The New Grado Sound: Grado PS500


Two years ago Grado released a special edition HF2 headphone that met a very warm reception from the headphone community. With the HF2, Grado demonstrated not only the use of a wood-metal housing combination, but more importantly, a different version of the Grado sound.

The HF2 was very smooth, as if it had tube amps directly planted on its drivers. Treble was smooth and unoffensive, midrange was full bodied and lush, bass was more present and pleasant. Though still a forward sound, it wasn’t as aggressive and as bright sounding as the standard Grados. It was somewhat taking the direction to the roots, the Joseph Grado HP1000 model, and yet it was still quite different. That was the new Grado sound that the HF2 brought, and everybody loved it. After roughly two years, we now have a new Grado that reminds us of the HF2. The same housing shape. The same silver finish (though the HF2 is a plain anodized finish, while the PS500 is a painted on finish). The same wood-metal combination. And most of all, almost the same sound.


The PS500 and the HF2 seem to be the new direction that Grado is taking. Previously, modern Grado sound signature followed the same guidelines from the entry level SR60 to the RS1 model. We all know how fun the SR60 was with its glaring treble and forward sound. The first time I auditioned the SR60, it really blew me away with all those details! Why would I pay $400 for a muffled Sennheiser headphone (HD650) if I can have much better detail level with just $60. Of course, as time goes I started to realize that those are just treble, not true micro details. (And apparently everyone else also seem to realize the same thing — hence the general shift toward dark sounding headphones and people pledging alliance toward the Stax O2, the Audez’e LCD-2, the JH16, and *gasp* the not-so-cool “veiled” Sennheiser HD650.)

What have happened is that as we spend more time on headphones, our ears become more sensitive, and what was once a nice and clear treble becomes a bright, excessive, treble presence. Thus, when the HF2 was released, everybody loved it. Gone is the bright treble replaced by a less offensive yet still forward signature, smoother sound across the frequencies, and a much better bass presence. For years, Grado owners have tried to smooth out the sound with a thick sounding tube amp, but now they don’t need to anymore as the new Grado sound will give them that smooth tube sound even without a tube amp.

Seeing how the crowd loved the HF2, sometime after the release of the HF2 I called Todd @ TTVJ and told him that it would be a good move if Grado releases a new model, not a limited edition model, based on the HF2 sound because that’s what people want. Well I’m not saying the PS500 was my idea, but I’m just saying, you know, since Todd is pretty close with the Grado folks (hence all HF2s are only sold through TTVJ). Sshhhh! Don’t tell Grado I said what I said.

The “Old” Grado vs the “New” Grado.


Continue to the next page…

The New Grado Sound: Grado PS500
3.92 (78.33%) 12 votes

  • Nice one Mike!

    • Bulmanxxi

      Any speculation as to what the external metal adds to SQ or anything else in addition to the inner wooden chamber other that weight (a bad thing)?

      • Anonymous

        Hi Bulmanxxi,
        Well the reason they added the metal part is (if I remember correctly) to suppress any small vibrations that may have occurred on the wood housing. Personally, I don’t think it makes a difference. I’ve listened to a lot of wood Grados up to the GS1000 and even some SR60-SR125s that people re-case in a DIY wood housing. None of them had problems with vibrations even the slightest bit. And if the vibrations were indeed a problem, I don’t think they would still be selling the RS1 and GS1000 headphones at prices higher than the PS500 — if indeed there is a problem with pure wood housing.

        The sound signature changes on the PS500 and HF2 seems to be more of a result of headphone tuning through the drivers and damping materials.

        But I’m no headphone designer, and I have no knowledge as to how different materials behave acoustically, so I can be wrong on this.

        • Bulmanxxi

          Thanks, Mike.  Yes, it seems the metal is more of a “bling” gimmick (although it looks nice but at the same time the extra weight is not necessary).  Do you think the PS 500 are an upgrade over the RS2i?  Thank you.

