Reviews by wje


Unmodified = Not worth listening to.
Pros: Added in error.
Cons: Added in error.
Added in error.


Unmodified = Not worth listening to.
Pros: Top-Notch Quality, Excellent Sound and Wonderful Fit
Cons: One almost might feel guilty about using these fine headphones on a daily basis. Maybe, specifically for special listening sessions?
Presentation: Upon initial receipt of these headphones, you immediately feel as though Marty has made them especially for you – because he did.  Marty of Martin Custom Audio does do lines of headphone modifications, but in small quantities and your item, such as this pair of SR-325i Grados is just that – custom and features a serial number.  In the case of this particular pair, it is # 0002.  When you open the shipping box, you are presented with a black rectangular box that has been fitted to hold the Grado foam.  Marty has provided additional modifications even to this boxing process.  He’s provided additional padding below the standard Grado foam and also on the inside of the box lid to ensure your Grados are safely secured for shipping or storage.  The foam isn’t just tossed into the box either.  It is aligned and adhered to the surfaces with an adhesive, so it’s there for a long time.


When you open the box, you’ll see a personal note from Marty.  The note contains all the details regarding the pair of headphones that you have purchased from him.  He notes specific items that he has applied his personal touches to, so if you have questions, most of the answers will be there for you.  However, also knowing Marty’s personality, he’ll be there for you long after the sale, too.  Additionally, Marty points out what has not been done, and why.  In the case of this particular pair of Grado SR-325i headphones, he briefly explains that the drivers have not been touched in any way – no  Dynamat, no rear holes opened on the drivers, etc.  The drivers are stock and the new owner will have easy access to gently remove the drivers from the housing to perform any modifications they desire.


Quality of Product:  At first, one might be tempted to quickly insert the audio plug into their gear, slap the headphones on and start jamming.  However, with these headphones, I think one should take a few moments – in a nicely lit area to just hold them in their hands and observe their purchase from all angles.  Carefully, one will notice the precision that the woods were turned, the carefulness that was applied when the finish met the wood of the headphones.  There are no drips, drops or globs.  Also, when round gimbals are involved, I always question how an individual has implemented such a gimbal and how it relates to the rest of the headphone.  In the case of these Grados, the gimbals have careful, and precise notches at the bottom inside of the gimbals to provide a channel for the cable to thread into the cup, yet, the gimbal won’t interfere with the cable or really move it in a manner that could shorten the life of the cable in that area.


Fit:  Additionally, when I have a chance to try out or try on headphones, I immediately am concerned how they’ll fit on me and how well they’ll mate with my ears to ensure the music is properly delivered.  In the case of these headphones, Marty has delivered 4 aces.  The headphones fit just as well, if not better than Grado intended them to fit.  Since Grado has made millions of headphones, they should know a thing or two about fit, and Marty ensured that his modifications were right in line with the standard issue.  However, if someone has a wider head and doesn’t like the way that the Grados might press on their ears, some slight adjustments can be applied in small increments to carefully open the band slightly so that a custom fit for the user can be easily achieved.


Sound:  This is where it’s hard to write a first sentence.  As we all know, we all interpret sound differently.  Over the past year or so, I’ve had a half dozen or so Grado headphones and a few pair of Alessandro headphones as well as the option to test out a pair of Alessandro MS-Pro headphones in my home.  The sound of these headphones is really no exception from the Grado signature sound.  The highs are there – making percussion instruments really stand out so one can appreciate the music.  The wooden cups ensure the bass hits nicely – especially kick drums are easy to pick out as well as the upright bass without any flabbiness.  At first, I thought the headphones were a bit “upped” when it came to treble.  However, with use and a few listening sessions, I became to like the sound I was hearing.  These headphones are supplied with silver braided cables and a Neutrik connector.  It is my belief from listening to silver versus copper cable, that the silver cable can lend itself a bit more towards the detail end of the sound.


As far as the bass goes, this pair of SR-325i does deliver, but I’ll admit, I did grow fond of the bass from the pair of Alessandro MS-Pro headphones that I had a chance to utilize for a full demonstration.  The MS-Pros had highs that were slightly tamed, but still there.  I suspect in the case of this pair of SR-325i Grados, the bass might be getting slightly masked from the detail in the upper frequencies.  However, this all depends on how one hears and the music they listen to.  I play a lot of blues, folk, and jazz music that tends to work quite well with the Grado signature sound.  The Grado SR-325i from Marty has the bass, it’s just presented differently than Alessandro does it with their MS-Pro series.


