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Grado Fan Club!

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by vikingatheart, Dec 29, 2010.
  1. Monolaf
    Ah, ok.
    Do you hear a difference if you switch from Bluetooth to cable at the GW100?
  2. Hotteterre
    Yes, with cable the sound is definitely better and cleaner. Using Bluetooth involves the introduction of some noise, more or less depending of presence of elements which may disturb the transmission. But IMHO it's OK for more occasional listenings. :)
    HungryPanda, trellus and Monolaf like this.
  3. gregorya
    When used with the cable, does it sound similar to any other specific Grado model you've heard?
  4. Gippy
    Yayaya it's time for the GS2000e (2Ke) vs GS3000e (3Ke) comparison! Unfortunately, I don't have any other flagship headphones in my possession so I can't compare directly with other heavy hitters. But I primarily went with the 2Ke initially because it was a super lightweight wooden headphone. At the time, it was Grado's wooden flagship, as the 3Ke was released two years later. Anything over 350g is too heavy for me, so that rules out many flagships that I would've otherwise considered anyway. Let's get to it!

    The 3Ke is heavier than the 2Ke but it's still ultra lightweight compared to other contemporary wooden headphones, which usually weigh in excess of 500g. I don't have a scale with me but I'd say the 2Ke is about 250g, while the 3Ke is about 300g, as it's still slightly lighter than the HD800, which is 330g.


    The 2Ke is Grado's most beautiful looking headphone. Period. After 2.5 years of owning it, the mahogany facade still hasn't changed color. Grado stated they used a new curing technique, which prevents color change, which was an issue with older RS/GS models. Lettering is nice and proportional, and if it weren't for the model name, you'd think it'd be the more expensive headphone of the two.

    The 3Ke is a little disappointing in the looks department. Unlike their advertisement pic, the lettering looks thinner and taller, which isn't as aesthetically pleasing. I bought my 3K used, and judging from other people's pictures, the wood does darken over time. As cocobolo is a naturally oily wood, your fingers may get some of the cocobolo smell as you handle the headphone.


    The 3Ke has this proud "Made in USA" sticker that my 2Ke does not, and I have never seen this sticker on other models. Cute! There is also a larger "Made in USA" sticker on the 3Ke's box. Grado really wants to stress that it's American.


    The 2Ke has this lovely brown leather headband that is standard on newer RS2e/RS1e/GS1000e models. (Older models used a black leather headband that's on the SR325e/PS500e/PS1000e/GHx). The 3Ke upgrades the headband to Grado's super-wide one, which is also on the PS2000e. This super-wide headband makes the 3Ke just as comfortable as the 2Ke despite the added weight. Some people complain about the simplicity of these headbands. I love them because you can stretch them to however wide you want. I like mine very stretched.


    One interesting thing to note is that Grado usually has a flat metal grille on all of its premium headphones. For the 3Ke, Grado decided to use a convex metal grille. No idea if it actually improves the sound, but it does give back the 3Ke some aesthetic points against the 2Ke. I don't have a PS2000e on hand so I don't know whether it's the same for that model.


    The 2Ke uses a "purple" 50mm driver that's not on any other model, with the standard hole layout. The 3Ke reportedly uses a "blue" 50mm driver with the extra hole layout that's only on the PS2000e. However, my 3Ke uses a black driver, which is the color of the PS2000e driver. Did I get a 3Ke with a PS2000e driver? Who knows! Note that the cloth covering each headphone is different; the 2Ke uses the standard cloth, while the 3Ke uses a finer cloth that makes it more difficult for a stray hair to get through. The 2Ke has four see-through holes, while the 3Ke has five. Remember that it's possible to mod an SR Grado for more bass by punching up to 10 holes in the felt.

    On to sound!

    I enjoyed my 2Ke for 2.5 years, and it worked for me because I was willing to apply an extreme EQ to it. But I'm gong to be completely honest here. The 2Ke was a very contentious headphone. You had Grado fans like ESL-1 and ruthieandjohn proclaiming it was one of the best models that Grado has ever made. You have others claim that not only was it one of the worst Grado models, but one of the worst headphones ever. Joshua Valour, in his scathing review, said he'd easily pick the SR80e over it. So who's right? I actually agreed with Joshua on many of his points. I admit that I'd take a $50 Portapro over the 2Ke's stock sound. There is something very wrong about its stock sound, but why then would others greatly prefer it?