          • Anonymous

            Well, that was just from my observation, and as I’ve said I’m not a headphone designer so I can be wrong. 😉
            On the other models (say SR325is), the metal is not a bling gimmic. With the plastic housing you still get some of the plastic resonances which affect the timbre of the sound, and in turn affecting how instruments would sound. I still think the wood Grado models have one of the finest timbre around.
            PS500-RS2i: again a case of different sound signature.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, L!

  • Simon Guilmain

    Very good review Mike! I notice at the end that you have listed the MS-Pro so can you please provide some comparaison between the two? I know you had the MS-Pro for a while now. Thanks!

    • Bulmanxxi

      Yes, please compare to MS-Pro and RS-1i.  Thank you.

      • Anonymous

        I made a new comment above on this. Sorry for failing to mention the MS Pro.
        It is still my favorite Grado. 🙂

        • Bulmanxxi

          Mike, which one has more bass impact – 325is or 500/HF2?  I have the RS-2i and they are a bit weak in their impact although still going through burn in.  Thank you.

          • Anonymous

            The bass is a bit different. The 325is is leaner but tighter and punchier. The 500/HF2 is rounder and fatter. I guess it would depend on the music.
            I don’t think burn in will do anything to bass impact though. 😉

            You know that Grados are never about bass impact 🙂

  • Turokroucks

    I am in the process of buying my first Grado, and have about $600 so which Grado would you advise me to buy?
    Your advice is really appreciated, as I am enjoying my B.1350 after your review!

    • Anonymous

      Do you want something similar to the Beyer 1350 or something different?

      If similar, go for the PS500/HF2. If different, go for the SR325 line up (even an SR125 is fine IMO).

      • Turokrocks

        Thanks for the update, I tried to look for the HF2 but I could not find it anywhere, even at TTVJ (I got their TTVJ SLim) !!! Anyone knows where? appreciated.

        • Anonymous

          Hi Turokrocks,
          I think the HF2 was a limited edition run.

        • Anonymous

          The Grado HF2 was only made for a short time, and was a limited edition for the community.

          Same goes for the HF1, which came a couple of years before the HF2.

          Only way to get them now would be to search the Head-Fi classifieds. HF1’s tend to go for $325-350, and HF2’s around $450.

  • Almuts

    You mentioned MS-Pros as one of the gears used for comparison but not mentioned any differences between them.

    Could you please give a small review about the differences between them since I recently acquire a pair of second hand old batch of MS-Pros. I wonder if PS-500 is in the same genus or a totally different breed from the MS-Pros.

    • Almuts

      I’m sorry I did not see that there were similar questions to mine

      • Anonymous

        I made a new comment above on this. Sorry for failing to mention the MS Pro.

        It is still my favorite Grado. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Guys, I apologize for failing to mention anything in comparison to the MS-Pro’s sound. I did an RS1 vs MSPro comparison a long time ago and basically it comes down to this (between the RS1 and MSPro): Identical technicalities, timbre, detail etc, with the only different being RS1 is as usual Grado forward and the MSPro being more neutral without that forward vocals and mids.

    The PS500, HF2, and SR325 I would rank all three at the same technicalities level, the only difference being sound signature.

    So, now you have three different sound signatures:
    Alessandro MS-PRo – one sound signature
    Grado RS1, SR325 – another sound signature
    Grado HF2, PS500 – another sound signature

    Here is the Grado RS1 Alessandro MS-Pro review if you’re interested to read:

  • jendol

    hi mike, can you comment on the benefit of pairing a good amp to this ps500

  • Hello Mike  :o)

    I’m considering to buy the PS500 or RS1 or RS2, to couple with the Fostex HP-P1.

    The current set up is the SR225i with GoVibe Magnum, that I’ll pass to family & friends.

    I listen all kind of  ‘sounds’, being mostly instrumentals from world to jazz&dance 
    (& sometimes from classical  to rock).

    What would you advice? 

    Thank you for your passion! 


