Grado Headphone hack
My Grado SR325is headphones were starting to physically hurt after extended listening because the drivers seemed to be resting directly on my ears in places. The sound was also a little close and strident. Time for new cans I thought.
I was looking at Focal Clear, Audeze LCD-X, Dan Clark Audio AEON 2 and the Grado GS2000e. I managed to listen to the Focals and Grado GS1000e (not the 2000) both of which sounded very good, offering effortless clarity. One thing I noticed was that the over ear GS’s were super comfortable, in ways none of the Grados in the prestige line I had owned previously were. The sound of the GS was also altogether different than the on-ear Prestige, like my ears were in a listening space instead of the sound being injected directly into my head.
Comparing the GS1000e to my SR325is side by side, I realized that not only were the ear pads on my old cans worn, but the foam was collapsed, allowing the drivers to sit directly on my ear. Ouch! Looking at the Grado website I noticed that they now sell the Prestige line cans with any ear cup style they make, for an additional price. I wondered what my old 325’s would sound like with the $55 ear cushions from the GS series? Would they sound “bad” because they were voiced for the smaller, closer cushions?
So I bought some ‘G’ style replacement cushions for my SR325is headphones as a cheap hack. Wow. My aluminum 325’s now sound way more spacious than before, less resonant but more neutral in the bass and midrange than I remember the GS1000e (which were right out of the box). I would say the upper registers were more delicate and subtle on the GS1000e, something no one accused the 325’s of, ever, but the 325’s now have a way more sophisticated treble than with the original cushions. And I have not had any comfort issues during listening sessions of any length.
All in all, a very successful modification to the top pair in Grado’s entry line, and it delays my purchase of different headphones indefinitely. If you own SR or RS line Grado headphones, I strongly recommend you try this mod before spending $1-1.5K on some new cans. FWIW, I am using with a decent AV system that has great attention to AC power quality and cabling, but not close to SOTA for headphones.