Huge Comparison of [Almost] All Grado Headphones -- Post Your Own Comparisons Here (thanks, @giogio!)
May 18, 2016 at 9:39 PM Post #16 of 75

ruthieandjohn

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I just noticed that according to your final analysis, there is a 26% difference between the GH-1 and GH-1/G.

So the logical conclusion is that the G cushions make the headphone sound 50% better than in its stock form. Really? While i'm sure there is *some* improvement, i'm rather skeptical it would be that a big jump.

That is one of the oddities of making numerical scores out of rank orders -- it can exaggerate small differences.

If you click on the link from the list that has the GH1 and GH1G comparison (ninth one down), you will see that that change pushed the GH1/G ahead of the GH1 in 7 of the 10 categories, while dropping it in 2 of 10 (1 remained unchanged).

That large difference results in a significant score increase in the three way comparison (from 14 to 22) which still maintains as a significant increase in the 25- model overall ranking.

It doesn't always happen that way. The second link leads to a table where I compared the PS500 to the PS500 with G pads. In that case, 4 scores got better and 4 scores got worse, with the other two remaining the same and NO change in overall score.

The G cushion improves the GH1 more than it improves the PS500.
 
Jun 20, 2016 at 9:27 AM Post #17 of 75

JoeDoe

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From the PS1000 thread...
 
 
Headphone:​
PS1000
PS1000e
BassNoticeably more slam. Roughly equal extension. Felt as much as heard.Less slam, but more definition/texture. Heard more than felt.
Mids
Very similar to these ears.​
TrebleLower treble - more polite. Can be zingier on cymbals, but I still wouldn't say it's fatiguing.Noticeably more extension and air up top. Very 'audiophile'. Never once did I feel overwhelmed though.
Soundstage/SeparationDefinitely largest of the Grado family. Slightly behind 'e' version in both categories.Because of more hi-fi treble range, the soundstage feels larger and instrument separation is better.
 
 
Listening was done through my iPhone with Dragonfly, Emotiva DC-1 by itself and through the Liquid Carbon being fed from the DC-1. Mind you, neither PS needs much power to sound great, however they both scaled with better upstream equipment. The e version is noticeably easier to drive, but the non-e still got plenty loud from just my phone.
 
All in all, they are certainly brothers, but not twins. The PS1000e made me think very much of the HD800 and it's approach to everything. Detail for days, very liquid midrange, but bass is more heard than felt. The older PS1k doesn't yield as much information up top, but certainly has a more 'fun' sound. If I had to keep only one, it's a tough decision, but I'm going with the non-e version. That's just me. As is, I've sold the 'e' to help offset a partial trade for a Liquid Crimson!
 
Jan 25, 2017 at 2:35 PM Post #19 of 75

ruthieandjohn

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Has anyone noticed the hidden CMOY amp yet? 

Me, ME (falling out of desk raising hand).

Used simply as a prop to tip the front of the Grado amp above it toward the camera, but also compared in performance on Grado headphones to the Grado HPA-1 and RA-1 in my three-way comparisons.
 
Jan 25, 2017 at 3:15 PM Post #20 of 75

jlaseter

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Nice! I haven't checked out the amp comparisons yet. I'll make a point of it! 


It's funny, I've actually looked at that glorious image dozens of times, but never noticed that until today! 


Thanks again for all your hard work on these comparisons! They factored heavily into my decision to purchase the PS1000e. 
 
Aug 12, 2018 at 11:32 AM Post #23 of 75

gazzington

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As you have pretty much all grado models. What would you recommend to a metal and heavy rock listener?
 
Aug 12, 2018 at 7:44 PM Post #24 of 75

ruthieandjohn

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Sorry....I am not a metal and heavy rock listener, so I am unfamiliar with the musical features of that type of music.

If Bass is important, probably the RS-1 vintage, that is the one with the buttons, is great. If strong guitar presence is important, I would go with the SR 325I, that is the gold 50th anniversary edition, which is the brightest of all the Grados and does most justice to piercing guitar tones.
 
Sep 15, 2018 at 1:02 PM Post #25 of 75

Elmambo

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This thread collects comparisons of one model of Grado headphone to another, beginning with comparisons of my 26-Grado collection and inviting others to contribute their comparisons. It differs from other Grado threads by comparing multiple Grado models to each other.

