Shock: Sennheiser 497's VS Grado 225's
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lojay

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Hello fellow headphone geeks!


My friend has bought a SR 225, burnt in for 30+ hours. I had the honour to AB it for 2 hours at ear shattering volumes with my 497's; the rival of what? the SR 60's!? I must be crazy to AB them with the 225s
. But given that my five month old 497s are fully burnt in and the 225's just have 30 hours of burn in (i mean really burning in, rather than merely listening), they'll make a fun listening in comparison. All I wanted to do was make my friend feel sick by the thought that my Senn's could be better than her 225's, which are around 3 times more the cost of my 497's.


/*This is by no means a REVIEW. I am a newb.*/

The upcoming comparison will sound crazy to most, maybe you'll hate me too. I feel like that guy who ripped open his Mac G5 and put a Athlon inside......


We listened to DSOM by Pink Floyd at first, but she said it was boring, then Blackwater Park by Opeth, but she said...
"the organs sound a bit too loud....wait... *scream!*"

Steely Dan's "Katy Lied" and "Aja" sounded more engaged in the 225's and muffled in the 497's. Is that what you want to hear?
The wind / brass (eg the sax on "Peg") instruments sounded very similar on both cans, and the soundstage was simlar as well. It was the veiled Donald Fagen's voice and the guitars (which sounded like they were put into a box) that made the 497's lack color. And color is something you would like for jazz pop.

But the Senn's veil was only on for these recordings only, as long as I recall. Later i figured the Senn's to have a more outstanding/ unveiled reproduction of particular instruments or voices. So both draw on this matter.

For some albums, such as "Godspeed You Black Emporer's Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antenna's To Heaven's Storm" (lol) sounded more vivid and better on the Senns, which VERY suprised me.

Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo la Turk" and "Take Five" were both good on these cans, but I'm sure the 225's would out perform the Senns if it were fully burnt in, or my source was better.

In Masada and John Zorn's "Masada in Middleheim" , Zorn's live performances were both muffled on these cans.


On King Crimison, Genesis and Pink Floyd, all art rock, the sparse or spacey parts were both done similarly in both cans, but the 225 sounded more like "a live performance" than 497's "to-the-mic recording studio". I suppose its due to the Senn's semi-closed nature

... did I mention that although both are open cans, the Grado leaks at least 50% more sound than the Senns?

On ALMOST everything, the detail perceived is very equal, which scares me. As I've heard many head-fi'ers comment on first hearing the senns, they say it "does almost everything right". But neither headphone sounds more like the real instrument, nor are vocals clearer on any of them. I'm amazed how they sound so similar. Affinity towards wither would be due to ahem, a psychological cause - it is 3 times expensive.

To sum up so far:
1.) 1/2 of my collection sounded similar on the 225s, and I know clearly how they should sound on my Senns, as I'm using the original sources i plug them in everyday. Another 1/2 of that the 497s sounded better (eg. most Jazz, even some rock).
2.) The other 1/2, 1/4 of the 1/2 sounds a much better on the 225's, the 3/4 rest has the 225 win by a millimeter.
3.) We figured the price of the 225 should be definetely reduced by half, cause I was expecting MUCH MORE (in the detail, impact and "rocking" departments), even not including soundstage. Clearly I'm already not a soundstage and detail freak.

So except Steely Dan, what sounded REALLY better on the Grado SR 225's? My David Bowie collection. Not even did AC/DC or Black Sabbath (or Opeth) provide such a huge difference that could moved me a bit. David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust blew be away on the Grados! It really rocked, putting the vocals and the guitars upfront, where the Senns put them behind the drums and bass guitars. Sometimes the main/ lead singers must be put upfront to ROCK ! Sometimes it'll be annoying. Ackwardly, the lead's were not so upfront as in AC/DC, Black Sabbath or Genesis or Pink Floyd. Wonder why is that?

Also to mention, the soundstage on some Rock recordings have a more distinctive separation of instruments, though only laterally, not in a 3 dimension.

Lastly, here are some things to clarify:
1.) The lack in detail and "air" in both cans (well I can't say there's any lack, since theyre similar) may be due to my bad source. I use only a portable CD player (Panasonic SLSX, one that headroom used to recommend) and no amp (although headroom says both grado and senns need an amp to work best, I tried many amps and failed to find any difference)
2.) I must admit, my music I used to AB them were not a bit diverse, if you have any ideas on what I should AB them with next time (my friend lives next door) ....feel free to suggest.
3.) Again, maybe the Grados will sound better with a better source. I want to tell you that I feel that the 497 and 225 don't have the very extreme "grado harshness/brightness" or "sennheiser veil" that many suggest, nor do I prefer any of them. But my friend did say that she found the grados a bit harsh with hard rock, but HEY that's how it should sound
perhaps I should give her the 325 to see whats really harsh!

Plz comment! But don't diss me just coz I didn't AB with "Kind of Blue" or your favourite -insert- album.
 
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lojay

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So this thread does put off quite a few
 
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Taurui

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When I had the 497s, they sounded distant and veiled even after 50+ hours of burning in. They had a neutral non-involving not-fun-at-all-presentation, no matter which source I used.
I then ordered the DT531s which are my primary cans at the moment. They beat the crap out of the 497, _everything_ sounds better

Anyway, in my opinion headphones can't be a/b-ed in such a short time. You'd have to switch for some weeks to appreciate the differences.
Oh, btw, what pads were used with the 225?

cheers,

-Taurui
 
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some1x

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Amped, I prefer my MS1 over HD497 (a friend of mine bought this some time ago) hands down.

