If you could find anything wrong with Grados, you could say that they’re too bright. If you’d like to get some bass out of them, you’d have to equalize. Rumour has it that if you do a little modding on the pads, by cutting out a quarter coin size worth of them you’d change the sound quite dramatically, in a fashion similar to what Grado Labs does on their high end cans like the PS1000 + Bowls. So, in theory, the quarter mod enhances bass and according to pseudoscience, it “opens up the soundstage”.
Since I didn’t feel like butchering my original pads, so to still have a stock reference of how they sound, I made my own “Ghetto Pads”, as I like to call them, out of the foam used in the packaging.
Here you have the frequency response of the cans with the Ghetto Pads in green, compared to stock pads in blue. Bass is more present but treble is still going wild. Anyway this was not a viable solution because these Ghetto Pads would get more uncomfortable by the minute, unsurprising since the packaging foam is low density. Nevermind that 50hz spike, it’s caused by mechanical coupling between my PC case and Buster. Meet Buster!
Another famous mod consists of modifying the back grille and/or removing that decorative “button” with the headphone’s model name. In my particular case the grille is made of plastic, making the button removal process a pain in the butt. This doesn’t happen on higher end models (SR325 and up) where the grille is metallic.
So, to fix that screw up it occured to me that I could use mosquito mesh. Nice and easy.
Certainly hard to cut to shape, because the mesh starts to fall apart too easily. Looks good, right? But it won’t last. So I kept looking for something more suitable… I came across some grills used in car speakers:
More than enough for my needs, and look at these holes! Larger than stock mesh.. again, similar to what higher end cans use.
Question is, does all of this actually benefit the cans, or it’s just for looks? You could say that it’s an improvement. By removing the decorative button you give the driver one less obstruction to deal with, and it’s the same with the larger holed mesh. As a result we have deeper bass… but we still have a problem. The highs!
In green the new grill, violet is the stock grille + button. Then I had a crazy idea. Another popular mod is adding mass to the driver’s magnet, by putting plasticine or some kind of putty on it. Let’s give that a twist and use metal instead of putty. Some ferromagnetic material to increase the magnet’s beta. This way, in simple terms, we “steal” current from the bass, that goes to the mids and highs. Measurements this time weren’t made at the same levels, but we can still observe the bass region losing extensión and flatter mids/highs. Back then I didn’t have an explanation for what this particular mod did, but now I do. It has earned its place on my mod list.
So, now I’ve run out of popular mods. It’s time to do my own. I began to experiment with different pads and materials.
Sadly none of them were of my liking, be it a confort or coloration issues… There wasn’t anything comfier than the stock pads.
A few days ago I bought a pair of Porta Pros, and began modding them. When I was finished with them, I thought that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to try out the Koss pads on the Grados. Putting everything together with my hands I gave them a listen. I could hear bass again, with nice presence, in harmony with the mids, and the highs tamed. What kind of sorcery is this? I couldn’t believe it! Uncomfortable, yes, but if I somehow could cut the stock pads so that they wouldn’t mess with the driver, it wouldn’t be a bad idea since their only purpose would be to keep the Koss pads in place and provide comfort.
My memory foam pillow was nearing retirement and in my quest for comfort I thought this material would finally provide it. Of course, I’d test lots of combinations with all my pads and ideas so far. Based on the comfies’ design but cutting out a larger “quarter” (aiming for bowls, you could say) comfort couldn’t be any better. In the beggining everything sounded fine, but after some time I noticed some coloration in the bass notes. I supposed adding some memory foam inserts in that pile of foam would reduce the effect, yet it was the complete opposite. Then I tried stock Koss pads. By restricting the output I’d lose some precious bass, going back to the typical Grado sound. Afterwards I tried Koss pads + quarter mod. My jaw dropped! It’s what I’m using right now, the most comfortable and flat measuring combination. Everything quite detailed, notable instrument separation, natural sounding voices, no absurd/noticeable coloration.
So, after all this journey and thank you for getting this far, have we made any difference compared to stock?
It seems I’ve succeeded :)
They’re ugly, yes. In my defense it’s a prototype. Maybe they’ll stay that way forever. Maybe not, lol.
You heretic! What've you done with the Grado highs? You've killed them! Yes, I have, but now I have a flat measuring headphone that is, literally, music to my ears.Thanks to Vodkex http://www.head-fi.org/u/168577/vodkex for helping me with the translation.