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:"Woodied" Grado Review and Impressions Thread - Page 3

post #31 of 67

Wayne, just read through the reviews. Very good work, my friend. Cannot wait to see how the Burls and the Cabillas cups stack up. 

 

What is the wood used on the Marty cups? Something about that light wood and the finish just does it for me. Almost looks like marble. 

post #32 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Questhate View Post

 

 

What is the wood used on the Marty cups? Something about that light wood and the finish just does it for me. Almost looks like marble. 


There's actually a few light ones.  I think what you might be thinking of is the Silky Figured Asian.  With the set at home that were delivered today, they are also lighter cups.  I posted some pictures that Marty sent me about a week ago of them on the SR-60 Mod thread.  Those cups are made out of Cebil.  I'm going to pick up the sandpaper on my way home shortly.  Also, I'm considering using some Minwax Polyshades (stain & poly) in one.  That particular finish is glossy Pecan.  I thought it might do pretty well with the lighter cups - keeping them somewhat light, yet hopefully highlighting some of the darker spots in the wood to make a nice contrast.  Or, that's my wish.


 

 

post #33 of 67

hahahahaha awesome

 

Well, my wife has put the "smack down" on my Grado obsession... so its not looking like I'll get another set of cups for a few months at least.

 

In the meantime, I have ignored everyones advice on Head-Fi and have begun sanding down my factory RS2i cups... They are just too ugly to leave alone.
 

@wje: On a more thread related note: I'm VERY interested to get your impressions between the Marty cups and Cabillas cups...

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KneelJung View Post




I'm not saying you shouldnt but...

 

 

 

I'm just sayin.

 



 


Edited by markkr - 7/21/11 at 4:54pm
post #34 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by markkr View Post

... Well, my wife has put the "smack down" on my Grado obsession... so its not looking like I'll get another set of cups for a few months at least ...

 

... @wje: On a more thread related note: I'm VERY interested to get your impressions between the Marty cups and Cabillas cups ...

 


Then, I'd suggest you take on a 2nd job, something part-time to cover your hobby.  After a few weekends away from the house, your wife will cave in because she's lonely and you're not around.  She'll then allow to start buying again if you quit the 2nd job.  Give it a try, but don't tell her that it was my recommendation.  tongue.gif

 

Since the cups arrived unfinished and I had a chance to open the package, I did quickly handle the cups with the loose screens that I'll bond into place after I finish the surface of the cups.  As far as sound goes, that question is still up in the air - the Sapele vs. the Cebil.  I'm not sure how this will end up in the sound department.  Regarding looks, the Cabillas cups are a bit more generic, but they are sized nicely and built with a consistent QA process.  Wood options are a bit more limited with Cabillas, but the cups are proven, he delivers on time (not that Marty doesn't) and Cabillas price can't be beat.

 

In regards to Marty's cups that I received, I did take 5 minutes to "test fit" the gimbals into place - these were the stock Grado gimbals.  Since Marty uses more curves in his design, it changes the way the gimbals fit, to a degree.  His holes were drilled with precision.  However, I did note a few changes that I'm going to make by moving the gimbal holes up about 3/16" just so the gimbal fits a bit different - and a bit more to my liking.  I guess if I were good, I'd take some pictures of the fit before the gimbal adjustment, and it would be clear for the reasons that I applied the small change.  In any regard, I'm very excited to own both types of cups.  

 

Please keep us posted on how your refinish job goes on your RS-2i cups.  I don't believe I provided my opinion that refinishing them wasn't a good idea.  I do think it's a good idea.  Having unique items is always good.  Plus, the standard brown mahogany could use a bit of a face lift.  Not that it's bad in any way, but it is the de-facto standard of the RS-2, RS-1 and MS-Pro headphones.

 

post #35 of 67

 

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
  • Site of Cup Builder: http://www.techheromods.com

 

 

Appearance: The appearance of these headphones is gorgeous!  The burl – actually Australian Jarrah Burl, is so wonderful to look at.  Some areas have that flat and polished appearance.  While others, feature that distressed and dark look that burl features.  This yin / yan appearance is quite exciting if someone is looking to stir up the appearance of the cups on their headphones.  These cups mean business!

