I submit that Grado revamping the product line in response to current market trends is a big data point in favor of them knowing what they're doing.
Took them long enough. Yet they are still behind the competition. x-series makes them less behind.
Grado's specialty imo is in their form factor (supraaural with foam pads) which allows a unique sounding character, and their other specialty is the way they render electric guitar. Grado is not better in any measureable way, but a subjective flavor and a compliment to a collection of more well-rounded and more capable headphones.
Expanding on unique Grado character.:
- the flat open/porous foam on-ear pads mean less pad and/or ear interactions (akin to room interaction with speakers)
- the proximity of the driver to ear
- treble resonance / ringing probably causes the unique electric guitar sound, fast attack combined with extra long decay. I'd like to understand why Grado's ring the way they do. Is it the driver, the driver grill, or something else? I am tempted to get some Grado style driver grills and see if I can reproduce the same type of resonance while using entirely different drivers to determine if its something to do with the obstructive grills.