Which Grado?

Discussion in 'Full Size Headphones' started by MagicCat, Sep 2, 2012.

  1. MagicCat

    MagicCat New Member

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    Hello everyone,

    I'm new to the forum and looking for some advice please . I've been a long time lover of music and Hi-Fi. At one point my system was worth in the region of £15k. Times changed however and now I own just a MacBook, iPad and iPhone for sources.

    I've decided the best way to get a great sound, and one that won't annoy my new neighbours is through a good headphone set-up. To kick off I'm going to pick up some Grados off eBay as I've heard favourable things about them. I also recall hearing a pair of the cheapest ones many years ago and being amused as to how good they were.

    To that end I'm stuck on which to opt for? The three models I'm considering are the 125, 225 and 325. I listen to everything, and I do mean everything; in the main though it's Floyd, CSN, Kate Bush, acoustic rock and some electronic such as Tangerine Dream.

    Is there much difference between the three? I'm planning on using my Macbook as a source, initially on its own. I'll then add either a DAC/AMP combo or unit that combines both. Any help appreciated :)
     
  2. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    If you had a 125 and listened to it all day long, then switched to a 325, you might say "Eh - sounds a bit different but I can't put my finger on it."

    On the other hand, if you had a 325 and listened to it all day long, then switched to a 125, you might gasp "Oh my goodness - where did the sound go?"
     
  3. MagicCat

    MagicCat New Member

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    A great analogy Dale, thanks! I've got the chance to buy either 225i or the old 325 for the same amount of money. The question is whether the 'I' upgrades on the 225 make it a better can over the 'old' 325?
     
  4. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Funny thing about old headphones. I had the 325 about 12 years ago. Very nice, neutral more or less but with good presence. Recently I had the PS500 which was also excellent. I think the 325 would be good if it's in perfect condition.
     
  5. MagicCat

    MagicCat New Member

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    Thanks Dale. In the end I've plumped for the 225i which should be winging their way from L.A to Scotland very soon! My thoughts were that they're new, and have the upgrades over the 'old' 325. I've also read almost to exclusion of all other opinions that the 325 can only do rock, and are quite hot in the treble?

    Whilst I'm not a fan of the dark closed can sound you get with mass produced closed cans, I don't want something that will leave ringing in my ears either. My next job is to decide on how I'll run them. For the time being it will be straight from my MacBook using Apple Lossless Files.

    However I need to decide on whether to go the amp and DAC route, or just buy something that's combined. I've been looking at this:

    TEAC UD-H01 Universal Digital to Analogue converter DAC built in headphone amp | eBay

    It retails at £300 here in the U.K and seems to attract good reviews. The other option is the much cheaper:

    Topping TP-30 TA2024 T-Amp USB DAC Headphone Mini Stereo Amplifier 15Wx2 | eBay

    Or I could wait and just the the Lehman Black Cube USB and be done with it :) The other route is the Amp / DAC or even just an Amp? What would be the best option for quality, can I gain much by adding a DAC either separately, or combined. Open to thoughts on all these. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2012
  6. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    If I were getting a DAC-plus-amp for the 225i I would look at the mini-amps such as Headstreamer, Audioengine D1, Dragonfly etc. I use all 3 and they will put out all of the quality that the 225i can reproduce. I don't see a reason to buy a Black Cube unless I were driving something well above the resolution of the 225. Or as a future investment perhaps?

    Another amp that is a good match for the 225i is the FiiO E17, oddly enough. While it has slightly less sound quality than the 3 DAC/amps I mentioned, it would help "round off" some of the sharper bits in less-than-perfect digital tracks where the 225i might become strident.

    The 2 amps you referenced may be good as well, but they're unknown to me.
     
  7. MagicCat

    MagicCat New Member

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    Thanks Dale, I'll look into those.
     
  8. MagicCat

    MagicCat New Member

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    Dale, would running a line out from my MacBook to a good headphone amp be wise, or do I need a DAC to make the most of it?
     
  9. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    I'm not sure what a Line Out would be on a MacBook, since my Macbook Air has USB, headphone, and that new mini interface. The headphone out is low quality, so that leaves the USB. You should plug a DAC into the USB port and a headphone amp into the DAC, or just get the mini DAC with headphone amplification in one little package. In my opinion there are two ways to go - the mini-DAC/amp for ~£120, or separate DAC and amp that costs hundreds each. The "Line Out" to headphone amp has never been associated with computers or most music players, just desktop stereo systems that have a true analog Line Out port. Some of the mini-DACs say that their headphone out can serve as a true Line Out to a separate headphone amp. If you're thinking about that, start studying now because it's a serious learning curve. My Audioengine D1 does have analog out, but it's the exception.
     
  10. MagicCat

    MagicCat New Member

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    Thanks Dale. I'm swaying towards the Topping TP30 right now, purely because it's cheap, and has had good reviews (Steve Guttenburg) It would allow me to get a feel for headphone set-ups and if I like it I can upgrade in time.
     
  11. MagicCat

    MagicCat New Member

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    Just received my headphones.....




    Wow! Amazing!
     
  12. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Grado 225?
     
  13. MagicCat

    MagicCat New Member

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    Yep 225i's Dale. I know there are much better sets available but for the £120 I paid delivered from the States they're amazing. This is surely the best way forward for me to get close to my music again. I can see upgradeitus striking lol!
     
  14. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    I know the feeling. I've had two Grados, and I like the feeling of having such a high-tech item that has that much hand-work in it.
     
  15. MagicCat

    MagicCat New Member

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    In the UK they retail at around £240 so effectively pitched at a slightly higher level than entry, but I've managed to pick them up for half of that; even more of a steal!

    If this is how good they are fed straight from a Mac goodness only knows what a good DAC will do? Oh and I wonder how good the RS1's are...... ;-)
     
  16. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    The RS1 would be slightly beefier and smoother, but there are some simple mods you can do to get closer to that with the 225. You can find lots of that on Google, but be careful with any changes that are permanent.

    In most cases a good DAC will improve the soundstage slightly, giving you more "air" or something like that. But the 225 is efficient enough and has the optimum design already, so not a huge improvement.
     
  17. MagicCat

    MagicCat New Member

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    The pad mods look good, easy and not likely to destroy anything. I don't suppose you could point me towards what pads are best, and where from?
     
  18. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Here's a reliable article that examines these:
    Grado Pad Choices And Mods - Head-Fi.org Community
     
  19. MagicCat

    MagicCat New Member

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    I've read through the page Dale, thanks again. I'm wondering if the Sennheiser 414 Pad mod is worthwhile? I ask as I find the stock Grado pads are a little uncomfortable after a while. Would these pads move the driver further away and add comfort with the reverse quarter mod?
     
  20. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    I don't recommend different size pads since that changes the basic design and how the waveform arrives at the ears - not good. But different textures and densities are OK and should be interesting. There should also be some way to wash the current pads and make them softer - I forget how that worked, but it's out there somewhere.
     
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