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Grado RS2i versus SR225i ???

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by greg788, Apr 3, 2011.
  1. greg788
    IHas anyone compared these? How do they sound differently and is the RS2i worth the $$$ over the SR225i?
    And which is has brighter treble? Headroom told me the RS2i is brighter in the treble but their frequency response graphs don't support this (I think their graphs are for the older version, not the "i" models).
    i've searched the archives to no avail (most info is for RS2 and SR225, not the current "i" models).
  2. Bilavideo
    An FR graph won't tell you which headphone sounds "better," but (as dumb devices go) it will tell you "frequency response," assuming the measurements were properly recorded (and I've no reason to suspect they weren't).
    This FR graph shows a little more bass response, probably due to the differences between plastic and mahogany shells.  Mids are close and flat.  Highs mids, between 2 kHz and 3 kHz show the SR225 with a smoother response while the RS2 is peakier.  From 3-6 kHz, the SR225 is peakier.   This may again be an effect of the wood.  Then again, from 6 kHz to 9 kHz, the RS2 has more peaks, and between 9 and 10 kHz, they have similar peak patterns, with the SR225 peaking slightly more.  Strangely enough, between 10 and 17 kHz, the SR225 has more treble presence, with less of a roll-off than the RS2.
    What does this all mean?  Well, that's the real question.  Reasonable minds can disagree.  Different drivers produce slightly different wave patterns, where one peaks while the other troughs, and vice versa.  In Bilavideoland, it's more euphonic to have fewer peaks and troughs the closer you are to the center of the spectrum.  Midrange is quite easy to pick up.  It's where we live.  It contains the most details we care anything about.  Bass and treble provide "presence," with the bass giving us that oomph and the treble giving us that sparkle.  Both help create the illusion that we're hearing live music, particularly since cheap speakers focus on what matters most: adequate reproduction of the mids.  Instinctively, I would prefer the SR225's less-peaky response at 2 kHz over that of the RS2, while the RS2 seems mellower between 3 and 6 kHz.  In this tale of two peaks - 5 dB at 2 kHz (RS2) and 6 dB at 4 kHz (SR225), I'm inclined to prefer the SR225.  Why?  Because the closer you are to center, the more you hear it - and too much of the high mids sounds honky.
    Take a look at this graph:
    Here, you can see the effect of the wood as the RS1 and RS2 dominate the bass region.  At the mids, they're all practically identical.  At the high mids, the RS1 has the largest peak at 2 kHz, which may be on purpose.  There's an art to EQing and many of those who are into it have their pet frequencies, one of which is 2 kHz.  The 225 still has the mellowest push through this area.  
    The big difference I wanted to look at was between the RS1 and the RS2, both of which come sporting mahogany shells.  The shell on the back of the RS1 is a little larger than that of the RS2 but it's still worth asking what differences exist between these two - and why?  The RS1 has the larger bass peak at and around 100 Hz, with slightly better bass extension all around.  On the other hand, it also has thicker midbass all around.  As mentioned before, it has a slightly higher first peak at 2 kHz.  The second peak, between 4 and 5 kHz, is virtually the same, except the RS1 breaks closer to 5 kHz, with more of a sustained peak while the RS2 troughs rapidly to flat and slightly under it.  While the RS2 is slightly less peaky at 10 kHz, the RS1 does a "better" job of treble extension after 10 kHz.
    When you consider the costs - $200 for a 225 against $500 for an RS2 and $700 for an RS1 - the 225 holds up remarkably well.  It's clearly the best value.  That said, look at this graph representing Harmonic Distortion:
    In terms of harmonic distortion, the SR225 shows the most distortion - visibly the most - even though it has the same wiring (in the cable and voice coil) as these other high-end Grados.  Consistently, the lowest in distortion is the SR325.  What's the big difference?  It's the material of the shells.  The 225 and the 325 have the same wiring but one is encased in plastic while the other is encased in aluminum.  The RS1 and RS2 have the advantage of being wooden throughout (with no plastic ring in the inner).  At certain points, they best the SR325, probably because of that difference in plastic (The SR325 has a plastic inner).  They also come packing damping material on the magnet plate.
    SnowHydra and liquiflux like this.
  3. greg788
    Thanks, but what I really need to know is how the two sound versus each other by someone who's heard both of them back to back. The perception of brightness is what's relevant, not baseline FR graph overlays.
  4. SnowHydra
    Bilavideo, first of all, brilliant post.
    Now, regarding the harmonic distortion graph, doesn't the 325 have several spikes? I would believe that the RS1/2 would have lower distortion judging from the graph... Or am I reading it wrong?
    On a side note, do you believe the drivers in Grado phones are essentially the same and only different in presentation? I would think that at least something has changed in the drivers, but your large modding thread seems to say otherwise. I was considering getting the 325is but if I could do as well by modding a SR60, then...
    225i vs RS2i, I would think that the difference is substantial. From reading a ton of other posts, the RS2i has a very different presentation, with less resonance, more clarity, and more bass. Most people seem to agree that the 225i is the sweet spot for Grado phones in terms of price:sound, due to the cost of upgrading. A RS2i would have you shelling out 500 bones while the 225i, only 200. Some say otherwise, that the upgrade is very worth it, and that the RS2i is the sweet spot, as the RS1 clocks in at 700. Of course, the law of diminishing returns is present, but the real factor is your budget. 
    Here is what I've gathered from research of Grado phones:
    SR60-80 = Good value for money, sound quality is very forward, "smileyface" sound. Most forward of the bunch due to comfies.
    SR 125 = Inbetween the 80 and 225, it's basically a clearer 80. I would avoid this, not worth the money.
    SR225 = Here the bowls change the sound, which results in more treble and clearer bass. Some say that the drivers output more bass to counteract this. (Try with comfies?)
    SR325 = Even more smileyface, with large treble. No other Grado phone resembles it. Resonance is sharply reduced from 60-225. Many say it is full of sibilance.
    RS2/1 = Deeper and more natural, very clear and bass is fast. Very little resonance, gives the "wood" sound. Sounds are extremely lively and midrange is pronounced.
    Don't take my word for it, I'm no expert. Just a long time lurker. Good luck!
  5. kite7 Contributor
    Let me tell you that the SR325is,RS2i,RS1i sound vastly different from their non-i models through local auditions. Their treble is more tame, and the brightness overall is a lot more toned down. The bass however has much more weight and the midrange has more warmth. The emphasis has shifted from midrange and treble to bass and midrange. It is a change that is questionably for the better or for the worse; I personally do not like the new change. The SR60i up to the SR225i still have a very similar sound to their non-i series models except the bass is slightly more punchy and the soundstage is slightly improved. SR225i sounded more bright to me than the RS2i, and has a noticeably more forward upper mid peak. I prefer the SR225i sound signature more. Headroom said they would update their FR graphs to reflect the i models sometime, though it's unknown when they will come through. If you don't like bright sounding headphones then the new SR325is,RS2i and RS1i will fit your preference more; they simply cannot make me fatigued due to their less peaky sound.
    Right now, it's not accurate at all to use the FR graphs from headroom for SR325is,RS2i and RS1i because it's not reflective of the i series sound signature.
  6. Kevin Brown
    IMO: the SR225i is the better value, but in listening, I prefer the RS2i.  The 225 does seem brighter to me, I have to EQ the highs down a smidge for that one to make it listenable for long term listening.  The RS2i?  Don't need to EQ it at all.  Not as bright, but warmer, and more detail too.  I really like the RS2i, and because of the pumped up lows and highs of the RS1i vs the RS2i, I have absolutely no desire to try the RS1i.  I think the RS2i is a very balanced headphone.
  7. Bilavideo

