Grado modders go Magnum
Sep 28, 2013 at 3:23 AM Post #2,897 of 4,980

wje

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The final assembly of the Magnum X headphones have been completed.
 
Specifics:
 
- Magnum X Drivers (Latest Version)
 
- Mogami Neglex Cable, 8 Foot
 
- Amphenol 1/4" TRS Connector
 
- 550 Paracord Sheathing on Complete Cable.
 
- Techflex / PET (Black with Small Blue Stripe) on Cable Up to the "Y" or Yoke.  
 
- From the "Y" or the yoke to the ear cups - Paracord sheathing (to prevent / minimize micrphonics)
 
- Cups: Black Walnut - Sanded, Finished with a Medium Brown / Golden Stain.
 
- Final Finish on Wooden Cups: 4 Coats of Satin Poly.
 



 



 
 
Sound and Fit Impressions:
 
After acclimating to a pair of RS1i and PS-500 Grados over the past few weeks while this build process was underway, I was able to capture a good glimpse into the sound signatures.  The Magnum X build has only been used about 6 hours (for those who believe / or, do not believe in burn-in).  The Magnum X signature in this scenario is very pleasant to listen to.  I think it clearly exceeds what is available in the Grado line from the SR-325is and up towards the RS1i.  The RS1i, with the mahogany cups has a slightly different signature.  Though, the Magnum X still presents male vocals, female vocals, percussion and strings in a very pleasant manner, the RS1i has a slightly different tone to the sound.  The difference can be attributed to the differences between the RS1i drivers from Grado and the Magnum X drivers from Turbulent Labs.  The RS1i has bit of an "earthy" tone as defined by some.  How much of this could be attributed to the mahogany cups vs. the black walnut cups?  It's quite hard to tell as I'd love to hear the RS1i drivers when mounted in a pair of the black walnut cups.  The black walnut wood does have a great tone to it, though.  The sound is not strident, nor boomy.  The Sony headband provides at least as much comfort as the leather covered RS1i Grado band, if not slightly more comfort.  The Sony band moves via two axis points, so the cups / pads contour well on the sides of one's head and ears.  The clamping strength can be adjusted in a similar manner to the Grado head band via taking one's hands and slightly opening up the band with a slight amount of force.  The adjustments are slowly made - a small adjustment, then a test fit.  Then, the process is repeated as needed to get an ultimate fit.
 
The cable was not completely covered in Techflex / PET as to have covered the nylon paracord above the "Y" or the yoke may have resulted in a fair bit of microphonics that would take away from the listener's enjoyment.
 
Sep 28, 2013 at 9:10 AM Post #2,900 of 4,980

BizFromQC

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Wayne, is that a different leather headband on those final pics or is it just the lighting/angle?

Can you elaborate a bit on your impressions on the Grado stock headband with a j$/turbulent labs leather upgrade vs. the Sony one if you can?

Thanks
 
Sep 28, 2013 at 9:40 AM Post #2,901 of 4,980

fleasbaby

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Very nicely done :)...there's nothing like the anticipation while you wait for parts for a build, and the feeling once its done and successful.
 
When they first came out people seemed to either love or hate the new Magnum drivers. I personally loved my first build with them, and can't wait to finish my second. To my ears, after being exposed to the SR line from the SR60i up to the SR325is (with the exception of the SR125i...need to have a go at them too), they felt superior to anything I had experienced before.
 
Sep 28, 2013 at 12:16 PM Post #2,902 of 4,980

7keys

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  The final assembly of the Magnum X headphones have been completed.
 
Specifics:
 
- Magnum X Drivers (Latest Version)
 
- Mogami Neglex Cable, 8 Foot
 
- Amphenol 1/4" TRS Connector
 
- 550 Paracord Sheathing on Complete Cable.
 
- Techflex / PET (Black with Small Blue Stripe) on Cable Up to the "Y" or Yoke.  
 
