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Grado PS500s (new Grado's) - Page 69

post #1021 of 1221

I was afraid you were going to say that tongue.gif Looks like a Grado is still a Grado and maybe I was hoping for too much. 


I love me some Zep and Sabbath on occasion. No doubt. When the mood is right. But I don't know if I should own a whole headphone for those occasions. Or maybe I should.... : )

post #1022 of 1221
Originally Posted by SoundFreaq View Post

I was afraid you were going to say that tongue.gif Looks like a Grado is still a Grado and maybe I was hoping for too much. 


I love me some Zep and Sabbath on occasion. No doubt. When the mood is right. But I don't know if I should own a whole headphone for those occasions. Or maybe I should.... : )

Don't worry, the TH-900s will do you just fine for Zep or Sabbath too. But there's something about Grado and rock that just is has me keeping one in my collection.

post #1023 of 1221

Fair enough. I hope that rock magic translates to other genres to. And if not, I may just have a great rock n roll headphone!

post #1024 of 1221
I'm in the UK, so the price I'm looking at is probably more than the price you can get them brand new in the States (Grados are ridiculously overpriced here). The PS500s are great for rock, but they're especially great for electronic. I stand by my assertion that they're good all-rounders, but I would say that they've been made with contemporary music in mind. The RS1 and SR325 are your typical Grado rock cans; the GS1000s seem to have been voiced for classical, whereas the PS500 and PS1000 are all-rounders. That's the impression I've arrived at anyway, having heard a few Grados and read extensively about others. I don't listen to much classical, but the PS500s are superb at making instruments sound real, so with the added soundstage you'd get with the G-Cush pads, they should do a good job with both your favourite genres. Call me old fashioned, but I think if you're paying over £500 for a headphone, it should make all music sound good. That's why I bought the PS500 and the T1.
post #1025 of 1221

I did not know you were in the UK


If nobody else wanted them and you were the original owner and in the USA....I would be all over that deal......oh well.....I will keep looking.

post #1026 of 1221

Just got a used PS500 in nice condition (estimated 150-200 hours use, so pre-broken in) from a fellow Head-Fier, my entre to the world of Grado.


A local dealer only had the SR80i and SR225i models for audition purposes, but based on that, it seemed like there was enough of a difference between them to justify the additional expense of jumping up a few more levels to the PS500. I came very close to getting the SR325i here, but based on some of the great feedback both in the Grado Fan Club! thread in general and this thread specifically (thanks for the many helpful contributions), I had a feeling if I got the SR325i, I would later want the PS500, so decided to get it immediately instead of after an intervening stage.


Looking forward to using with an upcoming (shipping mid-June?) Woo Audio WA7 fireflies headphone amp/DAC, and rediscovering my musical archive... Beatles, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Lester Young, Miles Davis, Bill Laswell, Bach, Bruckner, etc.


While everybody says these are great for rock (curious to hear Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Rush, not to mention Funkadelic, etc.), I'm hopeful they will also sound great for genres like jazz and classical.


I'll report back with my impressions.          

Edited by woophoria - 6/7/13 at 4:09pm
post #1027 of 1221
Originally Posted by woophoria View Post


While everybody says these are great for rock (curious to hear Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Rush, not to mention Funkadelic, etc.), I'm hopeful they will also sound great for genres like jazz and classical.


I'll report back with my impressions.          



Please do report back! You are now my official PS500 genre tester. 

post #1028 of 1221
Originally Posted by woophoria View Post

While everybody says these are great for rock (curious to hear Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Rush, not to mention Funkadelic, etc.), I'm hopeful they will also sound great for genres like jazz and classical.



The PS500s are very versatile beasts, IMHO. My playlist runs the gamut--Nirvana to Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald to Cowboy Junkies, Yo Yo Ma to Yo La Tengo. 

