Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › :"Woodied" Grado Review and Impressions Thread
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

:"Woodied" Grado Review and Impressions Thread

post #1 of 67
Thread Starter 

I’m curious as to what sort of impressions those of you that have added wood shells to your Grado’s can share about the sonic improvements you’ve netted.  I’m guessing from the traffic in the SR60-mod thread and the post your Grado mod thread that a fair number of folks got wood.


I’m definitely a Grado head as opposed to being some sort of audiphile. My stock Grado journey started with the SR60, a 225i, an MS2i, and finally the HF2. I have also wooded my SR60’s with two different types of wood and put some wood on a pair of 225’s; and I’ve spent the last week comparing and contrasting my HF2’s and the “woodied”  225’s to a pair of MS Pro’s that were loaned to me by pbstefanandwhich. Thank You Stefan I really appreciate your generous spirit in offering me the opportunity to satisfy a curiosity.


The MS Pro is a great headphone and deserves all the accolades it gets.  My first impression was sort of meh, until my head wrapped itself around the sound.  The MS Pro has a very rich warm sound. The bass is typical Grado.  The mids are warm and smooth and the treble fills in the details nicely. In some ways I think the MS Pro and the HF2 have a similar color. The bass on the MS Pro is tighter though while the HF2’s can be a bit sloppy some times and the MS Pro has an airier feel to it.


The gear used here other than the headphones was an Audio GD Sparrow via USB from my PC. The music is channeled via Media Monkey and from that configuration to my ears. I didn’t really A/B per se. So my impressions are sort of my psycho acoustic perception of each headphone.


I’ve been listening to the HF2 since October and really like it. I owned a 225 once before and it’s a good fit with the music I listen to, which is pretty much guitar driven bluesy stuff.  The two biggest changes from plastic to wood IMO is the timbre of the presentation and the soundstage.  It’s also more resonant. Unfortunately one of the drivers on my SR60 died on me. It still works sort of but it sounds like its being smothered by a pillow.  Anyway the “woodied” SR60 could easily hang with its more expensive cousins before the driver issue occurred.  I never really got to A/B the 60 and 225 but they were similar.


So Anyway I’ve spent a good amount of time this past week listening to the MS Pro as well as listening to different songs back to back to back with the three headphones and a couple of times entire albums. I just got the new Tedeschi Trucks album Revelator and that’s one I listened to with all three headphones. I think I preferred the HF2 with that one but my impressions have definitely been mixed. The MS Pro does a lot of things right but so does the “woodied” 225 for a lot less money.


The “woodied” 225 has a slightly brighter presentation and it doesn’t seem as colored as the other two. By colored, my perception is that the MS Pro had a more woody and earthy tone to it than my “woodied” 225. The African Blackwood tonally is a member of the Rosewood family. One of the comments I read when researching the tonal characteristics of the African Blackwood was, Brazilian Rosewood is to African Blackwood, what Indian Rosewood is to Brazilian Rosewood; which I guess makes it better than Brazilian at least in that guys opinion, who knows. It sounds good and looks good though.


Rosewoods supposedly resonate across the frequency spectrum pretty well and that seems to be the case. I had some driver housings fabricated from African mahogany to keep it a little Grado and emphasize the mids.


Anyway last week was a lot of fun and has me thinking that my next set of cups will be sourced from wood with a more earthy and woody tone. I’m thinking Limba (Korina) or Koa. Also a one piece design rather than a 2 piece configuration. I have another project rolling around in my head that adds some carbon fiber to the mix.


Enough from me what’s your story.





Edited by KneelJung - 6/15/11 at 9:08pm
post #2 of 67

Reserved for my comparo between my bloodwood sr80i's and the MS Pro's. It'll be a while, but they will get to me eventually :)



Well, Seeing as I wound up putting some 225i drivers in those bloodwood shells. here is a comparison between them and the MS Pros


Overall, the ms pros are more "earthy" they definitely put out a lot of bass, it is very nice, punchy and well extended. But, a bit much for my taste.. The highs are pretty smooth, lacking a bit of that in your face feel that I adore of grados, but lacking no detail. 