- From the "Y" or the yoke to the ear cups - Paracord sheathing (to prevent / minimize micrphonics)
 
- Cups: Black Walnut - Sanded, Finished with a Medium Brown / Golden Stain.
 
- Final Finish on Wooden Cups: 4 Coats of Satin Poly.
 



 



 
 
Sound and Fit Impressions:
 
After acclimating to a pair of RS1i and PS-500 Grados over the past few weeks while this build process was underway, I was able to capture a good glimpse into the sound signatures.  The Magnum X build has only been used about 6 hours (for those who believe / or, do not believe in burn-in).  The Magnum X signature in this scenario is very pleasant to listen to.  I think it clearly exceeds what is available in the Grado line from the SR-325is and up towards the RS1i.  The RS1i, with the mahogany cups has a slightly different signature.  Though, the Magnum X still presents male vocals, female vocals, percussion and strings in a very pleasant manner, the RS1i has a slightly different tone to the sound.  The difference can be attributed to the differences between the RS1i drivers from Grado and the Magnum X drivers from Turbulent Labs.  The RS1i has bit of an "earthy" tone as defined by some.  How much of this could be attributed to the mahogany cups vs. the black walnut cups?  It's quite hard to tell as I'd love to hear the RS1i drivers when mounted in a pair of the black walnut cups.  The black walnut wood does have a great tone to it, though.  The sound is not strident, nor boomy.  The Sony headband provides at least as much comfort as the leather covered RS1i Grado band, if not slightly more comfort.  The Sony band moves via two axis points, so the cups / pads contour well on the sides of one's head and ears.  The clamping strength can be adjusted in a similar manner to the Grado head band via taking one's hands and slightly opening up the band with a slight amount of force.  The adjustments are slowly made - a small adjustment, then a test fit.  Then, the process is repeated as needed to get an ultimate fit.
 
The cable was not completely covered in Techflex / PET as to have covered the nylon paracord above the "Y" or the yoke may have resulted in a fair bit of microphonics that would take away from the listener's enjoyment.

Great job! I like the finish.
I'm waiting to see what you think after some burn in. although you already seem to be saying the Magnums can run with the big boys,
 
Sep 28, 2013 at 12:16 PM Post #2,903 of 4,980

wje

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Wayne, is that a different leather headband on those final pics or is it just the lighting/angle?

Can you elaborate a bit on your impressions on the Grado stock headband with a j$/turbulent labs leather upgrade vs. the Sony one if you can?
 

 
Yes.  I've really grown to become a fan of the Sony 7506 head band.  It is constructed quite well and has some great methods for applying adjustments.  The side gimbals allow for rotation on two axis points. This ensures that the headphone cups / ear pads allow for an excellent adaption for one's head and ear angles.  There are also adjustments for height to provide options to fit heads of different sizes.  The Sony band has metal sliders that go up into the headband to facilitate this.  The metal sliders stay exactly as you set them until you decide to move them again.  This is in contrast to the Grado gimbals which can get a bit loose over time and with use.  The Sony headband is engineered quite well and under the plastic covering the mechanism for sliding, they have a ball bearing which is backed up by a spring which works towards keeping the headband adjustment in place once set.  However, if you want to adjust the band, the task is quite easily performed and the ball bearing permits a smooth movement during this process.
 
The only small drawback of the Sony headband is the width of the plastic "peg" opening vs. wooden cup diameter.  With this pair of cups, the diameter was cut slightly larger than the Grado spec, and allowed the headband pegs to fit into the cup holes, once they were bored slightly larger with a drill.  On wooden cups that are cut more towards the true Grado sizing spec, the gimbal spacing will be about 3/8" larger than the diameter of the wooden cups.  However, this is quite easily remedied.  If one has a heat gun or a hair dryer, the inside (head side) can be slowly heated and moved slightly to narrow that gap.  This process should be done slowly and might require 3 or 4 heating cycles to complete the task.  Again, note that this should be done on the inside (head side) of the gimbal as plastic can sometimes discolor a bit when heat is applied.  This ensures that if some discoloring happens, it will be concealed from normal view.
 
