Grado HF-3 Review and Measurements

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by purr1n, Jul 12, 2020.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Sigh, looks like I missed this one from here: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/order-your-limited-edition-hf3-from-ttvjaudio.913982. Unfortunately I don't think it's possible to get one anymore - it appears that the HF-3 wasn't a great seller like past Grado / Head-Fi collaborations.

    Also some background material on Grado headphones here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...uxe-pad-appreciation-thread.8952/#post-289920

    Grado HF-3 with TTVH Deluxe Pads
    IMG_20200712_140414.jpg

    With broken in L-Cush pads, they work well enough and are tolerable, albeit on the brighter side. (I'm not a fan of the Grado sound with the L-Cush pads). However, I really love these with the TTVJ Deluxe pads. Technicality wise in terms of perceived clarity and retrieval of low level information, the HF-3 are a bit behind the RS-2, more on the SR-225 or SR-325 level. And really, we are talking about very slightly behind (still a big step up from SR-80 or SR-125). The kicker is that from a tonal balance and "refinement" point of review, the HF-3 seems more balanced holding back a wee bit in the upper-mids to mid-bass compared to other Grado models. And this makes all the difference. The HF-3 is a less raw and more grown up compared to the typical Grado.

    If the RS-2e with the TTVJ Deluxe pads (reviewed here) was maybe dark sounding with splash of Grado upper-mids, then the HF-3 is less dark, more even in the lows, with less of a splash of Grado upper-mids. The wood seems to be slightly different from from the RS-2e, or at least finished differently, which results in a softer resonance.

    (FYI, if anyone has HF-3's for sale, please contact me).
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2020
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  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Grado HF-3 TTVJ Deluxe Pads
    Frequency Response
    Supraaural compensation - flat plate coupler
    upload_2020-7-12_14-53-25.png

    Grado HF-3 TTVJ Deluxe Pads vs Grado RS-2e TTVJ Deluxe Pads (Grey)
    Vertical axis compressed to better see differences
    upload_2020-7-12_14-52-17.png

    The RS-2e has a little bit more bass, lower mids, and a more evident and sharper bump around 2kHz.

    Grado HF-3 TTVJ Deluxe Pads vs Stock L-cush pads (YEL)
    upload_2020-7-12_15-5-14.png
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2020
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  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Grado HF-3 TTVJ Deluxe Pads L
    Harmonic Distortions in % (vertical axis on right)
    upload_2020-7-12_14-54-27.png

    Grado HF-3 TTVJ Deluxe Pads R Distortion
    Harmonic Distortions in % (vertical axis on right)
    upload_2020-7-12_14-56-2.png
     
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  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Grado HF-3 TTVJ Deluxe Pad
    L CSD
    FPC Grado HF3 Deluxe L.jpg

    Grado HF-3 TTVJ Deluxe Pad
    R CSD
    FPC Grado HF3 Deluxe R.jpg
     
  5. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Burst responses below. These are still experimental. Arguably a little bit slower decay in the bass, but the attack characteristics are quite a bit more refined in the upper-mids (see the 4800Hz attack envelope, bottom left plot). The decay also goes more consistently downward instead of wavering. This probably explains why the HF-3 is lot more tolerable with the stock G-pads for me personally compared to the RS-2e. Frequency response isn't everything. Transient response has just as much to play.

    Grado HF-3 Deluxe Pads
    Burst responses
    B1696 Grado HF3 Deluxe.wav.jpg

    Grado RS-2e Deluxe Pads
    Burst responses
    B1696 Grado RS2.wav (2).jpg
     
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Grado HF-3
    Impedance and electrical phase
    On head / ear (GRN) and open air (YEL)
    upload_2020-7-12_16-9-14.png

    Note that the pattern of the impedance curve looks quite close to the RS-2e's curve below, except the overall impedance is a higher on the HF-3 (above).

