Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › Headamp's GS-X vs Gilmore Lite for high-end Grado
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Headamp's GS-X vs Gilmore Lite for high-end Grado

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

It's my understanding that Dr. Kevin Gilmore designed the Dynalo amp for Grado's specifically to match well with their low impendence. Considering that the gilmore lite is a dynalo, and able to drive the Grado's extremely well - is there any true sonic difference between upgrading to the Gs-x (especially when used in SE not balance)?

 If anyone has heard both on the same system using the higher end grado's (ps1,ps1k,ps500,hp-1000,rs-1) I would be very interested to hear your views!

 
post #2 of 13

Send me your Grados and I can find out. tongue.gif The last Grados I owned were the HP1000, which was a while ago, and I thought it did sound better on the GS-X (balanced).

 

In unbalanced mode there's a definite sonic difference between the two amps. For example, I couldn't really tolerate the HD800 on the GL. But on the GS-X it sounded a lot better due to improved clarity and soundstaging.

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asr View Post

Send me your Grados and I can find out. tongue.gif The last Grados I owned were the HP1000, which was a while ago, and I thought it did sound better on the GS-X (balanced).

 

In unbalanced mode there's a definite sonic difference between the two amps. For example, I couldn't really tolerate the HD800 on the GL. But on the GS-X it sounded a lot better due to improved clarity and soundstaging.



Thanks for the response Asr! I have no doubt that the GS-X will drive something like the hd800 much better then the GL (considering the GL is designed for low-impendence headphones and doesn't match well with the hd800's 300ohm rating)- but what I'm really trying to get to the bottom about is if there really will be any difference with a Grado.

 

I would only use the GS-X for SE Grado headphones (no speakers, nothing balanced), I need to know if that extra 2000+ dollars from the GL/DPS is going to make any sonic difference ... or just buy me a prettier looking amp.

 
post #4 of 13

As I said, I think there's a definite sonic difference, but not sure that difference will be noticed on headphones less "detailed" than the HD800. The most notable differences to me were the lower noise, "blacker" background, and wider, more holographic soundstage. For me these qualities were easily noticed with the music I used, ambient electronica. Not sure they would've been as noticeable with other music types.

 

If you don't listen to that kind of music and/or aren't really looking for those kinds of qualities, then no need to consider the GS-X, IMO.

 

In my experience the pricing on HeadAmp amps mostly translates to more features or improved aesthetics than it translates to subjective sound quality differences. The GS-X still sounds a lot like the GL and given that it doesn't add any power output in unbalanced mode, it doesn't really make sense to go for it if you're expecting some type of major sound quality improvement.

post #5 of 13

If you want a more reasonably priced Gilmore DynaLo do consider the Sheer Audio H-006+.

I find Asr's comment about "wider, more holographic soundstage" to also apply.

I have been using mine with my Grado 325i cans and I love it!

 

 

 

   

 

 


Edited by Tribbs - 1/11/12 at 6:04pm
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tribbs View Post

If you want a more reasonably priced Gilmore DynaLo do consider the Sheer Audio H-006+.

I find Asr's comment about "wider, more holographic soundstage" to also apply.

I have been using mine with my Grado 325i cans and I love it!

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

Excellent price, but ... that is the Gilmore lite except in a 1 box (vs having a separate power supply)... which means there is the chance for power hum ground noise. So the Gilmore lite with DPS should be at least a click better then that in some regards.

 

Money isn't the issue here, it's more of a question as to if there really IS a difference between the gilmore lite and the GS-X when using it SE with a low impendence Grado. I don't mind paying more for the GS-X if it's clearly the better... I'm just doubting that it is.


 

 

post #7 of 13

I'm going to put my opinion on the subject this way:

 

I owned the GL w/ DPS, GS-1, and GS-X simultaneously for a short while back in 2007. I formally compared the amps against each other and found relatively minor sonic differences between them. The equipment I was using back then was an Arcam FMJ CD33 (CD player) and my headphones included the AKG K701 (I know I had more headphones as well, but I can't remember which others were used, if any - though I know for sure that I did use the K701). I found more sonic difference between the GL w/ DPS and GS-1, than between the GS-1 and GS-X.

 

My opinion of the GL w/ DPS vs GS-1 was that the GS-1 "evened" out the slightly-wonky sound of the GL, as I thought the GL had a slight treble emphasis along with a slightly forward upper mid-range. The GS-1 also had what I could only call "clearer" bass than the GL and a slight added touch to the mid-range. It had an overall more relaxed signature than the GL, which had a "tense" quality.

 

Compared to the GS-1, the GS-X was even clearer-sounding throughout the spectrum and rendered an absolutely, completely noise-free, "black" background. It also completely flattened out that "slight added touch to the mid-range" and to my ears it was the single most invisible, transparent amp I'd heard yet. I never got the impression I was listening to an amp with the GS-X - I always thought I was listening directly to the source.

