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Grado SR80i Review

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

 ***Please note this is not the final review but first impressions, it will be refined later***

 

Grado SR80i Review

 

These are my first Grado cans and they looked beautiful the first time I saw them. The first impression I got from looking at these was they were some retro headphones from the 70's. These are very crude headphones in the manner that these are very simple headphones in the headphone world, they only have the vital parts nothing extra or anything that may be just "for show". If I was going to make a comparison, I would say this situation would be like comparing the AK47 to a more current gun like the FN Scar. This simple and old-style look really catches my eye and I just LOVE this look, looking at these headphones just once, I can already see how these headphones are put together and in truth nothing is really hidden from the user, it's just simple headband, ear-cup, driver, wire.
 

ec27f1750be96023333af0dfe546af44.png

But introductions and first impressions aside, lets get onto the review:

Things to take note of:
 

Tranducer type: dynamic
 
Operating principle: open air
 
Frequency Response: 20-20,000 Hz
 
Impedance: 32ohms
 
Cable Length and Termination: 2m cable 3.5mm (6.3mm jack included)
 

Pros


  • Best bass response for those in it's sound range
  • Quite balanced, neither bass, mids or highs seem overpowering
  • Soundstage, soundstage on these headphones really vary, sometimes they sound really 3D but during others they sound kinda linear. When this happens it feels like these you're sticking speakers beside your ears
  • Soundstage is amazing with digital/electric sound/music reproduction
  • Thick cable, this cable thickness may even be considered overkill by some

Cons

  •  Look, there may be some who love or hate the retro look
  • If you are really picky about your headphones having a really clean and new aesthetic look, you will not get it
  • The comfort is not the best
  •  Ear-cushions warm up after 15 mins of use, not everyone will like this feeling
  • ABSOLUTELY NO NOISE ISOLATION! If it's isolation you need, look elsewhere, these headphones are completely open (I can hear the clicking of my keyboard keys as I type with these on)
  • Sound leaks like CRAZY! It is guaranteed that people will hear everything you hear at the same volume you hear it as the backs of these headphones are pretty much completely open
  • Clamping force of the headphone will probably get to you at 2 hours of continuous use

Highs/Treble
The highs and treble are generally really clear and controlled as long as there is no more then 4 tones going quickly at once. The treble is around average for this price range and should be more then enough to satisfy a casual listener. The treble is very satisfying and I don't find it lacking at all but it lacks the detail and clarity to match that the quality of headphones in the next price range. The treble quality can is usually maintained as long as you don't have more then 4 fast instruments going at once. Despite my initial delight with the treble quality, what really made me say average for treble quality instead of excellent is because it failed the speed test when it came to treble.

Though my Review Music page is nearly blank at the time I am writing this, I already have a near set playlist of test songs to test the various situations and one of the songs I use to test speed is Look Around by Red Hot Chili Peppers. This song has an intro that will pretty much test a headphone's speed capabilities to the max and the SR80i did fairly well, that is until I heard the treble. This was a deal-breaker, the treble pretty much sounded mushy harsh and could barely be audible.

Mids
I really like the mids on these headphones, they never feel like they are being overwhelmed by any of the other tones and balanced enough so the mids don't block out any other tones either. The harmonic distortion on these headphones are definitely noticeable, but not to the point that they will bug the listener most of the time. The speed of the mids are generally good, but they lack the speed to keep up completely with a strumming guitar as sometimes a strumming guitar's tone may sound a tad distorted and mashed together (Face Down-Acoustic) and acoustics may sound a little distorted, but this isn't really noticeable. My recommendation is avoid acoustic music with these as acoustic songs really make distortion more noticeable on these headphones.

Bass
Bass is undoubtebly one of Grado's strengths. The bass on these are excellent for the price range and is almost definitely enough to satisfy bassheads. In this price range, majority of the competitors lack quality bass for the price with headphones that mainly focus on the highs and mids. But like some of these headphones the SR80i's still fall out from the 20-100 Hz bass range where bass response just plummets (a pattern shown in the Shure SRH 440 as well as the Sennheiser HD 448). So just be aware that your bass level may be inconsistent depending on what you're listening to, you will have killer bass when listening to something like The Time/Dirty Bit by the Black Eyed Peas while bass will be near mediocre on Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show.

Soundstage
Overall the soundstage is really nice, but how well the soundstage is is really dependent on the song. Sometimes you will have a song with EXTREMELY dynamic soundstage with one instrument and nearly flat soundstage with another instrument on the same song. Sometimes it is really hard to decipher the virtual "distance" illusion created by the headphone's soundstage, but at it's best the soundstage can rival the Sennheiser HD 558's (which are worth more then twice as much) soundstage wise (and soundstage isn't a weak trait in the HD 558's either). And even at it's worst, the soundstage of the SR80i is still better then that of those in its price range. I would argue that soundstage could be the SR80i's best trait.

