Grado SR80i Headphones

Average User Rating:
4.1875/5,
  1. Bloos
    4.0/5,
    "Very well-rounded"
    Pros - Presentation
    Cons - Comfort
    The Grado SR80i presents everything very nicely, almost romantic, you can hear everything,
    until you start comparing. Its not the most detailed, however it is very transparent. Its 
    soundstage is not very large although initially it does seem so. Sounds that are supposed 
    to sound far away, don't. e.g. a choir behind a main singer sounds about the same distance 
    from you. However these are one of the best deals you can find used. Sometimes there are 
    treble spikes, but they are rare, the bass is actually pretty nice, but does not extend  
    fully.
    Overall I really like these, is does almost everything very well, a great package, but they 
    are not the best in any one area. So for that reason, I am selling these headphones.
  2. Aornic
    3.5/5,
    "Unique "Grado" sound. Flimsy build. Uncomfortable after a while. Very open and natural soundstage."
    Pros - Very unique mid sound. Great for rock music.
    Cons - Not very good for bass heavy genres. Flimsy plastic. Non-removable cables.
    [​IMG]
     
    This is my first experience with the "Grado sound" and I think I know why it's popular with rock lovers. The harsh but somehow lush mid sound strips the processed nature from guitar distortion to give it a live amp sound. These are the most unique headphones I've owned sound signature wise.
     
    The non-removable cables are an annoyance. I had the wire connection to the left channel die on me and I had to ship these to another country to have them fixed for 35 Euros. Considering the price was $90, I can't be too fussy about build quality aspects like this but it was still a detraction. 
     
    It's also very uncomfortable after a while of use. Very light though.
     
    The soundstage is great though. It's very natural sounding with live acoustic recordings.
  3. Pirakaphile
    4.5/5,
    "Spectacular entry-level open headphone!"
    Pros - Lack of weight, simplicity, ease of driving, looks (hey, I think they're pretty darn retro)
    Cons - Smallish soundstage, not a genre master
    Grado SR80i
     

     
    Intro Thingy: I was wondering if I should even review the SR80i because Grado's e series cans came out not too long ago and I was thinking noone would heed my review 'cause the e series is said to be a fairly big improvement over the i. So, instead of writing a review that'd be putting the SR80i in one of those "great can, I suggest everyone go off and buy it" lights, I'm going to write something more along the lines of a tribute and a tip of the hat. So, without further delay, here we go! 
     
    Background Crap:
    Having got back from my uncle's place in Portland Oregon and hearing his Magnepan 1.6 speakers hooked up with two very good subwoofers, I learned that the Beats headphones gifted to me were absolute crap in comparison. He is not a headphones guy, and in fact the only cans he has are a pair of Sony somethingrathers that I can't recall the model of. They sounded pretty bad as well, at least straight out of my phone, so I started on my head-fi journey then and there. I actually registered on this site while I was still in Portland, sitting on the couch listening to damn good music out of those sweet sweet Maggies... Erm. Maybe that's why I like my HiFiMANs so much, I'm destined for the planar worldview. Or something. ANYWAY. My budget at the time was pretty pathetic and I was learning a whole lot through my dorky loser noobish posts in the help section of these forums which I am intensely grateful for. I wanted something new that would shame my Beats and sound great, and I was first introduced to the idea of open-back headphones then. Well, I was introduced to them while listening to some SR125s with mismatched pads at another relative's house while there. I absolutely loved the sound, so much more.. open? Well duh, it just makes sense, doesn't it? When I got back home it took me about a month or two to scrounge together spare bills and change from here and there and I drove right up to the only store in town that sells anything hi-fi related at all and handed the guy a fat wad of $10, $5, and $1 bills. I drove home and popped em out of the box, plugged them into the hilariously terribly ancient Technics CD player my dad got for HIS birthday like forty years ago or something, tossed in Yes: Classic Yes, and my favorite song of all time, Heart of the Sunrise came through like I had never heard it before. And I haven't turned back since then in my quest to get the most value and emotion out of my system. 
     
