As the morning sun hit my polluted Brooklyn window, I rolled up my Levis and poured myself some cold-brew with oat milk before taking my recycled bamboo unicycle out for a spin. Today was a Grado day. Many of you already know what to expect from a Grado headphone, and my colleagues have written extensively about GH3 and the GH4 here and here. This article is for folks who are already familiar with at least one of these cans, and can’t figure out which one to commit to. Now, before my prematurely grey goatee grows any longer, let’s dive into this Grado GH3 vs Grado GH4 Headphones Review.
Grado GH3 vs Grado GH4 Headphones Review
In general, I think Grado has the most comfortable fit of all open-back headphones in this echelon. They’re super light, and there’s something so peaceful about gentle-fitting foam against your ears. But the difference between the fit on these two headphones is that the thicker earpads on the GH4 have inlets, while the pads on the GH3 are flat. The GH4 makes you feel as if you’re resting against a cloud. But the GH3 is so damn comfortable, it makes you feel like you’ve taken 5 Klonopins.
Both headphones are limited editions of their respective classic models in that they employ fancy Norwegian Pine in their build. Sorry. I’ve already exhausted all The Beatles jokes in previous reviews.
In terms of specs, both headphones share the same impedance and sensitivity, but the GH4 has a wider frequency range.
And in addition to its larger size, the GH4 also has a thicker cable. That being said, I doubt the extra thickness has a significant effect on durability or sound quality.
Now, let’s talk turkey…
Overall Impressions: The delicate GH3 vs the rich GH4.
The bass on the GH4 has more impact and power than it does on the GH3. It also displays a thicker and warmer low end. So, from the GH4, you’ll get a slightly punchier sound when listening to pop, and a more full-bodied sound when listening to rock. In terms of clarity and detail, I found very little difference between the two models when listening to acoustic double bass. The GH3 had the same level of nuance, even though it lacked the richness and depth of the GH4. I also tested out some cellos in the lower-registers, and while the strings on the GH4 proved to be only slightly more textured than the GH3, it was certainly more majestic in its presentation.
The GH3 and the GH4 share the same even midrange balance and forward presence, with a very tinsy winsy emphasis in the upper mids. So, you will get the same sense of fullness from the GH3 minus the added warmth of the GH4’s lows. And listening to guitar strums in the lower midrange, the GH3 didn’t fare any worse than the GH4 in terms of separation. I kept playing the introduction of Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright, and while I wouldn’t call the GH3 less nuanced, the subtleties of the guitar picks had a slightly richer quality on the GH4. Perhaps for this reason, the sound felt more complete even though these headphones displayed almost the same amount of resolve.
You’ll hear just a tad more detail from the GH4 in this range. And you’ll hear a bit more presence as well. Playing some string solos, I sensed a little more texture from the GH4 And returning to pop, I heard just a bit more sparkle and crispness in high-frequency percussion instruments. Putting these two Grado’s through the ol’ Miles Davis trumpet test, I have to say, the GH3 was an easier listening experience because of the less extended highs.
No surprises here. You’ll get a more spacious soundstage from the GH4 with a little added height and depth. Though the GH3 still has a nice sense of dimension, the GH4 surrounds you with sound in a way that the GH3 can’t match.
If you’re worried about losing a lot of clarity by going with the less expensive GH3, don’t. They are on almost on par in this respect. But the GH3 has a thinner quality, making the GH4 feel more absolute in its presentation of instruments. The GH4 might also be the more versatile choice; most will find the GH4 to be a more satiating listening experience, especially with respect to pop and rock music.
You can find these headphones for the best price at:
Audio 46: Grado GH3
Audio 46: Grado GH4
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|Frequency Response||17 – 24,000 Hz||13 – 28,000 Hz|
|Sensitivity||99.8 dB||99.8 dB|
|Impedance||32 Ohms||32 Ohms|