Spending a thousand pounds on anything is an important decision for all but those with platinum records, a rabble of PAs or a Scrooge McDuck-style money-filled swimming pool. The Grado GS1000i headphones are not an impulse buy, but they are recognised by many as some of the best headphones in the world. But are they worth a grand, and should you save up a few more pennies - well, a lot more - and go for the PS1000 pair instead?
The Grado GS1000i are wooden headphones, and close relatives of Grado's currently top-end PS1000 model. Those pricier cans are weighed down by great hunks of metal that form the end of each earpiece - not so here. These headphones are very light at just 312g, which comes as a surprise given their large size.
The body of each headphone is fairly small though. It's the giant foam pads that make the GS1000i look so large. They rest against your head, around each ear to distribute the minimal weight of these headphones evenly, and keep pressure away from your ears. As such, they're very comfortable, indeed their presence is barely perceptible once on your bonce.
Up top, the headband uses a more minimalist design. It's a non-folding leather band that sits directly on the top of your head, with little padding. However, since there's not much weight to the package they're still eminently comfortable to wear all day.
The mix of foam padding and the open-back design means your ears don't get hot with wear either, which you would experience more with leather-padded or closed-back headphones. Each foam pad can be removed from the driver housing easily; they're the only bit that are designed to be perishable. Treat them well and we'd imagine they'd last for years though, as the foam used is of top quality, and hardier - being of higher density - in the parts that come into contact with your face. A replacement pair costs £56.The only downside is they can feel a little scratchy. It's not enough to be uncomfortable but it is noticeable as compared to a soft leather finish.
In silhouette, the Grado GS1000i look very similar to the more expensive PS1000 headphones, but wearing them is a completely different experience. Where the PS1000 are heavy to regularly fall off your head if you're not careful, these are almost worryingly light by comparison. The quality of construction is identical, but the materials used mean they don't have the industrial, heavyweight vibe of their more expensive cousins. Which you'd prefer to own is a point of opinion, but we know which we'd rather wear for a five-hour stint.
They may be comfortable but aesthetically the GS1000i take a little getting used to. They dominate your head like a mind control device from a 50s sci-fi movie, and are sure to attract comments from just about anyone that sees you wearing them. The same is true of the Grados' main rivals though. The Sennheiser HD800 look like something from a 90s sci-fi flick (seeing a trend here yet?) and the Ultrasone Edition 8 have at least a toe in the 80s look. So, not only do you have to pick the sound you want, you have to pick the decade too.