A few days ago I was able to pick up a few things from espressoparts.com that I have been wanting for a while, among those items were two portafilter baskets from their HQ line, a 14 G Ridged and Ridgeless. Their HQ line is basically their store brand parts that are suppose to be of higher quality than what you can get elsewhere, a little different than those store brand sodas!
Now that I have had a few days to try them out, I can honestly say that there does seem to be a difference, but it's not that noticeable. Err.. What I should say is that I believe there is a difference but it is hard for me to determine if it's because of my machine, my own expectations of the baskets, or there really are differences.
I believe that my Gaggia Classic is the main reason for me not being able to say that there is a noticeable difference just due to the fact that I am temp surfing on my espresso machine so it's hard for me to keep it constant. Now I have noticed a difference, but please take it with a grain of salt at this time.
So far I have done maybe ten shots between the ridgeless basket, the stock Gaggia and the ridged with six coming for the ridgeless two each from the others. I have noticed that while keeping everything the same the ridgeless runs a little slower, which might make sense if you look at the pictures it appears that it has less holes than the other two. And it does seem that the espressoparts baskets tend to give a slightly more balanced espresso, less astringency. Only time will tell if these tastes keep coming after using them for a few weeks/months after the honeymoon period is over.
I have heard in passing that the Gaggia baskets are suppose to be pretty good as it is and are not routinely recommended to be replaced like the stock ones that come with an Oscar or Silvia. So that could be part of the reason I am not experiencing a big difference, but as you can see from the photo below the espressoparts baskets seem to have all of their holes cleanly removed compared to the Gaggia, and it looked like that out of the box, as I can remember seeing some clogged holes. Also that picture is after pulling a few shots from the ridgeless basket so it's not entirely new.
In any case I am really pleased with the quality of these baskets, and more 'testing' will need to be done to get a conclusive result. I have had fun with them and these are a very inexpensive way to try something a little different, highly recommended.
If buying these please make sure your portafilter accepts 58 mm baskets.