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4.5 out of 5 stars
Grado PS 500 Professional Headphones (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Price:$599.00 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2011
The PS500 are more efficient (louder) by several dBs and are more balanced top-to-bottom than the SR325is. There is deeper, more extended bass and greater dynamic range. The PS500 are less fatiguing and have a smoother upper midrange/lower treble. They are more neutral sounding, but not devoid of the signature Grado sound with plenty of clarity and detail to the music.

They are fantastic for jazz, vocals, acoustic music, small ensembles and chamber music. With the standard L-cush earpads, the PS500 are less convincing for large orchestra and symphonic works and other large concert venues where stage depth and hall ambience are important sound cues. I replaced the L-cush pads with the G-cush, the large circumaural earpads that are on the high end GS1000i and PS1000. To my ears the G-cush provide the needed enhancement in depth and ambience retrieval and places the listener a few rows back from the stage. Just the right balance of direct first-arrival and indirect sounds to create the illusion of a larger sound stage. There is a slight loss of efficiency and shift in timbre, but I can live with these. The other benefit of the G-cush is the comfort realized by removing the pressure exerted directly on your ears by the L-cush and distributing the clamping force over a wider area surrounding your ears.

The Sennheiser HD598 are more comfortable for extended listening and have a bigger sound stage and more hall ambience than the PS500 with L-cush, but the PS500 surpasses the HD598 in detail and bass response and when fitted with G-cush, the PS500 are superior overall.

The PS500 can reproduce details and nuances in the recordings that are veiled with lesser headphones. Music can be enjoyed at comfortable, lower volumes with little/no loss of details. I like the fast transient rendering of percussion instruments, the richness of bowed and plucked strings, the ring of new steel guitar strings, and the naturalness of vocals. Music sounds more alive through the PS500.

The hybrid wood/metal sound chamber design provides similar sonic benefits as in the big brother PS1000. The resonance imparted by the wooden core and the stiffness/rigidity of the metallic outer shell work in unison to produce a unique quality to the sound that is not unlike that of the other wooden Grados. However, I feel the hybrid construction affords a purer sound and was tuned to achieve the particular PS500 sound characteristic. There is no significant weight penalty. The PS500 construction quality is excellent with no glue drips or messy wire routing inside the chambers that could affect the sound. The cable is robust, about 69 inches long. I would have preferred a brushed or polished metal finish rather than the powder-coated finish. Not a show stopper; I like the PS500 sound regardless of the finish. They cost a fair amount, no question, but the PS500 with G-cush are quite the bargain compared to the PS1000. They're not for everyone and perhaps are not the universal headphone for all music genres, but the PS500/G-cush combo approaches the best for $1K less.

Further thoughts:
At first listen I was disappointed with the PS500 due to an apparent over abundance of mid bass and a severely constricted stage depth. However, switching source material revealed that my initial choice of material was very wrong. High quality well-recorded, well-mastered recordings sounded the best - natural, balanced and articulate - through the PS500. I was once again gratified that these prized recordings sound so good and worthy of the price paid. I was very surprised at how revealing the PS500 can be of the source material. Inferior recordings, poorly mixed and poorly mastered recordings are ruthlessly rendered as such. Through the PS500, quality recordings and playback equipment reward the listener with superior sound.

The PS500 are a worthy replacement for my HD598 and SR325is. Highly recommended with the G-cush earpads.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2012
Verified Purchase
First of all, I give these 5 stars for sound for the money. These sound like most other $1000 phones but for $600 they should be built better. This is my 1st pair of Grado cans (have had/owned Senn HD800, Beyer T1, and other higher end sets) and the sound is exactly what I have been looking for. Crisp but not sharp or analytical. Beefy without losing mid or high detail. Solid but not overpowering bass. An overall amazingly pleasing yet detailed sound. These sound great with whatever I throw at them. The HD800;s could not do that, even with a $3000 amp set up. The Grado PS 500's running direct from my iMac sound amazing. With all music. Period.

