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Symphones X drivers in SR 60i, 80i, 125i, 225i and how they compare to a stock 325i

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by ef88, Nov 28, 2012.
  1. EF88
    I have seen these drivers in Magnums and woodies but has anyone here ever tried them in the plastic models?
    As far as I can tell, you can purchase damaged SR 60is, replace the drivers with Symphones and recable it with 8 - strand wire like the 325i/225i. You would then have, in theory at least, a superior headphone set to a 225i for about the same money.  I haven't tried any symphones drivers and my SR 225i right driver is dead. I have not tried the 325i either.
    For those who need to know what I listen to,  I use these headphones for rock, metal, classical, old new wave, rockabilly, live tracks with a lot vocals/acoustics and for playing a couple of electric guitars ( Gibson Les Paul, SG, Gretsches) .  I run amp and ambient space modelling software for the guitars so I can pretty much tweak the sound I get but what I can't duplicate is the sound coming out of Grados.  Sennheisers and AKGs somehow don't cut it with me. The SR80i is pretty good for headphone playing, better than anything I tried for guitars. The guitar sound coming from a 225i however, to me is far more complex -- hard to describe but worth much more than the extra $ 100.  The difference between the two is night and day for guitars -- to me, there is already a signficant difference for MP3s/CDs but it just isn't as apparent as with guitars.  When listening to music, I play it out of Nokia N95, Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC One X (Beats audio enhancement turned off) boosted by a Fiio E5 with custom interconnects.
    My options are to 1) purchase a 325i with the comfort of warranties 2) purchase the Symphones X driver and install them on my 225is.  I like the Grado sound and I am shooting for both quality and reliability.  Another option I'm entertaining 3) purchase the 325i and Symphones drivers, A/B them and then return/sell whatever falls short of expectations. I don't want to go through with option 3 and return the 325i, business is hard enough for entrepreneurs nowadays.  I don't want anybody to go through the disappointment of a returned item ( I'm sure business owners here would understand).
    So, has anybody tried these in plastics? Please feel free to advise, I'm assuming whatever Grados are good for listening to music would be also good for guitars and vice-versa.
    Thanks in advance.
  2. EF88
    Ok I took the plunge and ordered a pair of Symphones X drivers...soon we will find out.
  3. orangecr
    I am interested in how they worked for you! Looking forward for impressions/reviews! I currently own a pair of SR225i and I am very tempted to try the Symphones with the vibro cups and the stock Grado cable.
  4. EF88
    Still waiting on the drivers :)
    I did however, purchase a pair of 325is and compared to the 225i, it has a fatter, fuller but detailed low end.  When I broke them in, they became more detailed :)
  5. orangecr
    Wow. Your comparison is going to be interesting. I really like the 225i, but I can't get the 325is and the magnums out of mi mind.
    Doing what you are doing would cost me a fortune in Costa Rica.
    I am surprised how little attentions this new magnums have had so far. Everybody keeps talking about v4's
    EF88 likes this.
  6. EF88
    Ok I got my Symphones X drivers and I wired them up to my rig:for an A & B against a stock 325i.  I chose equipment that a lot of people would be familiar with:
    1) Completely stock Grado SR325is broken in with about 40 hours in.
    2) Grado SR 225i shell, buttons removed with Symphones X drivers--not broken in. 
    Headphones were recabled with braided, 8-strand Mogami copper cable/Viablue jack by BTG Audio.

    HTC One X, AT&T Version
    played on XPlay app and equalizers (custom setting -- all nearly maxed with slightly scooped mids)
    Beats Audio enhancement ON (yeah I know, but it does have extra power with my custom EQ setting)
    Maximum Volume (15)