    1. The SR325 has several huge spikes, but those aren't just 325 spikes.  They're all spiking there, including the 325.
    2. I think the drivers are essentially the same up and down the product line, though what gets defined as a "driver" is broader than it seems.  You can modify the voice coil by using different gauges and qualities of wire, though the idea that Grado sits around and mass produces different spool lengths or spool content is far-fetched.  If you look at the history of Grado, there are these distinctive product generations or cohorts.  I highly doubt that Grado has time to mess around on driver quality - going full bore on these and pulling punches on those.  Having owned or worked with the SR60i, SR80i, SR125i, SR225i, SR325i, HF2 and PS1000, I know what the "i" series drivers sound like.  Apart from the four-wire and eight-wire upgrades and the remodeling of the shells, the "drivers" themselves do sound different.  There is definitely more punch.  There is also a different sound in the HF department.  But my experience with them leads me to conclude that it's a generational thing.  There are just too many product offerings, with too many elements to manage, to make different 32 ohm drivers of the same size.  But you can do different things with those 32 ohm drivers.
    3. Before the "i" upgrade, the differences between the plastic Grados went something like this: basic driver (SR60) bowl pad (SR80), better plastic chamber (SR125), metal grill and UHPLC wire in either the cable or the voice coil (SR225), aluminum chamber (SR325), slightly smaller wooden chamber (RS2), full wooden chamber (RS1) (I don't remember at which point, the magnet plate damping came into play, as well as leather in the headband).  The GS1000 added venting to the driver, enlarged the wooden chamber and came out with the jumbo pads.  With the "i" upgrades, some of this product delineation has been shuffled.  Now, you don't get bowls until you get to the 225 but the wiring is better as early as the 125 (eight connector cable, UHPLC wire).  

