on 31 August 2010
Not exactly being an audiophile, I was initially interested in these headphones as I wanted something sturdy, long-lasting and first class in the sound department as these were going to be a one-off purchase for me. I bought these along with a good headphone amplifier (I opted for the Graham Slee Novo) and was truly blown away by the results. On first listen you will be disappointed- right out of the box they don't sound so good, but give them time (people recommend that you burn them in for 80 hours) and the results will blow you away.
Used best with a good headphone amplifier, and some good source material (don't bother using these with mp3s or ipods) the headphones look and sound great. Unfortunately, they aren't quite as sturdy as I'd hoped, and I would recommend that you handle them with care. However,the design, the mahogany cups, the huge ear-engulfing pads and thick cord all combine to make a great set of headphones that if treated right should last many years.
I have listened to all kinds of music on these, from heavy electronica to light jazz, and though it all sounds wonderful I would heartily recommend these to lovers of classical. The brass blasts forth from these in stunning clarity, strings sound so sweet and choirs really do sound heavenly. Like I say, any kind of music is going to sound great with these though. Tom Waits' Mule Variations album for example sounds absolutely exquisite- all wooden and earthy, you can almost hear the floorboards creaking under the musicians feet.
Mine go straight back into the box after each listen and I'm hoping that I will never need to buy a pair of headphones like this again. They are a one-off purchase for me, and I only spent so much as I am a huge music lover and wanted to hear some of my favourite recordings in the best way possible. Listening to music with these on is like blowing dust off an old picture and seeing it clearly for the first time.
I did nearly knock a star off for the build of these things. If you are heavy-handed then they may well come apart in your hands. The rods that attach to the cups don't feel exactly sturdy, though I have never had any problems with mine. Also, these headphones work a little differently than other models. In order to create that wonderfully large soundstage the headphones leak quite a bit of sound and also let sound in. What this does is push sounds further out, causing some great seperation between instruments, though your partner may become infuriated at the high level of noise emitted from them. For me this isn't an issue (who cares what the missus says? ;)) but these are definitely best used in a sterile environment.
Also, listening to poorly recorded source material may surprise you, as the headphones will expose any hiss or crackling. Listening to Jimi Hendrix's 'Electric Ladyland' album on cd was a bit of a jolt to the system- the recording is absolutely steeped in tape hiss. I didn't notice so much until I splashed out on some high-end interconnects. Newer, cleaner recordings work best if you want to hear sonic perfection, though I actually like a bit of tape hiss so I don't mind. Movies also sound great with these headphones, as you can imagine.
To summise, I would say that these are a very worthwhile investment if you have a bit of money lying around. The new PS1000 model has just been released and these Grado headphones are a limited edition that are only going to get more expensive over time. Also, if you're willing to splash out on a good set of headphones then why not go for the absolute best in your price range? The PS1000 model may show incremental improvements over these, but they are uglier and at nearly £800 more they may not be quite worth the upgrade unless you are an absolute audiophile with equipment running well into the thousands.
I am reviewing these headphones after buying them from a Grado UK dealer near Peterborough for £997 rather than the £1200 they are currently being sold for on Amazon. I have come to the GS1000i's via the 80i's and then the superb Philips Fidelio X1/00's. I now live in a flat so can no longer enjoy my music through full size speakers late into the night as I used to. It has also meant downsizing my music collection from some 2,000+ CD's to that same collection mostly now stored in Digital format on a Cocktail Audio X30 and as a portable source, a FiiO X30. I now try and buy my music in 'Studio Master' 192/24 or 96/24 FLAC format when it is available.
Playback from both of these sources is via a Graham Slee Solo headphone amplifier. All my reviewing was done through this amplifier and I would recommend this as a minimum as if you are simply planning to plug these headphones into you iPod you are wasting your money.
I am sure purists will be spinning in their leather armchairs at the thought of my listening setup, however as much as I would love my Mark Levinson amps with my beloved Dynaudio Confidence speakers back, I would not actually fit into my flat. So back to my reality and trying to give me the best listening experience without my neighbors reporting me to the Environmental Health Department.
Lets get the build quality out of the way - terrible for such expensive headphones AND you have to buy the case on top! They must be handled very carefully and are less robust than the 80i's and not even close to the Philips Fidelio's. It could be argued that their construction is to ensure every drop of musicality is squeezed from each recording, this may well be true but at least Grado, put a free case in with them.
