My decade-old Grado SR-125 headphones don’t owe me anything after all these years of monitoring recordings in progress, or offering wee-small-hours solace for insomnia. I had never liked the stock ear cushions, however, and had bought a pair of larger, deeper foam cushions from Strategic Audio Developments called upgradables that were much more comfortable (Attempts to Google this company were unsuccessful).
UPS has to take the cake (and too much of your money) on shipments from the US and elsewhere outside Canada. They are, simply put, outrageous in this regard, much worse than FedEx. Not only do they charge the ridiculous fees for handling and brokerage, but they hand the package over to Revenue Canada/Customs for GST, PST and Duty; even if there is no duty (the usual case with used electronics) you get docked another set of handling fees and GST. I call it legal highway robbery!
I was in visiting my local audio dealer, Angie Lisi at American Sound in Richmond Hill ON, near where I live, and a Grado dealer, and told her the sad and frustrating tale. Her response was, send them back to Grado, in this case the Canadian distributor, Audio Group, in a suburb of Montreal. I sent them without the aftermarket thick foam ear cushions, which were starting to look a bit shredded around the edges, anyway (see below left).
But let’s get back to the SR-125 itself. In an email, Michel noted that he was aware of the Vilaibhan case, and he and John Grado did not choose to offer it as an accessory. But in a week or so, carefully tucked back into that case, and cradled in bubblewrap in a larger box, came my headphones, in fact, what looked like a totally new pair, with not only a new cord (more explanation below), but a whole new driver unit for the dead channel, and new ear cushions.
I’m afraid I didn’t think of doing a before picture of the cord’s 1/4″ termination as I previously replaced it, a chromed plug soldered on by me, but the after full cable, 1/4″ plug nicely gold-plated and new, speaks for itself. It really is like truly getting a new pair of SR-125s with upgraded fittings. In a subsequent email, Michel noted that in all cases, full restoration to original performance is charged at a Flat Rate, in the case of the SR-125, $60.00, and an additional $20.00 (all CAD) for new ear cushions. I think this is very reasonable, and I should also note that the rate for more expensive headphones increases because of more expensive parts. That’s less than half the price of buying a brand new set of phones, so I’m a happy private listener once again.
Michel’s comment about the flate-rate service was, “we will not get rich with these rates. It is our way to say thank you to people who have purchased a Grado product.” Amen!
Table of contents for Audio Ideas
Related Reviews:Grado Reference Series RS1 Stereo Headphones
AIG Back Issues: Winter 1997
AIG Back Issues: Winter 1992
Grado Sonata Phono Cartridge
Organomics: The Making of the Sadler Selection
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Outside the Speakers
Random Thoughts on the Music Mask
NPR on Whether Audiophiles Still Exist
Audiophile Grade Mics?
CDs Sales Die, LP Sales Fly
Some High End 'Phones from CES
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Ox Box (Bob Oxley)
Hy End (Hy Sarick)
Bain's Blog (John Edward Bain)
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