Grado Love or the RS2 (TTVJ Deluxe Pad) Appreciation Thread

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by purr1n, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I think those low level (but long lived ridges) contribute to their rougher and less liquid sound. A complaint about Grados is how they sound rough, grainy, gritty. I mentioned that as we move up the line, this characteristic goes away.

    For what it's worth, I feel the Symphones Magnum V4 is even smoother and more liquid than the RS2. Here is its CSD for comparison.
    Magnum V4 R.jpg

    Hahaha! You caught that. As you can see, the cups are pretty deep.
    [​IMG]

    Here's its overhead CSD extended to 5ms.
    FPC SR80 mod Deluxe L.jpg

    Compared to SR225 (stock plastic shallow cup)
    FPC Grado 225 TTVJ Deluxe L.jpg

    And to RS2 woodies
    FPC Grado RS2 Deluxe L.jpg
     
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  2. SeanT

    SeanT Acquaintance

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    Damn, that V4 looks like a nice driver. I'm really curious now what Grado is doing to the higher tier drivers to make them behave better in the mids despite similar distortion peaks.

    Thanks for posting up those overheads, makes it easier to see what is going on!

    My curiosity finally got the better of me and I snagged a used SR80 off of eBay to play with. May eventually go the wooden cup route for shits and giggles if I like them enough after some pad rolling.
     
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  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I suspect higher purity copper and more winds around the voice coil. The good thing to know is that they are definitely not repackaging the same driver into better cosmetics.
     
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  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The taped-bowl mod was used by many owners to get more low-end and have the Grados not sound so darn lean. The implementation here involves wrapping the circumference of the the stock bowl pads with electrical tape like this:
    IMG_20200217_174546 (1).jpg

    Taped bowls vs stock bowls vs TTVJ Deluxe Flat pads for RS2
    RED = TTVJ Deluxe Flat pads
    GREEN = Taped stock bowls
    GRAY = Stock bowls
    upload_2020-2-17_20-51-1.png
    We can see that the taped bowl mod does increase the lows and mids very close to that of the TTVJ Deluxe pads. However, the highs remain the largely the same, with a small boost localized round 5kHz which may not be all that perceptible. This jives with subjective impressions of what the tape mod does.

    --

    I liked where we were going here, so the only thing left to do was the tame the highs. I figured I've give 2-ply Kirkland brand toilet paper a try to tone down the spiky highs. The toilet paper was applied directly over the front of the driver in addition to the taped bowls. Here are the results:

    Taped bowls + 2-ply Kirkland TP vs stock bowls vs TTVJ Deluxe Flat pads for RS2
    RED = TTVJ Deluxe Flat pads
    BLUE= Taped stock bowls + 2-ply Kirkland TP
    GRAY = Stock bowls
    upload_2020-2-17_20-51-56.png

    Here is another view comparing taped bowls, taped bowls + TP, and TTVJ Deluxe pads for RS2
    RED = TTVJ Deluxe pads
    BLU = Taped Bowls + TP
    GRN = Taped Bowls
    upload_2020-2-17_20-52-57.png
    It would appear that the toilet paper may have added a bit of mechanical dampening to the driver, hence the earlier bass rolloff in place of the slight mid-bass hump of the TTVJ or taped pads only. The toilet paper does a great job attenuating the 9-10kHz bump, but the lower treble remains elevated in relation to the TTVJ pads.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
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  5. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    Seems like the Deluxe pads really do something mostly irreplicable. I'm still a mod noob so could be talking out of the wrong end but curious what might be causing bass dampening because I've not observed the same when I use TP— is it that there's not enough of an air cushion behind the drivers that the additional resistance flattens lower frequencies?

    5kHz peak sounds... shudder. Flashbacks to the HE350 haha. How's ringing in that region with the tape and TP? Seems lower in level relative to mids than the HFMs so that's pleasant :))
     
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  6. Philimon

    Philimon Acquaintance

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    @purrin Try reversed bowls with tape mod?
     
