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Grado Sr325is/Alessandro M2si vs. Fidelio X1 vs. he-400

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

Howdy everyone! I know this topic has been done before, but I think available discussions leave some controversy still. I am a total newbie to this world (currently running an old Bose gig, and a pair of Hifiman's re-400 for iems...) A little mercy! :ksc75smile:

 

Basically, I am trying to get a good pair of cans for about $250 tops, with an amp if necessaryI listen mostly to jazz, metal, indie rock, and classical. I generally like good brightness in the highs, good definition with clean-lush mids, and prominent bass (I know, pretty much everything). Of course, as wide a soundstage and as frontal a sound is welcome.  I do not like a very laid back, warm or unenveloping sound. But I also don't want to lose definition because of lack of neutrality, because of excessive harshness or smoothness. 

 

With these things in mind, I narrowed it down to the Fidelio X1, Hifiman he-400, Senns HD598 and the Grado Sr325is (probably aiming for a used). Thus far, this is what I have been able to muster, but please help me decide:

 

Fidelio X1

  • - Jack of all trade; impact on the bass, and slight sparkle on the treble.
  • - Smooth.
  • Mids might be a bit recessed.
  • - Better comfort than the Grados or Hifiman
  • - Better build.
  • - Would still perform well without amping.
  • - Great bang for buck.
  • - Not the most detailed or clear
  • - Alas, Non-replaceable pads!

 

Hifiman He-400

  • - Relatively neutral, with strong bass and a bit of brightness on the highs.
  • - More mid-forward than the Fidelios, but can get a bit aggressive.
  • - Easy to drive, but need amping.
  • - Great soundstage and imaging, more than the Grados.
  • - Funner than other orthos; not as dark.
  • - Okay Build.

 

Sennheiser HD595

  • - More balanced sound overall. Neutral at heart, even if a bit 'funner' than other models.
  • - Similar to the HD 600/650's but with perhaps a higher emphasis on treble.
  • - Smooth, wider soundstage than the Grados.
  • - Better comfort than the Grados.
  • - Better build than the Grados.
  • - Not nearly as hard to drive as the HD600s/650s, but would still benefit from something modest, say, an E7.
  • - Would still perform well without amping.
  • - Great bang for buck.
  • - Are the least 'veily' of the hi-fi Senn line.

 

 

Grado Sr325is

  • - Incredible definition.
  • - Extreme brightness and treble sharpness, to the point where highs can be piercing. Possible tape-mod being applicable here to ameliorate treble excess.
  • - A good mid-low frequency thump bass. 
  • - More enveloping, "front-row" sound.
  • - Mids, although of high quality, can be a bit compromised with the brightness.
  • - Not very comfy, since they are weighty.
  • - No amping necessary (some disagree...)
  • - Pricier...

 

I was also looking at the Alessandros M2si, which are said to pretty much sound like the Grado's, minus the excessive brightness. But they are quite difficult to find at this point. 

So, with these things in mind, I would still like to know which of the two phones ultimately has better sound quality, and is worth it. Are the Senns bright enough, or are they still reserved? What about their bass compared to the Grados? Detail? Amping?

 

Also, I wonder why I hardly see the 598s in 'best value' lists, but the Hd600s appear routinely. Is there that much of a quality difference between the 600s/650s, and not just in profile (commentary leads me to believe otherwise, but praise in reviews and lists seem to suggest it)? Any alternatives that meets. Any help would be welcome!


Thanks in advance!

 

 

EDIT - I think I have knocked the Senns off the list. It is down to the other three!


Edited by krelianx - 2/19/14 at 11:48am
post #2 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by krelianx View Post
 

Howdy everyone! I know this topic has been done before, but I think available discussions leave some controversy still. I am a total newbie to this world (currently running an old Bose gig, and a pair of Hifiman's re-400 for iems...) A little mercy! :ksc75smile:

 

Basically, I am trying to get a good pair of cans for about $250 tops, with an amp if necessaryI listen mostly to jazz, metal, indie rock, and classical. I generally like good brightness in the highs, good definition with clean-lush mids, and prominent bass (I know, pretty much everything). Of course, as wide a soundstage and as frontal a sound is welcome.  I do not like a very laid back, warm or unenveloping sound. But I also don't want to lose definition because of lack of neutrality, because of excessive harshness or smoothness. 

...

 

grab the 325is :)

post #3 of 35
Thread Starter 

Thanks. Care to elaborate some? :)

post #4 of 35
Thread Starter 

Also, I should specify, that I listen, mostly, to jazz and rock.

post #5 of 35
Thread Starter 

Some bands: Antony and the Johnsons, Radiohead, The Smiths, Magnetic Fields, The National, Scott Walker, Jens Lekman, Ben Monder, Steve Lehman, Vijay Iyer, Keith Jarrett, Craig Taborn, Smashing Pumpkins...

post #6 of 35

I've owned both, and my money would easily go towards the Sennheiser. Grados get recommended for rock because they have bumps in their frequency response right around the drums and cymbals, which make things sound livelier. Personally, I find it fatiguing after a while and cannot recommend them.

