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Grado upgrade

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hi folks, it's been a while since I've been here.

I had been a happy owner of Grado sr325is for a few years. Yes, it's a great set of headphones. It'll give what most of user will seek, great details, dynamics, stunning vocals and mid-range and even some bass, you just can't get fatigued with it, even when listening for hours... I'm not a guy who prefers having a subwoofer in a room, but, the reviews are also true, it can sound a bit too bright at a times and I can't stand the lack of low frequencies any more. Bass can be quite low, but it's just, like missing sometimes.


I've tried a few amplifiers, DA converters and even pairing with different cables, ending up with a Lehmann Audio Rhinelander and Stello DA 100 signature in my possession. The sound improvements were huge, more details, wider soundstage, better dynamics and similar, but the problem of being too bright still exists. Naim Headline gets the things a bit straightened, but unfortunately, it's out of my league :(



Anyway, my Grado was sold and I've got some time and a wish to spend roughly 600 euros for an upgrade :) There are a few headphones that got my attention. I like the grado sound (except for being too bright at a times) and could be a good idea just to upgrade to a higher series, something like PS 500 or RS 2. If I could just find a grado similar to sr325is with a darker sound and better presentation of low frequencies, it will be a straight  match for me. The biggest problem is that I'm not in a opportunity to listen to them unless I order them first (like lol, right? :atsmile:). So, if anyone has experience with one of these, I'd be grateful to write a few words. I've read that PS 500 is an expert in bass in this class, I'm very curious about that.


Another thing just came up, a Beyerdynamics T1 for just a 100euros more! Anyone tried that? :) It's not grado, it's semi-open and could be quite a problem for my Lehmann, but I'm open for a change and any other recommendation, if someone has :)




Edited by dennnic - 1/14/14 at 2:41am
post #2 of 10

PS500:  Extended mids and highs, maybe a tad bright depending on the music, but more bass and impact than other Grado phones I tried. I don't own it, but spent some time with a borrowed one. I rather like it.


I started out with Grado many years ago and should have just stayed with the Grado line.  I have owned and tried many phones over the years, but there is just something that always makes me return to Grado.  I guess I'm very comfortable with the Grado sound, know what to expect, and, to me, feel like an old and comfortable pair of jeans. 


Good luck in your search, but do consider the PS500.

Edited by tattoou2 - 1/14/14 at 3:16am
post #3 of 10

Hi Dennic,



I posted a similar thread here a few days ago on this subject but didn't get the reactions of people who own both the 325is and ps500 I hoped for. So I took the leap and just bought the PS500's yesterday. I should have been studying, but spent most of the past day listening to the PS500's. I use a Technics SL1200 Grado Cartridge -> ART sound phono Preamp -> Fiio E17, an Ipod Classic connected to the E17 via LOD and have also tested them using my computer with the E17 acting as a DAC + amp.


The Conclusions:

After a day of listening, I think I'm pretty sure the PS500's are a good upgrade to the 325is. I still have the 325is here with me, but I put it on a few forums to try and sell it because I can't justify to myself for owning more than a 1000 euros worth of headphones. The PS500's indeed have a way more pronounced bass compared to the 325is. For that bass, you do seem to lose a bit of clarity. Compare it to a concert: you're not on the first, but on the third row now. The PS500's also sound a lot more mature. Where the 325is have that "in your face" type of sound that can be too much at times, the PS500's are much calmer. I say calmer, because in no way it is more boring: staying true to the Grado line of headphones, they're still more fun than analytical/neutral. The sound stage is a bit wider and the sound is more detailed. The too high and too sharp bit of the highs is gone. Especially for acoustic and orchestra-type of music, this pair of headphones really shines.


The major issue I have with this pair of headphones is it's price. I'm happy with the price I got: My pair of used 325is cost me 200 euros, the pair of PS500's I bought yesterday are brand new and didn't cost me the premium price. 769 euros, the common price for this pair all over Europe, IMHO isn't worth it. The PS500's are a 10% upgrade from the 325is. I am aware of the law of diminishing returns, but if you are looking for a huge upgrade or a totally different kind of sound, the PS500's are not the headphones for you if you have to buy them for 769 euros. If you would want a really huge upgrade I think it's wiser to save even more to get in the 1000+ euro class of headphones. If, however, you get an opportunity to buy the PS500's second hand or new for somewhere 300-450ish, by all means do it, the difference to the 325is is noticeable. 


However, I also have the feeling my Fiio E17 amp isn't utilizing the full 100% of the PS500's potential. Maybe if I went for a better, but more expensive headphone amp (which I cannot afford now and doubt I even want to pay such high prices for) I'd be even more satisfied and even more content of my purchase.


