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The oft-overshadowed SR125i - My Favorite Prestige Series Model. What's your favorite?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Has anyone had the privilege to directly compare each and every headphone in the Grado Prestige Series? If so, which model is your favorite sounding headphone?

 

I have recently had the opportunity, and I was very surprised to find that I most enjoyed the SR125i. I thought it was slightly warmer and better balanced than the SR225i and SR325i, and offered a bit more spaciousness than the SR60i and SR80i in addition to better bass extension and slightly smoother highs (smoothest sounding highs in entire Prestige Series to my ears), while yet retaining a great, up-front, intimate sound presentation. I liked it so much, in fact, that I feel quite taken aback that it is so often ignored/overshadowed between the well-priced SR80i and the heavily-lauded SR225i.

 

And here's what I don't quite understand - why is the SR225i so praised and highly-recommended? In my experience, it is the first headphone in the Prestige Series whose sound takes a small step backward to sound less up-front and in-your-face. Sounds nice, right? It might, if not for the fact that the highs forgot to step back with the lows and the mids. The more neutral lows & mids combined with the spikey and harsh highs make for a strange, unbalanced, almost "scooped" sound. Either my pair of SR225i was funky, or too many have skipped past the SR125i and are missing out on a more balanced, more enjoyable Grado.

 

I am working on a more extensive write-up of my comparisons between each Prestige Series headphone.

 

I might add I also got to try the MS1i along with all these other phones. I was excited to try the MS1i as it has received such high praises. I was slightly let down, as the bass sounds a bit flabbier than stock Grados, and even a bit over-exaggerated on some recordings. The highs are no doubt smoother and safer, but they're also less exciting. The general sound is still up-front and intimate, but the balance has tipped from bright to dark (relatively). If you like Grados, I can only imagine you'll find the MS1i a bit lackluster for genres that stock Grados excel with. If you like Grado intimacy but find Grado highs too harsh, then I'd imagine you may dig the MS1i. I also thought it had a wider soundstage than SR60i/80i/125i. Maybe wider than SR225i & SR325i too, but I didn't do much A/Bing between MS1i & SR225i/325i...

 

Curious what others think about SR125i!

 

Edit: I did end up keeping the SR60i over the SR125i. Here is a list of the Prestige Series ordered top to bottom starting with my favorite pair, irrespective of price, mind you! (All using L-Cush though)

1) SR125i

2) SR60i

3) SR325i

4) SR80i

5) MS1i

6) SR225i

 

Add in the factor of price, and you can see why I chose the SR60i. For me, it's a great value.


Edited by Biscuitz - 9/19/12 at 10:43pm
post #2 of 16
Thread Starter 

Bump. Very curious what others' impressions of the SR125i are compared to the rest of the Prestige Series.

post #3 of 16

I am also a big fan of the 125i's.  I've never heard any of the other models in the Prestige line, however.  To this day, the pair of 125i's that I sold are the only set of cans that I miss.  I really look forward to reading any comparison that you come up with because at the very least, I'm planning on getting another set of 125i's for Xmas this year.  And I'm also keen to try the RS-1 at some point.

post #4 of 16

I demo'd all of the Prestige line the other day and greatly preferred the 125i over the 80/225i.  It was mainly that I felt there were diminishing returns by moving up to the 225 from the 125 and the slight amount of extra money gave the 125i the edge over the 80s.  

 

However, I put on a pair of 325s and was lost, so that's what I picked up!

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CreativeCthulhu View Post

I demo'd all of the Prestige line the other day and greatly preferred the 125i over the 80/225i.  It was mainly that I felt there were diminishing returns by moving up to the 225 from the 125 and the slight amount of extra money gave the 125i the edge over the 80s.  

 

However, I put on a pair of 325s and was lost, so that's what I picked up!

One thing to keep in mind is I compared all these phones with L-Cush pads (bowls), not the stock comfy pancake-like pads (SR225i & SR325i come stock with L-Cush though).

 

The SR60i with L-Cush are a great pair too! The SR80i sound more up-front and dynamic (the most up-front headphone in the entire series imo). I thought the SR125i had the added spaciousness in sound that the SR80i lacked, though, without sacrificing the intimacy. The SR225i sounds weird and artificial to my ears. The SR325i sounds V-shaped compared to the other headphones... its mid-bass is tight and hits with more impact than the other phones, and the highs are probably the most sparkly, and the overall presentation sounds more spacious but consequently less up-front. All this combines to make the mids sound less forward than the lows & highs, which was the only thing about it that turned me off really. I actually ended up sticking with the SR60i because it was so cheap, and I only preferred the SR125i by a small margin, and I couldn't justify the price difference.

