Grado Fan Club!
Mar 6, 2016 at 3:43 PM Post #31,052 of 47,833

krud484

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  +1 on this.
I noticed the bass had gotten much tighter on my GH-1 around 80hrs…but I actually wear mine a bit forward.


Under 40 hours here. It took more than 1 hour fiddling with how they rest on my head to really discern the difference. I tried the high-forward fit, and dead center fit. Low and further back caresses my ears with nice comfort. It seems like the drivers are closer to the ears. Maybe I'm tricking the G cush into being the L cush in terms of how close the drivers are to the ear.
 
Mar 6, 2016 at 4:06 PM Post #31,053 of 47,833

joseph69

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  Under 40 hours here. It took more than 1 hour fiddling with how they rest on my head to really discern the difference. I tried the high-forward fit, and dead center fit. Low and further back caresses my ears with nice comfort. It seems like the drivers are closer to the ears. Maybe I'm tricking the G cush into being the L cush in terms of how close the drivers are to the ear.

Once you get to 80hrs +/- the bass gets tighter and deeper/fuller.
I wear mine centered in height to my ears, but more forward rather than centered/back.
 
Mar 6, 2016 at 5:32 PM Post #31,054 of 47,833

krud484

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Did some spot checking with the GH1 regarding bass, and what better contrast than Bob Marley and NIN? The Barry Diament masters of the Wailers have such deep warm extension in the bass. It can be thumpy in spots, others I can hear the clear picking. Vocals both lead and backup have never sounded so clear and vivid. Guitar has such nuance in the tiny twangly picking. There is real analogue character to these masters. NIN of course sound very digital. Bass is also thumpy, not much in the picking department. Seems more neutral in it's impact than the HD600s and HE-400s. Great imaging though, some smooth pans, and pinpoint activity. Better separation than I remember, more guitar layers, keyboards, easy handling of all the distortion. Not terribly fatiguing. For compressed music, the GH1 is fairly transparent. I can hear the hard limiters on the Fragile tracks that have real drums.
 
Really looking forward to that 80-100hrs mark though. I'll get there eventually!
 
Mar 6, 2016 at 6:41 PM Post #31,055 of 47,833

ruthieandjohn

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I compared the Grado SR80e, SR125e, and SR125 in a post here in the e-series thread. The SR80e might appeal more for those seeking transparency and treble detail, while the SR125e might appeal to those seeking more bass and more soundstage. The SR125 original version outshines both others in most of these tests, despite weakness in soundstage. It is also the most comfortable, as it is thinner on the ear and lighter in weight than the two -e series headphones.
 
Mar 6, 2016 at 8:14 PM Post #31,056 of 47,833

ruthieandjohn

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Grado HF-1 vs. SR125 vs. PS500
 
Since I was set up to compare a backlog of headphones, I have compared the Grado HF-1, SR125, and PS500 using the three-way comparison method I have described here.
 
The HF-1 is a special edition made by Grado for head-fi.org several years ago, and its quantities are limited.  I chose the SR125 for comparison because both headphones have flat earpieces, predating the deepening of the earpiece and moving the driver further from the ear as done in the -i series and -e series. The SR125 also won in the comparison referenced in the immediately previous post that I wrote above.   I chose the PS500 as the third comparison, because it shares the two-layer construction that the HF-1 pioneered, in which a wooden cup is enclosed in an external cup of another material... plastic in the HF-1 and metal in the PS500.
 
The SR125 is the flattest (thinnest) of the headphones. placing the driver closest to the ear.  It also uses S-pads (flat against the ear).  The HF-1 has a similar flat body, but uses the L bowls for more depth.  The PS500 has a deeper body and the thicker L bowls, moving the drivers even further from the ear and contributing to its larger soundstage.
 
The picture shows the setup.  The HF-1, sitting on top of the Joseph Grado HPA-1 headphone amp that was used, has been spiffed up by me when I realized that the new light brown headband cover that Grado began using for their wood e-series headphones a few months ago exactly matched the wood buttons that say "HF-1."  I ordered the sheath from Grado.
 

Clockwise from top, HF-1, PS500, and SR125, plus Joseph Grado HPA-1 amp used.
 
Here are the results of the comparison.  For each of the 10 rows of acoustic features, the performance of each of the headphones on that feature is ranked as first place (blue, 3 points), second place (red, 2 points), or third (yellow, 1 point). Ties are used to reflect essentially equal performance, for both ties for first place (2.5 points, purple color = blue + red) and second place (1.5 points, orange color = red + yellow). In one case ("ripping"), there was a 3-way tie as well.
 

