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Brilliant sound, but some real design issues.

A Review On: Grado SR325is Headphones

Grado SR325is Headphones

Rated # 41 in Over-Ear
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Price paid: $295.00
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Pros: Bright, lively, good separation of ranges.

Cons: Uncomfortable pads and headband, design flaw on cup holder, heavy.

When I first got these the sound was rather tinny, but over the initial 50 hours they really, really opened up and grew to have a very natural sound. I have them paired with an HRT MS2+ and a Schiit Asgard, which is apparently a good match for Grados. That sound became more warm and round when I switched out the normal pads for quarter-cut softies. I did lose some soundstage with that, but the tradeoff for a more natural and full sound is totally worth it and it also took some sibilance out of the highs so they are very sweet.


Overall, after doing this, I truly love the sound. Every now and then I want a bit more punch, a bit more depth, and a bit more clarity to the bass, but I realize then those are just moments when I'm in the mood for a closed can. I'm looking at some Denons for that and won't count it as a weakness for these. Everything they ought to be and are intended to be in terms of sound, they are. And that, if it were where things ended, would be a really good value for the price.


Unfortunately, that's not where it ends. There are some issues upfront and then down the road. First off, I tried getting used to the pads that come with them, but I just couldn't. They were rough and rested on my ear too hard and made them hurt, so I got some softies and quarter-cut them to not change the sound too dramatically. Secondly, the headband was kind of hard and would start to hurt the top of my head. My head is also not very big so the angle of the cans wasn't really flat. I remedied this by taking the headband pad off my Sennheiser 555s and sticking it right to the underside of these. It worked perfectly and made them comfy, but you shouldn't have to modify two things just to make them comfortable.


But then even after these modifications there are still problems. First off, they are just heavy. The pad took the strain off the top of my head, but it's still on my neck, and I'll really feel it if I am wearing them for a couple hours or so. If I'm playing videogames I don't even bother and just switch to a cheap, lightweight Sony pair. As someone who likes to listen to music for long periods of time while doing work or use quality headphones to watch movies, this is disappointing. Their weight also means that if you're compelled to rock out with your music and swing your head, they're likely to fly right off. It didn't happen to me, but it easily could if you didn't feel it coming.


The cords from the Y splitter to the cans don't seem properly aligned, so even if you try to make it as natural as possible, it still seems twisted. This may be different for each pair depending on how they attach them, but at least for my pair it means the cord is always trying to get twisted up, and doesn't naturally hang, but rather sometimes crosses under my chin. I'm not sure if this causes wear on the cord, but it might contribute to a much greater issue in how the headband attaches.


The metal cup has holes in the side where a plastic half-circle attaches so that it can have some tilting adjustment range, then this plastic band has a metal bar that is screwed into it, which can slide up and down through the headband piece for vertical adjustment. For some reason, the grooves on this metal bar aren't very horizontal, so it's not too inclined to stay in the plastic forever. Somehow, between the turning of the cans, the stress of the weight of the cans, the angle and pressure from taking them off and putting them on, this metal bar wiggles out and from then on it's very loose.


I got around it by using superglue before fitting it back in and letting that dry, but over time another expected issue came up... the plastic cracked. Even though I saw it coming and tried to always put them on by holding the L & R parts of the headband rather than the cups, just the strain of gripping my head or whatever else is involved with normal use led the plastic to crack. What else is expected when you put a thin metal bar through a small hole in a plastic frame? It doesn't even go all the way through, so any tension on that bar goes right to the tip and works like a crowbar.


I've looked around and this has happened to other people as well. I'm using superglue again to fill in the crack as well as to get the bar to stick back in, but I don't expect that to hold up forever so I'm considering possible ways I could lessen the pressure that occurs there or some permanent headband modification options. No matter what solution I end up with, this just isn't what you expect after you pay $300 for a product. The issue could have easily been avoided if they simply made the middle piece out of metal.


In conclusion, I really love their sound and would recommend hearing them or getting them for cheap, but I can't give a full endorsement because they need some "fixing" in terms of comfort and you'll have to be really, really careful with them if you want them to hold up.

1 Comment:

I don't think you really tried to listen to music with these cans. As far as I'm concerned you make a fuzz about nothing. They are not heavy, there is really nothing wrong with the head band and you must have particular ears to have been bothered by the cushions, to name a few examples. But please go on modifying and gluing things to keep you happy.
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