    • Anonymous

      Hi Joe,
      How do you like the SR225i sound? The RS1 will give you a better sound but similar in character. The RS2 is a bit different, more neutral like the Alessandros. And as for the PS500, it’s another good sound from Grado, but different (as you’ve probably have read from the review).
      I really can’t tell you in this case, I think they are all good and you just have to make the choice yourself. 🙂

      • Hello Mike :o)

        I could compare the SR225i with what I’ve tried:
        Grado 60/80/125/RS1
        Sennehiser HD 25/600/650/800
        Beyerdynamic 770/990 
        Audio Tecnica 1000
        Denon 5000
        Ultrasone 8/10

        My favorite choices to upgrade the SR225i will be the RS1 & HD800.

        OK, then I should find a shop or expo that as the tree headphones to try,or go to the Brooklyn headquarters and try there.
        (& would like to try the LCD-2 too)      ;D)))

        Thank you for helping out! :o)

        • Anonymous

          If you really like the SR225i then the RS1 is the more logical upgrade.
          As for the HD800, I think you’ll be better off with the HD650/600/25.

          • Great! 😀

            Yes, I’m feeling the RS1
            (now looking the MS Pro site too… eheheh)

            Then will see for the LCD-2. ;o)

            Thank you for answering!

            • Anonymous

              Actually the SR325is gives you almost everything about the RS1 at half the price. 😉

  • Great job with the photos, Mike!
    Breaking the habit, eh? 😉

    • Anonymous

      LOL. You like it? Makes boring photos look interesting. 🙂

  • Tim.L.

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve been considering a nice headphone upgrade from the Alessandro MS-1i, really love the sound signature, between the PS500 and the RS1i, which is more towards the alessandro sound? Or should i just go for the Pro?

    • Tim,
      If you really like the MS1i then you should just go with the MS-Pro.

  • Davmcallister

    Hey Mike,

    How would these be for prog rock?

    I am currently looking at spending about $600 on new headphones.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a place to test headphones where I live.  I have narrowed my choices down to:
    Grado PS500, AKG Q701, BeyerDynamic DT990, Senn HD600, Senn HD650.

    Any help would be appreciated.  Right now for full headphones I currently use AKG 518LE and Grado SR60is.

    What I am looking for is clear instrument separation and good decay, ie.  the hitting of a cymbal is the decay from the ringing of that cymbal.

    Thanks Mike…Dave

    • Dave,
      I think the PS500 would be a little too soft for prog-rock. I’d like to have something with stronger attack for prog-rock and I would probably still go with the SR325is or RS1.
      How do you find your SR60is to be for your music? And the K518LE?

      • Davmcallister

        Thanks for the reply Mike,

        I like my SR60s sounds, however I would like something maybe alittle less on the treble.  My 518s are for listening to music/watching a movie on the bus.

        I have heard you say that the 325 is 80% of the RS1 for half the money.  I have also read that the 325 is bright.

        The use for these are for my computer.  My setup would be computer–> Musiland Monitor 02 (thanks for your review!) –> headphone.

        Would the RS2 be less bright or would you recommend the HD600 for less bright.  If there is another headphone you would recommend please jump in!


        • Dave,
          I listened to the latest SR325is version and I don’t think it was overly bright. However if you want to be safe the HD600 would be the one to go for.

          • Davmcallister

            Thanks Mike,

            Appreciate it!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Mike,

    How would the sound compare between the Alessandro MS2 and the PS500? I have been reading that they’re both similar to the SR325i (but more neutral sounding?) and I have been looking to buy a grado.

    However, I’m about worried about brightness since I do listen to kpop and jpop quite abit. You mentioned that PS500 does quite well with these genres? It’s just that I live in Australia and its quite hard to be able to find anyone who is willing to ship a PS500 here.



