Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Big Grado sound signature variation of the same models
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Big Grado sound signature variation of the same models

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

I briefly owned a RS1i and it sounds very different from my RS1 2003. The RS1i in fact sound so different that I'm afraid that if someone heard it, they would believe that it is the representation of the grado sound when it is definitely not. It's not a small difference, and I don't understand why this difference exists. I don't think it's possible that the sound changed that much since 2003. I personally prefer the brighter RS1 much more. For the RS1i, the upper midrange spike has been toned down a lot taking away some of the clarity in the guitars. The bass is boosted to give the user an impression of more dynamics.

 

I have had a 2008 RS1 with buttons (Sold) , MS-Proi(Sold) and now RS1i (Sold). All of these sound very similar to one another, identical I'd say. More importantly, all of these don't even sound bright nor do they have the upper midrange spike that my 2003 RS1 has that makes guitars and drums sound very real and exciting. Drums and guitars on these RS1i sound just like any other headphone and don't stand out. I don't think I own defective RS1i because I've already owned two other grados (bought from two different sellers from the world) that sound the same. I personally looked at the voice coil (red) and color of the driver (white), and they look the same as the RS1 2008 and Ms-Proi.

 

The soundstage is the same as a grado, that's where the similarity ends. The treble seems to be lurking the background and isn't as protruding , the midrange sounds full but something about it makes it seem like there is a lack of clarity. The bass while the amount has increased, doesn't sound as tight as my RS1. I'm fairly disappointed in what I've heard, so disappointed that I got rid of it quickly. I clearly remember that my RS1 sounds exactly like the RS1i I demoed from a store downtown but why does this RS1i and the two other grados sound so different? Did Grado have an odd batch?

 

Now I haven’t given up looking for a RS1i that sounds close to my RS1 so I bought another RS1i. They still don’t sound as bright but they are noticeably better than the other ones I’ve owned, less midrange muddiness. I’m not so sure I should continue looking anymore. Why is there such a big variation in sound?

 

They really sound nothing like RS1 and previous SR80 and SR225 I’ve owned. At this point, I start to question how many of these “darker” sounding grados are out there. I think everyone should be aware of this because the sound difference is massive while we could technically have the same model. Ever wonder why some people’s impression of the same grado model vastly disagrees with some others? Something just doesn't seem right

 

My impression of the sound

 

Grado (SR80,SR225,early ~2003 RS1): Bright, blatant upper midrange peak, tight bass light, crisp sounding. Summary: Harsher raw sounding grado

 

Other Grados (RS1i,RS1i,MS-Proi, ~2008 RS1) : Midbass presence boosted, overly warm midrange, rounded sounding and not crisp, tamed upper mid spike. Polite but still detailed highs.Summary: A gentle and more lean sounding grado

 

I'm not going to buy a grado again without being able to audition, no more online grado purchases.

post #2 of 30

Hee, hee.  I (ahem) hear you.

 

smile_phones.gif

 

I've been thinking about doing a thread like this, so I'm glad you did this.

 

1) I have heard 2 MS1i's.  They sounded completely different.  Both were burned in, and of a similar age.  But one had no bass vs all the other Grado's that I've heard, except for a SR60i I heard at a dealer.  The other MS1i sounded very similar to all the other Grado's I've heard.  I suspect there was something wrong with the no-bass Grado and the SR60i.

 

2) I have heard 2 MS2i's.  One had more bass than the other.  This was confirmed by another Head Fi-er.  I wouldn't say one was better than the other, just that they sounded "different", although I have the one with less bass, I liked that one more.

 

3) I have heard 2 HF2's.  # 036 and # 1085.  Different batches.  They do not sound the same either.  036 has less (mid) bass, and is preferred by these ears.  I have 1085 (more bass), and I use the 414 pads to tone down the bass.  I suspect the other pair will be buried with the other Head Fi-er, he likes them so much.  (He confirmed the differences too.)

 

4) I have heard 2 SR80i's, but they were displaced in time.  These sounded the same to me.  The MS1i's up above were also displaced in time, but the differences there were very clear.

 

5) Knowing the above, when I got RS2i's, I specifically bought 2 pair so I could compare.  Both were made within 6 months of each other.  (One brand new pair, the other was an unwanted Christmas present, "used" but never used, if that makes sense.)  The bass was similar, but one was brighter than the other.  I liked the one that was less bright.  Luckily, my buddy Head Fi-er likes the one with more treble, and he's probably going to buy them.

