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Going from IEMs (re-400) to Full size...superlux 668b vs. Grado sr80i/sr325is...?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Howdy everyone. So, I have been in the fence about buying a used pair of Grados sr325is, or a pair of Senns 598. But as with everything, controversy never ends here, so I'm still in the fence. One thing is that a lot of people don't seem to think that the bump in quality with the Grado series is worth it: that the sr60/80is are a far better value than the 125/225/325is, etc.

I am the happy owner of a pair of hifiman's re-400s, which is basically my only pair, besides a ****ty set of senns cx300. I am looking to move up the ladder, getting something a)cheap, b) that doesn't need an amo, c) neutral or bright, with good definition, strong bass. I don't like very laid back or dark sound.

I was wondering if you guys think something like a Superlux 668b would be a significant improvement in sound quality coming from the re-400s (which I think are quite excellent). I do here they might need some amping though, so I don't know (for that price though...) I was also looking at the Sennheisers 598, which are said to have the brightest profile of all the Senns (a bit more emphasis on treble). I am mostly a jazz and rock guy (Taborn, Lehman, Jarrett, Trane, Smiths, The National, Smashing Pumpkins.


Edited by krelianx - 2/17/14 at 3:23am
post #2 of 14
Thread Starter 

No luck yet. :(

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

Waaaah :(

post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by krelianx View Post
 

Howdy everyone. So, I have been in the fence about buying a used pair of Grados sr325is, or a pair of Senns 598. But as with everything, controversy never ends here, so I'm still in the fence. One thing is that a lot of people don't seem to think that the bump in quality with the Grado series is worth it: that the sr60/80is are a far better value than the 125/225/325is, etc.

I am the happy owner of a pair of hifiman's re-400s, which is basically my only pair, besides a ****ty set of senns cx300. I am looking to move up the ladder, getting something a)cheap, b) that doesn't need a driver, c) neutral or bright, with good definition, strong bass. I don't like very laid back or dark sound.

I was wondering if you guys think something like a Superlux 668b would be a significant improvement in sound quality coming from the re-400s (which I think are quite excellent). I do here they might need some amping though, so I don't know (for that price though...) I was also looking at the Sennheisers 598, which are said to have the brightest profile of all the Senns (a bit more emphasis on treble). I am mostly a jazz and rock guy (Taborn, Lehman, Jarrett, Trane, Smiths, The National, Smashing Pumpkins.

 

a) is a foregone conclusion.  You have to pay to play, period.

b) I take is a reference to an amp?  Same as a), I'm afraid.

 

A couple of things:

1. You are not far enough up in the Grado ladder to enjoy truly impressive differences.  Maybe an RS-1 or PS-500, but not before if you have been using quality IEMs.  (That said, the true price point optimum is the SR-225, but it may still leave you wanting if you don't amp it properly and your IEM experience has been a great one.)

2. Similarly, the Senn HD598's will leave you unimpressed, unless you're turned on by the looks. ;)  The sound is bleh, compared to something truly competitive.

 

 

P.S. I didn't mention Superlux, because they're not worth mentioning.

post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 

Well, the IEM experience has been as per my re-400s, as I mentioned. So maybe you can give me an idea of how these sets would compare in relation to that.

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

Also, I suspect you believe the 600 Senn line is far superior to the 598? I say this because, although it seems fairly obvious that the 600/650s are regarded much more, some say the 598's have simply a slightly different sound sig that they prefer: brighter, not as 'veily' as the other Senns.


I am surprised a 300 dollar open ear Grado set wouldn't be substantially superior to the 100 buck re-400s! 


Perhaps the Hifiman he-400 would be a substantial leap from the re-400 iem, then?

post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by krelianx View Post
 

Also, I suspect you believe the 600 Senn line is far superior to the 598? I say this because, although it seems fairly obvious that the 600/650s are regarded much more, some say the 598's have simply a slightly different sound sig that they prefer: brighter, not as 'veily' as the other Senns.


I am surprised a 300 dollar open ear Grado set wouldn't be substantially superior to the 100 buck re-400s! 


Perhaps the Hifiman he-400 would be a substantial leap from the re-400 iem, then?


The 598/595 is basically a $100 headphone dressed up in luxurious velour cans and a luxurious finish.  It's really not substantially better in sound quality than Koss KSC-75's, except for perhaps soundstaging.  Granted, fit and finish is beyond compare but you're asking about sound quality.

