new headphones recommendation? grado gs3000e or…

hi, im in the market for new headphones.


i have an old pair of grado rs2s that i really like (~15 years old), so i thought id go with the gs3000es.

problem is, i havent had the best experience with grado… my rs2s arrived damaged when new (headband damaged), and i recently received a pair of gs3000es (for xmas from wife), and those were damaged too (headband damage and one of the internal magnets was loose). i received a replacement pair, but the replacement pair’s wood was very boring in appearance (just a uniform dark brown; call me shallow, but part of the fun of having cans made from cocobolo wood is its appearance). the seller, 4ourears, would not exchange the replacement pair for another pair on the basis of appearance, so i just returned them and paid a restocking fee.


i like the grado sound when wood is used, even though theyre not considered the most accurate/neutral.

i like sparkling highs, textured mids, and tight bass (i hate excessive, boomy bass).


considering a price of $2000 - $4000, what would be some good alternatives to the gs3000e? should i just take the plunge and get electrostatics?


oh yeah, these headphones will be used exclusively at home, basically just for music.

thank you!


for sparkling highs w/o boomy bass i'd look at hifiman arya or 1000; focal clear is also vg.

If you like the Grado sound, I recommend you stay with them.

The comments here on Grado customer service are overwelmingly positive.

I have found the Beyerdynamic T class headphones are really musical… which would be in line with your liking. They are a bit hard to drive but very intoxicatingly musical.


I own top of the line Focal, Sennheiser, Ultrasond, Denton, and Audez LCD2.. and a bunch more.


The others I would recommend thinking about is Focal. I love my Sennheiser 800… but I had to put over $10K of electronics behind them before I really felt they sounded great… they can be too trebly with a less than great signal. My headphone system is shown under my ID.



i like sparkling highs, textured mids, and tight bass (i hate excessive, boomy bass).

I’d highly recommend the Hifiman Arya Stealth.  If you can afford the HE1000SE, so much the better.  But, I think the Arya Stealths could get you there.  Best of luck. 

Thanks for all the feedback; hmmm, this is tough.

Makes sense to stick with Grados since I know I like them, but it'd also be fun to explore.


How about the Audeze LCD 4z?

Would it be considered a "step up" from the GS3000e?

I like how it's (relatively) easy to drive, because sometimes I like to sit on the couch with an iPad.

(Guess no electrostatics for me then, due to amplifier requirements.)

@cinnamonandgravy, for years I enjoyed my Grado RS1i headphones, and I still have them because they’re very musical and fun to listen to. Then two years ago when the pandemic started I got audio gear upgradeitis and bought a pair of Grado GS3000e hp’s and I loved their sound. But after demoing a pair of Focal Utopia’s, and I traded the GS3000e’s for them because the Utopia’s were really so much better sounding to my ears. Granted the Focal’s are twice the price of the Grado’s, but IMHO they sound like it. Both hp’s can be found used at good prices. 

Audeze ‘phones are great, but if you’re looking for “sparkling highs” they might not be the best fit. FWIW.

Focal Utopia would be my recommendation based on what your preferences.  ZMF Verite Open would be another headphone I think you would like.  Both headphones are easy to drive.  If you like wood headphones, ZMF makes beautiful wood headphones that sound great.  My current collection of headphones include the HiFiMan Susvara, Abyss 1266TC, Focal Utopia, ZMF Verite Open, and a vintage pair of AKG K340 bass heavy headphones modded by Headphile.  I've owned many of the TOTL headphones including Stax, Audeze, Grados, and others.  IMO, the Utopia and Verite Open are a class above any Grados.

Raal Ribbon Headphones - SRH1A | Page 327 | Headphone Reviews and Discussion -

Something to consider at the 2-4K price range. A lot of comparisons with all the TOTL headphones.

I use a 2-channel amp to drive them and sometimes a $400 used Schitt JotunheimR headphone amp specifically made for these headphones.