Todd from TTVJ just let me know the answer (thank you Todd). Mr. V.S. in Pl., CA, I'll send the package out to you on Friday evening.
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Todd from TTVJ just let me know the answer (thank you Todd). Mr. V.S. in Pl., CA, I'll send the package out to you on Friday evening.
I'm going to post a formal review of the PS500e later on, but here are some initial impressions.
These sound great from my laptop, even watching Youtube videos, with volume to spare. Very easy to drive and forgiving of low quality sources.
The bass is quite impressive. Very full and ripe, without being slow. Extension is solid, but there is a mid/upper bass emphasis. Rap sounds amazing on these. The bass does bleed into the mids a little.
Treble has some sparkle, but it is pretty easy on the ears. More sweet than crystalline. I think a little extension is lacking at the very top but I'd have to listen more to be sure.
The soundstage is small, but still very natural. Likewise, imaging and layering are mediocre but still natural and pleasant--maybe dense, but not congested. Perhaps cohesive is a better word.
These headphones emphasize the body and decay of notes, not the leading edge. Overall clarity, resolution, and detail retrieval is top-notch, but these do not have a hi-fi / HD / clean and separated kind of sound. Air and resonance are presented well, but there is little black space . They blend the instruments into an organic whole, and they are very fun and get my feet tapping. Smooth and unfatiguing.
The overall presentation is significantly (very significantly) warmer and fuller via my laptop than my Concero + Project Ember, using the same FLAC files. I actually prefer my laptop--they sound more fun that way. Some background hiss is present on both (not picked up at all through my HE-400).
Initial Thoughts/Observations on Grado SR60e:
I just received the loaner SR60e's on Thursday and haven't listened for very long yet. I wanted to post a few initial thoughts and observations on them.
First of all, I really love mids--guitars and vocals are what I really enjoy hearing. The SR60i was my first journey into better listening and I still enjoy the SR60i but I've moved on. The problem is, for the price, you get a lot of great sound. At the same time, you get a hunger to find out what else is out there and start searching for your ideal "sound". The Grado SR60i's have started me on a journey that may never end, but I appreciate them for that.
So, onto the SR60e. These are still definitely Grado SR60's. Grado has not re-invented the wheel here and the signature Grado sound with colored mids, really good instrument separation (in its price range), and sharp highs are still there. I did notice that these like power; as I turned up the volume, the Grado's came alive. They want power. I'll try them with amping later and see if they scale up at all. The main things I have noticed are more subtle changes, such as:
These are just a few observations I have and some of this may change as I listen more. I'll say that if you love rock/metal/acoustic, these will sound great, especially for the money. They still can have piercing highs and poor bass when it comes to electronic bass, but they aren't really designed for pop-type music. My grandpa was a bricklayer and always said that universal tools can do many things, but they never do anything excellent. If you want an excellent tool, you have to get one that is designed for a specific purpose. These Grado's were designed for rock music and they do a great job of that. As long as you remember that and that they only cost $80, you'll be fine. Grado's aren't for everyone but I think Grado has done an admirable job of tweaking a few things that help their headphones do what they were designed to do even better--rock out to rock music.
Confirming I FedEx'ed the Rs1e package to you yesterday evening, Mr. V.S.
Here is my final review of the PS500e.
Grado Rs1e – review of TTVJ’s “touring” model:
Reckon most cowpokes here know the retro Grado look. The mahogany wood cups (cylinders, really) on the Rs1e are mighty pretty - but why aren't they sanded properly?. Visually, they’re fine, but run your fingers around the wood and there are rough spots. What’s up with that? The headphones are pretty light and comfortable on the ear; their “clamp” is soft. The foam pads feel fine on the ear, but not as luxurious as ‘phones with materials such as velour or leather. Cable is thick and sturdy (that can be a plus or a minus depending on your use), 4 feet in length, and comes with an equally heavy duty 15 foot extension cable.
Listening: I compared this $700 headphone with the new HiFiMan 400i ($500) and the classic Sennheiser HD600 ($400).