INTRODUCTION

This thread is inspired by this thread from head-fier @giogio, who has started a thread of a similar title for comparing (nearly) all Bluetooth headphones. That thread has become one of the handful of select resources that folks trying to determine which pair of BT headphones to buy. This thread strives to provide a similar service for persons standing agape at the foot of the mountain of models of Grado headphones, wondering which to buy.

As far as I know, I have the largest collection of Grado headphones in private captivity. In addition to the joy that it gives me, it also gives me both an opportunity and, perchance, a responsibility to compare these models systematically.


My Grado Family Portrait - 25 headphones, 1 IEM, 2 amplifiers, and 2 wooden boxes.
(From L to R):
Row 1: Joseph Grado HPA-1, HP1000, Grado GR10e, RA1
Row 2: PS1000, PS1000e
Row 3: GS1000i, GS1000e
Row 4: Bushmills X, HF1, PS500, GH1
Row 5: RS2e, RS2i, RS2, RS1
Row 6: RS1i, SR325e, SR325is, SR325i
Row 7: SR125, SR125e, SR225i, SR325
Row 8: SR80, SR80e, SR60i, iGrado
Row 9: Grado Wooden Box (Over Ears); Grado Wooden Box (On Ears).

Perhaps one of the best ways to assess a headphone is through comparison with other headphones. This is because:


  1. A person seeking to understand an unknown headphone may have another headphone that is familiar and can appreciate a contrast or comparison;
  2. Comparisons are relative rather than absolute: "Headphone A has more bass than Headphone B" helps more than "Headphone A is a basshead headphone."
  3. Comparisons can be multifaceted, looking at a variety of the features that make up the characteristic of a headphone's sound.

TEST METHOD

I have used this test method many, many times on many headphones. I used four songs, all encoded in Apple Lossless Format at CD quality (I actually bought the CDs and ripped them... no internet download involved) and played by my Apple iPod Touch 5th Gen. Because each of the 10 acoustic tests used a limited segment of music (2 - 10 sec), an infinite loop was used to repeat the appropriate segment of each song while headphones were switched in and out.


  • "You're Going To Miss Me When I'm Gone," by Band of Heathens, from their album One Foot In The Ether (used for fidelity of drum sound, positional resolution of two vocalists, and ability to discern pitch of string bass passages);
  • "Spanish Harlem," by Rebecca Pidgeon, on The Ultimate Demonstration Disc of Chesky records (used to assess female vocals, transparency, the attack of finger on bass string, and high resolution discrimination of differences in shaker shakes);
  • "Symphony No. 3 in C Minor Op. 78 (Organ Symphony) - IV" by Camille Saint Saens played by Lorin Maazel and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (used to assess the "ripping" sound of well-rendered lower brass and organ reed pipes, and the ability to hear a very small entrance amidst a bombastic chord of orchestra and organ at full tilt);
  • "Throwback" by B.o.B. on Underground Luxury (used to assess ability of a bass tone, specifically lowest C on piano at about 32 Hz, to pick me up by the throat and shake me!)

The 10 tests were as follows:


  • Transparency: What is between me and the music? A felt cloth? A "Sennheiser veil?" A frosted window? Dirty window? Clear Saran wrap? or nothing? At its best, makes me forget I am listening on headphones and am in room with musicians. [I use the 12-second segment 0:00 - 0:12 of "You're Going To Miss Me," which is kick drum, guitar, piano, and cymbal for this test]
  • Width of sound stage: How far to the left and to the right, (yes, AND up and down in best cases) does it seem the musical sources are arranged? [I use the same 0:00 - 0:12 segment of "You're Going To Miss Me," which starts with kick drum center, guitar #1 right of center piano far right, guitar #2 far left, to see 1) to what extent am I among rather than in front of the musicians, and 2) how wide an angle do those positional extremes of instruments form?]
  • Positional resolution: Can I distinguish a difference in position of two singers in Song 1? [I use 0:30 to 0:38 of "You're Going To Miss Me," where one vocalist ends a verse and a second vocalist, standing next to him, takes up the next.]
  • Bass visceral: Does the bass in third verse of Song 4 actually shake me? Or do I just hear it? [This test uses 0:31 through 0:33 of "Throwback, " where the bass drops to the lowest C on the piano.]
  • Drum "twang": At start of Song 1, do the bass and tom tom drumhead have a tone and a pitch, rather than just a thump? ["You're Going to Miss Me" 0:00 - 0:12]
  • Bass pitch perception: For the complicated bass runs in Song 1, do I hear a pitch with sufficient accuracy to sing or transcribe the part? ["You're Going to Miss Me," 1:02 - 1:23 to see if I can hear the pitch of not only the bass glides and accented notes, but also the grace notes]
  • Bass finger pluck: Do I hear the actual impact of fingers on the bass string just before hearing its sound on Song 2? ["Spanish Harlem," 0:00 - 0:04, listening most carefully to the repeated 3-note pattern to see if I not only hear an initial attack but some structure immediately following, before the finger leaves the string and the sound just rings)
  • Shaker variation: In Song 2, verse 3, do the various shaker shakes sound a bit different from each other, as they should? ["Spanish Harlem," 1:40 - 1:47: there are clearly loud and soft shakes, but how many more volume levels of shakes can I distinguish, and can I hear structure within each shake as the seeds hit the shaker wall?]
  • "Ripping" of organ / brass: In Song 3, is there the sensation of hearing each vibration of the French horn and low organ reed tones (sort of the tonal counterpart to hearing a "pitch" from a drumhead in Test 5); ["Organ Symphony," initial chord from 0:00 - 0:04 and French horn passage 0:06 - 0:12]
  • Discern added chord: About 1:38 into Song 3, after the full orchestra and organ hold a chord at the top of a passage, can I hear a small number of orchestra instruments join in, as sort of an echo, in the second measure of that chord? ["Organ Symphony," in the passage starting at 1:08, how well can I hear the small additional chord added at 1:16 on top of the full strength organ/orchestra chord in progress? Clearly enough to have noticed it if I weren't already listening for it?]

These tests generally emphasize what I find most pleasing in a headphone, namely high-frequency-related features including transparency, upper harmonics of sounds from drum-head, brass, organ pipe, and string bass, and high-resolution effects such as fine detail of each shaker sound and the finger on the bass string.

TEST RESULTS

I have run 52 comparisons of Grados over the years using the methods above. Here are links to those tests. The link names themselves indicate which three headphones are being compared at a time:

Grado PS1000 / Grado HP1000 / Grado GS1000e
Grado PS1000 / Grado PS500 with G CUSH / Grado PS500 with stock L bowl
Grado PS500 / Grado SR325e / Grado SR225i
Grado SR225i / Grado SR125 / Grado SR80i
Grado SR80i / Grado SR60 / Grado iGrado
Grado RS1 / Grado RS1i / Grado RS2i
Grado SR325i / Grado SR325is / Grado SR325e
Grado SR325i / Alessandro MS-2 / Grado PS500
Grado GH1 / Grado Bushmills X / Grado RS1i
Grado GH1 / Grado GH1 with G Cush / Grado RS2e
Grado SR80e / Grado SR125e / Grado SR125
Grado HF-1 / Grado SR125 / Grado PS500
Grado PS1000 / GradoPS1000e / Grado GH-1
Grado RS2 vs. Grado RS2i vs Grado RS2e
Grado RS1 (buttoned) vs. Grado RS 2 (buttoned)
Grado GH1 w G Cush / Grado GS1000e (w > 250 hrs use) / Joseph Grado HP1000
Grado GS1000i / Grado RS2e / Grado GS1000e
Grado GS1000e / SR 325 / SR325i
HiFIMAN HE-6 / HiFiMAN HE1000 / Grado GS1000i (added May 26, 2016)
Grado PS1000 / Grado GS1000i / Grado GH1/G (added May 29, 2016)
Grado RS1e / Grado Rs2e / Grado GS1000i (added Dec. 8, 2016)
Grado RS1e / Grado RS1i / Grado GS1000i (added Dec. 8, 2016)
Grado RS1e / Grado HP1000 / Grado SR325i (added Dec. 8, 2016)
Grado GS2000e / Grado GS1000i / Grado PS1000e (added Dec. 8, 2016)
Grado GS2000e / Grado GS1000e / Grado GH1/G (added Dec. 8, 2016
Grado GS2000e / Grado PS1000 / Grado RS2e (added Dec. 8, 2016)
Grado GS2000e / Sennheiser HD800 / HiFiMAN HE1000 (added Dec. 8, 2016)
Schiit Lyr 2 / Lotoo PAW Gold / Joseph Grado HPA1 all with Grado GS2000e (added Dec. 8, 2016)

Here are the results, as a tile of tables, of the above comparisons. An individual tile appears in the respective thread linked above, with further discussion and often photographs of the headphones.


