Does this mean that Grado should just kill the SR60-RS1 line up and come up with a new line of PS-series line up that carries the newer, smoother Grado sound? Not quite. When the recording is good, I still think that the conventional Grado sound has a better bite and attack to it. I’m taking the SR325 in this case. Guitars are more correct, vocal presence is more spot on and is crisper, and the bass is more articulate and tighter than the rounded bass of the PS500. I think toe tapping is happening more with the SR325, provided that I’m not listening to some bright, treble happy recording. I think the SR325 is still the weapon of choice for Acoustic, Blues, Classic Rock, Alternative and so on. The PS500 on the other hand would be a more fitting choice for modern Pop, Jpop, Kpop with their loud screaming voices, though the PS500 would still do Rock pretty good. .
THE PS500 AND THE HF2
The PS500 and the HF2 are very close sounding, but they are different in a small way. The two represents a clear departure from say the Grado SR32 — which represented the conventional Grado sound (which I think the three headphones here roughly compare on the technical level). The HF2 had a fuller mid and upper-mid bass. The PS500 had more low treble and a slightly lower down bass, and also a better articulation on the bass.
The two headphones are so close sounding that I don’t know if the differences are intentional. I mean, two years apart on the production line, a lot of things can happen there: slight variations on the batch of the wood used for the housing, slight variation on the driver assembly, those would easily contribute to the two different sound I’m hearing. These are headphones we are talking about, and with the drivers sitting so close to our ears, a slight change in the acoustic chamber (i.e the age of the pads) would change the sound just like that.
THE GRADO PS500 AND THE GRADO PS1000
From what I’ve heard, the buzz seems to be that the PS500 is a baby version of the PS1000 flagship. That was the same thing they said about the HF2. Personally, I don’t know where the similarities are except that they all use a metal-wood combination for the housing. And everyone who’s toyed around with pads on Grados should know that the Jumbo pads found on the PS1000 changes the sound tremendously, so I can’t think on how the two headphones, equipped with vastly different pads, manage to have a similar sound.
It’s a good sounding Grado for sure, though I wish that they could’ve sell the PS500 at the same price that the HF2 was, or at least keep it in the $400 range. Not to mention that the finishing on the PS500 is not as good as that on the HF2. The same housing shape, the same aluminum exterior, but where the HF2 has a classy anodized aluminum, the lacquer finish on the PS500 simply screams amateurish. But hey, it’s a Grado and we should know that sub-par finishing has become an unofficial tradition.
Gear used for review
Grado HF2, Grado PS500, Alessandro MS-Pro, Hifiman HM-801, Fiio E10, Ibasso D-Zero, WooAudio WA5, Burson HA-160DS, Burson HA-160D.
Special thanks to Kamol at Munkong Gadget who made a great effort to send me the PS500 in the midst of the Bangkok flooding.