The bloodwood 225i's retain a lot of the brightness of the stock 225i (they are smoothed out a bit, but not nearly to the point of the ms pro, and this is a welcome change to me) The bass response is greatly improved from the stock 225i form and I think it is just perfect, maybe not as textured as the ms pros, which can leave the pros sounding better for some music.. But, I never find the 225i's doing anything poorly, like I do the ms pros. Some things just sound too dark and earthy on the ms pros. It does really good things to mids though..





The ms pros have lower sounding mids. Lower male vocals really, really shine on the ms pros. But my modded 225i's hold their own very, very well. The ms pros just have this undeniable earthy textured feel to the mids that do really good things. As mentioned the 225i's keep up though and I actually find myself preferring them when it comes to female vocals.. When I listen to a female voice through the ms pros it sounds colored.. I never feel like the mids are colored on the 225i's, just maybe a bit recessed compared to the more forward mids of the ms pros.. I'll say they tie here, with maybe a slight edge to the ms pro, which i feel presents a touch more detail throughout the spectrum, but also colors female vocals and makes them sound a bit off to me. It's really a tradeoff, I like the 225i's more in general. 




The ms pros are more smooth on the top end, while the 225i's retain most of the brightness that they have in their stock form. I do prefer the highs of the 225i's.. I feel like they present about the same amount of detail.. I give a point to the 225i's here, because I prefer the more fun, in my face experience when it comes to highs. Still though they are pretty close with the 225i's being brighter and the ms pros being smoother, but still in the same league, both sound like grados.. I just feel like the ms pros are trying to smooth things out a notch, while the 225i's are giving you everything when it comes to highs.. some people would find the 225i's a bit harsh, I think. It is just my cup of tea. 




The ms pros have a lot more low end, this can be really good on some recordings, really bad on others. All in all I feel like the 225i's do a better job of presenting the music with a more accurate amount of bass, while the ms pros give you a false, but sometimes very, very nice bass response. They color the music a bit too much for my liking. I'd have to give the point to the 225i's again. The ms pros do a lot of right, they just over do it in my opinion.




So, I guess when it comes down to it the ms pros really, really shine on some recordings, and they color others too much for me. They are a good sounding headphone, but it is a bit alarming how close my 225i's come. The only thing the ms pros really win in is the mids for me.. I would say the 225i's mids seem a bit recessed next to the ms pros, but the highs and lows feel more appropriate to my ears and the mids on the ms pros are less recessed, but also more colored, it is almost like the mids are lowered a notch, making female vocals sound a bit off to me, but male vocals really shine. 


The bloodwood sr80i's with two holes vented in wood shared a similar sound signature to the ms pros, just sounding a good deal more veiled, but very similar highs and lows, just not as detailed. The highs weren't as smooth as the ms pros, the lows didn't carry as much of a nice woody timbre. But, the overall sound sig was pretty similar. I'm glad I upgraded to the 225i drivers, because as you read the ms pro isn't my cup of tea, and the sr80i's were like a less detailed version of the ms pros. 



Overall, I'm not going to lose any sleep when it is time to ship off the ms pros... I'm okay sacrificing a bit of mid texture (colored mid texture) for more appealing and accurate highs and lows to my ears.


Everything said here is just in my opinion. Some people will agree, others will disagree. Take it how you will.

Edited by chrislangley4253 - 8/16/11 at 2:11pm
post #3 of 67

Very quickly, I can definitely say that I prefer my woodied 325i's over the stock aluminum cups.  I perceive a less tinny sound, alittle more laid back'ish, alittle less sibilant/brighty. 


post #4 of 67

I have a pair of MS1is that I wooded with some cocobolo cups from Soloz Audio a few months ago. Bass was slightly improved and extended a bit lower. I did not notice any changes to the mids or highs but the overall sound felt more pleasing.