Overall Impressions
I had a really entertaining experience with the these headphones, and they are definitely on my recommend list if it fits their needs. Currently, it is one of the best in its price range, but of course it isn't without it's flaws like the treble speed, mids speed as well as the bass drop-off from 100Hz and below, there is also the tradeoffs with being open-back headphones, but in my opinion, the $100 price tag is totally worth it and these are excellent budget headphones.


Edited by jrkong - 11/14/11 at 5:49am
post #2 of 16
Thread Starter 

My other reviews:

 

Comply Foam Tips

 

Sennheiser IE 7

 

Sennheiser IE 8

 

Sennheiser HD 558

 

Audéo PFE 132

 

More on the way!


Edited by jrkong - 1/30/12 at 9:49am
post #3 of 16

I disagree on the bass. It is undoubtedly accurate, but also lacks impact.

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by philofthepresnt View Post

I disagree on the bass. It is undoubtedly accurate, but also lacks impact.



it has loads of midbass but lacks impact lower down, FR charts also support what I hear

post #5 of 16

Good review, I'd add the L-cush bowls as it changes their character and comfort (better or worse for some)

and make note that recording quality is everything with Grado's - they don't forgive squat diddly.

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwarmi View Post

Good review, I'd add the L-cush bowls as it changes their character and comfort (better or worse for some)

and make note that recording quality is everything with Grado's - they don't forgive squat diddly.



I know what you mean. BUT, all the songs I use are all use are all high quality songs. Almost all headphones are like that, some more then others, I really like the bass quality and treble is nice until you listen to an active song

post #7 of 16

I just bought the SR80i's for the 2nd time (owned some about 15yrs ago). It came with the comfies which I hate both in comfort and sound even with the quarter mod. So I carved some rough G-cush style circumaural pads from the packing foam the headphones came in. Now the sound and comfort is much better. I might buy the Jaben Audio aluminum cup/ G-cush style pads combo though.

 

Joshua

post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AzraelDarkangel View Post

I just bought the SR80i's for the 2nd time (owned some about 15yrs ago). It came with the comfies which I hate both in comfort and sound even with the quarter mod. So I carved some rough G-cush style circumaural pads from the packing foam the headphones came in. Now the sound and comfort is much better. I might buy the Jaben Audio aluminum cup/ G-cush style pads combo though.

 

Joshua



comfort is probably one of the most opinion based things when it comes to Grado 'phones but lets face it, no matter what, it cannot compete with the comfort of other brands and it is nearly impossible to keep on for more then 2 hours

post #9 of 16

The GS1000i is a rare cosy, comfortable headphone in the Grado lineup. A bit of a unicorn though in that sense.

post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by ak47-whaaa View Post



comfort is probably one of the most opinion based things when it comes to Grado 'phones but lets face it, no matter what, it cannot compete with the comfort of other brands and it is nearly impossible to keep on for more then 2 hours



I just don't like anything in or on my ears if I can help it. I bet there are ways to mod a Beyer or Sennheiser velour pad to fit, but it's probably complicated. Currently my only comfort issue is the headband, but it's nothing major.

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwarmi View Post

The GS1000i is a rare cosy, comfortable headphone in the Grado lineup. A bit of a unicorn though in that sense.


0_0 I need to try it one of these days

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AzraelDarkangel View Post



I just don't like anything in or on my ears if I can help it. I bet there are ways to mod a Beyer or Sennheiser velour pad to fit, but it's probably complicated. Currently my only comfort issue is the headband, but it's nothing major.


well comfort isn't one of Grado's strong points, I remember referring to Grado's as the "AK47" of the headphone world, it's stripped down, it performs well, reliable and it works. I can't say that it's comfortable using something like this but like the AK, it can still outperform most assault rifles in it's class :P. Honestly it was the only analogy I could think of.

 

post #12 of 16

There's some sense in that analogy between Mikhail Kalashnikov and John Grado ~ the original design still stands the test of time decades later.

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwarmi View Post

There's some sense in that analogy between Mikhail Kalashnikov and John Grado ~ the original design still stands the test of time decades later.



haha i find it odd that the gun world be so similar to the headphone world in this way

post #14 of 16

If you are finding the comfort to be an issue, try reverse quarter modded Sennheiser HD414 pads. They are cheaper than S and L cush pads and much more comfortable than either. I can wear my SR80i's with the HD414 pads for much longer than I can wear my L-cush HF-1's.

post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raguvian View Post

If you are finding the comfort to be an issue, try reverse quarter modded Sennheiser HD414 pads. They are cheaper than S and L cush pads and much more comfortable than either. I can wear my SR80i's with the HD414 pads for much longer than I can wear my L-cush HF-1's.



Good idea, I'll do that after i finish all the testing i still have to do on these headphones, this is just an overview and first impressions on the headphones

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