So Grado's newest headphone, the limited edition GH1? Well, the total of it all is that it's the best sub $1000 offering from Grado yet. It marries several of the best qualities of the RS, PS, and GS series in one gorgeous maple package. Read on to see why! From my 325e review, "I've listened to a lot of headphones. A lot a lot. More than anyone should. And as such, I've developed some preferences. To keep this from dragging on... Grado is where it's at if you want lifelike reproduction. Back when I reviewed my RS1i, I mentioned that it was the first and only headphone (to that date) I'd heard that made me feel like I was listening to actual instruments. The 325e was the second and now the GH1 is the oh-so-sweet third. After further investigation (a few meets and lots of forum discussion) I've learned that a large number of Grado-heads are actual gigging musicians. Coincidence? I think not." Gear used: Macbook Pro running JRMC20 > Bladelius DAC > MAD Ear+ HD with Raytheon 'Windmill' 5751 Test tracks: "Love is a Verb" by John Mayer - Born and Raised "Trampled Underfoot" by Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti "Strasbourg/St. Denis" by The Roy Hargrove Quintet - Earfood "Thing of Gold" by Snarky Puppy - groundUP "Gold" by Chet Faker - Built on Glass "Common Ground" by The New Gary Burton Quartet - Common Ground "Jupiter, from The Planets" per Sir Adrian Boult and the LSO From the bottom up... Bass: Punchy, thick, very textured, and tasty! Fairly certain this is my favorite version of low end I've ever heard from Grado. The PS500's low end is lush and the GS1000 has the punch, but the GH1 strikes an incredible balance between those. Whether it's the thick, room-filling sound of the upright in the Hargrove or the tasty tom/bass drum fills in the Snarky tune, this low end just excellent. It has the speed that Grados are known for, but adds a little more meat without muddying or subwoofer-izing the bottom end of the frequency range. Just a great tuning down low. And P.S., this low end is pretty stellar through L AND G cush pads. There are very few Grados that can really pull that off!
Mids: From my 325e review, "Vocals, guitars, and horns sound just... right." Yeah. That's about it. Imagine taking the incredibly lifelike sound that the RS1 yields, dialing it back maybe 10% and framing it with a weightier low end and slightly less energetic treble. That's the GH1. I've owned/heard more 50 headphones in my short head-fi career, and the RS1's mids are by far my favorite. They sound like real vocals, real guitars, and real horns. No offering from Senn, Audeze, Hifiman, or Beyer has gotten it right like the RS1. After the two weeks I've spent with the GH1, I can confidently say that these are a very close second to the RS midrange. Just yummy! Check out John's voice and guitar work on "Love is a Verb." The nuance in this track is really pretty awesome and if you don't have the right gear to pick up on it, you'll miss it! Treble: I was really pretty worried that the upper end would be a little too consumer-friendly in it's presentation.The PS500's treble is still Grado-esque, but it doesn't bring the energy and raw texture that the 325 and RS1 are capable of. The GH1 however, gets the good stuff! Intricate cymbal work in "Thing of Gold" is killer. The transients in "Jupiter" are as good as I've heard (without sounding digitally enhanced of course) and frankly, well, the treble on the GH1 is just great. Every once in a while, the sizzle on the RS1 can be a little fatiguing especially if the recording is already a little treble-hot. The GH1 is dialed back just enough to where that doesn't happen. Soundstage/Imaging/Separation/WhateverYouWantToCallIt: Here's one of my favorite things about this headphone. If I leave the included L cush pads on it, I get the normal, smallish Grado soundstage with decent separation and mediocre-at-best depth/layering. However, when I slap the large bowl pads from the GS/PS1000 on them, the GH1's take on another dimension of sound! They develop depth! They develop width! They even get instruments a little further away from me, which to these ears makes the sound largely more cohesive! If you don't believe me, check out some of the longtime Grado junkies' impressions in the appreciation thread or the Grado Fan Club. There are a few people who claim that the GH1 with big bowls gets you more than halfway to the PS1000's sense of depth... Just sayin... Qualms: Not really anything major, as far as comfort or sound quality goes. The only real eye-rolls I have are that 1. this headphone came in the same bottom-of-the-line packaging as the Prestige Series models. I'm sure this was a cost-cutting decision, but for the incredible sound quality I'm getting, a little more premium presentation would've been nice. Same reasoning goes for my wanting to see some metal gimbals here. The plastic ones look and feel cheap. At least I got the padded RS-style headband... sheesh. Final thoughts: If you didn't gather it in reading above, I think the GH1 is my new favorite Grado. The RS1 is a permanent keeper and it'll never leave, but the more 'fun' tweaks in the GH1's signature make it hard not to reach for every time I sit down at the laptop! From it's lightweight design, to it's gorgeous maple cups, to the incredible detailed, yet enjoyable tuning, the GH1 probably represents the best value in the Grado lineup that's gonna run you more than $300. If you can get your hand on one of these limited edition cans, I can't recommend it enough. Truly a wonderful product from the Brooklyn boys!