Do these phones let you get experienced with Hendrix? Of course. 
But on a high res of Goat Rodeo Sessions, you can also hear the 400 year old wood vibrate in Mr. Ma's Stradivarius cello and the tortoise shell pick hitting the strings on Chris Thile's Lloyd Loar mandolin.
On the 500s, Miles Davis is way more than "kind of" blue, and if you don't choke up listen to Chet Baker, you ought to check your pulse.
The real question with a piece of gear is does it represent the music faithfully?
And if the answer is yes, then it's s a winner, and that fundamental rightness should make it a winner for every musical genre.
The 500s do all those things in spades, and in the high end headphone world they're something of a bargain. They're oh so close to the PS1000s at three times the price, and they sound great straight out of an iPod.

post #1029 of 1221

Two of my favorite albums are Coltrane's Stardust and Natalie Dessay - Airs D'Opéra Italian. They're in my list of test albums when buying new gear and I've listened to both countless times. Both sound stellar through the PS500. I can say without hyperbole that the PS500 is great with jazz and classical—especially for low-level listening. I listen to both genres about 95% of the time (classical over jazz) and have owned a few top- and mid-shelf headphones in my day, and I think these should be on anyone's shortlist and are indeed worth an audition.

Good luck with them, woophoria, I hope you like them as much as some of us here do! 



Originally Posted by woophoria View Post

I'm hopeful they will also sound great for genres like jazz and classical.


Edited by vinnievidi - 6/9/13 at 1:48pm
post #1030 of 1221

Thanks for all the replies.


SoundFreaq, I'll do my best to be eclectic (see below).


Avincent52, I agree, the PS500s are admirably versatile (I enjoy a lot of the same music). Also, I forgot to mention above, but part of my thought process in the decision to get these were multiple posts stating that if they gave a reasonable approximation of the $1,700 flagship (2/3, 3/4, etc.?) for $600, that represented a compelling value proposition. Preliminary listening with standard (low-fi) receivers has been promising, but there was something about the ways the 225is (and 80is) shined at the dealer in some ways (powered by a $3,000 Rogue Audio tube amp) that makes me look forward to hearing these with the WA7. BTW, thanks for the Goat Rodeo Sessions (with Yo Yo Ma) reference, that sounds interesting.


vinnievidi, my favorite Coltrane would probably be Ballads, A Love Supreme and the song Greensleeves from the Africa Brass Sessions (I'm not as big a fan of the really free, out, proto-skronk stuff from later :) ). Because I'm new at this (previously used Monster Miles in-ear phones out of ipod), I don't have a list of reference recordings, per se, YET, but attempting to slowly build that body of knowledge. I do have a good idea of what genres and artists I like, so I am learning by trial and error which are best recorded, and shine with the Grado PS500s.


To the thread in general, I've listened to quite a few things in past day or two (but again, without the WA7, so I'll report back on THAT once I have it and hook it up). Some recordings and renderings were brilliant, some not, but most were well above average, based on my past experience. I am sort of a blank slate, without much basis of comparison (never heard Senn HD800s or Stax 009s), so take these impressions for what they are...


There are a lot of references and cites below, too many for a proper headphone review. Instead think of this as a preliminary compendium of some genres/songs that might sound good on the PS500s specifically (how they compare to other models in Grado line not addressed much below). It is divided by genre to facilitate skipping to favorite sections where desired.        


Rock -


I've really gotten into the Beatles past several months (already had all the '09 remasters in stereo, but recently added the mono box and the "apple" USB drive with flac files - the word mono must have a retrograde connotation for many, I know it used to for me, but they were mixed differently, there is a short Harrison guitar riff near end of Sgt Pepper, before breaking into the Billy Shields part, that is very up front in the mono mix, but buried in a slurry of other sounds in the stereo variant... though I digress)... used Abbey Road at the dealer audition, and I think it is pretty well recorded, by this time I think McCartney's bass was "direct injected" into the mixing board and not mic'd. Songs like Harrison's Something and Here Comes the Sun had crystalline guitar, and I could also hear various moog synth bits in the latter I hadn't noticed before (this will be a recurring theme). Still sussing out properties like sound stage (reportedly not Grados strongest suit?) on different songs, but the crescendo of white noise on Lennon's I Want You (She's So Heavy) was gargantuan... In McCartney's vocal on Golden Slumbers from the medley that ends side two, I could hear his breath control and changes of vocal tone and intensity that previous listens only hinted at. The closest Ringo Starr ever got to a drum solo was the intro of The End... the sound of the sticks hitting the drum heads was about as natural as I've ever heard recorded drums.


