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Considering Upgrading Grado 225i to PS500 - Need Opinions

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I know lots of Grado threads exist and I've read many of them today. Just going to post my situation for any specific feedback you guys can offer.

 

Currently using Grado 225i and I'm looking to grab:

 

Grado PS500

Schiit Asgard

Schiit Bifrost

 

I listen to metal almost exclusively. Sometimes I do listen to ambient or DnB when I'm doing things on my PC (ie. writing papers) but those are of secondary interest and the sound quality isn't as important to me.

 

My primary genres are Progressive Death Metal, Melodic Death Metal, Death Metal, and I do listen to a mixture of Prog, Folk, Symphonic, etc.

 

I have been quite pleased with my 225s but I think I'd like to upgrade to a more serious rig. I could just do the amp/dac and keep the 225s, which is why I'm posting this. I do WANT to upgrade my cans as well, but I'm just wondering if others have tried the 225s and 500s and have any feedback? If there is a fairly noticeable sound upgrade then I'd love to spend the money on the new Grados. If not, I can always save for a better upgrade down the road.

 

Or, if there is a better option (same price range) for the music I listen to, I'd love to hear suggestions.

 

Thanks

post #2 of 11

The PS500 is the Grado for people who don't like Grado. It's easily the darkest-sounding Grado in the entire lineup. Having listened to my 225i and a friend's PS500 extensively, you'll get a much thicker sound on the PS500, which you may or may not appreciate.

 

Personally, I decided to pass on the PS500 because along with the difference in sound signature, it's about 50% heavier than the 225i. If the weight is as much of an issue to you as it was for me (you couldn't pay me to wear an LCD2 for more than 5 minutes), save your pennies and go straight for the RS2i (which MSRP is the same price as the PS500) or an RS1i. Bonus if you can get one of those used.


Edited by colgatetotal - 6/23/12 at 4:41pm
post #3 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by colgatetotal View Post

The PS500 is the Grado for people who don't like Grado. It's easily the darkest-sounding Grado in the entire lineup. Having listened to my 225i and a friend's PS500 extensively, you'll get a much thicker sound on the PS500, which you may or may not appreciate.

 

Personally, I decided to pass on the PS500 because along with the difference in sound signature, it's about 50% heavier than the 225i. If the weight is as much of an issue to you as it was for me (you couldn't pay me to wear an LCD2 for more than 5 minutes), save your pennies and go straight for the RS2i (which MSRP is the same price as the PS500) or an RS1i. Bonus if you can get one of those used.

 

Actually, simplistically speaking, the PS500 just shaves off a little of the peakiness and adds a shade more mid-bass thump.  It's also 1-2 db more efficient if that matters.

 

You can still like Grado.

 

BTW, I thought the RS1i was $100 more than the 500, not that it matters that much.

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hmm, thanks for the input.

 

I'm also considering the HE-500, which they would eat up a sizable portion of my budget for the moment.

 

Would I be better off to get upgrade my Essence STX to the [insert Schiit amp] and Bifrost to use with my 225is for a while and invest in something more high-end than the PS500s?

 

Based on my current setup, which option would give the best combination of short and long-term benefits? I imagine long-term the larger investment would be better, but would the Schiit upgrades be noticeable if I used my Grados with them over the Essence?

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

bump

post #6 of 11
The US MSRP for the Grado cans is $495 (RS2), $595 (PS500) and $695 (RS1; MS-Pro is $699) - for reference.

To the thread:

The logical answer is that you will receive little to no benefit by changing out the DAC, sound card, or amplifier. It makes very little sense to dump more money into those components (especially when they already cost many times over what your headphones do rolleyes.gif). For what you've mentioned, I would suggest trying a non-Grado (IME the higher end Grado cans just amplify/improve the Grado-ness of the lower-end models - I haven't heard the PS cans though). My first pick/try-out would be the Ultrasone PRO2900. It'll give you this neato thing called "soundstage" (tongue.gif - in all seriousness they have really good staging, it will be a *huge* departure from the 225), and bass extension + impact (it's pretty well controlled too) which will benefit both the DnB/ambient (as well as the metal), and they can wail on the top end like nothing you can possibly believe. They're fairly fast, very well controlled, and don't push their top-end or bass when the material doesn't call for it. But when asked, they will gladly rain thunder and lightning down on your ears all day long.
post #7 of 11

I agree wholeheartedly with Obobskivich about the DAC, amplifier, and soundcard. I feel you'll be hardpressed to notice any sonic improvements/differences at all. 

 

As for the PS-500s, I have had them for a few months now, in addition to also owning the 325s and the 80s. When I first put them on my  head, I immediately noticed an improvement over the 325s, and I like the 325s probably more than most. The low end was a bit more robust, the sound stage was a bid larger (though I'd still consider it average/natural....Grados aren't known for having a huge sound stage, save for either of the 1000 models), and the tonal refinement overall was there. That being said, the most dramatic evidence for me of how much more I liked the 500s was when I went back to the 325s after not having listened to them for a good while. Once you get used to the 500s, the 325s are clearly inferior, and I suspect the very same would be true of the 225s. If you like the Grado sound, then I can't imagine why you wouldn't love the 500s. They are currently my favorite headphone and I even favor them by a slight margin over my Beyer T1s, which I'm also very fond of (and which also cost more than twice that of the 500s). However, given your music preferences, unless you're just truly a fan of Grados such as myself, you may find another type of headphone preferable. The 500s are the closest thing to an "all-rounder" that Grado currently produces, IMO, and the low end is very natural and enjoyable, but you may find that a headphone that digs a bit deeper down low might be more to your liking for your preferred genre. Hope that helps!