Not bad considering I did nothing to the driver housings (still plastic) or the drivers themselves.


I liked the improvement so I went out and got the RS-2s last month for a full upgrade.

post #5 of 67

I've been very fortunate to have tried a few different types of wood all done in the same configuration -SHELL only- so I was able to judge directly the differences in the woods I was using/trying.

The first thing I did was a series of modifications to the driver units housed in the plastic round tray like portion that fits inside the Wooden shells that were replacing the stock plastic ones. These modifications can be found in the "SR60 Mods" thread here on head-fi and are very easy to perform.


Coccobolo- this was the first wooden shell I used as a replacement to the plastic one, it was thicker and the walls of the shell itself higher than the originals. When I first installed it I noticed an increase in brightness that I did not like at all, it brought out any underlying sibilance that was cooking up inside these Grado's and if you've heard Grado's you know they are a 1/2 notch away from being too bright as is and some find them too bright from the start and can never recover that. The last modification I had to do was put Dynamatt on the back of the round driver itself which immediately took the edge off to a certain degree and along with the other mods was the collective straw that made all the work worthwhile. Now with the mods complete I put the Coccobolo shells back on and heard a much warmer presentation, nice resonance, rounded full tones some punch was added to the bass and mid-bass and for about 3 months I enjoyed that sound immensely and with a month long stay in a hospital during that time and having these modded Grado's with me they did there share of being heard by all kinds of Medical staff and general population of the hospital and the folks who worked there with "these are the best sounding headphones I have ever heard" being spoken when their turn was up. I really felt good that I had a hand in creating that wonderful sound along with Bilavideo and others involved and modding while reading and contributing to the SR60 mod thread. I had a winning combination and was fine stopping my search right there, and then the Limba showed up!!!!


   I received a package from Bill with 3 assorted shells...1 was Coccobolo for a mod I was doing for a friend and the other two were for me to try and one was LIMBA. I never heard of it, it took about a week to find out what the wood was then I checked into the material and it is apparently very popular in fine instruments. Lute, Mandolins, Upscale Guitars, Violins and I know why....as I was putting on the headphones for the very first time after installing the LIMBA shells I could hear the difference as it came closer to my ears and about 6 inches out I knew this was going to be sweet!!!

 I put them on my head and cranked up the tune a bit and I heard everything in the room where they recorded this particular album. I remember hearing someone cough outside the studio's LIVE room, muffled by a wall but I heard it, the sound of the bass player fingering the notes and moving his hand rapidly up and down the neck to get the next notes.....I said out loud- "This is it" I tried the other shells for about 10 minutes put the LIMBA back in place and cleaned up my modding area...I was done, I found it...everybody hears things differently but the LIMBA shells bring a  natural warmth to the music, like wearing a pair of old jeans and your favorite old sweater on a blustery day and sitting by a fire reading and listening to music or any other similar total relaxing situation. I recently got a used HM-602 Digital Audio Player with DAC based on the TDA chip and tried it with the Grado's and found it to be the absolute perfect match. I have never once in the past couple months of having the LIMBA shells on my Grado SR125's heard anything unpleasant with any music or movie I've listened to or watched unless it was meant to be there sounding unpleasant. I haven't touched another pair of Grado's and I have a stock pair of SR60's all ready to go under the hairdryer and I really see no point in trying anything else when I have at my disposal what to me sounds perfect. Your experience and listening habits may yield different results for you and thats cool and absolutely wonderful but I've found the combo that works the best for me, I just hope you guys, each and  everyone of you find your combo that works for you because listening to music now is much better when your hearing the notes not the perceived or not inperfections in the equipment. Enjoy the MUSIC......I DO!!!!!!  Peace.... Edatsmile.gif