    Grado RS-2e (for comparison)
    Impedance and electrical phase
    On head / ear (GRN)
    upload_2020-7-12_16-11-51.png
     
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  7. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    There does not appear to be any damping material or goop on the back of the driver, like on RS-2e and RS-1e.
    IMG_20200712_154000.jpg
     
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  8. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    Would you say that the ringing at around 5khz and 10khz is audible? I remember when we talked about the Rosson RAD-0 we talked a bit about the 10khz ringing.
     
  9. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Years and years ago, I experimented with damping the back of the driver by mechanically coupling it to the grill behind it with a small dowel (compression). For the life of me I don't remember how it affected the sound though.
     
  10. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Darn a neutral Grado. Lots to love about Grado tonality, it’s just the FR and crazy upper midrange that ruins them. I used HF1’s for a long time with regular flat pads and just ignored the “rigorous“ bass response
     
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  11. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Ahh the t50rp Grado mod (t50rp does the same thing with rubber bits where it makes contact with the cup to further damp and make a solid contact.)
     
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    5kHz peak or ringing has never bothered me. 4kHz does. 6kHz does, So possible hearing damage since from what I understand such can manifest as a narrow null - in my case 5kHz. Or maybe I like the edge. Regardless, the 5kHz ringing of the HF-3 compared to RS-2e may be smaller in amplitude < 1ms, but stretched out longer but at a lower amplitude > 2ms.

    10kHz is there. It’s on par with RS-2e, a bit more "sss" than SR-80. I don’t find 10-12-kHz ringing all that objectionable unless it’s serious. Even the LFF Paradox has a small peak at 10kHz.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
  13. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I quite liked these with the TTVJ pads. They were more my thing than the RS2e, which lacked a bit of brilliance in the upper-mids and treble. HF-3 seemed to take the good RS2e tonal traits and more or less address its weaker areas. I thought the HF-3 sounded pretty darn good and balanced, sort of HD600/650-ish, with comfort being what held me back from longer listening sessions.

    Just wish I had more time to use them while I had them, and that my measurement setup hadn't broken. :(
     
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  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Indeed, I'm buying them from Phil.
     
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  15. Philimon

    Philimon Friend

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    @purr1n I am glad you enjoy them so much. I dont have the expensive ttvj deluxe pads anyway and am appreciating HD580 more.

    I got the HF3 from @pure5152 . He preferred HF3 to RS2e as well.

    Getting the Grado Hemp on loan soon. Could be future replacement.

    @Hands You should have said you wanted them longer I would not have minded. I hope you get time to get listening and measuring again.

    Edit: I was using HF3 with HD414 pads.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
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  16. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I meant more that time in my life is pretty limited these days, not that I needed more time from you. You were already more than patient with me being slow and sporadic with everything. :)
     
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  17. saint.panda

    saint.panda Friend

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    Has anyone heard both the HF-2 and HF-3? I still use the HF-2 occasionally, it's nicely balanced for a Grado.
     
  18. Philimon

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  19. sheldaze

    sheldaze Friend

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    My limited experience with Grado, from a few years ago included PS1000e (from a local friend), SR325is, and SR60i. From these I formed a perspective, an expectation of what Grado sound meant relative other headphones such as Audeze, HiFiMan, Sennheiser, etc.

    When I recently purchased HF-3, it seemed an improvement upon what I'd heard before. This was without TTVJ Deluxe pads. So stock pads, and a couple fairly linear setups (straight from Mojo, or Asgard 3 from Modius). When I found an HF-2, it sounded to me like those cars with the Bazooka speakers in the trunk - it was still Grado in all other ways, but with that fat bass tacked on. Through a DSHA-1 the HF-2 sings and synergises. But to my ears, and from my limited Grado experience, it sounds like the odd cousin at the family reunion. HF-3 sounds like a good Grado, and improves then further with the TTVJ Deluxe pads.

    Again though, my view is very biased and based on an expected "Grado" sound. Others will disagree. But HF-2 sounds to my ears like bass tacked on and still with treble issues (unless using DSHA-1). HF-3 sounds like a good stock form Grado, which improves further with TTVJ Deluxe pads.
     
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