Pros - Speed (Grados seem to keep up with very complex music), bass slam, bass texture, Grado look, treble presentation,
Cons - Plastic gimbals, no interchangeable cord, lack of instructions regarding how to wear L-cushion
Introduction (you can skip this if you're shallow and don't care about my life)
Grado gave me the very first taste of what music actually sounded like a few years back on a trip to the uncles' place for my high school graduation present. He owns the Magnepan 1.6 with dual subwoofers filling in the low end. I was obsessed with his system, but I knew dropping $5000+ on a speaker system wasn't feasible due to parents not wanting me to spend that much money (and still gawking whenever they see me hooked up to my $440 HiFiMan HE-500) and not having space for that kind of setup anyway. I heard the Grado SR-125 I think, I don't exactly remember, but compared to my Beats whatever series they were, music just felt so much more.. Dynamic? Alive? Realistic? Fast? (I hadn't yet read Head-fi's own Describing Sound: A Glossary) I knew I needed those cans (which I also still called headphones) and promptly looked around on the internet to discover Head-fi and post my pointless first few threads on the newbie forums. I was enthralled by the amount of people who shared my obsession, and over the next few months I scrounged my pennies and paid for the SR-80i at my brick and mortar Grado hoarder LP record store (I actually paid with a crapton of $1 and $5 bills). I told my parents that I wouldn't need anything else after that because I probably couldn't hear any differences between other cans. HAH, proved myself wrong and lied to my parents when I bought the Schiit Magni and Modi a few months later. After settling in with my HiFiMan HE-500 over the past year or so, and going through all sorts of phases, I sat on my decision to get no more headphones other than the Sennheiser HD650 and the Grado, uh.. well.. I didn't know which one I should get. Didn't they all use the same driver? How could they sound different? My insecurity was dashed aside when I took a peek into the GH-1 thread. Absolutely nothing but praise (just like the Liquid Carbon (which I bought earlier and didn't intend to) and the Mr. Speakers Ether (which I thought I wanted to buy, but I'll hold onto my money, I really don't need too many good things)) which swept me off my feet. I can still hear them cooing.. "Get the GH1 before stock runs out!" "It's the best deal in Grado cans I've ever heard!" "100% sexiness will be exuded by the drivers into your brain!" After they arrived I liked them. And so here we are.
Aesthetics and Build Quality
Grados look fecking cool, alright. Or, they look hideous. In my opinion, they're fantastic looking, with their simple headband and really cool cup design. I also really like the look of the red driver peeking out the back cover, which is also eye-catching. I've never had a woodie (HAHAHAHASHUTUP) Grado, but this guy is really neat. I love the wood grain in the cup and just how nice the texture is. Gives it a really artsy feel, like they're meant to be on display cause I constantly want to hold onto them. Because the cups are totally wood (which comes from the tree the Grado family bought if you didn't know, but if you're reading a GH-1 review you damn well should know the whole story by now) they're also really light, which is something you could note. The HE-500 is a pretty hefty can (is it? s'what people think anyway) and I don't find it fatiguing at all, so sometimes I'll find myself glaring at the little GH-1 and judging it by its weight, and looking between the grill of the 500 (which is pretty darn big) and the little 44 millimeter (Grado doesn't specify how large the driver is on their site) one, asking myself how something so little could be so great. And oh, but it is. However, I do have a complaint, and really only one. This goes for all of the more expensive Grados. Why isn't there a more substantial gimbal thing for the more costly headphones? I'm pretty sure you could make something metal to hold things together a bit better than the cheaper line, but I guess keeping a single headband design for all models is much more cost efficient. I just wish the connectors were a bit more substantial, possibly because the HE-500 was $440 and built like an absolute tank. Almost the entire thing is made of metal, and it just feels really sturdy.
Soundstage, speed, and other imaginary aspects:
Overall Sound Impressions:
(I'll finish this review on tuesday or wednesday after school or something cause I go into work early on Monday and there's NO WAY TO COPY TEXT ON THIS SITE)