    Impressions: Bass Reproduction: The SR80is can't reproduce one note bass. Now we've got that out of the way. What they do good though is electric bass in tons of rock, jazz, and fusion. Acoustic bass isn't terribly good, but it isn't bad at all. The huge midbass hump shown on many frequency response graphs shows something I do like about the grados. They're very aggressive sounding, which is cool for a lot of the progressive rock I listen to. Kick drums really smack down pretty hard, but if they're tuned to go pretty deep they won't give you that much impact. (Think John Mclaughlin & The 4th Dimension) Rolling bass drums don't really have the size they need in classical music or soundtracks. Like in Vangelis' Blade Runner soundtrack, the pieces with rolling bass drums just don't feel big and expansive. The sound is there, just not in the quantity or quality needed in my opinion. Tubas, bassoons, tympani, low piano notes, and bass strings just don't feel as airy and powerful as they can be, which is why I don't think the SR80is are great for acoustic concert music. They do shine in rock which is what I like them for. However, the infamous grattle is a thing if bass gets too powerful, which it usually doesn't for me.
     
    Midrange: The Grados do midrange pretty well in my opinion. Vocals are especially nice, as well as guitar, both acoustic and electric. I actually don't have a whole lot to say about midrange because the Grados don't do too much wrong.
     
    Treble: Treble, consisting of those ultra high guitar solos, Maynard Ferguson's obscene wailing on the trumpet, Cymbals, and assorted other sounds like breath and the tapping of impatient instrumentalists in the background are all pretty sharp. Sometimes they can get overpowering on brightly mastered recordings where every crash of the cymbal is a smack to the face. But this is really where the aggressive nature of the Grado house sound comes into play. This attacking treble gives rock an energy I don't find with other headphones I've listened to. The sound you do get is almost a little synthetic at times when the splash of a cymbal gets a little too loud and screechy, or Maynard's solo starts to sound like a thousand babies screaming for food, but I hardly ever run into these problems now that I.. well.. don't listen to them very much anymore. I never thought the treble in the Grados was overpowering until I had heard other cans to compare with, and even then, so long as I don't crank the volume up they don't do anything wrong in the treble.
     
    Conclusion: Getting the SR80i was the best decision I've made in my audio career. Not only did they start me off on this wonderful site, but they started me off on the path to enjoying my music much more than I ever did before. I used to get home from work at 12:30 in the morning and plug in the cans to listen to some Kansas or Pink Floyd. I've had a lot of fun with these awesome cans and I can't even begin to list all the things they've helped me with. Oh wait. 
    1. Introduced me to the world of hi-fi
    2. Gave me a sense of accomplishment as my first purchase at $100
    3. Converted me to the sound of open headphones 
    4. Bla bla, shaddup, they're great headphones for the money and I suggest the SR80i and any of Grado's lower priced cans as an entry level into either open backs, hifi, or just to get people to know what the fuss is about the Grado house sound. 
    Neutral? Give me a break. Flat? HAH! Grados aren't meant to be tools of music snobbery, they're for people who want to jam out, have fun, and give less than a Schiit about extreme fidelity. I love my Grados for what they do, and they're coming with me no matter where I go, not just as a reminder, but a good ol' pair of cans to show people what they're made of and something to come back to to show me what a $100 headphone is capable of. 
     
    Damn you Grado family for getting me started in this escapade, and thank you for giving me insight into how music is really supposed to sound. Thanks to all who helped me decide on my first headphone purchase. 
     
    FIN
  4. ajlan
    4.0/5,
    "Better than most but not that Hype!"
    Pros - spectacular feed response , very good soundstage, crisp&sharp sound signature (for treb heads)
    Cons - construction, bass distortion at peak volume, shadows deep lows so bass is flat, sometimes too bright for me (not for bass heads)
    I bought it as second hand in good condition. it looks cool, vintage style oldies goldies..but the construction has problems; has not rigid parts,cheap material all around. The performance is mostly spectacular, especially for the money you spent. Technically it is crisp (aggressive) and flat bassy headphone. The resolution is well. Mids and highs are nearly crystal clear. It tends to have some very slight bass distortion at peak volumes (above%85) .The flat bass thing is also a bit shadowing mids and especially deep lows in some genres. Briefly, cans are too bright for my personal taste. Harsh sound signature makes me uncomfortable after 4-5 songs. Never could use it more.
     
    I have bought  Asus Xonar u3 and Fiio E17 for my headphones to get full potential. I may edit according to my final results. (look edit note below)
     
    It is highly recommended for
     
    + acoustic records, blues, classic jazz, new age techo people who like hearing vocals, mids and trebles at front for detailed resolution  The separation of instruments is the strongest side of the cans. 
     
    not that especially good for because of flat bases.
     
    - acid jazz,groove, funky songs,rap and R&B. people who like hearing deep and visceral bass with mids&highs at the same time. Too bright for warm listening. If You like bass keep yourself away.
     