 

Headphones shouldn't be an issue unless they're incapable of reproducing a high level of detail - and in my experience, most of the current in-production Grados aren't really detail freaks (though I haven't heard them all - the only models I've heard are the SR60, SR80, SR225, SR325i, RS-1, GS1000, and PS1000, plus the discontinued HF1 and HF2). I haven't heard the PS500, which you seem to own. But if the PS500 is anything like the HF2, then this is just a guess, but I'd guess that it might sonically pair well with the GL, especially if you listen to rock music. (On a side note, I wouldn't personally call the PS500 high-end. Actually I probably wouldn't call any of the current-production Grados high-end. The only Grados I'd call high-end are the discontinued PS-1 and HP1000).

 

I don't currently own any Grados for an up-to-date GL vs GS-X comparison, though I have compared the amps on my current CD player with other headphones (the HD800 specifically), and my opinion today remains the same as it did in 2007.

 

My recommendation is that if you don't need the features of the GS-X, or the GS-1, then the GL (or any other Dynalo build) should be just fine for you.

 

Here are a variety of old threads that I wrote in the past that cover the amps in question and might provide further info:

- Gilmore Lite DPS vs Elpac review: http://www.head-fi.org/t/225178/comparison-review-gilmore-lite-dps-vs-elpac

- Multi-way review of 6 solid-state amps: http://www.head-fi.org/t/278691/six-way-review-square-wave-gs-1-canamp-ec-ss-gilmore-lite-black-cube-linear

- GS-X pics and arrival story: http://www.head-fi.org/t/231415/the-headamp-gs-x-has-landed

- GS-X impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/t/237928/impressions-headamp-gs-x

- GS-X review: http://www.head-fi.org/t/247854/review-headamp-gs-x-single-ended

 

I'm going to add another recommendation: if you don't have a particular interest in a Dynalo-based amp, or solid-state for that matter, there might be other amps better-suited for the Grado headphones you have or are considering. There have been some tube amps reported to synergize well with Grados, including the Mapletree and Eddie Current amps.

 

Btw, Grado headphones that I've heard with the GL and I thought sounded good with it: SR60, SR80, SR225, HF-1, HF-2, and RS-1 w/ flat pads (w/ and w/o buttons).


Edited by Asr - 1/11/12 at 10:58pm
post #8 of 13

I can't offer a comparison as ASR did as I havn't owned or listened to the GS-X, but I've had a G-Lite for some time now.  In fact his review was one that I used when shopping for it.  My impressions are fairly consistent with his.  I find it a great match for the GS-1000, SR-80, HF-2, RS-1 and 2.  As a slightly different view Cee Tee is enjoying using my G-Lite (with DPS) with his HD-800 (source Benchmark 1 DAC) while he waits for his EC Super 7.  He used the same combo when auditioning the HD-700 as well.  He likes it enough to offer to purchase it, but I don't want to give it up so he's got an extended loan.  I heard the set up with his HD-800 and it was enough to get me off the fence and finally purchase an HD-800 of my own.

 

So, sorry not to answer the real question you're asking, but I feel confident in saying the G-Lite is a capable amp and a good match with at least the Grados I've heard extensively.

 

 

 

 

post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asr View Post

I'm going to put my opinion on the subject this way:

 

I owned the GL w/ DPS, GS-1, and GS-X simultaneously for a short while back in 2007. I formally compared the amps against each other and found relatively minor sonic differences between them. The equipment I was using back then was an Arcam FMJ CD33 (CD player) and my headphones included the AKG K701 (I know I had more headphones as well, but I can't remember which others were used, if any - though I know for sure that I did use the K701). I found more sonic difference between the GL w/ DPS and GS-1, than between the GS-1 and GS-X.

 

My opinion of the GL w/ DPS vs GS-1 was that the GS-1 "evened" out the slightly-wonky sound of the GL, as I thought the GL had a slight treble emphasis along with a slightly forward upper mid-range. The GS-1 also had what I could only call "clearer" bass than the GL and a slight added touch to the mid-range. It had an overall more relaxed signature than the GL, which had a "tense" quality.

 

Compared to the GS-1, the GS-X was even clearer-sounding throughout the spectrum and rendered an absolutely, completely noise-free, "black" background. It also completely flattened out that "slight added touch to the mid-range" and to my ears it was the single most invisible, transparent amp I'd heard yet. I never got the impression I was listening to an amp with the GS-X - I always thought I was listening directly to the source.

 

Headphones shouldn't be an issue unless they're incapable of reproducing a high level of detail - and in my experience, most of the current in-production Grados aren't really detail freaks (though I haven't heard them all - the only models I've heard are the SR60, SR80, SR225, SR325i, RS-1, GS1000, and PS1000, plus the discontinued HF1 and HF2). I haven't heard the PS500, which you seem to own. But if the PS500 is anything like the HF2, then this is just a guess, but I'd guess that it might sonically pair well with the GL, especially if you listen to rock music. (On a side note, I wouldn't personally call the PS500 high-end. Actually I probably wouldn't call any of the current-production Grados high-end. The only Grados I'd call high-end are the discontinued PS-1 and HP1000).

 

I don't currently own any Grados for an up-to-date GL vs GS-X comparison, though I have compared the amps on my current CD player with other headphones (the HD800 specifically), and my opinion today remains the same as it did in 2007.

