On Alison Krauss and Union Station’s song “Stay” [Alison Krauss & Union Station – Forget About It, Rounder], Alison’s voice, which is rather light, occasionally gets into a range where there is some slightly sibilant stridency from other headphones, but here the PS1000s sound remarkably clear and distortion free.
For a sense of the instrumental separation that the PS1000s can deliver, go no farther than Rodrigo Y Gabriela’s version of “Stairway to Heaven” [Rodrigo Y Gabriela, ATO Records]. As a bridge out of the slow intro gets going, there is a lot of fast chord work happening on acoustic guitars and you can hear every string clearly. The sound on this track was amazing enough that I had to play it twice.
Going back to Forget About It, the song “Maybe” has a solo bass drum whack that is startlingly powerful and well defined—or at least can be if your headphones are up to the task (though the air pressure limitations of headphones may limit ultimate dynamic impact to some degree). Even so, some headphones deliver a rendition that sounds very like what one hears from a bass drum in a concert hall. The Grados, however, don’t really get the rising edge of this drum whack quite right and so deliver less bass power and depth than is fully realistic.
On “Icky Thump” from The White Stripes album of the same name [Warner Brothers/WEA], the pounding drum/bass combo sounds damped enough through the PS1000s that it is more a bumping beat than a pounding force. No offense to Grado, but Jack White pounds or hammers.
The Sennheiser HD 800 is the obvious direct competitor. Some key differences between the PS1000 and the HD 800s: