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Thread: Let's talk about Grado Headphones!

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    Senior Member HenryPenfold's Avatar
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    Default Let's talk about Grado Headphones!

    I'm a European who always favoured British cottage industry Hi-Fi, or German technocratic know-how in audio replay.

    But these American cans trump everything!

    I'd never heard of Grado before coming on this forum and always gone for AKG and Beyerdynamic professional 'neutral' cans. But these Grados!!!!

    Bought them in June. So this is no novelty thing!

    I'm gonna sit with these SR225X cans for at least 12 months and then look for an upgrade to the wood models.

    Do other forum members love Grado cans?

    Here's a pic of my new cans




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    Senior Member Malx's Avatar
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    Swear by them Henry as I think you know - my SR325e's are magic.
    The only drawback for some users will be sound leakage which is pretty high but if thats not a critical issue then they, for me, are just wonderfully musical 'phones.

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    I am a bit surprised that their higher class models still look like from the 1950s. I bought an SR 60? or SR 40 1995 in the US and when it broke I eventually got one from their licensed Alessandro series around 2011 for about $100, so still very affordable. In this range I can tolerate the very vintage look and somewhat flimsy pads (I think I once got a new pair of pads).

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    Senior Member Kiki's Avatar
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    Henry, you obviously have good taste!

    I am not European but I use mainly British gear... OK, supplemented by various German, Italian, Chinese and Japanese components, but mainly British. Grado is the only American brand I use.

    These PS1000 headphones, despite the "professional" designation, do not sound "professional" at all. They sound extremely "hi-fi", not neutral at all; but I love their crystalline sound, pushed mid-range and quick, deep bass.


    Also have a pair of GR10 in-ear headphones. Amazingly beautiful sound they can produce; but it is also extremely strange in the sense that they produce NO bass at all.


    I do have a few complaints.

    1. The PS1000 ear pads are not exactly over-ear. They do press on my ears, and that is not comfortable. However, although they press, they don't press hard enough, therefore, given the weight of these cans, they can easily slip off my head when I move.

    As a comparison, the Beyerdynamic T1 cans, when put on, do not touch my ears at all, and they stay more firmly in place. Another comparison, the Audio-Technica W5000 cans are also properly over-ear and stay firmly in place, although I don't like the feel of the leather pads. The T1's design is really peerless!

    2. Poor build design/quality! Where do I start...

    The GR10 is really flimsy. The plastic skin wrapping the wires became sticky a long time ago, and recently bits of skin around the Y-junction have come off exposing the copper wire. My heart sank.

    The bits that connect the PS1000 cans to the headband also look and feel flimsy. I always have a worry about breaking that piece of plastic or that thin rob that goes through it.

    And the earpads have disintegrated some time ago. Quite a sight, isn't it?

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    Senior Member Forster's Avatar
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    Since acquiring tinnitus, I use headphones rather less than I used to (especially when daily walking the dog with Sennheiser or Beyer or Grado clamped to my ears).

    My Sony WF-1000XM3 were given to me by my son as an Xmas present a couple of years ago, but I've not bought my own since the Grado SR60is in about 2009. I think they're great, though they are very warm (literally on the ears, not sonically speaking). As I also have a serviceable pair of Beyer DT75s, I see no reason to buy any more.

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    Senior Member HenryPenfold's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malx View Post
    Swear by them Henry as I think you know - my SR325e's are magic.
    The only drawback for some users will be sound leakage which is pretty high but if thats not a critical issue then they, for me, are just wonderfully musical 'phones.
    Yes I know you're a fan, and your posts reassured me that I was onto something good.

    Btw, I think they leak less sound that my AKG 702 and Beyerdynamic DT-1990 Pro.

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    Senior Member HenryPenfold's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kreisler jr View Post
    I am a bit surprised that their higher class models still look like from the 1950s. I bought an SR 60? or SR 40 1995 in the US and when it broke I eventually got one from their licensed Alessandro series around 2011 for about $100, so still very affordable. In this range I can tolerate the very vintage look and somewhat flimsy pads (I think I once got a new pair of pads).
    it's depressing to think I've been missing out for so long - you've been at it since 1995!!

