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Custom Grado Clone With Elleven Acoustica R1 Driver Review

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of a custom Grado headphone with Elleven Acoustica R1 driver. It was kindly sent to me by a member. I don't know how much it costs. The R1 driver is 119 GBP/pair (about US $164). The gorgeous cups were made by Bruce at Wabi Sabi headphones out of cherry and mahogany.

As a woodworker, I find the overall execution simply gorgeous:

Custom Grado with elleven accoustica R1 driver Headphone Review.jpg


I am not going to give you the usual physical stats because this is a custom product. Wearing it, my left hear was touching the driver and this became uncomfortable after about 15 minutes. Otherwise, they are quite light and easy to wear.

Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. Headphone measurements by definition are approximate and variable so don't be surprised if other measurements even if performed with the same fixtures as mine, differ in end results. Protocols vary such as headband pressure and averaging (which I don't do). As you will see, I confirm the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers mostly in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests. If you think you have an exact idea of a headphone performance, you are likely wrong!

Fitment on the fixture was a bit tricky given the on-ear configuration and lack of measurements elsewhere to confirm fit. But consistency between channels was surprisingly good so I ran with them.

Grado With Elleven Acoustica R1 Driver Measurements
As usual, let's start with headphone frequency response measurements:

Grado with elleven accoustica R1 driver frequency response measurements.png


Can you spot the problem? :) Sometimes it is this easy. We clearly have a massive peak around 2 kHz that doesn't belong there. That is followed by a dip. In addition, we have the bass droop which is common in many headphones. Here is the relative response for equalization purposes:

Grado with elleven accoustica R1 driver relative frequency response measurements.png


Distortion is focused in bass as it usually is but also an unfortunately one around 4 kHz:
Grado with elleven accoustica R1 driver relative distotion vs frequency response measurements.png


Sadly we need to boost both of those areas so you are dealing with distortion graphs in red or possibly in green depending on how loud you listen. If you don't EQ and play at low levels, then response is in blue and good.

Group delay shows the common messiness which is likely due to reflections back and forth between the driver and the artificial ear in my measurement fixture:
Grado with elleven accoustica R1 driver Group delay vs frequency response measurements.png


Impedance is low and variable:

Grado with elleven accoustica R1 impedance measurements.png


I was surprised how good the efficiency was:

most efficient headphone driver.png


It is in IEM class! Large driver at very close distance to the ear is responsible for that. Indeed I was able to drive these to reasonable level using the IEM output of my RME ADI-2 Pro DAC and headphone amplifier.

Headphone Listening Tests and Equalization
Instant reaction to the sound was that it was all wrong. So I brought out the EQ tool almost immediately:

Grado with elleven accoustica R1 driver equalization.png


The first three filters had a dramatic effect, completely transforming the sound of this headphone. Now we had balanced bass, decent spatial qualities and none of that overboosted mid-range. The highs were a bit distorted -- the same way I have found with other headphones with the same distortion profile in lower treble. So I added the last filter there in yellow but it didn't seem to make a lot of improvements.

Conclusions
Not sure who all has use for all of this data. I guess you have a sample data point for Eleven Acoustica's R1 driver. I guess the lesson is that if you are going to build a custom headphone, measurements are essential. Trying to guess that peak around 2 kHz by ear is darn near impossible. With measurements and equalization however, you can build a performant headphone and have pride of ownership knowing you built it.

P.S. Sorry about misspelling of "Acoustica." I cut and paste the string as the owner had written and didn't catch it until now.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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sweetchaos

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To import this PEQ profile into 'Equalizer APO', use:
Preamp: -8.6 dB
Filter 1: ON LS Fc 60 Hz Gain 8.0 dB Q 1.0
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 1991 Hz Gain -10.0 dB Q 4.0
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 4000 Hz Gain 9.0 dB Q 4.0
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 5000 Hz Gain -6.0 dB Q 5.0
Otherwise, see my PEQ guide.
..................................................................................................................
For those who don't have PEQ-capable app, and want to use GEQs instead:
See my GEQ guide for 10-band, 31-band, and 127-band GEQ profiles.
 