Now, the question of the Sony band vs. the Grado band and using a leather headband upgrade.  In most cases, the builder or modifier would have to locate a Grado headband and gimbals for use.  This could mean a cost of $30 to $40 to acquire the parts.  Even if one has a "donor" pair of Grado headphones, something would still need to be done with the cups, drivers and cable if you're going to do a Magnum build.  I would instead suggest that the person sell the pair of Grados or donate to a friend or family member.  This would ensure that another pair of Grado headphones remain in service.  Finally, while I do love the look of a nice, custom leather headband cover, it also adds additional cost.  Thus, if you were to spend $40 to acquire a Grado head band and gimbals for $30, you would still have to drop another $45 or so for the leather band.  This places the cost at $75.00.  For the faithful Grado purists, this method might be one that suits them best - cost aside.  The Sony option can be acquired for about $30, including shipping (if you reside in the U.S.), and does have a fair amount of padding already built into the head band.  This allows one to be comfortable with their headphones without laying out too much additional cash for the head band upgrade options.  
 
I have seen the use of another Sony headband from a different model of headbands.  But, the other one being utilized doesn't look nearly as comfortable as the 7506 band, which is slightly larger and provides the padding option.  One also has to keep in mind, there is lettering on the top of the Sony 7506 head band which says "STUDIO MONITOR".  In the two that I've acquired for my build processes, I've found that using a small amount of acetone on a paper towel allows you to remove the silver lettering, which just appears to be paint.  In doing this, one should work slowly, and not utilize too much acetone.  Remove the letters slowly by wiping or rubbing - but not with a lot of force or too excessive.  The acetone while being able to remove the lettering can also work against the pleather too, and you don't want that to become an issue.  Paying attention to the work and working slowly will ensure your complete the task successfully.
 
  Very nicely done :)...there's nothing like the anticipation while you wait for parts for a build, and the feeling once its done and successful.
 
When they first came out people seemed to either love or hate the new Magnum drivers. I personally loved my first build with them, and can't wait to finish my second. To my ears, after being exposed to the SR line from the SR60i up to the SR325is (with the exception of the SR125i...need to have a go at them too), they felt superior to anything I had experienced before.

 
No doubt.  The anticipation can be felt a few times.  Having the luxury of aligning the times for the wooden cups and the driver shipments can be challenging.  This could be minimized by ordering the drivers and cups from Turbulent Labs.  To me, though, I want to be somewhat unique in what I have the time to work on.  With all the Grado modifications or Magnum builds, I've never done the same build twice as I've liked each one to be completely unique.  I've been fortunate enough to have had cups from about 6 different species of wood and in each case, I've refinished the cups that were finished to start with so that the modification could be unique to what I was doing vs. another individual.  In the end, this does take more time.  However, the challenge of making it unique - yet tasteful is also half the fun for me.  But, I can also accept that not everyone has the access and the materials to handle such a task at their disposal, so the ability to be unique can be somewhat limited, too.
 
With this aside, the Magnum build components were all in various phases of procurement when the offer of a Grado PS-500 came along.  The PS-500 was a model that I had the option to acquire also had the G-cush pads so I could have a headphone that would perform a bit further up the Grado chain, too.  My original intent was to have my RS1i and the Magnum build as my only main headphones.  But, with the PS-500 in the picture, I really won't have a use for the Magnum build.  I don't feel that the Magnum is really below these other models in any way as it really does provide an excellent return with respect to sound quality and product quality for the price paid.  I personally feel that the Magnum is worthy of being on the same shelf as the RS1i and the PS-500 as the signature in my view, is pretty high quality, but a slight bit different from an offering directly from Grado.  Since I can't use all of these headphones, I will be listing the Magnum build at $299 + shipping fees on the forum before the weekend is over.
 
Sep 28, 2013 at 4:31 PM Post #2,906 of 4,980

BizFromQC

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that's a nice deal for somebody. looks like just the components cost over $200 and then all the time it takes to put it together.