The Bad:  Well, I really couldn’t write an objective review without listing something bad, correct?  I can’t pick on the presentation, the quality or the sound, so what would it be if I had to list something bad about these headphones?  The issue that I’d note with these headphones is that you’ve just purchased the Rolls Royce of Grados when it comes to the custom modifications Marty has provided.  The brass gimbal rods, the special round gimbals, the brass adjustment knobs, etc.  To me, having such a fine pair of headphones would mean that this would be a pair that would not travel.  They would be used exclusively in my home as opposed to being transferred between home and work each day of the week.  Is that such a bad thing?  Maybe not.  I’ll leave that up to the buyer or owner to decide.


In closing, I’m going to dearly miss these headphones.  The quality is beyond belief and the sound is much unlike my pair of standard Grado SR-325i Goldies that I had.  These Grados had a sound that was very much “alive” and was something that couldn’t be achieved with my stock pair of Grado SR-325i headphones.


To reach Martin Custom Audio








Beautiful work.


Unmodified = Not worth listening to.
Pros: Economical cost, easy to purchase
Cons: I've realized I'm not a big fan of the "marshmallow" pads and prefer silicone a bit better
I purchased these headphones (ear buds) on my way into work yesterday after desiring something that works - and, hopefully a bit better than my Skull Candy Ink'd ear buds (which have one dead channel) and better than my Sennheiser in-ear ear buds that, for some reason, are no longer producing a nice level of bass - mainly a lot of higher frequency screeching.
After fighting with the JVC packaging on these phones for a few minutes to carefully open them in the event of a desire to return them, I was able to get them out of the package.  The buds were pre-fitted with smaller ear pads and the mediums were still in the container for use, if desired.  I realized that I'd need the smaller pads - which were still a slight amount bigger than I'd actually need.  Having access to even a smaller small ear pad for these would be nice.
I plugged them into my Sony Walkman and listened to some Cowboy Junkies and Lucinda Williams and noticed that the sound blockage wasn't ultimate.  So, I fiddled with twisting them into my ear canal a bit better - and, then, more of the outside noises were blocked out, making me more pleased.  As the day went along, I was beginning to have less appreciation for the quality of bass that these buds were providing.  Sure, there was plenty of it, but it was also a bit bloated and not so well defined and I started to get kind of ear and head fatigue from using these.
They're a fair headphone for the price.  Surprisingly, the bass is there - for an under $20 ear bud.  However, I think it's up to the listener to see if the bass is of a good enough quality for them.  I know in my case, the foam pads being wedged in my ear with a bloaty bass kind of made me feel a little too closed in.
I don't think these are the right buds for me.  At lunch today, I did pick up the Klipsch S4 (at 4x the price of the JVCs and am also considering the Etymotic MC5 (also at 4x the price of the Marshmallows).  So far, the Klipsch is sounding pretty sweet - but, needs more break-in time.  The Etymotic ... well, it all depends on if my other local Apple store carries them.  The first one I went to at lunch time didn't have the MC5s.  I'll add respective reviews for both of those ear buds after I've had a chance to utilize them appropriately.
I couldn't use the foam pads that were in the package. Most of the silicone tips I have did not give me a good fit. I ended up settling on the large silicone tips that are supplied with Ultimate Ears. It's the only tip that works.....and they're PERFECT. The only other tips that worked, but not as well, were the triple flanged type. But once these are fitted correctly I truely feel this is very close to high end sound. Of course the low level detail might not all be there.....but I've done A/B tests and a good amount is there. A VERY Grado like sound. Balanced but with a nice sparkly top end and VERY sufficient bass. Mid presencve is forward enough but without being grating and giving an overall agressive sound that I do like very much. They work well with all types of music which I can't say the same for some headphones I have.
I removed the paper filter and feel they sound the best with no foam stuffed inside the tube as some suggest. For the price these things are I'm AMAZED at the sound hooked up to my computer rig which is only hooked up to a mid level Pioneer receiver. I need to hear some highly rated IEM's to know what I'm missing.....but these do the trick for me at the moment. I liked them so much I have seven pairs so I'll hopefully never run out.
Heres the true test for me.... I'll go for one of my Audio Technica full size cans. And many times I end up switching out for the JVC buds and never take them off. I have a set of Ultimate Ears Super.Fi 4 and I rarely go for them. They just sit in the drawer. Not so with my JVC's. They're my musical buddy I'm completely satisfied with these buds