Grado SR-80

Average User Rating:
4.4375/5,
Tags:
  1. jmcturnan
    3.0/5,
    "Ok for the price, but not close to the hype"
    Pros - Decent Soundstage, Fairly Accurate, Vocals are a Strength
    Cons - Lack of clarity, transparency, and highs. Not as 'bright' as one would believe
    For 4 years I've tried to love these headphones.  But I can't get above simply 'liking' them.  I listen to lossless (flac) Jazz, Blues and Rock using a mi-fi quality $500 DAC.  
     
    In a nutshell, I am continuously looking for better transparency/clarity/detail.  I have tried to understand the common description of SR80's as 'bright' - however, the only 'bright' sound I have found is in a peak in the response that centers on male and female vocals.
     
    I have tried cup and cable mods, looking for improvement, but have come up wanting.  The cup mods made the most difference.  The cable upgrade had little impact.
  2. cymprex340
    3.5/5,
    "Clear, piercing mids, design flaws"
    Pros - Soundstage is excellent, clear highs,
    Cons - Cord is too long, tendency for headphones to swivel out of place constantly, underpowered bass response
    They have very open, bright and oftentimes a trademark piercing mids and highs quality about them, which makes the soundstage sound very very clear.  In fact the  sound is very bright at times and their top volume can double as a small speaker..the brightness and soundstage can be heard from 20 ft plus if the volume is raised at max, that is how clear they are.   That said, these headphones are best used if you want a flat response, they have nice tight lows but they are not punchy, the upper of the low frequencies is the best aspect of its bass , so they would be great for classical.     For those looking for modern music like EDM, hardcore, rap, I would not recommend them.     
     
    Design:  It is what it is and have a very mature, simplistic look.   They are for pure listening purposes from a comfortable couch and even laying on your back, they do not fall off which is a double edged sword unless you get new earpads-they range from uncomfortable from a few minutes of use to extremely uncomfortable within an  hour.   The earcups are a hard-dense foam but they are not plush enough that they can circumvent the lack of padding touching the ears.  It will cause fatigue in short time.    Most uncomfortable headphones out of the box experience I've ever seen.
     
    Next and in my opinion, the worst thing about them... since the earcups CAN swivel out of place as there are no place holders, one can forget which way they are supposed to swivel back into if they are laid flat on a table.  This is a huge design flaw which happened me within the first 5 times I used them, so I very strongly recommend hanging them up somewhere.   They are not suitable for constant travel (long, thick cable, can not fold and they can/will swivel out of place) so they won't swivel from their correct alignment, if the cables twist enough they can break.  I had them stored in their original box and the force from how they were coiled up, caused the cable to break at the adjoining vertex, until even the internal audio cable was cut loose.
  3. thriceattack
    4.5/5,
    "Great sounding, not great feeling"
    Pros - fantastic sound for the price, probably no better
    Cons - pad is really bad
    These headphones sound really good for their price point. But the pads are really scratchy and can't be worn sometimes.
  4. Musicollector
    3.5/5,
    "Great headphones"
    Pros - Fabulous sound, but I use it only while trying to fall asleep
    Cons - Terrible, terrible foam
    I have had it for a very long time. Smooth, rich sound. I use it exclusively with my iPhone and iPod nowadays.
     
    The foam just ripped even though I gave it TLC! I wrote to the company and a received a snarky response from a smart-ass there - he must hate working there, or what. As a result, I was determihed not to buy it from them and shaped my own foam - looks like the wheels on the Flintstones car, but works!
  5. hazydave
    4.5/5,
    "Great phones -- better with my mods. "
    Pros - Amazing sound for the buck -- real lows, real highs with only a bit of harshness on occasion
    Cons - Crappy build quality. Cheap foam ear pads which lead to fatigue. The plastic sheathing covering the individual can feeds will crack and cut wires.
    So, I bought these for my office some years back. They were better than average for office listening, with the open design suitable for not entirely ignoring one's colleagues. I was underwhelmed by the physical design, but listen for a little while and that mostly goes away. If you're very careful with them, they might even last more than a year or two... but alas, that was not my case. 
     
    The problem is the cable... specifically, the cabling after the split. They used some sheathing material over the wires to each speaker which did not age well. In my case, it cracked, and eventually one of those surprisingly sharp pieces cut one of the wires, and that was that... until early 2015. 
     
