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Grado SR225i Headphones

87% Positive Reviews
Rated #83 in Over-Ear


Pros: Exciting and Intimate Sound, Great Deal, Easy to Drive

Cons: Comfort

My favorite in the Prestige series, the Grado SR225i is a superb sub$200 headphone. The SR225i is much more controlled than the SR125i and a bit smoother than the SR325i. Retaining the excellent Grado midrange and intensity, the SR225i also adds a bit more space to its presentation than the lower models. Comfort wise, the SR225i can be quite stiff and tight on the head when first worn, but they loosen over time. The build is sturdy without being overwhelming. The SR225i sounds great unamped, but when paired with just a simple hybrid tube amp, they really blossom in the bass department without muddying up the sound.


Overall, the SR225i is a great introduction to the Grado sound and an excellent addition to any headphone collection.


Pros: A mix of Warm/Bright sound characteristics with an addicted midrange and nice bass impact.

Cons: Comfort can be an issue, may not have enough bass for some. Colored sound can be an issue for some.

If you want an introduction to the Grado sound look no further to the SR225i.  The special Grado sound is liked by many but also hated by many as well.  The best way for me to explain the Grado sound that it has characteristics of Warm sound with a nice touch of Brightness.  It is bright but not to the point of hurting your ears.  Because of this you will not find any of the Grado headphones to be netural sounding at all (colored sound).  I like my stuff colored (I like tubes as well, eh) so this is not an issue, but I will say it because that's the fact about any Grado.


The design for the most part is good but it is mostly plastic (some of the lettering is coming off) and it does take a very long time for the headphones to get comfortable.  I think the only major con of these headphones is comfort.  After a little awhile the headphones fit on my head just fine but it just took too long for that to happen.


Some people also say that the lower end Grados doesn't have enough bass.  For me the SR225i does a great job with bass (and great bass impact I must add).


Overall for $200 you really can't go around with the Grados.  The midrange really shines on these headphones. 


Note as of 06/09/10:  I should had add this in the review but an amp makes a big difference with the Grado headphones (or any headphone period).  Invest in a good one because a good amp will add in the suppose "missing bass" to the Grados.


Pros: (1) Fast Bass, (2) Engaging Sound, (3) Good for Home Theater, (4) 1/4" Jack

Cons: (1) Fatiguing Sound, (2) Uncomfortable when Worn for Long Periods, (3) Fragile Construction


These work especially well for two genres, speed metal and classical music- two genres which you otherwise would not refer to in the same sentence.


These are great for speed metal as the bass attacks and decays so quickly that with these, blast (bass drum) beats sound like blast (bass drum) beats rather than a muddy, thudding rumble as they do with slower, warmer sound signatures.


They're great for classical or any acoustic music due to the forward and realistic presentation of the picking of string instruments.


These also work well for Home theater due to the different spacial presentations of sounds with vocals being in the foreground and non-vocals being in the background. This is perfect in scenes where the characters are speaking over a din of traffic noise or other non-vocal sounds.



You can use them anywhere you want, but because their cable is thick, long and is terminated with a 1/4" jack, they aren't very portable. They also sound better out of a powerful stationary source component such as a stereo receiver or a computer soundcard than they do out of a smartphone- they sounded terrible out of my Samsung Galaxy S3. This is to say nothing of their open-air construction which gives you no sound isolation from your environment nor others in that environment any isolation from you. Last, they are so fragile that they wouldn't last long on the streets.



I got these because my only stay-at-home headphones were Sennheiser HD 558's which have a slow, warm, veiled sound which does poorly with speed metal.



I was able to listen to these comparatively with the SR60's, SR80's, SR125's and SR325's.


I chose the SR225's because the SR60's and SR125's had noticeably less clear, less resolute sounds. The SR80's were so warm that they didn't sound like Grado at all but instead, they had the warm sound signature of my Sennheiser HD 558's. The SR325's had a sound which was more strident, more fatiguing than the SR225's in addition to their having a heavier physical (non-auditory) weight which caused them to be more uncomfortable than the SR225's. Anything above the SR325's was out of my price range, so I didn't even try them.


Also worth mentioning is that whereas the 60's and 80's had 1/8" jacks with a snap-on 1/4" adapter, the 125's and above came with a 1/4" jack. This is relevant as the 1/8" jack with a 1/4" adapter is fragile and if stepped on, probably will break and will have to be replaced whereas the latter is a lot more sturdy.


