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Grado SR80i first impressions and questions

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi all,


Well this is my first Grado!, and I must agree when people say how different and fun these cans sound!. But I will like to make some comments and ask some questions about going deeper into the Grado land.

First in terms of design I really like that vintage look, it is quite a unique and good looking headphones specially with today's over-design and trendy ones. But I have to say the materials quality is very disappointing. Even though the construction seems strong enough for the daily use, the finishes and components are quite rough, which gives to the headphones, a very cheap almost like a toy look. Its all plastic! including the head band!. For 100 bucks I would expect something better. 


Also these are not the best ergonomically and comfortable headphones that many people claim, actually IMO are quite the opposite. I know that everybody has different ear shapes therefore for someone this works OK but for others having that clamp pushing your ears is annoying and unpleasant. I've tried to loose the head band a bit and it seems to work OK. I've also changed the pads from the planar ones to the bowl ones, but I'm not sure which ones I prefer yet in terms of comfortability (sound wise I've made my choice, but later with that)


Now about what really matters. I think the sounds that came from this little guy is quite amazing. I think the two more important qualities of these headphones are DETAIL and PUNCH. I found it well balanced with the right amount of bass and an overall rich full forward sound. It is true when people said that Grados put you IN the band. But at the same time those same qualities made these headphones a bit fatiguing. I don't know if with time that will go away or not. Also these headphones are very sensitive to the source. If I played from the iPod the treble start to sound harsh and not controlled making this headphones more exhausting to listen for longer periods. If I use HD files running through my Stello DA100 Signature and amp by the Stello HP100 everything starts to be more controlled and the sound experienced is getting better. Curiously the less fatiguing sound is when I use the same source setting but using the Stello HP100 as a Pre-Amp connected to a Cambridge Audio 650A (which for me is not the best when talking about treble) and plug in the cans in the headphone output. I don't know exactly what it does but maybe it pulls down the Punch and Detail just enough in order to give a exciting sound but without the razor blades. So, about the pads, I prefer the bowl ones just because the flat ones put a veil on the sound.


So now a couple of questions. 


Does the construction/materials quality improve in the upper models? Sound wise, does all the models share that detail and punch? Which one would be the more controlled (less fatiguing) but exciting at the same time? I've read that the GS1000i is the more different to the rest, and even that it doesn't sound Grado at all. Is that correct? or it is really a more refined version, without loosing the rich full forward Grado sound? I've always prefer around the ear pads because are more comfortable to wear for extended  listening sessions, so in case that you guys recommend the Reference Series (RS1, RS2) can I change the pad for the ones that the GS1000i use or that will completely change the sound in a bad way? 


I'm asking all these questions because here in Australia there is no place to go and test the different models, so I would like to hear different opinions in order to be more informed for the next time that I make an order overseas.


Thanks, and cheers

Edited by jark - 3/19/11 at 11:30pm
post #2 of 8

If your next purchase is in the same price range I'd check out the Audio-Technica AD700's.  Just as good, if not outright better, than the SR80i's and they have a much better soundstage and are a hell of a lot more comfortable.

post #3 of 8

If you are sure you like the grado sound but find the 60's fatiguing then you could go for the 225i's.. a brilliant hp for the price and more laid back sounding. I've just aquired the RS1i's and they are simply amazing, but don't take my word for it!


All Grados are basically the same design so don't expect anything different the further up the line you go in regards to comfort or quality... only sound is improved.

post #4 of 8

In regards to the quality of materials, they can be a bit disappointing.  However, being in the U.S., I'm proud that Grado has kept their manufacturing here.  How long this will last, who knows?  While they are based in Brooklyn, NY, I'm not sure where the actual manufacturing is taking place.  My guess is that it's not anywhere near NYC - as the labor rates would be atrocious due to the cost of living.

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

LugBug1 have you try the RS1i with the G pads?, in that case how does affect the sound?



post #6 of 8

All the "regular" Grados are made in Brooklyn http://audiojunkies.com/forum/blog/3710-grado-labs-facility-tour.html


The G-Cush fits all those headphones and makes them more comfortable.  Changes the sound but I like it.

post #7 of 8

My first "quality" full sized headphone was the SR-80. To this day I still believe they are the best bargain in open headphones. Especially for under $100. When I first saw the pizza box and opened them I felt similar to you with the aesthetic. Even now I love the look. I even felt the built quality was pretty good for the price. That said, however, the build quality remains pretty much the same as you move up the line. Even the $1600 PS1000 uses the same gimbals and basic construction. From the 325 on up Grado uses aluminum and wood cups plus a leather headband but the rest of the build quality is the same. So what may or may not be acceptable in a $100 headphone becomes appalling in a $500 or $1000+ can.

post #8 of 8
Originally Posted by jark View Post

LugBug1 have you try the RS1i with the G pads?, in that case how does affect the sound?



no haven't tried the G pads, I think it may upset the balance too much as they are designed with the bowls in mind. If you look at a GS1000 frequency graph it is different than other Grado's with more of a  U shape, this may be to compensate with the bigger pads.


Some people love them on lower models though. 


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