Grado Hemp (2020) Measurements, Reviews, and Impressions

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by Vtory, Jul 22, 2020.

  1. murphythecat

    murphythecat Friend

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    can you post more of your impression on the grado hemp? very interested in those!
     
  2. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    I believe he meant current generation Grado woods -- either RS2e or HF3. My magic eight ball (aka extrapolated triangulation) says Hemp is one tick or two more recessed on lower highs and probably in between the two on mid highs.
     
  3. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Grado Hemps are still freaking me out. One of the most impressive aspects is their speed.

    Aside: Until I do sufficient grado-to-grado comparisons, I believe my subjective arguments 90-95% apply to any concurrent higher grados with wood enclosure (rs2e, hf3, gh3, gh4, etc.)

    I'm currently developing a fixed list of testing tracks (to obtain a better consistency across different posts) [1], and regarding speed and relevant criteria, the hemps are quite impressive to me, often outperforming VO and HD650 (whose speed already fairly lifted by the Erish). The comparison feels like a formula car --maybe in a decade or two outdated fashion -- versus well tuned high performing sedans "on a circuit track with lots of technical curves".

    [​IMG]
    Tidal link: https://tidal.com/browse/track/698061

    Laurie Anderson's very experimental presentation in the "Born, Never Asked" track is one of such moments showing how Grados can outspeed ZMF or Sennheiser.

    Let me describe my comparative experience like below.

    I start to listen to this track with Schiit Magni 3 plus and Sennheiser HD650 as a control combo. This combo doesn't sound bad. I am neither annoyed nor bothered. The spacious hand claps, wood block, and marimba strike well and support the violin maintaining a good harmony. But the overall speed is nowhere I would usually regard "wow".

    Switching amp to Geshelli Erish boosts up this chain with far more control. All the instruments now play with noticeably increased speed headroom and authority. Not to mention I do find this combo a little more engaging.

    Switching headphones to the ZMF Verites increases responsiveness in plankton level. At this stage, violin -- to be specific string vibration -- starts to sound a little different. While difference in plankton is rather small, but it makes this track's presentation meaningfully more interesting. That makes sense as she used a little unusual violin with a magnetic tape on the bow.

    Finally I put the Grado Hemps (w/ Magni 3+) on my head. Wow, it's a different experience (not necessarily better or worse I mean). A bit plankton lost compared to the Verites, maybe someone can bitch about reduced meatiness, too. Regardless, there is no doubt this combo is faster than any of above. Laurie's keening violin sound evidently different from the sound group which I consider usual violin sounding. All percussion instruments happen with the more convincing speed and control, and in their own distinct pace.

    Honestly, the last three combos are all very engaging and pleasing in their own ways. But if I am asked about rapidity and discipline required to maximize my understanding for this track, then I should say "Grados rule them all."[2]

    Footnote
    [1] My ultimate goal is to create a Tidal list containing the selected test tracks. I want to get my subjective evaluation process more operational and structural.

    [2] It should be noted that my Grado Hemps aren't matched with their optimal amps yet. At least I suspect so. But even under such a disadvantage, there is a healthy margin in this evaluation category. Kudos to John Grado's simple approach "Large drivers located very close to ears".
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2020
  4. Raimei Templar

    Raimei Templar Facebook Friend

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    How is the imaging on them? I am very tempted by that FR graph, always wanted to try Grados but was scared by all the graphs I saw lol. I love rock/metal and always heard Grados were pretty awesome for that.

    Its a shame that the balanced upgrade for the Hemp is so freaking expensive, Erish and the Hemp sound like they might be a super exciting combo.

    Yaxi(Japanese Earpad maker famous for really awesome Porta Pro pads) just released some earpads for Grados which are making these even more tempting. If its anything like their porta pro pads it should make it a lot more comfortable though sound will change a little. There is even a Acid Purple color which would be perfect for the hemp theme, would kind of make them into Hendrix's headphones!
     
  5. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    @Raimei Templar

    Imaging ability is a mixed bag. Depending on what you focus or what you prefer, it can range from soso to super duper great. To me, imaging crispness is just perfect. Well articulated and pinpointed. Center images strong, too. No superimposing problems as @Lyander might concern. But things are trickier when it comes to naturalness, meantiness, and placement. Due to Grados' supra-aural physical structure, higher order indirect waves are largely skipped. This makes everything feel a little more upfront, depthwise flatter, and a little too "hyper realistic". Once getting familiar, I don't bother any more but surely they're not a strong suit at least with F-cushions. G-cush may be better but it comes with its own (very bothering) sacrifice.

    And in my understanding Hemp actually can connect to Erish with 4pin XLR male to TRS female adapter as Erish's 4pin output was grounded (confirmed by Geshelli and tested by myself too). My concern is the combo might be too "over exciting" for my taste (I didn't test it yet though). Erish to me is a little north to something like Ravenswood (my 'neutral' reference).

    Yaxi sounds interesting. May check them out later if I get a chance -- currently not shown in amazon US. Actually, I have 3 Geekria pads incoming. Will update as I try them with my Hemps.
     