  7. SeanT

    SeanT Acquaintance

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    Thanks, @purr1n! Man, I was really hoping to avoid spending 50 bucks on a single set of pads but those deluxe pads are looking better and better.

    The TP in this case is in front of the drivers, so the air behind the drivers should be unaffected (I think?). Could be maybe the TP is affecting air movement in front of the driver and thus driver excursion which lowers the bass? Or maybe the TP is simply absorbing the lower frequencies as purr1n suggests. Still grappling with my understanding of this stuff, too. :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
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  8. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    That's what I meant, seems to me the drivers might be encountering more resistance from the added TP layer, not to mention the backs are completely open meaning no cushion to prevent pushback as there might be in MDxFostex TH-X00 or Klipsch HP-3 (both semi-open). There are lots of nuances to headphone design that's just fun!

    Sorry if mistaken, I've been trying to post in this thread less often since I don't have anything to add re: Grado sound and the mods stuff is just armchair postulating given my inexperience :p
     
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  9. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Has Grado ever had reported manufacturing variances? People always say the 325's are like daggers, but the one I owned years ago was actually super smooth comparatively. My pick for "sharpest" Grado would be the original HF-1.
     
  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Yup, it's damping. Thiele/Small parameters for drivers. The TP likely increases damping which decreases Qms (a measure of mechanical damping). The total Q of the driver is a function of electrical and mechanical damping. Lower Q means more controlled driver, less lively driver, and more restricted at resonant frequency, and possible increase in resonant frequency (80-90Hz from prior impedance plots), and greater rolloff (if not in a ported box). This is why open baffle speakers (of which a few members are engaged in), dictate the use of less damped woofers, i.e. higher Q.
     
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  11. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Let's be sciency. I love science when its properly used, don't you? Here is the impedance graph of the RS2 with TTVJ pads (yellow) and Taped-bowls + TP (green).

    Grado RS2 impedance (cushions pressed against coupler)
    YEL = TTVJ pads
    GRN = Taped-bowls + TP over driver front
    upload_2020-2-18_9-36-15.png
    We see lower impedance (it's counter-intuitive, but makes sense since higher impedance means more reactive to higher Z out) and a shift of the Fs (resonant frequeny to just above 100Hz).

    Here is the resultant frequency response (zoomed in)
    YEL = TTVJ pads
    GRN = Taped-bowls + TP over driver front
    upload_2020-2-18_9-23-11.png

    For what it's worth, the RS2 driver is very sensitive to any kind of external damping. The driver's inherent damping seems minimal. This explains the RS-2 lively and responsive sound, and higher efficiency in respect to SR80 (will show this later). The prior impedance plots (https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...the-rs2-appreciation-thread.8952/#post-289920) were done in free-air. Lets compare free-air impedance vs. against coupler. The difference between free-air and against coupler impedance would lend credence to the minimal damping of the RS2 driver.

    RS2 Impedance Curve
    GRN = free air
    YEL= against coupler
    upload_2020-2-18_9-36-1.png
     
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  12. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    Would this be the same principle explaining why excessive front damping on planars actually serve to increase treble response— bass is actually shelved down so it's relatively brighter? Yes my soft sciences is showing :p This would also explain why the mainline Focals seem to have a lot of impedance swing, considering they're effectively suspended in open air (kinda like the Grados except with more breathing room and... more posh).

    As for the measurements: okay makes sense that free air v firm coupling would show changes in impedance given above principle. Fudge, so it's actually possible to bollix impedance measurements in a bad way with certain designs? Lovely.

    Filing all this under stuff I'm gonna read up on when I'm in a mood to, possible reference for when I convince my family I can DIY their new sound system if they fund big-ass woofers, haha. Thanks! And sorry for the off-topic.


    EDIT: Pointing out my poor memory is once again evident in that I might have gotten front/back dampening reversed, haha. Thanks @E_Schaaf — I'm sticking with dynamics for now but appreciate the info! Also just editing this post cuz this doesn't warrant another reply.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
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  13. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: Upscale Audio (Thread Judge Code-6 District)

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    Rear damping (not front damping) will shelf down most frequencies below around 2k on planars, giving a sense of a 'boosted' treble. Sometimes if you can do this with the right materials this can actually be a good way to bring sucked-out mids more foward (like a 2k scoop on HFMs), when used in tandem with treble-reducing front filters. But close off too-much and you start getting phasing anomalies in the mids... yuck.

