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Head-Fi.org › Head Gear › Headphones › Over-Ear › Grado SR80i Headphones

Grado SR80i Headphones


Pros: Amazing Audio, great cord, basic design

Cons: Swiveling headphones, headband, earpads, the cable connections

Buying these, changed the way I listen to music



they taught me that there is more to music, then what I was listening to


Before, on my Senn HD 201s, I could hear the music

These, make me listen to the music


I hear sounds and tones that before, I didn't know existed in the music

the sound stage is wide and amazing


Cover one side of the open phones and the music cuffs out. because of their design, they leak sound

I don't care about leaking


The headphones swivel, not a big deal, but they can twist the cord.

The left and right headphone cords are squishy, with padding in them to allow them to wear out the twisting


The pads suck, yet are better then cheaper phones.


the band is thin, yet on my head, they don't make a difference


the line in to where the cord meets the headphone could use some protection


the build is mostly plastic, it feels cheap but makes me feel as if it could outlast aluminium


the slider stays in place and slide easily when needing to move


mods are all over the place, so these things can be transformed in endless ways


Pros: Comodidad, respuesta en frecuencia, diseño, precio

Cons: Ninguno

Acabo de conseguir estos auriculares para sumarlo a la familia, y la verdad que me ha dejado muy conforme, recién escuche un par de albumes y tienen una respuesta en frecuencia muy agradable, los agudos no son incisivos, los graves son profundos y controlados, y la presencia de frecuencias medias no es exagerada. Yo los recomiendo como todos, he quedado muy satisfecho.


Pros: Really musical headphones

Cons: Comfort, fatiguing, congested

I owned these a long time ago so this brief review is written from memory.


The Grado SR80i may be the best rock headphone for the price. The in your face presentation of the sound, the sharp mids and highs and tight bass really brings the listener into the music. The problem is they may be too in your face. They feel as if sound is being injected into your ears while the mids and highs that were once fun are now very bright and causing fatigue. Comfort was an issue for me as well, I had a hard time wearing these for 2+ hours.


I said they were possibly the best rock headphone for the price, but outside of rock music I found these lacking very much. These are rather one dimensional headphones.


I think the Grado SR80i are a fantastic headphone, but I think many users will love/hate them as I did. 


Pros: Sounds amazing, cost is nothing, quality is wonderful, value is ridiculous.

Cons: Somewhat uncomfortable for very long listening sessions, leaks noise like a sieve (not really a con, just something to be aware of).

This were my first "real" headphones and now I'm building a Mosfet Mini Max tube amplifier and DAC, buying parts, modding my headphones, etc. All in three short months. These will turn you into an audiophile.

The clarity from these are just wonderful. Rich, full mids, wonderful treble response (perhaps too wonderful...at times they can be very bright and tinny, but usually not) and a good low end too. This is, of course, pre-modification. With the drivers vented, new grills, new headband, custom wood cups, G Cushions and the driver cloth removed, these headphone dominate.

That's probably one of the coolest things about them, the amount of known mods! These are so much fun to play with, mine look nothing like they used to, sound totally amazing and are very comfortable.

My two cents? Get some cans from the Grado Prestige Series, modify the hell out of them and have fun listening to some amazing headphones for the price.


Pros: Mighty attack, juicy mids, unsibbilant highs. No need for amping.

Cons: Could get uncomfortable, listening to loud recordings is punished by harshness.

As someone already had stated- the Grado SR80i gets left in the shadow of its less costly sibling- the SR60i. For me the choice was quite easy- I had a hundred bucks to burn for my first serious headphone, so SR80i was the best thing that I got in my sights. I had heard that the SR60i is a great performer and the SR80i should be all that plus more- the choice was easy.


First thing that I liked about them even before listening was the cable- it was nice and thick about the same diameter as a normal AC cable. When I looked at the grills it was apparent that if needed the resoldering should be a breeze. The 1/4 to 1/8 adapter is the most solid I've ever seen- when plugged on it seems like a natural extension to the plug. Other than the wire build quality seems sufficiently well, construction is light so these headphones won't break if dropped. Just try not to step on them. When reading about the Prestige Series Grados one thing did upset me- many people complained about the comfort. For my average sized head the clamping isn't too much though sometimes after longer (4+ hour) listening sessions my pinnae seem to press through the stock foam pads. But after a little rest it's all good again. I don't have very thick hair but the metal band pressing on top of my head was never a problem.