Data from about 60 comparisons of various Grado headphone models to each other used in this master comparison.

ABSTRACTION OF RESULTS

Here, I choose four major features from those 10 and rank all 26 headphones for each of the features. I then rank the headphones overall based on their ranking for each feature. This work involved the merging of multiple 3-way rankings for each of four features into one 13-way ranking. Some ties remain when I could not hear a clear difference, and there were many additional tests I had to perform to merge two disjoint lists of three into an integrated longer rank order list.

The features I chose were most important to my listening and were fairly independent of each other:


  • Transparency: What is between me and the music? A felt cloth? A hallway corner? At its best, makes me forget I am listening on headphones and am in room with musicians.
  • Width of sound stage: How far to the left and to the right, (yes, AND up and down in best cases) does it seem the musical sources are arranged?
  • Bass visceral: Does the bass in a song that goes down to C0 on the piano actually shake me? Or do I just hear it?
  • Bass finger pluck (Treble): The attack of a rough finger on a rough string provides insight into the treble detail capabilities of a headphone. Do I hear the actual impact of fingers on the bass string just before hearing its sound? Can I hear any internal structure of that attack?


Here are the 27 headphones, ranked from top to bottom on each of these four attributes. Each headphone model number is followed by a normalized number, where 100% means top ranking and 0% means bottom ranking, for each of the four features. For each feature, the headphones are ranked from top to bottom.





Ranking of Grado headphone models on transparency, bass, soundstage, and treble.

We can "average" each headphones score to come up with an overall four-feature ranking of the headphones, from top to bottom. Here a perfect score, if a headphone achieved 100% in each of the four attributes (Transparency, Bass, Treble, Soundstage, and Treble), the total score below would be 100%. However, the same headphone does not lead each of the lists, so even the best will not score 100%:


Approximate overall ranking of Grado headphones based on comparison scores on 10 acoustic tests.


ALTERNATIVE APPROACH - BINARY COMPARE

Due to the nature of a three-way comparison, the difference between two headphones, as represented by numerical score, can depend upon the identity of an unrelated third headphone in the comparison. The approach below avoids that problem.

Here, we compare all pairs of headphones that can be taken from the three way compares. Every three-way compare (A, B, and C) yield three two-way comparisons (A to B, B to C, and A to C). Pairwise comparisons are made by simply scoring for how many of the 10 features each headphone beats the other. If each headphone wins on 5 of the features, the score is 0; if one headphone wins on 2 and the other wins on 7 and there is one tie, the second headphone scores a 5, as winning on 5 more features than the other headphone.

We then set three levels of "similarity"


  • Scores of -1, 0, or 1 - we represent these as "0;" allowing that winning only one feature out of 10 is not a very reliable basis for difference;
  • Scores of -3, -2, 2, or 3 - we represent these as a colored dot in the matrix below, with the color of the dot indicating which of the two headphones, row or column, was ahead of the other (if the headphone on the row title wins on three features more than the headphone on the column title, a blue dot is placed at the cell of intersection of the column and row);
  • Scores of absolute value greater than +/- 3 (e.e.g, +/- 4, +/- 5,...) are given a whole cell in the winning headphone's color (rather than just a dot).

Here is the resulting matrix:


Model vs. model comparison matrix of Grado headphones. Largest differences are solid boxes in the color of the winning column or row.

For example, we can see that the PS1000 (row 10, blue, or here, actually gray for alignment, but in a blue header) is approximately equal (within winning one feature of 10) to the GH1 (the "0") and significantly better (i.e., winning out on more than 3 of 10 features) than the GS1000e, as indicated by the blue square in the GS1000e column.

We can trace back these two way comparisons and come up with a grouped list of headphones, from winning most feature contests to winning the least. When there is a not a clear difference in score, headphones are grouped at the same level of the descending 10-step ranking here:


Grouped rank ordering of Grado headphone models based on number of two-way feature comparisons each model won.


SUMMARY

I have here compared and contrasted 27 Grado headphones, using comparisons of two or three headphones at a time on each of 10 acoustic features, using a standard set of musical passages. The results indicate which Grados have the most transparency, most subbass response, largest soundstage, and best treble detail.