    I got myself a PonoPlayer for Christmas, and I've been playing with different headphones. One thing I noticed was that, compared to other PMPs and smartphones, I was getting unexpectedly good sound out of some phones and earbuds I had pretty much written off. And I hadn't even played with balanced mode on the Pono (separate differential connection to each speaker). So I bought a $10 cable from Monoprice, with two 3.5mm jacks at either end. Cut it in half, and rewired the SR-80i with separate cables per ear -- the 1940's styling of the Grados actually made this pretty easy, they're simple to take apart. 
     
    And now -- best sound ever. Really starting to remember why I liked these back in 2011, only they're better than ever with the Pono and the balanced connection. 
  6. sandman1990
    4.0/5,
    "Metalhead's delight"
    Pros - Aggressive mids, Tight lows
    Cons - Isolation, Initial fatigue, Sometimes too bright, Cable
    Introduction
    The Grado SR80i is one of the entry-level models in a legendary lineup. It is the first pair of proper cans I have owned. I'm a big fan of metal but being a student didn't have enough cash to burn on high-end stuff and after a bit of lurking found that cans were being recommened by many for listening to metal. Also, I wanted a better set of cans to really enjoy my new source (FiiO X3). So after a bit of saving up, I ended up buying these and I must admit, I have not been disappointed.
     
    Photos

     
    Testing
    Since I bought it solely for listening to metal, I wanted to try out as many variations (sub-genres) I could with it. The source used for this review is a FiiO X3 connected to a PC as a DAC. Instead of the headphone out, the line out signal is used and fed to a FiiO E12. Provided below is a list of the test tracks used for the review. All tracks were encoded at 16bit/44.1kHz FLAC and were originally sourced from the corresponding CD releases.
    • "Fade to Black" by Metallica
    • "(Anesthesia) - Pulling Teeth" by Metallica
    • "In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion" by Agalloch
    • "Solitude" by Candlemass
    • "Left Hand Path" by Entombed
    • "Under a Funeral Moon" by Darkthrone
    • "In the Halls of Awaiting" by Insomnium
    • "An Old Man and a Child" by Lykathea Aflame
    • "Below the Sun" by Ahab
     
    Initial Impressions
    On my very first listen it was a big step-up from all the previous (el cheapo) cans that I had owned. The overall response was much faster, the bass was punchier and much more controlled, the presentation was pretty spacious and there was an overall richness to the tonality which I liked. However, the initial listening session did not last long as I not was acquainted with the level of brightness these cans put out. Although I'm not a firm believer of the burn-in theory, I thought I might give it a try and started reviewing after ~50 hours of use just to be fair.
     
    Accessories and Build Quality
    The unit comes in pretty standard carboard box with a thick foam block on the inside. The only accessory that comes with it is a 3.5mm to 6.5mm adapter. Out of box, the unit felt plasticky and light putting me in doubts. Even if the design looks a bit jurassic, I personally liked the retro charm it exhibits. It is however sturdy enough. The plastic parts might not look too appealing but are decently built. No part of the product makes any clunky noises as such. Later, I realized that I much preferred the light weight of these cans. There were no problems regarding the cable although I felt that the overall feel and quality could have been better.
     
    Ergonomics
    There were no issues with fit and comfort.
     
    Sound
    Bass - For testing bass, I extensively used Track 2 from my list of test tracks because of Cliff Burton's bass solo. The bass sounds tight, has good presence but does not go deep enough. sometimes can slightly veil the decay of bass guitar notes at times thereby affecting the naturalness of the sound but it does not by any means sound muddy. Drums have good impact. Track 5 on the list is pretty fast but the bass just about manages to keep up for the most part. Overall, the bass is quite punchy and there were no signs of muddiness anywhere. The quantity and quality are overall pretty good.
     
    Midrange - I tried the two fastest tracks on the list, i.e. Tracks 5 and 8, and was very impressed with the presentation of the instruments. The midrange on these cans sound forward and of the in-your-face kind. It is certainly the kind one wants for fast-paced, energetic and aggressive music. On initial listening, the mids feel a bit harsh but gradually, with time, it isn't an issue anymore.
     
    Treble - The higher frequencies tend to sound bright. The extension is average but acceptable. The details weren't too hard to pick out. There wasn't any noticeable sibilance with any of the test tracks but at high volumes, there were a few instances where the treble got really ear-piercing.
     