Now about the sound. First of all these headphones do benefit from burn in for about 50-100 hours. When listening for the first time my jaw positively fell in my lap but now I'm confident to say that at first they sounded a bit thin and harsh. After the burn-in they get a bit more gentle and the bass blooms too a little. Bass wise they are a little too tame though you can hear the stated 20Hz low end and it will be more than enough to get that great PRAT for rock and jazz. One thing you must keep in mind when feeding these phones- as higher end headphones sound terrible when not properly amped, these sound terrible when fed with the wrong records. The SR80i absolutely hates the loudness war. If you dare to listen something compressed you WILL feel like in a war! Your teeth will clench and you will tire and think about running to the hills. When I first listened to some of recent pop-rock I felt like fighting. Since then I've listened to just about everything Steve Hoffman has laid his hands and ears on. For some time I thought that from now on I won't be searching music by artists but by audio engineers. But there are many others who aren't sacrificing dynamic range for fast sales. And those are the ones a Grado listener must have. You must keep in mind that Grado is (in)famous for tuning his products to his ear, so in some sense your taste must match to his. The SR80i does not have the wide genre bandwidth of some closed phones or IEM's but when at it's best it sure does not sound like 99$.


The SR80i is a higher fidelity headphone in sense that it does not try to cater everyone. It IS a highly polarising headphone and that is visible to anyone who has read more than a few reviews. If you like to listen to 60's rock, blues, jazz, funk these might be all that you need. The sensation is closest to using a guitar amp for a pillow.


Pros: Great sound, price

Cons: none so far

I have been reading about these headphones online for a few days now so I wanted to go take a listen to them unfortunately the closest Grado dealer was an hour away so I took a drive. I tried out the 80i and then the 225i through my own iPhone with apple lossless files and I could hear a teenie tiny difference with the 225i being a little more crisp and spacial but I am talking a very little bit but I don't think its double the price different or better. They both sound awesome. Then I had the guy throw a cd into a 1000 dollar Rotel CD player playing through a 2000 Rotel integrated amp and the difference between the 225i and the 80i was even less than being played with my iPhone they both sounded even more clear and amazing. So I asked the guy to try different pads on the headphones and he took the pads off of the 225i's and put them on the 80i's and they sounded just like the 225i's so i bought the 80i's and the L-CUSH pads and saved some money and have some amazing headphones.


As for comfort I personally dont know what anyone is talking about when they say they aren't comfortable. I am currently listening to mine as I'm typing this and I'm at a little over 4 hours and my ears don't hurt at all. Also I guess these are on ear headphones but my entire ear fits into the cups and I would say I have an average ear size.


All kinds of music sound great through these. I have tried rock, hard rock, metal, pop, alternative, indie, electronica and rap. The bass is just right, plenty of bass but not boomy or overwhelming like my fiance's sons beats are. 


Pros: Moderate Cost, excellent sound/price ratio, retro styling, decent build quality

Cons: A little uncomfortable for more than 2 hours listening sessions

First "audiophile" approved heaphones I purchased.  They have introduced me to subtleties in my music I never new existed.  I am now listening to a lot more music than before. From my fiio e7 they are perfectly powered and give just a fantastically rich, detailed sound. For anyone who is wondering what all this audiophile nonsense is about, buy these and get back to me if it really is all nonsense afterall.  I'm sure your opinion will have changed.  


I like the retro look, some may not.  Not completely comfortable for long sessions, but not totally uncomfortable either.


They have a much more open soundstage than my Head Direct RE ZEROs.  Perhaps the RE ZEROs have a little crisper less sibilant highs and more distinct bass, but the sound of the SR80is is much more 3D in my opinion.


Pros: Great entry level audiophile- quality headphone, cool looks (imo),

Cons: Comfort after using for long periods of time (2hrs+)! Price outside of the US, HEAPS of sound leakage (both in and out)

After using my Sony MDR-XB40EX for a year, I was looking for a pair of high quality on ear headphones for my computer and home use which would be fairly portable as well. However, after testing headphones for a long time and settling on the SR80i's, that last criteria went out of the window. THESE HEADPHONES LEAK COLLOSAL AMOUNTS OF SOUND AND IS DEVOID OF ANY SOUND ISOLATION!


