Grado

grado
#1

This is the place to talk about Grado, the legendary headphone manufacturer out of New York. John Chen and his crew continue to make their headphones in line with Grado’s core values. Grado is one of the oldest family owned American companies in the Audio Industry and is well-known for their old-school design and their on-ear headphones. Long though of as being stuck in the past, Grado recently released a new wireless headphone the
GW100 and is now looking towards the future.

We currently have the Grado SR225e and the Grado SR60e in the office (which are part of the Community Preview Program).

Truthfully, they will be the first Grados that we have really had the chance to listen to outside of some brief listening sessions.

I know there are others here who have much more extensive experience with Grados and I am excited to hear your thoughts on the brand and their headphones!

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#2

The original Grado SR60 used to be my first-real-headphone recommendation for people wanting to improve their music-listening experience. Usually coming from whatever ear-buds came with their music player (phones didn’t play music back then) or stereo without having to buy an amp (most of which were either from Headroom or RSA, with not much else to choose from).

I find the retro(ish) aesthetic quite appealing.

I don’t, personally, get on with any on-ear headphone - which is a comfort issue. Despite myriad recommendations for remedies to that (both for Grado cans specifically and others in general), none have panned out.

Sound-wise, I haven’t had my ears on any Grado’s since the SR325i … which I found to be very bright and lacking in low-end, but quite resolving - detail wise. So I’d be curious to see where their sound/signature has gone … though I’m absolutely the wrong person to review them!

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#3

The SR 60 were my entry level “audiophile” headphone back during my university years. They were and still are a great headphone for the price and are well built. I had mine for many years. Grado has an affordable repair policy where they will restore you headphones to working order for a set price, depending on the headphone. For the SR 60 it is $45.

I am not a big fan of the rest of their lineup. I also found the SR325 to be very detailed but like @Torq, I found the higher frequencies to be often piercing and the on-ear pads to be like sandpaper on the ears. Other than the SR 60 and 80 the only Grados I have tried and liked are the GS1000e. They do not share the Grado house sound of being over emphasised in the treble and somewhat lacking in bass, however their FR is U shaped. I found these to be particularly good for low volume listening. They are also very open sounding with a wide stage. At high volume though the bass becomes too much and tends to overwhelm the more recessed mid frequencies with the addition of a bit of grain throughout the upper mid and treble region manifesting itself.

The pads are more over ear than on ear and much more comfortable. They are worth a listen.

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#4

I currently own the RS1e and love it, but only for certain genres of music. The RS1e is a total outlier in the Grado lineup. Unlike every other model, it lacks the piercing treble that is the Grado signature sound. In fact, the RS1e measures closer to a HD600 than any other headphone.

The RS1e is great with acoustic music and vocals. It just sounds so natural and real. I think it’s a product of the mahogany tubes that are attached to the back of each driver. The resonances in the tubes add to the rich timbre of the headphone and expand the soundstage, which is quite wide. I actually prefer the RS1e over the Utopia for certain tracks, which is kinda crazy because the Utopia is my idea of perfection.

The typical Grado idiosyncrasies are also built into the RS1e. The headphones are light in weight but are coupled to a thick and heavy cable. The bowl pads kill your ears but comfort can be improved with the over ear G cushions. It feels like it’s put together with fairy dust and crossed fingers but has proven to be fairly durable.

The RS1e is often maligned and doesn’t seem to be a very popular model. Grado fans will say that they’re the worst sounding Grados, which is a result of the RS1e FR deviating so far from the house sound. Non-fans avoid it because they think it’ll sound like putting screwdrivers in your ears. But overall, the RS1e is a very enjoyable listen and it’s a shame that it’s so misunderstood. I’d definitely recommend trying one out if you get the chance.

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#5

Ah yes, Grados, my favorite headphones! I’ve tried just about every other brand of headphones(the usual suspects anyways) and I just can’t get the same enjoyment out of them as I get with Grados.

I get that we all like different things, but I do wish people would give them an honest try before bashing them on the forums.