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solderdude

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index.php


Yes, bass shy. Massive peak at 2kHz which is responsible for the 'open and forward' sound and a nasty treble peak at 10kHz.
This peak is obscured by the dip the GRAS has but it is massive and gives a sharp 'edge' to the sound.
The plot below is for the SR125i but nearly all 'cheaper' Grado's (with similar pads) measure closely the same.

sr125-freq-response.png
 
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YSC

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these grados looked really broken in FR and even in distortion... the panther rating actually surprised me a bit. Considering their price also I do expect them to have headless panther all along
 
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amirm

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The plot below is for the SR125i but nearly all 'cheaper' Grado's (with similar pads) measure closely the same.
So despite using custom drivers, it is similar in response to stock units?
 

solderdude

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So despite using custom drivers, it is similar in response to stock units?

Looks like a 'standard' Grado (125 or 225) where the plastic parts have been replaced by the wood.
Also the plastic driver protection part seems to have been replaced by an aluminium one.
Normally the wood is only seen in the more expensive Grado offerings. These expensive ones, however, have bigger 'bowl' pads as well which make them sound better, less 2kHz peak and a lift in the 100Hz area.
I would guess the mod consists of wood cups and a much comfier headband with stock drivers.

One can even buy wood replacement cups.
 
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amirm

amirm

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I would guess the mod consists of wood cups and a much comfier headband with stock drivers.
The drivers are from Elleven Acoustics and hence my question.
 

solderdude

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I suspect they simply take the Grado drivers out of their plastic enclosure and replace it with similar looking aluminium 'housing'.
The pads also have something to do with it I guess. You can improve comfort and sound quality by replacing the pads on Grados with the ones from more expensive models.
 

Robbo99999

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Wow, this is one mess of a headphone, can barely believe it was decent after EQ.
 

Robbo99999

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To import this PEQ profile into 'Equalizer APO', use:

Otherwise, see my PEQ guide.
..................................................................................................................
For those who don't have PEQ-capable app, and want to use GEQs instead:
See my GEQ guide for 10-band, 31-band, and 127-band GEQ profiles.
(Also ERASE for a better world! To go along with this one: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...rid-electrostatic-headphone.25050/post-850227)
 

restorer-john

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So @solderdude , do they just place the plastic standard driver in a machined Aluminium outer shell and call it their own?

1626594681597.png
 

PeteL

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Looks like a 'standard' Grado (125 or 225) where the plastic parts have been replaced by the wood.
Also the plastic driver protection part seems to have been replaced by an aluminium one.
Normally the wood is only seen in the more expensive Grado offerings. These expensive ones, however, have bigger 'bowl' pads as well which make them sound better, less 2kHz peak and a lift in the 100Hz area.
I would guess the mod consists of wood cups and a much comfier headband with stock drivers.

One can even buy wood replacement cups.
I spent some time comparing Grado's headphones, and call me weird, but in general, I enjoyed their "House sound" upward of SR-225 but really to my ears the RS1, RS2, and PS 500, and even RS-325 where the ones really making it for me, so not their Statement, really expensive ones with the large bowl but the ones with the smaller F cushion. It's of course subjective. To my ears the cheap plastic ones all sounded agressive, but there was some loss in dynamic and clarity at the very top of their line. It just started sounding too "soft", less articulate. The few I named tough, to me, where very, very lovely, they do however are all a bit bass shy but the general tonality I really enjoyed. Just preferences I guess, I would really like to add RS1 to my collection, there was something special to me in their presentation of music.
 

solderdude

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This doesn't look like Grado drivers at all, Grado drivers are paper, or at least looked like a paper membrane on the visible side. Could also be filtering material maybe.

There is paper in front of the driver in both cases.
Grado P driver (looks like the Hemp driver)
Grado 60/80 driver has paper in the middle

The more expensive ones do not sound poor. Bass shy, exaggerated treble. Some like it others like Harman bass and soft subdued treble.
 

solderdude

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I'd like to see a review of a Grado TOTL 'phone.

I had the "PS 1000" something or other, their TOTL unit at the time, and it was unlistenable.

GS2000
 

PeteL

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There is paper in front of the driver in both cases.
Grado P driver (looks like the Hemp driver)
Grado 60/80 driver has paper in the middle

The more expensive ones do not sound poor. Bass shy, exaggerated treble. Some like it others like Harman bass and soft subdued treble.
I didn't think the expensive ones sounded poor, but we know that pad influence sound and maybe the smaller type pads worked better with my head type than the big Donuts? That's in term of sound, the statement serie was more confortable.
 
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