However,  to the lucky owner of these headphones, these cans sound AWESOME (especially in rock and metal)! After breaking the in, I can say without a doubt, that these headphones are better than my Sennheiser CX300ii (although it isn't exactly fair to compare an in ear with an on ear). Although the soundstage seems small compared to my other in ears, the MDR-XB40EX, the advantage is that you feel as if your in the first row of a concert, vocals are pushed up and the essential electric guitar feels like it's shredding away just in front of you. The thump of the drums and bass guitar are also detailed and taut, although people used to headphones such as Monster and Soul by Ludacris may think that it lacks some of that overwhelming boom.

The detailed and taut bass along with sharp and clear mids and highs lead to a thoroughly enjoying sonic experience.


The SR80i's do have some faults (other than the rather detailed sound leakage), though. Some would argue that the aesthetics, while retro, are distasteful (although I quite like the 50's look of them). The comfort can also suffer after long listening periods (usually after an hour or two) with the rather spartan headband and its clamping force (although many reviewers state that this improves over time). The price can be a bit high out of the US as well (I bought my pair in Singapore and I live in Australia).


Overall, I would highly recommend these headphones to the up and coming audiophile or someone who enjoys high quality music. Quite possibly the best headphones in it's price range, a very deserving five stars.



Pros: Very unique mid sound. Great for rock music.

Cons: Not very good for bass heavy genres. Flimsy plastic. Non-removable cables.


This is my first experience with the "Grado sound" and I think I know why it's popular with rock lovers. The harsh but somehow lush mid sound strips the processed nature from guitar distortion to give it a live amp sound. These are the most unique headphones I've owned sound signature wise.


The non-removable cables are an annoyance. I had the wire connection to the left channel die on me and I had to ship these to another country to have them fixed for 35 Euros. Considering the price was $90, I can't be too fussy about build quality aspects like this but it was still a detraction. 


It's also very uncomfortable after a while of use. Very light though.


The soundstage is great though. It's very natural sounding with live acoustic recordings.


Pros: Lack of weight, simplicity, ease of driving, looks (hey, I think they're pretty darn retro)

Cons: Smallish soundstage, not a genre master

Grado SR80i



Intro Thingy: I was wondering if I should even review the SR80i because Grado's e series cans came out not too long ago and I was thinking noone would heed my review 'cause the e series is said to be a fairly big improvement over the i. So, instead of writing a review that'd be putting the SR80i in one of those "great can, I suggest everyone go off and buy it" lights, I'm going to write something more along the lines of a tribute and a tip of the hat. So, without further delay, here we go! 


Background Crap:

Having got back from my uncle's place in Portland Oregon and hearing his Magnepan 1.6 speakers hooked up with two very good subwoofers, I learned that the Beats headphones gifted to me were absolute crap in comparison. He is not a headphones guy, and in fact the only cans he has are a pair of Sony somethingrathers that I can't recall the model of. They sounded pretty bad as well, at least straight out of my phone, so I started on my head-fi journey then and there. I actually registered on this site while I was still in Portland, sitting on the couch listening to damn good music out of those sweet sweet Maggies... Erm. Maybe that's why I like my HiFiMANs so much, I'm destined for the planar worldview. Or something. ANYWAY. My budget at the time was pretty pathetic and I was learning a whole lot through my dorky loser noobish posts in the help section of these forums which I am intensely grateful for. I wanted something new that would shame my Beats and sound great, and I was first introduced to the idea of open-back headphones then. Well, I was introduced to them while listening to some SR125s with mismatched pads at another relative's house while there. I absolutely loved the sound, so much more.. open? Well duh, it just makes sense, doesn't it? When I got back home it took me about a month or two to scrounge together spare bills and change from here and there and I drove right up to the only store in town that sells anything hi-fi related at all and handed the guy a fat wad of $10, $5, and $1 bills. I drove home and popped em out of the box, plugged them into the hilariously terribly ancient Technics CD player my dad got for HIS birthday like forty years ago or something, tossed in Yes: Classic Yes, and my favorite song of all time, Heart of the Sunrise came through like I had never heard it before. And I haven't turned back since then in my quest to get the most value and emotion out of my system. 