    Amp and Interconnects:
    Fiio E5 80% volume, Bass Boost ON, Full battery charge (charge level affects volume)
    custom silver cable 3.5 mm LOD
    custom silver cable 1/4" to 3.5 mm adapter
    'Killing an Arab' by The Cure
    'Fire in Cairo' by  the Cure
    - they have drums, guitars, vocals, bass and that was what I had on at that time :)
    All settings locked for playback.
    As I perceive it, both these headphones are more detailed than a stock SR 225i.  My SR 325i did not start out that way but it edged out the 225i with 22 hours in it in terms of volume and detail, particularly at the lower frequencies. This is significant because people can now purchase broken (or even new ones)  SR60is and replace the drivers  with Symphones X and they will end up with something better than a 225i or maybe even rival the 325i -- just a matter of preference, really.
    The 325is had a lot more power behind its'  bass lines and bass drums.  To confirm, the amount of air rushing out of the grills despite the button was perhaps twice that of the Symphones as measured by my hand over the cups.  Bass lines were controlled, powerful and detailed.  So much power in fact that it dominated most of your track. However, it does not 'cover up' the other instruments, I can hear them just fine like I was onstage and sitting very close to the drummer.  I know most people say the 325is is harsh, with lots of treble and an aggressive presentation.  I didn't perceive any of the harsh treble but I thought the bass presentation was pretty aggressive.
    The Symphones X driver was noticeably weaker in terms of volume but I noticed after an hour that it had gotten a bit louder so the sound chracteristics might change in the future.  The Symphones X bass lines and bass drum were 225i-ish and very Grado like -- there,  but it wasn't presented in the way the 325i did.  A little volume adjustment up and the there was a slight but very audible distortion on the bass lines like it was already at the ragged edge at 80% volume.  The 325is would have taken much more without falling off.  On strange thing...the whole headphone would vibrate with every thump of the bass drum but there was very little air being displaced out of the grill like the 325.  Maybe the dampening material takes it all, maybe the air escapes through other gaps since I did not glue the drivers into the sleeves and it isn't airtight at all. Maybe aluminum just resonates better than plastic -- I know wood type and small pieces of aluminum on a guitar in the right place will make it sustain longer.
    However, when you go do get the guitars in...wow! They sound terrific!  Most people might complain about the harshness but that's the way it is with a Gibson or Grestch Chet Atkins, your ears WILL hurt for a millisecond when you hit the lower strings on a fast downstroke on the bridge pickup setting.  Meanwhile, what I suspect to be a Fender Jazzmaster plays in the background with this beautiful echo.  In fact, the driver reproduces echos (guitars and vocals) in a way that the 325i has never been able to as far as I have heard.  So it has a bit of soundstage if you could call it that, There are other things that the Symphones driver are better at too apart from guitars and echoes -- the snare drum and cymbals sound better-- meaning there seems to be a lot more going on with the sound than with a 325is.  Vocals are also very closely matched...but if I were to choose one, it would be the Symphones X.  If I didn't pay any particular attention to the vocals, I would have not noticed any difference at all. While I do not find the 325i too bright, Symphones is brighter -- by about 15%.  
    So which is better? I WISH you could put BOTH these drivers together in one headphone! 
    In the future, I will check to see if the sound characteristics of these headphones have changed.  I'll also try to set the drivers in place permanently.
    dakwan likes this.
  7. orangecr
    Thanks for your impressions!
    I already sold the SR225i to start building my magnums. I am going to use vibro mahogany cups and symphones x. The hard part so far is getting the headband and gimbals. 
  8. EF88
    you can buy some broken ones on Ebay :)
  9. orangecr
    Thanks. I've been trying Ebay too, but its not easy to get them for the right price. I still have some time because the cups will not ship for the next 3 weeks. I think in the end I am going to end up buying a pair or SR60i and try to sell the drivers later. I don't really like the sony or the KonoAudio headbands. [​IMG]
  10. EF88
    I've had these Symphones for a couple of days now and it has now caught up with the 325i in terms of volume!  I finally 'unfroze' the controls and let it have a bit of volume and it only got clearer, louder too.  I A/B'd the two headphones on MP3 several tracks like Steppenwolf's 'Born to be Wild', Queen's 'Another One Bites the Dust' and Wagners 'Ride of  the Valkyries' and the Symphones with plastic cups edges out in top end/mid clarity.  Not by much but it is audible, I can here slight guitar slides better and separate horns. The  325i however wins on the lower end frequencies.  The differences should be more apparent with vinyls and a proper amp...next time.
  11. dakwan
    Thanks EF88 for the very interesting review, make me thinking about modding sr60i with it.

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