Help needed: insight about Grado drivers
Aug 3, 2010 at 3:13 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 16

ishmael

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I've read much about the supposed differences in sound between various Grado models. All I've heard myself is the RS2i and the RS1i, and I happened to like the RS2i more so I purchased it.
 
My question is about the differences between the actual drivers, if indeed there are any. Obviously many models have different sizes and materials for the housing, which of course leads to different sound. But can anyone confirm that there really is a difference in drivers from one model to the next? I know there have been "vintage" drivers in some models that appeared different, but I guess I'm asking about current models.
 
What I'm really concerned with is this: With the large number of custom Woody housings (like the ones from J-Money) making their way onto the used market, how are we really to know if we are getting a Woodied SR60 or a Woodied SR325? Do the drivers say a model number on them? Some places like Headphile offer a certificate of authenticity, but other than that you are just taking the seller's word for it. Granted if they all use the same drivers then the sound would be the same anyway, but the price certainly wouldn't.
 
Anyone have any input on this matter? I'll be the first to admit my ignorance of most things Grado, which is why I'm asking this.
 
Aug 5, 2010 at 10:27 PM Post #3 of 16

Shike

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The only difference I'm aware of is tolerance matching and conductor count, except with the new i series which seems to also have new wire material on the voice coil (don't know if they did that before honestly).
 
Most Grado models (before the i) seem to measure pretty identical (i may as well).  I think the only benefit going up the line at that point was pretty much tolerance matching unless you were a cable believer, or moved into the RS range.  I stopped following them after I realized an SR-60 with 80+ pads pretty much measured identical for the most part to anything in the Prestige line.
 
Aug 14, 2010 at 9:14 AM Post #4 of 16

ishmael

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Thanks for the info. So from 60 to 80 you get the different pads. I can't tell the difference from the 80 to the 125. From 125 to 225 gives you the metal grill instead of plastic. Jump to 325 and the differences become obvious from there.
 
Anyone know the difference between the SR80 and the SR125?
 
Also, I guess this shows that there is really no way to know, when buying a woodied grado, what you are really getting, unless the seller has the receipt, box, or original plastic shells. That's good to know so I don't overpay.
 
Aug 14, 2010 at 6:07 PM Post #5 of 16

Shike

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Quote:
Thanks for the info. So from 60 to 80 you get the different pads. I can't tell the difference from the 80 to the 125. From 125 to 225 gives you the metal grill instead of plastic. Jump to 325 and the differences become obvious from there.
 
Anyone know the difference between the SR80 and the SR125?
 
Also, I guess this shows that there is really no way to know, when buying a woodied grado, what you are really getting, unless the seller has the receipt, box, or original plastic shells. That's good to know so I don't overpay.

There may be internal identification of the drivers, that I don't know.  You would need to ask someone that's opened and dealt with Grado drivers directly before.
 
Maybe consider posting this in the actual headphone forums?  You'll get a lot more responses there.
 
Aug 17, 2010 at 12:33 PM Post #6 of 16

nikongod

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My DIY contraption of a RS-1 shell and an SR-60 driver do not sound like RS-1 or SR-60.
 
There are reviews on the web, google "Grado (ish) rs-60" (no quotes) to find the thread. Direct linking to the forum the reviews are on is forbidden on these forums. Sorry.
 
Aug 18, 2010 at 12:19 AM Post #7 of 16

Shike

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Quote:
My DIY contraption of a RS-1 shell and an SR-60 driver do not sound like RS-1 or SR-60.
 
There are reviews on the web, google "Grado (ish) rs-60" (no quotes) to find the thread. Direct linking to the forum the reviews are on is forbidden on these forums. Sorry.
 
I haven't seen RS drivers measured in plastic housings or vice-versa.  What I do see is a bunch of cited opinions which makes it difficult to see what differences are ultimately there.  If you could get Tyll to measure them and the RS-1 it would be most interesting for sure.
 
On the other hand, the SR drivers are pretty much identical from a measurement standpoint . . . as such it would probably be harder to tell the difference between a woodied SR60 and a woodied SR325 which is what this thread is getting at anyway.
 
 
Aug 18, 2010 at 1:43 AM Post #8 of 16

Uncle Erik

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This is just speculation, but you might want to visit the Grado site and read about how they grade and sort their phono cartridges. It would not surprise me if something similar happens with their headphone drivers. Again, that's speculation. It's also possible that there are slight differences in the chambers and, possibly, doping or other compounds applied to the drivers. But for such a consistent "house" sound, I think that the drivers are closely related.
 
Aug 18, 2010 at 2:47 PM Post #9 of 16

ishmael

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Spent some time on their website, here is what is claimed:
 
SR60 is the bass model, they don't say much about it.
 
SR80 improves upon the 60 by adding a "4 conductor connecting cable" as well as having the diaphrams put through a special "de-stressing" process.
 