 

As for the Grados, I personally think that any model below an RS-1 or PS-500 is a stepping stone.  When you couch the SR-325 in with the SR-60/80 and ask if there are differences, that's when I stated that you really wouldn't achieve notable satisfaction unless you went higher.  That said, the Grado series is quite proportional to their prices.  With each step up, you get better/deeper bass and less harshness in the highs - until with the RS-2 or PS-500 you get a truly detailed, fast but mellow sound with lots of punch and dynamics.  There is a caveat to that, though: some people have commented in the past that harsh tizziness reaches a peak with the SR-325: it's a love/hate headphone, for sure.   I stated before that the SR-225 is probably the optimum for Grado in terms of performance and price.

 

If you want to make an initial dip into headphones - just to see what they're about with the goal of continuing in the future - then either the 598 or SR-225 might be a reasonable investment that can sell/trade back to someone without too much of a loss.  They're also OK in terms of good, quality beginner headphones.  It all depends on the context of the conversation: starting out vs. sound comparisons across the entire line (which you started out asking).

 

As for your last comment, you may need more experience with headphones before you leap into orthos, JMHO.

post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomb View Post
 


The 598/595 is basically a $100 headphone dressed up in luxurious velour cans and a luxurious finish.  It's really not substantially better in sound quality than Koss KSC-75's, except for perhaps soundstaging.  Granted, fit and finish is beyond compare but you're asking about sound quality.

 

As for the Grados, I personally think that any model below an RS-1 or PS-500 is a stepping stone.  When you couch the SR-325 in with the SR-60/80 and ask if there are differences, that's when I stated that you really wouldn't achieve notable satisfaction unless you went higher.  That said, the Grado series is quite proportional to their prices.  With each step up, you get better/deeper bass and less harshness in the highs - until with the RS-2 or PS-500 you get a truly detailed, fast but mellow sound with lots of punch and dynamics.  There is a caveat to that, though: some people have commented in the past that harsh tizziness reaches a peak with the SR-325: it's a love/hate headphone, for sure.   I stated before that the SR-225 is probably the optimum for Grado in terms of performance and price.

 

If you want to make an initial dip into headphones - just to see what they're about with the goal of continuing in the future - then either the 598 or SR-225 might be a reasonable investment that can sell/trade back to someone without too much of a loss.  They're also OK in terms of good, quality beginner headphones.  It all depends on the context of the conversation: starting out vs. sound comparisons across the entire line (which you started out asking).

 

As for your last comment, you may need more experience with headphones before you leap into orthos, JMHO.


The bulk of my uncertainties came with respect to scaling. I take it from what you say that either a) those who defend the 500 line in contrast to the 600 line are simply wrong, or b) that the 600 line is also a 'dressed up', overpriced phone. But since many said that they found it simply different rather than categorically inferior, and particularly brighter, I was curious. 

With the Grados, the sr80i is widely considered one of the best bargains around; which is why I paired it with the Superlux 668b, which also seems to be getting a good deal of love here. Still, I hear the sr325 in particular also has a bit better range and oomph in the lower frequencies and bass response, something which the lower-tier Grados apparently just don't have. I am generally attracted to the Grado sound profile: the piercing highs of the 325 might prove a bit much, which is why I think an Alessandro M2S might be a good fit. Still, those are actually quite difficult to find for a good price. I like the slight prominence in the highs and treble in my re-400s, and do not find the bass lacking. I enjoy the clarity in the mids as well, and the detail. The rs-2 would be ideal, of course, but it's a bit out of my budget at present.


As per the planars-orthos; I have had some extended listening time with Audeze's and, although far too dark and subdued for my taste in their particular profile, of course I find them admirable and killer across the board. The he-400's seem fitting because of their relatively 'bright' profile in relation to other planars, without sacrificing much in the way of bass response or mid detail. They are also not particularly hard to drive, or so I hear, and with the price down to $299, deals around here could prove tempting. Then again, I do hear there is an imbalance in the higher frequences, some spiking and potential sibilance as well. Nevertheless, it seems like a 'funner' phone than comparable models (Hd600/650...), more suited to my tastes.

 


Edited by krelianx - 2/17/14 at 11:32am
post #9 of 14

Oh Grado's!

