There is some truth to the notion that once you’ve heard one Grado, you’ve heard them all. After doing a ton of these reviews, it’s starting to feel like beating a dead horse. My local Audio Advice has a plethora of Grado models (in the e series line), and I’ve tried them all on numerous occasions, with different sources.
Because all Grado’s are pretty efficient and have a low impedance, you’re not going to necessarily need an amp, but one can benefit. How to choose a Headphone Amp!
I mostly tested out tracks from Spotify and Youtube. Be aware that these are revealing of source quality, so if the track sounds like poop, you’ll know.
First we’ll talk about the build quality of these puppies. What I like about them is definitely the Mahogany. It shows that the folks over in their Brooklyn labs took great care in crafting a unique headphone. The problem is that they’re all fundamentally the same. So the law of diminishing returns not only applies to sound, but construction as well.
They don’t feel cheap per se, but the way they feel in your hand doesn’t exactly deter any doubts that they’ll break down in some way over time.
The hinges are basically sticks, and you slide a piece of plastic up and down to adjust the fit. Kind of awkward and not very solid in terms of quality considering there’s only a piece of plastic holding it together.
In one of Zeos’ reviews, he described the cable as essentially an extension chord. This is painfully accurate I’m afraid. Even in studio, the wiring of this thing is cumbersome to say the least. It always feels like it’s going to jerk out of something, and is also much too heavy for the headphones themselves! When you’ve got a chord that overpowers the cans, there’s a problem. Also, the cable is not detachable and the jack is fairly bulky. It will not fit into a phone with a case.
A minor annoyance for me, as I always have to take my Otter Box off before I even start playing music.
Comfort is a mixed bag. On one hand, the headphone is extremely lightweight and there’s a nice weight distribution here. On the other hand, the padding is almost useless, and there may as well not even be any. Because your ear is pretty much exposed to the driver, the thin, hard surface piece that covers it will start to dig into your ear lobes, and it’s not pretty. I found myself adjusting these way more than is necessary for a headphone in this price range.
The RS1e’s use Grado’s L cushions, which are the worst out of the bunch.
S cushions. Found on the SR60e, 80e, and 125e.
L cushions: Found on the RS1e, RS2e, 225e, and 325e.
G cushions: Found on the GS1000e, 2000e, PS1000, and PS1000e.
Generally speaking, comfort on the S’s is amazing, L’s is horrible, and G’s is pretty good. The same trick that works with the G’s also works with the L’s. Slide the headphones forward until the back of the cup hits the back of your ear, and down until the top of the cup hits the top of your ear. So forward and down. This will ensure a pretty good comfort level for the maximum amount of time. Learn more:Grado GS1000e Review!
Again, it’s the typical Grado house sound: Amazing bass, pretty good mid-range, harsh treble. The mid-range at around 2-3k takes an almost unnecessary bump/spike, before getting pretty peaky/sibilant at the top end. What does sibilant mean?
The bass is wonderful, and is actually why I still love Grado cans in general. It’s extremely smooth, balanced, has impact, but remains wonderfully articulate and textured. I love the fact that I can hear the bass notes individually rather than just feel them like you would in a bass head outfit.
That said, it’s still a very detailed headphone, even at lower volumes. Instrument separation is fantastic, and you’ll start to hear all the “extra” stuff that was previously lost. Extra voices, extra instruments, and needle like precision due to the sound having room to breathe.
Not sure if it’s just me, but the bass also seemed a bit heavier than other models, which was also a positive. In comparing the RS1e to the GS1000e however, the sound appeared “raspier”, and was more Sibilant at higher volumes.
Here are my jotted down musings as I was listening.
Instrument separation good.
Needle like precision.
Bass heavier than other models?
Sound has time to breathe.
Raspier on my phone than the 1000e.
Sibilant at higher volumes.
The Grado RS1e is a fantastically revealing headphone, with a great bass and excellent Soundstage. The chord is cumbersome, comfort is below average, and build is questionable but not quite a deal breaker.
Like always, I would just go with the SR80e and call it a day. It provides roughly 95% of the Grado sound at a fraction of the price, and is a great introduction into the Grado house sound. Interested in learning more about them?
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.