I need to check out Tomorrow Never Knows from Revolver (as well as notoriously well recorded tracks like Strawberry Fields Forever and A Day in the Life). A lot of stuff is going on in that track (musically perfect accompaniment to the Tibetan Book of the Dead as interpreted by Timothy Leary-inspired lyrics). It might be the biggest "punctuated equilibrium"-type of sudden evolution compared to what came before of any other Beatles track. In relation to then contemporary "pop"/rock artists, I liken the song to how the obelisk must have appeared to the proto-hominids in Kubrick's 2001. :) The Indian drone with no changes scooped Miles On the Corner period by more than a half decade (McCartney may also have been aware of avant garde composer Stockhausen before Miles, an influence on both), and the "seagull" sound effects anticipated loopers by decades.      


Harrison's Awaiting on You All from All Things Must Pass (his first post-Beatles solo work, probably a consensus best of all four of them) has a massive Spector-produced wall of sound that sounds as big as a 100+ symphony orchestra rendition of Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries, but wasn't too big for the PS500s. It couldn't peel away all the layers of sound, but it drilled down further than I had been before.      


I was never a huge Beach Boys fan, but I heard a song on a Neil Young DVD I liked a lot (Time Fades Away?) included in his box set. After looking it up (instrumental Lets Go Away For Awhile), it was on Pet Sounds. After reading up on it, some critics said it was one of the best albums, and best RECORDED albums, ever. Brian Wilson was influenced by Spector's "Wall of Sound", with sometimes 2-3 guitarists on a given number, and the separation was impressive. Especially so, was being able to hear the stellar bass playing of session ace Carol Kaye, even during the quiet passages of this track.   


One of the first tracks that REALLY stood out, where I had an aha moment, was Eminence Front by the Who, where there was incredible separation of the multiple burbling and gurgling synth parts in the intro, as well as definition on the guitar multi-track interweavings.


Another was Spanish Castle Magic by Hendrix from the remastered Axis: Bold as Love. This makes me very hopeful for the rest of the remasters, Eddie Kramer also did great job on Are You Experienced and Electric Ladyland, as well as posthumous studio material (check out Pali Gap from South Saturn Delta). 


The PS500s did justice to the magisterial sweep and surgical precision of Frank Zappas Sofa No. 1 from One Size Fits All.      


Todd Rundgren's Spark of Life from Todd (I think he played just about everything on first album of this two album set, here synth dominated) was pretty bright, but it may be a case where I am getting acclimated to new sound, also possibly I came from a place where I may have been accustomed to veiled and even muddy treble?). I'll try again with the WA7 to see if it helps tame the treble.


Steely Dan's Pretzel Logic might be my favorite song by Fagan and Becker, and it unsurprisingly sounded great. Aja may be one of the best recorded albums I've ever heard, Peg and Josie sounded immaculate, with session ace Chuck Rainey's bass really standing out.     


On the Talking Heads Once in a Lifetime (around the same time as the Eno/Byrne afro-funk-pop collaboration My Life in the Bush of Ghosts), I went to Once in a Lifetime and could hear the shimmering layers of Bernie Worrell's synth more clearly that I ever have before (as well as the multi-tracked guitar polyrhythms).


Guitar hero Joe Walsh of the Eagles and James Gang also had some phenomenal solo albums. One of my favorites (and lesser known) is his first, Barnstorm, The track Bohemoth (sic) is luminous. As important as when to play is when not to play, and the quieter passages were beautiful (same with Theme from Boat Weirdos from But Seriously Folks).  


Of all the "rock" material I played, one of my favorites that held up maybe best of all sound-wise on the PS500s was Cosmic Slop by Funkadelic (title track from album of same name). Though not including my two favorite Funkadelic guitarists (Eddie Hazel and Mike Hampton), Gary Shider and Ron Bykowski weave a monster groove. On another one of my favorite Funkadelic songs, Maggot Brain, the treble was a bit strident, so I'll check back after retrying with the WA7. Didn't have a chance to check out Red Hot Momma yet, another favorite track.