    I have acquired to sets of extra pads because like you, I believe them to be flimsy. I have the L cushions and a pair of rather large ones that turn them into an over-ear headphone!

    Edit: Different cushions create a very different sound signature!
    Last edited by HenryPenfold; Sep-21-2021 at 16:33.

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    Senior Member Malx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HenryPenfold View Post
    it's depressing to think I've been missing out for so long - you've been at it since 1995!!

    I have acquired to sets of extra pads because like you, I believe them to be flimsy. I have the L cushions and a pair of rather large ones that turn them into an over-ear headphone!
    I have heard, though haven't experienced, that the larger pads that effectively make them over-ear phones do change the sound somewhat. I guess because there may be less air between the drivers and the ears.

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    Senior Member HenryPenfold's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forster View Post
    Since acquiring tinnitus, I use headphones rather less than I used to (especially when daily walking the dog with Sennheiser or Beyer or Grado clamped to my ears).

    My Sony WF-1000XM3 were given to me by my son as an Xmas present a couple of years ago, but I've not bought my own since the Grado SR60is in about 2009. I think they're great, though they are very warm (literally on the ears, not sonically speaking). As I also have a serviceable pair of Beyer DT75s, I see no reason to buy any more.
    I too have tinnitus, but I find that headphones ameliorate the effect. I guess it impacts on different people differently.

    My 225X are not really different from your SR60i, but I don't find them warm at all - in fact they are cooler than my other headphones, except the AKG 702 which are super cool (and light).

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    It's a bit funny. I was in the US as an exchange student and as this was before mp3 or streaming I needed a way to listen to music. (I had not had a mobile player and one cannot easily use German devices in the US because of different voltage etc.)

    I think my host took me to an audio store and I bought the Grado SR 40 or 60 that looked like a leftover from ~1960 but was actually amazing value for money, I must have spent around $60-70 or so, certainly below 100 (and there was a good exchange rate back then and electronic goods and CDs appeared very cheap to Europeans in the US).
    I also bought a discman (Sony, I guess, do not remember the model, it was not at the same occasion as the headphones) and the Grado was really great with such mobile devices not needing a strong input signal. I used it frequently for several years but later on listened far less on headphones for many years, now having a decent setup and larger appartment of my own. At some stage it stopped working properly although someone with electronics and solderings skill could probably fix it. I think I once got new earpads for it.
    I do not remember who recommended the Alessandro music series, probably some person on another forum, and I am not sure how exactly they relate to original Grado models (it still says Grado on them but I apparently discarded the box, I cannot find it). It was a bit of a hazzle ordering from the US (I had to go to the custom's office to pick up the package and pay a moderate customs fee) but it was just $100 or 120 10 years ago, still works find and is again very good value for money.
    Admittedly, I never was into headphones all that much, so I cannot compare with good Sennheisers, AKG or other top lines

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    Senior Member HenryPenfold's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiki View Post
    Henry, you obviously have good taste!

    I am not European but I use mainly British gear... OK, supplemented by various German, Italian, Chinese and Japanese components, but mainly British. Grado is the only American brand I use.

    These PS1000 headphones, despite the "professional" designation, do not sound "professional" at all. They sound extremely "hi-fi", not neutral at all; but I love their crystalline sound, pushed mid-range and quick, deep bass.


    Also have a pair of GR10 in-ear headphones. Amazingly beautiful sound they can produce; but it is also extremely strange in the sense that they produce NO bass at all.


    I do have a few complaints.

    1. The PS1000 ear pads are not exactly over-ear. They do press on my ears, and that is not comfortable. However, although they press, they don't press hard enough, therefore, given the weight of these cans, they can easily slip off my head when I move.

    As a comparison, the Beyerdynamic T1 cans, when put on, do not touch my ears at all, and they stay more firmly in place. Another comparison, the Audio-Technica W5000 cans are also properly over-ear and stay firmly in place, although I don't like the feel of the leather pads. The T1's design is really peerless!

