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Positive Feedback ISSUE 51
september/october 2010

hardware.jpg (10798 bytes)

 

grado

PS1000 Headphones

as reviewed by Robert H. Levi

 

grado ps 1000

 

 

 

 

ROBERT H. LEVI'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Marten Bird Loudspeakers and REL Stadium III subwoofer

ELECTRONICS
E.A.R. 324 phono preamplifier, E.A.R. 890 amplifiers (ran as monos), E.A.R. 534 stereo amplifier, NuForce Reference 9 SE V2 amplifiers, E.A.R. 912 preamplifier, and an E.A.R. 834L Tube Line Stage.

SOURCES
E.A.R. Disk Master Turntable with two Helius Omega Tonearms, E.A.R. Acute CD player, ModWright Sony 9100 Player with tube power supply, ModWright Sony 9100ES with Signature Truth Modifications, Mod/Bybee Filters and Revelation Cryo Silver Umbilical. Alesis Masterlink 24/96 Recorder/Playback Deck, and the Benchmark DAC 1 revised. Koetsu Rosewood Signature Phono Cartridge. Pioneer DVL 919 LD/DVD Player, and a Marantz DV8400 DVD/SACD/CD player. Magnum Dynalab MD-108 Reference Tuner, Marantz 10B FM Tuner, Day Sequerra Reference FM1 Tuner, and Scott 350B FM Stereo Tuner, AQ 7500 FM Antenna, Stax 7t Electrostatic headphones, Grado Reference 1 headphones, and a Grado headphone amplifier.

CABLES
Kubala-Sosna Elation Interconnects, Speaker Cables, and Power Cords. Kubala-Sosna Emotion, Harmonic Technology CyberLight, Harmonic Technology Magic 2, Dual-Connect interconnects, Dynamic Design THB Nebula, Soundstring, Kimber Select balanced, Kimber TAK phono AG, Kimber Hero balanced and single-ended interconnects, and Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II balanced interconnects. Kimber D-60 Digital Interconnects. Kimber Select 3038 Silver, Kubala-Sosna Emotion, and Harmonic Technology Magic Reference Silver speaker cables. Kimber Palladian, Tara RSC and Decade, Tice, Soundstring, and Kubala-Sosna Emotion AC power cords.

ACCESSORIES
Monster Reference 350 Mark II v2 Power Conditioner, World Power Power Wing, Tice Clock, and Audio Prism Quiet Line IIs. Cable Cooker 2.5, Winds Stylus Pressure Gage, Bedini Ultra Clarifier, VPI Record Cleaning Machine 16.5. Audio Magic's Quantum Physics Noise Disrupters.

 

Things to do. Fly to outer space. Own a Ferrari and drive a Bentley. Acquire the finest audio system in the world [getting close.] Listen to the finest headphones ever made on the ultimate headphone amp. Done and done. I have thoroughly auditioned the Grado PS 1000 Headphones on my E.A.R. HP 4 Headphone Amp and it was absolutely thrilling!

Itís rare indeed for any company to invest over 50 years developing anything and not just rest on its laurels. Even rarer that this company is located in America. Grado, under the leadership of Joseph and now John, has utilized its vast experience in headphone R&D to create a masterpiece of engineering for the audiophile: The Grado PS 1000 Headphones. At $1695, they are the most expensive cans I know of. Unlike my closed-in reference Ultrasone Edition 8s, they are open baffle. Most headphones on the market are open baffle unless designed for noise reduction or the like. But unlike other open air types at any price, the PS 1000s are more detailed than even Stax or Koss electrostats and more comfortable than ear buds. Offering a bit more overall definition than the Edition 8s, the PS 1000s deliver a supremely neutral balance, a magnificently open soundstage, startling realism, voluptuous dynamics, and a fatigue free presentation.

Built to last a lifetime, Grado uses a unique mahogany and metal sandwich to assure vibration free performance.

Here are the specifications:

Transducer type: dynamic

Operating Principle: open air

Frequency response: 5-50 khz

SPL 1mW: 98dBs

Normal impedance: 32 ohms

Driver matched db: .05

Grado designed an exotic new cable for the PS 1000 with eight-conductors! Utilizing UHPLC (ultra-high purity, long crystal) copper which improves control and stability of the total range of the frequency spectrum. The PS 1000 also utilizes a newly re-configured voice coil and diaphragm design. The cushion design beautifully creates the correct balance between the driver and housing resulting in truly realistic musical nuance.

After reviewing the E.A.R. HP 4 with headphones from all over, models and brands too numerous to list, I still found my old Grado RS 1s competitive. With the Beyer, Sennheiser, and AKG models still ringing in my ears, I tried the new PS 1000s. Ice cold right out of the box, they were contenders! Run in for 100 hours, they were unsurpassed. Audiophiles from all over L.A. came by to hear the various combinations and went away stunned by the Grados. Was this unexpected? Actually, yes. I figured any headphones made of Ethiopian lamb skin, Mu metal, and titanium drivers would just trounce anything around. I was wrong. The Grado PS 1000s are superb. End of story.

I truly enjoyed tube rolling with the HP 4 and heard even the minutest changes in tonality and definition with the PS 1000s. Just replacing one tube out of four with another brand yielded very noticeable changes with the Grados. I thought my Stax were revealing. Forget about it.

I found the Grado battery powered headphone amp a very pleasing combination with the PS 1000s. I bet you didnít know Sid Smith of Marantz fame worked on this head amp design. This cutie powered the big Grados beautifully giving up apparent definition and drive, but was satisfying nevertheless. The Grados still had that lovely neutrality with the Grado head amp.

I first heard the PS 1000s at a live jazz recording session with Bluport Records hosted by the world famous Jim Merod. I picked up the PS 1000s and plugged them into the board. I was mightily impressed then and now. He had six other brands on the table just in case he wanted a different perspective. We fought over the PS 1000s all night.

Quibbles

They are big with big cushions. While very comfortable, they are not subtle in any way. So what. Otherwise, the PS 1000s are as perfect a pair of cans as an audiophile or recording enthusiast could want.

In conclusion

With super comfortable ergonomics, definition to die for, supreme neutrality, and ultra linear frequency response, the top of the line Grado PS 1000 headphones are the best I have heard to date. Grado spent 50 years developing them and I spent 50 years searching for the ultimate cans and here they are! At 32 ohms, they are efficient enough to plug in about anywhere, but will yield amazing performance on the very finest head amps. Built to last and a masterpiece of engineering, they are the first conventional driver headphones to outperform Stax electrostats across the board. What an accomplishment! Plus, it was achieved right here in the USA! The new Grado PS 1000 Headphones deserve my highest recommendation. Look no further if only the very best in the world will do. Robert H. Levi

PS 1000
Retail: $1695

Grado Labs
email address: info@gradolabs.com
web address: www.gradolabs.com

 

 

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