Shipibo wood cups, aluminium gimbals, rodblocks and leather headbands are all excellent hand crafted upgrades for your Grado headphones. They also provide a great base for a custom Grado style build for use with 3rd party drivers.
Shipibo Audio is the creation of Przemyslaw Nyczaj and Michal Czok, created to provide perfect products that stand out in the world of custom headphones. They craft all their products in house in Poland.
Lets start off with the main product, the Zebrawood cups. These cups are Grado RS style that have been CNC milled on the inside, and hand turned on the outside to provide a perfect finish. These cups have tight tolerances inside and this means that your drivers will be a perfect fit. You can use liberated Grado drivers from the Prestige or Reference series; or 3rd party drivers from Symphones, Nhoord, Elleven Acoustics and Turbulent Labs.
In this build I have used Symphones V8 drivers.
The drivers slot right into place, you can use a layer of tape around the edge of the driver to make it a snug fit. The cups have a small opening to route a cable through, alternatively you can drill it out a little and fit connectors for detachable cables.
The grills are press fitted into place, and everything is flawlessly finished, these cups are produced to a very high standard. They have not ruined the grain by using a gloss varnish on them.
Sound wise cups do not change the sound drastically, but I have compared these to a Spalted Tamarind cup and these are ever so slightly fuller sounding. These are however a huge upgrade to your current Grados, and one that does not cost the earth. They will alter the sound a little over Metal or Plastic stock cups, as the resonant frequency is slightly different. I found moving to wood cups brings out a little more air, but also a more realistic timbre and body to the sound.
Rodblocks and Gimbals:
These are a prototype of the slim style rodblocks, and because of this they do have slight differences to the production models. However for a prototype they are perfectly machined with tight tolerances once again. The headband screws into place, and the slider tension can be adjusted by screws to keep them in the same position on your head.
The Gimbals have screws on each side to hold the cups in place, they are sandblasted on one side, and plain aluminium on the other. They are a perfect fit, and feel much more substantial than the stock plastic gimbals.
Apart from the cosmetic upgrade, being able to lock the rods in place to keep them the right size for your head is a huge bonus.
Note: The new rodblocks and gimbals have been treated with microarc oxidation which created a ceramic layer on them. Ceramic microarc coating is generally recognized for high hardness, wear resistance, and corrosion resistance, so you won’t have to worry that your new parts will get scratched. So these parts are scratch-proof, but come only in bright silver matte colour.
There are 2 types of headband padding being made, one is a slim size which is similar in width to the original Grado padding, and the other is wide which is also thicker.
For this main build I used the slim pad, as it looks similar to the stock pad, but if you are making a heavier build, or want to upgrade your PS series headband the wide would be perfect.
Both pads are hand made, they are easy to install and offer a large upgrade in the comfort department. The padding and leather is soft and the weight is distributed more evenly, these headband pads are such a simple upgrade, yet one that makes your headphones a lot more comfortable.
Conclusion: Firstly it is excellent to see another company producing Grado style parts, there are too few. Also people do not realise that for a modest price you can build a headphone from scratch that will compete with models a lot higher priced, with minimal work involved.
Shipibo parts are well priced in the market, superbly finished and simply excellent.