 
The HF-1 was good across the board, while the SR125 excelled at transparency.  The PS500 shined in the area of strong subbass, soundstage, and high-frequency detail (decomposing the elements of the attack of the finger on a bass string, highlighting subtle variations in the shaking of a shaker).  
 
Mar 7, 2016 at 12:06 AM Post #31,058 of 47,833

j0val

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I'm into all types of music but I think there are certain tracks to really stand out with Grados; like the one linked below. Such a great track to test out the details. Anyone have any others?

https://youtu.be/hcK6_ezmw6U
 
Mar 7, 2016 at 3:07 AM Post #31,059 of 47,833

DavidA

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I'm into all types of music but I think there are certain tracks to really stand out with Grados; like the one linked below. Such a great track to test out the details. Anyone have any others?

https://youtu.be/hcK6_ezmw6U

The track sounds good with almost any headphone, when from SR-225e to HE-560 to HD-800 to T-1 to HD-650, it sounds good on all of them with a different presentation on each, nice.
 
Mar 7, 2016 at 3:52 AM Post #31,061 of 47,833

DavidA

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You tested it out on all of those? That's quite a collection.

You can look at my profile for the rest, I love collecting headphones for their different sound signatures.  I don't believe too much in "upgrade" from one headphone to another, just another way to present the music
biggrin.gif
,  l like variety.
 
Mar 7, 2016 at 11:02 AM Post #31,062 of 47,833

coastal1

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Any suggestions for best starting point with Grados <$500? 
 
I find that I generally end up spending more in the long run if I start too low so would probably skip the SR60, SR80, and SR125.  Though of course more expensive doesn't always = better.
 
The SR225e, SR325e and Rs2e seem like a possible places to start, though happy to go used which may open more options.
 
Is the newer "e" series generally preferred over previous generations, or just a matter of personal preference?
 
Thanks
 
Mar 7, 2016 at 11:32 AM Post #31,063 of 47,833

ruthieandjohn

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  Any suggestions for best starting point with Grados <$500? 
 
I find that I generally end up spending more in the long run if I start too low so would probably skip the SR60, SR80, and SR125.  Though of course more expensive doesn't always = better.
 
The SR225e, SR325e and Rs2e seem like a possible places to start, though happy to go used which may open more options.
 
Is the newer "e" series generally preferred over previous generations, or just a matter of personal preference?
 
Thanks

RS2e, without question.  The new -e is generally preferred over its older counterpart, though in the case of the RS1e, folks prefer the older RS1i instead, and forthe top-of-the-line PS1000, there is about an equal split between folks preferring the PS1000 vs. the PS1000e.
 
The -e series tends to provide a bit more bass, and for three models (RS1e, GS1000e, and PS1000e), increases the driver size from 44 mm to 50 mm.  It also increases the number of conductors (and hence the thickness and weight) of the cord.  Grado indicates that the drivers have been "tuned" differently for the -e series (they indicate e as a new design), which might mean that they have prestressed or put "dope" on the driver membranes.
 
Mar 7, 2016 at 11:35 AM Post #31,064 of 47,833

Amictus

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Grado Headphone Comparison: SR60i, RS1i/e red drivers, PS500, GH1
 
I started this in order to get a handle on how the RS1i/e that I had bought (thinking that I had bought a, RS1i) had developed since I first got it.
 
My Grado story so far can be summarised as follows: A couple of years ago I bought a Meridian Explorer amp/dac which came bundled with a Grado SR60i. I had low expectations and wasn’t looking for another pair of headphones at the time. Then I listened to them. I was astonished. These budget headphones had something, an immediacy, that I had never heard before. They seemed a little bright and tinny on first listen, unburned-in. Nonetheless, my Grado journey had begun. I did a lot of reading on Head-fi and decided to go straight for the RS1i, which seemed to have a large halo of approval around it. I ordered it from Grado UK.
 
When the RS1 arrived it said RS1i on the pizza box, but inside I found that I had something rather different - the transitional RS1i/e with red drivers that protrude 3/16” out of the cups and with the 1/4” plug. The workmanship (glue, seating of the drivers in the cups) seemed pretty sloppy. The sound was a big disappointment. I recount this story in the Grado RS1e matters (and impressions) thread. There I describe the sound as follows, “they sounded shrill, bassless and boxed-in. They distorted with large ensembles playing loudly and were, in general, hugely disappointing.”
 