    Grado drivers defy objective measurements. Many online reviewers are trending towards headphone amps with low output impedance, usually under 1 ohm. Grado drivers react to low output impedance amps with a tight, focused bass, but it ends up sounding thin and quiet. Using a headphone amp with a higher output impedance loosens the bass, but at least this adds a bit of definition and presence to it. This is induced distortion, but it's a pleasing sort of distortion. My NuForce HDP with its 10 ohm output impedance does a better job with the 2Ke's bass than my iFi iDSD BL, which has a 1 ohm output impedance.

    grado output imp.PNG

    So using a well-measured, objective amp makes the 2Ke sound thin and screechy. The treble is ultra piercing in the 5k-8k range. But this is also the region where many older people with presbycusis (hearing loss due to age) have reduced hearing. I'm not suggesting that those who love the 2Ke have presbycusis. But I'm in my 30s and my ability to hear mid-treble is still good. And any crash cymbal on the 2Ke's stock sound makes me wince and want to pull off the 2Ke from my head. I needed -12dB at 6khz to make it enjoyable. But the 2Ke still presents with a bit of graininess to the treble that Joshua also spotted, and it's incapable of presenting a decent amount of sub-bass no matter how much EQ is applied. This seemed like limitations of the 2Ke's driver. But it might be an inherent property of the maple wood. Mahogany was used on the lesser wooden Grado models, but those models have more bass presence. Maple has only been used on the GH1, the GS2000e (mahogany/maple hybrid), and the PS2000e (metal/maple hybrid). I haven't heard the GH1 and PS2000e. But maple is supposed to impart a bit of brightness onto the sound signature. Unfortunately, too much of a good thing can be a disaster, and after hearing the GS2000e's treble, which is even more piercing than the SR325e, I would be very reluctant to audition the GH1 and PS2000e.

    Enter the 3Ke. I'm going to reveal it now: the 3Ke fixes many of the 2Ke's issues, and curbstomps the 2Ke so much that Grado should honestly discontinue the 2Ke and disown it as a failed experiment. There is no point in getting the 2Ke at retail price when for $400 USD more you can get the 3Ke. I paid $2200 CAD for my 2Ke. I was very fortunate to get a used 3Ke for $1450 CAD. And I feel I'd now have a very difficult time selling my 2Ke for $1000 CAD.

    The 3Ke uses cocobolo, which is denser than the mahogany/maple hybrid of the 2Ke. It presents a much more weighty sound than the 2Ke, though at stock it may still sound a little thin to some. Pairing it with the iFi iDSD BL is great, and I have both the bass and 3D+ switches activated. The 3Ke is easier to amp, as I get more volume out of it and am able to keep the iFi iDSD BL on eco power, while with the 2Ke I need it at normal power. The 3Ke doesn't distort as much when I activate the bass switch. The 3Ke actually has some sub-bass, though you need to EQ up to hear it, and it will never be a bass monster. Unfortunately, I think Grado missed the opportunity to hit a home run here to make the 3Ke as universally accepted as the PS500 non-e. While the mid-treble is no longer a hot, screechy mess, the 3Ke is still very bright, and I still need -6dB at 6khz to fully enjoy it. This is much better than the 2Ke, in which I needed -12dB at 6khz. Note that this really only applies to the G-cush. You could "downgrade" to the L-cush or even flats to make the stock sound great, but I would rather EQ and keep the wide soundstage. I also feel the "risky muddy" area in the low-mids is more coherent in the 3Ke. On the 2Ke, I needed -8dB at 200hz to get a sense of separation and clarity. On the 3Ke, despite the weighty sound, I feel -4dB at 200hz is great, and that is mostly preference. I wouldn't mind keeping 200hz at stock.

    Overall, the 3Ke will make Grado fans happy and is a significant upgrade over the 2Ke, though I find that both headphones at stock sound don't have my ideal sound signature. However, it's apparent that the 3Ke's drivers are superior and will allow for better amp matching and EQ tweaking than the 2Ke. For the $400 USD price difference, it's a no-brainer. I can see my 3Ke being my endgame headphone for a very long time, until I perhaps save up enough money to get a MySphere rig.