    To someone who can read them, they're as relevant as they need to be.  But if you want anecdotal evidence, I'll give it to you - as I have heard both "back to back."  The 325is sounds brighter than the RS2i.  The aluminum brings out a ton of sparkle but it's easily overwhelming unless you vent the driver or plug the phones into a very warm amp.  Either way, you're trying to get more warmth into it, to allow the bass to catch up to all that sparkle.  The RS2i doesn't have the same issues.  At the same time, the RS2i doesn't have the benefits of the SR325is.  Aluminum, like mahogany, does have its benefits.  A big part of the difference in sparkle between the GS1000 and the PS1000 (both of which I have owned) comes down aluminum.  The HF2 is less so but that's because the liner runs really long; it goes all the way to the end of the pipe.  There's no direct exposure of the aluminum except at the very ends.  If you were to pull out the mahogany liner and grind off a few millimeters of wood, you would get a brighter sound out of the HF2.

    I've listened to them, myself.  With respect to the SR325is, the OP needs to know that even with the new drivers, the 325 is still a very bright, sparkly, metal can.  The aluminum makes a lot of difference.  You can do things with it, like pop wood into it or vent the driver so that the bass is more prominent, but right out of the box, it's a bit overwhelming.  You can attenuate some of this by dropping down to comfies or flats.  With bowls, that's a lot of sheen.  But venting works wonders.  If I had a choice between the 325is and the RS2i, I'd buy and vent the 325is.  But that's me.
  8. wje
    I believe with the SR325 (non "i"), is where Grado started to use the leather head band.  My SR325 pair appears to be leather - or, a very high-quality pleather (if such a thing exists) - but, it's above and beyond in construction with the new "i" series through the SR225i.  I haven't seen/heard the new SR325i, so I can't claim to their current construction methods.  However, with the points made by Bilavideo in regards to how the aluminum housing changes the sound, I'd also like to mention the weight.  At times, I use my Grados when I wind down to go to sleep.  The heavier SR325 (aluminum) is harder to keep in place when laying down as opposed to the SR225 - which has a lighter housing.
    However, there's one point that we all have to keep in mind -- the only thing that really matters is how the sound is heard by YOU, the listener with the generes of music that you listen to.  If YOU the listener, purchaser and user of the headphones are pleased with what you've gotten for what you paid, that's all that matters.
    I know for myself, I'm happy as a clam in playing with headphones.  The sound is so far above and beyond what you can get out of speakers in an audio system - and, the hassles of dealing with room sizes, etc.  I should have kicked myself about 10 years ago before buying / selling a LOT of gear ... only to get marginal increases in performance.  If I had initially just gotten into headphones, I could have paid $1,599 for the Grado top of the line model and dropped another $700 - 800 on a good amp for them and been set for a long time.

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