They literally blow away headphones like the B&W P5's and anything in that class but these are open back so they leak sound like crazy. These are meant to be home listening high end headphones at the not so crazy high end price.

BUT

The build is a bit cheap. The band feels like a cheap metal band covered with fake leather. The ear pads are HARD and make my ears sweat after 30 minutes. My left earpiece gives an annoying squeaky sound when it is turned. They feel like $150 headphones but sound like $1000 headphones. I guess $600 is about right but I just wish they had better build quality. If the $1600 PS1000's are built like this I would be pretty upset but at the same time if they sounded dramatically better than these 500's Id probably be thrilled.

In any case I love these as the sound is addictive and causes no fatigue even after 2-3 hours. Comfort wise they do not clamp my head but at the same time the earpieces are hard and irritate my ears. (do they soften)? I give sound a 5 and build a 3 1/2 (for the money). These are keepers. ALso, you can run these from an iPhone or iMac or Macbook and get good sound. Add a small amp like a fiio E-10 and the sound gets better, beefier and louder. Add the $999 Burston 160 DS and its about as good as these will get.

Best sounding headphones (for me) that I have owned and I prefer them to the mega buck sets I had. Makes me want to try the RS1i and ultimately the PS1000. I found my sound.

UPDATE: MAN OH MAN these have gotten even better!! These are indeed my favorite headphones I have owned, hands down.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2012
Verified Purchase
I purchased the Grado PS500 headphones, performed the customary 100 hour burn-in and then started the critical listening process. My first impression was that the PS500s had very good dynamic range, but a very narrow sound stage with virtually no imaging. And they were very fatiguing making long listening session quite difficult. Well, I thought, they just need a longer burn in, so it was back to the 24/7 routine with the CD player for another 100 or so hours. Another listening session and, yuck, the same result. Ok, let's look at the internet and see what can be found there. Nothing really but a bunch of good reviews and one interesting warning from Joe Grado where he claimed that his headphones were "voiced" according to the type of ear pad used (L-Cush in the case of the PS500) and the pads should never, ever be changed out for another type otherwise the whole sound character of the headphone would go to the dogs. Great advice Joe, but I don't like the in-your-face character of these things as it is...what do I do then? Write it off as a bad decision I guess.

So I decided to look for another headphone solution and came upon the Audeze LCD-2. After dropping $995 on the LCDs and another $400 on a set of Q-Audio headphone cables I found the perfect headphone...for CDs. With vinyl, they seemed way too dark and soft on the top end. The Grados were acceptable with vinyl although not all that exciting considering their lack of sound stage. Then one day while surfing the net, I came upon a professional review that illuminated the same issues as I had with the PS500s, but this reviewer found a solution that put everything right. Basically, he said to ignore Joe Grado, he's way to mired in the technical aspects of his products to be an independent voice of reason, and replace the L-Cush ear pads with the G-Cush pads (which are the same ones used on the PS1000s). What the heck? I figured it was worth a try, since I'm already 2 grand out-of-pocket and the G-Cush pads are only another $45 bucks.

Well, the G-Cush pads came a week later (no Prime shipping available) and were put on the PS500s the very day they arrived. The result? I don't use this term very much, but Oh My God! Joe Grado was right! The character of these headphones changed entirely except all for the better. In fact, on almost every criteria (dynamic range, imaging, sound stage, presence, etc.), they perform better than the Audeze. An added benefit was that the G-Cush pads made the phones almost disappear on my head. I forgot I was wearing them, so it just sounded like I had a concert going on all around me.

The bottom line, at least for me, is the PS500s are just run of the mill with the L-Cush pads, but world class with the G-Cush replacements. Honestly, if you own these headphones or are buying them replace the pads. I think you'll be as stunned as I was and, hopefully, you'll be $1500 richer than I ended up.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2013
I don't think anyone saw this coming. Most regarded the RS1i the best of the Grado line. I disagree now and believe its the ps500. I had the ps500 side by side with the ps1000 and the gs1000, turns out the PS500 is much more clear and dynamic sounding than the GS1000 by a significant margin, and almost indistinguishable from the ps1000.

