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Introduction to Audiophile Sound: SR80i or ATH-AD700?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to listen to my friend's Grado SR80 (non-i) headphones. I was blown away by the sound quality compared to every other headphone that I've ever listened to. No worries, you won't have to be sorry for my wallet. This one is all on him. I'd been relatively set on purchasing the Grado SR80i headphones after finals week as a little present to myself, but knowing the Grado's reputation for being uncomfortable I'd been lurking on this forum for alternatives. I do need to keep this purchase to ~$100 as a poor college student with little income, this is already a splurge for me.

 

I've narrowed it down to the Grado SR80i and the Audio-Technica ATH-AD700 which seem to be available for a bit under $100 on Amazon. I do already know that I love the Grado sound, but I also prefer circumaural headphones and unlike the Grados, the ATH-AD700s seem to have a reputation for being absurdly comfortable. I would just be concerned that I would be sacrificing a significant amount of sound quality for the added comfort, and am slightly nervous about purchasing headphones that I have not had a chance to listen to before. These are by no means the only headphones that I would consider, just the two that seemed the best choice given my price range and usage and any alternative suggestions would be welcomed.

 

I will be using these headphones primarily at home or in a quiet dorm on an unamped Creative Zen Vision W. All of my music is already in lossless .wav format. I listen primarily to classic rock, folk, progressive rock, and blues. Quite a bit of Grateful Dead.

 

Edit: Since the new i version of the SR80s comes with the comfy pads, I would also be purchasing a set of the bowl pads which I do prefer. If I were purchasing the AD700s, I could use that extra money to get one of the cheap FiiO amps if that would improve sound quality in any way.


Edited by Spelaeus - 5/12/10 at 5:12pm
post #2 of 23

What you haven't considered (and what I think is paramount IMO) is how the two headphones you have listed are very different in the way they present their sound. Grados are very upfront, very in your face, whereas the Audio-Technicas will have a wider soundstage. Someone likened it to the Grados being at the front of a live concert venue, whereas the ATs were about 10 rows back. That's not a negative one for either, but how you like your sound (and how well your music corresponds to each of those) should be a deciding factor IMO.

post #3 of 23

I don't know how the SR80's sound, but to my ears the AD700's were interesting for a little while but then lost their charm. I have a set sitting here that I don't use but to occasionally put them on and remember why I don't like them. Weak bass and very bright high's that cause the ears to wear out long before the comfort of the headphones themselves becomes an issue. YMMV.

post #4 of 23

I own both of them, and they're both great headphones. Yes, the AD700s are more comfortable, but the SR80is are comfortable too, you just have to adjust them. For my music taste (I listen mostly to rock and metal) the SR80is are better. I remember the first time I tried them and listened to Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd I was blown away (which makes me wonder how amazing could the SR225i be lol). The AD700s have a huge soundstage and are great for classical, acoustic and jazz. Also the bass in the AD700 is very weak. 

 

My suggestion: go for the SR80is. You won't regret it!

post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chongy5 View Post

What you haven't considered (and what I think is paramount IMO) is how the two headphones you have listed are very different in the way they present their sound. Grados are very upfront, very in your face, whereas the Audio-Technicas will have a wider soundstage. Someone likened it to the Grados being at the front of a live concert venue, whereas the ATs were about 10 rows back. That's not a negative one for either, but how you like your sound (and how well your music corresponds to each of those) should be a deciding factor IMO.

Thank you for mentioning that. I have read reviews which mention the very different sound stages, and it isn't quite a top concern for me. Having heard the small Grado soundstage, it does seem to make for a very fun and engaging headphone. But a larger sound stage would seem to make for a more immersive and analytical experience, which I would find very enjoyable as well. I would honestly probably love to own both of these headphones to use for different purposes, but as that's not possible at the moment I'm largely ignoring sound stage as a criteria since I think I would enjoy both roughly equally for different reasons.
 

post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hm, should probably also throw the Alessandro MS1i up there for consideration. I hadn't been giving them too much thought since it seemed as if they were mainly just a better choice for people who lived in locations where the Grados would be cost prohibitive. But perhaps the MS1i would be a better match for my music tastes as opposed to the Grado SR80i which might be better for "heavier" music like hard rock and metal? The ability to mod to an MS1000 somewhere down the road is pretty attractive too.


Edited by Spelaeus - 5/12/10 at 6:33pm
post #7 of 23

The MS-1 is a brilliant choice if you want a more all-rounded Grado, as its slightly more laidback and neutral than the Grados, but still has that Grado sound :) It is a Grado after all.

post #8 of 23

Your music preferences feature lots of guitar so the answer is kind of easy: Grado :) You could always try AD700's just to make sure, if purchased direct from Amazon the return is easy enough, but I think Grados make more sense here (or the MS-1i, which I can't provide a comparison for since I've never heard them.)

post #9 of 23

Here's how it works out in Head-Fi mate:

 

You will get both soon or later...


Edited by SillyHoney - 5/12/10 at 10:22pm
post #10 of 23

If you want a budget beater, then SR60 is the deal of the day. Grados are audiophile headphones by the way.Grados are excellent for rock music and sounds great even unamped.

post #11 of 23

IMO MS-1 is overall better bang for buck.

post #12 of 23

Yep, either MS-1 for lots of mids (Grado sound), low bass or the Audio Technica M50 for a bass oriented headphone.

The AD700 is great for FPS gaming but others are better around the price for music.


Edited by chinesekiwi - 5/12/10 at 11:44pm
post #13 of 23

I'll recommend the MS1 aswell, it was my first headphone, and I never get bored of it. I was blown away by the sound when I first heard it, and after I had it for a couple of months I did the MS1000 mod, which blew me away yet again.  This is a great option for a first headphone.

post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by SillyHoney View Post

Here's how it works out in Head-Fi mate:

 

You will get both soon or later...

 

 

 

Personally though, I kinda prefer the ATH-Axx like the A500 over the AD's. I've always liked AT's treble reproduction, and the A's are slightly more extended andalso tend to be less harsh than the more analytical AD's. Plus the aesthetics; no offence but hte AD's aren't virtually pleasing hanging on the rack above the other gear.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 5/13/10 at 1:10am
post #15 of 23

Someone mentioned the MS1. I agree with this one. If you must go the Grado route, I strongly suggest the MS1 over the SR80, a much better HP to be honest. In fact, I find the MS1 is better than the SR225, which is two models higher than th SR80 (not that higher price and higher model always means better).

 

But it's really hard to recommend without knowing what your tastes and preferences are.

 

Someone mentioned the AD700 is too bright and the highs wear on you long before the comfort does -- I totally disagree but that may be just my personal taste vs. his.  I also felt the SR80 isn't exactly uber smooth on the highs either... the highs on the SR80 can grate as much as the AD700's (actually I think it grates even more).

 

Personally I would suggest the AD700 instead. As long as you are not concerned with portability, hard to beat this one in their price bracket. I strongly disagree that they are good only for FPS gaming. The rep these cans have gained is that they are the FPS phones to beat but not much else to offer, have to say that I've kept these on for hours just listening to music.

 

They have the same upfront presentation as a Grado, not quite as in your face and not as aggressive in the mids, but have a huge soundstage with really airy highs. I have been getting into soundstage and the Air Dynamic 700 delivers. You mentioned you don't want to concern yourself with soundstage but I think you can learn to love the difference as you go along, and it really changes the way you appreciate music once you are used to good soundstage.

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