This Rs1e does shine a light on voices. It’s easy to follow nuances and subtleties of vocal performances. But on the first several tracks I played, bass seemed rather lightweight - I started playing more bass rich music to evaluate. Michael Murray playing Bach’s eternal Toccata and Fugue in D Minor sounded good, but lacked some power. Switching to the competitors, the HD600 and HE400i played far deeper and fuller in the bass, more the way I know this recording should be. The 600 in particular gave more air and bass and decay, and no less detail. Compared to the Grado, the 600 and 400i were more similar to hearing this over my full-range speaker system.
On Interpol’s “Public Pervert (Carlos D Remix), the Grado's give a nice regular bass - BUT the track is a dance remix, produced by their BASSIST, and 600 and 400i each show how the bass should be nicely, intentionally more prominent.
Listening to the Texas Tornados, “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights”, the Grado's gave an adequate bass account. Above that, they do an excellent job with Freddy Fender’s voice.
In “This Protector” by the White Stripes, the piano does not have enough body through Mr. Woodie Grado. The HD600 gave the size back to the instrument. It was no concert grand, but even this rinky-tink piano has some body and force, and the Grado missed it.
In the track “Bronson”, by Calla, the Grado's showed good speed and were fine at bringing out the second guitar picking in the background. Good jump factor and dynamics. But they really faded in the stretch. The 600 and the 400i (henceforth the “1Ki”) killed them with bass atmosphere in the latter part of this song.
In “Pay the Price, by Deltron 3030, the Grado largely lacks the foundational bass which sets the tone for the whole song. It misses the power and the long decay of the piano at 0:55, which sets up the next section.
On Interpol’s “Obstacle 1” the Grado was too harsh on guitars, especially the one on the left. Bass is there, but it’s more important to this song than the Grado allows. Musically for this group, Carlos Dengler’s bass is like a third guitar, just lower in pitch, and should not be lower in volume. The whole interplay of the 16 total strings is diminished. Through the 600, the bass is restored, and the kick drum is back in action. The guitars, during the staccato 1-2, 1-2 repetitions, are still insistent and untreated, but much more tolerable.
Interpol’s sound led me back to Joy Division, a clear musical predecessor. On “Closer”, through the 600’s, I wanted to get up and dance. The 10’ cable allowed me to. Peter Hook’s bass was solid and tuneful. Deep when deep, and full of character when played low (high) on the neck. The Grado was a pale imitation.
On Purity Ring’s “ungirthed”, the Grado was quick. The voice had a little bit of an edge/glare here. I’m not sure if that’s in the recording or not. But the 1ki gave push and pulse to the song, with full bass. The 400i was more aggressive on the female voice, but it and the 600 both gave a fuller account of the whole song than the Grado's did.
In Frank Sinatra performing “The way you look tonight”, the Grado gets the outbursts of the horns nicely. The 1ki bring out the bass from the background better, and make the swing swingier. The 400i gets the brassiness of the horns even better than the Grados. The 1ki put the whole song together better - you don’t have to mentally fill in the power of the band.
On Soundgarden’s “black hole sun”, the Grado gave lots of detail on the decay of guitar chords. But once again the bass was insufficient. The 1Ki were both better on this, with the HD600 coming out best on this track’s bass (through the Valhalla 2), with a more solid and natural tone. The 400i gives more prominent treble detail here than the 600.
Cassandra Wilson, Vietnam Blues: Grado sounds nice, with rich vocal, nice acoustic guitar, acoustic bass solid, mandolin. The 600 gives more bass, with growl to it, and the drums were more solid. Voice through the 600 is relatively more chesty - I think more natural, tho I would need to have Cassandra in my house to be sure. The 400i was similar to the 600, with some more emphasis to the guitar sound.