 

For $250 you could potentially snag a used HD580/600, but you'd want some decent amping behind them or they'll sound sluggish. The Sennheiser veil is an old tired cliche, but also comes from poor amping (something with poor output impedance will give you a hump in the midbass as well as increased distortion) and in response to cans like Grados which feel hyper/artificially revealing in comparison.

 

At significantly cheaper you can get the HD555/558 and yank out the foam inside, but those Sennheisers still like to have a bit of proper amping behind them. There are tons of cheap and portable amp units these days though, which you can still get and remain under budget.

post #7 of 35
Thread Starter 

Thank you! I would preferably do without amping, because I do intend to be on the move with these as well, and really, money is an issue. I have heard that the Senns 598 are a bit dull in the bass response, and are a tad slow too... far less lively than the Grados. What's your take on that?

post #8 of 35

You intend to use these portably/out in public? Because both are bad choices for that.

 

The Senns have more bass than the Grados, no contest there. Grado might "punch" a little harder due to a steeper midbass hump (they both have it, but the Grado is sharper and rolls off sooner). Again, the "slowness" is only in comparison to the Grado which is artificially high. The Senn HD5xx and 6xx series have a typical downturned treble response without any spikes, which is very very different from the Grado which rides high and like a rollercoaster all the way through.

post #9 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Armaegis View Post
 

You intend to use these portably/out in public? Because both are bad choices for that.

 

The Senns have more bass than the Grados, no contest there. Grado might "punch" a little harder due to a steeper midbass hump (they both have it, but the Grado is sharper and rolls off sooner). Again, the "slowness" is only in comparison to the Grado which is artificially high. The Senn HD5xx and 6xx series have a typical downturned treble response without any spikes, which is very very different from the Grado which rides high and like a rollercoaster all the way through.


What about amping? I know there's a huge question about whether the HD598 need it or not, though they are admittedly easier to drive than the 600/650s. Do you think it is an overkill to use them unamped? Ipod, computer...

post #10 of 35

From everything you said, especially the bands posted, I would go with the Grados. They are extremely fun headphones, you will love them with Smashing Pumpkins but also with Jazz solo/trios like Keith Jarrett. Yes, they are fatiguing, but the fun factor is really worth it.

post #11 of 35

It depends on your source, how much power it can put out and it's output impedance. Even with something unoptimal, I'd rather have the Senn. However, a point to the Grado as it will get louder.

 

Both are open headphones though, making them a poor choice for portable use. You'll be fighting outside noise by turning the volume up, which is just bad news for your ears.

post #12 of 35

But that's a personal preference ;)

 

My preference (by far) is with a pair of SR325i, rather than a 598/600/650. To me, they are just alot of fun and the senns are pretty boring overall compared to the Grados.

 

I would put it this way:

 

For comfort, soundstage, imaging, go with senns.

 

For in-your-face detailing/fun and (imo) the greatest sounding electric guitars the SR325i takes the cake.

 

Basically, the 598 are beaten completely by the 600s/650s. The SR325i are completely different from 225is, RS2is, RS1is, and even the higher-end Grados. "Side"grade vs upgrade. There's a reason I stuck with the 325i even after owning a pair of RS1is and HP-2s. All this imho, according to my ears, etc.

post #13 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elmoe View Post
 

But that's a personal preference ;)

 

My preference (by far) is with a pair of SR325i, rather than a 598/600/650. To me, they are just alot of fun and the senns are pretty boring overall compared to the Grados.

 

I would put it this way:

 

For comfort, soundstage, imaging, go with senns.

 

For in-your-face detailing/fun and (imo) the greatest sounding electric guitars the SR325i takes the cake.

 

Basically, the 598 are beaten completely by the 600s/650s. The SR325i are completely different from 225is, RS2is, RS1is, and even the higher-end Grados. "Side"grade vs upgrade. There's a reason I stuck with the 325i even after owning a pair of RS1is and HP-2s. All this imho, according to my ears, etc.

 

Well, I heard the 598 are the 'brightest' of the Senns, and the more Grado-like in sound profile overall. I do like brightness in my highs, and so I am afraid of the Senns being a bit too laid back.

I was raised by yells and screams, and am easily distracted. But I don't want to compromise quality either...

 


Do you guys think $200 is a good deal for a used pair of sr325is?

post #14 of 35

Honestly, for me (and alot of people here), nothing "sounds like Grados" except Grados.

 

200 is a fair price for a used pair in good condition yes. If you stick around Head-Fi classifieds, you might find a pair for 170-180, but not much less.

post #15 of 35
Thread Starter 

How do you think they fare with Jazz?

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