The bass is more than plentiful, deep and impacting with excellent weight. It sounds nothing like Grado Bass in the past models. You'd never be able to tell this was a Grado Headphone. The mids are lovely and forward and the highs are very polite and lacking any common shrill found in most Grado cans. While the RS1i is more detailed on the upper end, the PS500 is more forgiving with everything. This is an excellent headphone to rock out to, enjoy classical music to and any other genre without being too reference quality in tonality. It is slightly warm and colored, very fun, highly engaging. 9.5/10 headphone that is somewhere between the Hifiman HE400 and HE500 in overall sonic clarity. So, its a crazy good deal...in fact I think its the BEST headphone deal available right now.

Use my "Andromeda Sunflower Mod" for the earpads. Buy the 414 yellows, install them onto the PS500. Then, wash the stock black pads with soft soap and warm water and let air dry. Gently tug and stretch them a bit so they can slip over the 414 yellows without much effort. The idea here is to replicate the Gcush bowl pad sound stage while retaining the excellent bass, so you want the base of the stock black rings to rest roughly 50% the way up the height of the yellows. It creates a sunflower in reverse look, with the stock black ring pads enabling some distance from the flat part of the yellow pads, fully encompassing your ears in a circumaurial fashion. The result is sublime. Its the best of all the grado pads and lacks absolutely nothing, turning this headphone into a very large and spacious sounding headphone with plenty of bass and EXTREME comfort.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2012
Verified Purchase
OK.. so I purchased these headphones to mix my music. I have (for the most part) honest studio monitors, but my room has VERY poor acoustics, so purchasing the ps-500s was a desperate attempt to have an accurate reference.
THE SOUND...
upon initial listening (pre-break-in) the highs were inaccurate and smeary... it sounded hideously harsh... but the bass response and mid clarity was very promising. So, I pushed music through it 24/7 for two weeks, and here we are.. the highs have been tamed into magnificent detail. It is F***ing FABULOUS. In short, it reveals... unveils.. SUPERB definition across the frequency spectrum. The open back design creates a more natural listening experience as well.

Value? worth it... you can't [elsewhere] buy accuracy/pleasure like this for $600. I considered purchasing the GS1000s ($1k), but I am extremely satisfied with my purchase.. the aluminum/wood combination won me over.

IPOD?!
yes even my ipod can push these cans, although my deeply orgasmic journeys come through my Mytek DAC.

CONS..
I can't wear them outside because I WILL get mugged. and the open-back design would not be courteous to use on a plane

conclusion.....
this purchase will DRAMATICALLY improve my recording/mixing experience. I am smug.. I fully recommend!!!

Tim
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2011
Verified Purchase
The nice thing about Grado Headphones is that you can change out the earpads and essentially have two completely different sounding headphones in one. If I want more detail, I'll use the bowl pads which came with the ps500's, and for more relaxed listening I'll use the flat pads.

For these headphones I prefer the flat pads for most listening due to the increase in overall volume and bass and the decrease in extreme highs. This allows for a much less fatiguing listening experience. I also listen to these headphones straight from my Zune 80 with an adapter and since they're 32ohms they get LOUD, even louder than my Grado sr225's and my Beyerdynamic DT990's, which are also 32ohm. They're so loud, it's difficult to listen to music on full volume for long periods of time, but I'm not complaining, it's nice to listen to your music LOUD and clear every now and then. The ps500's have MUCH more bass than the sr225's and I would say even say they have more bass than the DT990's... but that's probably because the DT990's don't get nearly as loud straight from my mp3 player and even when I use the bowl pads instead of the flat pads, the ps500's are still louder than the DT990's. Comparing the ps500's and the sr225's both with the flat pads, the ps500's seem to have slightly less mids which makes them less "in your face" and less annoying, MUCH more bass, and more detail/clarity overall. These headphones do well with all types of music that I've thrown at them.

