Headphones (yet again)

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Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Fri Jul 25, 2014 6:29 am

I have two sets of cans that I currently use based on my needs. Most of the time it involves video gaming (with a clip-on mic), listening to music, or watching videos/tv. (which I guess that's everything)

Anyways the two sets I have are the Sennheiser HD555 (unmoded, I like them the way they are) and my Grado SR225.

My Grado's are about 17 years old and have been repaired twice. Audiophiles know about Grado. However they never advertise but sometimes they do get product placement in Movies and TV. (The most recent I recall is the Covert Affairs show where Augie uses Grado's the really high end ones) Anyways as I stated I have had the SR225's repaired twice I always thought it was a bit peculiar sending them to Brooklyn NY. Well after reading this Ars Tech article I now know why.

If I was asked which did I prefer most between my Senns and Grado's it would be a toss up, however if asked which I used the most hands down would be my Grado's. In fact I use my Grado's to combat the plethora of awful beats cans out there. (I cannot believe Apple bought them out.....ugggg)

So my shameless plug, if you're in the market for a good set of cans give Grado a try. The low end start at 80 bucks with the SR60 the next step SR80 run about 99.
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Fri Jul 25, 2014 8:24 am

tanker27 wrote:In fact I use my Grado's to combat the plethora of awful beats cans out there. (I cannot believe Apple bought them out.....ugggg)

Why can't you believe that? For the past decade (give or take), Apple has cared at least as much about brand image and aesthetics as they have about technical excellence. Beats has brand recognition, Apple-friendly aesthetics (their designer is a former Apple employee...), and a loyal customer base who are willing to pay prices which are completely disconnected from reality if you look at pure price/performance. Actually, it sounds like a perfect fit to me!

I also would not be at all surprised to see them introduce a proprietary, patented, Apple/Beats headphone connector, and charge third-party headphone vendors royalties for the privilege of making headphones which can connect to future Apple devices.

So yeah... from a pure tech standpoint it was a "WTF?!??" moment. But from a business perspective it makes sense.

tanker27 wrote:So my shameless plug, if you're in the market for a good set of cans give Grado a try. The low end start at 80 bucks with the SR60 the next step SR80 run about 99.

I may need to pick up a set.

Edit: And after reading the linked article (and a couple of other articles around the web), I'm even *more* inclined to do so. There's just something cool about a half-century old family-owned business producing hand-crafted, world-class headphones from scratch out of an old townhouse in Brooklyn. In today's world of cheap mass-produced electronics outsourced to offshore sweatshops it is a breath of fresh air to find a domestic company that still stubbornly does things the old way.
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Fri Jul 25, 2014 9:08 am

Grado also makes some of the best moving-magnet phono cartridges out there. I've always preferred MM to MC, as to me MM is about the rhythm and drive while MC is about being able to tell exactly which chair the oboe soloist played from. Horses for courses.
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Fri Jul 25, 2014 9:15 am

just brew it! wrote:Why can't you believe that? For the past decade (give or take), Apple has cared at least as much about brand image and aesthetics as they have about technical excellence. Beats has brand recognition, Apple-friendly aesthetics (their designer is a former Apple employee...), and a loyal customer base who are willing to pay prices which are completely disconnected from reality if you look at pure price/performance. Actually, it sounds like a perfect fit to me!

I also would not be at all surprised to see them introduce a proprietary, patented, Apple/Beats headphone connector, and charge third-party headphone vendors royalties for the privilege of making headphones which can connect to future Apple devices.

So yeah... from a pure tech standpoint it was a "WTF?!??" moment. But from a business perspective it makes sense.


Yeah, Deep down I realize this. And yes I shamelessly am an Apple fan. And about the headphone connector....you're probably right.

just brew it! wrote:I may need to pick up a set.

Edit: And after reading the linked article (and a couple of other articles around the web), I'm even *more* inclined to do so. There's just something cool about a half-century old family-owned business producing hand-crafted, world-class headphones from scratch out of an old townhouse in Brooklyn. In today's world of cheap mass-produced electronics outsourced to offshore sweatshops it is a breath of fresh air to find a domestic company that still stubbornly does things the old way.


I was shocked to find this out. Like I said my Grado's are 17 years old in fact I bought them and a Circuit City in Atlanta, I think back then I paid around 120 for them. Never heard of the company, the sales guy said I would like them and ever since I have. I still have the original box they came in to. That's where I got the number to call them to see if they could fix them when they broke. Funny thing is that each time I sent them away it was for one of the drivers going out probably due to either a loose solder or wire coming loose. Each time they came back I could swear they were a totally new set because practically everything was replaced, foam ear cups, the stitched leather headband, and in one case an ear housing/cup. I knew they were mine because I marked the cables for left and right with red and green electrical tape. (the ears themselves rotate 360 degrees so its easy to confuse if you're not paying attention)
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Fri Jul 25, 2014 9:17 am

There a still a few companies out there dedicated to doing right by their customers. You'd have received the same service with a pair of SR60's.