    - It looks very nice
    - Ultra lightweight
    - Very piercing, grainy mid-treble. Some people may actually prefer this

    - Easier to amp than the GS2000e
    - Actual sub-bass but needs EQ for it to be noticeable
    - Treble is smooth, suggesting the driver is more technically competent
    - Mid-treble still bright, but not piercing
    - It's still very much a Grado, so the stock sound will not convert Grado haters unless S-cush/flats are used
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
    Beagle, alegar, Mad Max and 3 others like this.
  5. marca56
    I have both the SR80e and GW100's too. I think they sound about the same when both are using the Grado L cups and the GW100 is using AptX and Bluetooth. However, when in wired mode, the GW100 sounds way better than the SR80e's. I don't have another Grado to compare with so can't tell you what model it does compared to. I am building a new Grado-like headset with Turbulent drivers, Shipibo Zebra Wood cups, and their aluminum gimbals and rockers, so when I get them, I can report back and let you know.

    I do think the wireless sounds great compared to other wireless headsets I have tried, so there is no knock on the GW100. It's just not possible to get the same audio quality even with AptX HD and AptX Low Latency. Bluetooth codecs really have to be improved. I
    gregorya, trellus and Hotteterre like this.
  6. fadeproof
    Hi fellow Grado followers. Just putting it out there that I have Bushmills posted on ebay.
  7. Hotteterre
    For me, I can compare GW100 with SR60i and SR225e. I find cabled GW100 way better of the SR60i, but not at the level of SR225e. About the quality of Bluetooth connection, I definitely agree with marca56.
    trellus likes this.
  8. Monolaf
    I would like to hear only on a SACD or CD player my Grado. I do not need an amplifier or speakers.
    Which CD player or SACD player can you recommend for this?
  9. Jazmanaut
    I know that this is "Fan club" and i am one, but i have been frustrated to Grado lately.

    I have owned something like a 20 pairs of different Grado models and loved and hated many of them. I have modded and repaired myriad pairs and i know pretty well how they tic and behave, as they do.
    I must say, that there is something appealing on Grados, but at the same time, they are the most inconsistent manufacturer there is.
    So many models, and variety of them is huge. In some models like 60 via 125 differences are subtle (better element pairing), but then you are on your own and the west is wild! And like thats not enough, there are several revisions, and each one of those sounds very different. You cant buy latest 325e:s, if you liked the original revision, or is version, or...
    And chances are not usually for the better. They are just different! They are totally different sounding cans. etc... And dont let me start with cushions!

    So im frustrated. Why Grado makes so insanely many models? 1/4:th would be enough. One can not recomend grados to anyone, because if someone likes, say my Grado sr325is, but end up buying sr225e:s or even SR500:t, they are buying whole different headphones. So if one wants to buy Grados, he/she has to go thru testing every freaking single models, they ever made, to find wich model suits!

    And sorry to say, there is lots of good competition on dynamic headphone market, where you get consistency and even flatter overall sound on same amount of money. Like Ollo audio, or even good old Sennheiser HD600/650:s

    So to me, it´s kind of love/hate relationship.

    PS: I still honestly think that the original sr125 model, with L cushions was the pinnacle of Grados. The best price/sound one could find!
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
  10. Bob Ley
    Never heard of Ollo audio. What are they like?
  11. Jazmanaut
  12. ruthieandjohn
    I, too, love my SR125 originals out of proportion to their price. They are the highest-end Grados to be matched to the flat (L) pads used also by the SR60 and SR80. I like the original better than the SR125e, which my wife has and likes better than any of my other Grados, including the PS2000e and GS2000e!
  13. Bob Ley
    What's the model # of the originals, just SR125?
  14. ruthieandjohn
    Yep, just SR125.

    There was an intermediate version, the SR125i, that was labeled SR125. It differs from the SR125 by having thicker cups (mushroom shaped, rather than flat, moving the driver farther from the ear) and thicker cable.
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
  15. Bob Ley
    Thanks. You find the SR125's drastically better than the SR125e?

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