I prefer the ps500 headphones over both the sr225's and DT990's. Then again, the ps500's cost more than the other two combined. The sr225's seem kind of pointless for me too keep now because the ps500's are such a huge improvement while still retaining that great Grado sound, and I'll probably return the DT990's because they lack in the mids and make vocals sound too distant. The ps500's are extremely close to my opinion of the perfect headphones and I love them. I definitely recommend giving them a try if you're looking at headphones around this price range, I have no idea how you'd be disappointed.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2012
Verified Purchase
Ok, i haven't words to explain how great , fantastic are this headphone, i will try to explain with the real action.
First i bought a Beyerdynamic T1 they sound great, very good and nice headphones, but later after read a few good reviews of this headphone and because i was under the period of return windows for the Beyerdynamic i'am try it and bought also the grado ps500 in order to be sure that my Beyerdynamic would be the hearphones of my life. Ok so, when i receive the gs500 and i try it and compare them with the T1' i can't believe how they improve my audio experience compared with the beyerdynamic, so because that i'am deicide to return the beyerdynamic and took the gs500 like my primiary set of headphone, but ...l. Don'tleave this novel as is, i boought the ps1000 also (Grado) to be sure that the ps500 sound are too great than the ps1000' and again, again and again!,,Grado catch me !!!!!!! The ps1000 are amazing great headphones, better than the ps500, not too much distance between them but the necessary distance to be a really extreme high end headphones, so i got the ps500 for the kitchnen working with a Burson headphones amp and they orking together sound great, and i!am deicide to use the ps1000 together with my oppo95 under tha analog audio sessions in my couch. But here the more interesting of this review. Becuase i was too happy with miy two grados, i deicide to buy the hd800 sennheisser becuase i was to be sure that i will use the best headhones in the world and spend my sound listening time with the best quality audio, what append ? When i receive the hd800 and i compare with the grado ps1000' after use first the grados i unplug the cable and plug it again the Sennheiser hd800 to continue listening and comparing, and becuase of the bad sound he first reaction was to check the cable connection, and what the result? It was ok connected, so what append here? The sennheiser are incorrectly set? No mo no, wha it that? I said to my self? I plug again the grados and everything sound big and great, again, i try the sennheiser and the music quality decrease the quality at least 40% and maybe more. I can't believe how the hd800 can be consider like a high end headphones. They are amaing horribles!! Do not buy it! Go ahead with the grados no matter if hte Ps500 o ps1000' both are wide better the hd800 and t1 of beyerdynamic!!!!!
I got the 2 grados and iam amazing happy listiening my analog audio from my oppo 95.
Grado, you are my King from now!!!!!!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2014
Verified Purchase
Grado really shot themselves in the foot, because the PS500 are almost as good as the PS1000's and they are definitely better than the top Fostex TH900's. Superb sound across the board -- high's, low's, midrange all better than headphones costing 2 or 3 times more! As far as the cushions being uncomfortable for long periods, simply soak them for about an hour in warm water and a little Tide with softness detergent, let them dry thoroughly, problem solved. The PS500's come made with the 1/8 3mm pin, and it comes with a 1/4 6.3mm adapter (simply screw off the adapter to expose the 1/8 3mm pin. So there is no need to purchase an adapter for listening on an iPod, iPhone.
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16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2012
Verified Purchase
I decided to buy the Grado PS-500 after reading reviews on Amazon and watching YouTube videos describing how great these headphones sound. Also I heard Grado headphones have a reputation for sounding especially great with rock music which is what I mostly listen to (Indie and Classic). My primary audio setup is an iMac connected via usb to a HeadRoom Ultra Desktop Amp powered with a separate HeadRoom Desktop Power Supply. About half of the music in my iTunes library consists of Apple Lossless files (from CD and downloads from Bandcamp). The rest are mostly AAC 256 bitrate and MP3 320 bitrate.

Review of the Grado PS-500.

