Pros: Warm but mostly uncolored, transparent
Cons: cord material and reliability
I've owned a pair of SR-80s since 1996 when my old Yamaha phones collapsed beyond repair. I auditioned a pair of SR-60s at a local high-end store, and when I was ready, got a pair. I was very disappointed! It wasn't at all the sound I had heard in the audition. I was unhappy enough to return them, and in a newsgroup (remember them?) complained about my experience. Group members had been praising the SR-60s at the time, and I couldn't get behind that. To my surprise, I got an email from Joe Grado asking for my shipping address! He offered me a pair of the SR-80s, said if I liked them, I could pay for them, and if not, give them to somebody else. Can you imagine that? Needless to say, after listening to them for a few weeks, I sent them a check for payment in full.
I've owned that pair ever since. They've traveled, been outside in the cold, rain, and sun. I changed the ear paids to Sennheiser pads, replaced the cord myself once, then had Grado do it twice. But I still have them, still use them almost every day. They are very affected by the output impedance of the amp that drives them. They're ok in an iPod, but fantastic if you hit them with a good solid low Z source.
They're pleasant, soothing, as spacious to listen to, but I can't mix on them. I do some filed recording, and they just make everything sound TOO good. But for pleasure, they're my choice.
The cord is weak spot. It's thick and in cold temperatures acts as stiff as a garden hose. The strain relief at the ear cups is just a blob of glue, which pops off and then you break a wire in the cup. My own replacement was Mogami Neglex wire, which held up better, but wasn't really headphone wire. The stock pads from the 1990s were hot, and the on-ear Sennheiser HD414 pads fit fine, and though you lose a bit of the top and bottom, still retain the character of the original phones. When I got them back from repair, they had black pads installed, similar to the 414 pads. Nice, worked well, but dissolved in a few years. So, I'm back to the 414 pads...for now. I'm due to send these in for a rehab soon.
I recently auditioned a bunch of headphones back at that original high-end store. The sound of the SR-80s still beat even the $600 Sennheisers (don't recall the model), but the amp used was pretty much junk, and my amp is way better. But today's SR-80s are pretty much the same as the mid 1990s ones I have, if perhaps a bit less "weathered".