SR125 is the 80 but with an "8 conductor cable" built from UHPLC copper, which is also used to make the voice coil.
 
SR225 is the 125 plus bowl pads (all models below this ship with flat pads). It also has the better mesh screen and closer matched drivers.
 
SR325 is the 225 but in a metal housing, plus a better headband.
 
So realistically, if one wanted to end up with a Grado woody, many of these "features" are a non-issue. The user picks whatever pads they want. The woody should have its own mesh venting. If you don't believe in cable voodoo, then there is very little benefit to going up the ladder.
 
This is all theoretical of course, I only have the RS2i and I'm feeling a bit burned at having spent all that money on it (I paid full price).
 
Aug 18, 2010 at 8:29 PM Post #10 of 16

Ham Sandwich

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Quote:
This is all theoretical of course, I only have the RS2i and I'm feeling a bit burned at having spent all that money on it (I paid full price).


Everyone pays full price if bought new.  Grado doesn't sell to retailers who discount.  That's both good and bad.  Bad if you are the kind of person who needs to find a killer deal.  Good in that it helps the used prices since the used Grados aren't competing against a discounted gray market.  It's also good in that full service retailers can actually stock Grados and be able to sell them without being undercut by shops that do nothing to help the customer other than sell cheap.
 
There's more to the sound differences between the models than what Grado lets on in their marketing speak.  There are improvements (or differences depending on how you like it) as you move up the model line.  I've listened to the whole Grado SR line from the SR60 to SR325.  If you're a headphone aficionado you'll appreciate the differences.  Is the SR325 better than the SR225?  Depends on your preferences and what you listen to.  I haven't listened to an RS2 or RS1 yet.  I own the SR60 (old version) and SR325is.  I've had the SR225 (old version) in the past.
 
Aug 18, 2010 at 11:14 PM Post #11 of 16

Shike

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Quote:
There's more to the sound differences between the models than what Grado lets on in their marketing speak.  There are improvements (or differences depending on how you like it) as you move up the model line.  I've listened to the whole Grado SR line from the SR60 to SR325.  If you're a headphone aficionado you'll appreciate the differences.  Is the SR325 better than the SR225?  Depends on your preferences and what you listen to.  I haven't listened to an RS2 or RS1 yet.  I own the SR60 (old version) and SR325is.  I've had the SR225 (old version) in the past.


Your comparisons aren't exactly valid though, at least from the information given.  Unless you used the same pads on both old versions that will have a measurable impact.  The i range is too variable as we have no measurements of them in direct comparison to the old range though, so they may honestly measure (and inherently sound) different.
 
Headroom does have measurements though it seems they may be having issues with the graphing system right as I'm trying to source it.  Regardless, the ones based off the old Grado's are almost identical save the SR-60 (which measured different thanks to comfy pads).
 
Unless you have proof of this trade secret that is so special it must be hidden from advertising (where it could make more sales) then I'd say the facts have been pretty much established. :|
 
Aug 19, 2010 at 10:21 PM Post #12 of 16

Ham Sandwich

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Grado is keeping trade secretes about the details of the driver and other aspects of the headphones.  They don't disclose all (or very much at all) in the marketing speak material.  So we don't know what is different about the drivers in various models.  Whether they're using the same drivers, how they modify them for each model, how to identify if a naked driver came from a SR60, SR60i, SR225, or any other model, etc.  We just don't know.  If you're buying a used modded Grado (especially one that has been reshelled) you pretty much have to trust the seller that the driver came from the model they say it did.
 
Aug 20, 2010 at 12:21 AM Post #14 of 16

Shike

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Quote:
Grado is keeping trade secretes about the details of the driver and other aspects of the headphones.  They don't disclose all (or very much at all) in the marketing speak material.  So we don't know what is different about the drivers in various models.

You're assuming they are hiding trade secrets beyond the production of the headphone.  It may very well be that the only difference in indeed the cabling and enclosure materials.  I know it's hard for you to believe, but this seems to pretty much be the case if going by the old Grado headphone measurements:
 

 
Any deviations seem to be minor, probably caused by placement or differences that vary driver to driver (not likely deviation based on product line).
 
Still, this isn't the i - so who knows what the differences are today.
 
Aug 20, 2010 at 1:07 AM Post #15 of 16

Ham Sandwich

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Frequency response graphs only tell part of the story about how a headphone sounds.  Even including other measurements like square wave response and distortion measurements only gives you part of the story.
 
The frequency response graphs don't tell you anything about soundstage (aka headstage) improvements, quality and characteristics of the treble, midrange, and bass, and other important factors.  You can have every headphone in the SR series measure essentially the same in a frequency response graph yet have each of them sound different when listening.  Some of the improvements in the various SR series Grados has to do with improved headstage, and that's accounting for putting bowls on an SR60 when comparing against an SR225 so you're comparing apples to apples.  That's something that doesn't show up in a frequency response graph.
 

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