Grado GS1000x Statement Series.
"Bright and Vivid"
I have had several Grado headphones in the past, years back. I was just starting out looking for the perfect headphone for me. Most of the early cans I tried were often veiled, dark and warm. So when I discovered Grado, Beyerdynamics and some others made headphones that were less warm, dark and more on the bright side I had to give them a try. I bought the lower end cost Grado’s the 80 series and then the newer 325 series. I did have a set of Hemps here for a week. Nice wood but again IMO just that Grado sound. In summary here, they were good but just too bright of a can for my ears, the treble was a bit too emphasized and the bass was well, not what I was looking for.
So, we moved on. Having gone thru so many headphones since then I have settled in on Final Audio D8000 Pros, , Rad 0, ADX 5000’s and HD 650’s. I never decided to spend more money for the higher end Grado’s back then thinking it would be just more of that “Grado” sound signature. So, when Todd announced a loaner program for the GS 1000x series, well count me in, time to see if Grado has changed in their sound signature, overall comfort etc.
So what are these newer Signature series headphones? Well they sure do look like Grado’s. I never had any issue picking out a Grado headphone from the crowd of others. Simple elegance. Common traits of non removeable cord, foam cushions of differing sizes and comfort level, and decent light weight. The earlier Grado’s I had were the on the ear type earpads that to me were not that great. They always felt scratchy to my skin, and not that comfortable after a few hours of listening….not due to the weight just the feel of those pads on my ears. Sorry just not likable here at all.
New 12 conductor cable. A bit stiff. Not detachable.
So these are typical dynamic headphones. Open Air. They do bleed sound a lot. My wife comes in from an adjacent space and tells me she can hear the sound out there! Not an issue if your in a private listening room, but to some this may not be ok. I just shut the door! Lol!
Two color choices to choose from:
The drivability of these headphones are 1mw / 99db. Impedance of 38 ohms. They are easy to drive. The drivers are well matched at .05 db spec wise. Hand built in Brooklyn by the Grado elves. Grado states these two-decade old series is now a hybrid GS1000x with new X Drivers, new cables and for the first time a combination of mahogany and ipe wood. They weigh 372 grams or 13.5 oz. Really light compared to my other HEAVY planars!
The cord is different. Its heavier in girth and has a nice outside covering. These being new they still are a bit stiff and it will take a few weeks of being wrapped up to loosed up. The splitter is substantial, but the flexibility for it to the drivers is well, pretty stiff to me. The cord is 15 ft long and terminates into a ¼ plug. Its made from a 12 conductor cable with that braided exterior sheath. Metal gimbals.
They have an upgraded black leather headband with white stitching. Very Nice. Simple elegance. This set of Grado’s is well built, the wood is beautiful. They are very comfortable and feel like I could wear these for hours. The G cup cushions are huge! Compared to my early experienced these are a BIG, BIG improvement in the comfort factor. Gone is that scratchiness. The amount of sound chamber created around you ear IMO is big, cavernous. Circum-aural. I think this really helps with their exceptional sound-stage. Replaceable for $50! Not too bad.
BIG earpads. Very comfortable, light weight.
The drivers are 4th generation X Drivers. The largest used ever by Grado. Grado calls the “de-stressed” 50 mm drivers that are specifically tuned to bring out the warmth of mahogany. More powerful magnets to deliver more power and better dynamics. The voice coil was changed to have less effective mass and the diaphragms were re-designed for improved efficiency. Supposedly to reduce distortion etc. Only your ears might tell. Sound is so subjective.
Ok so how do they sound?
Well all my comments are very subjective based on my years of listening to many headphones and my musical tastes.
They definitely are warmer than the other Grado’s I have had. This IMO is good. The overall brilliance and bright sounding signature is still present. So have the best of both works, that Grado edginess that removes the veil is there with a nicer warmer less strident sound.
They are very resolving and articulate. Nothing escapes detection. Tambourines that get lost in many recordings were detectable…these get unnoticed in some music. That poor musician that shakes the tambourine or shakers! Ha! I can hear your contribution now! Micro-details, excellent!
Leather white stitching:
One of the best traits IMO of the GS1000x is its ability to reproduce guitar and strings very well. Simple guitar licks and light jazz from Larry Carlton to Lee Ritenour are just a marvelous listen. All the details are there in the total sound…. the small drum swishes, light bass in the background…all are there in the way the music was recorded. Light saber nice here.
Listening to Double’s Blue CD, Woman of the World…the hand claps and overall presentation was excellent. The soundstage is wide, and the depth front to back is very good. Reverb and decay are well brought out. Sounds pop out on the extreme left and right. The imaging, separation and depth are really very good. The horn in the center comes in tonally accurate and not sibilant. This is a pop tune but it has many delicate sounds going on…these Grado’s are light saber resolving here. A very good trait.
Light jazz assembles are where these cans shine for me. Slow deliberate music well mic’d is a joy to listen to. Why? Because you hear ALL the instruments that are there contributing to the piece. Excellent.
Switching over to Carlos Garnett and Fire CD, fast bright, trumpets glaring etc.…wonderful wide soundstage. Trumpets like your there. You ever sit next to a real trumpet. It can hurt! With high energy musical instruments like in this CD your going to hear that brilliance. You may or may not like this. Metallic hanging chimes gosh they come through very lifelike…brilliant.
Guitars in Justin Johnsons Bootleg Series, Volume 3 "Son of a Witch" is close to as perfect as a guitar can sound. Guitar solos. Nothing else. Dobro resonator guitar....gosh its so sweet here.
Listening at low levels is really good. Some cans are that great at lower volumes, but these do work well here. You looses some of that low end, but if your music isn’t sub-sonic your fine.
The only issue I have with these newer Grado’s is in the bass department. Compared to other cans these Grado’s are a bit shallow on the low end. Its not that they are inaccurate. They are. The heft that one hears with a high end planar or higher end dynamic is just not the same. I am not a fan of Eq’ing but I think these cans with a tad boost on the low end might be close to what I like. So I remembered I had the ability with my iFi ICAN Pro amp to add some “bass” boost. I tried this and its better but still not what I really am looking for.
I have to add this bass issue for me is very dependent on the source for instance Chet Atkins CGP CD. Light guitars, dynamic drum kicks all sound very good along with the excellent details going on. Its just that low end organ like stuff that is lacking here.
Equipment used was PassLabs HPA-1, iFI ICan Pro, Schiit Vali 2 +, Nitsch Piety and iFI IDSD. Dacs used were Soekris 2541, Schiit Modi Multibit 2, iFI IDSD, MHDT Orchid. I will say that these GS1000x to me were resolving enough to expose differences in these devices. This for me is well….excellent. My favorites were the Schiit Modi Multibit 2 with the Nitsch Piety. This for me was the best overall sound and helped somewhat on the bass end. Jazz music was really good to listen to. I have to say with good jazz these cans are superlative..due to their resolving and articulation. Nothing goes unnoticed. This is their strong trait for sure.
All in all, I really like what Grado has done with these newer GS 1000x’s. Way better than my years back Grado experience. If you get a chance give them a listen. You might just fall in love with these.
Many thanks to Todd, a great person who sent me these to audition. Todd is a great person to deal with and has shared many items on these loaner runs.