That's awesome you liked the SR325is! I honestly can't say I love them. I genuinely prefer the SR60i to them, regardless of cost. The SR325i sounds scooped to me, and the SR60i sounds the exact opposite. In fact, I think the SR60i has the most forward sounding mids in the entire line. I really dig this, and found it to sound just as enjoyable in its own way compared to the other Grados.

Any way you slice it, all these headphones sound similar. The differences are very slight, and you'll have to consider what you want most in your presentation. For me, I didn't need heavy hitting bass as much as I wanted well balanced highs (SR60i and SR125i have the best highs imo) with forward mids. SR60i did it well enough for me, though the SR125i sounds very balanced and I loved it as well.


Edited by Biscuitz - 9/19/12 at 10:44pm
post #6 of 16

Interesting how differently we hear.  I've heard them all except for the SR60i - and I couldn't disagree with you more regarding the MS1i.  Considering it's the same price as the SR60i, IMO it competes well with the lower range Grados and well and truly surpasses them once you take the value into account.

 

If I was ranking - and I've purposely left out the SR60i :

 

SR325i

SR225i

MS1i

SR80i / SR125i

 

Add a full "woody" to the SR325i - and you really have a heavenly match wink.gif

 

Pleased you enjoy yours though.  There is nothing quite like the Grado sound beerchug.gif

post #7 of 16

Here's where I'm coming from: I've owned, used and maybe even slightly abused a pair of SR125s (note NOT SR125i) for many years (13?).  I use them for several hours every working day, listening to a range of music from classical to rock from a PC source coupled with Fiio E7+E9.

 

I recently spent some time listening to the full Prestige range with the intention of upgrading, probably, I thought, to the SR325i.  To cut a long story short, after hours of listening I came out with a new pair of SR125is.

 

I find the frequency balance to be just beautiful for my hearing.  In main my findings/opinions were very similar to Biscuitz, and this was before I read this thread.  So similar in fact, that maybe I'm not adding much here.
 

I dearly love the SR60i for the price but wow, these SR125is are still my favourites.  OK, if I listened to dubstep they might be a bit useless, but for me they are near perfect.

 

A while ago I borrowed a pair of Beyer DT880s 600ohm for a few weeks, thinking that maybe I needed to get out of my Grado mindset.  (I even flicked the gain switch up on my E9 for the first time ever!)  But, although the 880s were mightily impressive and comfy, I was still happy to hand them back and get back to my old SR125s.

 

It's all subjective of course and I'm sure we get used to a particular sound, but whatever, I'm officially a Grado 125 head.

 

(I purposely avoided even sniffing the RS/PS/GS despite my evil hi-fi dealer luring me in.)

 

Edit: Could it be that my bargain basement amp is playing a part in my 125 love?


Edited by Midge - 9/20/12 at 7:36am
post #8 of 16

Having heard the stock Grados from sr60i to GS1000i doing A-B comparisons for about an hour, this is my list of preference:

 

GS1000i

RS2i

RS1i

SR225i

SR80i

SR60i

SR325i

SR125i

 

 

This has much more to do with sound preference than price. Each to their own I say, different ears and tastes an' all that.

My heavily modded SR60i was stolen so I bought the RS2i - I just don't have the funds or good enough equipment/source to justify the GS1000i

Although I have a feeling I might love the PS500... just need to audition it first.

post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Midge View Post

A while ago I borrowed a pair of Beyer DT880s 600ohm for a few weeks, thinking that maybe I needed to get out of my Grado mindset.  (I even flicked the gain switch up on my E9 for the first time ever!)  But, although the 880s were mightily impressive and comfy, I was still happy to hand them back and get back to my old SR125s.

 

I also tried the DT880 600ohm with disappointment. After getting used to the Grado immediacy, the DT880 sounded distant and cavernous.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GREQ View Post

Although I have a feeling I might love the PS500... just need to audition it first.

 

Yeah I'd give them an audition for sure. A lot of people like them, but I don't so much. Their mid-bass sounds fat and unnatural to me. The PS500 has a "thick" sound that differs greatly from most other Grados. Then again...my tastes seem to be in the minority.

post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Biscuitz View Post

Then again...my tastes seem to be in the minority.

I know how  you feel... I prefer the RS2i over other high end phones like the HD800, D5000, K701... and rather oddly (even to my surprise) the RS1i. 