 

Comfort: Since these cups and headphones were a pair that Rahkim was using as a prototype and built them before one of his shows, he made a posting on one of the threads that he was going to post them for sale.  I quickly reacted, because I had seen the pictures of these headphones that he had posted a few weeks earlier and fell in love with them.  When I received the headphones, it was known by me that a pair like this would not be built like this again by Rahkim.  He made circular gimbals that didn’t quite encase the whole circle of the cup.  However, to me, when I initially tried them on after receiving them and trying them with music, I noticed how the fit towards the bottoms of my ears were not as tight, and the foam pads were slightly sticking out and not creating a more enclosed fit to allow the sound to the cavity and onto my ears.  I knew from the beginning that I’d like to change the maple finish to something that provided a bit more contrast than the clear maple.  So, during the week or two leading up to when I had time to modify the gimbals, I planned my actions and accumulated the materials.  I removed the chrome rods from the gimbals.  I then cut the gimbals a bit to make them ½ circles instead of ¾ circles.  I then moved onto my belt sander where I took off about 3/16” of the thickness of the gimbal wood.  I then had some holes to fill and sand.  I then painted the maple with satin black paint and applied 2 coats of poly to protect them.  I then re-drilled the holes for the chrome gimbal rods to get re-inserted into the wooden gimbal pieces.  I offset the silver rods by about 10 degrees, just like the Grado original gimbals are structured.  Now, the fit and comfort was 100% spot on!  The fit was at least as good as the Grados are out of the box, if not a little better.

 

Also, since this section is to be focused on comfort, I’ll have to admit these were some of the heaviest wooden cup headphones I’ve ever owned.  They didn’t seem to weigh as much as the aluminum cupped SR-325i headphones, but they had some weight.  However, the weight was attributed to the thickness and depth of the cups themselves.  I’ll comment more in this in the sound section.

 

Modifications Performed: These headphones only had about 2 hours of use on them.  However, the 10 rear holes had been opened up – then, covered with dark felt to change the sound signature a bit from the stock sound.  Two or three months ago, I would have had the complete impression that opening the holes are the way to go with Grados.  However, now that I essentially only use wooden cups, opening the holes doesn’t always work in a beneficial way when it comes to sound.  

 

Sound:  Since this set of headphones was built using the Grado SR-225i headphones, the highs and mids featured that signature Grado sound.  I used my typical selections of music to put these headphones through the paces to see how the sound stacked up compared to some of the other modified Grados that I have owned.  I was quite pleased with everything that I played through them.  Since the modifications to the gimbals were complete, I could wear them for a few hours and the level of comfort didn’t turn to uncomfortable.  The jazz, blues, folk and southern style rock that I pushed through these headphones was very pleasing.  The sound was several notches above what is offered with the stock Grado SR-225i headphones.  However, there was something that really made this pair stand out besides their astounding looks with the burl cups.  Not only did the burl cups look sharp, but their size and mass seemed to really have an impact on the bass.  With this pair of headphones, the bass was plentiful – both in quantity and especially quality.  Normally, the wooden cups provide one with an upgrade that is several notches up from stock.  This particular pair of cups upped that level a few more notches.  Since these, I haven’t had a wooden cup with as much mass to it – so, I’ve experienced good bass with the other Grados, but just not quite as well as these could deliver.

 

Opinion:  I knew going into this set of headphones, there would be some enhancements that I was going to perform.   I knew for 100% certainty that the color of the gimbals would be changed from the clear maple color.  However, I didn’t realize that I’d have to modify the gimbals as much to make their comfort level to get into the right level so the most could be achieved from this pair of headphones.  But, these were a unique set.  The Jarrah burl cups can be ordered from http://www.techheromods.com , but, one will still utilize their current Grado gimbals and will retain that Grado comfort and correct tilting options to allow for the correct comfort.  Taking the time to apply the modifications to the gimbals was well worth my time as I feel that I not only enhanced the fit and comfort, but I gave them a slightly different look that didn’t take away from their stunning beauty.

 

Future:  As a future for these headphones, I had many plans in mind.  Leather headband, better cable, etc.  However, I had another pair of headphones listed for sale and a member wanted to purchase those other headphones.  However, I shared the pictures of the Jarrah burl SR-225i headphones and the individual definitely wanted the burl cupped Grados instead of the other headphones that I was trying to sell.