This is merely my assessment. There are MANY other excellent assessments published here that compare Grados. I will reserve the next post in this thread for me to start compiling links to some of those, sorted in a way to guide readers to particular headphone models, and doing this as my time permits.

Meantime, please post your own comparisons of different models of Grado headphones here. Thanks!
Absolute madness!! You should be given an award for this dissertation. I am waiting on the arrival of some RS2e's chosen post article to challenge my beloved PS500e's. Lesser commentators say the jump up from the Prestige line simply not worth it. Will post my findings and decide if I keep both or sell the lesser pair. Thanks again, peach of of an article!
 
Sep 18, 2018 at 4:19 PM Post #26 of 75

Elmambo

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Well...RS2e's arrived today at work. Was expecting a used set off Ebay for £360, the box arrived unopened. Brand spanking new, the Grado Label still intact...go figure!!

Giddy as a kipper to get home and demo on the MDac Plus. Even before I compared with the 500e's the RS sounded ridiculously good on the Fiio x5ii. Wide, wide open sound that leaves you wanting more.

Have only had thirty minutes chopping between the two and I have to say there are differences. RS2e's are bright, sharp and really on it. They seem to carry a signal with that bit more authority than the 500e's. Bearing in mind the RS2e's are not run in. Have no intention of doing a burn in, they sound so outrageously good as is and why would I take 80-100 hours off their shelf life when they sound this good?

Am using opening bars of Steely Dan Black Crow and RS are a warmer, more engaged sound. Mids seem wider and highs are sharp. Not ready to assess the bass til they've run in but for now very accurate and tight.

First impressions seem to support ruthieandjohn's painstaking research that the RS2e have a clear edge on the RS500e. No idea why, the 500's are the more expensive headphone. Maybe, just maybe it has something to do with the RS2's all wood enclosure and the 500's aluminium back dampens the signal? As a latin percussionist I know that the body of any drum affects the tone. Speakers/headphones no different.

Aural perceptions are so subjective and "my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience..." However, I was in love with my RS500's and would have backed them winning this Grado competition hands down. Bought the RS fully expecting them to fall short of the high benchmark set by the 500's. Game plan was let them fail and sell them on at a small loss. Not a chance. I have found my perfect headphone.

Thanks again to ruthieandjohn, RS2e's are a revelation.
 
Last edited:
Apr 28, 2019 at 11:54 AM Post #28 of 75

Bob Ley

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This thread collects comparisons of one model of Grado headphone to another, beginning with comparisons of my 26-Grado collection and inviting others to contribute their comparisons. It differs from other Grado threads by comparing multiple Grado models to each other.

INTRODUCTION

This thread is inspired by this thread from head-fier @giogio, who has started a thread of a similar title for comparing (nearly) all Bluetooth headphones. That thread has become one of the handful of select resources that folks trying to determine which pair of BT headphones to buy. This thread strives to provide a similar service for persons standing agape at the foot of the mountain of models of Grado headphones, wondering which to buy.

As far as I know, I have the largest collection of Grado headphones in private captivity. In addition to the joy that it gives me, it also gives me both an opportunity and, perchance, a responsibility to compare these models systematically.


My Grado Family Portrait - 25 headphones, 1 IEM, 2 amplifiers, and 2 wooden boxes.
(From L to R):
Row 1: Joseph Grado HPA-1, HP1000, Grado GR10e, RA1
Row 2: PS1000, PS1000e
Row 3: GS1000i, GS1000e
Row 4: Bushmills X, HF1, PS500, GH1
Row 5: RS2e, RS2i, RS2, RS1
Row 6: RS1i, SR325e, SR325is, SR325i
Row 7: SR125, SR125e, SR225i, SR325
Row 8: SR80, SR80e, SR60i, iGrado
Row 9: Grado Wooden Box (Over Ears); Grado Wooden Box (On Ears).

Perhaps one of the best ways to assess a headphone is through comparison with other headphones. This is because:


  1. A person seeking to understand an unknown headphone may have another headphone that is familiar and can appreciate a contrast or comparison;
  2. Comparisons are relative rather than absolute: "Headphone A has more bass than Headphone B" helps more than "Headphone A is a basshead headphone."
  3. Comparisons can be multifaceted, looking at a variety of the features that make up the characteristic of a headphone's sound.

