Grado sr80x (or 325x) vs AirPods max

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Natan90NL

Well-known member
Nov 2, 2021
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Update,

Since I couldn’t tell the difference between 3,5mm MacBook vs the external dac ifi zen dac V2 using the grado sr80x

nor the difference between hi res lossless and lossless audio

and the Sonos setup I have sounds better (probably not objectively but personally) (using trueplay, loudness off, with sub, lossless Qobuz) (understanding speakers are not headphones)

I decided to return the dac and headphones.

Thanks all for the information, replies and lessons 😋
 

Gray

Well-known member
Update,

Since I couldn’t tell the difference between 3,5mm MacBook vs the external dac ifi zen dac V2 using the grado sr80x

nor the difference between hi res lossless and lossless audio

and the Sonos setup I have sounds better (probably not objectively but personally) (using trueplay, loudness off, with sub, lossless Qobuz) (understanding speakers are not headphones)

I decided to return the dac and headphones.

Thanks all for the information, replies and lessons 😋
That's an honest post.
It may help others by serving as a counter balance to some of the hype.
 

Natan90NL

Well-known member
Nov 2, 2021
40
8
45
Btw, what also bothered me in this setup was that in order to switch to proper hi res I had to change the settings in MacOs with the midi controller with every song according to the bitrate and sample freq.

So that was very inconvenient. Knowing it’s automatically switched with iOS I don’t have a lightning to usb atm.

this also made me think, well, qobuz on Sonos is actually very convenient.
 

AJM1981

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2021
337
89
970
I am definitely more into speakers. I have owned 2 Sennheisers and the Fresh and Rebel Clam ANC. Despite all headphones had ok sound, I didn't own them for anything besides practical reasons.

The sr80x was already for a while on my list and today I decided to order a pair after reading many positive reviews about them. I will give it a go. Recently I gave my Clam ANC away so it seems like a proper replacement.
 
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nopiano

Well-known member
This is why it’s so hard to recommend headphones, especially as everyone’s head shape is unique to them, never mind their ears and preferences.

I‘m not a headphone fan by any stretch, but I do like on-ear designs, and I’m enjoying my second pair of Grados in ten years. They're only the modest SR80e version, but I like their explicit clarity and lack of boom. I personally like the US family-run back-story too, but that’s not really relevant.

One more thought. Apple DACs built in to many of their products are extremely good, if you can find a test to refer to. There isn’t much wrong with a 3.5mm jack from an iPad imho, using a decent service like, say, Qobuz, and it’s much better than Hifi systems from a few decades ago, nostalgia notwithstanding.
 
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AJM1981

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2021
337
89
970
This is why it’s so hard to recommend headphones, especially as everyone’s head shape is unique to them, never mind their ears and preferences.

I‘m not a headphone fan by any stretch, but I do like on-ear designs, and I’m enjoying my second pair of Grados in ten years. They're only the modest SR80e version, but I like their explicit clarity and lack of boom. I personally like the US family-run back-story too, but that’s not really relevant.

One more thought. Apple DACs built in to many of their products are extremely good, if you can find a test to refer to. There isn’t much wrong with a 3.5mm jack from an iPad imho, using a decent service like, say, Qobuz, and it’s much better than Hifi systems from a few decades ago, nostalgia notwithstanding.
The reason I am not really into headphones is that when there is someone playing accoustic bass or guitar in front it doesn't matter how much quality a manufacturer puts into it, the illusion of someone playing there is just not present. With binaural recordings it might do something, but that is a different ball game. That is why I like speakers that can provide that illusion and deliver weight instead of throwing a lot of bass onto it.

With headphones in general I also would place the note that most reviewers talk around 20% of the review about the sound and 80% about comfort and build quality. I almost get the idea that Sound quality is like "what do you expect, these a headphones" the pads sometimes make a bigger difference than the drivers when it comes to experience. And it seems that speakers evolve over time while a good 70s headphone and a good 2020 headphone are almost not distinguishable.

That aside.

I received the Grado Sr80x and I think they are worth it. I was already used to the sound of fairly decent Sennheiser headphones. I forgot the type but once owned a semi open one that had huge caps which contributed to the illusion of bass going deeper but I didn't really like the bass signature as they were a bit "cloudy". The Grados are tighter in that way. So a good purchase nevertheless.
 