 

QC?  Manufacturing variation?  I don't know.  All I know is that I have heard other experienced HF-ers also say that the Grado sound can vary between different examples of the same model.

post #3 of 30

Funny...I guess I have a similar experience in that I had I pair of MS1's and it seems that nearly everyone here that has them or had them at some point rave about them. I though them to be the most horrendous things I ever put on my ears.

 

Then there is my beloved SR325's. I am absolutely in love with them but it seems they are the most disliked Grado in the lineup...so much so I that get the feeling most haters are just following suit to "look" cool but that fact is...more people dog them than not...I can't get enough of them. 

 

So my theory...I got a really bad pair of MS1's but got lucky and got a really great pair of 325's whereas the opposite has been the experience for most others. 

post #4 of 30

Sorry for being a little off-topic, but I've always thought that a big, if not major, reason for varying opinions on a specific headphone is the variations that occur during the manufacturing process.

 

If people swear they can hear night-and-day differences between cables or completely changed sound through older and newer pads (I believe the part about the pads--gently pressing my old K 702 closer to my head changed its sound noticeably), it is entirely possible that the quality of a manufacturer's QC process or just normal manufacturing variations can change people's opinions of a particular headphone quite dramatically--tiny differences can result in major consequences.

 

That, plus the differences in the way people hear and perceive sounds, the sources people use, the music they listen to, their preferences, and even how a pair of headphones specifically fits over a person's head and ears, I hope people here understand that listening impressions will only give a general overview of the sound of a headphone at best, that nothing beats personal auditions, and that when it's time to finally purchase a pair of headphones that has been researched to death, there are still no guarantees.

 

It's impossible to make two products exactly alike, and I have a feeling that the tolerances Grado works with are not as tight as, say, Sennheiser (keep in mind, this is only speculation!)  Not every RS1i will necessarily sound the same, even if both of them were made one right after the other, just like not every new BMW M3 necessarily drives the same (personal experience with this one).

 

I guess that's part of what makes this hobby fun...

 

Very tired after studying all day.  Hope what I wrote makes some sense.

post #5 of 30
Thread Starter 

If there's such big differences within the same models then I don't think anyone's impression of a grado headphone should be weighed when deciding a purchase. I guess nobody within grados auditions the headphones to make sure the sound is within tolerance before shipping to dealers.

 

@Kevin

Which model would you say had the largest sound variation?

 

@ArmAndHammer

Sounds similar from what I've been going through, except I started at top with my 2003 RS1 and everything afterward became a step down (RS1 2008,MS-Proi,RS1i). The story for those 3 headphones went something like this, excitement to disappointment within receiving and listening in a 5 minute span. If I started with say the RS1 2008, I might have concluded that the RS1 in general is horrible but luckily I was able to audition my first 2003 RS1 purchase.

 

I guess after all the buying and selling, I was able to discover some sort of truth but not the reasoning behind it. I think someone in these forums once said that if you want to find the truth about something, spend money.

post #6 of 30

There are so many Grado dealers in the US that most people should be able to audition them.  I find this thread helpful because if I ever buy another pair of Grados (hah!) and the dealer has more than one of the same model, I will definitely look for the best one.

post #7 of 30

I got lucky with my 325's. They were the only pair he had left and they were the demo. Now I am very curious...next time I am there I am going to try several pairs of the same model just to see.

post #8 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArmAndHammer View Post

I got lucky with my 325's. They were the only pair he had left and they were the demo. Now I am very curious...next time I am there I am going to try several pairs of the same model just to see.


Definitely, curiosity is a funny thing. This is like cherry picking; they may look the same on the outside but they taste different on the inside. One bad experience can be enough to deter someone forever.

 

 I just found a local RS1i seller and I'm going to try them out. These two RS1is I've had don't cut it for me, third time's the charm maybe? If it sounds the same as those two then I give up.

post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by kite7 View Post

@Kevin

Which model would you say had the largest sound variation?

 


Maybe I can guess why you are asking.  smile_phones.gif

 

So my database of multiple-example listening is the MS1, SR80i, MS2i, HF2, and RS2i.

 

The biggest difference was between the 2 MS1i's.  One sounded fine.  Now ... I think there was something wrong with the other pair.