You do get a 3.5mm conversion cable as well as an extension cable which I suppose is something but apart from that they just come in a cheapo white card box.
Now for the listening. They only arrived this morning and for 10 hours I ran various playlists through them to 'warm them up' as I realize it will be a couple of weeks before they can be considered run in. In short they are truly amazing when playing back Studio Mastered 192/24 and 96/24 recordings but are over sensitive to some tracks which I upsampled to 96 using JRiver Media Centre 19. While neither the Grado 80i's or the Fidelio's show any real issues with these tracks, the GS1000i's show every flaw and at times it isn't a pleasant listening experience. However by reverting back to the original CD quality rip or actual CD then the music is somewhat saved. So I limited my testing to the Studio Masters of which I have about 90 at the time of this review.
These headphones extract so much more detail than any headphones I have heard before, I would even say they are better than my old Stax Lambda Signatures I owned in the 90's. The detail is focused and precise and I felt as though for the first time since buying FLAC's that I was actually experiencing what reviewers in the HiFi press have been talking about. The sound stage is expanded and it is easier to pick out individual instruments and performers. They are capable of resolving great subtlety (La Traviata, Act III: Prelude) as well as being truly dynamic when high volume heart pounding pop/rock tracks (Bad Moon Rising) are being fed into them.
Having spent over 3 hours with them on my ears I have no listening fatigue, hardly noticed they were on my head but while I am aware they leak out, they also leak in. For example when my PC was on I could hear the fan. To do my testing I soon realized the PC would have to be switched off. They are very susceptible to environmental noise and this could be an issue if you have a noisy family or neighbors.
In summary these are worth the money I paid, but that extra £200 Amazon are charging would pay 50% of a Graham Slee Solo. Don't waste your money if you are just going to jack them into an iPod and in reality I wouldn't personally consider buying them without a half decent headphone amplifier.
I tried to listen this evening to samples of every genre of music I listen to and these were:
Bel Raggio - Aleksandra Kurzak - William Tell Act 2 - 'S'allontanano alfin!....Selva opaca, deserta brughiera'
Glad Rag Doll - Diana Krall - We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye / Glad Rag Doll
Be My Love - A Tribute To Mario Lanza - Joseph Calleja - Fedora / Act 2 - 'Amor ti vieta'
Intermission - Maeve O'Boyle - No Surrender / All my sins
Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor - II. Romanze – Larghetto - Ingrid Fliter
Emi Fujita - Emi Fujita - Over the Rainbow / The Rose
Homeward Bound - Bryn Terfel - Faith's Call / Ave verum Corpus
Tubular Bells - Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells Part Two
Like A Virgin - Madonna - Love Don't Live Here Anymore
Privateering - Mark Knopfler - Seattle (and a couple of others)
Also sprach Zarathustra - Berliner Philharmoniker & Gustavo Dudamel - Various tracks
Feels Like Home - Sheryl Crow - Easy
The Italian Intermezzo - BBC Philharmonic Orchestra - La Traviata, Act III: Prelude / Fedora, Act II: Intermezzo
Bad Girls - Donna Summer - Hot Stuff / Bad Girls
Dusty In Memphis - Dusty Springfield - Just one Smile
Chronicle: 20 Greatest Hits - Creedence Clearwater Revival - Bad Moon Rising
Atlantic Crossing - Rod Stewart - Drift Away
on 30 July 2015
hard to find now, the "i" version is really different from the new "e" . the gs1000 i is much better to my ears ,better sound stage, extraordinary bass.....(i own and had broken in the both )
these headphones have their own signature
on 7 November 2013
These Grado headphones are very highly rated by the hi-fi press, both in the UK and elsewhere, and for the most part I would agree. The sound is very open and spacious, with a wide stereo soundstage, and punchy dynamics.
The only disappointment for me is with classical orchestral music. Mostly it sounds very good, but the strings - particularly the violins - sound thin and occasionally a bit screechy. This is the same with full-price, highly-rated CDs as well as budget discs. I've tried them with two different, expensive CD players, and with and without a headphone amplifier, and it's the same. The same discs played back on the same equipment through a different pair of (cheaper) high-end headphones have much better string sound. Maybe they'll improve in this regard with a hundred hours of running in, maybe not!
So yes, I'd recommend them, for rock, jazz, blues etc, but you may be disappointed if you listen to classical orchestral works.