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The Grado Sound: or, how I finally decided the Grado guys are better at marketing than Bose!

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 

It's been ages since I last posted here! I guess I had nothing to say. Or maybe I was too busy building DIY gear. Yeah, that could be it. :)

 

 Now that my job requires me to actually sit down and do some real work I find myself seated in front of my computer for long periods of time. I have a small system here - my PC, an SB external USB card, and an X-Can V-2. I never bothered to bring the Sennheisers to my office, they are too big and valuable for me, so I had a set Alessandros for a long time.

 

This week, I remembered my RS-2s were gathering dust somewhere around my house, so I decided to use them instead of the MS-1s. 

 

The next two days I switched back and forth, from the Alessandros to the RS-2s and back. Back and forth, extended listening sessions, all kinds of music. And I was shocked at what I found.

 

I don't care about the RS-2s at all. They are, well, boring. The MS-1s sound brighter and punchier. But the real point is - they both sound so similar it's not cool. I'd say they are 95% the same, with the edge going to the cheaper headphones (IMHO, of course), but I could live with either one of them. 

 

I'm shocked to find out there's nothing the RS-2 does better than the MS-1. No extra detail, no less distortion I can hear, nothing. Maybe they go a bit deeper when it comes to bass, but it's hard to say whether this is because subjectively the treble is shelved down, or they have a more extended frequency response. I can't see myself paying... I don't know, $400 more for the RS-2s over the MS-1s! (I got the RS-2's used for a terrific price some time ago).

 

And this is my point. After all these years, and considering these two units, my ignorant conclusion is that these two guys share basically the same driver, pretty much same design, and maybe there are a couple of changes (I don't know.. the coating on the dome? extra mass on it?) that are minuscule, not worth the price Grado is asking for, and that don't  bring any improvement to the sound at all. They simply change the tone.

 

Sennheisers are very different... except, of course for the 580 and 600, which are basically the same headphone. Every Sennheiser I've ever heard has its own sonic signature. It'd be impossible to mistake one for the other.

 

But Grado? To me, they are kinda like Bose... some have nice mahogany enclosures, others have aluminum, and others are plastic... .IMHO, the design is the same and they just play a bit with small variables.. .charge big  bucks for it, and they are succesful. Hey, more power to them. But for me, I'm not getting new Grados anytime soon. I'm very disappointed.

 

Not trying to start a flame war, just wondering if other people think the same...

post #2 of 46

That's good. More Grados for those who appreciate them and understand that yes, there are differences between the models. Some more than others, but there are differences. Otherwise, I would not have paid $300 for my 325's when $80 for the 60's would have gotten me the same sound. Of course I really dig my gold cups, but I certainly don't love them $240 more. The sound on the other hand is in fact $240 better. 

 

And comparing Grado to Bose...you should be drawn and quartered for that wink.gif

post #3 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArmAndHammer View Post

That's good. More Grados for those who appreciate them and understand that yes, there are differences between the models. Some more than others, but there are differences. Otherwise, I would not have paid $300 for my 325's when $80 for the 60's would have gotten me the same sound. Of course I really dig my gold cups, but I certainly don't love them $240 more. The sound on the other hand is in fact $240 better. 

 

And comparing Grado to Bose...you should be drawn and quartered for that wink.gif

Some people don't hear that much of a difference between the two. Not trying to say the $240 wasn't well spent, but it's quite subjective, and could very possibly be all expectation bias - expecting a difference in sound renders that exact perception. 

 

Agreed all the Sennheisers have a different sound. This is why price isn't a huge factor when it comes to the Sennheiser line. A person could easily prefer a HD650 over a HD800, which are both completely different headphones. I personally prefer the HD598 over any of the other because it simply doesn't do anything wrong though, it could technically extend better in both treble/ bass, as well as have slightly more midbass and a lot more subbass. AKGs also do an alright job in terms of differentiating between different models, though I've never liked any of them enough to justify a purchase. 