Packaging: 1 star
The box looks like it was designed for Krispy Kremes. You would think a headphone with a price tag of almost $600 would be packaged in a box to adequately protect your investment. Also no carrying case is provided.

Comfort: 2 stars (stock pads), 4 stars (with G CUSH pads)
The stock ear pads began to hurt my ears in less than an hour. I didn't experience any discomfort from the headband. The G CUSH pads made a huge difference. With the G CUSH pads I didn't experience any discomfort during an entire music session. My music sessions usually last about two and half hours.

Sound Quality: 3 stars (stock pads), 4 stars (with G CUSH pads)
If I were blind I still think I would recognize the PS-500 as a Grado headphone because it has that Grado signature sound, bright treble and an aggressive midrange with very quick attacks (especially percussion). What makes the PS-500 unique however is the bass. The bass sounds slightly more prominent with the PS-500 compared to the 325i and RS 2 (two Grado headphones I use to own). The treble does not sound as bright with the PS-500. That said listener fatigue still set in while listening to the PS-500 with stock ear pads. The G CUSH ear pads however softened the harsh attacks making it much easier to finish a music session without experiencing listener fatigue. One thing I noticed about the PS-500 is they bring out the distortion of heavily compressed music, making it sound over modulated, more so than any headphone I have listened to. The PS-500 is not a forgiving headphone in that respect. The upper bass on some songs sounded slightly exaggerated. For example, the drum beat in the song "Rock the Boat" by the Hues Corporation sounded jacked up. Overall the PS-500 handles bass very well. Brass Monkey by The Beastie Boys had that punch when the bass kicks in without sounding muddy.

I was considering buying the Sennheiser HD 600 until I read so many glowing reviews of the Grado PS-500. About two weeks of auditioning the PS-500 doubt began to set in causing me to wake up at night wondering if I made the right decision. This went on for almost a week until I caved in one night to purchase the Sennheiser HD 600. The Sennheiser HD 600 more than met my expectations. The HD 600 comes in a box (a real box), has a detachable cable, is very comfortable. Sound quality I much prefer the HD 600. I've read reviews describing Sennheiser as having a veiled sound. I couldn't disagree more. The HD 600's treble is amazing! The treble is so clear that it sparkles which I truly appreciate because the trend these days with headphones is to roll off the high end. The midrange is not the least bit recessed like the Sennheiser HD 650. The HD 600 handles bass very well, never sounding boomy or muddy, all around very tight sounding.

To conclude I do not think the Sennheiser HD 600 is a better sounding headphone than the Grado PS-500. It's only a matter of preference. Do I think the Sennheiser HD 600 is a better value? Absolutely.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2013
Verified Purchase
I was introduced to Grado about two years ago with a pair of SR80i's. I love them and raved to friends and non-friends alike. For about $100 you cannot do much better, but I always felt they sounded a bit thin. So I started looking around (much to my wife's displeasure) for something a little better, and decided on the PS500. It turned out to be a great idea. These things are awesome. Clear, precise, full sound just pours out of them. It is kind of like having the musicians there in your living room (or desk etc...). I am no audiophile, but I know good sound and these are incredible. I wish they were cheaper so everyone could have them. So the take away here is, if you can swing it, get them.
Some people complain about the comfort, I wear them at my desk for several hours at a time and I don't have any issues with the comfort.

Ok so it doesn't appear that I am very objective so lets talk about the downsides.
They are expensive. I understand that high end equipment costs money, but we are talking about $600 for a pair of headphones. That is expensive.
If you are a basshead look elsewhere. The bass is good, strong and tight, but some people just want more. If you are that person, give these a listen if you are able, but you will probably not be satisfied.

Update- So I have had these for about a year now. In that time I have also tried Audio Technica, Beats, Bang and Olufsen, V-Moda, Senn, Sol Republic, well just about everything I can get my hands on. None of them are as good as the Grado PS500. One of the best purchases I have made, every time I put them on they make me smile.
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