Well, still looking for the SR60i sound taken to the max I ordered a PS500 that I saw on Amazon, avoiding the PS500e in case that was as much of a disaster as the RS1i/e. Then (sigh) Gradolatry started to work and I found myself pulling the trigger on the GH1. Through all this, I suddenly became aware that the RS1i/e had improved a lot, and I became curious as to how all these cans sounded when carefully compared. I made sure that the GH1 had at least 150 hours on it, hooking up the PS500 and the RS1i/e at the same time for a long dose of BBC Radio 3 HD.
 
Then I started to listen. I decided to use the following:
 
The Equipment
 
Macbook Pro 2015 with Amarra (not locked down for music only) - Chord TT - Chord amp out or Lyr with Amperex Orange Globes connected with Atlas Equator Mk III interconnect. I rolled the tubes eventually to Telefunken E88CCs to minimise the hum that the Orange Globes seemed to accentuate in the Lyr. The headphones were:
 
Grado SR60i with L pads
Grado RS1i/e Frankenstein - serial number 31578
Grado PS500 - serial number 3471
Grado GH1
No mods to the above, which all have more than 150 hours on them.
 
(Sennheiser HD800 with Cardas Clear was in reserve as a non-Grado reference)
 
The Music
 
Mahler: Des Knaben Wunderhorn, “Revelge”, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, LSO, Georg Szell, original release 1968. Played from a .flac file.
 
This wonderful Walter Legge/Christopher Parker recording was made in Kingsway Hall, London, and has been a standard test album whenever I have bought new equipment. It has a realistic soundstage and a well-balanced recording of the orchestra. Fischer-Dieskau’s characteristic incisiveness is matched by Szell’s sharp-eared conducting.
 
SR60i - From the Chord TT output: Sounds wonderful, punching above its weight. The separation between the strands of the music is well represented, but the bass is a bit boomy, although surprisingly plentiful. The left-right of the soundstage is well reproduced, but the depth of the hall is less well rendered. F-D’s biting line sometimes causes a slight distortion on accents, as do loud brass sounds. There is the occasional burst of shrillness.
Switching to the (noisy with Grados) Schitt Lyr: The sound is slightly less forward, the bass being less boomy. The timpani are particularly cleaner-sounding. The singer is less forward. The space between the instruments is more audible, (if you see what I mean!) and the fortissimo outbursts are more contained, just.
I am pretty amazed but the sound of these cans that I ‘bought’ free, bundled with the Meridian Explorer amp/dac. They turned out to be expensive, however, as I then started buying Grados.
 
RS1i/e - It says RS1i on the pizza box, but they have the protruding red drivers and are definitively Frankensteins.
The problems with this recording are still clear, listening from the Chord TT output. Indeed, the lateral soundstage is slightly shrunken and there is very little depth. The ‘colours’ of the sound, the timbral richness of the music, is better realised than with the SR60i.
 
The Lyr opens up the soundstage nicely, but imparts slightly less clarity. It’s a warm and satisfying sound, but a tad less crisp.
 
PS500 - This is a more natural presentation than either of the above. Straight out of the Chord TT, it just sounds right. It is, however, less forensic than either of the above with this recording. The singer’s voice doesn’t cause any shrillness or distortion on playback, but the bass is less sharply etched. the mid-range is very musical and fluid, but I’m missing some of the detail. Also - is the treble a little rolled-off, even for my old ears?
 
Switching to the Lyr: the gain in focus in the bass line is welcome, and there is a bit more detail. Generally speaking, the PS500 is giving me a more analogue style of sound. A quick switch back reveals that the RS1i/e provides a more exciting and forward sound at the cost of some control. The PS500 is a bit like a kindly parent who glosses over the scary bits of the story, while remaining an excellent story-teller.
 
GH1 - with L cushions (sorry @joseph69 and @stacker45). Through the Chord TT this provides the forensic quality of detailing that I missed somewhat in the PS500 while remaining very natural-sounding. It is actually quite an effort to listen to the music critically. The soundstage is somewhat close in, in the manner of the RS1i/e, but the loud moments are less inclined to catch the cans out with moments of distortion.
 
Switching to the Lyr: Fischer-Dieskau is singing, standing right in front of me. The soundstage is open and satisfying in all three dimensions. These cans are a cut above the others for this recording.
 
HD800 - Included as a non-Grado comparison. There is a much more ample soundstage than the Grados, but the sound is not so involving if you have come straight out of Gradoland. When I first put them on my head, the word ‘veil’ briefly flashed through my head. The sound is wonderfully reproduced and controlled, but I never forget that I am listening to a recording, not with this music, on this occasion, with this equipment. The experience is beautifully mediated with the HD800, but with the GH1 the music is just there.
 