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Hifiman

Well-known member
Apr 17, 2020
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The theory of run-in's dramatic effects suggests to me that there might be an equally dramatic run-out effect.
I wonder if anyone has performed a proper controlled study of ‘running in’ hifi equipment whether it be speakers, electronic equipment or analogue sources? While it seems more plausible that components which move, such as speaker cones, could benefit from doing this than, say, electronic ones (ever ran in a laptop?) I have yet to be fully convinced of its benefit in any situation.
I say this because I wonder if it is actually our ears/brains which are being ‘run in’ rather than the equipment, by which I mean we simply become more accustomed to the characteristics of the component over time and wrongly ascribe this ‘improvement’ to the equipment bedding in.
I have observed this most often when changing back to headphones I have previously used. Suddenly the original raw edges are there again until I get used to them once more.
It would be fascinating to conduct a study which objectively tests this
 
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AJM1981

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Mar 26, 2021
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I wonder if anyone has performed a proper controlled study of ‘running in’ hifi equipment whether it be speakers, electronic equipment or analogue sources? While it seems more plausible that components which move, such as speaker cones, could benefit from doing this than, say, electronic ones (ever ran in a laptop?) I have yet to be fully convinced of its benefit in any situation.
I say this because I wonder if it is actually our ears/brains which are being ‘run in’ rather than the equipment, by which I mean we simply become more accustomed to the characteristics of the component over time and wrongly ascribe this ‘improvement’ to the equipment bedding in.
I have observed this most often when changing back to headphones I have previously used. Suddenly the original raw edges are there again until I get used to them once more.
It would be fascinating to conduct a study which objectively tests this

It is both interesting and almost undoable because one needs to go thoroughly through a double blind research that in reality no one will conduct scientifically asides from some heavily biased audio geeks who want to proof what they think and favor measures that support their claim above others.

To throw in some science one can do without testing I would advise to explore the way back in time with a rough question like "till what period or for what equipment did technicians describe burn in time?"

That answer is easy to explore. Tubes need time to warm up every time, so they need to burn in to sound at best. And what were the most common, if not the only amps till a point? Tubes. And not only in audio, The first CRT TV's were quirky and often needed a little time to stabilize too. Luckily we are past that age.

In this context " let it burn in" really applied to a set of speakers for a 100% related to to the tubes they were connected to for a minute or 10(?).

There might be more systems that need a little warm up time. Perhaps systems like electrostatic speakers (?) , though I have no practical experience with them so I will leave that to the experts.

Flexing rubber of a speaker is not really burning in. When I use my speakers at reasonable living room levels I barely see them flex. Maybe in that context of modern speakers "burn in" became more of a sales advice in order to give a customer the message "your brain will get used to the sound signature" as little changes might be there and getting used to a midrange focused speaker is a thing when your previous one was boomy or bright. Then you might need to re-explore your library to hear new nuances.

In the end, commercially spoken and in a modern sense "burn in time" is the idea that a customer doesn't return the product the next day, just because he or she experiences a signature difference.

p. s. I would like to point out that audiophiles often buy second hand speakers and state "I don't know if these were burned in or not, but I assume they were". Which on its own kind of destroys the whole point at its core.
 
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AJM1981

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2021
337
89
970
Back to the Grado Sr80x

It can be that the bass is experienced as less pronounced at the first listening session and later on becomes more pronounced due to the fact that many other headphones have a little more pumped up bass these days, like my previous Sennheisers had more bass than the 80s model I owned and I expected something like that. The Grados are perhaps not true reference headphones but definitely more on the reference side, like my 80s Sennheiser. And going from a bass focused headphone to something that is closer to flat needs a little "click" (back) in the brain.
 
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Hifiman

Well-known member
Apr 17, 2020
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It is both interesting and almost undoable because one needs to go thoroughly through a double blind research that in reality no one will conduct scientifically asides from some heavily biased audio geeks who want to proof what they think and favor measures that support their claim above others.

To throw in some science one can do without testing I would advise to explore the way back in time with a rough question like "till what period or for what equipment did technicians describe burn in time?"

That answer is easy to explore. Tubes need time to warm up every time, so they need to burn in to sound at best. And what were the most common, if not the only amps till a point? Tubes. And not only in audio, The first CRT TV's were quirky and often needed a little time to stabilize too. Luckily we are past that age.

In this context " let it burn in" really applied to a set of speakers for a 100% related to to the tubes they were connected to for a minute or 10(?).

There might be more systems that need a little warm up time. Perhaps systems like electrostatic speakers (?) , though I have no practical experience with them so I will leave that to the experts.

