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A Grado Head With A Fostex Fetish

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 

I had to laugh…I looked up fetish in the dictionary and it’s defined as an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion. That probably more aptly describes my feelings toward my Grado’s; or just a headphone fetish in general. When I first stumbled across Head Fi though, I never imagined that I would end up with multiple pairs of headphones, or get into DIY and modding.

 

Anyway that’s pretty much the course my head fi journey and headphone fetish has taken, and it all started with the SR60, a very capable and fun head phone if you like bluesy guitar driven rock. Of course one must upGrado , which is how I ultimately ended up with an HF2 after a couple other Gradoations along the way.  Although I made a brief pit stop along the way and took a lap with the d2000. I liked some things about the d2000…it just didn’t quite have the sound sig I was looking for. I pretty much found it boring, but it was during this time that a seed was planted that I should consider a Fostex T50. I bought an HF2 instead fell in love with it, started reading the SR60 mod thread, and then actively participating in it. My first set of woodies, were a pair of Cocobolo cups fashioned with a drill press. Back then the enthusiasm was all about modifying your SR60 up to something akin to an RS1. I don’t know that any of us ever achieved that level of fidelity, but we sure tried, and had a really good time along the way.

 

We weren’t just modding the SR60 over there either. All the Grado models were fair game. One of our denizen’s (schwallman), even had a little faux pas with his HF2, more on the relevance of that in a moment.  Anyway I decided I wanted to know what an SR225 sounded like wood to wood with the SR60. I already had an idea what they sounded like plastic to plastic.  Actually I think I was just rationalizing buying another headphone. The cups I had custom lathed turned out great, and the 225’s I seated in them sounded pretty awesome too; but now I was curious, how did my woodies compare to an RS1. So after positing that very thought in the SR60 mod thread, I got a PM from another head fier (pbstefandwich) offering to loan me his MS Pro’s. Needless to say his offer totally blew me away. A couple of other people were involved in Stefan’s generosity too. The long and short of it is a woodied 225 can run with the MS Pro, and It can hold it’s own against my HF2 as well.

 

Both of those head fiers figure into this post in another way too. I just bought a pair of woodied T50’s from schwallman who acquired them by trading that HF2 to Marty of Martin Custom Audio. Marty also crafted a pair of custom cups for pbstefandwich to seat a pair of Magnum drivers in; and those headphones are on my ears as I type this.  Also as I type this I’m waiting for the return of my woodied SR60 and modified T50 that were forwarded to Tyll after another head fier spent some time with them. That head fier (questhate) has subsequently picked up a T50 too.

 

Which brings me to my question…how many Grado afficianado’s also have a T50 on their headphone stand, or some other ortho? Off the top of my head I know of quite a few.

 

And here are a few pics…

 

003.JPG

 

magnum 008.JPG

 

… these are for my Grado head, at least for the next couple of days. Unfortunately I have to relinquish and send  them on their way. I am very grateful however for having had the opportunity to listen to them. The Cocobolo cups were turned by Marty of Martin Custom Audio.The Magnum drivers, and the detachable cable were provided by pbstefandwich, the owner of these beautiful headphones.

 

And these are for my Fostex fetish…

 

magnum 004.JPG

 

magnum 006.JPG

 

…These beautiful headphones were also made by Marty of Martin Custom Audio.

 

I’ll post some impressions of both headphones when I get the chance. Anyway this thread is for all you Grado heads with a Fostex fetish, and whatever else you might want to talk about.

post #2 of 36

I'm in the same boat as you. I have two pairs of modded SR60s and a pair of heavily modified T50RPs. At first, the Fostexes couldn't hold a candle to the Grados, but after a lot of modding and even more listening, I find myself consistently listening to the Fostexes. In fact I really haven't listened to my Grados in a month or more.

 

I do appreciate the Grado sound. In fact I love it. I listened to a pair of Sennheiser HD600s for a while at a meet and they just didn't do it for me. Even the HD800 out of the Apex Pinnacle didn't really move me (although again, a 5 minute listen during meet conditions). I have listened to SR60s, 225s, 325is, RS1s, and HF1s. Out of those, I really liked the HF1s and RS1s, although a fair amount of A/B'ing my modded 60s with the RS1s made me think my 60s are at least 80% of the way to the much more expensive phones.

 

I agree with what others say though, the Fostexes just sound natural. Granted, mine are modded to the point where I enjoy their sound. I am no audio engineer and don't want maximum neutrality like others. I just like how they sound. 

 

Hopefully at the NY meet I will get a chance to listen to my Fostexes and an LCD-2 side by side out of my own rig to see if the jump would be worth the insane price increase.

 

post #3 of 36

I'm in the same boat as well. While I quite like certain aspects of different headphones that I own, I always found myself reaching for my humble pair of modded SR60i the most (which I've now handed down to my younger brother). That is until I took a listen to a couple of orthos.