TEST METHOD

I have used this test method many, many times on many headphones. I used four songs, all encoded in Apple Lossless Format at CD quality (I actually bought the CDs and ripped them... no internet download involved) and played by my Apple iPod Touch 5th Gen. Because each of the 10 acoustic tests used a limited segment of music (2 - 10 sec), an infinite loop was used to repeat the appropriate segment of each song while headphones were switched in and out.


  • "You're Going To Miss Me When I'm Gone," by Band of Heathens, from their album One Foot In The Ether (used for fidelity of drum sound, positional resolution of two vocalists, and ability to discern pitch of string bass passages);
  • "Spanish Harlem," by Rebecca Pidgeon, on The Ultimate Demonstration Disc of Chesky records (used to assess female vocals, transparency, the attack of finger on bass string, and high resolution discrimination of differences in shaker shakes);
  • "Symphony No. 3 in C Minor Op. 78 (Organ Symphony) - IV" by Camille Saint Saens played by Lorin Maazel and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (used to assess the "ripping" sound of well-rendered lower brass and organ reed pipes, and the ability to hear a very small entrance amidst a bombastic chord of orchestra and organ at full tilt);
  • "Throwback" by B.o.B. on Underground Luxury (used to assess ability of a bass tone, specifically lowest C on piano at about 32 Hz, to pick me up by the throat and shake me!)

The 10 tests were as follows:


  • Transparency: What is between me and the music? A felt cloth? A "Sennheiser veil?" A frosted window? Dirty window? Clear Saran wrap? or nothing? At its best, makes me forget I am listening on headphones and am in room with musicians. [I use the 12-second segment 0:00 - 0:12 of "You're Going To Miss Me," which is kick drum, guitar, piano, and cymbal for this test]
  • Width of sound stage: How far to the left and to the right, (yes, AND up and down in best cases) does it seem the musical sources are arranged? [I use the same 0:00 - 0:12 segment of "You're Going To Miss Me," which starts with kick drum center, guitar #1 right of center piano far right, guitar #2 far left, to see 1) to what extent am I among rather than in front of the musicians, and 2) how wide an angle do those positional extremes of instruments form?]
  • Positional resolution: Can I distinguish a difference in position of two singers in Song 1? [I use 0:30 to 0:38 of "You're Going To Miss Me," where one vocalist ends a verse and a second vocalist, standing next to him, takes up the next.]
  • Bass visceral: Does the bass in third verse of Song 4 actually shake me? Or do I just hear it? [This test uses 0:31 through 0:33 of "Throwback, " where the bass drops to the lowest C on the piano.]
  • Drum "twang": At start of Song 1, do the bass and tom tom drumhead have a tone and a pitch, rather than just a thump? ["You're Going to Miss Me" 0:00 - 0:12]
  • Bass pitch perception: For the complicated bass runs in Song 1, do I hear a pitch with sufficient accuracy to sing or transcribe the part? ["You're Going to Miss Me," 1:02 - 1:23 to see if I can hear the pitch of not only the bass glides and accented notes, but also the grace notes]
  • Bass finger pluck: Do I hear the actual impact of fingers on the bass string just before hearing its sound on Song 2? ["Spanish Harlem," 0:00 - 0:04, listening most carefully to the repeated 3-note pattern to see if I not only hear an initial attack but some structure immediately following, before the finger leaves the string and the sound just rings)
  • Shaker variation: In Song 2, verse 3, do the various shaker shakes sound a bit different from each other, as they should? ["Spanish Harlem," 1:40 - 1:47: there are clearly loud and soft shakes, but how many more volume levels of shakes can I distinguish, and can I hear structure within each shake as the seeds hit the shaker wall?]
  • "Ripping" of organ / brass: In Song 3, is there the sensation of hearing each vibration of the French horn and low organ reed tones (sort of the tonal counterpart to hearing a "pitch" from a drumhead in Test 5); ["Organ Symphony," initial chord from 0:00 - 0:04 and French horn passage 0:06 - 0:12]
  • Discern added chord: About 1:38 into Song 3, after the full orchestra and organ hold a chord at the top of a passage, can I hear a small number of orchestra instruments join in, as sort of an echo, in the second measure of that chord? ["Organ Symphony," in the passage starting at 1:08, how well can I hear the small additional chord added at 1:16 on top of the full strength organ/orchestra chord in progress? Clearly enough to have noticed it if I weren't already listening for it?]