    • Ken, 
      The MS2 is a more neutral, not as forward sounding version of the SR325i. Recently they came out with a new variant, and I’ve shared my impression of the new MS2 on our Facebook:

      If you listen to Jpop and Kpop, I don’t know, Grados would probably be too much treble and likewise the Alessandros. I would strongly recommend something darker. 

      Maybe post a track from Youtube that represents your Jpop and Kpop playlist? 

      • Anonymous

        Thanks Mike,

        Here’s 2 kpop songs

        and 1 jpop

        I currently have a pair of M50s with Fiio e10 as my source from my laptop. I think I want something with less and tighter bass as well and more detail.

        Thanks again, Ken

        • Ken, 
          I listened to the three tracks and I definitely don’t think that the Grados/Alessandros are the headphone for those. 

          As for more detail? Do you want treble or low level detail? The songs are all studio recordings and doesn’t really have low level details. As for treble, I don’t know but I wouldn’t recommend a bright headphone for those recordings.

          FYI I was listening to them to the HD580 which is a dark headphone with good bass and I think the headphone was a pretty good match. It’s basically the same driver as the HD600 so you can try looking into the HD600. 

          • Anonymous

            Would my e10 be sufficient source for the HD600? would an HD650 be good as well?

            As for the PS500, is there a cheaper alternative just to give a flavour to what sound reproduction I would get?


          • Hi Ken, 
            The E10 should be enough for the HD600, but you can upgrade to better things later. 

            The PS500? Unfortunately no. You can try the Alessandro MS1, to get a taste of the Grado sound, but it’s not quite like the PS500.

  • Mike: appreciate the blog very much. I have a newer pair of PS500s that I use with both a Triad L3 and an ALO V2 Continental/ AlgoRhythym Solo package.

    At first the sound was great, but then a clapping sound started to show up this week -with both amps and I’m wondering if I blew out the phones before breaking them in.

    Note: without the amps, the PS500s sound fine.
    My question is: are these ruined and what is the appropriate break-in period for these. How would you suggest I treat a new pair, albeit not as aggressively…


    • Sal,
      That shouldn’t be related to burn-in. Can you try to isolate the problem? You mentioned that the problem exists with both amps. What if you bypass the CLAS?
      You can read my thoughts on how to do burn in on the FAQ #17 and #18.

  • nightfly

    I have both the SR 325i and the PS 500, both great headphone. The PS 500 I find are just a bit cleaner/clear especially in the mid range according to my ears. Take note my musical taste is jazz, especially vocals.

  • zeeman1

    This is the worst review I’ve ever read. I’ve owned all the 325 models and they are not better than the PS 500’s in any way. Calling the finish amateurish is simply stupid as the Grado’s have always had a more retro appearance. My 500’s look and feel great and are easily better sounding than the 325’s.

    • dalethorn

      I bought a PS500 new, and I think my review is still featured on Grado’s PS500 product page. I EQ’d the small hump around 100-125 hz down a little, and at that point I thought the sound was so smooth from top to bottom, with just the right detail and tone accuracy, that they could be the perfect headphone for every genre, for music lovers. Not necessarily for gamers, experimenters, or sound effects lovers though. Just music. Many people will scratch their heads about the $600 price, but oddly enough, most people buying at that price point aren’t listening to Yo Yo Ma or Lang Lang. More likely the Beastie Boys et al, which is almost a different world. I do have some sound effects and radical street music, but I don’t use the PS500 for those tracks.

  • Mike, will you consider the PS500 a neutral sounding headphone, compare to ATH woodies? Do you think my Asgard and WA6SE can match it well?

    • The Alessandro MS-Pro is more neutral.

      • Do you think my amps can match both PS500 and Ms-Pro well?

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  • I returned my sr225i due to lack of response in the bass department, now received the ps500, right out of the box the baseline is pumping!

    • I still can’t believe how much better the sr60i sounds compared to the sr225i, and the ps500 is just an amazing sound

    • Nice!

  • gerard bouchard

    I am considering to upgrade my alessandro ms1I with L pads.
    Those are lovely headphones but i would like to get more from my Schiit Asgard and the micromega myDAC.

