Grado PS1000e Review

I have to be careful what songs I listen to when I’m using the Grado PS1000e.  No sooner have I put on some tunes than I am reduced to a blubbering mess.  Because these headphones take any song and turn it into an emotional tour-de-force.  Commercial tripe like “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus and “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj suddenly sound like poignant love ballads, while a song like Ravel’s “Pavane” can be downright gut-wrenching in its beauty.  Priced at $1695, the PS1000e is expensive.  But the sound it delivers is damn near priceless.

Grado PS1000e Review

Grado PS1000e Review

The PS1000e exudes quality.  The packaging, while simple, goes to some length to protect the premium design.  While most high-end Grados will utilize mahogany (or, rarely, maple) in their construction, this model features stainless steel cups.  Inside the box, you’ll also find an extension cable (for home listening), and a 1/4” to 3.5mm stereo adapter.

While beautiful, the stainless steel cups do add some significant weight to these headphones.  They are, then, by no means light.  However, despite this weight, they are not uncomfortable.  The leather headband and large, circumaural Grado G-Cushions help to bear some of that weight, but the overall heft of these headphones is something that you should continue to keep in mind.

Specs

Transducer Type: Dynamic
Operating Principle: Open Air
Frequency Response: 5 – 50,000 hz
SPL 1mW: 99.8 dB
Normal Impedance: 32 ohms
Driver Matched dB: .05 dB

With a whopping frequency range, decent volume levels, and a low nominal impedance, the specifications reveal a headphone that offers  stunning level of detail from almost any device – including a smartphone or portable player.  Contrary to online commentary, you won’t need to amp these headphones, but to each their own.

Low End

The low end on the Grado is deep and full, with stunning detail and good control.  Even on the most tricky of tracks, where deep male vocals have a tendency to get lost in other low-frequency notes, the sound remains clean and articulate with no bleeding.

Mids

The midrange is free of distortion or compression – something I was initially worried about, as I sensed some blemishes on the similar, aluminum-clad SR325e.  However, thanks to the engineering that has gone into these headphones, the midrange remains remarkably clean – to the benefit of male vocals especially.

High End

While Grado has long fostered a reputation of bright-sounding, the high end on the PS1000e treads that fine line between “freaking amazing” and “a little too bright”.  The high end sparkles with tons of detail, the treble balancing perfectly with the bass.  While there might be the slightest piercing sensation on only the highest of high notes, strings are intoxicating and transcendental.

Soundstage

Holy hell, folks.  The soundstage on the Grado PS1000e is stunning, with depth and placement to every instrument.  I can close my eyes and picture every nuance around me, and on certain tracks I can hear musicians breathing.  To say the sound is revealing is an understatement – this headphone is the next best thing to kidnapping your favorite artist and forcing them to play for you in a quiet room.  While that might seem extreme, it’s still not as extreme as this soundstage.

Overall Impressions

The Grado PS1000e makes me feel feelings I didn’t know I was capable of feeling.  While I’ve been a fan of Grado headphones for some time, I still wasn’t expecting this kind of quality.  The price is steep, though, and if you can’t afford it, I would recommend not trying it out.  While you might think you can handle saying “no” to this headphone, the hours spent cursing your finances and going to therapy can be quite a doozy.

Recommendations

Okay, so here’s the skinny:  if you want detail, and tons of it – maybe you’re into classical or jazz – do yourself a favor and buy these headphones.  I know they’re expensive, but the sound is the best you can get at this price (or just about any other price, shy of $4000).  If you’re into rock, hip hop, or EDM and you love bass, these headphones will still sound good, but there may be less-detailed, more-bassy headphones out there, like the Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Genertaion, the Audeze LCD-X, or the Hifiman Edition X.

If you want to keep the detail and balanced sound, you could also consider dynamic-driver headphones like the AKG K812 or the Sennheiser HD800S, or the planar magnetic LCD-3.  While the AKG K812 will sound flatter and more neutral, it will sound just a little less detailed.  Likewise, the HD800S might offer a little more contrast in the lows and mids – giving the impression of a sharper, less-smooth sound.  The LCD-3 is perhaps the closest contender, and while it can be marginally more expensive (it ranges in price from $1495 to $1945), it still won’t deliver the sparkling high end or soundstage.

So yeah, go buy these headphones already. You can find them for the best price here:

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