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October 20, 2014

Steampunk Grado with Turbulent X Drivers

I've heard plenty of good things about the Turbulent X drivers made to fit Grado Labs and Alessandro headphones, so I thought it would be fun to build a new pair. Anyone who's modded a pair of Grados and ran a few Google searches knows that there are hundreds of options out there, from Sennheiser pads to aftermarket leather headbands, to wood cups from numerous manufactures large and small. So if you don't want your Grado to look like everyone else's Grado, there's nothing stopping you from some serious customization.

I'm no stranger to modding Grados, my last being an Alessandro with custom wood cups and a cable made from Cardas copper. This time I decided to do something that I'm pretty sure no one else has tried, a Grado with copper leafed mahogany cups. Copper leafing is process where you put down a base coat of paint, sand, then put down adhesive sizing, then lay extremely thin sheets of copper down and burnish them onto the wood, then cover with some protective sealant. You'll see some other examples of this in my custom built tube amplifier bases.

I began with a pair of mahogany wood cups and performed the copper leafing process. You'll note that the look is not perfect, it has a unique weathered look that make it nice for a steampunk-esq look. It actually weathers over time a bit as well, which only makes it look better in my humble opinion.

Copper leafed Grado cups

Inside the cups, I'd be using some unique grating I had powdercoated a copper color. This was cut for a tight fit and affixed with adhesive.

Powdercoated grates

Since Zynsonix is known for it's audiophile quality wire, I wouldn't be using any run of the mill cable, but some really impressive wire that was custom-made for Zynsonix, particularly for headphone and portable cable applications.

Custom Zynsonix Trebuchet wire

This is a special 24 gauge wire with high flexibility and low memory properties called the Trebuchet. It uses a high-flex clear PE dielectric and ultra pure ohno continuous cast copper for the finest sound quality. 

The mini connector is the well-made Amphenol 3.5mm. Unlike many other mini connectors, it works well with portable DAPs and iPhones in thick cases. This was braided into a litz, then into two twisted pairs, one for each cup. 

Each wire was run into the cup, soldered directly to the Turbulent X driver, then test fit to verify where the wire would fall. The wire was then secured with a zip tie and some hot glue. If it's good enough for Grado, it's good enough for me ;) It is nice to use hot glue as it is removable later for future mods. 

Turbulent X Drivers - Green marks positive in this case

I needed a donor pair of Grados, this would be a pair of used SR-60s I located online.

Some of the best value cans out there, the SR-60

The headband was removed with a twist of the plastic, then the Turbulent Labs headband was installed. This is much comfier than the stock headband, although not the finest Grado headband I've used. That honor would go to JMoney. I do like the color on this one though. 

Next was the process of removing the stock SR-60 cups and installing the copper leafed cups. The forks on the stock unit needed to be dremeled down a bit for adequate clearance, but other than that, pretty straight-forward.  

Well now I have a very unique Grado build with some great sounding Turbulent X drivers and the superlative Zynsonix Trebuchet wire, a match made in heaven for my ears. The sound is crisp and detailed yet full-bodied and dynamic. 

Please feel free to contact Zynsonix if you'd like your headphone recabled with the Trebuchet wire, or if you'd like a custom cable made from it, you won't find it anywhere else.

The Fine Print: The above steps detailing the recabling of a headphone are for entertainment purposes only, and not to be performed under any circumstances. The owner of this blog and all associated parties can not / will not be held responsible if you attempt the process posted and cause physical harm to yourself, your surroundings or your property. Please keep this in mind.

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