  6. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Damn it, I love Laurie Anderson. Saw every show she's done since the late '90s. You've got me so tempted to try these, but I can't justify $420 right now.
     
  7. Raimei Templar

    Raimei Templar Facebook Friend

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    Looking forward to see the updates! Having the strong center image is the most important thing so that is good to hear. Doesnt sound like it will be seeing any use in professional gaming though :)

    Well that is cool to hear with the Erish, if I get one will have to find one of those adapters. That was my only real concern with the Erish was not being able to use unbalanced headphones, being able to just get an adapter makes it real tempting.
     
  8. pure5152

    pure5152 Friend

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    full transparency/PSA:

    Moon audio doesn’t _not_ normally sell the hemp with XLR retermination of the stock cable, even though they list it in the drop down as an option and they allow you to checkout. I learned this the hard way, as soon after I had made my order, moon audio sneakily changed the order details/comments to say they wouldn’t reterminate the stock cable and they had changed the termination back to standard 3.5mm.

    I only got them to offer the XLR retermination to me after saying I would cancel if they didn’t, since I was only buying the hemp from them because they were the only place that seemed to offer XLR termination, and all my amps only have balanced outputs. After that they said they could reterminate the cables for $35 extra, and I then paid via a separate PayPal invoice.

    Frankly, this whole situation is kinda bull; it shouldn’t be possible to even checkout with the XLR termination on the stock cable in the first place, and it looks like they still haven’t updated the webpage as of now. I know @Artasia already got kinda burned by this (they shipped out a hemp with 3.5mm even though he specifically chose XLR), so writing this so hopefully other people don’t get burned too. I’ll update the original post too.

    My advice if you want the hemp reterminated to XLR like mine is to _email_ moon audio directly asking for the custom order and proceed from there instead of directly ordering from the website. You could probably also reterminate yourself, but I know many people aren’t comfortable with soldering/modifying cables (like me), so the moon audio option may be one of the few affordable options. I’m sorry if others may have ordered from noon audio after reading my post and got burned too.

    (I know this is kinda off topic, but important as I don’t want people to be burned/misled about this)

    ===

    UPDATE 7-30-2020:

    Looks like Moon Audio is listening and took down the ability to order the hemp headphone with anything other than the stock connector. This is great - no more false promises; again, if you want to try ordering one with a stock cable but XLR plug, you'll have to email them and request a custom order.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020 at 3:08 AM
  9. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Thanks for raising a very important consideration for potential buyers. I almost completely forgot about this.. Yeah, that happened to me, too. I didn't really think they could irreversibly reterminate freely but I chose xlr option when placing my order. And I got.. my hemps unchanged. Haha. I unearthed magni 3+ from the inventory box very soon though.
     
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  10. Ruined

    Ruined Rando

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    Wow that looks amazing I am tempted

    How is the soundstage compared to something like hd600? It sounds like its a bit closed in from your description but how much?

    Also grado direct termination it sounds like they are adding an inline 4pin XLR or dual 3pin?
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
  11. Ruined

    Ruined Rando

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    Hmm this headphone is interesting to me but this is concerning

    For reference I need to use maximum size adjustment on the hd700/hd800/hd820 headband for it to fit right. From your description it sounds like my head would snap this headband heh

    They really do look fantastic though, it would allow me to try grado again for the first time in a very long time, and probably will retain resale value 6 months from now if I dont like em.

    Edit : well I bought a pair we'll see!
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
  12. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Still enjoying rolling races among Hemp vs Verite vs HD650 every night. Today's circuit is "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" by Kurt Covain in the "MTV Unplugged in New York" (1994).

    [​IMG]
    Tidal Link: https://tidal.com/browse/track/2570685

    I intentionally chose this specific track tonight because I believed it would lead Grado to lose easily. Well, it turns out I made a bad guess.

    I like this song a lot. Of course largely because Kurt Cobain's superb interpretation of the American folk song. But from hifi perspectives, this track introduces a lot of challenges for reproduction to have diversity and subtlety of vocal presentation right.

    I began the listening session with HD650/Erish (Bifrost 2 omitted because it's common across all the three arms). While this combo's microdynamic resolution could showcase the diverse range of Kurt's vocal, I wasn't fully convinced by the second half of the song, where Kurt intentionally and dynamically presented gradual burn. I am not sure if I can call it a typical senn veil, but something associated with the veil bothered me so much that the track couldn't get me in the last bits. I confirmed this by switching to M3+ -- yup, the issue got worsen.

    WIth Hemp/Magni 3+, Kurt's nuance delinearated better. Every step of subtle gradation could be heard more evidently. Moreover, the overall presentation became a little too lively. It's not a deal breaker to me at all but ymmv, really. In contrast to the mixed first half, Hemp combo destroys HD650 in the second half. The singer's faithfulness called forth a response in my heart. Slow-burn damn convincingly built from muttered and prolonged vowel sound to anguished shriek. Could be a little overly done though.