 

I have a theory that maybe Grado applies more QC the higher up in price you go.  For all of the MS2i, HF2, and RS2i, I really wouldn't say that one pair sounded "bad" and the other "good", although I certainly have my preferences for each one, but they sounded "different".  And in the RS2i case, I really wasn't sure what I was hearing was really what I was hearing, that's why I had my buddy "double check" me, and he heard the same differences I heard.  Bottom line is that the difference between the RS2i's is smaller than the others.

 

But ... that doesn't mean that if I somehow got a hold of a 3rd pair, that that 3rd pair wouldn't be drastically different that the 2 I've already heard either.  Maybe.  Or maybe not.  You could go nuts thinking about all this, because you could get stuck in a loop where you wouldn't buy anything because there's always the possibility that the *next* pair could sound better than anything you've heard to date.


 

post #10 of 30

I don't understand where you guys go to demo these I have never seen an "audio shop" but maybe I'm not looking hard enough... Anyone know of one near Pittsburgh?

post #11 of 30

@ kite7:

1st: no offence, b no doubt they sound different, as the rs-1i is differently built than its predecessors...wiki to be found here. the "darker" sound in the newer models is no surprise to me, as to many listeners the grado hp's are/were sometimes to be sounding too bright...and grado labs did some of its homework over the past years.. 

2nd: how could you compare a 2003 pair with more than enough hours of playtime with a new manufactured one? for sure these are not as "burned in" as your old ones and hence sound differently...this characteristic (especially to higher-end hp's) to be found all over head-fi...to be added: there's your brains hearing pattern too, which is adapted to your many-year-session w/ your model..(he?-)

 

@danthax: try google or superpages...maybe this one helps to start...

 

i have to say i never had/heard an old rs-1, so my guess: this all is just relatively talking..especially if one has a look at the big differences in build quality within the wiki-pics..

peace

post #12 of 30

I'm listening to my MS-1i at the moment and am reminded of how much fun these cans are. I must have been lucky with my pair as it has great body and a decent amount of bass (although admittedly it doesn't extend very low). Stepping up to the MS-Pro or RS-1i (as I eventually intend to do) may be an anxious process considering these variations.

post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Danthrax View Post

I don't understand where you guys go to demo these I have never seen an "audio shop" but maybe I'm not looking hard enough... Anyone know of one near Pittsburgh?


Seems to be several listed on the Grado website:  http://www.gradolabs.com/frameset_main.htm

post #14 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by holidayanimal View Post

@ kite7:

1st: no offence, b no doubt they sound different, as the rs-1i is differently built than its predecessors...wiki to be found here. the "darker" sound in the newer models is no surprise to me, as to many listeners the grado hp's are/were sometimes to be sounding too bright...and grado labs did some of its homework over the past years.. 

2nd: how could you compare a 2003 pair with more than enough hours of playtime with a new manufactured one? for sure these are not as "burned in" as your old ones and hence sound differently...this characteristic (especially to higher-end hp's) to be found all over head-fi...to be added: there's your brains hearing pattern too, which is adapted to your many-year-session w/ your model..(he?-)


I have a 2003 model but that doesn't mean I had them since 2003, I had them since 2009 and bought it used. Burn-in does not make a big difference, it's a non factor to me. It will not suddenly just transform into something different after a certain amount of hours usage and it is arguable that burn-in is placebo since from all the frequency graphs I've seen show that the FR does not change after hundreds of hours. If you read my post, I said I heard a RS1i at store that is just as bright against my 2003 RS1 then I proceeded to look for a used pair of RS1i from these forums only to find out there are massive variations. As far as I know, the only "dark" sounding model should be the HF2. The HP series were made by Joe, John has always gone with the bright route and not the neutral route. Wiki is not a reliable source, I don't ever recall Grado wanting to tailor a sound that is more suitable towards the mass public who complained about it being to bright. There's always people who like bright headphones, so why should Grado to switch to a darker sound? I don't recall Grado listening to complaints. I always see alot of people complaining about how they are uncomfortable and how their technology is old yet why doesn't Grado change that? I doubt Grado listens to complaints. The whole switch to a darker sound is bogus, the new prestige series still have a bright sound.

post #15 of 30

I guess one must assume that Grado is successful at what they do.  Why change the sound signature?

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphones (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Big Grado sound signature variation of the same models