Time for a pause.
 
Moving on…
 
Carmen Gomes Inc: “I’m on Fire”, from “A Thousand Shades of Blue”, on the Sound Liaison Label. A 96kHz-24bit .wav file.
The track is on Youtube with a video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cESlSxcBEdo

SR60i - The sound is awesome straight off. I hesitated to include this track because I thought that the recording was a little too close-miked, maybe be too Grado for Grado, if you see what I mean. With the SR60i on my head, out of the Chord directly, I wonder why I ever used another headphone. Moving to the Lyr, and trying to ignore the distracting hum, the music is more liquid, but less immediate. The three musicians - guitar, percussion, string bass - are in a more believable space, but the effect is less immediate. Returning to the Chord TT reinforces my preference for the solid state experience on this track with the SR60i. This music doesn’t have the brusque volume contrasts of the Mahler, playing to the strengths of these budget Grados.
 
RS1i/e - There is more, but closer in. There is more bass, and a great sense of immediacy and timbre, almost too much. The cans are very revealing. Moving to the Lyr produces a more svelte and smooth sound, apart from the impossible hum. (Time for a Lyr 2?). Smoochville USA.
 
PS500 - The slightly generalized sound that characterized the sound of the PS500 with the Mahler orchestral song above is less evident with a small ensemble. This is a very musical sound with a bit of a bass over-emphasis. Out of the Chord, the PS500 smooches. Out of the Lyr, the sound is good, but a little more recessed. The Chord wins. The PS500 sings. I like it with this track.
 
GH1 - Once again, the sound is very convincing. As I go from Grado to Grado I can’t believe that the next one can be really better than the one on my head at the time. Once again, however, the GH1 stuns with its clarity and soundstage, while not losing the characteristic Grado presence. Switching to the Lyr brings a wonderful sound which is just a little less immediate but has a compensating warmth. Fanatical multiple comparisons of the thrice-sung “Oh-oh-oh, I’m on fire…” at around the two minute mark shed little light apart from the fact that through the Lyr, the lady thinks that she is on fire. Straight from the Chord TT, she’s on fire. I’m standing too close.
 
Time for a pause. Ordered the Schiit Vali 2 to have a less noisy hybrid tube amp around. Received it and liked it but decided to stick with the noisy Lyr for consistency at this stage.
 
Tom Waits: “Hold On” from the album “Mule Variations”. Ripped to .wav.
 
SR60i - Deafened myself briefly by not being cautious about the level of the Chord TT. Picked myself up off the floor and started again. I find that this is such a satisfying sound: the instruments surround the singer and are well represented. The bass is clear, warm and present, the picking of the guitar strings nicely etched. Is the voice a little ‘veiled’? Moving to the Lyr.
Tom Waits’ voice is much more realistic and ‘there’ out of the Lyr. The presentation of the instruments is more relaxed and in a closer acoustic than straight from the Chord. The guitars are less forensically detailed - a little less vivid, but certainly an easier listen.
 
RS1i/e - On the Chord, the sound is closer in than with the SR60i. This gives the impression of less separation of the instruments - or is it just an impression? As I listen, the string bass holds its own, but the plucked instruments are rather a jumble, decreasing listening pleasure. Waits’ voice sounds good, though. No veil - but could be more open and vivid (sitting on the fence here).
On the Lyr (More intrusive hum than with the SR60i) the sound opens up nicely but the comments about the sound out of the Chord direct hold good. Apart from the voice: the sound is less nuanced, and the nuances in Waits’ voice are to die for. In the line “how I wish you were still here with me” there is a emotional, strangulated quality on the word “me” at 2:36. It’s smoothed out by the Lyr with these cans. In the text that follows, this is the “me” test.
 
PS500 - Wow! Hello music! Hello soundstage! I’m struggling to listen critically again because the music is just there. Something very strange is going on. The narrative quality of the performance is much enhanced. The more prominent bass counts for much is the improvement that I’m hearing - the sound has just opened up. I could use a little (little, little, little) more brightness, and there is a looseness about the sound of the string bass which has something of the HD650 about it (for fans of that can), but it does serve to anchor the sound beautifully. “me” is not quite rendered with the accuracy that I have heard elsewhere.
 
