Purpose: To discuss driver alternatives that are being used within the Grado headphone cups. This would apply to both custom wooden cups, as well as the standard plastic Grado or Alessandro cups, as well as Mahogany cups made by Grado. Again, the emphisis is on non-Grado manufactured drivers.
Driver Synopsis: (Added: 10/21/2014)
There are direct links below to many drivers. However, the non-Grado modder would be best to stick with the following drivers, which I've arranged in order of preference along with affordability. Finally, this thread is dedicated to non-Grado drivers that have been tested and tried. Input from all members is always welcome based on their impressions. If a member comes across a noteworthy driver, please PM me with some details on your listening experience and a bit of background of the driver - cost, what type of cup you tried them in, genres of music tried, etc. It wasn't necessarily myself that found that utilizing non-Grado drivers in wooden cups is a very good possibility. Stratocaster has been one such individual who has done a lot of trial and error testing with many drives and also pioneered the famed "StratoKossTer" closed headphone cup with he Koss drivers. It is contributions such as those that inspired me to take it a bit further and to institute a thread for us DIY-ers to get inspired on taking time, a few bucks to build a headphone that would or could be more custom to their listening desires and needs.
- Sennheiser PX-100 II Drivers: Basically since this thread was started and the other drivers were tested, the PX-100 II headphone drivers remain one of the best choices at this point in time for this project. Often they can be purchased as a refurbished pair or even a used pair for as low as $25.00 up to $70.00 (New). But, one can find a pair of new PX-100 II headphones at times in the $40 range. It just depends on the vendor, the time of the year, etc.
- Sennheiser PX-95 Drivers: I've placed these drivers into the 2nd place slot because when they can be found for a price about $10 lower than the PX-100 II when looking into the used / refurbished market. I'm eager to see what other members involved in this thread might come up with their impressions of the PX-95 driver. To me, I thought there was just a slight bit extra mid-range over the PX-100 II drivers. But that was just my perception and I didn't have two sets of cups at the time to test the drivers in the headphones back-to-back. If you find that the PX-95 is harder to find, it might be because the headphone appears to have been released in the summer of 2014.
- Koss KSC-75 Drivers: These drivers can be found for approximately $15.00 (US$) per pair. Shipping may be included at that price depending on the vendor. To my ears, these drivers had a bit more emphasis on the upper frequencies. I wouldn't really call them bass-light, but the bass presence seemed a bit less than my experienced with the Sennheiser drivers. Part of that sound signature could have been possible due to the prevalence of the upper frequencies covering up the lower frequencies. Again, just a very subjective view where I tested the drivers in wooden cups designed for Grado drivers.
- Sennheiser PXC-250 II Drivers: For this pair of drivers, I placed it into 4th place. However, it didn't land here because of horrible performance. When new, the PXC-250 II sells for about $199. For more modders, that could be a costly set of drivers. I've done some checks on Ebay and can see a good source of used offerings in the $40 to $60 range; in reality, the are within reach. A second reason for placing this driver down into this position was due to a small bit of extra work required to remove the small noise cancelling device that was added into / onto the top of the driver protection grill. Removal is relatively easy, but takes a few more minutes of the modding process for the task. Now when it comes to sound, I feel that the position where I've placed this driver surely deserves to be pushed up a couple of notches. While this driver appears to have a slight bit less bass than the other Sennheiser drivers, it still isn't anemic sounding. The bass is present, balanced and enjoyable. The upper frequencies are not overwhelming, but really add details into percussion and when those higher frequencies are called for in music passages.
- Koss 75 drivers: http://www.head-fi.org/t/119314/post-your-grado-mods/4185#post_9948478
- Sennheiser PX100 II Drivers: http://www.head-fi.org/t/119314/post-your-grado-mods/4200#post_9949100
- Frequency Charts: Grado RS1 Driver vs. Sennheiser PX100 II Driver: http://www.head-fi.org/t/119314/post-your-grado-mods/4200#post_9950481
- JVC HAS-400B (Nanotube Drivers): http://www.head-fi.org/t/119314/post-your-grado-mods/4245#post_9963193 and: http://www.head-fi.org/t/119314/post-your-grado-mods/4245#post_9967038
- Beyerdynamic DT-990 Drivers: http://www.head-fi.org/t/119314/post-your-grado-mods/4155#post_9939990 and: http://www.head-fi.org/t/119314/post-your-grado-mods/4230#post_9959602
- Parts Express / Mouser Electronics / Lunashops Driver Mentions: http://www.head-fi.org/t/119314/post-your-grado-mods/4185#post_9947911
- Unknown Make of 40mm Drivers from China: http://www.head-fi.org/t/119314/post-your-grado-mods/4185#post_9948068
- Kobitone Drivers from Mouser Electronics: http://www.head-fi.org/t/119314/post-your-grado-mods/4185#post_9948089
- 40mm Drivers from Conrad: http://www.conrad-electronic.co.uk/ce/en/product/541342/LSF-40MF32OHM01W-miniature-speaker-32-150-Hz?ref=searchDetail
(other names for Conrad. Conrad Energy - they appear to make quite a few variations of 40mm drivers. Some down to 8 Ohm, with 86dB efficiency. Others can have 110dB efficiency with 32 Ohm operation. Also, they might have 100 Hz or 150 Hz frequency cut-offs, too.
New Items: Updated 1/23/2014: While I did purchase these drivers and try them, they did not provide for a good impression. I still prefer the Sennheiser PX100 II drivers as opposed to these two.
- Parts Express Headphone Drivers: http://www.parts-express.com/dayton-audio-ce38mb-32-1-1-2-mini-speaker-black-32-ohm--285-131
- Parts Express Headphone Drivers: https://www.parts-express.com/dayton-audio-ce38m-8-1-1-2-mini-speaker-8-ohm--285-129
Other Grado Links / Resources:
- Grado Fan Club thread: http://www.head-fi.org/t/530965/grado-fan-club
- Grado RS1i Appreciation thread: http://www.head-fi.org/t/444439/grado-rs1i-appreciation-thread
- Grado PS-1000 Appreciation tread: http://www.head-fi.org/t/520884/ps1000-appreciation-thread
- Grado Modders go Magnum thread: http://www.head-fi.org/t/576717/grado-modders-go-magnum
- Post Your Grado Mods thread: http://www.head-fi.org/t/119314/post-your-grado-mods
- SR-60 Mod Part II: http://www.head-fi.org/t/560806/sr60-mod-part-ii
- StratoKosster thread (Closed Grado Design): http://www.head-fi.org/t/611982/the-stratokosster-a-closed-diy-headphone-based-on-the-koss-ksc-75-driver-and-grado-cup-design
- The Great Grado Exeriment (4 Tonewoods Tested) thread: http://www.head-fi.org/t/686212/the-great-grado-experiment-4-tonewoods-tested-more-to-come
- DIY Woody Grado Symphones Magnums - A Build Diary: http://www.head-fi.org/t/626114/diy-woody-grado-symphones-magnums-a-build-diary
- Woodie Grado Review and Impressions Thread: http://www.head-fi.org/t/558621/woodied-grado-review-and-impressions-thread
Q: Should all posts in this thread be taken as pure fact?
A: No. The purpose for this thread is for members who have used non-Grado drivers within Grado, or Grado-sized cup housings (40mm - 45mm). This thread permits users to share their experiences with the non-Grado drivers and allows them to describe their impressions based on their efforts.
Q: Can we share our speculations and thoughts on certain drivers within this thread or suggest other drivers to test for fit, sound, etc.?
Questions / Suggestions? Please let me know if you have any.
Edited by wje - 10/21/14 at 12:37pm