These tests generally emphasize what I find most pleasing in a headphone, namely high-frequency-related features including transparency, upper harmonics of sounds from drum-head, brass, organ pipe, and string bass, and high-resolution effects such as fine detail of each shaker sound and the finger on the bass string.

TEST RESULTS

I have run 52 comparisons of Grados over the years using the methods above. Here are links to those tests. The link names themselves indicate which three headphones are being compared at a time:

Grado PS1000 / Grado HP1000 / Grado GS1000e
Grado PS1000 / Grado PS500 with G CUSH / Grado PS500 with stock L bowl
Grado PS500 / Grado SR325e / Grado SR225i
Grado SR225i / Grado SR125 / Grado SR80i
Grado SR80i / Grado SR60 / Grado iGrado
Grado RS1 / Grado RS1i / Grado RS2i
Grado SR325i / Grado SR325is / Grado SR325e
Grado SR325i / Alessandro MS-2 / Grado PS500
Grado GH1 / Grado Bushmills X / Grado RS1i
Grado GH1 / Grado GH1 with G Cush / Grado RS2e
Grado SR80e / Grado SR125e / Grado SR125
Grado HF-1 / Grado SR125 / Grado PS500
Grado PS1000 / GradoPS1000e / Grado GH-1
Grado RS2 vs. Grado RS2i vs Grado RS2e
Grado RS1 (buttoned) vs. Grado RS 2 (buttoned)
Grado GH1 w G Cush / Grado GS1000e (w > 250 hrs use) / Joseph Grado HP1000
Grado GS1000i / Grado RS2e / Grado GS1000e
Grado GS1000e / SR 325 / SR325i
HiFIMAN HE-6 / HiFiMAN HE1000 / Grado GS1000i (added May 26, 2016)
Grado PS1000 / Grado GS1000i / Grado GH1/G (added May 29, 2016)
Grado RS1e / Grado Rs2e / Grado GS1000i (added Dec. 8, 2016)
Grado RS1e / Grado RS1i / Grado GS1000i (added Dec. 8, 2016)
Grado RS1e / Grado HP1000 / Grado SR325i (added Dec. 8, 2016)
Grado GS2000e / Grado GS1000i / Grado PS1000e (added Dec. 8, 2016)
Grado GS2000e / Grado GS1000e / Grado GH1/G (added Dec. 8, 2016
Grado GS2000e / Grado PS1000 / Grado RS2e (added Dec. 8, 2016)
Grado GS2000e / Sennheiser HD800 / HiFiMAN HE1000 (added Dec. 8, 2016)
Schiit Lyr 2 / Lotoo PAW Gold / Joseph Grado HPA1 all with Grado GS2000e (added Dec. 8, 2016)

Here are the results, as a tile of tables, of the above comparisons. An individual tile appears in the respective thread linked above, with further discussion and often photographs of the headphones.


Data from about 60 comparisons of various Grado headphone models to each other used in this master comparison.

ABSTRACTION OF RESULTS

Here, I choose four major features from those 10 and rank all 26 headphones for each of the features. I then rank the headphones overall based on their ranking for each feature. This work involved the merging of multiple 3-way rankings for each of four features into one 13-way ranking. Some ties remain when I could not hear a clear difference, and there were many additional tests I had to perform to merge two disjoint lists of three into an integrated longer rank order list.

The features I chose were most important to my listening and were fairly independent of each other:


  • Transparency: What is between me and the music? A felt cloth? A hallway corner? At its best, makes me forget I am listening on headphones and am in room with musicians.
  • Width of sound stage: How far to the left and to the right, (yes, AND up and down in best cases) does it seem the musical sources are arranged?
  • Bass visceral: Does the bass in a song that goes down to C0 on the piano actually shake me? Or do I just hear it?
  • Bass finger pluck (Treble): The attack of a rough finger on a rough string provides insight into the treble detail capabilities of a headphone. Do I hear the actual impact of fingers on the bass string just before hearing its sound? Can I hear any internal structure of that attack?


Here are the 27 headphones, ranked from top to bottom on each of these four attributes. Each headphone model number is followed by a normalized number, where 100% means top ranking and 0% means bottom ranking, for each of the four features. For each feature, the headphones are ranked from top to bottom.





Ranking of Grado headphone models on transparency, bass, soundstage, and treble.