A few years ago I was that person who dismissed Grados as nothing really special after owning the sr125i and sr225i (at the same time). I thought their poor comfort was not worth the sound and I kept on my headphone journey trying as many other different “recommended” headphones out there as I could in order to find audio nirvana.
At the time I had a nice little collection of cans like the LCD 2, hd650, akg q701, Beyer dt880 and Denon d2000. Like most people, I dismissed Grados because of their build quality vs high price, so I wasn’t willing to pay top dollar for their higher tier RS series. One day, by chance I came across a used Rs2 on the FS forum at HF for a good price so I took a chance on it knowing that if I didn’t like it I wouldn’t be taking much of a financial risk because of the good price I paid for it I’d be able to recover most of my money back.

Best thing I ever did on my audio journey! I was hooked and have been a Grado junkie ever since!

Now as we all know, this is a never ending journey and quite frankly the road is meant to be enjoyed so of course I didn’t stop there but I never stopped trying other cans outside of Grados either, but in the end everything else seems to fall short for me.

So keep an open mind and open ears. If you come across a chance to listen to something that you usually don’t naturally gravitate to (like Grados), be adventurous and keep and open mind, you just might find yourself with a big grin on your face after finding something you’ve been searching for all along!

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#6

I have enjoyed Grados for years, but only own the entry SR-60e. Like you, if I see something higher-range at a good price, I’ll snap them up. I find that any pair of Grado’s I’ve listened to just makes me smile. Very good for bouncy music - Pointer Sisters, Sousa, Butterfield Blues Band, Tabla Beat Science. If there was ever a toe-tapping headphone, its an entry-level Grado.

I don’t have any comfort issues like @Torq does. My head, while not quite as Gary Busey’s in a SNL skit, is fairly large, and the retro design with over the ear pads was meant to fit the head of any radio operator that had to use them. Likewise, I appreciate the comment that they appear to be made with fairy dust, but are in fact fairly durable. This again is a common comment - but that retro design is responsible. There are few ways that in normal use they will get hurt. Things will rotate, or slide, or bend and spring back. That’s part of their magic.

The on-ear pads are just fine. I listen to the SR-60e as much as I do to any higher end headphone except my STAX, that I use for most critical listening. I can’t be so isolated from the environment that I miss a doorbell, phone, or honey-do.

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#7

well i sent back my Audeze LCD2C cans
(for me they were too big, heavy and the sound sig didn’t blow me away
as i thought it would, compared to senn/massdrop hd6xx).
…so incoming this week are the Grado GH1…will see how they pair with my
chord mojo…heck at least they’ll be lighter.

i didn’t want to spend more than 1k on a set of cans, given i’m not into headfi audio
as much as others…and a colleague who has the utopias suggested to give grados a try again
(i once had the 325s about 15 yrs ago)…he had the RS2e or RS1e…
he moved up to GS1000e or 2000 model …he really loved the unique grado sound…
heck i think he’s more pumped to have a listen to them than i am, lol.

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#8

Yep. It’s always a win when you can convince a friend to spend the big bucks.

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#9

Yes…this guy already has the focal utopias…before the utopias he had tried both RS and G series Grados…despite having $$$ Utopias he luvs the Grado sound too

#10

I will say I like the vintage Grados more than the new ones. An I sold my RS2E in favor of Keeping my K702 which sounded… often better with more genres quite consistently.

That said I do keep a Grado Style Build around a Magnum V7 driver with Black Limba Sleeved onto a Maple Cup with some L Crush pads that I quite like!

#11

I started with the SR325e’s. It was a love/ hate thing. They were fun, but bright. After six months they became my favourite.

I then decided to climb the family tree and that I wanted woodies. I bought a pair of GH2’s. They are smoother than the SR325e’s and are near perfect, IMO.

They had a bit of a rebirth this weekend with a new amp.

GREAT set of :headphones:.

ShaneD

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#12

I’m not one to categorically put anything down except in rare instances, but a lot of the criticisms that the reviewer directed at the GS2000e, I can mostly get behind. I had a pre-i buttonless version of the Grado RS1 that I liked for some genres, only it triggered tinnitus attacks from time to time even at lower SPLs and that grew old very fast.