    Imaging - There are no issues whatsoever with instrument separation and position. Although the soundstage is not exactly big, I still liked how it sounded more spacious than my other cheap cans.
     
    Isolation - I can't really complain much about the isolation because of the open-back design. There are no issues with indoor usage but you just can't take these out for a walk.
     
    Other Observations - The soundstage width didn't vary too much while trying out different sources. The depth, however, improved with better sources. Also, I didn't notice any improvement with additional amplification. To begin with, these weren't too hard to drive.
     
    Conclusion
    There aren't too many things to things to complain about at the price point. Even though these cans aren't the type that can handle anything you throw at them, they do exceedingly well for those they were built for. Apart from these, there's a plethora of community mods out there that should attract a certain audience. Everything said, I felt that it was $100 well spent especially when it gets you in the mood to raise the horns do some good ol' headbanging.
    Paulus XII likes this.
  7. daronharvey
    5.0/5,
    "Brilliant value - Owned for 4+ years. Read on...."
    Pros - Fantastic sound for not a lot of money. Absolutely no regrets in buying mine.
    Cons - Look far cheaper than they sound, which can also be said for the SR225's. Read on....
  8. FancyDan
    5.0/5,
    "An utter classic"
    Pros - Everything about this headphone, especially for the price
    Cons - Made from cheap materials once you break them down, can be blown out easily if you listen to music loud
    The Grado SR-80 has been on pretty much every list of best value in headphones ever made (or at least any that know what they're talking about) and they're there for a good f***ing reason. These are probably some of the best audiophile headphones priced under $150 dollars ever made. They have a great sound all the way from their warm, fun bass to their nice and detailed mids, to their fairly open and airy sounding highs. This last bit is enabled by their open-backed design, which does allow some sound to leak, but you know that if you're buying open back headphones. There's really not much to say. These headphones look great, sound great, feel great, and have an insanely great price. If you're looking for a pair of headphones that show off why Grado has become a household name among many headphone enthusiasts then look no further than the AMERICAN company's timeless classic: the SR-80. 
  9. lord_tris
    4.5/5,
    "Grado sr80 (non i)"
    Pros - Great sound for the price/performance
    Cons - Open back headphone
    Build quality - I can say that in the 5 years of use the only thing wrong with these headphones were the pads falling apart.  And there is a very small tear in the cable sheath near the Y connector.  I have never got the gradle sound that some people get.  So to me the build quality is great for the design if you treat them well they will last a long time. They have plastic cups with plastic and metal gimble and metal headband that is covered in leather looking plastic material, the cable is very thick and sturdy. If someone wraps up the cable they will see the cable sheath tear away from Y adapter and expose the cable, Please do not wrap/roll,mistreat this cable and it will last a long time.
     
    Audio - These headphones will accentuate the highs very well and that can be uncomfortable at times, I only experienced with very loud volumes though.  The bass in the SR80's do not have much impact it does go low it just will not slam.  The mid range sound is nearly flat nothing that will stick out as bad or good they match the headphone very well though.  If you like to listen to live/recorded guitar solos try these as they really do love that kind of music. I would not use these if you are looking for slamming bass they just do not perform this at all. 
     
    Comfort -  I generally do not like on the ear headphones I wear glasses so they can be uncomfortable. The original pads did not work well for me so I got a set of G pads and it was more comfortable but it does change the sound slightly for me I liked it but some people would not.  These headphone bands are just a thin piece of metal if you are careful you can bend it to be comfortable for your head.  
     
    Over all - Good sound, easily modified, Can adjust the comfort for your head. Can have some issues with the cable and sound if mistreated.  
  10. hanglee65
    5.0/5,
    "Great portable reference"
    Pros - Sounds very neutral, very balanced,
    Cons - Cable insulation tears off after several months of use, too much weight on head..
    The Grado's SR-80s are one of the most beautiful sounding  headsets i've ever bought. The musical qualities of these headphones include having a warm bass, neutral mid, and  smashing trebal.Great headset for all types of music. They drive ipods with ease, but I would not recommend use them with anything smaller than an ipod classic. The sheer weight of the cord could bend the the headphone jack easily, causing the ipod to lose one channel. Otherwise, these are the best buys for many types of listening.  Highly musical w. great tonal qualities, they are a must for the seasonal and beginners headphonephiles.