 

I think overall, the money you could spend to slightly improve a headphone (going from D5000 to D7000 for instance) is better spent on trying out different types of headphones, for different genres. Heck I think even spending that extra money on amps is more appropriate, and I have never been a strong proponent of spending loads of cash on amps for optimal performance. That's just my $0.02. 

post #4 of 46

I can definitely understand your viewpoint, though I believe that Grado's range exhibits a sort of reverse diminishing returns. The SR-series almost sounds the same (with the exception of the weird-sounding SR-125), but between RS, GS, and PS series there are large differences. I think that if you compared your RS-2 to, say, the PS1000, you'd find a much bigger difference. However, it is true that to many, Alessandro has a much higher price-to-performance ratio.

post #5 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by fjhuerta View Post

Not trying to start a flame war, just wondering if other people think the same...

 

We have a pretty common setup. I also listen through my XCAN v2, and I was just comparing my SR80 and MS-Pro a few days ago. The differences are minute. Where the MS-Pro really shines for me is playing baroque and live recordings.  But you're right, they are so similar I could very well live with one or the other. I didn't pay full price for my MS-Pro; I bought them used. I would've spent the money getting a different brand of cans.

post #6 of 46
Quote:

 just wondering if other people think the same...

 

I certainly don't. And I'm very thankful for that. rolleyes.gif

post #7 of 46

 

not much difference on paper either. the only one that exhibits much difference FR wise is the PS 500 and that appears to have a nasty upper midrange hole.

post #8 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by yepimonfire View Post

 

not much difference on paper either. the only one that exhibits much difference FR wise is the PS 500 and that appears to have a nasty upper midrange hole.

 

Then again, the most discernible differences (even very subtle ones) are 1000 Hz and up, and Grados seem to have all kinds of flavours up those frequencies.

post #9 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by jerg View Post

 

Then again, the most discernible differences (even very subtle ones) are 1000 Hz and up, and Grados seem to have all kinds of flavours up those frequencies.

I don't listen to grados, and am neither for them nor against them, nor am i bashing them (let me make that clear), but based upon those graphs i seriously doubt i would spend more on the higher priced ones then a sr60. I know a lot of people on here say graphs don't tell everything about how a headphone sounds, but in my experience, if you are familiar with graphs on headphones you have heard/owned you can do a pretty good job of guessing how one might sound compared to the other. Based on those graphs, i doubt one would sound significantly different from the other.

post #10 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by yepimonfire View Post

 

not much difference on paper either. the only one that exhibits much difference FR wise is the PS 500 and that appears to have a nasty upper midrange hole.

 

 

 

 

So I guess there's no reason to buy the HD700s or HD800s if I own the 598s? 


Edited by Focker - 10/5/12 at 7:41pm
post #11 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Focker View Post

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think the gist here is that every company has a "house sound" that deviates in the 2000Hz+ region mostly.

post #12 of 46
Haven't tried grados yet but ytd just read a post that said the exact same experience that most of the grados sound almost the same and it's better to buy the affordable version.
post #13 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Focker View Post

 

 

 

 

So I guess there's no reason to buy the HD700s or HD800s if I own the 598s? 

I wouldn't assert that. based on graphs alone, there is definitely a difference in treble response between the 500/600 series and the 700/800 series. The 650's have stronger mids than the 600's/5xx series. Also the variation in the angles of the drivers are going to change the soundstaging quite a bit. IIRC, the 700/800's have a unique angling on them. What i would say is there is no reason to buy the 600's to replace the 558's or 598's, seeing as the response of them is nearly identical.

 

This hobby has a lot of diminishing returns, unfortunately lol.

post #14 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by jerg View Post

 

 

 

I think the gist here is that every company has a "house sound" that deviates in the 2000Hz+ region mostly.

 

It's also very evident to me that there are higher and higher degrees of resolution as you move up the line, not just with Grados, but with most companies offerings. That's not to say it's a linear progression, cause I don't believe it is. But I don't see many people saying the Sennheiser 598 has the same level of resolution, tonal accuracy, etc., as the HD800. I haven't heard the HifiMan phones, but I would imagine the same is true of something like the HE400 vs the HE600. 

post #15 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Focker View Post

 

It's also very evident to me that there are higher and higher degrees of resolution as you move up the line, not just with Grados, but with most companies offerings. That's not to say it's a linear progression, cause I don't believe it is. But I don't see many people saying the Sennheiser 598 has the same level of resolution, tonal accuracy, etc., as the HD800. I haven't heard the HifiMan phones, but I would imagine the same is true of something like the HE400 vs the HE600. 

Agreed.

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