 

Being a junkie who loves to take headphones apart and rebuild them is about half the fun of owning them for me.  The other half is listening to them and enjoying the fine music they produce or rather, reproduce.  But, to me, this was an opportunity for me to move onto another project and the sale of these headphones would provide a little cash flow to allow me to move onto those projects.  However, this transaction was done with a bit of a knot in my stomach, as I knew once these beauties were gone, they were gone.  I realized I wouldn’t enjoy their beauty.  However, the other half of me also desires some practicality in the headphones I have.  I want a pair or two … or, three that I can have to cart back and forth to work as well as listen to them at home during the evenings.  If I own something too nice, I’d have too many fears of damaging them in transit.  In some ways, the burls fell into this category.

 

However, they were sold and moved onto a fine home to an owner who had a lot of appreciation for them.  

 

These are some “very” fine headphones that features great comfort as well as a “very” custom fit and sound.  The only thing missing is the leather head band.  Once that gets in place the individual can consider cable mods, if they desire.  However, with this set being the SR-225i, it already features the 8 conductor “heavier” Grado cable with a ¼” plug.

 

Edit: I applied a few sentence changes in the "Future" section of this review.

 

Pictures:

 

Grado - Maple Gimbals with Burl Cups.jpg

 

burl_1.jpg

 

burl_2.jpg

 

burl_3.jpg


Edited by wje - 7/22/11 at 8:15pm
post #36 of 67

Hell yes sir, they do indeed have an appreciative new owner.  I'm busy listening to Nina Simone right this second.  Today, I found a new office to fit my headphones, which I feel is a much more appropriate solution to my situation than doing the opposite.  :D

 

Great review, my friend. The bass is just about perfect--it's got a little more impact and substance than the SR60i to my ear but much more range--it's capable of getting surprisingly deep (somewhere in the 55-75hz area).  I think the thing I've been most surprised by is the utter lack of sibilance.  I've been wearing these things for about 4 hours so far and I'm still not fatigued; after my experience with the SR60i, I thought I might be sensitive to HF, but it may have just been the cans. 

 

I've spent the entire day today watching jaws drop as I've introduced people to the Grado sound. 

post #37 of 67

 

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  A slight change was applied to these drivers.  Muslin cloth was placed on the backs of the drivers to restore the openings to a covered opening just like they came from the factory
  • The front "loin cloth" is still present
  • 1 meter Mogami cable with a ¼” Neutrik connector
  • The stock head band is still in use

 

 

Appearance: There’s really nothing to not like about the appearance of these headphones.  The Sapele wood is finished quite nicely, yet features a subtle grain.  The Sapele cups from Cabillas feature the darker finish, while the Iroko cups feature more of a medium to light finish on them.  The Sapele cups that I purchased had a nice “ledge” on the inside of the chamber, which allowed me to cut metal mesh and install the mesh at the end of the cup and apply an adhesive to hold it into place.  The tops or outsides of these cups feature a tapered appearance that makes them not too bulky, yet enough wood remains to allow for a good bass response to be achieved.

 

Comfort: The cups from Cabillas fit very nicely into the standard Grado gimbals.  This essentially ensures that the fit that one achieves is relatively the same as a pair of Grados would fit.  The cups tilt appropriately to allow the headphones to fit many user head shapes.  So, if you’re one that is pleased with how Grados fit, then using the cups from Cabillas should not cause any issues.  However, I also want to point out for those users who think that Grados, in general, might seem uncomfortable – they should consider some minor adjustments to the metal headband using small adjustments until the fit is more to one’s liking.

 

Modifications Performed: This pair of headphones featured a 1 meter Mogami cable with a ¼” Neutrik connector.  No other modifications outside of liberating the driver from the plastic cup had been done.

 

Sound:  To be totally honest, I really didn’t like the Alessandro MS-1i – at first.  However, I’ve realized that these drivers really do require break-in time to achieve their highest capability.  I do believe in driver break-in as a fact and not something that essentially comes down to my own ears adjusting to the sound.  I can put on a pair of headphones with the SR-225i headphones and immediately tell the difference.  However, after 3 or 4 weeks of use, the sound really started to become appreciable with these headphones.  I’m really a lover of the Grado sound and the Alessandro sound seemed a bit tame in the beginning.  However, now, I feel as though they are less tamed than before.  Some of this could be attributed to  my removal of most of the Dynamat to the rear of the drivers that I had originally applied as well as re-covering the open holes with the muslin fabric.  All in all, the sound of these headphones can deliver a very pleasing sound.  There are times, though, when these headphones will not quite cover the detail in certain instruments that a pair of Grado SR-225i drivers can.  But, one must keep in mind, there is also a $100 price difference, so it’s like comparing apples to oranges.