Pros: Mid-range detail, very engaging front-to-center soundstage, excellent low-to moderate volume cans

Cons: Comfort if not worn correctly, bass could extend fuller

      I bought these over a year ago, and then for some strange reason bought a pair of Hifiman HE-5LE's about two weeks later.  I of course went nuts over the 5LE's, and set these aside for many months. Fast-forward to now, and I barely take the 5LE's out of their case, as these have become my favorite all around can, with the 5LE's being reserved for high-rez and well-mastered material. 

      I understand that Grado are a polarizing headphone, and I believe I understand why.  Most headphones that I am familiar with require a lot of power, and fairly high volume to sound their best.  In my experience, that method of listening to headphones ruins the Grado experience.  They do have a significant treble bump, and they do sound harsh on a lot of material.  However, I find that when I listen to a them at low volume, the harshness disappears, the bass seems more full, and the overall presentation is pretty good.  To get the most out of my ortho's, I need significantly more volume.  With the 225i, just about a hair above speaking volume, and I'm set with no need to boost bass or treble.

      I cannot say that these are neutral, or even accurate headphones.  But I can say that detail retrieval is excellent, and they are very revealing of the quality of source material. Not to the point of the 5LE's, but they are still impressive, to me, for a $200 purchase. That being said, I don't see myself buying Grado's for family during Christmas or birthdays.  I really don't think these are for everyone. But if you like low-volume listening with a good amount of presence and detail, these are exceptional headphones.  They definitely make me want to try other Grado's, especially the GS1000.


Pros: Quality bass, Tonally rich and aggressive mids, Extensive treble, Cool retro looks, Amazing modding community

Cons: Bass and Treble quantities, Soundstage, Comfort, Fit, Unforgiving, Grado service / policy, Unluxurious, Awful versatility, Overpriced, Design issues

Say what you want about Grado headphones, they certainly have a die-hard cult following. So, being a Head-Fier, it's relatively impossible to not know about them. When I asked for advice on the forums for upgrade suggestions to my HD448 with "Metal performance" being one of the key things I was after, it was inevitably that the Grado sound would be recommended to me. They seem to be a polarising line up of headphones, with the 225i often referred to as the sweet spot. They fit my budget at the time perfectly and apparently had the sound I was after, so I jumped on them (at a PC store no less, which I was quite surprised to hear were getting them in). 


My first impressions of the headphones when I saw the box were that they were significantly larger than I thought they would be. I don't know why, but the pictures always just made them look so small for some reason. For me, they're somewhere between supra-aural and circum-aural in size (and practice, I'll get to that later). They have a thick, dual entry cable that's approximately 1.5-1.6m long. They're open back, with fully rotating ear pieces, and sliding rodblocks to adjust the height. The headphones hug the top of the head with a vinyl covered headband.

The first night I had them, I must admit, I thought I had made a huge mistake. The Grados are known for not being great for comfort, and that had been eating away at me, but I figured I can put up with mild discomfort for the great sound. However, when I first put them on I thought they felt pretty strange. No immediate discomfort or anything, but it didn't feel like it was something designed to go on the ears in such a manner. They seem to put most of the pressure on the outside edges of your ear, rather than directly on the ear or head. Pretty weird, really, and it still feels quite unique every time I switch from a more conventional headphone to the 225i's.


After 30 minutes or so some pretty serious discomfort started to set in. This was because of two things; the clamp force and the earpads. I knew before I bought them that you had to stretch the headband out, but I didn't do it enough. As they are now, when relaxed (face down) the closest points of the earpads sit about 7.5cm away from each other, which leaves the clamp force just right for me. However out of the box they probably sit 1.5cm apart, hence why they were so violently uncomfortable. As for the earpads, they are not as soft when new as they are after a good fortnight of use (and a wash or two), which also improves the comfort. Still, even with these improvements the comfort is mediocre at best, and will inhibit long listening sessions. The cable is also fairly heavy, disproportionately so to the weight of the headphones, so if the cable isn't supported it will feel like the cable is dragging down your head. Still, it could have been a lot worse since to it's credit they're quite light and allow your ears to breathe quite generously, so sweat and heat never really occurs. Really, these are tolerable, bordering on comfy for listening to a single album, but the longer you listen after that, the more they become uncomfortable. These are definitely not all day headphones.