    I am currently thinking about the MS2, the MSPRO or the PS500. I heard that PS500s were a bargain with G Pads…
    But i don’t think that G pads fit my musical taste (alternative rock).

    Here is what i tipically listen :

    I really dont know what to do….

    • Gerard,
      If you like the the current tonality of the Alessandro MS1, I think you should go for the PS500.

      If you want something that sounds more open, get the MS-Pro, but it also comes with more treble and less bass body.

      I just listened to that track you posted, and I think either the PS500 and the MS-Pro would be nice. The MS-Pro is more impressive, but the PS500 will go better with a wider range of music.

      • dalethorn

        I just listened to that track too. The sound quality is good enough that I think it would sound good on almost anything. But the bass is not strong, and the treble, while not harsh or anything like that, is strong enough that some headphones won’t like it (I wish I still had the PS500 to compare).

      • gerard bouchard

        Mike and dalethorn
        Thanks you for answering me.

        I actually think that MS1s have a lack in the bass area with the L pads.Then , I think that I have to go with the PS500s If i want a stronger and fuller bass section.

        Does the PS500 sound less open than the MS1?

  • Yongky

    hi mike, i just made my purchase with ps500 since ive made my audition
    in jaben…first one when i tried ms1i, i like it very much….but when i
    try ps500…BOOMMM!!! this is the one that i need…
    to my ears, ps500 is just similar to ms1i but improve a lot on micro details and midrange….

    but here is the problem…my main genre is rock like paramore, daughtry, muse, and matchbox 20.

    you think that alessandro ms2i will sound better for my taste?(i’ve
    never heard ms2i before)im just curious that if i made a right decision
    or not 😀

    my setup is dacport lx….and which one between ps500 and ms2i will “CLICK” with dacport lx?

    • Congrats on the purchase!

      I really can’t be sure if you’ll like the MS2i better. The bass hits lower and the Prat is better but it has less warmth and the midrange is not as full

      • Yongky

        so u think that ps500 has a lot more fun factor even for rock than ms2i?:D

        • No I didn’t say that

          • Yongky

            hmm…ok, i got ur point of view about ms2i…
            would u say that ps500 is better suited with dacporrt lx since lx has a lack of bass and impact?

            • The LX doesn’t have an amp and you can’t plug a headphone to it directly

              • Yongky

                as im typing this, im listening to my ps500 + dacport lx + foobar.

                • Yes it shouldn’t be hooked up that way

                  • Yongky

                    a bit confusing bout that….as long as it didnt damaged the hp and sounds good…i dont think that as an issue for me 😀
                    ok, so here it is, which one has a better micro details and imaging?ps500 or ms2i?

                    • Technicalities are roughly identical on both.

  • Ted

    Hey Mike,

    First off, love your website, it’s a great tool for budding audiophiles. I was reading your review on the ps500s and I seemed to get the feeling that you didn’t like them very much. I agree with you the best phones to compare these with would be the HF2 and from your assessment it just seems the HF2 was a superior can in terms of build quality and sound. This is quite surprising to me considering these cans are $200 more expensive. Would you say these headphones aren’t worth the money? How would you compare these to say the Sennheiser HD650s? I know you (and many others) have great fondness for those headphones.

    It’s sad cause the first time I saw these phones I thought they were gorgeous! Reminded me of the old HP1000s or PS-1s. I’m still probably going to purchase these, but your review didn’t seem as glowing as other reviews I read online. And I do respect your opinion and input.

    • Ted

      By the way, I too agree the “painted on” finish left me a bit disappointed. I’ve seen pictures of prototype models that had a sleek chrome look to it that reminded me of the HF2s or HP1000s. Sad they didn’t stick with it for the mass production version.

      • xuantu

        these are great! i don’t think mike dislikes them per se…he just likes the hf2s better? i dont know thats my theory.