Didn't get to King Crimson, but Pink Floyd's Time from DSOM sounded like I was in a grandfather clock factory! The effects were far more highly realized than any previous listening. Listened to a snippet of Limelight from Rush's Moving Pictures, and Neil Peart's drums were pristine. I want to check out extended prog like Tales from Topographis Oceans by Yes to see if it is possible to disappear into the music. Also need to get around to the Rolling Stones in their prime... Let it Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street (don't have much in the way of Zeppelin or Sabbath any more, or metal like Iron Maiden, so can't help there). Morning of the Magicians from the Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is very densely layered (with many of the layers furnished by multi-instrumentalist and studio wizard Steven Drozd).           


EDM/Techno (turned out to overlap with film score genre, go figure?) -


Daft Punk's Tron legacy score (arguably belongs as much in movie score genre, as it is a synthesis that includes symphonic elements... I like several composers in this movie score genre, notably Morricone and Rozsa) was another one of first tracks I listened to that was at times a bit bright (sort of how I somewhat expected the 325is might be based on some descriptions) and even harsh. I'll also try again once I get the vastly upgraded amp, to see how it deals with some of the high frequency washes. Part of the issue could also have been the source, a lossy itunes download (I'll try ripping the CD into ALAC, apple lossless, and note comparison).


Not exactly this genre, but also synth-based, and coincidentally a score (Vangelis credited as influence on Tron Legacy), I cued up the Blade Runner (End Titles) from the score of my favorite movie, and the sound stage was huge, and the energetic and propulsive tempo was handled smoothly. Nice separation of the myriad synth multi-tracks.


Another example of synth based music used for film scores I need to check out is Tangerine Dream (Friedkin's underrated Sorceror and Michael Mann's Thief). And synth pioneer Jan Hammer did maybe best TV scores ever for Miami Vice.


Also need to check out A Strangely Isolated Place by Ulrich Schnauss, which has like a hundred layers of programmed samples shimmering like heat waves on a concrete parking lot.      


Ambient - 


Last few tracks from On Land by Brian Eno. I always thought the engineering on this recording (two of U2s best, Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby were with Eno and Lanois at console) had an impressive sound stage. On the PS500s, the sound stage is massively extended. While rhythmically and melodically austere, the many elements of the sort of "found sound" sonic aesthetic (for instance the crickets from the african marsh just one example), are transparent and don't sound busy or crowded. Will check out Steve Roach's Dreamtime Return (projecting that will be a keeper on the Grado's :) ).             


Jazz -


Miles Davis USED to be my favorite instrumentalist and overall musician (Pink Floyd for group). I still have profound respect and appreciation (pretty much career spanning, from the '50s masterpiece Kind of Blue to brilliant circa mid-'70s electric Afro-Indian funk-rock-jazz of On the Corner, Get Up With It and live Dark Magus, Pangaea and Agharta) but in the past few years, exposure to Duke Ellington and Count Basie were revelations. Some of the best speakers I ever had were Magnaplanars. Where they really shined was in resolving the intricate polyrhythms and the separation of the "cast of thousands" instrumentalists (sometimes three keyboardists, multiple percusssionists, etc.) heard on seminal fusion album bitches brew. I used to think of big band music as passe, the kind of music my grandparents might have listened to (uh uh - Basie, as can be seen on the video Last of the Blue Devils could be a FEROCIOUS live band). Once exposed to it, I almost immediately began to appreciate the complexity (and beauty) of how the brass and reed (and how they interacted with rhythm) sections could be interwoven, as well as solo and ensemble voices. After a cursory listen to some well known songs, like Ellington's Satin Doll and Basie's Corner Pocket, the big bands sound BIG, like they are supposed to, and that hasn't always been the case in previous listening for me. Based on the tantalizing sample, looking forward to exploring more of this.