When they finally go, I'm pretty sure which brand you'll replace them with.
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Fri Jul 25, 2014 3:51 pm

I'll second that Grados are pretty good (I have the SR60i), but it's noteworthy that people tend to either love or hate the character of their sound. They're very low-fatigue, and bring out a lot of detail at low volume, but if you crank the volume without equalizing the high frequencies down a bit, it's not going to be comfortable. They're also a bit weak in bass compared to a lot of other options, but they're fairly accepting of equalization to fix that.

There's a pretty big modding scene around them (this thread is the most referenced one, I think). They're easy to work on, and simple stuff can have great results. The stuff I've done:

Cushion quarter mod: opens up the path from the drivers to your ears a bit. Might make high frequencies come through a bit clearer, but it's a subtle effect.

Front grill cloth removal: same effects as the quarter mod, but this one additionally has some effects on damping. These are similar to the rear cloth holes below.

The driver back has some holes covered by cloth limiting flow in and out of the driver itself. Removing the cloth over some of these can improve bass. I went a bit too far for my tastes, and ended up covering some back up. AFAICT, these make the bass resonant frequency lower and Q higher (so louder and deeper, but somewhat less controlled bass). The issue that got to me was that it started to sound like a bit of a mid-bass hole was forming. I currently have 5 holes open, 2 cloth covered, and 3 tape covered (were I doing it again, I might go 5 open and 5 cloth).

Damping: these do have a fair number of resonances at higher frequencies (most everything does), and a lot of people apply felt to all the interior surfaces to help that. The extreme modders make entirely custom enclosures out of wood. I didn't feel like felt did much, but woodys are a bit more work than I was looking for, so I just coated all the interior surfaces in hot glue. It worked great, reducing resonances a lot (especially the nasty one at 2 KHz) and (surprisingly) firming up the bass a good bit.

I didn't open mine up the usual way, and tried listening to it with most of the rear chamber intact but the rear plastic grill not present. It turns out that sounds better, with less resonance and a tad more bass. I tried using various other materials in its place, but everything I put there colored the sound noticably, so I'm running mine completely open.

Other people report they sound a lot better with silver wiring. I'm both a cheapskate and a skeptic, so I didn't bother. :P (I would be curious if anyone had an explanation for silver wiring that actually made sense.) The stock cable is clunky and unnecessarily long (for me, anyway), and has an even bigger and clunkier splitter, so I cut out the splitter and ran some extra cable over the headband for distribution. I think it made it a lot less annoying to handle.

Mine look like a ridiculous mess (exposed back chamber with hot glue everywhere, lots of visible messy wiring), but they sound amazing, I only paid $80, and as others have been pointing out, Grado as a company is awesome. At this point, a better source (I usually use my phone) would probably have much more effect than anything else I could do to the headphones.
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Fri Jul 25, 2014 4:07 pm

Silver is 5% more conductive than copper. If the wires to your headphone drivers were thinner than a human hair and extraordinarily long, a sensitive laboratory instrument might be able to detect a difference. With normal-thickness, normal-length wires or outside of a laboratory, you're never going to be able to tell.
The prices of the two metals have recently been about the same. Silver is about 13% more ductile. Copper is about 20% stronger.
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Fri Jul 25, 2014 5:29 pm

Grados get tons, tons of free advertising. They'll even attach their name to a subpar closed headphone co-branded with a whiskey company. People love to talk about them because "Made in USA!" (Out of extremely cheap components from not-US and with sub par quality control). I also think they're all pretty universally bad sounding. And you'd get the same level of service from Sennheiser (and most of the other well known and respected headphone manufacturers out there).

So yeah, if you love the sound then good as that's all personal preference. But IMO Grado gets a huge pass from the headphone community in general. Frankly I think the appeal is as much about aesthetics as Beats are and well the "Made in the USA!!!!!!" thing people love.
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Fri Jul 25, 2014 6:31 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:Silver is 5% more conductive than copper. If the wires to your headphone drivers were thinner than a human hair and extraordinarily long, a sensitive laboratory instrument might be able to detect a difference. With normal-thickness, normal-length wires or outside of a laboratory, you're never going to be able to tell.
The prices of the two metals have recently been about the same. Silver is about 13% more ductile. Copper is about 20% stronger.


This reminds me of a priceless decade-old post in response to a comment form an expensive aftermarket cable accolite in a thread about silver cables over at Head-Fi:

Original quote:
...All I have to say is that I highly doubt that Monster Cable, KimberKable, Cardas, Analysis Plus, Sraightwire, and all those other major companies made their millions just on myths and psychoacoustics.