        • dalethorn

          Going over to the Grado side, especially at the price they sell for internationally, you might never recover. I suspect Mike is trying to not jump off the deep end, and steer a path through the more mainstream of hi-fi. I traded my PS500 to someone in Singapore I think, and wouldn’t you know – they put big bowl earpads on it. So there you go.

    • dalethorn

      My review from headfonics is still featured on the PS-500 product page at gradolabs. I love the smoothness and musicality of the PS500, and the only other headphones I’ve heard that sound as good to me are woodies that have the same quality of tone, or timbre. My only objection to the overall sound was the small bass hump around 100 hz or so, but I EQ’d that down for desktop computer use.

    • Ted

      Hello again, I never received a response for my last question so I thought I’d try again. I wanted to know how the PS500s compare to the Senn HD650s in terms of sound quality/signature.

      • Ted,
        Sorry for missing your comments the first time..

        PS500 vs HD650:
        HD650 darker, more laid back, more bass quantity stronger bass slam and impact. PS500 more forward, more intimate.

        Technicalities wise, once you can get over the dark Sennheiser sound, the HD650 is more resolving and has a more three dimensional soundstage with proper imaging and depth. The Grados, while easier to pick out the details, are less resolving and while more open sounding, are quite flat in terms of soundstage imaging and depth.

  • Yongky

    First of all, i just want to share about how i feel with these 2 beautiful goddess from Grassandro 😀
    I like rock music just like hoobastank, paramore, john mayer, matchbox 20, INXS, The Rasmus, and Avril Lavigne
    but I also like Jamie Cullum, Bruno Mars, Phil Collins, Phillip Phillips, Audiophile recordings, and such an instruments like piano, cello, and Hans Zimmer orchestra. Can’t say that i had a main genre, i just listen to everything.

    after using some of “blind purchase” just like sennheiser hd595, ath pro700mk2, and hd25-1, i’ve just become more understand about “how should be a rock music headphone to be”, and i thought that hd25-1 and govibe vulcan+ already gave me such a wonderful experience, yes it is! such a wonderful PRaT and attack to rock music, but im always missed something more open and detailed…

    after going to Jaben several months ago, ive tried alessandro ms1i and grado sr60i. and i just feel that ms1i is the right choise, it gives me a strong attack, forwardness, and “live” music to rock genre. but after i tried ps500 (borrowed from someone in jaben :D) and it gives me “WOW….I want this right now!!!” such a dobel portion of ms1i, it gives me much much more better clarity, details, and live factor. But i was not planning to buy it at that moment because of the price (6,5 millions) so i just search the other cans to fulfill my dreams of an “ultimate rock headphone”
    But im think again, hd25-1 already gave me such a wonderful experience and i want to upgrade from it, so i was convinced that there’s no other cans to go beside Grado/Alessandro 😮

    GRADO PS500


    at the first moment, im thinking soooo much about ms2i, but after long time it doesnt produced again, so i dare myself to bought ps500.
    and VOILA!!! plug it straightly into Dacport LX and it just give me the most enjoyable experience ever with ALL genre of music. ps500 is just “SO RIGHT”, live imaging, wide soundstage, nice and sweet mid and instrument, and such a nice treble that very convince me that this is a great allrounder.
    The bass was wonderful, it complete the lack of bass section on dacport lx so it gives a wonderful combination. altough ps500 is not really forward, but it gives me a very nice overall proportion of music and if u wear it, it feels like ur on “The right path” of listening pleasure 😀
    The warmth and musicality is amazing. You can get the real sense of music with these babe. Ive just amazed how lively this one, considering that sr60i gave you more treble than lively factor, but ps500 is different, it can makes everyything seems so right, and it gave you such an enjoyable and musical presentation without thinking that this is a high end cans with high technicality for sure. Im saying this based on “how much people comment about hd800 and how high the price is”. But with ps500, it really worth every penny. i dont even think about the price anymore when i started to enjoy this babe. (considering that this is my first high end phone)