We can "average" each headphones score to come up with an overall four-feature ranking of the headphones, from top to bottom. Here a perfect score, if a headphone achieved 100% in each of the four attributes (Transparency, Bass, Treble, Soundstage, and Treble), the total score below would be 100%. However, the same headphone does not lead each of the lists, so even the best will not score 100%:


Approximate overall ranking of Grado headphones based on comparison scores on 10 acoustic tests.


ALTERNATIVE APPROACH - BINARY COMPARE

Due to the nature of a three-way comparison, the difference between two headphones, as represented by numerical score, can depend upon the identity of an unrelated third headphone in the comparison. The approach below avoids that problem.

Here, we compare all pairs of headphones that can be taken from the three way compares. Every three-way compare (A, B, and C) yield three two-way comparisons (A to B, B to C, and A to C). Pairwise comparisons are made by simply scoring for how many of the 10 features each headphone beats the other. If each headphone wins on 5 of the features, the score is 0; if one headphone wins on 2 and the other wins on 7 and there is one tie, the second headphone scores a 5, as winning on 5 more features than the other headphone.

We then set three levels of "similarity"


  • Scores of -1, 0, or 1 - we represent these as "0;" allowing that winning only one feature out of 10 is not a very reliable basis for difference;
  • Scores of -3, -2, 2, or 3 - we represent these as a colored dot in the matrix below, with the color of the dot indicating which of the two headphones, row or column, was ahead of the other (if the headphone on the row title wins on three features more than the headphone on the column title, a blue dot is placed at the cell of intersection of the column and row);
  • Scores of absolute value greater than +/- 3 (e.e.g, +/- 4, +/- 5,...) are given a whole cell in the winning headphone's color (rather than just a dot).

Here is the resulting matrix:


Model vs. model comparison matrix of Grado headphones. Largest differences are solid boxes in the color of the winning column or row.

For example, we can see that the PS1000 (row 10, blue, or here, actually gray for alignment, but in a blue header) is approximately equal (within winning one feature of 10) to the GH1 (the "0") and significantly better (i.e., winning out on more than 3 of 10 features) than the GS1000e, as indicated by the blue square in the GS1000e column.

We can trace back these two way comparisons and come up with a grouped list of headphones, from winning most feature contests to winning the least. When there is a not a clear difference in score, headphones are grouped at the same level of the descending 10-step ranking here:


Grouped rank ordering of Grado headphone models based on number of two-way feature comparisons each model won.


SUMMARY

I have here compared and contrasted 27 Grado headphones, using comparisons of two or three headphones at a time on each of 10 acoustic features, using a standard set of musical passages. The results indicate which Grados have the most transparency, most subbass response, largest soundstage, and best treble detail.

This is merely my assessment. There are MANY other excellent assessments published here that compare Grados. I will reserve the next post in this thread for me to start compiling links to some of those, sorted in a way to guide readers to particular headphone models, and doing this as my time permits.

Meantime, please post your own comparisons of different models of Grado headphones here. Thanks!

So helpful!
 
Aug 13, 2019 at 4:52 PM Post #29 of 75

jocar37

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Absolutely extraordinary analysis ruthieandjohn. I've never seen anything approaching it. So I hope you don't mind I'd like to tap you for some advice.
I have an old pair of SR225's and have been considering upgrading. It looks like the choice is between the RS2e and the GS100e, which, as I'm sure you know, list for about 40% more than the RS2e's. I'm not familiar with the recordings you used, but I listen almost exclusively to acoustic small ensemble instrumental (few if any vocals) jazz. Do you have any particular thoughts about which of these I might enjoy more? Or is there possibly another even better option for me among all the headphones you've analyzed?
 
Aug 13, 2019 at 8:40 PM Post #30 of 75

ruthieandjohn

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I found the GS1000e a bit of a disappointment....even after 400 hours of use, though it continued to improve, it had a bit of tubbiness in the bass..sort of a one-note resonance that highlighted notes of nearby pitch.. It wasn’t bad enough (after 400 hours) to notice unless you compared to other over-ear Grados, but it was there in such comparisons.

I would much prefer the RS2e to the GS1000e. If you want the comfort of the over-ear Grado, try to find a used GS1000i, or spring for a GS2000e. They are both exquisite (as are the heavier PS1000 and PS2000e).

Hope this helps!
 
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