    - the construction materails are not high quality.. You should listen whatever You listen alone!! They are ''really '' open cans. Sound leak will surely disturb people near by. May not durable or last long in outside usage.
     
     
     Ofcourse ,It is not perfect but even very picky ones especially who likes bright cans will satisfy what they get especially for the price..It is a good digital device headphone. 
     
    Edit note: After using it with Xonar, all my previous comments are still valid; slight bass distortion there (in Norah Jones songs especially left can), bass is well balanced for some music kinds (not visceral or deep) bass is there but feels like not really there or show characteristics as mids. It does not need amplifier and can work well with smartphones or similar devices. I usually use it with nexus 5 at home. You can not use it at outside: reasons; it hasn't got durable material, open cans like small speakers. In my opinion it was a very good value (discontiuned) but a bit overrrated. Edit note2: I sold it.
  5. GabiArias
    4.0/5,
    "Ligeros, cómodos, lindo diseño"
    Pros - Comodidad, respuesta en frecuencia, diseño, precio
    Cons - Ninguno
    Acabo de conseguir estos auriculares para sumarlo a la familia, y la verdad que me ha dejado muy conforme, recién escuche un par de albumes y tienen una respuesta en frecuencia muy agradable, los agudos no son incisivos, los graves son profundos y controlados, y la presencia de frecuencias medias no es exagerada. Yo los recomiendo como todos, he quedado muy satisfecho.
    MarcadoStalker7 likes this.
  6. JP31
    4.5/5,
    "TRULY AMAZING !!!!"
    Pros - Range , dynamics, soundstage , low end ,mids, highs and clarity
    Cons - none
    These headphones are amazing !!! I first got a pair of Grado RS1i's i was hooked at how amazing they sounded . listening to them on my ipod 5th gen (30g) & varoius portable amps (cmoy from ampedup 18v ra1 clone ,Fiio E07K amp , little bear b-1 portable mini tube)  .Wow , I must say the quality of sound was apparent right from the beginning . My first set of headphones Sennhieser HD 558 open back sounded great but still lacked something . the RS1i were amazing the exact sound i was looking for similar to listening to my home stereo (full sound ) , everything was there presence of low end (not over powering but there ) smooth silky smooth mids , and crystal clear highs  perfect !!!
    So that's where i got curious as to how would the low end model of grado's sr80i sound ?? well I must say that they are just as amazing as the $700 RS1i's , more bass ,nice mids and clear highs . These are good headphones for just about all types of music . I must also say these sr80i's were used when i bought them ($65) , and beat up looking but the sound omg !!! soon after reading about modding on head-fi I decided to liberate and put these drivers in cherry-wood cups . They are more amazing now , tones that come from cherry-wood is awesome rival my RS1i's .
    So to conclude I would say that for price compared to more expansive sennhieser HD-580 ($179) this is an amazing value sound and affordability wise ($99) .
    Also upgraded to little dot 1+ tube amp and they are even more amazing both RS1i's and SR80i's highly recommend this amp (even the HD-580's too).
  7. Trunks159
    4.0/5,
    "For What They Do Wrong, They Do 10x Better In Another Area"
    Pros - Great Sound Quality, Cool Design
    Cons - Uncomfortable, Need different pads
    Grado SR80i Review
     
    I’m going to review every little thing about the SR80i, so get ready.
    Additional Details:  I bought the SR80i around Christmas of last year (2012) and ended up returning them because of a lack of bass and poor comfort.  I’m now much more experienced with headphones and audio in general, so they don’t sound really bad, or feel as uncomfortable.
    Let’s start out with something basically insignificant, the packaging.  Now with the headphones priced beyond $200, you usually get some really good packaging.  Sennheiser really knows what they’re doing, as does Sony and AKG.  As for Grado and Beyerdynamic, not so much.  The SR80i comes in a rectangular box.  In the box, the headphones are held together by foam.   In the box, you get the headphones and a 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter.  That’s it.  I wish they gave you a bag but whatever.
    Construction:  These most definitely don’t actually feel like $100 headphones judging by the weight and complexity of the design.  However, I don’t think these will break any time soon like something like an MA900 or HD5xx would.  Most headphones have problems with accidents.  I’ve sat on these and they didn’t break.  I sat on the MA900 and now the rotation system is a little damaged.  No big deal, but it says something.  Moreover, the aesthetics on these really appeal to me.  They look very cool and retro.
    Comfort:  The main weakness of Grados.  With the s-Cush pads, these aren’t totally uncomfortable.   They do build up heat and overall the comfort is not that great compared to really everything I have, but they are still not that bad.  Basically, they aren’t as uncomfortable as people say they are.
    Sound: Two things I am definitely satisfied with are the bass quantity and treble presence.   There is DEFINITELY enough bass. Great amount of bass for all genres, including hip hop.  However, the bass roll off is not good.  I’ve tried EQ and they just can reach below 55 Hz very well at all.  For rock however, the bass is definitely satisfying.  More bass than the HD 558.
    Tons of cans have problems with treble presence, mainly lack thereof.  These don’t… simple as that.
    Yes these are engaging, yes these are bright, and yes, they have some warmth, but no, the mids aren’t balanced.  Compared to the MDR MA900 and HD558, the upper mids are ridiculously emphasized.   You can really hear it when an artist yells or sings really loud when the volume is turned up on your source.  The vocals don’t have a good weight to them, there’s just not enough warmth.  It’s good for some genres, but for certain artists like FLOW, it’s horrible.
    The main problem with the mids seems to come from the plastic construction of the cups.    The louder noises in the upper mids sound strained and strident.  This only happens at louder volumes.
     