While on the subject of source being important, I have a lot of mosaic box sets (among them, Ellington, Basie, Louis Armstrong, Lester Young and Thelonius Monk) my favorite label, period, for any genre. I appreciate their job as curators and role in preservation/restoration (much like Criterion with film). I do have to go back and re-record them in lossless format (done earlier before i knew better). One set among my favorites is by Stan Kenton, called the Holman/Russo Charts. There are some tracks with Lee Konitz on alto sax that are almost too bright, so another example I'll have to try with upgraded amp to see if there is improvement (alto is generally brighter than tenor).


My current favorite jazz instrumentalist is tenor sax genius Lester Young (I learned about him and the similarly hugely influential tenor sax giant Coleman Hawkins, as well as more in depth about the Godfather, Armstrong, as well as aforementioned Ellington, Basie ((Young began with Basie, as did many other historic musicians, similar to Ellington)) and Monk, from the masterful, monumental 10 DVD set, Ken Burns history of jazz). I have a great collection titled Lester Young's complete studio verve recordings (he recorded with several other labels, but much here representative of the best of his mature, solo body of work). One of the earlier tracks called Back to the Land (this is not Mosaic, but much of it is nicely recorded) is hard to listen to, as it sounds like a heavily amplified frying pan of sizzling bacon! :) But after skipping ahead a few tracks, once the recording quality improved, the unique signature of Young's introspective tenor solos became more transparent, to the point I could hear how his breath interacted with the reed element to a much more fine grained level of detail.


Despite what I said above, I guess i do sort of have a few "reference tracks" to compare how known outstanding engineered recordings sound on different systems. One is under the sub-genre Acid or Soul Jazz, a track called On the Up from Akilah! by Melvin Sparks, on the Prestige Label from early '70s. While Rudy Van Gelder was deservedly probably most closely associated with his countless supremely well recorded, legendary Blue Note albums from his Englewood Cliffs, NJ home studio, he also worked with other labels, including Prestige. This is a reference album for me, in terms of how the instruments are mic'd, and how the instruments are separated and given equal weight within the studio "soundscape" in the final mix. And the bass (uncredited?) is positively BUMPIN.


Which reminds me, from the same era, laid back guitar virtuoso Grant Green's Lazy Afternoon from Street of Dreams, and "Coltrane of the Organ" Larry Young's (frequent Green collaborator, including previous song) Monk's Dream from Unity, a duet with polyrhythmic master Elvin Jones, lent a richness to the evocative and suggestive Hammond B3 organ work of the sadly neglected Young (died too young).


Speaking of organ/guitar combos, the song Night Train by Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery, with big band charts (Oliver Nelson? which also reminds me, I HAVE to check out Nelson on the PS500s!!!) from Movin: Complete Verve Recordings of Wes Montgomery has a very infectious groove and propulsive quality which the phones were more than up to.


One of my favorite works in the past several decades is Hallucination Engine by Material (Bill Laswell). It is an incredible fusion of jazz, funk, world, ambient... it has Wayne Shorter (Miles, Weather Report), Bootsy Collins and Bernie Worrell (P-Funk, Bootsy started with James Brown) and an assortment of African, Indian and Middle Eastern percussionists like Zakir Hussain. My favorite track (Weather Report cover?) Cucumber Slumber - Fluxus Mix shines.


Herbie Hancock's lesser known Dis Is Da Drum from '94 harkened back to his first Headhunters forays into funk-jazz fusion in early '70s, with a contemporary take, and nicely engineered and recorded. Mojuba has infectious polyrhythms with multiple Hancock keyboard layers, African-sounding drum tracks and rhythm guitar, definitely sounded exemplary on the PS500s, and by far the best I've ever heard it.


Monk had a lot of weird chords and phrasings (sort of played in the cracks between the keys), so that will be interesting to explore. Art Tatum had legendary dexterity and speed (his chops and technique astounded some of the greatest classical pianists of his era ('40s-'50s?), so that will be another good test to see how the phones handle the freakish tempo of Tatum's attack (when Hank Jones first heard him on record in his youth, he thought it was 2-3 pianist playing at same time... Oscar Peterson quit briefly after first hearing him and being daunted that he could probably never approximate anything even close - he somewhat improbably later did!).