    suddenly nico contact me and tells me that Allesandro ms2i already on stock!!!it makes me really really galau and finally i bought it also, and after i own ms2i, the whole perception of my rock genre seems completely change. how come?
    ms2i gives me an aggresive performance and such a strong attack and forwardness. I really enjoyed ms2i when i play a track like bon jovi, hoobastank, paramore, and even avril!!! the distortion of guitar is really amazing, even if u played “just rock” or even “pop-rock” with a guitar, well…u can always summon ms2i. but its a different story with acoustic genre, the mid section and the vocal seems a little bit dry, despiteof the forwardness of ms2i, but the lower vocal feels empty and a little bit thin….but if playing some of band tracks, this weak factor is all covered up.
    ms2i offers you the transparent rock vocal like bon jovi, u can hear clearly the mid and upper vocal. and the emotion&forwardness is really engaging. u cant go wrong with ms2i if u like rock music.



    when im comparing these 2 babes, it really hurts my feeling that with the arrival of m2i, ps500 is no longer my “ultimate” cans.
    i had to split my attention, because both of them is wonderful.
    when im changing from ps500 to ms2i, ps500 feels so “dirty” because now you know that the upper bass of ps500 is disturbing the mid section a little bit so it makes ps500 less forward and less “clear” than ms2i. and the sensation of rock music is changing also, ms2i offers more speed and forwardness and more aggresive treble than ps500, so it makes m2i more engaging and more emotion to the rock music.
    BUT,….i feel it also when im changing ps500 to ms2i, i lost the warmth and the musicality, everything seems “less right” and “less body” of the whole presentation of music. the sense of sweetness and the “right” tonality is gone (i have to admit that ms2i is more colored than ps500 because of the forward and the treble). so i feel that i left my”right path” of music when i leave ps500.
    and the micro details is seems stronger on ps500 even i can’t hear it clearly but i felt theres something missing when i listen to audiophile songs. ms2i may be more “clear” but the real “meat” is on ps500.

    Despite of that difference, of course that ps500 is still really enjoyable for rock genre, but ms2i is stronger on this aspect.
    even so with ms2i, it still a nice pair for jazz, vocal, and the other genre, but ps500 is stronger on this aspect.

    Until now, i really enjoyed these 2 headphones. when im on ROCK mood (named any rock band or artist even pop rock like avril lavigne and the other screamers out there), i always think about ms2i.
    but other than that, (bruno, phil collins, jazz, audiophile, country, vocal, acoustic, etc) i always think about ps500.

    the impression is still doesnt change after i pair my LX with Solo. it just add the bass and the mid section, but the overall presentation doesnt change, it just getting stronger and nicer 😀

    Tools : Dacport LX, Graham Slee Solo SRGii, PS500, and MS2i

    • That was really long, but I’m glad you are enjoying your music with the PS500!

  • nas.oi

    mike, im interested on grado/alessandro full size headphone, would you like to describe briefly about grado 500 and ms2i? Are those headphones need powerful amp to drive their potential?
    Thanks yo

    • You definitely need an amplifier for the Grados.

      The PS500 is warmer, more lush, smoother and fuller sounding.
      The MS2i sounds thinner with more treble, more open and with a harder hitting bass.

      • nas.oi

        How about the RS1i compared to DT880/600 Pro? are they in the same league?
        and please compare the PS500 vs RS1i vs DT880/600 pro, which one will be the all arounder with my setup : DACMini + GS Solo SRG ii

        • Well,
          IMO the RS1i is a better music headphone by leaps and bounds.
          The DT880/600 is more technically proficient though and would be the one to get if you want resolution and clarity and technicalities.

  • Shay

    Hello Mike
    I have a hard time to decide between the Grado PS500 or Shure SRH1840 I had heard great things about both of them and generally I hear music from Classic to Heavy Metal to Trance and the list goes on. Also I’m using the Fiio E11 as my amp and wish to ask if its possible that the Fiio can get the best out of those headphones?
    Thank U

    • L.