Edited by eclein - 6/16/11 at 12:05pm
post #6 of 67
Thread Starter 

Thanks to everyone who has posted so far. Nice post Ed I'm definitely trending toward a Limba shell for one of my next two mods. LC I had some Cocobolo on my 60's. Like Ed they were my first pair of shells. Better bass like you say but I think the reason you found them more pleasing is due to the timbre of the presentation changing. Little things like what Marty is talking about. Like I said I'm not an audiophile but I know what's pleasing to my ear and what isnt. I also know what's pleasing to my eye and Marty I just have to say the pics I've seen in the Grado Mod thread of your work is extraoridinary.



post #7 of 67

damn you ed for making me want limba lol

post #8 of 67

Niece write up.

post #9 of 67

LIMBA, LIMBA!!!!!   


Who's Marty and where are his pictures I love to see good stuff, somebody link the old crippled prick up please!!!  


Guys I gotta say if you have a couple mods you can still do try limba in at least one, I would do both and make the second set thicker and about 1/2 inch taller and really get a chamber thing going and let the Limba loose!!!! The point is that there is a combination that works for everybody and everybody hears differently so don't be afraid to say "I stuck some toilet paper rolls on mine and they are excellent" if it works, it works, don't worry what others may think because they can't hear what you do no matter how hard you all try. I still mess with the thin foam up behind the screen on and off. I hear a difference but its one of those trade-off things, I got to be real scientific just once and compare the two configs using all the same tunes, etc., etc.....I bet a thin round sheet of Limba behind the screen like where I have the foam would either really screwup the sound or make it nicer....a round disk the size of the opening and as thick as a nice thick piece of gum, how you'd get that beats me, Bill would figure a way.

 Anyway, my other pair may get Coccobolo'ed and given to my youngest on Monday when he comes for the day..........unless I see some cool stuff and get motivated......where is Marty's stuff....LOL....


Edited by eclein - 6/17/11 at 7:50pm
post #10 of 67

I have a pair of martys cups. I can post a picture I took the other night. Although, it is my belief that you would be hard pressed to get a pair exactly like mine. Marty tries to make each pair unique. I really, really like the spin he put on my cups.




I need to take a good side view picture of the shell, it curves inward towards the ear pads, very neat. It is kind of like a reversed 325 shell from the side and a larger rs1 from the front. Bloodwood by the way. Beautiful.



post #11 of 67

Reserved.  (Subscribed).


May take a while, but I hope to post some impressions of "Bilawoodied" MS-1's here later...told him to take his time. 


Until then, I want to see what you are all doing and hearing!

post #12 of 67

Hey Chris!!! In the pic above you show your very cool headphones and is that an audio-gd product back there?? What did you get DAC or amp or both???

post #13 of 67
Originally Posted by eclein View Post

Hey Chris!!! In the pic above you show your very cool headphones and is that an audio-gd product back there?? What did you get DAC or amp or both???

Yes Sir. Audio-gd Sparrow. It is a Dac/amp combo. I got an older A Version. So it uses the older DIR9001 for the dac portion and I have both of the older chips for it. The names escape me for the moment... uhm. AD1852 and WM8740. So far the AD1852 has gotten almost all the listening time. I find the DIR9001 and AD1852 very, very, very transparent and neutral. It presents the music incredibly well. Basically, you would never really notice it's presence. Rather, you damn well notice when it is gone, which is how I personally think sources should be. However, I haven't had a chance to get into tubes, and that could totally change my mind. I plan on sticking with this source for at least the next few years or so. I'm really happy with the sound I get with the sparrow and my bloodwood grados. This setup might even last me until I'm in a house of my own and I can start working on a speaker/vinyl set-up. (kind of my more end-game goal)

post #14 of 67
Thread Starter 

I read this in another thread this morning before I went to work. I dont remember which one but I bookmarked it to drop in here. It's John Grado talking about the RS1 and wood, good read.