The build quality is actually better than I was expecting (since I'd heard they were "extremely cheap" feeling). There's no thin, flimsy plastics used. The plastic of the the cups, gimbals and rodblocks actually seems very sturdy. It sounds very solid when tapped with my knuckle and has absolutely zero give when pressure is applied to it. The metal grille is very nice, in fact I prefer it to almost every modified grille I've seen. The cable is very thick and sturdy, and the 6.35mm jack is very solid. The dual entry cables are also attached very well to the cups. The overall build and sturdiness isn't stellar but it's actually fairly respectable. I think the sense of cheapness that many people get is from some of the materials and the design. The aforementioned earpads are just foam. Sure, it's significantly higher grade foam that what you get on a crappy $10 pair of headphones from a reject store, but it's not a luxurious material to sit on your ears or to look at. But the real killer is the vinyl headband. Once again, it's not as bad as I was lead to believe, but it is most certainly the weak point of the entire build. It's quite thin, and doesn't feel or look nice in the least. This is the main thing that makes you feel as though you've been ripped in the build department. Also, when you hold them in your hands, the free swivelling ear cups give the sensation that the headphones are less 'solid' but I think that's more of an illusion than anything.


I knew that the vinyl headband had to go before I even received the 225i's, so I got myself a genuine cowhide leather headband from Headphonelounge.com (now Turbulent Labs). It adds a whole world of extra quality, looks and a bit of comfort to the Grados for $50. I think my 225i's look quite nice with it on:


But, even with this addition, I must agree that for a $200 headphone they are rather rudimentary and un-luxurious. You want (and can get) something that just feels and looks much more high end for that amount of money. I still think they look quite cool, but take that with a grain of salt because I'm one of the weirdos that thinks the Koss Portapro looks cool (and it's not even me reminiscing to the 80's, I'm only 21 blink.gif).


With all of that said about the quality and comfort, this is probably the time to mention the modding community. I won't say much, but there is a wealth of info about ways to modify your Grados (and even businesses you can send yours into). The relatively modular design of the Grados allow for many DIY possibilities if you have the know-how or the dollars. However, I can't help but think that the reason they have such a modding community is because they desperately need it. That's really the truth of it. If they were better designed and more luxuriously built from the getgo, I think you'd find the modding community wouldn't be the way it is.


However, this also brings me to Grado's policies and service. If you're modifying your headphones and break a part, often you can get a replacement part from the manufacturers, or another store that sells the parts. Not so with Grado. All they sell are replacement earpads, extension cables and 6.35mm to 3.5mm converters. They have a policy against selling parts like metal headband inserts, grilles, gimbals, badges, cups etc. So unless you're able to find somebody selling a used part, you'll be forced to send your headphones into Grado and pay what will end up being an exhorbitant servicing & repairs fee for a single part. I think it's a crap policy, and I don't really care what reasons they have for it, it just makes things worse for their consumers. I've heard of people carefully wording their emails to Grado about spare parts (lying) and having success getting the part sent to them for free, but that people should have to do that just to get their hands on some innocent little spare parts is ridiculous. Not to mention, my particular grados were missing the sheets of paper that normally come with them, I contacted them about it and got bounced all around the place with unhelpful crap (I never got the papers). I've seen Grados service praised but I haven't had a single good experience with them.


It's probably time I got around to talking about the sound. I've had the Grados for 6 and a half months now, and my enjoyment of their sound (if put on a graph) has been somewhat bell-shaped. It took me a little bit to appreciate what they did, and since I did I've been loving them immensely, but with time and exposure to other headphones, my maturing tastes and their flaws have had a bit of a sobering affect in that I realise I can't use them for everything. Here's what I think of their sound;


Bass- Fantastic quality but lacking in quantity for most applications. The bass is very tight, fast and punchy. It does a fantastic job of keeping up with drum blasting or fast-paced bass rhythm. It's well defined, too. The problem is that for stuff like electronic, hip hop, ambient and even quite a lot of metal, as well as films or gaming, the bass has too little authority. It leaves quite a few tracks sounding like there's quite a bit missing, kind of like 2.0 monitors with poor extension / authority vs a balanced 2.1 setup. It's just far too light for some music. Compared to the HFI-580, the bass sounds embarrassingly weak for said genres. The quality is there in spades, but the quantity is insufficient for those bass heavy uses. For stuff like Jazz, Progressive, Acoustic, and for more technical Metal the bass is more serviceable. But, with my maturing tastes, I've really come to prefer more bass even for those uses.


Mids- These are kick ass. Easily the highlight of the 225i, and they sound just bloody fantastic to my ears. They possess a very warm, crisp tone, and they're quite forward and aggressive. This works wonders for distorted guitars but it also gives intimacy and authority to other instruments. Vocals sound just right to me. Keyboards are one of the stand-outs for me with these, they sound quite 3 dimensional, very real, very fun. The mids are definitely the best quality of these phones.