300 is quite a deal. Factor the cost of the drivers, cups, headband and cable is close to 300 in parts alone. A headphone that performs in the same league as the rs1 and ps500 at a fraction of the cost?

If I wasn't building mine now, I'd jump on that in a heartbeat.
 
Sep 28, 2013 at 4:47 PM Post #2,907 of 4,980

wje

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that's a nice deal for somebody. looks like just the components cost over $200 and then all the time it takes to put it together
 
i'd be tempted myself but prefer shorter cable with mini jack for use with portables. 
 
hey one question - do the "bloom" style cups add anything to the sound/tone..? i've had RS1 model and others but all were the "pipe" style cups.

 
Yes.  The parts to include the cable components is actually on the high side of the $200s.  But, as stated in the forum rules for the F/S section, items can only be sold for the cost of the components alone.  Labor can't be included in the cost, or the price listed.  But, to me, the labor was not really work.  I love taking the time to work on the process as opposed to one big assembly marathon.
 
300 is quite a deal. Factor the cost of the drivers, cups, headband and cable is close to 300 in parts alone. A headphone that performs in the same league as the rs1 and ps500 at a fraction of the cost?

If I wasn't building mine now, I'd jump on that in a heartbeat.

 
Thanks.  Yes, that is where the parts cost fall.  I could have saved a few dollars here and there with using Canare instead of Mogami.  Virtually no sound difference, but I didn't want to spare expense, too.
 
Sep 29, 2013 at 12:22 AM Post #2,908 of 4,980

hemipowered007

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Drivers came today, but I'm on 12 hour days at work, still need to craft another limba sleeve, first one is the EXACT fit for the magnum driver! Also, need to make rod blocks and gimbals, new headband and new cable...ugh, its gonna be a while isn't it? Anyone out there know I price guess for a decent cable soldered to my drivers? My fear is ill jack these up, I've soldered a lot, but these scare me
 
Sep 29, 2013 at 12:23 AM Post #2,909 of 4,980

hemipowered007

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Terrible pic I know....
 
Sep 29, 2013 at 2:51 AM Post #2,910 of 4,980

wje

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If HemiPowered doesn't mind, I want to use his picture of an example so I can pass a tip along regarding the Grado drivers.  During the process of completing the work for my build, I determined that there is much better way to go about soldering the headphone wire to the driver to minimize any chance for messing up the job, as well as providing a secure connection to ensure that if the driver were to pull away from the wire, it wouldn't FUBAR the driver, too.
 
Instructions, as follows:
 

 
On the picture, I've labeled the references that I want to make with a: 1, 2 and 3.
 
When you receive your Magnum drivers, you'll see that there are two smaller areas of solder (marked by the #3).  To me, I think it's pretty risky to just use those two pre-existing areas of solder in an attempt to connect your driver wires during your solder process.  With the #1 and #2 areas, you'll see the square flat metal areas - or solder tabs.  
 
1) The first thing I would do is apply a small dab of soldering flux to the solder tabs.  With the soldering iron and your solder, I would then run some solder onto those pads so that it joins the other smaller areas of solder, as marked with #3.  This will ensure you've created a good area for the wires to be connected for a secure connection and to permit the wires to be properly secured.  
 
2) Then, using your cable for the headphones, apply a small dab of soldering flux onto the stripped wire ends that you intend to solder to the driver.  Proceed with  your solder, the soldering iron and the wire to "tin" the wire ends.  
 
3) The final step would be to take your wire ends that were pre-tinned and then solder them to the middle of the solder tabs where you had previously applied solder to the tabs to create a larger soldering area.  This should ensure that you have a good, solid connection and will minimize the risk of any driver damage.
 
* Additionally, in doing it via this method, you will then have an option in the future if you want to remove the drivers and install them into another pair of cups.  All you would need to do, it slightly warm the solder tabs with the iron so the wire can safely be removed from the soldering tab.
 

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