Hi friend and Welcome!
The Grado PS1000 vs. Sennheiser HD800 you ask? These two flagship models are very different from each other. If you want to know why…
Grab a snack, sit back and relax because…
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this review
of each headphone
- Amp/Dac Requirements
- Who this headphone benefits?
- Similarities and Differences
- Final Word
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!
Grado PS1000 (discontinued by manufacturer)
price: *Given that the original model is discontinued by the manufacturer, I will link you to both the PS1000 & PS1000e. | check eBay!
type: open back
fit: circumaural (over/around ear)
impedance: 32 Ohm. What is Headphone Impedance?
frequency response: 5Hz – 5kHz
material: metal, wood, plastic
headband: no padding
The open-back PS1000 represents Grado’s departure from their classic sound. Up until the mid-2000s, they had not really experimented or deviated from their traditional Rock/Metal oriented signature. The GS1000 that came out in 2005 kind of stepped outside of the box a little and tried something new. It was not all that successful, it ended up being too bright, with hardly any mid-range presence. In 2009, the PS1000 improved upon these shortcomings and remains a good, exciting listen. The sound stage here is fantastic, and its signature overall is very fast, airy, energetic. It’s about as far from neutral as you will find.
The metal exterior was also a new feature since most Grado units distinguish themselves with that very attractive wood finish. Still, on the inside, you will find wood beneath the earcups of the PS1000. One caveat is comfort. The 1000 is pretty heavy but can slide around a bit too much on your melon. The top of the headband also has the potential to hurt your head after long listening sessions. Overall, there are better options out there for your dollar, and its asking price is a bit too lofty for what the headphone is.
- In chord volume control.
- extension cable and mini-plug adapter included.
- Easy to drive/amplify.
- Very fun sounding. Energetic and airy. Crisp.
- Earpads are the most comfortable that Grado has designed. Also easily removable/replaceable.
- Jazz master. The 1000 really gives these recordings the emotion and expression that other cans may lack.
- Not neutral in the slightest.
- Overall they are exciting, but the treble may be too bright, leading to sibilance. What does Sibilant mean?
- Mids are recessed and lack presence. Not as recessed as the GS1000 however.
- The headband lacks padding, leading to discomfort after long listening sessions.
- Bass. It has the impact but without the extension. It rolls off a bit. Overall the bass has been said to contribute to that exciting factor.
- Treble. As mentioned above it can be problematic at times, but overall its character is pleasant.
- Imaging. Not quite as impressive as its sound stage. What is Soundstage?
- Too heavy? A lot of people have commented on the weight of these things. They may be a bit heavy for some.
At 32 Ohms, these don’t need an amp but are very easy to drive if you so desire to purchase separate amplification.
Who these headphones benefit?
They have been called a Jazz master. They do very well for casual listening as well.
It’s kind of an acquired taste, and as mentioned in the open, there are better options for your dollar. Some hesitate to actually refer to it as a flagship headphone because of its very colored tonality. This limits the array of genres that the PS1000 can excel with, which ultimately makes it a somewhat sub-par offering from Grado.
Sennheiser HD 800
price: check amazon! | check eBay!
type: open back
fit: circumaural (Over-ear)
impedance: 300 Ohm
frequency response: 6–51,000 Hz (-10 dB); 14–44,100 Hz (-3 dB)
material: alcantara, stainless steel, teflon, velour
headband: metal, alcantara
color: Black and Grey/Silver
These are some of the most highly regarded headphones in existence today and are almost an overall perfect set.
They are meant to reproduce the sound you hear at its most natural state, and therefore can be called the most honest, and neutral pair available on the market. If you value an even sound across the entire frequency spectrum and appreciate things like sound-stage, neutrality, detail, honesty, and comfort, then this may be the headphone for you. One concern that I’ve found to be quite common in my research is that these headphones may become boring to some. It’s almost too much of a good thing and can be exhausting and fatiguing after a while.
One of the main concerns is that they may sound a bit too bright for some people’s taste, even bordering on sibilant sounding. It isn’t a perfect headphone by any stretch but still maintains an A rating across the board despite some shortcomings (Outlined in “Cons”).
That said, The HD 800 excels with nearly everything that makes a listening experience great. It boasts a wide and amazing sound-stage, with depth and width being the standouts here. The height doesn’t quite measure up, but for classical music in particular these really excel in startling ways. The mid-range is also exceptional, and instruments such as Pianos, acoustic guitars, trumpets, etc. all sound about as uncolored as it gets.
- extremely comfortable. The velour ear pads are like pillows.
- a great sound stage.