Treble- Basically what I said about the mids, the forwardness and aggressiveness can be fantastic for the right music. It gives darker, relaxed recordings excitement and intimacy. Power. But, like the bass, the treble isn't good for everything. It's not as bad as the HFI-580s, but the fatigue and piercing isn't exactly hard to come across in long listening sessions or with an already bright recording. Comparing bright Black Metal recordings between the PX100 and the 225i definitely made it apparent that if I was going to stick to the album on the Grado it would be at the expense of fatigue. A good example of where the treble is advantageous is Tool's 10'000 Days. It's music that is peaky by nature that the extra peakiness of the Grados makes things too bright. 


The 225i's sound intimate, coherant, fast and airy, punchy and energetic with the correct music. These do sound fantastic with small ensemble Jazz, Progressive and Acoustic, as well as certain metal that isn't quite as "grand" or "epic" sounding, they're too narrow and not bassy enough for that. Also, all of this is with the assumption that you're feeding them well recorded music, because I don't find the 225i to be a very forgiving headphone at all.


Would I recommend these? I hypothetically could, but only for a very specific type of user; Somebody who doesn't prioritise aesthetics or quality, but who wants them for short listening sessions at home with SQ that will excel with well recorded Jazz, Progressive, Acoustic and Metal, and is interested in modifications. It's fantastic for that sort of person (if they exist). However, I feel anyone who doesn't fit into such a narrow userbase will likely encounter some glaring flaws.


If you want stellar build quality you will be disappointed. If you want bass power you will be very disappointed. If you want easy listening you will be disappointed. If you want forget-they're-on comfort you'll be disappointed. If you want wide genre compatibility you will be disappointed. If you want portability you will be disappointed. If you want luxurious finishings you will be disappointed. If you want top notch support and service you will be disappointed.


There's quite a number of things that can very easily leave someone disappointed in these headphones, it's true. It does some select things very well indeed, though, and if those things happen to be those that you value most, then you've found yourself a great buy. For me personally, I really love what they do well. However, these are certainly headphones that belong in a collection, not on their own. My music tastes have branched out considerably since I bought them, so their narrow specialisation no longer fulfils my needs as a whole. I'll probably upgrade to a more easy listening, all-rounder in time. Simply put, they have just as many flaws (for me personally, probably more) than they do benefits, so it's hard to recommend them.


An interesting specialist headphone, but not good at very much else. I really wouldn't recommend them to anybody except those enthusiasts with headphone collections, looking to find out what Grados are all about. Do NOT, under any circumstances, buy this as your primary headphone.


Pros: Comfortable (For me), Engaging, Great Mids, Fun, Easy to Drive

Cons: May be uncomfortable for long periods of time, Feels a bit cheap, Lack of bass

I was searching for a "fun" headphone that I would enjoy listening to. I started looking at the SR80i's and the SR60i's, until I tried the SR225i and couldn't go back. There was a big difference in sound and comfort for me. Perhaps it was only the bowls (I didn't try the lower models with the bowl pads) but there was enough of a noticeable difference for me to opt for the higher model. What I noticed was a great increase in instrument separation, slightly increased soundstage, and improved clarity. Additionally, I found the bowls to be much more comfortable than the "comfies", which made my ears warm after only 15 minutes of listening. The vinyl headband was not a big problem for me. I found the clamping pressure to be perfect, and not as strong as the Sennheiser 558/598's I tried.

For $200, these are not the most balanced or do-it-all headphone out on the market in the price range. There are obvious flaws with the headphone, mostly with the lack of neutrality, build quality, and comfort for some (though I had no problems with this). There may be a lack of "oomph" in the bass for some people, and the soundstage is nothing to brag about. However, these were never meant to, I think, be serious reference or studio quality headphones. They were meant to make you enjoy your music, and to get your feet tapping. If you are looking for a complimentary headphone or a rock centric headphone, look no further.


Pros: Diseño, comodidad, versatilidad, precio.

Cons: Ninguno!!!

Adquirí esta semana estos auriculares, tenía los sr80i, los vendí y pude juntar algo más para comprarme estos, y no me arrepiento en absoluto, estuve muy conforme con los sr80i pero sentí que subí un escalón más tras la adquisición de estos... Los compré a un conocido que me los vendió (nuevos) con las almohadillas de los PS1000, y realmente no me gustaba el sonido así que hice un par de modificaciones a esas almohadillas (adjunto foto), y me fabriqué otras a partir de goma espuma y tela de algodón (3 pares tengo ahora). Encontré una gran diferencia en las frecuencias bajas que estos reproducen, son mucho más extendidos abajo. Las frecuencias medias creo que tienen la medida justa para equiparar los extremos, y las agudas son un descanso a tus oídos, (estuve mucho tiempo con los ultrasone pro750). Yo los recomiendo absolutamente, una vez que escuchas un poco, no vas a querer sacártelos de encima. 


