Grado PS1000E Review – Outdated?

Grado is one of the real old school audiophile headphone companies. For many, the companies, SR80 were the first step into a rabbit hole that never seems to end. Back in the day, there wasn’t t much focus on higher-end headphones, and SR was awkward looking and “uncool.” Something magical happened.

Retro cool became a thing, and Gardo headphones were discovered not only by audiophiles but also by the public. What if that introduction to the brand built some loyalty? Where could you go from there? Well, how about the flagship Grado PS1000E we are going to review today?

Grado PS1000e Pricing and Availability?

Being one of the world’s most famous headphone brands means Grado’s are available worldwide both online and in physical shops, such as HiFi and home audio stores. You don’t tend to see the higher-end models in consumer electronic stores. Additionally, some retailers will only carry a limited selection from the line so phone ahead if you are going somewhere to purchase.

Thankfully the PS1000e are easily available online and you can use the links below to view up to date pricing and availability.

Technical Specification

  • Driver Type: Dynamic
  • Style: Open Back
  • Frequency Response: 5-50,000 Hz
  • Impedance: 32 Ohms
  • Detachable Cable: No
  • Accessories: 3.5mm mini adaptor and history booklet

Does the Grado PS1000E have good build quality?

The design is tried and tested and distinctly Grado. People familiar with the brand will instantly be able to identify these headphones from a distance. The iconic old-school radio operator look is in full force, and it’s one that you will either love or hate.

Traditionally Grado headphones have wood or dense plastic housing for the driver, but these are strikingly different. The entire earcup is a high polished chrome affair, which is exceptionally striking and pretty. There is a heavy metal mesh guard over the back of the cup around which the words Grado Professional Series GS1000e is etched to protect the drivers. 

Cables exit in a straight down position. Something less optimal than headphones who point the cable forward away from the chest. It’s a minor thing, but I didn’t like how the cable hangs straight down onto my shoulders with these. Additionally, there is no strain relief to add extra protection from wear and tear.

The earpads are a gigantic foam disc. They are very thick, but this material compresses more than memory foam, and as a result, I found them less comfortable than modern headphones. Still, the absence of leather and the open back design meant they are very breathable, and as a result, you shouldn’t have any issues with heat build-up.

The distinct antenna headband is a signature look for the brand, and the pass-through, which is marked with left and right cymbals, has excellent tight resistance out the box. My SR80 and 225 have lost some of this resistance over time, but the 80 are almost 20 years old—the 225 at least a decade. I’m not sure when this started being an issue, but it’s a reasonably easy fix to tighten everything up again.

The headband is genuine leather, and it’s going to be very hard-wearing. I don’t think anyone will ever need to replace this even if you keep them for a lifetime.

Overall the build quality is exceptionally high, and they are one of the best looking headphones I have ever held. You have to hold them right, though, because that chrome finish is a pain to keep fingerprint free.

Are the Grado PS1000E comfortable?

No, the Grado PS1000E are not comfortable headphones at all. They are useable, but a few things make them less than optimum for long listening sessions. First up is the weight, wt over 500g. The Grado is a big lump to have perched on top of your head for more than a few hours. 

It wouldn’t be nearly as much of an issue if the headband had some better padded. I know many people who have modified them with an extra layer of foam precisely for this reason. 

Finally, the pads aren’t the greatest because when the compress, there are many contacts made with your ears. Essentially they are a full-size headphone that, at first glance, looks like a circumaural design when in reality, they sit directly on your outer ear. Thankfully the clamping pressure was just right for me, so that did help out a little

Are the Grado PS1000E good at isolating?

No, not. These are a fully open back earphone that uses traditional foam pads. They will not isolate well, and to get the best sound, you should use them in a quiet environment.

How is the Grado PS1000E sound quality?

It is where the headphones redeem themselves from a lot of the flaws I mentioned up above. Despite being a reasonably old headphone design, that is the only testament to how well they were designed because even today, these sound amazing.

When people think of the Grado house sound, I’m sure they are thinking of lots of highs and a little bass. These headphones keep that treble focus but pair it with the most impactful bass I have heard from the company to date. They aren’t bass cannons, but they have some real impact on the low notes for an open back.

Also gone is the cool tuning that they are famed for, and this brings more natural tones with touches of warmth showing in the mids. It’s almost like this is a musical headphone, which I was pleasantly surprised with. Each frequency is itself in isolation in the excellent realm, but the way it is blended is complimentary and results in a cohesive and deeply engaging listen.

Tonality aside, detail retrieval is strong. As expected, this is prominent in the high notes, which have a very crystal-like appearance and sharpness. It dances on the edge of too much without rolling over. That means the soundstage is huge on these. Notes float off into the distance when they decay. There is no abrupt cut-off of clipping.

Genre-wise, they will work with anything you throw at them. 

They are a very versatile headphone that has solid performance in each area. For an open back to perform this well on an EDM track like Two Feet – Quick Musical doodles, I was impressed. The impact was intense, and you could even feel the air being driven in volume across your ears.

Tone things back a bit, and the sweet point is with classic rock or acoustic music. Listening to Genisis Foxtrot was an almost surreal experience with broad sweeps and bass guitar lines riding along to Phil Collins pacing on high hats and cymbals. 

Orchestra and jazz similarly benefit from the excellent treble. The driver’s speed is shown here when it comes to handling complex tracks with many different inputs.

All in, a fantastic sounding headphone that sonically is still worth the price.

Final Verdict: Grado PS1000E Review Conclusion

The PS1000e gives me mixed emotions. On the one hand, this sound is amazing detailed, clear, and engagingly energetic. It’s by far the best Grado headphone I have heard. However, I do have a fair few issues with comfort and design. Other headphones are far ahead when it comes to ergonomics, and Grado is so set in its ways to protect that iconic image may just be shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to useability. That said, you really can’t deny their beauty.

Audiophile On
Audiophile On is a website dedicated to high-end audio products. With over 15 years as a reviewer, all articles are hand-written by one person to allow the comparison of products. Headphones, earphones, speakers, amplifiers, or DAC's we cover here.

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