Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cocobolo Magnums with XLR's Part DEUX

 My friend Stefan commissioned these a couple weeks ago.  He was going to supply the drivers and the cable and I was to supply everything else.  He wanted mini-XLR jacks for easy cable swapping.  The Symphones Magnums that I received were beautiful.  It's amazing the attention to detail with which these drivers are constructed.  Works of art in themselves, especially setting it next to a typical Grado driver.  And Stefan built a 28AWG solid silver, braided 8-way conductor cable for his babies and it turned out great!

Once the cups were completed, I mounted and soldered everything up....which was quite challenging, but was indeed a rewarding experience once all was in place. 

So once completed, I started my audition with the famous TTVJ flat pads.  The flat pads bring out surreal bass in Grados and by most accounts, are the way Grados are meant to be listened to.  I love flats with RS1's, 325's and almost anything Grado....BUT.....flat pads are not meant for these magnums.

Flats with this set up bring out a dark side.  Not veiled.  I mean dark, which is typically a contradiction to Grado's.  The mids and low end overpower the vocals.  It sounds like our vocalist is vying for attention at the back of the stage.  It wasn't the worst thing I heard and was frankly really unique to me, but I thought I should experiment alittle bit.

So, I "strapped" on the regular old bowls and.... Voila.  We have an amazing beast of a Grado, full bodied and quite dynamic. 

This is not your run of the mill Grado people.  Sibilance is not as much of an issue, (it's still present, but at completely tolerable levels) and frankly, so much else is done well, that I don't notice it a whole lot.  Obviously certain recordings are better or worse with sibilance.  But we've got nice, clean boom, booms,  and beautiful separation of the instrumentation and the vocals are back toward the front of the stage. 

We've got a mid priced wonder kid....I assure you of that. 

EDIT: And after another day or so with them, I'm still very impressed.  I actually have been using them at work being fed by my Android and PlayerPro App.  Everytime I strap them on, I'm shocked by the impact.  I keep dubbing these the Boom Boom Cans in my head.  Amazing for an open backed driver. 

Also, a note on the Symphones Magnums:  It is my understanding that these newest iterations - V3 and V4 - are built from the ground up and no longer have anything to do with Grado.  These are they're own dynamic drivers and assembly. 

Now...what's beautiful about this is that they sell just the drivers by themselves as well as the drivers and they're own aluminum housings.  This is a dream come true for the DIY community, especially for me!  I build many of my sets from the ground up as well and I don't require anything but the drivers to provide a finished Full Woody Jacket (FWJ).  It's Awesome! 

I very likely will be putting down some cash on a set of the drivers in the very near future and get working on one of my personal dream sets that I've been thinking about for awhile.  And I have word that the drivers are very reasonably priced at $130 a set.  Well worth it.  Add some spare Grado parts and cable it up or commission me for the FWJ and you've got a one of a kind, bad mamma jamma. 

I also want to point out that I'm not saying these are the end-all, be-all.  Some still may not prefer the mids as they still are somewhat overpowering...but I'm pretty ok with that.  I think they're an exciting set of drivers.  These provide an alternative to the rest of the lower to upper-mid priced Grado line up.  Mkay!

***These photos are with the flats.  My emphatic suggestion is to use bowl pads with this build.  I'll try to take more pics with the bowl pads to emphasize my preference.

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