 

Opinion:  From a price vs. performance aspect, this particular set of headphones (Alessandro MS-1i drivers and Cabillas Sapele cups), can’t be beat.  One will only invest about $160.00 to get this great combination and the wooden cups will only enhance the bass that the headphones provide.  But, if someone has more money to spend, there are many other choices out there for drivers and cups.  But, on a “hands down” bargain headphone, this one takes the award. 

 

The cups from Cabillas are manufactured to a very high standard.  In fact, I often think that the turner of these cups is one who is making many, many cups … possibly, even for some other headphone manufacturer.  While I haven’t seen any headphones available in the retail market with these cups, I still do retain the thoughts I have.  These cups are cut with precision.  The gimbals from Grado are a perfect fit.  All the holes are very precise.  Also, the area where the liberated driver gets placed into is also cut out with a perfect measurement.  The drivers get simply pressed into the cups with the pressure from one’s thumbs and they stay firmly in the cup.  No adhesive is required.  To get the drivers removed from the cup if you need to get into the chambers or have access to the rear of the driver, one just simply uses their thumb and presses down on one side of the driver and the other side lifts up.  This tilting action allows you to use your thumb and forefinger to easily get the driver out of the cup.

 

Future:  As much as I “like” the Alessandro MS-1i drivers, I still have much “love” for the SR-225i drivers instead.  They’re a small investment to make for a bit of a more appreciable sound.  For that reason alone, I’ll move onto the other drivers.  Additionally, I’ll be installing a leather headband and possibly a bit further down the line, I’ll look into some cable modifications.  However, that’s where I’ll keep it.  Yes, I do believe I can be content … at some point.

 

Pictures: (a quick note about the pictures.  These pictures show the headphones with the drivers without loin cloths on them - however, I do have the loin cloths installed on the actual MS-1i pair of headphones.  Also, the pictures reflect a leather headband.  However, I'm currently using the stock vinyl one instead.)

 

sr225_cabillas1.jpg

 

 

sr225_cabillas2.jpg

 

 

sr225_cabillas4.jpg

 


Edited by wje - 7/23/11 at 8:38pm
post #38 of 67

Great reviews wje. Really appreciate the time you spent organizing the info. Thanks for that.

 

I really need to finish posting my final impressions on my Marty's set. I'll probably post them here instead of on the SR-60 thread as it's way more apropriate.

post #39 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by xaval View Post

Great reviews wje. Really appreciate the time you spent organizing the info. Thanks for that.

 


You're welcome. This week, I should finish assembling Marty's pecan Cebil cups into the SR-225i scenario.  This should mean one final review that I'll write ... for at least now and the near future.  Once that final single headphone review is completed, I plan on doing one "consolidated" post to pull all of the headphones into one review, rank them and post the highlights of my observations.  This would save readers some time from having to go to each review and deduce the qualities and bad parts of each setup.

 

post #40 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by markkr View Post

Nice review! Thank you for taking the time.

 

As for the 225i vs 325is drivers being similar or the same... I'm not buying it. I have removed both and placed them into the same cups, while I cannot obviously do this side by side (since I'm sharing cups) they do not sound the same. The 325 is oddly darker and the sound stage is noticeably more narrow.

 

I get the exact same result once I put them in their final resting cups, 225i in bloodwood, and 325 in mahogany.

 

Just my $.02. I definitely think the 225i's sound better.

 

edit: just for the record, the exact same cable was used for both (stock)



 



Quote:
Originally Posted by wje View Post



 

Thank you for sharing your impression of the drivers.  I wonder if Grado utilized a darker driver was picked to off set the aluminum cups?


This is pretty much what I was going to say to the first quote.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by markkr View Post

That could be. The other thing that strikes me as odd on the 325 is that the driver is encased in its plastic housing, then there is a plastic ring in the cup between the screen and the driver housing... basically the sound waves are not exposed to aluminum at all

 

Sorry to bring this thread off topic... just thought I'd share

 

Mark
 



 


I also noticed this with my 225i's that I just got. also, the glue they used to hold the plastic piece leaked into the headphone a bit and covered one of the driver holes. I was able to remove it though. 

