it’s often…no, who am I kidding, it’s always said that all Grado headphones sound similar. so, if I want to experience the best Grado has to offer without breaking the bank, what would you recommend to try and see if you like their infamous house sound.
My experience is very limited, but here it is:
SR325e’s. Fun but bright/noisy. I found them fun, but the noise was distracting.
PS500e’s. Tried them in a store for an hour. The brightness was gone, but so was the fun, to me. Just flat and lifeless. Too bad as it was a good sale.
Starting researching the RS2e’s as I decided I wanted woodies.
- Then I stumbled across the GH2’s and decided to buy them. They are perfect to me. Smooth sound with some brightness and definitely bass light. Great for vocals and guitar. I like them with every genre. Rock really kicks but jazz also sounds great.
They are not for everybody, but they are definitely for me.
When I first got them I chased the bass with my Schiit Loki, but then I decided that if I was craving bass, I would just change headphones.
what do you mean when you said the 325e’s were ‘noisy’?
Noisy or bright sound is almost like static on the line. You can block it out for a while, but after a while it drains on you.
I found my Beyer T5p.2’s to also be bright although not to that extent. I could play the Beyer’s for a few hours and enjoy them before the brightness really started to bother me. Or I could EQ it out.
I’m of the mind that I’d want to only use an EQ for fun, but would rather enjoy headphones for what they are. it doesn’t make sense to me to buy something with the intent purpose of modifying it fit the singular sound profile you prefer.
Exactly. I only use the Loki now to perfect my Koss ESP/E95X system.
If a stand alone headphone has to be EQ’d, then it has to go.
I haven’t listened to grado headphones before. Is the treble really that bad? By the way I am quite young so I can still hear up to 17k or 18khz
Interesting to hear it about SR325. I run 125e, and actually they are more focused on mids for me. Comparing to cheap planars 4xx, these Grados are way darker. For sure they do not need xbass from zen dac. on AQ Red they were much more balanced in sound. On both, open and fast. I enjoy them a lot.
Grados are bright, but in my experience are rarely overly sharp or sibilant and if they are, the right pad swap can fix that in most cases. I can also hear up to about 17k and don’t have any problems with the SR80e or Hemps treble. Also the bass is not as roled off as many people like to say it is. With the less bassy SR80e, the bass is about as good as the HD58X down to about 50hrz. After that it does roll off more, but it’s still very good quality bass.
If you are looking for an extremely dynamic and lively sound with great mids, Grados are a great choice.
To respond the the original post, Grados do not all sound the same. The only reason that is a common complaint is because the SR line sound similar to each other. Once you look outside the SR line, they are much more varied, but still have the Grado house sound, meaning lower quantity but great quality bass, great mids with a peak at 2k, and a bit bright but smooth treble. The bass, lower mids, and treble all fluctuate depending on the model, so they all have a unique signature while still sounding like a Grado.
If you want to try the Grado sound. I would say just grab the SR60/80 and these pads.
These give you a less bright and warmer/bassier sound kind if like the Hemps.
These sound more like the stock S-cush pads but better imo. They also let you see if you are ok with the comfort of L-cush style pads.
These sound kind if in-between the other two pads and let you try the fit of the G-cush style pads.
All three pads plus the SR80e total to about $140 after tax and I think they sound better than the HD58X with similar technical performance.
I still love my GH2’s. They are definitely my mid to high end champs. They are bass light but you never really notice until you change to bassier headphones. Or, sometimes you will hear a track and think, “I remember that song as being bassier”, and if you change headphones it will be. But for 90% of my music, they are perfect. I did have to go to aftermarket pads for comfort (Beautiful Audio in New Zealand).
And of course I do have an irrational hatred of the thick, fixed cable. Every time it brushes my neck I want to tear it out and murder it.
I can’t imagine these ever leaving my collection.
you use these GH2 on a tube amp as well, don’t you?
Yes, I do have a low impedance tube amp. The fixed cable does not make them an opton for my LP.
I Love then on the Violectric at -6 or -12Db’s. It even gives them a bit of bass presence.
But also very nice on the tube amp with the Schiit Loki in the chain to “bass” it up a bit.
Thanks. For higher end grados like the rs2e for example, can they keep up with Hifiman, Sennheiser or Beyer for technical performance? And do grados have good soundstage and imaging?
In short, yes. At worst Grados are competitive within their price range and at best punch higher than one might expect.
My Hemps, which are considered by most Grado fans to be similarly as capable as the RS2e, can hold their own even against my Lawton modded X00s.
As for soundstage and imaging, I doubt the RS2e will disappoint you. It may not have raw width, but Grados are so open it’s actually kind of funny. Like they literally don’t isolate AT ALL. It makes the soundstage feel a bit more believable with better depth imo.
I used the SR80i for years and then got the SR325e which I still have, and honestly, I think the SR80i (which would be the ‘e’ now I guess) represent Grado better than the 325e which kind of makes my ears bleed with how bright the highs are. I like the 325e some of the time, but I liked the SR80i all of the time and it was a much better value for the price. Now that I have a greater variety of headphones I realize now just how static-like the 325e is and they often get uncomfortably bright on the high end and with female vocals.
Basically, if you’re going for a Grado, either go big with the GS1000e or go small with the SR80e which is my recommendation.
From what I hear, the SR325e are on the brighter side, even for Grado. The RS2e and various limited editions are all not as bright but still bright overall. The SR325e is kind of an outlier.
Also what are you using to amp your SR325e? They might be great on a warmer solid state or a good low Z tube amp, but probably sound way too harsh with a really analytical or bright amp.
Yeah. Most people say the sr325e’s treble is excessive. I’m probably gonna buy a pair when I am 80 and have hearing loss haha
Part of me wants the hemp because the treble is more tamed and bass is more present than other grados, and part of me thinks that the rs2e has more of a grado sound which is why you buy a grado. If you could only have one, which one would it be?
I haven’t tried the RS2e, but I certainly want to. I would say get the Hemp since it isn’t going to be around much longer (I’ve heard they plan to discontinue it in the next month or two). The RS2e will still be around unless Grado does another total revamp of their entire line, so if you don’t like the Hemp you could sell it (probably for nearly full price since it will be discontinued) and get the RS2e.