Almohadillas hechas por mí:




Las de PS1000 modificadas (sin dañarlas) Sólo les hice un recubrimiento con la tela de algodón ajustando un poco la espuma.






Pros: Sound quality, balanced natural bass ( not overblown ), engaging mid-range

Cons: Original foam cushion is uncomfortable

This is for original SR225, not SR225i

I have owned both the improved and original versions.

In my view the SR225 is better sounding than the so called Improved version, despite marketing claim about increased airflow by 50%, I smell marketing BS

The reason these headphones have a good reputation is due to the original design. I sold my 225i on, as I could not hear any audio improvement and they are not built as well, seems to be a common thing these day, ie: maximum profit margin.

If you want to see what I mean about marketing BS, then it's here on these pages, statements about improved sound-stage in the i version is just nonsense.

Firstly, you cannot create a soundstage with headphones, stereo was originally invented to replace mono, the main advantage being that 2 speakers positioned in front of a listener, with instruments recorded with different levels in both channels could create an image that allowed the listener to position instruments as if listening to a live performance.

This is impossible to achieve with headphones, as the left channel source is attached to the left ear and right channel to the right ear, the sound can only alternate to left and right ear.


The sound on the original SR225 is engaging, not sure what one or two of the other negative reviewers were using for their equipment, but you have to have a good headphone amp for these to work best.The headphone output stage can make or break the listening experience. You can make a 3K pair of Stax headphones sound awful with a crappy headphone line stage.


Pros: Thick Cable, Pads (These don't hurt my ears, so I must be special), Sound-Stage, Response, Clarity

Cons: The cable has a mind of it's own, and has attempted to kill me once or twice.

Very, very, quick response (not as quick as say, the RS2i). Excellent clarity (I've yet to hear these sound remotely muddy). The sound stage is excellent, speakers could still outdo it, but it's truly unfair to compare headphones and speakers. The bass is more than satisfactory (for me -- note that I am using a relatively flat DAC).



- Acoustic Alchemy - Mr. Chow : Superb. Superb. Superb. Crisp guitar, clean percussion.

- DSO - Guerrilla Laments : Fast. I could name each instrument and transcribe the lyrics.

- Brubeck - Take Five : From the subtle bass to the horns, and everything in between, this track was superb.

- David Bowie - Five Years : Drums and Vocals were more than satisfactory.

- Bela Fleck - Blu-Bop : Not only is the guitar crisp, the release of each string delivers a crisp, short, punch. Almost every Fleck is like this.

- Bela Fleck - Sex in A Pan : You can here the movement along the frets.

- AfroCelt Sound System - Eireann : Despite being in irish gaelic, the lyrics can be transcribed without confusion.

- Norman Greenback - Spirit In The Sky : Feel the distortion! (almost as distorted as the Jesus & Mary Chain) 

Grado SR225i Headphones

What does the i stand for in the SR225i from Grado? Improved, that's what! Features are the same as the SR125i, driver, cable and housing designs, but this headphone has an increased rear air flow, utilizes Grado's larger ear cushion and has closer matched drivers. Air flow is increased by 50% which is achieved through an improved rear metal screen. The use of closer matched drivers and the larger cushions results in an enlarged soundstage, while the improved rear screen frees the headphone from colorations.

FeatureStandard copper connecting cord
Height10 inches
Length13 inches
Weight0.63 pounds
Width2 inches
LabelGrado Labs
List Price$200.00
ManufacturerGrado Labs
Package Quantity1
Product GroupCE
Product Type NameMICROPHONE
PublisherGrado Labs
StudioGrado Labs
TitleGrado Prestige Series SR225i Headphones
Special FeaturesWhat does the i stand for in the new SR225i from Grado? Improved, that's what! Features are the same as the SR125i, new driver, cable and housing designs, but this headphone has an increased rear air flow, utilizes Grado's larger ear cushion and has closer matched drivers. Air flow is increased by 50% which is achieved through an improved rear metal screen. The use of closer matched drivers and the larger cushions results in an enlarged soundstage, while the improved rear screen frees the headph
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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