This is going to be a controversial opinion in certain circles I fear, but I feel that Grado does a great job in the sub-$150 space but has no business at all in the higher end. I’m aware someone on another forum (not sure if he’s on here) seems to have managed to mod a pair off SR80s to sound more neutral, and I plan to do the same when I get the opportunity if I’m ever in the market for beater headphones again; barring that use case I’m likely steering clear of the brand for the foreseeable future unless they reissue the HP1000 so I can finally get ears on them. I did get to try the GS1000e and cannot imagine that the 2ke has much improved over it— how they managed to get such congested sound out of cups that big is a feat in itself.

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#13

The SR80e did that for me too. In another YouTube review Joshua Valour (same guy) notes that the SR80e has a slight echo due to the placement of the drivers in hollow tubes. Echoes can give me tinnitus.

Not controversial for me, as I don’t like them in the <$150 range either. It leads me to appreciate individual differences in perception and to want to try Nuraphones.

I just sold my SR80e and the buyer was ecstatic.

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#14

Thing is Grados seem to me very genre-specific cans. I loved the RS1 for small ensembles that weren’t particularly busy but they just fell apart for larger orchestral works— collapsed inwards, more like, as well as for anything with good headspace in the mix. I figured I liked them well enough that I wouldn’t miss the imaging and staging on them, but going back to the Beyer DT880s after using the RS1s exclusively for about three weeks was a slap in the face.

Echoes as in cup reverb? Yikes, yeah, the plastic on the SR series is very prone to that. Sorry to hear :confused:

The person who bought the RS1s loved them last I checked, though she’s all the way in Canada so I can’t exactly check in with them. I understand why people might love their house sound as I do too in certain applications, but when they start charging in excess of $100 for that kind of sound I begin to wonder just how small an operation the Brooklyn kids really are given their models are basically all the same save for using fancier housings.

#15

Well, there are always the Grado cartridges.

I’m I am very happy with my SR-60e’s. particularly since the tape mod L-pads. And I really liked the vintage high end Grados that I have heard. I remain a fan. And if I see higher end Grados at a good price, I will snap them up.

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#16

Definitely to each their own! My own headphone preferences are pretty controversial I think, so I understand that not everyone can agree on whether a piece of gear is good or not. My definition of a “good” price may differ from yours but I might do the same and then mod them to kingdom come purely for the aesthetic, haha.

Also, no table yet so sadly can’t speak to the quality of their cartridges, haha. Perhaps once I find room in the finances and, well, room for it :stuck_out_tongue:

#17

I am a HUGE Grado fan. I got into the headphone game a few years ago. I have been climbing the quality tree. About two years ago I bought the SR325e’s. I thought these were fun, but a little bright. After about six months they became my favourites over the HD6XX’s, PM3’s and NightOwl Carbons.
Jump ahead another year and I bought the Grado GH2’s. They are the SR325e’s made perfect, IMO.

Great looking woodies with a great sound, especially hooked up to my Burson FUN amp. They sound great with rock and horn jazz. I can see why Grado does not spend a penny on advertising.

I am surprised about all the Grado hate. But then I like fun headphones. I am not a fan of “audiophile” headphones. I had and sold the HD6XX’s and was not impressed with Audeze headphones. I don’t want neutral and transparent, I want fun.

ShaneD

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#18

Each to their own I say. I haven’t heard any Grado’s myself but I am led to understand that they do have a fairly bright side to their sound. This would suit me as I have to have a certain amount of brightness to my gear. Thank god for EQ is all I can say. I can’t understand hatred for any brand. One can dislike something as it doesn’t meet their requirements. If headphones/iem’s and speakers weren’t different to each other the it would be a rather dull experience.

Although the difference’s are often subtle it’s these little nuances that keep us chasing audio nirvana. Enjoy your Grado’s. :grin:

#19

Agreed. I have bought sold 7 or 8 pairs of headphones. None of them are “horrible”. It’s just that I don’t care for the sound signature.

My Grado’s, my Beyer’s and my 99 Classic’s all sound wildly different from each other and to me that is awesome.

ShaneD

Shane D

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