    However, most front filter materials will reduce upper mids and low treble with mid and high treble unaffected, which can lead to both a 'dark' and 'sharp' sound at the same time, kind of a bitch to work with. The right balance is key both front-and-back, and it's super fickle.

    It's very difficult to shelf down treble linearly on planars, and multiple filters targeted towards different frequencies can tend to kill planar dynamics when layered on top of each other, hence you see weird multi-material or partial-covering arrangements in a single layer. Or at least that's what I have found most effective, both for the front and the back.

    A better way to clean up a planar presentation, IME, is finding ways to reduce housing resonance, rattling and ringing in the driver assembly, and add mass. This won't affect FR as much as filters, but can make a much bigger difference in terms of perceived 'smoothness' and dynamic clarity. Things like the blu-tac mod, etc. This plus a light touch of filtering tends to work best.

    Strangely enough I find modding dynamic headphones to be much more predictable and consistent with respect to what materials to use and what effect to expect. Planars, for unknown reasons, are simply more chaotic to work with.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
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  14. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    People getting all excited by the prospect of a different sound or the sound that "i experience many years ago" always put a smile to my face.

    Unfortunately, for me, the Grados that i tried (SR80, SR225 and a SR325 that had some tape around it) were so bad that no amount of nostalgia would make me take another leap into them again. Sennheiser, on the other hand, made me "listen and wow" from the first moment and never gave me the feeling of "enough is enough". One big advantage though, at least at that time, i didn't feel, or even think to be honest, about needing a great amp, they just did their job without a fuss.

    At the time, not knowing that i would get a "are you serious?" look from the people around me, i asked if anyone had transplanted it into a bigger housing to see how they would turn out. Even now i would still like to see it.
     
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  15. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I'm kind of feeling that people think I'm asking them to consider to Grados like how they where for reasons of nostalgia or to get a different sound. This is incorrect.

    If folks like Grado for how they sounded before during "the day", that's great. However, that's not what I'm advocating at all.

    soundyearsago.png

    soundyearstape.png

    TTVJ Deluxe Flat Pads
    soundnow.png
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
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  16. SnowPuppy

    SnowPuppy Acquaintance

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    I am really loving this topic and thread. Deep Grado discussion with super insightful measurement commentary is good wholesome fun for Grado fans like me.

    Will start a little off topic and say that my headphone system reached end game about 3 years ago with the Senn HD800S and the Yggdrasil/Ragnarok combo. Even listening to new stuff every year at audio shows I am still totally satisfied with what I have and feel no urge to upgrade and have shifted my main focus to two channel. I basically got rid of all my other headphones except for my Grados. And a few months ago I dusted off my Grados and took them for a spin and realized that they bring some great insight into certain recordings in a way that in my experience is unique to Grado. Due to their efficiency, detail, and staging they present music in way that is intimate, immediate, and alive. These are the areas where in my experience they have an edge over the HD800S. I am now realizing that the HD800S and my Grados are complementary and I am very thankful to own both.

    My first pair of Grados were the SR60s which I purchased in the in the late 90s. I just loved they way they sounded. My Dad got a pair of 225s. He liked them but was not happy with the bass and eventually got a pair of AKGs. I was blown away with how much more detail the 225s had over the SR60s and decided to go all out and purchase the flagship RS1 in the early 2000s. Then I bought a Mapletree Ear+ HD headphone amp to go with my RS1. Sonic bliss for many years to come before even considering an upgrade. And now that I have rediscovered them my love for Grado has been rekindled.