    Finally Verite/Erish. No doubt this combo won over the race. Dimensions and reverberation added a bit, staging a little less upright, and presence of vocal and guitar just spot on, and etc etc. There were a number of changes that differentiate this combo from the other two described above. All such not only created a wonderful harmony but also enhanced the presentation in every evaluation criterion in my book. Plankton there, microdynamics there, and emotional synchronization there. I thought I was already touched hugely with Grado combo, but ZMF overachieved by a league or two in most aspects.

    (Aside: VO magically enamored me in tracks like this more often than not. That's one reason why VO survived over any other top transducers I've owned.)
     
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  13. pure5152

    pure5152 Friend

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    Got curious and actually looked inside the hemp's driver, and unfortunately your statement @Vtory is simply not true. If you shine a light into housing, it's all hemp wood in there; the only part that seems to be maple is the ring around the driver. This lines up with the numbers/construction mentioned in this article:

    After years of experimentation, Grado ultimately bonded a piece of maple wood to the HempWood and found the perfect ratio.

    With housings made roughly of 90% HempWood and 10% maple, Grado says the company’s latest headphones bring out a fuller sound than many of its other models. The compressed hemp creates a damping effect between the fibers, while the maple helps balance and produce a “warm and precise sound,” the company’s website says.
    Here are some pictures:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Also, random update, but looks like Moon Audio is listening and took down the ability to order the hemp headphone with anything other than the stock connector. This is great - no more false promises; again, if you want to try ordering one with a stock cable but XLR plug, you'll have to email them and request a custom order.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020 at 3:09 AM
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  14. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    I got Geekria pads this evening. Material looks a lot cheaper than I thought. Don't expect dekoni quality or so.

    Anyway pictures first.
    Note that Geekria never named these pads. Each name shown below is titled for my convenience.

    1. "Large" pads

    Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Geekria-Earpads-Replacement-GS1000i-Headphone/dp/B0839KDL1W

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    2. "Flat" pads holed

    Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Geekria-Replacement-Headphones-Cushion-Earpads/dp/B00TGCDHL2

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    3. "Donut" pads

    Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Geekria-Replacement-Headphones-Cushion-Earpads/dp/B0155XZJ4I

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Frequency response measurements. Normalized at 300hz.

    All psychoacoustically smoothed as it makes graphs way more readable. I don't think anybody expect high Q character changes in pads rolling. Not to mention all sbaf-compensated.

    Also be aware of the below:
    -----


    [​IMG]
    All three Geekria pads along with Grado F-cushion (stock pads coming with Hemp)

    [​IMG]
    Geekria pads only

    [​IMG]
    Geekria Flat vs Grado F-cushion (as Flat is what I consider good alternative to F-cush)
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020 at 9:13 PM
  16. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Below are "relative" differences setting F-cushion as reference (0 db flat line)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Subject impression to come later after I spend more time with these. Stay tuned.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020 at 9:12 PM
  17. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Looks like the Geekria flats may be an alternative way to go with Grados? At least that's why I would choose based solely on the FR. What's your subjective sense (incorporating all other factors, not just simple FR measurement)?
     
  18. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    FR does well capture tonal changes I recognize except bass. I don't think bass is that boosted with geekria flat pads. Can hear a few more decibels in very low notes. But FR bass graph largely comes from reduced leak with geekria. Beside that, a little brighter, a little edgier, and a little airier as graph suggests.

    On the other hand, I honestly don't hear as much texture or plankton as f-cushion. For example, Nirvana's vocal track sounds less colorful and less emotional. I cannot perfectly attribute this loss to acoustic interaction or to weakened stimulus to ear skin (due to soft sponges) though -- I believe harder sponges kinda make me more focus on the music with less distracted. Anyway difference is fairly subtle.

    As an aside, I have sr80e incoming next Monday. That will draw a little more interesting story in terms of non-ltd regular grado drivers with these geekria pads.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020 at 8:48 AM
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  19. Ruined

    Ruined Rando

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    So this gonna be my first Grado ownership. Bought mainly for fun, but I wonder how it will compare to my many recent Sennheiser headphones? Supposed to come Tuesday.
     
  20. Ruined

    Ruined Rando

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    Well I got a surprise, they came 2 days early.

    I have to say, they have a very friendly sonic signature. They are very 'chill' headphones.

    Top end sounds significantly rolled off, bottom end a bit boosted to me - colored but in a pleasing way. Actually reminds me of a more "hifi" sounding Senn HD25, believe it or not (not a sleight, I think the HD25 is an awesome headphone). Kind of a bit shocking to hear these back to back vs the HD820 how different songs can sound.

    I was concerned it was not going to fit my big head, but it fits okay at the maximum extension of the poles.

    One thing that seems real nice about them is that they are more source-forgiving than some of the top end phones.

    I think I will keep these both for their cool look and fun sound. Grado did a good job here as its a very approachable sound and might get more interested in high end headphones.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020 at 10:16 AM

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