Well... back when I was in high school (over ten years ago), I was sort of into headphones, and owned and selled quite a few. Sennheiser HD-580's, Sony MDR-CD3000's, Grado RS-1's, and I somehow was eventually able to get a hold of the Grado HP-1's. I'm guessing they were easier to get back then.
I sold off the HD-580's and the CD3000's, and gave the RS-1's to my dad, and kept the HP-1's to myself. But with going to college, moving out of the house, and going to South Korea for a while, I kept the HP-1's stored somewhere, and never bothered looking for them, until a few years later, which was just a few days ago. I didn't have much hope in finding them, but I eventually did.
And... wow. Maybe it was because I was younger back then, and didn't really appreciate neutrality or clean sound (I think I was more attracted to the more "obvious" and "forward" sounding CD3000's and the RS-1's), but these are actually quite better than I remember. In fact, they sound amazing.
The mids are absolutely surreal, and almost, quite literally, sound like it was something made from another planet. It's definitely not something you'd expect to hear from regular headphone drivers. Anything you hear afterwards (like the HD-650's I just got today), just do not sound as "real" or "impactful", in terms of the mids, as they do with the HP-1's.
I don't know how to explain it... there's just something about the way the sound moves with the HP-1's that gives it some kind of "velocity" or "movement" that sounds very natural, and not electronic or artificial.
My guess is the actual housing of the drivers have a LOT to do with the sound. It's akin to the way the material and shape of guitars, violins, cellos, flutes, etc. change the way the instruments sound. It's as if the headphones themselves are actual instruments, rather than just miniature speakers housed in plastic/metal. And the metal housing of the HP-1's give it that kind of smooth, yet super impactful feel of the mids. It's as if they sound as they look.
This is only the mids and the treble, with the HP-1's, though. I've only done just cursory, few-minute listening sessions with the HP-1's the past couple of days (because I want to preserve them), and the bass wasn't something that immediately stuck out to me. It was all about the voices and the soft instrumentals. My God.
And, unfortunately, listening to the HP-1's made me finally understand what people are talking about, when they mention the "Sennheiser Veil". :( To me, it's there and real (and I'm using a decent amp to drive them; the Matrix M-Stage).
Still, I think for overall, everyday listening the Sennheiser HD-650's might be a little better. Both because of comfort, and the overall, pleasing sound signature.
It's just, the HP-1's have quite a character, and I think they're something special and amazing.
Also, does anyone know whether it's bad to just keep headphones stored away, and not use them for long periods of time? I've nearly not used the HP-1's for years, but, they seem to be ok. Is it like automobiles, where if you don't use them for long enough, all the parts just kind of loosen up and not work as well?
If anyone knows, please let me know!
At any rate, I hope this gives a pretty good glimpse on, yet another, post on the Grado HP-1. I'm sure there are a lot out there. But, I think another doesn't help. =D If anyone has a chance to grab a pair of these, they definitely should... unless the seller is demanding thousands of dollars.
Edited by fuzzybaffy - 11/30/12 at 8:57pm