"The idea of using wood just came to me one night," explained John Grado. "We went through quite a few species of wood before finding this mahogany—which type, we'll just keep our secret for the moment. When you're building speakers, you're supposed to want a dense, really hard wood—well, that's not mahogany. But it works really well—I don't always spend a lot of time figuring out why something works; sometimes I'm just satisfied that it does. Maybe the mahogany has a lower resonant frequency, or maybe its resonance just doesn't emphasize something in my driver—I'm not saying it would work in all cases, but it seems to work well with our driver."


I wondered what else makes the RS1 different from the rest of the line. "We fine-tuned the driver," he responded. "We paint a formula on them to control resonance—we call it 'de-stressing'; in the RS1, we do it twice, and very, very precisely. We damp the chassis behind the magnet cover. We also put a perforated cap on the driver, which tunes it further. I don't really like the word 'tweak,' but every component of the RS1 is very carefully chosen and very precisely adjusted—by ear, of course. We design by listening, so these 'phones are a reflection of what we like, of what we hear." Indeed, nothing seems to be unintentional about the RS1: Grado's product literature makes much of the sonic effects of the width and thickness of the stainless-steel spring that connects the earpieces; the glue that bonds the spring to the earpiece assembly; the length of the height-adjustment rods; the rear-screen material; the type of wire and number of turns in the voice coil; the shape and thickness of the driver cap; and many other seemingly small, er, tweaks.




post #15 of 67


Originally Posted by mlantinen View Post

Very quickly, I can definitely say that I prefer my woodied 325i's over the stock aluminum cups.  I perceive a less tinny sound, alittle more laid back'ish, alittle less sibilant/brighty. 


Given the believed perception that the SR225i / SR325i drivers are pulled from the same batch (matched to within 0.5dB specs), I'd assume that one could get by with saving $100 and modifying the SR-225i and they wouldn't have to waste the aluminum cups, whereas the plastic cups on the SR-225i fall into a "dime a dozen league".


In any regard, I have to move forward with my impressions.  Each day has been a bit gloomy and I'm getting home a bit late from work, but I want to get some natural light so I can take some better pictures of the 3 sets of wooden headphones that I currently own.  For tonight, I'll go through the basic configurations for each of the three.  In the following nights, I'll pick a set and post my impressions for the respective pair of headphones.  With each of my woody headphones, I love each and every one - all in a different way.  As one of my old friends used to say "I wouldn't kick her out of bed for eating crackers" when he'd see a nice looking lady. biggrin.gif


Pair One: Simple Wooden cups - apparently the cups were cut by a member here on Head-fi and modified by Bilavideo (for bass purposes).

  • SR-225 Grado Drivers
  • All 10 holes on the rear of the driver were opened up, but then covered with dark felt
  • The front "loin cloth" has been removed from the driver side that faces your ears
  • Mogami cable was utilized to make the cable as well as a Neutrik 1/4" connector
  • The factory head band has been replaced with a dark brown, padded leather head band



Pair Two: Burl Wooden Cups - This set was built by BigRock

  • SR-225i Grado Drivers
  • All 10 holes on the rear of the driver were opened up, but then covered in dark felt
  • The front "loin" cloth is still present
  • The stock Grado cable (the heavy duty one with 4 conductors per speaker is used)
  • The stock head band is still in use



Pair Three: Sapele Wooden Cups - Cups were purchased from Cabillas

  • MS-1i Alessandro drivers
  • 6 holes were opened up on the rear of the drivers.  No felt has been installed over them
  • The front "loin cloth" is still present
  • The stock Grado / Alessandro cable (the light duty one with 2 conductors per speaker is used)
  • The stock head band is still in use





Update 07/18/2011: Pair #2 has been sold and is currently serving duty in Afghanistan.  However, I will still write up a review of the headphones to share my observations, since this pair had some slightly-oversized cups made of burl vs. standard sized wooden cups that work with the standard Grado gimbals.

Edited by wje - 7/18/11 at 11:57am
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphones (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › :"Woodied" Grado Review and Impressions Thread