Grado PS500 much worse than SR80e?!

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by 12" 45rpm, Apr 16, 2018.

  1. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Forum Resident Thread Starter

    New York City
    I recently bought the PS500 used. They retail for $600 so I figured they must have an awesome sound. Unfortunately, I find them very dull compared to my SR80e which I've owned for two years. The PS500 lack highs and sound like $40 headphones IMO..

    Anyone else own these and can comment on what I may be missing? Or has Grado improved the sound so much in last seven years that the SR80e is superior?
  2. The SR80e and PS500 have quite different frequency response curves. The SR80 is going to be more forward sounding. The PS500 is going to be more set-back sounding. That's due to the frequency response. A dip in the midrange will generally cause a headphone to sound more set-back and more spacious.

    The PS500 has a better driver and should allow you to hear more lower-level details in the recording. The sort of details that get masked with lesser headphones. You have to be careful here to listen for actual lower-level details and not confuse that with hearing more "detail" just because that frequency range is more prominent in the frequency graph for that headphone. Listen for the sorts of detail that allows you to hear more deeply into the recording rather than listen for pseudo-detail artifacts that would be due to the frequency response differences. The PS500 should do better with the actual detail. While the SR80 may do better in some cases with the pseudo-detail in the upper-mids and treble.

    Here's a graph that shows what is going on. This graph is for the SR80 and the PS500. HeadRoom doesn't have a graph for the newer SR80e version. The SR80e has a different frequency response than the old SR80 and SR80i. So don't take this graph literal for your two headphones. Just representative that the SR80 and PS500 have very different frequency graphs.

    link to graph: HeadRoom Headphone Graph Comparison Tool[]=3331&graphID[]=353&scale=30
    Shvartze Shabbos and 12" 45rpm like this.
  3. I'll add that for my own preferences I prefer the PS500 to any of the SR series Grados (SR 60 through SR 325). And also the PS500 over the RS 1 and RS 2. The frequency response and character of the PS500 works better for me than the SR series and RS series.

    The frequency dip in the midrange for the PS500 is actually quite similar to the midrange dip of the Audeze LCD X. There's a reason Audeze has that sort of midrange dip with the LCD X. That dip sounds more natural to me and allows the headphone sound to have a more natural sense of space and depth. Once you adjust your listening to account for that dip the result for me is more depth and the ability to listen more deeply into the recording without being pushed away by an upper midrange that is too forward.

    Here's the same graph with the LCD X added in. This is the original LCD X, not the current version.
    HeadRoom Headphone Graph Comparison Tool
  4. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Forum Resident Thread Starter

    New York City
    Very interesting, I was not aware of the headphone graph. I was worried I had a defective pair but seems they sound this way by design.

    I listen mostly to vinyl and the lack of highs in the PS500 make it sound very lacking ( like bad cassette almost ).. I tested them last night with CD's and they sound better, more balanced.

    I don't think I'll be keeping these for long. I compared many songs last night and none sounded better with the PS500 to my ears..
  5. Jack Flannery

    Jack Flannery Forum Resident

    Houston, TX
    U are used to the bright sound of the sr80’s.
    Brave likes this.
  6. sharedon

    sharedon Forum Zonophone

    Different ear cushions might make a difference, if you’re inclined to experiment.
  7. Mr.Sneis

    Mr.Sneis Forum Resident

    Phoenix, AZ
    Grados and the earpads make a significant difference in sound and comfort. Don't forget more comfort does not equate to better sound either. You'd honestly be better off @ Headfi for pad advice...
  8. LeeS

    LeeS Blue Note Fan

    I also prefer the PS500, some of the more neutral Grados in my experience. I use them for recordings.
    rodentdog likes this.
  9. What amp are you using with the Grados? The amp can affect treble extension and balance.
  10. erowid

    erowid Forum Resident

    Vienna, Austria
    for vinyl listening I would recommend the Grado RS2e or GH2. PS500 shine with digital audio, RS and GH with analogue.
  11. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Forum Resident Thread Starter

    New York City
    Just my Onkyo receiver from 2016. If it is amp issue then I would presume the Sr80e have same issue?

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