    I knew my Dad was not using his 225s so I asked if I could try them out for a while and he said I could have them. I gave them some considerable break-in time as they sounded a little stiff. And while they are overall not at the level of the RS1s they do seem to have slightly more detail or clarity. The other day I played some well recorded live music from the Grateful Dead through the 225s and just loved what I heard. It was so alive and flowing with incredible detail in the mids and highs. Bass was taught and tuneful and well balanced with the rest of the frequencies. Then I remembered their reputation as an excellent rock headphones. I then switched to the RS1s with the same music and while it still sounded great with the bass being fuller, I think I prefer the sound of the 225s with this music due to the clarity and flow. Cymbals on the 225s are just smooth, detailed and present. I do prefer acoustic instruments on the RS1.

    Now coming full circle to the topic of this thread. I am now interested in trying the latest generation of Grados just for fun. Perhaps they are even better than the ones I have. The Grado that is currently at the top of my short list is the RS2e. Sounds like if I get a pair I should try the TTVJ pads as well. I am also wanting to try the GS1000e and the GS3000e. So there are 3 Grados I am considering overall.
     
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  17. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Grumpiest admin

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    This thread reminds me of when I asked @purr1n for HP1000 pad recommendations. Hilariously, the TTVJ deluxe flats are the best pads I've heard on my HP1000.

    Screenshot 2020-02-18 at 9.00.13 PM.png
     
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  18. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    ^ fortunately, TTVJ knew that and developed the Deluxe pads.

    The RS1e is very interesting. It's different from the RS1i and RS1. Will write about this next.

    --

    In closing, here are the burst responses. I've been wanting to make better visualizations to examine and quantify attack and decay characteristics, but this is what you get for now:
    • On the 50Hz and 120Hz decays, the RS2 has overshoot, but a fast decay afterward. Less overshoot than Elex, but faster decay. Similar overshoot to SR1a, but SR1a seems to edge it out in terms to decay speed.
    • The ringyness at 4800Hz for the RS2 is expected (also seen on CSDs). This behavior is also seen at 1500Hz, but to a smaller extent. Crunch crunch.
    • At 1500Hz and 4800Hz, the RS2 really seems to want to burst out of the gate with some overshoot. The only other headphone that has this characteristic, but in a smaller amount, is the Elex, but only at 4800Hz. Classic Grado right? Always eager to get going.
    Grado RS2 (TTVJ Deluxe Pads) Burst
    B1696 Grado RS2.wav.jpg

    Focal Elex Burst
    B1696 Elex.wav.jpg

    SR1a
    B1696 SR1a.wav.jpg

    HD800
    B1696 HD800.wav.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
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  19. SeanT

    SeanT Acquaintance

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    WOW, those RS2 overshoots! I've found myself wanting more bite and attack out of my modded HD650 in the mids, really seems like the Grados are going to serve that up. How do the other two models fare in the burst response? Similar results? Kind of expect more ringing out of the SR80.

    A little more off topic: What's up with the peaks on the 50Hz plot for the SR1a? Almost looks like a partial flat right after the peak. Just noticed the downward slope of the wave kind of slopes back a little, too.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2020
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Of course bite and attack are part of the frequency response, of which the HD650 is much more mellow. Still, there's characteristic of the Grados' transient response which is not captured in the frequency response.

    I don't have HD650 bursts, but here are the HD600. As we can see, not too terribly exciting. In fact, the opposite to the Grado RS2 for the 4800Hz burst's initial attack.

    HD600 10-cycle Bursts
    B1696 HD600.wav.jpg

    LOL. It's distortion. Shhh. Despite the distortion, the bass of the SR1a actually sounds pretty clean, presumably because of its excellent decay (also, its slow bass rolloff helps a bit too - somethings I think that distortion might be better presented in absolute values rather than relative to the fundamental). It really goes to say that we need several good measurement visualizations to get a fuller and better picture: frequency response, distortion, CSD, and now burst.

    At the end of the day, all these measurements are useless because our ears are so much better (subject to drugs or hallucinogens) - but I think there measurements as a set can be great data points for pre-purchase decisions.

    Anyway, I wanted to present this variation to better show decay behavior of various headphones.

    SR1a
    B1696 SR1a.wav.jpg

    RS2
    B1696 Grado RS2.wav.jpg

    HD800
    B1696 HD800.wav.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2020
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