Flexing rubber of a speaker is not really burning in. When I use my speakers at reasonable living room levels I barely see them flex. Maybe in that context of modern speakers "burn in" became more of a sales advice in order to give a customer the message "your brain will get used to the sound signature" as little changes might be there and getting used to a midrange focused speaker is a thing when your previous one was boomy or bright. Then you might need to re-explore your library to hear new nuances.

In the end, commercially spoken and in a modern sense "burn in time" is the idea that a customer doesn't return the product the next day, just because he or she experiences a signature difference.

p. s. I would like to point out that audiophiles often buy second hand speakers and state "I don't know if these were burned in or not, but I assume they were". Which on its own kind of destroys the whole point at its core.
It might be possible to do such a study fairly easily. Two identical pieces of equipment stated by a magazine as having improved in SQ after running in are purchased. One is ‘run in’ for a prescribed period and the other not. These are then handed to a second person (who does not know which one has been run in) who then plays them in a random order to a chosen number of individuals and asks them which one sounds best. The number of people included is powered so as to be able to detect any (or no) statistical difference between the 2 pieces. The main confounder might be if there was inherent inconsistency in the SQ between examples of the same piece of kit, but that in itself would be troublesome for any hifi product.
 

AJM1981

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2021
337
89
970
It might be possible to do such a study fairly easily. Two identical pieces of equipment stated by a magazine as having improved in SQ after running in are purchased. One is ‘run in’ for a prescribed period and the other not. These are then handed to a second person (who does not know which one has been run in) who then plays them in a random order to a chosen number of individuals and asks them which one sounds best. The number of people included is powered so as to be able to detect any (or no) statistical difference between the 2 pieces. The main confounder might be if there was inherent inconsistency in the SQ between examples of the same piece of kit, but that in itself would be troublesome for any hifi product.
Why not having the magazine that claimed it deliver their data first? Saves a lot of time.

Research is only easy when you get help by real independent experienced researchers. Otherwise you will have outcomes that steer to your own opinion none the less.

I once cooperated in a research in which the researcher dropped hints that he was quite annoyed that I didn't pick the outcome he had in mind.

Besides this. Making these claims or trying to debunk them is only interesting to a small percentage of people. Not everyone is a home audio nerd like us. That is why I don't find it interesting enough to deal with. The magazines or salesmen will not stop using the term "burn in time" for the reasons given earlier. It serves creating emotion at the consumer for their praised product, which pleases the manufacturer. All sides win.
 

tiffany31

Member
Jan 11, 2022
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0
20
I’d imagine the Zen and the Grado, or something like the Sundara,..

(Unsolicited links removed by moderation - and you're repeating yourself here.)
 
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Natan90NL

Well-known member
Nov 2, 2021
40
8
45
Back to the Grado Sr80x

It can be that the bass is experienced as less pronounced at the first listening session and later on becomes more pronounced due to the fact that many other headphones have a little more pumped up bass these days, like my previous Sennheisers had more bass than the 80s model I owned and I expected something like that. The Grados are perhaps not true reference headphones but definitely more on the reference side, like my 80s Sennheiser. And going from a bass focused headphone to something that is closer to flat needs a little "click" (back) in the brain.
Ye I realized this and became a bit more familiar but using Sonos with a sub often makes the headphones so “light”. Of course it’s a stupid comparison but that’s my experience.
 

AJM1981

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2021
337
89
970
Ye I realized this and became a bit more familiar but using Sonos with a sub often makes the headphones so “light”. Of course it’s a stupid comparison but that’s my experience.
Not that bad of a comparison in two ways to listen to stereo audio. This is purely a headphone thing . My preference has always been speakers when it comes to music. Even at low volume and even when not having a pumped up bass. Bass at a speaker kind of gives a little punch that is not there at a headphone. Manufacturers do their best to simulate it, but it is different. A performance mostly plays in front of the listener, not in the right and left ear.

On a sidenote placed earlier. I love those binaural recordings with headphones, they show great potential in experiencing a higher simulation of realism.. but unfortunately it is and always will remain a niche market.

Headphones have always been this solution in studios or living rooms for when you can't use speakers in a situation or because you need some detail analysis. I am totally ok with them and I enjoy them, but I enjoy speakers more. I consider the Grados among the best headphones Ive heard so far and ones to keep. But I can't imagine buying like one of those premium Sennheisers or whatever goes above that. Factors like a focus on luxury and comfort that determine about 75% of the price probably. I would be happily trading them away.
 
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