Impressions: Bass Reproduction: The SR80is can't reproduce one note bass. Now we've got that out of the way. What they do good though is electric bass in tons of rock, jazz, and fusion. Acoustic bass isn't terribly good, but it isn't bad at all. The huge midbass hump shown on many frequency response graphs shows something I do like about the grados. They're very aggressive sounding, which is cool for a lot of the progressive rock I listen to. Kick drums really smack down pretty hard, but if they're tuned to go pretty deep they won't give you that much impact. (Think John Mclaughlin & The 4th Dimension) Rolling bass drums don't really have the size they need in classical music or soundtracks. Like in Vangelis' Blade Runner soundtrack, the pieces with rolling bass drums just don't feel big and expansive. The sound is there, just not in the quantity or quality needed in my opinion. Tubas, bassoons, tympani, low piano notes, and bass strings just don't feel as airy and powerful as they can be, which is why I don't think the SR80is are great for acoustic concert music. They do shine in rock which is what I like them for. However, the infamous grattle is a thing if bass gets too powerful, which it usually doesn't for me.


Midrange: The Grados do midrange pretty well in my opinion. Vocals are especially nice, as well as guitar, both acoustic and electric. I actually don't have a whole lot to say about midrange because the Grados don't do too much wrong.


Treble: Treble, consisting of those ultra high guitar solos, Maynard Ferguson's obscene wailing on the trumpet, Cymbals, and assorted other sounds like breath and the tapping of impatient instrumentalists in the background are all pretty sharp. Sometimes they can get overpowering on brightly mastered recordings where every crash of the cymbal is a smack to the face. But this is really where the aggressive nature of the Grado house sound comes into play. This attacking treble gives rock an energy I don't find with other headphones I've listened to. The sound you do get is almost a little synthetic at times when the splash of a cymbal gets a little too loud and screechy, or Maynard's solo starts to sound like a thousand babies screaming for food, but I hardly ever run into these problems now that I.. well.. don't listen to them very much anymore. I never thought the treble in the Grados was overpowering until I had heard other cans to compare with, and even then, so long as I don't crank the volume up they don't do anything wrong in the treble.


Conclusion: Getting the SR80i was the best decision I've made in my audio career. Not only did they start me off on this wonderful site, but they started me off on the path to enjoying my music much more than I ever did before. I used to get home from work at 12:30 in the morning and plug in the cans to listen to some Kansas or Pink Floyd. I've had a lot of fun with these awesome cans and I can't even begin to list all the things they've helped me with. Oh wait. 

1. Introduced me to the world of hi-fi

2. Gave me a sense of accomplishment as my first purchase at $100

3. Converted me to the sound of open headphones 

4. Bla bla, shaddup, they're great headphones for the money and I suggest the SR80i and any of Grado's lower priced cans as an entry level into either open backs, hifi, or just to get people to know what the fuss is about the Grado house sound. 

Neutral? Give me a break. Flat? HAH! Grados aren't meant to be tools of music snobbery, they're for people who want to jam out, have fun, and give less than a Schiit about extreme fidelity. I love my Grados for what they do, and they're coming with me no matter where I go, not just as a reminder, but a good ol' pair of cans to show people what they're made of and something to come back to to show me what a $100 headphone is capable of. 


Damn you Grado family for getting me started in this escapade, and thank you for giving me insight into how music is really supposed to sound. Thanks to all who helped me decide on my first headphone purchase. 



Grado SR80i Headphones

The SR80 utilizes a 4 conductor connecting cable and larger ear cushions, the result of which gives a more open stage. The SR80 provides an improved bass resonance, which enhances the overall detail. John Grado says he strove for the best sounding phones for the money, and with the glowing reviews the SR80's have received, who can argue.PRODUCT FEATURES:Vented diaphragm;Non-resonant air chamber;Standard copper voice coil wire;Standard copper connecting cord;Mini plug with 1/4" adaptor.

FeatureMini stereo plug with 1/4-inch adapter
Height0.18 inches
Length1.28 inches
Weight3 pounds
Width0.98 inches
List Price$95.00
Package Quantity1
Product GroupCE
Product Type NameMICROPHONE
TitleGrado Prestige Series SR80i Stereo Headphone
Special FeaturesWhat does the i stand for in the new SR80i from Grado? Improved, that's what! Built on the same features as theSR60i, but SR80i utilizes a 4 conductor connecting cable and the diaphragms are put through a special 'de-stressing' process in order to enhance inner detail, the result of which gives a more open stage. The new SR80i has an upgraded driver design, and they have enlarged and improved the mass distribution in the plastic housing. The way the SR80is new driver and plastic housing move ai
Model NumberSR80i
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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