavigne's lips is touching your ears when you listen to her hit song "Girlfriend", the RS1 will make you feel like your ears is IN Avril Lavigne's mouth. Is that better for you?

Here's a reason why I think people that like RS1 think RS2 sounded like poo and vice versa. If you starts with an RS1, you'll probably think the RS2 sound strangely boring and lacking detail. If you start with the RS2 like me, the RS1 will make you feel a little uncomfortable and turn-down the volume a little because you feel like your ear might be ringing.

If you're more interested in the GS1000, and you can afford it, go for it by all means...It's truly a step above the RS1/RS2. Heck if you can afford the PS1000, go for it! I'm sure it probably sounds better than my GS1000. These may be expensive but I'll say that if you're the kind of person that closes your eyes while listening to music and doesn't write emails or stupid post like this at the same time; you'll appreciate them fully. Otherwise, do your wallet a favor, buy a good headphones within your budget and enjoy the MUSIC, not the sound.
post #2 of 37
Very interesting read. I own the RS2 and absolutely love them, but I haven't heard an RS1 yet....or the GS1000. It may be time to order some of the GS1000 bagels to try on my RS2.
post #3 of 37
Thanks for your impressions, definitely an interesting read..
post #4 of 37
Entertaining! Fun read and thanks for your impressions.
post #5 of 37
Makes me look for a GS1000 as a RS-2 upgrade... Nah - can´t part with it!

So it has to be an additional GS1000 - let the search begin!

Any idea where the HF-2 will position in this line-up?
post #6 of 37
A very interesting read indeed! Sounds like you had a lot of fun playing with all of your Grados

of course, my conclusions about RS1 vs GS1k are the polar opposite of yours
post #7 of 37
That RS1/RS2 comparison was very interesting. Guess I'd prefer the RS2 as it's obviously more "MS-Pro-ish"
post #8 of 37
The GS-1000 makes Avril dance in front of me
post #9 of 37
Wow, that was great, and thorough.

A photo of all four side by side would be awesome too.
post #10 of 37

Great write up

Originally Posted by limpidglitch View Post
Wow, that was great, and thorough.

A photo of all four side by side would be awesome too.
Awesome write up! Thanks!

I definitely love my RS1s and only purchased a second set of closed cans for when my wife is around as Grado's love to leak sound. Otherwise I am a happy camper with the RS1s!

post #11 of 37
Very nice read If I like the Grado signature (From the HF2s), I might look into the GS1000.
post #12 of 37
I truly enjoyed your post. You tell it like it is, in your own words, and I like that.

post #13 of 37
Thread Starter 
I'm glad to be able to entertain you guys with my writing. I hope this helps people decide which Grado is right for them.

A photo of all four side by side would be awesome too
Sure, I'll take some hot Grado foursome action when I get home just for you... but don't go showing it off to your girlfriend though...

Any idea where the HF-2 will position in this line-up?
I'd like to know that myself... I was thinking about getting a HF-2 when the pre-order started, but that darn GS1000 showed up on ebay for around the same price. Oh well. I'm not complaining... I'd like to see some spec of the driver though...
post #14 of 37
Originally Posted by erd View Post
I'd like to know that myself... I was thinking about getting a HF-2 when the pre-order started, but that darn GS1000 showed up on ebay for around the same price. Oh well. I'm not complaining... I'd like to see some spec of the driver though...
I'm sure that if you keep writing helpful and insightful content like that, some kind soul will lend you a pair soon enough!

I have to say that as an owner of both RS1's and HF-2's (and previously a 325i), i would rate them hf-2>rs1>325i. I just love the extra bass and slightly tamer treble of the hf-2 over the rs1. I HATED the harshness of the 325i, definitely too sibilant for me.
post #15 of 37
The RS2 never gets enough attention on Head-fi. In fact I have read comments where the RS2s have been claimed to be the weak link in the Grado line-up. A lot of Grado newbies, who ask about the RS2 have been asked to skip over and go directly to the RS1. I cant comment on that because I have never heard the RS1.

Nice write-up though.
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