Grado GH3 Heritage Edition Headphone (followup review - new info)

Discussion in 'Headphone Reviews' started by dalethorn, Nov 26, 2018.

  1. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

    Jul 3, 2011
    Charleston South Carolina
    Youtube review:


    Sources: iPhone7+ with Oppo HA-2/AudioQuest DragonFly Red DAC/amps, various computers using the AudioQuest DragonFly Red/Meridian Explorer-2 DAC/amps.

    Review note: This followup review will revisit some things from my original review, but only to certify that those things haven't changed in several weeks of heavy use. Other than that, my intent is to offer a few updated impressions and add the new music track tests listed below. Note that the graphic chart linked above (or on my website under Photos/Audioforge) is an EQ chart, which is more-or-less the inverse of a frequency response graph.

    The GH3 was introduced at the same time as the GH4, as the GH4's junior version with much smaller earcups. I wondered how the GH3 would compare to the GH4, presumably with a smaller soundstage, less bass, and possibly a rougher treble due to the limited smoothing effect of the smaller earcups. From my current listening with the GH3, and taking into consideration my experience with 150 other headphones, I can tell that it has slightly less bass, but the bass is very near neutral and takes a boost with no loss of clarity or detail. The treble is as smooth as or smoother than the Grado GH1 that I had, and with the most neutral midrange of all my Grados, the GH3 sound is as good as I've heard.

    The only caveat I have concerning the GH3 is if a user likes a strong bass and either has no bass-boost control or chooses not to use one, then they would likely be disappointed. The bass tests I described in my original review held up very well for most of those tracks, but there were a couple of examples where some of the more powerful deep bass was lighter than neutral-ideal. The GH3 earpads are very similar or nearly identical to the GW100 earpads, but playing each headphone in wired mode - equalized or not - the GH3's clarity is obviously better. This is interesting since I wondered if the GW100 might lack some clarity compared to other Grados because the foam earpads cover the drivers, whereas with the SR325e, the foam does not cover the drivers.

    In most ads and features or reviews I've seen, the GH3 wood earcups look rather light and yellowish, and in very strong light that might be the usual case. In person though, the wood has bands of reddish color alternating with the lighter color, and the overall look is stunning. The GH3 cable is an ideal size in my view, and while the GH3's bigger brother(the GH4) might offer a fuller bass and a slightly larger soundstage, its cable is the "8 conductor" Grado variety while the GH3 cable is supposedly the "4 conductor" type. If it were possible, I'd like to have the GH3 cable on a GH4 headphone right from the manufacturer.

    Grado headphones have a solid reputation among fans of Rock music, and I have a representative collection of Rock, Metal, and EDM myself. So following that line of thought, I'm including 16 music tracks in this review which are very different from those in my original review, to see how the GH3 performs with other genres. Caveat: I'm not testing this headphone with any purely artificial or experimental music.

    Above & Beyond - We're All We Need (feat. Zoe Johnston): A very nice tight but impactful bass with crystal clear vocals - the GH3 plays this with great ambiance.

    Anamanaguchi - Planet: A complex mix of percussion sounds and hummed vocals. The bells and other high-frequency percussion are highly detailed, the bass line has good impact, and the bass detail is surprisingly good.

    Armin van Buuren - J'ai Envie de Toi (Orig Mix feat Gaia): Decent bass impacts, breathy vocals, lots of fun noise - the GH3 plays this perfectly.

    Avicii - Feeling Good: Classic female vocal in movie-theme style - the GH3 brings this to life like nothing else I've heard.

    Carl Kennedy-Tommy Trash ft Rosie Henshaw - Blackwater (Original Master): Nice strong tight bass impacts, female vocal, rendered delectably by the GH3.

    Crystal Castles - Wrath of God: Atmospheric tune with vocal sound effects and strong bass line, plus some unique treble percussion sounds. The GH3 brings these unique sounds to life.

    Digitalism - Pogo: A driving beat with a detailed bass synth and great vocals ("There's something in the air...") - the GH3 makes this very enjoyable.

    Dino Lenny-Lino Di Meglio - We Will Make It: Atmospheric tune with mixed vocals - the female vocal is a special treat with the GH3.

    DJ Shadow - Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt: High-pitched tones and strong deep piano chords with a hummed female vocal - ultra-cool with the GH3.

    Fairmont - Poble Sec: Detailed bass impacts with some nifty pingy guitar/synth effects. I discovered this tune at the time I purchased a v-moda M100 - the GH3's reproduction is not as dark and bassy, but definitive nonetheless.

    Giuseppe Ottaviani - Lost for Words (On Air Mix feat Amba Shepherd): Strong bass impacts behind a female voice - a large-scale sweeping sonic image reminiscent of epic adventures in an exotic land. The GH3 is playing on a whole new level here.

    Hecq - Enceladus (With Skyence): Prodigious deep bass and clean at that. This tune's melody is more abstract than most of the others here, but the GH3 makes it a real adventure.

    Katy B - Crying For No Reason (Tom Shorterz Remix): Oh myyyyy, I love Katy B. The vocal mix here is awesome and the bass is solid. This is the GH3 at its best.

    Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch: I first heard this in The September Issue film and soundtrack, as the backdrop for the opening catwalk (watch Andre grinning at 1:51 - all you need to know) - the GH3 plays this amazing tune perfectly.

    Lee and Malinda - Truth Will Set You Free (V-Moda Mix): Lee Kalt is the master, this is the masterpiece. The drum (or tom-tom) hits here have a very realistic skin-tone, the female vocal is seamlessly integrated into the driving beat, and the synth effects also blend well - the GH3 just owns this.

    Markus Schulz - Mainstage: The granddaddy of synth bass is in this track, and while the GH3 plays it with a decent amount of drama, this type of synthetic bass falls outside of the GH3's design scope.

    Last word: Anyone playing these tracks on the GH3 who has come from other Grado headphones will likely be pleasantly surprised by the sonics here, but others who come from using darker bassier headphones might not appreciate the abundance of treble energy in this music.

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