 

Right now, it seems that most of the Grado fans I know gush over the RS1i's.  I'm not one of them- I found them bland and boring next to my 225i's, and has been mentioned earlier, the 225's may be the sweet-spot in the lineup.  In fact, they are very amenable to cushion-rolling.  I have the G-Cush (big suckers that fit around the ear) for a wider soundstage, slightly less bass.  I also have the Flats, which put the driver right next to the ear, with increased bass and slightly recessed treble.  With the cushions that come stock, I use the tape mod, which actually does improve bass quality a bit.

 

More than most cans, reading about Grado's won't help you much.  I totally agree with the suggestion to buy the 598 or the 225 and hear what you think.  Or better yet, buy one of each used.  You can get pretty decent prices in the classifieds for those cans.

post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by swspiers View Post
 

Oh Grado's!

 

Right now, it seems that most of the Grado fans I know gush over the RS1i's.  I'm not one of them- I found them bland and boring next to my 225i's, and has been mentioned earlier, the 225's may be the sweet-spot in the lineup.  In fact, they are very amenable to cushion-rolling.  I have the G-Cush (big suckers that fit around the ear) for a wider soundstage, slightly less bass.  I also have the Flats, which put the driver right next to the ear, with increased bass and slightly recessed treble.  With the cushions that come stock, I use the tape mod, which actually does improve bass quality a bit.

 

More than most cans, reading about Grado's won't help you much.  I totally agree with the suggestion to buy the 598 or the 225 and hear what you think.  Or better yet, buy one of each used.  You can get pretty decent prices in the classifieds for those cans.

Thank you! My only caveat about the 225s is that they are said to be bass-light compared to the 325s. Although I understand all Grado's are not known for their bass, I heard the 325s packed significant more presence in that territory? So maybe the Alessandros M2si could shed a bit the shrill and still pack the brightness and boominess at the bottom?

post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by krelianx View Post
 

Thank you! My only caveat about the 225s is that they are said to be bass-light compared to the 325s. Although I understand all Grado's are not known for their bass, I heard the 325s packed significant more presence in that territory? So maybe the Alessandros M2si could shed a bit the shrill and still pack the brightness and boominess at the bottom?

 

325 sounds darker than than the others, but the highs are brighter. It's a crazy model; I dislike it, not extremely but enough to want something else. 80 and 225 are most similar to each other, with 225 being faster and clearer. You can improve the bass (if needed) with the tape mod mentioned above; some use electrical tape for the most bass. RS1 has much more bass than the SR series, both quantity and detail. I haven't heard the Alessandros.

post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by krelianx View Post
 

Thank you! My only caveat about the 225s is that they are said to be bass-light compared to the 325s. Although I understand all Grado's are not known for their bass, I heard the 325s packed significant more presence in that territory? So maybe the Alessandros M2si could shed a bit the shrill and still pack the brightness and boominess at the bottom?


I don't want to turn this into a big Grado thread, but the 225's are not bass-shy compared to the 325's to me.  And even if they are, I have the flat pads from Todd the Vinyl Junky (TTVJ) which are pricey at $35, but give more oooomph to the bass.

 

also, they might not be known for bass bombast, but they articulate the nuances of bass better than some upper-end planar (ortho's) I have owned and heard.

 

As in all things head phone related, be careful about what other people write about them.  They can point in a general direction, but if I paid attention entirely to group consensus, I never would have bought the 225i's.  Which would be a shame, because I would have missed over two years of some of the best sonic experiences I've ever had.

 

One last thing about Grado's, they do have a pronounced peak in the highs.  But they are designed to be listened to at low-to-moderate volume.  The only time they are shrill is when I listen to them at about 100 dB or so.  At 85 dB, they are amazingly balanced tonally.  If you crave VOLUME, stay away from them. IMO, of course.

 

Have fun, and I apologize in advance for what may happen to your wallet...

post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 

I am thinking the he-400 might be a happy compromise between bright highs, and solid bass, without losing detail on the mids. If only it were easier to drive, alas...

But I am still very tempted by the Grados. :O

post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by krelianx View Post
 

I am thinking the he-400 might be a happy compromise between bright highs, and solid bass, without losing detail on the mids. If only it were easier to drive, alas...

But I am still very tempted by the Grados. :O

The HD598, SR 80i and HE-400 are all easy to drive.

 

The HE-400 are kinda dark, I like them for rock but I prefer the Grado's.

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