My notes give more examples and songs, but a sense of mercy tell me to, please, stop now. The Grados were fine when listened to by themselves, i.e., without direct comparison to the 1ki competitors. They were easy to drive from any source (I used Amarra to Bifrost/Valhalla 2 for most comparisons here, and some vinyl (via Sumiko/Pro-Ject/Pro-Ject), and also Amarra to NuForce uDac-2, and direct from iPhone). The Rs1e leave me wondering about one trope I’ve heard around here, that Grado's are good for electric guitars and rock. I found the opposite; loud guitars were less pleasing through these than through the 1ki, and worse then even my little iGrado. The insufficient level of mid to low bass from these cans was surprising and disappointing. They have their strengths in higher pitched vocals, and in general listening, but they didn’t make me dance. I’m a little mystified since I was looking forward to hearing these, and I thought their high positioning in the Grado lineup, and the wood ear cups, and the $700 price would ensure a great headphone. I’m sorry I didn’t get as much pleasure from these as I thought I might. Two users had these on “tour” before me, so they must have been burned-in alright. I also put them on shuffle for a continuous 48 hours to give them more time, but it didn’t help. Bummer.
Looking forward to reading the next impressions, I hope others may find them higher-end than I did.
TL;DNR: Treble strengths not enough to compensate for puzzlingly insufficient bass.
@ Billheiser,if by chance you still have the RS1e and you can get ahold of some comfies/S Cush pads try switching those out with the bowls/L cush pads which the RS1e come with -
and see if it doesn't add more bass. (I know this is the case with my SR60i and SR80i.and its not a slight difference at all).The only Grado I have been able to enjoy listening to with the bowls were the PS500e and that's because they have a LOT more bass than my other Grado's . and even then placing the comfies on the PS500e gave them a much more pronounced bass impact and over all sound (too much at times)
If you don't have access to a pair of comfies (also known as S Cush) you could try just removing the bowls and listening to the RS1e with no cushions (or if you have any other pads which may fit from another set of headphones that would be better). granted listening to the Grado's without a headphone cushion will place the driver right on top of your ears but will still give you a better idea of how the RS1e would sound with comfies. I've never heard the RS1 so this is no guarantee only a suggestion based on my experience with the Grado's I have heard and own.to me the difference is day and night.
Just picked up the PS500e from the post office this morning and put them on at work for a few first impressions. Super cool that we get to do stuff like this, so thanks to Todd for making it happen!
I've owned (and loved!) the 60, 80 and 325 in the Grado line in years past, so I'm a fan of a lot of what they do - but these don't do it for me, especially for the price. Perhaps my tastes have changed since I first got into Grado, or perhaps it's that I spend almost all day every day editing, mixing and mastering, but I guess I'm much more critical than I used to be. Here's what I was using to listen this morning:
iMac playing iTunes at 44.1
Yulong D100 mkii via USB
Compared to DT880 600 ohms
Various game soundtracks (Unfinished Swan, Uncharted 2, etc.) and some rock (Foo Fighters, Death Cab for Cutie)
What I noticed:
- The PS500e was about twice as efficient to run as my DT880s, so I was careful to adjust volume during each pass, since it's tricky how the ear prefers it loud...
- PS500e had more bottom end, but didn't feel impactful (actually less so), just bloated and kinda muddy (kick drums, esp.)
- PS500e had super small soundstage in comparison, but in addition almost sounded less dynamic/more compressed on the same tracks
- PS500e was so much less comfortable I could never see myself owning it even if it DID sound better (I recently tried and returned the HE-500 which I loved, but hated to wear)
- Quality seems to have stepped up, or at least it's finished better than the last Grados I had (325i), leather headband and cup finishings
- Personally I'm not a fan of having to use an 1/8" to 1/4" adapter, but I can understand I'm probably in the minority, esp with a headphone like this that could easily be driven by an iPhone
I'll keep listening and add as I notice other things, but these were the items that immediately jumped out at me.
I've now posted my review on the SR60e's. I included the initial observations in the review for anyone so they don't have to track anything down. I really appreciate Todd from TTVJ for giving me the chance to do this. Overall, I think changes have been made that could be seen as improvements or not, depending on what you are looking for. Whenever you tune something slightly, trade-offs are made. As I only had a week with the headphones, my review is limited on what I listened to but I did try to focus on rock as that is really what these headphones are designed for. Other genres just don't sound as good through these, IMO.