 

I think the appeal of the T50RP is that it's a great contrast to the Grado sound. While both are pretty mid-centric, the Grado leans heavily on the bright side of the spectrum while the T50's are darker (unless tuned to be bright). Both have excellent mids, in my opinion, but presented much differently. I'll put on the T50's if I'm in the mood for that liquid, lush, smooth, non-fatiguing sound, and I'll throw on my 225's if I want airy and aggressive. Both the SR60 and T50RPs are tremendous values at under $100 -- and my go-to recommendations to anyone that I know personally that wants a nice set of headphones (and doesn't mind the prospect of modding). 

 

Can't wait to hear your impressions of the Martin Custom Grado and Fostex. 

post #4 of 36
Thread Starter 

Hi Quest how are you doing...did you enjoy that meet?

 

What's up Sharkz?

 

Sharkz it's interesting that you gravitate toward your T50's now rather than your Grado's. I can remember not too long ago you were ready to give up on them. There is just something about them though that is very captivating. I was like you when I first got them. They sounded very dark and congested. As I modded them some of that went away. My last configuration before I forwarded them to Quest was plasticine in the baffles, a layer of paxmate in the cups, stock felt removed from vent and replaced with a piece of tweed fabric over 3 of the slots. There is also 1 layer of that fabric over the driver with the stock white felt intact. That's the configuration that went to Tyll who measured both my modded T50 and woodied SR60.

 

Tylls measurements of my T50

 

Tyll's measurements of my SR60

 

There a little too mid centric, even a little shouty sometimes. I'm not sure what I was trying to discern by sending them to Tyll, and I hadnt expected to buy schwallmans pair of Martypants when I sent them, but now I have a pair of 02 pads that I can try on my stock ones. I think I'm going to remove the stock felt from the drivers when I get them back and try some different things.

 

 

post #5 of 36

That some real nice work there by Martin. I've been real tempted lately to do have him modify my magnums in 325i shells into a woody and then use the 325i shells for the current v4 Magnum..maybe if i save enough I can make that happen.

post #6 of 36

Im just curious, and want to ask a question (not trying to hijack the thread). So you can sent Martin your grados, pay him, and get your grado's back with wood bowls? I've seen his name mentioned here and there in various threads, and generally seen nothing but positive praise about this. I have some sr80i's, and would love to hear them with wood, but I'm cautious about shipping my 80's for this. Anyone have comments about this?

post #7 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rawrster View Post

That some real nice work there by Martin. I've been real tempted lately to do have him modify my magnums in 325i shells into a woody and then use the 325i shells for the current v4 Magnum..maybe if i save enough I can make that happen.



Marty makes beautiful stuff. I've been wanting to see, touch, and feel some of his work for a while now; and things just sort of came together recently, and I ended up with a pair of Grado's turned by him thanks to pbstefandwich, as well as the Smeggy inspired Martypants. The T50's he actually made for himself, then traded to schwallman in exchange for schwallmans HF2. When I got a heads up that schwallman was selling them I couldnt resist.

 

The Magnum drivers in the Cocobolo cups are the V3's. I'm going to try and wrap my head around the sound some more and then post some impressions, but I really like them.

 

Right now I have to go check out his blog, I hear there are some new pics of some Burl cups he turned to look at.

 

post #8 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by doghouse View Post

Im just curious, and want to ask a question (not trying to hijack the thread). So you can sent Martin your grados, pay him, and get your grado's back with wood bowls? I've seen his name mentioned here and there in various threads, and generally seen nothing but positive praise about this. I have some sr80i's, and would love to hear them with wood, but I'm cautious about shipping my 80's for this. Anyone have comments about this?


Yes, I'll PM you his website. Marty is a stand up guy so you wont have any issues with hin keeping your phones. Have you considered seating the drivers yourself though? I'll warn you though DIY and modding can be addictive.

 

post #9 of 36

He certainly seems to know what he's doing. I wish I had talent like this. I'm good at breaking things, so liberating some drivers would make me a bit nervous. I'd rather send him my phones. From reading his blogs, he seems to really enjoy working on them.

post #10 of 36

I wish I had talent to do this as well but I don't :P Also I think I've decided to go through with a FMJ mod on my Magnums when the head-fi members I have loaned them to are done with it so hopefully in 3 months I will have a nice new woodie headphone :)

post #11 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rawrster View Post

I wish I had talent to do this as well but I don't :P Also I think I've decided to go through with a FMJ mod on my Magnums when the head-fi members I have loaned them to are done with it so hopefully in 3 months I will have a nice new woodie headphone :)


Just curious rawster I checked your profile and it doesnt look like you're a Grado head per se, but you do seem to have quite the headphone fetish. Curious how you compare and contrast your Magnum's to your T50's. Also this is sort of unrelated but how do you like those Brainwavz? I see you've had other IEM's but those are the ones you currently have