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by wje View Post



 


Oh, the fun didn't end with the trial period that I had with them as well as the review.  Ironically, the buyer that located them on Audiogon, lived only 1/2 mile from me.  I made the personal delivery following work to the guy ... black box, neatly wound silver cable with velcro cable wraps, the whole 9 yards.  You see, Marty isn't only taking over the headphone cup world, he's also building a little network of delivery personnel, too, who get involved with hand delivering his products - which only adds to the custom touch.  biggrin.gif
 

 

I'd hand deliver his stuff if I got to listen to it first :)
 

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by wje View Post
 The standard mahogany could use a face lift


 

 

agreed (Apologies for the ghetto quote, I know its not exact) I don't really like the finish on the mahogany 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wje View Post




You're welcome. This week, I should finish assembling Marty's pecan Cebil cups into the SR-225i scenario.  This should mean one final review that I'll write ... for at least now and the near future.  Once that final single headphone review is completed, I plan on doing one "consolidated" post to pull all of the headphones into one review, rank them and post the highlights of my observations.  This would save readers some time from having to go to each review and deduce the qualities and bad parts of each setup.

 


I'll do this too once I have my 225i's put together. which I'm loving by the way. I absolutely love the extension on the high end... I'm much preferring it to the smooth ms pros and they aren't even in wood yet. 

 

post #41 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrislangley4253 View Post

I also noticed this with my 225i's that I just got. also, the glue they used to hold the plastic piece leaked into the headphone a bit and covered one of the driver holes. I was able to remove it though. 

 


I've noticed the same thing with a recent pair of Grados.  They seemed quite excessive on the glue - about 2 or 3 times more than what was needed for the job.  Also, I did have a "glop" that ran down the sides and partially covered one of the vent holes.

post #42 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by wje View Post




I've noticed the same thing with a recent pair of Grados.  They seemed quite excessive on the glue - about 2 or 3 times more than what was needed for the job.  Also, I did have a "glop" that ran down the sides and partially covered one of the vent holes.


seems kinda sloppy on their part. In their defense, I don't think it makes much of a difference. But, i still don't like seeing it. 

 

post #43 of 67

WJE, I just want to say that I want those headphones REALLY bad. Great looking cans man (haha)

post #44 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_Himself View Post

WJE, I just want to say that I want those headphones REALLY bad. Great looking cans man (haha)


The burls?  Oh yes, they were very nice.  Almost too nice for me.  There are some things in my life that I feel are "out of my league" - I guess this might come from growing up in a  home with parents from the Depression-era.  However, today, I've worked hard to get where I am.  I could, within reason, discuss a purchase with my wife, and go out and purchase whatever would make me happy.  However, buying the top-of-the-line Grado for $1,500 wound't make me happy.  What makes me happy is tools, creativity and working with my hands.  I don't have 2 or 3 pair of headphones out of greed.  I have them because I wanted different styles of cups and finishes.  I wanted to try different combinations, etc.  Now, that was the fun part.

 

In regards to the Jarrah Burls, there wasn't a whole lot for me to work on - other than to revise the gimbals.  However, that was a nice, orderly project that had been planned for a few weeks and basically executed without any issues.  But, please do keep in mind, Rahkim can always build a pair of cups like that for anyone.  He'll build them to the specs, so the standard Grado gimbals will fit the cups.  The cost is $199, I believe.  However, the $199 isn't just for the cups alone.  You'll send your headphones to Rahkim and he'll perform the cup installation and send your modified headphones back to you.  He provides a great service for those who don't have the necessary tools (soldering iron, etc.) or fear damaging their headphones along the way.  If somone is looking to have one set of modified headphones, and doesn't have the tools, then that's about a $50 savings right there if you don't have to buy what's needed - only to use one time and then put it away on a shelf somewhere.


 

 

post #45 of 67

I really love the Sapele ones as well, it almost makes buying a GS-1000i these days seem QUITE ridiculous. I like the look of the bowl pads on them as well.

 

I'm waiting until I can make enough money to order a set of RS-1 clone cups from Marty. I'm pretty close... The whole liberation process makes me nervous, I'll get over it when the time comes though.

 

But yeah seriously I really really want to hear the sound of a wooden Grado again, the RS-2/RS-1 is prohibitively expensive now that I quit working and I'm working on my degree

 

 

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