Grado GS1000X Loaner Program @TTVJAudio
Mar 19, 2023 at 12:58 PM Post #16 of 16
I want to thank Todd of TTVJ for sponsoring this GS1000x Loaner Program. I received the GS1000x in early March and have given about 20-hours of total listening time.

The equipment I used for this review are:
Music source: Apple Music Lossless, Amazon Music HD
DAC/Amp: RME ADI-2, Hifiman EF400, NAD D1050 (DAC), Audio-gd Master 19 (amp)

My Grado Experience

The first Grado I bought was a used SR80. My initial impression was ‘ouch’. I couldn’t stand the bright, ‘in-your-face’ sound and there was no bass. I immediately put it away in the drawer. About a year later, I was cleaning my drawer and saw the SR80 sitting lonely and sadly in there. I decided to give them another try. To my surprise, the ‘in-your-face’ sound didn’t bother me that much and I could hear the bass. So, I started trying more Grado models. I went through all the Prestige Series, except the SR60. Plus, the PS500, RS1i, and RS2e.

I have also auditioned one of the previous GS1000s a few years ago. I wasn’t very impressed with the GS1000. I felt that they were bright, sharp and lean at the same time. I much preferred the warmer and fuller sound of the PS500. Although, over the years my sound preference has changed. I now listen to solo piano and instrumental almost exclusively and I felt the PS500 was a little too warm. Therefore, I switched to the RS2e.

When I saw Todd was offering the GS1000x loaner program. I was wondering what difference the new x-driver would make. So, I jumped on it.

GS1000x First Impression

The GS1000x arrived in a nice box (per Grado’s standard) and they look gorgeous. The black leather with white stiches headband matches the handcrafted mahogany cups beautifully. They fit my larger-than-average head with the gimbals fully extended. They are also light weighted. Well, a little heavier than the RS2e but still much lighter than some of my planar headphones. The sound was open, dynamic, full bodied, crystal clear and musical. This is totally not the GS1000 I remembered. It made me want to sell my RS2e.


General Descriptions of the Sound

The overall sound quality of GS1000x can be described as detailed, balanced with great treble and bass extension. The treble is crisp and clear, without any harshness or sibilance. The midrange is full and smooth, and the bass is well-defined and controlled. We should not be expecting a hard-hitting bass, such as the TH900. Instead, the bass is fast, clean, and without any muddiness.

The GS1000x has an impressive soundstage. It is not extremely wide, but it feels open and spacious. The depth, or layers and the height are outstanding. It’s very easy to identify the positions of the instrument. There is also a good separation between instruments. Everything sounded natural and well presented. It’s really a treat when listening to the live performance of a symphony orchestra with the GS1000x.

Build Quality and Comfort

The GS1000x was build with quality materials. They appear to be strong and sturdy. The G-cushions seem to be a little deeper than the previous version I got from Grado for the RS2e, so they are more comfortable. My only complaint is the cable. It is way too stiff, and it almost knocked over my cup of coffee a couple of times.

Some Comparisons
I spent some time comparing GS1000x with some of my headphones.

GS1000x vs. RS2e ($1,195 vs. $550 with G-cushion)

Obviously these two headphones are in different leagues. I just wanted to find out how much of ‘upgrade’ going from the RS2e to GS1000x. My RS2e is fitted with the G-cushion, not only for the comfort but I also prefer the sound better than the stock L-cushions.

I used to think the RS2e is super detailed. But when comparing it to the GS1000x, the RS2e sounded a little muffled, relatively speaking. The soundstage on the RS2e is more intimate, and imaging is a bit fuzzy. In my opinion the GS1000x is worth the upgrade for the extra money.

GS1000x vs. DCA Ether 2 ($1,195 vs. $2,300)

Again, this seems to be another unfair comparison. The Ether 2 is twice the price of the GS1000x. However, I wanted to see how does the GS1000x hold its ground comparing to the headphones twice of its cost.

The Ether 2 is truly light as a feather but built like a tank as advertised. They are very comfortable for me. The sound is neutral and balanced. The bass is not very punchy but can go really low when it’s called for in the music. I can feel the sub-bass rumble. The mid-range is smooth, and treble is extended but never feel harsh. To me the tuning of the Ether 2 is more matured than its predecessor.

Now here is an interesting part, the GS1000x can go head-to-head against the more expensive Ether 2. To my ears, the GS1000x has superior clarity and detail retrieval. The imaging and separation are on par with Ether 2. The Ether 2 wins on having better bass extension. In summary, the GS1000x makes the Ether 2 sounded a little too plain. I would pick GS1000x over the Ether 2.

GS1000x vs. Nectar Ambrosia ($1,195 vs. $499)

I received a brand-new Ambrosia from Nectar Sound a couple of days before the end of my GS1000x review period. Nectar Sound started as a DIY project, i.e., the HiveX electrostatic headphones. Ambrosia is their new developed dynamic-driver, open-back handmade headphones. I included the Ambrosia in this comparison because it is a quite unique headphones in design and it seems to have some similarities with the GS1000x, i.e., the clean and neutral sound signature.

The 32-ohm impedance makes the Ambrosia as easy to drive as the GS1000x. The built quality reminds me that these headphones started as a DIY project. Although the built quality has improved. For example, the headband does not make the squeezy noise as reported earlier. The fit is tight (at least for me), and the type of ear pads can have a very noticeable effect on the sound. So, this makes pad rolling an interesting project. I am using the ZMF suede pads for this comparison.

The GS1000x is still a more superior headphones in many ways, the clarity, soundstage, imaging, and musicality. However, the Ambrosia is not far behind. It has more weight on the bass and they are more punchy when listening to the pop and electronic music.

If the money is no concern, I would still choose the GS1000x. But for the limited budget, the Ambrosia is a versatile, all-rounder headphones choice.

The Conclusion

I think the GS1000x is one of the best looking and great sounding headphones out there. Grado has hit the head on the nail in the tuning of the GS1000 with the new x-driver. I just wish the cables can be a little softer and easier to manage.
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