- use of silence/clarity.
- phenomenal mid-range. Perhaps it’s bread and butter.
- neutrality and even sound across the spectrum.
- a remarkable amount of detail present.
- great for in-studio mixing and mastering.
- natural and dreamy sound. This reviewer on amazon said that they re-invigorated his spirit and hope after 40 years.
- unlike anything you’ve ever heard, the thrill of music returns with these.
- a tad bright in the treble range.
- may be a bit too clinical for some. The sound may become fatiguing, or dare I say “boring”, and lack personality.
- Amp requirements are pretty hefty. These are very picky about which amp you choose. More on that in a jiffy!
- reveals all flaws, so be aware of your sound source. The HD 800 can be rather unforgiving of poorly mastered songs in general.
- no going back to other headphones once you hear these. Is that a con? Depends on who you ask I suppose.
All credit goes to @Metal571. Check him out on Twitter!
The Amp/DAC requirements for the HD 800 are a bit on the picky side, as alluded to above. After careful research, I can give my best endorsement for some great options here:
- *Woo Audio WA2*
- SPL Phonitor
- Vioelectric V200 (high-end amp without the high-end price tag)
- Fostex HP-P1 (a great and more affordable pairing)
Who this headphone benefits?
- Does very well with classical, acoustic, jazz, and well-recorded music.
- people who appreciate the most honest sound reproduction
- people who want to re-discover music
- People who like a big sound-stage and extreme clarity
A headphone that is as faithful and accurate to the original recording as anything else in existence. Great sound-stage, use of silence and clarity, as well as a very durable and comfortable phone overall. Maybe a bit too bright in the high end, and generally boring and clinical for some. All flaws are revealed when you put these on! It has been said that the HD 800’s are like living with a genius. They will give you a newfound appreciation for all of your music, new and old. The downside is that they will also reveal every flaw in said music. You know, stuff like warts and other imperfections? They are also almost universally considered harsh in the treble range. The right tube amp as mentioned above warms up the sound considerably. Considering the “Sennheiser veil” that was apparent in a couple of their mid-fi offerings, I’m pretty sure Sennheiser decided to try and remedy that with a brighter top end this time around. The problem is now it may be TOO harsh and shrill!
Similarities & Differences
- Both of these headphones represent flagship models, but the PS1000 is less so.
- They both do extremely well with Jazz, and generally more laid-back recordings.
- Both have somewhat harsh treble peaks and are ultimately shrill and harsh overall.
- They are both open back and leak sound. Closed back vs. Open back headphones.
- Soundstage. Called superior, The HD 800’s sound-stage may just be the best in the business overall. While the PS1000’s is good, it just doesn’t match up.
- Comfort/Construction & Materials. The HD 800 trumps the 1000 hands down in both categories. The 800 is also a lot lighter, and may just “disappear” on your head. Meaning you won’t feel it at all after a while! 😛 The PS1000 suffers from the same old problem in Grado headphones. No headband padding! Very frustrating indeed. The HD 800 uses the finest of materials. The PS1000 uses good materials for the most part, but they pale in comparison.
- Amplification/Impedance. The HD 800 is really hard to drive. This is basically a universal consensus. The PS1000 by contrast has a very low impedance rating and is easy to drive. A Tube amp is almost required to get the best sound from the HD800, while a modest Solid-state setup will do just fine with the 1000. Tube amp vs. Solid state.
- Overall sound. Perhaps the biggest difference here, The HD 800 is about as flat and neutral as it gets and was meant to be exactly that. It’s analytical and even “cold” to some. The finest of details are heard, but may not be enjoyable in some instances. By contrast, the PS1000 is definitely more of a colored and exciting offering, which is odd especially at this price range. It’s one of the reasons that the flagship moniker can be a little misleading. In a nutshell, these two headphones can be described as Accurate (HD 800) vs. Fun (PS1000).
- Bass. The bass on the 800 is more subdued and laid back, but remains extremely accurate. The 1000’s bass has a lot of impact but lacks detail and clarity at times.
The PS1000’s are by no means headphones, but I still would overlook them in favor of some more affordable, and better options. The HD 800 is quite analytical and neutral, and if you like its perceived signature you should definitely plan on purchasing adequate amplification. I cannot overstate this enough. It’s a nearly perfect headphone with one glaring flaw (treble). A tube amp will warm up its sound, and negate any harshness in the top end.
Well friend, that’s about it for today!! I hope you came away with some valuable information on the Grado PS1000 vs. Sennheiser HD 800.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I leave something out? Let me know below or Contact me! I would love to speak with you..
All the best and God bless,