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

I know how  you feel... I prefer the RS2i over other high end phones like the HD800, D5000, K701... and rather oddly (even to my surprise) the RS1i. 

The RS2i is the only Grado I've not tried (save GS1000 / PS1000). I have a curious feeling I might actually like it more than the RS1i as well.

post #12 of 16

Hey, nice thread. It's quite fun reading the impressions of those who have heard numerous Grados.

 

I've owned the SR80i, SR225i, and RS1i. Had the SR225i most recent. Liked it, but wish it had a bit more body, and more richness to it.

post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Biscuitz View Post

One thing to keep in mind is I compared all these phones with L-Cush pads (bowls), not the stock comfy pancake-like pads (SR225i & SR325i come stock with L-Cush though).

 

That's funny you mentioned that.  I pointed out the differences to the shop owner and he immediately showed me how to move the pads around, so all of my demo time was spent using the L-Cush  pads as well.  Huge difference, those pads.

post #14 of 16

As others have mentioned, it really is funny how widely different everyone's impressions are with the different models.  Really interested in reading the write-up when it's finished, Biscuitz.

 

I started with the SR125i since that was the only one the local shop owner had in stock and I got a discount on them.  Been listening to them for about a year and absolutely loved them, then just recently found a new set of SR225i's for a good price and decided to test them out.

 

Literally just opened the box a couple hours ago, but in short, initial impressions are positive in comparison.  Even without the supposed burn-in, after A/Bing using bowl pads on both from a 4-way Amp (admittedly not a very good one), there seems to be a noticeable difference in tonal balance, with the SR225is a bit more even across the spectrum.  I think the best way I can put it is with the SR125i, I felt like the mids and bass weren't as forward as the treble, giving the impression that it was overly bright.  The SR225i, to my ears at least, seem to bring the mids and mid-bass a touch more forward, and add a bit more warmth.

 

As odd as this is to say, the 225's made the 125's sound slightly veiled as well, which is something I'd never thought I'd say in regards to a Grado.  I suspect that it might have to do with the supposed better airflow that the SR225i gets with the metal screen.

 

In regards to others in the line, based on very very brief demos, I preferred the SR80i over the SR60i by a large margin.  While I cant say too much about the signatures, I found the SR60i a bit more subdued, with less forward mids and highs than the 80i.  I think this more has to do with preference though, as I tend to love really forward mids.  Haven't tried the SR325i unfortunately.

 

As a disclaimer, I might have said some erroneous remarks in my impressions but still kinda new to this.  And slightly off-topic, but got to A/B the GS1000i and HD800 the other day, and though the HD800 were technically better, the GS1000is were just so much more addicting.

post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wippo808 View Post

I think the best way I can put it is with the SR125i, I felt like the mids and bass weren't as forward as the treble, giving the impression that it was overly bright.  The SR225i, to my ears at least, seem to bring the mids and mid-bass a touch more forward, and add a bit more warmth.

 

Okay, this is the exact opposite of my SR125i and SR225i. And no, I don't think it's simply us hearing it differently, I think it must be an issue of lack of consistency in production. I've read similar posts about different RS1i's (same version, same drivers) sounding quite different, and I've experienced this myself. The first pair of RS1i I heard were smooth with great width of soundstage and a politely up-front presentation. The second pair I heard (on the same setup) had a SUPER up-front presentation that dug into the ears, and consequently had a narrow-sounding soundstage. I think this same thing is going on with the lower models. No way we're hearing exactly the opposite thing.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wippo808 View Post

In regards to others in the line, based on very very brief demos, I preferred the SR80i over the SR60i by a large margin.  While I cant say too much about the signatures, I found the SR60i a bit more subdued, with less forward mids and highs than the 80i.  I think this more has to do with preference though, as I tend to love really forward mids.  Haven't tried the SR325i unfortunately.

 

After extensive A/Bing between SR60i and SR80i (both with L-Cush), here's what I concluded: SR80i sounds more dynamic with harder hitting lows and sharper highs, but with still very forward mids. The SR60i sounds a bit less dynamic, with light bass (but perceivably tighter, for this reason), still forward mids, and less sharp highs. Because the lows and highs are less forward on the SR60i, the SR60i's mids sound more forward than the SR80i's simply by relation to its other frequencies. In the end, the perceivably more forward mids of the SR60i along with the great highs had me picking SR60i over SR80i. Though for people who need more bass than what's on the SR60i (probably most people), SR80i is definitely the one to grab.

 

I love the SR60i with L-Cush!

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