Response:
religion has made trillions on just myths alone. i believe in both jesus and high end cables though.
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Fri Jul 25, 2014 6:55 pm

Captain Ned wrote:Grado also makes some of the best moving-magnet phono cartridges out there. I've always preferred MM to MC, as to me MM is about the rhythm and drive while MC is about being able to tell exactly which chair the oboe soloist played from. Horses for courses.
Specifically, that it was the front right leg of her chair that was a little too short causing her wobbly chair to make it into the recording during vigourous oboeing.
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Fri Jul 25, 2014 7:28 pm

I'll be keeping my HD555's, also unmodded, until I can afford something significantly better :D.
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Sat Jul 26, 2014 1:03 am

Grados are def love em or hate em. Personally I don't like them. I can't stay they are bad, just not my flavor.
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Tue Jul 29, 2014 8:40 am

tanker27 wrote:Yeah, Deep down I realize this. And yes I shamelessly am an Apple fan. And about the headphone connector....you're probably right.

Well done, the first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one...

Sorry, couldn't help it :lol:
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Tue Jul 29, 2014 8:45 am

cynan wrote:This reminds me of a priceless decade-old post in response to a comment form an expensive aftermarket cable accolite in a thread about silver cables over at Head-Fi:

Original quote:
...All I have to say is that I highly doubt that Monster Cable, KimberKable, Cardas, Analysis Plus, Sraightwire, and all those other major companies made their millions just on myths and psychoacoustics.


Response:
religion has made trillions on just myths alone. i believe in both jesus and high end cables though.

I almost lol'd (literally) at that.

Since we're talking about loving headphones...I splurged on a pair of Sennheiser HD 600's a few months ago :oops:

They've been incredible.
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:10 am

I have a set of Grado SR-80's, and they're excellent. Been used and somewhat abused for years. Would like to have the disposable income necessary to splurge for a higher model number; the 80's are so smooth and detailed I can't imagine what I'm missing.
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Tue Jul 29, 2014 2:38 pm

superjawes wrote:Since we're talking about loving headphones...I splurged on a pair of Sennheiser HD 600's a few months ago :oops:

They've been incredible.


You have just become the source of my envy.

Sort of :). What do you have them hooked into?
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Tue Jul 29, 2014 2:41 pm

Airmantharp wrote:
superjawes wrote:Since we're talking about loving headphones...I splurged on a pair of Sennheiser HD 600's a few months ago :oops:

They've been incredible.


You have just become the source of my envy.

Sort of :). What do you have them hooked into?

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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Tue Jul 29, 2014 3:03 pm

superjawes wrote:A Schiit Valhalla 1 with a black finish.


What's your source(s)?
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:56 am

Just my PC w/ a Xonar DX card. I've been fishing for a matching black Bifrost, but I haven't had any luck. I might just pick up an optical Modi at some point.
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Sun Aug 10, 2014 6:45 am

One of my buddies is into audio and has offered me his SR80's at a good price, but I just noticed there is a new model called the Grado SR80e - they look physically very similar to the old model so I'm wondering which to go for - any advice would be appreciated my musical taste is rock/ pop.
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Sun Aug 10, 2014 5:47 pm

I don't know about the driver changes, but the marketing literature has some mention of damping improvements in the e series, which is exactly what's needed in the i series. The SR60e seems to be getting good reviews - I didn't see any I'd put much stock in, but I think it's enough to trust that it's no step backwards.

If the price delta isn't huge and you don't plan on mods, I'd absolutely go for the SR80e. Mods might be able to make up a lot of the difference, and of course I can't comment much on price sensitivity.
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:53 am

Hi deepblueq, yeah I am now thinking the 80e's might just be the smarter buy, I'll see if I can get a deal on a brand new pair, and let you know how they sound in due course. Thanks.
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:29 pm

superjawes wrote:
cynan wrote:This reminds me of a priceless decade-old post in response to a comment form an expensive aftermarket cable accolite in a thread about silver cables over at Head-Fi:

Original quote:
...All I have to say is that I highly doubt that Monster Cable, KimberKable, Cardas, Analysis Plus, Sraightwire, and all those other major companies made their millions just on myths and psychoacoustics.


Response:
religion has made trillions on just myths alone. i believe in both jesus and high end cables though.

I almost lol'd (literally) at that.

Since we're talking about loving headphones...I splurged on a pair of Sennheiser HD 600's a few months ago :oops:

They've been incredible.


Now you just need to get a balanced amp and cables for those HD 600s. I have a balanced setup with my HD 650s. While I could not really perceive a benefit with thicker/different cable materials, balancing the HD 650s seemed to make everything a bit more authoritative/detailed. Note that you can easily make your own balanced cable from the stock one provided by soldering an XLR (sinlge 4-pin in my case) connector in place of the TRS jack.

The other thing a balanced headphone gives you is the ability to amplify them from pretty much any speaker amplifier. (But obviously you need to be careful with the gain and some speaker amps work better for this than others)
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Re: Headphones (yet again)

Postposted on Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:40 pm

I won't be balancing my 600's. I have little interest in a speaker rig at the moment, and I've got my eye on at least one balanced amp, but my plan is to save up for a while and eventually convince the wife to let me buy something at the really high end, like Audeze or the HD800.

Then I might get a balanced amp, cable, etc. So I have a plan :lol:
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