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

I understand that if I go with the Grados, I would be fine getting the headphones first followed by the amp and then DAC.
 

I think part of the issue is that I'm still deciding between the Grados and the HE-500s, which probably won't sound very good with my current setup. I guess that just happens sometimes, but I was hoping the DAC/amp upgrade would be a noticeable and fun upgrade for now while I save for the headphones later. Doing it in the reverse would give me a thrill of an immediate headphone upgrade, but I'm worried that it won't feel like an upgrade sonically because the HE-500s could be limited by my current setup.

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wirbel View Post

I understand that if I go with the Grados, I would be fine getting the headphones first followed by the amp and then DAC.

 
I think part of the issue is that I'm still deciding between the Grados and the HE-500s, which probably won't sound very good with my current setup. I guess that just happens sometimes, but I was hoping the DAC/amp upgrade would be a noticeable and fun upgrade for now while I save for the headphones later. Doing it in the reverse would give me a thrill of an immediate headphone upgrade, but I'm worried that it won't feel like an upgrade sonically because the HE-500s could be limited by my current setup.


Let me say it again: there. is. no. limitation. with. your. equipment.

Seriously, at absolute MOST you're talking about fractions of a dB of variance - it's completely not worth arguing about. What you have is perfectly fine for the vast majority of all headphones, with perhaps the exception of a few (obscure) old headphones that are either super low Z (like 2-6 ohms) or super high Z (thousands of ohms), some insensitive exotics (HE-6, K1000), and maybe IEMs (I don't know what the noise floor is like on Asgard; lots of "full size" amps have problems with IEMs and hissing though, and it's not anything malfuncitoning - I remember Jason saying the Asgard's Zout is ~1 ohm, so it probably would be perfectly fine tbh). With any of the headphones discussed in this thread, there will be no improvement to dumping more money down that hole; put it into something that will make an audible difference: the headphones. There is no point in buying more gear for the SR-225 - your system is sonically held back because of the SR-225, not because of anything else (seriously, why is this even a discussion? You've got almost five times the price of the SR-225 into that stack and you think it isn't enough?). And that really isn't a "bad" thing (imo the SR-225 sound good); but if you want an improvement, it will come from new headphones. Like the HE-5, or PS-500, or PRO2900, or whatever else you pick. Higher end Grados will move up that line, if you want "big huge changes" or "different" then either get a full-size Grado, or something from another manufacturer.

And I'm really not trying to be rude - this is just the reality of things. Good enough is absolutely good enough, but you can certainly spend more for the same drink.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

Alright, thanks for the feedback. To be clear about the quoted comment, I'm not sure if there was a misunderstanding...

 

My current setup includes an Essence STX and Grado SR-225 ... that's it. No way does my setup cost five times the headphones.

 

Either way, I'm leaning towards grabbing the headphones as the first purchase and am just trying to decide if I want to go with the HE-500, PS-500, or something else.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post


Let me say it again: there. is. no. limitation. with. your. equipment.
There is no point in buying more gear for the SR-225 - your system is sonically held back because of the SR-225, not because of anything else (seriously, why is this even a discussion? You've got almost five times the price of the SR-225 into that stack and you think it isn't enough?).
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wirbel View Post

Alright, thanks for the feedback. To be clear about the quoted comment, I'm not sure if there was a misunderstanding...

My current setup includes an Essence STX and Grado SR-225 ... that's it. No way does my setup cost five times the headphones.

Either way, I'm leaning towards grabbing the headphones as the first purchase and am just trying to decide if I want to go with the HE-500, PS-500, or something else.

I read the first post and you mentioned:
Quote:
Currently using Grado 225i and I'm looking to grab:
Grado PS500

Schiit Asgard

Schiit Bifrost

And I read that as: I have Asgard + Bifrost and SR-225 and want to upgrade Asgard and/or Bifrost or get PS500. redface.gif My bad. redface.gif (I was thinking: man, that's like a $700 stack for $200 headphones - and you're talking about upgrading the stack! eek.gif).

The STX and other head-amp soundcards are fine drivers for many dynamic headphones, but I'm not sure how I feel about them for orthos. The PS-500 (per Tyll's numbers) are substantially more sensitive than the SR-225, and will drive fine (honestly I've yet to hear a Grado that's really a bear to drive); so you'd be fine with the STX in that situation (you also don't have to worry about things like nasty channel imbalance or pot noise, which are very common on even expensive headphone amps IME). The Orthos I'd probably look into something more robust, but it's honestly still not that huge of a deal - the need for expensive/robust amps is highly overblown most of the time. I would not put money into an outboard DtoA; the components on the STX (and any other high end soundcard) are going to be solid. With the PS500 (or the PRO2900 that I mentioned earlier), you won't need more amp. With the HE-500 I would look for more detailed specs on the STX - I remember it being a 6120 so that should mean 1-2W (if it were on 15V, which it probably isn't) available for the HE-500; very honestly it will probably be fine, but you might have to run the volume level up a bit higher than the SR-225 require. Again, the mythology around power and headphones gets out of hand sometimes imho.

Do you have a lot of space around your desk/listening area? And are you opposed to buying used or otherwise non-headphone-approved hardware?
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