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Grado GR10: Blissful Harmonics (Final Review Added)

post #1 of 93
Thread Starter 

Here is my final review as promised:

 

After spending a good month with the Grado GR10, I can wholeheartedly say that it may be one of the best IEM’s that I have ever listened to. Yes, it can compete with greats like the Ortofon e-Q7, the Westone 4, and the EarSonics SM3. Why and how does the GR10 sound so jaw-droping good? It has to do with the drivers of the GR10. Called moving armatures, they utilize a design that is a mix of a dynamic and a moving armature. Interested in how those work? Let’s take a closer look.

 

Moving Armature Technology

So, what are moving armatures? In a less scientific and easy to understand manner, the GR10’s transducer is a cross between a dynamic and a balanced armature driver, a hybrid, so to speak. Moving armatures are said to have the same speed, detail, and clarity as a normal balanced armature, with the added dynamic characteristics, like a bigger soundstage, more full body-ness, and better bass presence. Now that we have the technical details out of the way, let’s take a closer look and see how these precious gems really sound.

 

Sonic Impressions

The GR10’s are so much different from any other IEM that I have listened to, yet so perfect for what I want out of an IEM. Anyone who has ever listened to the Ortofon e-Q5 knows where I am coming from when I say that the GR10 may have one of the best sonic signatures ever produced. It’s very neutral, and while it doesn’t particularly heavily favor a specific genre, it absolutely excels at almost anything you throw at it. Rock, rap, jazz, almost anything will sound good coming from the GR10’s. Starting off, the soundstage is very airy and open, but isn’t as massive as some of the other dynamic IEM’s, mainly due to the moving armature transducer. The GR10’s make up in instrumental separation for what they lack in width and depth. Vocals are center stage, while everything is else is positioned slightly behind and flares to the left and the right to almost mimic a dynamic soundstage.

 

Down low, the GR10’s are anything but a bass monster, they don’t have that coloration that makes IEM’s fun like the Radius HP-TWF21R’s do. That being said, they have deep extension, good rumble, and pretty full midbass punch, without becoming overpowering or coloring up any part of the spectrum in the slightest. Pair this with an amp, specifically the SoundMagic A10, the story changes. Low end surge increases dramatically and colors up the midrange quite a bit, while adding a darker tone to the overall signature response. So if you are a bass head, you may need a portable amp to get the most out of the GR10’s.

 

There does seem to be a slight emphasis on the midrange however. While the treble and the bass are slightly behind the scene, the mids of the GR10 seem to take on a much forward presence than the other two regions. It’s just like the old Grado sound, the in your face, super detailed Grado sound. The harmonics of the GR10 are absolutely to die for. A super sweet midrange, extremely clear and pronounced vocals, with micro detail oozing all over the face, and not the pseudo treble micro detail either, I mean the real thing. Playing an album from Maroon 5 through ALAC vs. 128 Kbps is a clear example of how revealing the GR10’s are in the midrange.

 

Something I found to be slightly lacking with both the e-Q7 and the e-Q5 was the treble. The Grado GR10? Not lacking in the slightest. As a matter of fact, the GR10’s have one of the most favorable treble presences that I have ever come across. Very high extension, with a slight roll of at the top to cut down on shrillness. Also, the treble seems to be on the smooth side. Weird right? An IEM that has a smooth treble, while still being very well extended and resolved.

 

Instead of me explaining in another few paragraphs about the multiple comparisons I could make to a variety of different moving armature IEM’s, let’s just touch on each with a few simple bullet points explaining which excels the most at each individual category:

 

Bass: Ortofon e-Q7. It’s very apparent that the e-Q7 is still the bass king of moving armature IEM’s.

Midrange: Grado GR10. The GR10 strikes an even balance between the e-Q7 and the e-Q5.

Treble: Grado GR10. Better extension, more detail, and less dark than both the e-Q5 and the e-Q7.

Soundstage: Ortofon e-Q7. The e-Q7 had the bigger and more separated soundstage out of the other two.

 

The Design

Now that you’ve heard that brief introduction of the sound, why don’t we take a look and see how the design fares up, shall we? Unlike the Ortofon e-Q5 and the e-Q7 which feature an all aluminum housing, the GR10 feature a plastic housing with an aluminum cylinder around the backside. While this isn’t necessarily a huge downside, the GR10’s aren’t nearly as durable as Ortofon’s efforts. The cable is made of rubber, and despite being slightly thicker than the cables on the Ortofon earphones, can still tangle quite easily. Isolation wise, they’re one of the best that I have tried for a universal IEM (while still maintaing a good level of comfort, surprisingly), and there really isn’t much more to it than that when it comes to the design of the GR10.

 

Final Thoughts

I have fallen in love with the GR10’s. Heck, they’re so good, I might even bag the thought of getting customs and just stick with these bad boys, since customs are nearly three times the price at $1000. Anyone who is looking for a very natural and detailed sound with a slight emphasis on the midrange should really give the $399 GR10’s a whirl. While they don’t excel at just one thing, they sound so good and deliver so much in every region.