      I don’t know the headphones but I do know the E11, and I don’t think the E11 would be appropriate for thos

      • Shay

        Thank U L.
        What I had heard that ppl are running the PS500 and the Shure’s 1840 directly from their portable phones iPhones Samsungs and so. Of course to get the best out of them I will need to purchase a headphone amp (I had one the Vincent Tube but didn’t like it al all)

        • dalethorn

          The PS500 should work well with any amp, but the 1840 needs a warmer amp – tube amp might be good.

          • Shay

            Yes but, between the headphones who will preform the best at all levels and most types of music ?

            • dalethorn

              Easily the PS500. Although the PS500 isn’t perfect and the low bass isn’t strong, it does have some impact and texture that the 1840 lacks. Head-fi had a very interesting post about playing Jennifer Warnes’ Rock You Gently on the 1840 and hearing how it isn’t capable of reproducing the bass tone for the opening notes. I tried it myself to verify. Both the PS500 and 1840 have a good treble, but each sound a little different – the 1840 treble sounds dry (not sure if that’s the best description) to me, and the PS500 treble is sweet and sparkly, but I could live with either one. The PS500 has some of that 2 khz emphasis that the other Grados have, but not as much. The 1840 has some emphasis in the upper mids to give it a different color than the PS500, but again I don’t have a preference – both are good. It’s that bass that makes the 1840 so limited I think.

              • Shay

                Thank you very much Sir
                as for a good amp to the PS, any recommendation you have in mind?

                • dalethorn

                  We need to know what drives the amp, for best match. Apple phones are easy, others may be tricky.

                  • Shay

                    Asus laptop their top of the line laptop and i own also cambridge ducking station for the iphones but i realy dont like it feels weak and cheap also i use samsung S4 with Fiio e11 works great with my Shure srh425

                    • dalethorn

                      For the Grado, the $189 USD Microstreamer would be very good. The Audioengine D3 also. I haven’t heard the new Dragonfly yet, so don’t know about that.

                    • Shay

                      I heard also the Combo unit Fiio e09k + e17 is good but dunno how it will sound on the PS500

                    • dalethorn

                      The only reason I don’t buy those separates is because you’re getting 1) Output jacks and wiring on the first piece. 2) Input jacks and wiring on the second piece. 3) In the case of most DAC/amp separates you also add connecting cables. So if a DAC/amp are built correctly with matching capabilities, you get much cleaner sound without all those extra connections and wires.

                    • Shay

                      Yes, there is something to what you say..
                      what about the asus xonar essence stu?

                    • dalethorn

                      I’m not familiar with any Asus amps – what is their configuration?

                    • Shay


                      hope it will help anyway the price i can get for it is somewhere 380$

                    • dalethorn

                      It looks good to me, but have you read any reviews of it?

                    • Shay

                      The reviews are good better then their previous desktop amp they say.
                      I had heard some hi fi headphone amp’s non of them did that Wow to me even the HD800 with the lemhan amp it was good very good but bass was shy/bright not that i am a ‘bass-head’ but i still want the bass to shine and sometimes to attack me by surprise. Heard the Heed very powerful amp fast sound like the music hits you great for electronic music close headphones i think. In the end and for now i remain with the e11

        • dalethorn

          I’d get an amp that has some power – a FiiO E12 at minimum. But if you’re not using a DAC/amp where the DAC is compatible to the portable phone, then at least get an amp that can run from a line out port that’s not just a headphone jack.

  • matthew36

    What about for heavy metal only should I go for rs1i or ps500? Will there be a i model for ps500?

    • Most metal I listen to doesn’t sound all that great with the PS500’s brightness, and then there’s the new PS500e which probably sounds way different from the PS500. I don’t have either RS headphone, but the new GH1 woodie is definitely better for metal (mellower) so probably the RS would be a good bet.