 

post #12 of 36

You are right and that my first Grado type headphone I have owned is the Magnums v2.5 in a 325i shell but then again those do not have the Grado drivers but everything else but also based on the Grado headphones. My T50RP is still a work in progress. I am only 50% done with the mods I plan on doing and will be ordering some materials that will allow me to do those mods and I do have the Stax O2 pads coming on Tuesday. The T50RP is hard to compare to the Magnums because every modified T50RP sounds different and right now they are my "fun" headphones since I have not covered the bass ports due to laziness. I have not heard my Magnums in around a month or longer but they do not compare to the T50RP in sound signature but they sound very good to my ears. They had good bass slam, mids that are not too forward and a treble that is also not too forward so it's quite different than the typical Grado description I get which is omg so much mids and treble too much. My T50RP right now has great mids, good treble and a bit of a bass bloat due to the reason that I am not done with my mods. The quantity of the bass however is not excessive like when I heard the Denon D1001 but it is a bit more than my typical sound signature which is that of a DT880 or HE-4. If given the choice between the T50RP and the Magnums I think it would be a very difficult decision but I'm happy I don't have to as one is open and one is closed so they do sound different especially in two areas which is sound stage and bass. I find the T50RP has the more open sound even though it is closed but Magnums and Grados in general are not known for their sound stage like AKG is.

 

The person who will be receiving my Magnums after the current person who has it will be the last person to hear those Magnums and then I will be getting them modded. I just realized this post is very unorganized so hopefully the message gets through but if not I will gladly write it in a more organized fashion when I get home or tomorrow.

 

My Brainwavz M2 is really only just for watching videos on my netbook late at night but I have not been doing that in quite some time and I think it has been 6 months since I last used it. I think it goes for $50 or so and that is not a bad price for them. They do have a bit of a boosted mid bass but there really isn't much to complain about when you consider all the accessories, case as well as the good build quality and cable. The only complaint is the strain relief by the housing is too long so I had to cut some of it off so it would go around the ear better. With my 68 ohm adapter and a decent source they sound pretty damn good and has a bit of a fun signature but not overly so like a W3 or IE8.

post #13 of 36

Another one for this club. I love my HF-2 almost as much as my heavily modified Fosteximus T50RPrime. I find this couple to be a perfect match for the 99% of my requirements and I don't feel like I need to spend more money on headphones. The remaining 1% is the portability, which is covered by my Koss Pro DJ100.

 

At this point in my life, and after trying many dozens of headphones for short or long time. I came to the conclusion that I don't like the vast majority of the headphones and earphones. It may be because they have dynamic drivers and maybe I'm a total orthohead haunted and cursed by the utterly detailed and balanced sound of the Fostex, which leaves me speechless as do the outer look of them. Also I'm a Grado fan, because my pair of HF-2 has a fully enjoyable and exciting sound that other brands fail to achieve with such success. All that ends up with me only willing to own to more things: Stax (don't know yet if O2 MKII or SR-009) and AKG K1000, that are my other 2 headphone fetish, nothing else, and due to the expensive price tags, won't be buying them in a near future for sure (maybe in 2 years time).

post #14 of 36
Thread Starter 

I thought I would bump this. I started this thread a while back because I noticed quite a few folks had gravitated from Grado's to orthos, and it seems even more people have gravitated away from Grado's and into ortho's since then...not just to the Fostex, or the LCD2 or 3, but the Hifiman offerings seem to be pretty popular as well. The current incarnation of my T50 now trumps my HF2. It's warmer, fuller, richer, lusher, PRaTtier, and very capable of out rocking both my Grado's. Plus I'm pretty sure it could pretty much kick a d2000's ass.

post #15 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by KneelJung View Post

I thought I would bump this. I started this thread a while back because I noticed quite a few folks had gravitated from Grado's to orthos, and it seems even more people have gravitated away from Grado's and into ortho's since then...not just to the Fostex, or the LCD2 or 3, but the Hifiman offerings seem to be pretty popular as well. The current incarnation of my T50 now trumps my HF2. It's warmer, fuller, richer, lusher, PRaTtier, and very capable of out rocking both my Grado's. Plus I'm pretty sure it could pretty much kick a d2000's ass.

 

I'm pretty sure you just summarized the capability and multiple abilities of the Fostex T50RP.  There are at least a dozen modifications out there that could be performed that takes and brings something that someone might feel as a weakness right into spec.  I think this is quite unusual for a headphone to do, but with all of contributions within the Fostex thread, so many people have share what worked vs. what did not work or what effects were a result of a certain modification.  The only real downside is that with the modifications, the Fostex T50RP headphones tend to get less efficient, and requires an amp with a bit more "oomph" to properly push them.

 

Certainly, back in the "Grado Days", we didn't need to invest into as much horsepower to get the Grados or the Magnums moving and they seemed to respond well with minimal amplification assistance.  Now, we have to power the orthos with something that requires premium gasoline.  biggrin.gif

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