I also need to check out Mark Isham's Tibet, almost an ambient/jazz hybrid, a lot of space and silence surrounding the music.


Guessing heavily rock-inflected Tribute to Jack Johnson by Miles and his collaborator McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra (which share McLughlin's guitar as well as Billy Cobham on drums) will sound phenomenal. Also, counterpart fusion gems like Jan Hammer's (also from Mahavishnu Orchestra) solo/synth showcase The First Seven Days and Tony Williams (another Miles drummer before Cobham, and Jack DeJohnette before him, signed as a 16 year old prodigy... Herbie Hancock was another Miles prodigy from the early '60s) The Joy of Flying... Hammer may have played on this, too (though some of this might fall under bright category).          


Funk -


Just listened to Sly Stone's Riot for a minute, did a nice job on Larry Graham's monstrous bass groove on Thank You for Talking to Me Africa. Will do some further sonic investigations from the funk realm and report back... note to self - check out the Meters (Rejuvenation) and Roy Ayers (Mystic Voyage).


Soul/R & B - 


Didn't have a chance to check out the Stax and Booker T and the MGs box sets (or the Motown, or James Brown circa The Big Payback), will report back, as most of this music is vocal-oriented, except for nearly universal instrumental Booker T and the MGs (who I am a huge fan of, and of course they were the house band for Stax for much of the 60s, whereas Motown had the more diverse aggregate known as the Funk Brothers, also great). 


Rap/Hip Hop -


Got nothing here (except for cool spoken rap by William S. Burroughs, Words of Advice from Laswell's Hallucination engine).                        


Classical -


Didn't explore much, still have questions about sound stage that I hope to resolve with the insertion of the WA7 into the audio chain. First movement of Hindemith's Mathis der Maler was nearly as sweeping as I remember it live conducted by Zubin Mehta for a 50th anniversary performance with LA phil last winter at Disney Music Center. The opening strains of my favorite Bruckner symphony (and one of favorites overall), the 7th, didn't disappoint. Will get around to checking out Mahler's symphonies (for dynamics!), as well as more "contemporary" composers, like Copland, Vaughn Williams and Steve Reich.  


* To sum up, still can't wait to explore the fuller capacity of the PS500s with the WA7, but preliminary, cursory trials confirmed these are outstanding for rock (bright on a few tracks), but also on jazz, classical, etc. I also want to investigate more closely the sound stage on bigger works like classical. Also differences between Ellington and Basie big bands, and their fractal-like smaller ensemble iterations and incarnations (as well as '60s-era big bands of Oliver Nelson, Gerald Wilson and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra). As well as how phones sound with more vocal-oriented music, ala Stax soul, funk, etc. Speaking of vocals (no pun intended), I have Sinatra's Capitol and Reprise boxes, but didn't have a chance to check out yet. I really like his collaborations with Basie (like Live at the Sands).        

Edited by woophoria - 6/10/13 at 1:12am
post #1031 of 1221

Excellent! Thanks for that!

I need to read it a few more times. 

post #1032 of 1221

Finally got to audition these cans and they're amazing. Compared them with my sr125i and it was literally a day and night difference. no problem with comfort either.I need to get these now anyone selling theirs let me know 

post #1033 of 1221

Does anyone know of a set of IEMs that are close to the PS500's sound and clarity?

post #1034 of 1221
I would say maybe shure se 215 has similar sound signature as the ps500. I owned se215 and auditioned ps500 for quite a few times. If memory serves, their sound do share some similarities.
post #1035 of 1221
Originally Posted by Alexnova View Post

How does the PS500 sound to you without an amp/dac?

What DAC/amp do you recommend with the PS500? How's the O2+ODAC paired with it?
Really great undistorted sound with that setup... Very highly recommended ... Before I had an fiio e7 as the dac, and it distorted at higher volumes... Also an ipod 5th generation also distorted th bass at high volumes... I think the magic is coming from he odac ....
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