 

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Edited by Austin Morrow - 11/11/11 at 5:22pm
post #2 of 93

Treble does seem where the GR10 differs most from the EQ5 fwir (which seems to be the closest relative). Even then, I am told the differences are very slight. I'm surprised you think the EQ7 has less bass as it's known to have more than the 2 mentioned, clearly had more than the 5s IME. 

post #3 of 93

Make sure to put a couple hundred hours on them if they're new before you. If they're new, they're sounding very congested compared to where they'll be in even 100 hours. The mids will step back and the top will open up. If those are used, never mind but you may just want to run them a bit to be sure anyways. With the same tips, I found the E-q5 to have more top energy but with bit less extension and refinement. Not really that similar for me when using the same tips but closer with good tip choice. I thought E-q5 bass actually a bit punchier but the iem slightly less refined and textured thoughout all bands once fully run in. E-q5 is still a great phone for the money and I preferred it with genuine hybrids to it's own tips as the highs were about the right amplitude with them. Gr10 is always best with their own tips from those I've tried. Looking forward to your ongoing thoughts.


Edited by goodvibes - 10/15/11 at 7:42am
post #4 of 93
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Inks View Post

Treble does seem where the GR10 differs most from the EQ5 fwir (which seems to be the closest relative). Even then, I am told the differences are very slight. I'm surprised you think the EQ7 has less bass as it's known to have more than the 2 mentioned, clearly had more than the 5s IME. 



Just a quick note, I heard the e-Q7 very slightly for about 10 minutes a couple months back. Take my impressions with a grain of salt. biggrin.gif

post #5 of 93

Then it might be prudent to mention that in your review. Even short-term audio memory can be very unreliable, let alone a 10 minute session from months back. The original review states your comparisons as if you just A/Bed them.

post #6 of 93
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omnirai View Post

Then it might be prudent to mention that in your review. Even short-term audio memory can be very unreliable, let alone a 10 minute session from months back. The original review states your comparisons as if you just A/Bed them.



I will put that in the review. Don't worry. smile.gif

post #7 of 93
Thread Starter 

Hold on. In reply to @Inks, I screwed up the word formatting. I thought you meant in comparison to the Heaven S, not the e-Q5. Anyway, more in depth. The Heaven S has more rumble and extension, but I can see where you are coming from when you say that the e-Q7 has more bass, more slam in my opinion. The qualities and the characteristics of the two are totally different.

post #8 of 93

EDIT: my apologies for the double post, don't know why it happened. blink.gif


Edited by i2ehan - 10/15/11 at 2:19pm
post #9 of 93

I'd have to side with Inks on this one. The e-Q7 boasts more body/weight than the e-Q5, noticeably so with regards to the midbass. And yes, I still currently own both, and have A/B'ed them side by side several times. Though that's not to say on individuals perception is right, and the other individuals is wrong, since no 2 listeners perceive the exact same sound, per se. Personally speaking, I'd never go off of memory alone. In any case, subscribed and looking forward to your full review, especially since GR10 reviews are still rather scarce. smile.gif

post #10 of 93
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by i2ehan View Post

I'd have to side with Inks on this one. The e-Q7 boasts more body/weight than the e-Q5, noticeably so with regards to the midbass. And yes, I still currently own both, and have A/B'ed them side by side several times. Though that's not to say on individuals perception is right, and the other individuals is wrong, since no 2 listeners perceive the exact same sound, per se. Personally speaking, I'd never go off of memory alone. In any case, subscribed and looking forward to your full review, especially since GR10 reviews are still rather scarce. smile.gif



You can blame them on me. I don't remember the e-Q7 100%. I am trying to get one on hand for the review, but only have the e-Q5 and the FAD H-S to compare to. Any other top tiers you want to see against the GR10?

post #11 of 93

If anything, I'd personally like to see where the GR10 stands, in your perspective, against my all time favorite universals (strictly in terms of SQ that is), the EX1000.

post #12 of 93
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by i2ehan View Post

If anything, I'd personally like to see where the GR10 stands, in your perspective, against my all time favorite universals (strictly in terms of SQ that is), the EX1000.



Do you know where I could get a sample of the EX1000's?

post #13 of 93

Unfortunately not my friend. You could, however, see if anyone is willing to loan you a pair. I parted with mine just recently in order to fund my UM Miracles, but only because I also own their younger siblings, the EX600. No worries however, a comparison between the e-Q5 and GR10 leaves me just as anxious. smile.gif

post #14 of 93
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by i2ehan View Post

Unfortunately not my friend. You could, however, see if anyone is willing to loan you a pair. I parted with mine just recently in order to fund my UM Miracles, but only because I also own their younger siblings, the EX600. No worries however, a comparison between the e-Q5 and GR10 leaves me just as anxious. smile.gif


Alright. Will do.

 

post #15 of 93

The only IEM's I own are Westone 3's, does anyone have direct comparison to W3's? I LOVE Grado's regular headphones, thinking I would also appreciate their IEM's?

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