The sound is more expansive on the Lyr, with wider soundstage, but I’m not sure that I need ‘more expansive’ with the PS500. The string bass is a bit muffled and the edge on Waits’ voice is smoothed over. Switching back to the outputs on the TT brings confirmation that the PS500 fares much better straight out of the Chord. Interesting.
 
GH1 - Hello brightness. Welcome back! The GH1 grabs the sound and takes no prisoners. I asked a hi-fi salesman once that difficult-to-answer question that we all ask sometimes - you know, the one that goes “if I buy X rather than Y, what do I get for my extra $1500?” His answer was “more!” Not a mega-detailed reply, but we all know how it sounds and feels when we suddenly hear “more!” This is more. There is a more forensic insight into the presence of the instruments and Waits’ voice is just there: you can hear the anxiety rising in his singing, the tortured lyricism, the brief flashes of tenderness… The bass is not too different from the PS500, but is more quick and precise. What had sounded a bit like guitar soup on the RS1i/e is now much more detailed. Could it be better? I don’t know. I would love to hear it on a PS1000 to see. Somehow the narrative feel that the PS500 brought to the song isn’t quite as a strong or natural, but there is so much more detail.
 
To the Lyr. First reactions - the Lyr makes the instruments sound a little tinny, while giving them a ‘bloom’. The sound is less fatiguing than the Chord with these cans, but there is a loss of punch. The voice, though. The Lyr follows the thread of Waits’ singing in a very compelling way, making the sound seem more pleasing.
 
Going back to the Chord I realize that the Lyr has taken the edge off the singer’s voice, making us lose half of its expressive power. The Chord wins.
 
I’m tempted to make a quick excursion to the Vali 2 (with single Siemens E88CC). The sound is better than the Lyr (surprised face). The bass is clean and articulate. We don’t get quite as much out of Tom Waits’s voice, but the amp passes the “me” test with flying colours. It’s warm, satisfying sound that gives a tremendous impulse to the musical story-telling. Terrific for the price, and a good solution for those who find the Chord TT output too bright for these cans. Going back to the Chord, though, I find a greater truth to the colours of the music - that feeling the the timbres are right, the instruments sound like that, the voice sounded like that. It’s bright, but it’s beautiful.

CONCLUSION
I’ve decided to stop there, despite having a couple more tracks lined up. I started these comparisons in order to make some judgements about the state of my RS1i/e and whether it was rather better than it first seemed when I got it a couple of hundred hours ago. It is. It is the most immediate of the Grados tested here, and has a nice, tight bass. Its revelation of musical colour is superb. The soundstage is disappointing, however: two-dimensional with a slightly confused instrumental separation that becomes troubling as one listens. The SR60i is astounding. The quality of it is a revelation in this context. The PS500 is a nice, warm listen and I have often reached for it in the past. With the right recording, it tells the story most beautifully. The GH1 easily bests the other three, in my opinion, through the equipment that I’m using. There is no telling where these cans are going, and they have qualities way beyond the normal penny-in-the-slot judgements about Grados. I have compared them to the HD800 with Cardas Clear and they are not embarrassed by the comparison. They are quite remarkable.
I have not yet done a comparison using the G cushions, and I have not, and this is the most important missing factor, done a comparison with the current RS1e with the tan headband. My ‘transitional’ RS1i/e has some very remarkable qualities - if the defects have been ironed out, then the RS1e could be a worthy successor to its distinguished antecedents. It would be nice to know.
My next task is to do some comparisons with the G cush…
 
 

 
Mar 7, 2016 at 11:48 AM Post #31,065 of 47,833

ruthieandjohn

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  Grado Headphone Comparison: SR60i, RS1i/e red drivers, PS500, GH1
 
I started this in order to get a handle on how the RS1i/e that I had bought (thinking that I had bought a, RS1i) had developed since I first got it.
 
 
 
 

@Amictus truly a FANTASTIC comparison.  Thank you for taking the time to perform the comparison with such care and to describe it in such detail!
 
I have found that my GS1000e headphones, which also have the 50 mm drivers as do the RS1e, also improves with age.  I did a comparison to the GH-1 (with G cush) and the GS1000i at my local Grado dealer, and at the time ranked them GS1000e < GH-1/G < GS1000i.  Since then, the GS1000e are improving (just over 200 hours of use now), and when/if they surpass the GH-1/G, I will again go and compare them to the GS1000i at the store.  If the GS1000i stays better, I will buy it!
 
I think that you will see a huge improvement in the GH-1 when you put on G cush.  I think its bass will go down, but other things (transparency, treble detail, soundstage, etc) will go up.  See my comparison here.
 

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