Honestly, I don't find anything particularly great about the HD497s.
 
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was ist los?

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Were the SR-225s amped? The SR-225s require an amp to sound their best. I compared the headphone out of my D-25S and a Clone and Gilmore. The both blew away the headphone out, especially the Gilmore.
 
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donovansmith

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I had the SR225 and HD497 together for a few months. The SR225s are exciting, and don't sound much like the HD497 at all. The SR225s have a more immediate, detailed sound that is fun for music that lacks deep bass, which unfortunately is not the case with most of my music. I did find the HD497s flatter and more boring sound to be more suited to longer listening sessions for me, as well as the fact that they had more bass impact and slam (actually, sometimes a bit too much). Eventually I traded my SR225s for some HD600s since I thought the Senn sound signature might be a better road to travel down. I can't say anything bad about the SR225s, though. I wouldn't mind owning another set one day if I get the money.

There is no doubt that the HD497 is a very flat, veiled, and uninvolving can. It is fine for background listening but not well suited for critical listening. If anything they don't really do anything horribly wrong, they don't offend. But they lack excitement and engagement, too. I saw no reason to keep them after I got my HD600s since the HD600s absolutely, positively mop the floor with the HD497s in every area.
 
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sbulack

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There are a few things going on here that will strongly bias the results in favor of the 497's ( I own both the 497's and the 225's and the 225's are worth every penny they cost over the 497's, IMO). 1) 30 hours of burn-in is woefully insufficient for the 225's. In order to hear what the 225's are capable of doing, it takes at least 150 hours of burn-in. 30 hours is hardly getting started. 2) Your ears are attuned to what the 497's are good at displaying. It takes on the order of 100 hours of listening on a new set of cans for the ears to become attuned to what the new cans are good at displaying. So, in order to compare the cans well, you'd really have to live with them for a few weeks, and then do comparissons with the Senns. To do A/B's over the course of a few hours with ears attuned to the 497's with 225's that are NOT yet settled in to what they can do is just NOT a good comparisson.

I've owned the 497's for a few years, and I've owned the 225's for about eight months, and both are well burned-in, and my ears are familiar with what both cans are good at displaying.

I like the 497's. The 497's are good cans for listening to modest portable sources. They are easily driven and bring out details and spectral information that you'd never hear from the phones that come with the portable source. Because of their construction, they leak less sound than the SR60 or SR225 and are better for listening in public places. But they simply do not have the clarity or give the virtual environmental presentation of musical detail that the SR225's give. My own progression in cans is that I went from the 497's to the SR60 (which I found to be quite a step up in clarity, soundstage and tonal quality) to the SR225 (which was yet another BIG step up in clarity, soundstage, tonal quality and in the organic and musical presentation of the detail in the music). I bought all of my cans from Headroom, and with each purchase, I was prepared to send them back if they were NOT worth what I spent on them, so I had no vested interest in justifying my purchase. In fact, I had a vested interest in using my 30 days to find fault with my purchase to return cans that weren't worth it while I could. From 497 to SR60 to SR225 none of the cans were returned to Headroom, as each, upon proper burn-in (about 150-200 hours), was found to be well worth the purchase price when compared to what I had before.
 
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lojay

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Honestly, the 497's are now really better than when I first bought them. The detail I perceived was equal on both cans, which i told you, really shocked me. This has two reasons, i figured 1.) my ampless source sucks, 2.) the 225s arent fully burnt in. I GUESS the source is a limiting factor for detail.

I guess you could see from what I listen to, that I usually listen to acoustic, instrumental or jazz. basically that's sparse or uncrowded music i should put it. so its hard to make the music MORE boring....juzz kidding.. btw, I would really want to know what u listened to.....

Well, I agree with the "keep the 225s for a month" suggestion, and I would be really glad to do so....
but my friend may not
Well, you could see I wasnt trying to make any conclusions, I was just stating my initial experience with the 225s, a really shocking one! it was of course no means as a review, as i've previously said...

PS: I actually liked the 225. I agree that they have a different sound, but i expected a lot more than just difference, i mean, by easily perceivable detail and "feel". And it made me feel better about my 497's.

I am going to upgrade a month later after next months exams. This made me think that the 225 is not really what I would like for my next step, maybe cause I'm real picky. Either that or that I really need a better source... I'm looking for a K1000 or 650 or cd3000, all 3 i can get cheaper than in the states or in UK. But I'll upgrade my source first, and I'm thinking of a really decent CD player (slightly under the meridian's class) or a RME digi968 pad
 
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sbulack

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Congratulations on your coming upgrade!!! Because it DOES take the headphones a few weeks to come into their stable sound, and because it takes a while for our ears to become attuned to the capabilities of new phones, it is worth it to pay a vendor more for headphones if they let you "live with them for a month" before deciding if you want to keep them. That's why I buy my headphones from Headroom. Best wishes for your upcoming exams.
 
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lojay

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thx sbulack, and sorry for replying til now, hope u'll still c it!...
yeah, I'm excited on getting the new upgrades too~
after my source upgrade, which would be really expensive
i guess it'll take me quite a while til I can get my phones upgraded.....coz ppl said it isnt wise to upgrade my phones first.
still got a long way to go before i can reach anywhere neear you guys....luckly i could always steal my friends 225 for listening
 
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