 

My recommendation is that if you don't need the features of the GS-X, or the GS-1, then the GL (or any other Dynalo build) should be just fine for you.

 

Here are a variety of old threads that I wrote in the past that cover the amps in question and might provide further info:

- Gilmore Lite DPS vs Elpac review: http://www.head-fi.org/t/225178/comparison-review-gilmore-lite-dps-vs-elpac

- Multi-way review of 6 solid-state amps: http://www.head-fi.org/t/278691/six-way-review-square-wave-gs-1-canamp-ec-ss-gilmore-lite-black-cube-linear

- GS-X pics and arrival story: http://www.head-fi.org/t/231415/the-headamp-gs-x-has-landed

- GS-X impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/t/237928/impressions-headamp-gs-x

- GS-X review: http://www.head-fi.org/t/247854/review-headamp-gs-x-single-ended

 

I'm going to add another recommendation: if you don't have a particular interest in a Dynalo-based amp, or solid-state for that matter, there might be other amps better-suited for the Grado headphones you have or are considering. There have been some tube amps reported to synergize well with Grados, including the Mapletree and Eddie Current amps.

 

Btw, Grado headphones that I've heard with the GL and I thought sounded good with it: SR60, SR80, SR225, HF-1, HF-2, and RS-1 w/ flat pads (w/ and w/o buttons).


Thanks for taking the type to write that Asr! I own the ps-1 , hp-2 and also the ps-500 (and to address your side comment the hf-2 is not identical but shares some simulairty to the ps500). I'll probably get the ps1000 eventually, thus not really specifying which model I had in my original post.  

[I also own the hd800 but I have that paired with the leben cs300 which too my ears, has perfect synergy, surpassing even the hd800/pinnacle system I heard  - so the gs-x would be only for the grados. ]

 

I think the GL is out if the comparisons you made to the Gs-1 are accurate (and I have no reason to disbelieve you!), again appreciate the very helpful comments.

 

 

 
 

Edited by Chefguru - 1/12/12 at 8:50am
post #10 of 13

I have one question Chefguru. I actualy think brighter Grados like RS1/GS1000 etc. could be super with tubes because at least from what I have listened they have a little higher mids and treble and brighter character. Did you try it on your Leben? But PS500/PS1000 etc. are probably warmer so there solid state is probably way to go. But I don't want gues I did not have chance listen it.

post #11 of 13

Anytime Asr talks about the GS-X it has me drooling for the amp.  I appreciate the added impressions and it makes me want it even more haha.  I'm a big soundstage freak and I love the way the HD800 shoots such a big picture so it seems to me the GS-X and HD800 are a match made in heaven.  I jumped for another tube amp for my HD800 when I realize maybe the GS-X should have been my priority; ironically with this amp I love what they can do with my old Grado HP-2's.

 

To add my 2 cents here I have heard many Grados in my day and the fondest memories I've had with Grados were with tube amps.  I know it may be a generalization but I get the impression that tubes can help soften the harsh treble nature of some Grados though when I had the GS-1 and RS-1i I felt they sounded great together.

post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefguru View Post

It's my understanding that Dr. Kevin Gilmore designed the Dynalo amp for Grado's specifically to match well with their low impendence. Considering that the gilmore lite is a dynalo, and able to drive the Grado's extremely well - is there any true sonic difference between upgrading to the Gs-x (especially when used in SE not balance)?

 

 

this is very curious to me as i've not heard this before. where is this from and why shouldn't the Gilmore amps be fine with higher impedance cans? i've never had a problem with driving my senns off of either of my Gilmores (g-lite and v2-se).

post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by daveDerek View Post

 

this is very curious to me as i've not heard this before. where is this from and why shouldn't the Gilmore amps be fine with higher impedance cans? i've never had a problem with driving my senns off of either of my Gilmores (g-lite and v2-se).

 

From Kevin Gilmore's original design article:

 

 

 

Quote:
Grado headphones, for me, are terribly uncomfortable, but my amp sure makes them sound nice. (The ones in the picture are the SR225; I also have a pair of HP-1.) They are the only low impedance headphones out there that I know of. Most if not all of the standard opamp-only headphone amps have trouble driving Grados with any decent bass, because they want a high current output. This amplifier can output up to 0.5W into a 32-ohm load – which is unbelievably loud for the Grados.

 

That was in 2001, and of course, there are A LOT of high-end low impedance headphones today.  But I guess back then, the 300-ohm ones like the HD600 were a standard.  And most headphone amps, op-amp based or tube OTL, offered little output current, which made them suitable for high impedance headphones but not so much the low impedance.  The Gilmore amp added an output buffer stage, which improved its ability to drive low impedance headphones.  But it could still drive high impedance headphones like all the other amps.

HeadAmp Audio Electronics - home of the Pico and Gilmore amps.  Now with Audeze, Fostex, HiFiMAN, Sennheiser, and STAX.
Find us at www.HeadAmp.com

Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphone Amps (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › Headamp's GS-X vs Gilmore Lite for high-end Grado