Feel free to ask me more questions. I don't usually review headphones, so I don't really know what I should describe. Don't ask me about other headphones though, since I first heard the 125i, then the 325is and now the PS500 I'm addicted to "the Grado sound" and even much more expensive headphones of other brands like beyerdynamic/sennheiser/audeze sound very crappy to my ears now.

Edited by controllerboy - 1/18/14 at 3:15pm
post #4 of 10

I have as well the PS500 and the SR325i (and the HF1 and an Alessandro pro). I have to say I am one of the persons, who prefer the SR325i compared to the PS500. The PS500 has a midbass hump that on some recordings sounds disturbing to my ears. With some recordings they sound great but with others there is too much midbass and it pushes the mids in the back. Technically the PS500 is a a good headphone - you just need to like the sound signature. A lot of people do. If I had to choose between the SR325i and the PS500 I would take the SR325i. For me they have the bass just right and sound therefore more precise. Putting the G-bowls on the PS500 makes it more neutral to my ears.

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

Too much "in the face" could be proper description for sr325is. I was looking for something less bright, more mature with a bit wider soundstage and better bass, along with the too high and too sharp bit of highs being gone. Just as you described it The price I've been offered is 600e, without G-bowls, which are almost 50e more to that price. That's more than double I paid for sr325is two years ago. It just is too much if I'm going to get only 10-25% of the sound upgrade.


I do like Grado sound, it's quite good and I would probably be satisfied with PS 500. However, I had the pleasure of spending a few hours yesterday with Beyer T1. They were brand new, right out of the box, but even tough, the sound was amazing! It's quite possible the best thing I ever heard. The sound was so natural, neutral, vivid, with a lot of details and a great soundstage (the widest I've come across so far). Sr325is produces a great sound with a lot of details that were recorded, but when you play the same song on T1s, it feels that it's actually live! There wasn't too much treble or mid tones, everything was more-less in place. Bass was a little bit on a short side, but something like that was expected since they were right out of the box.

Of course, I have to mention that Beyer T1 was playing on Beyerdinamic A1 amplifier together with something from naim...


Beyerdinamic T1 is on sale for 700e, around 300e discount. For only 50e more than ps500 (with G cushions), I think it's worth it.

Edited by dennnic - 1/18/14 at 4:23pm
post #6 of 10
Judging your description of the beyerdynamic t1s, by all means go for them smily_headphones1.gif Never heard them but I think it can only be a good thing if the difference in sound is as big as the difference in price. Which is not the case between the 325is and ps500.
post #7 of 10
Judging your description of the beyerdynamic t1s, by all means go for them smily_headphones1.gif Never heard them but I think it can only be a good thing if the difference in sound is as big as the difference in price. Which is not the case between the 325is and ps500.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by controllerboy View Post

Judging your description of the beyerdynamic t1s, by all means go for them smily_headphones1.gif Never heard them but I think it can only be a good thing if the difference in sound is as big as the difference in price. Which is not the case between the 325is and ps500.

Well, I took your advice and brought the T1 home. :) The difference in sound, compared to sr325is, is very noticeable. However, my Lehmann audio and Stello DA100 combo can not match Naim and Beyerdinamic A1. The soundstage is not as wide, sound is a bit bright, bass is not as deep as it supposed to be, the mid tones are somehow 'too much in the background'. It's doesn't sound 'live' as I mentioned above. The T1 seems to be quite hard to drive with my little Lehmann amp... I ordered Naim V-dac, it should be here in a week or two. Hope that solves the problem.


Anyway, much thanks for your advice. I still think it's a worthy upgrade :L3000: 

post #9 of 10


Just for future readers - a follow-up on my experiences with the PS-500's. I feel they've broken in a lot more the last week or two and I've grown to like them A LOT. I stand corrected and think they're mor a 15-20% upgrade from the 325is. Still not worth the premium price of 769 euros (Europe), though. But if you can get them for 400 or so, DO IT.

post #10 of 10

I had been tempted by the PS500 a few times but looking at response charts on headphone.com the way they drop off after 2k looks worse the my HD650's which i've never grown to love.  My 225is and especially the 80i are too bright and harsh for me, a step too far in the other direction. The one that did always work for me is the MS1, better low end and smother highs than the 80i and 225i, the Alessandro line is known to have a more neutral presentation than the regular Grados. So on that basis i took a stab in the dark on a second hand pair of Ms-Pros on ebay and they are absolutely wonderful. I pretty much consider them end game for me leaving all of the above collecting dust, though i would like to hear the RS1 at some stage to compare them.


I'm not saying run out and buy them, but definitely audition them if you get the chance, i suspect they may be exactly what you are looking for.


I never found frequency charts for the Ms-Pro but here is all of the above together to give you an idea.

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