    2. Poor build design/quality! Where do I start...

    The GR10 is really flimsy. The plastic skin wrapping the wires became sticky a long time ago, and recently bits of skin around the Y-junction have come off exposing the copper wire. My heart sank.

    The bits that connect the PS1000 cans to the headband also look and feel flimsy. I always have a worry about breaking that piece of plastic or that thin rob that goes through it.

    And the earpads have disintegrated some time ago. Quite a sight, isn't it?
    Kiki, from your avatar, it may be that we have much in common. My main system is Naim, circa 1999, before they changed their rough, ready, realistic, live feeling sound signature. It's still firing away perfectly (there's the kiss of death!), although I've had to put it in storage as I'm in the process of moving to another city. Hi-Cap powered CD player, preamp and to power amps.

    Although I believe my Grado SR225x to be very well built, seemingly durable and robust, I heed the contra indications from other people. I was thinking of getting the SR1 or 2 in due course. They are expensive (at least for me) and I be gutted (English phase) if they fell apart!!!

    Interestingly, there is a big overlap between Grado and vintage Naim in terms of the live, forward and fast presentation of sound.

    Great photos by the way, even the worrying ones!
    Last edited by HenryPenfold; Sep-21-2021 at 16:53.

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Interesting post Henry. I've never listened to music enough on headphones to buy a set of Grados, even though I've known about them for many years. I currently use AKG headphones (rarely) and have a question. How much of an upgrade are the Grados in sound to a decent set of AKGs, Henry (or anyone else who uses them)? Is the difference that noticeable or are we talking small differences? Curious.

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    Senior Member HenryPenfold's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    Interesting post Henry. I've never listened to music enough on headphones to buy a set of Grados, even though I've known about them for many years. I currently use AKG headphones (rarely) and have a question. How much of an upgrade are the Grados in sound to a decent set of AKGs, Henry (or anyone else who uses them)? Is the difference that noticeable or are we talking small differences? Curious.
    Hard to say. It's not so much about 'upgrade', more about a totally different listening experience.

    Grado HPs are unbelievably live, visceral, forward and vibrant. They throw the music at you! Not neutral, quite coloured but it's a total party!

    I find they work with everything! Choose your favourite Beethoven quartet performed by the Quartetto Italiano, listen through Grado, and silly smiles will be all over your face and you'll never go back to your old headphones!!

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    I had a Grados about 15 years ago. I think it cost about $75 back then. I remember thinking it sounded much better than some Sennheisers that cost several hundred dollars. The problems were the ear pads, which were flimsy, and they were physically hot. From reading this thread I gather those issues are still relevant

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    Senior Member Kiki's Avatar
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    Oh, a fellow naim user! I was right, Henry, you definitely have good taste!

    I only became a convert around 2010, so I am still very much a newbie. Currently I have two naim amps and their DAC in active service. Their generation still has that naim "stink" that we love, but I agree it is not as strong as the older half-size boxes. (Even that roughness - which I found enjoyable, very much like me enjoying listening to Soviet orchestras or the Mandelring Quartett!) The house sound of their latest generation (streamers, streamers and more streamers) has changed again. I found them more exaggerated, more of a thrill; which I am afraid is no motivation for me to update my gear.

    Their power supplies are expensive. Alternatives from Teddy Prado are OK but their reliability leaves a bit to be wanted (I had one that died too soon). At the end I settled for an on-line double-conversion UPS that re-generates the AC current. It serves the purpose very well. Everything sounds more solid. That also diminishes my desire to get any of naim's power supplies, since I have fixed the power at the source, I wonder whether any gain from naim's power supplies would be significant enough.

    About AKG and Grado - I have used a few pairs of low-end AKG in-ears in the past. They sounded nice, natural, a bit bright, and relatively thin at the bottom end. Grado's sound is very different. It has its flaws (mostly about the unnaturalness), but it sounds more musical, and it is rather addictive. Having said that, models of the same brand can have very different sound signatures. The difference between the PS1000 and the GR10 is a case in point.

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