    So since, as you can see, I am definitely not satisfied with the comfort, nor sound, I decided to take things into my own hands.  I bought the L-Cush pads, that pads used on the Sr225i and up.  I also applied the tape mod with Scotch Vinyl Electrical tape (google it), put them through a good receiver, and applied some EQ adjustments.  The difference before and after my modifications are amazing.  Almost night and day.
     
    The sound stage improved, the bass depth improved, instrument separation improved, highs are less fatiguing, the vocals have a nice texture, and the overall sound is improved dramatically.  No more congestion at higher volumes, no more honky mids, no more crazy stuff!  These sound even better than the SR225i stock imo, so they’re on the same level as the MDR MA900, HD598, etc imo.  That’s simply how good they are.  Now of course the soundstage, like I said before, is small, but it has a good shape, and the imaging is top notch.  At $100, you can’t ask for more.  It’s crazy how even the bass depth improved.  I can now actually use these for hip hop and things of that sort.  Just fantastic.  They still love rock.
     
    Now one con of the added L-Cush pads: more uncomfortable.  The new pads are hard, and I could only survive a 45 min session with them, and I see myself as pretty tolerable to discomfort.  I still gladly wear them though, since they sound so great.
     
    Moreover, these things sound like Grados, a different sound signature, a different presentation of the same frequencies you already heard in your music.  In conclusion, I think at the $100 price tag, the SR80i beats all of it’s competition, including the MDR 7506, SRH 440, ATH M50, HD558 (perhaps in the same league, but I prefer the SR80i), HD518, and many others.  Sure, the build is questionable, sure they’re relatively uncomfortable, and sure the bass doesn’t go super low.  For all they do wrong, they do 10x better in a different area (provided you mod them a bit).  Am I a Grado fan?  Who knows.  Am I a Sr80i fan? Most definitely.


    Overall, they arent in the same league as the MA900, DT880, AD900x, etc, but they sound enjoyable. Plus they cost 1/2 the price.
  8. H0USEjunkiE
    4.5/5,
    "THESE R THE BEST"
    Pros - EVERYTHING
    Ive read about 1000 reviews before purchasing the Grado sr80i- been listening to them for about 5 hours now...and they are PERFECT! The bass is there, BUT if you want it to REALLY PUNCH, plug these babies into your amp. Without the amp, they are fine, they have nice tight, clean bass. As far as highs and mid tones, id say they are spot on. I do not need to use any sort of EQ with these, as they represent the music accurately and there is no need to distort....perhaps only a little bass boost since i prefer a nice boom to my bottom sound.....anyway if you have 100 bucks to spend and don't care about portability, GET THESE , STOP READING ALL REVIEWS AND JUST GET THEM you'll be more than happy. Oh...and...everyone says how these things leak sound...I don't think they leak any more sound than a regular closed back headphone would....they are fine in the car with people talking- with the volume up you can't hear anything so they tend to block out sound to some degree...its not like they TOTALLY lack this capability.........HIP HOP sounds superb....house/techno sounds awesome.....rock sounds good too....they are NOT ONLY for rock...EVERY genre will shine with these puppies............GET EM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  9. mcandmar
    4.0/5,
    "Buy the MS1's instead"
    Pros - Budget priced Grados
    Cons - More expensive than the superior MS1's
    Being fair here with four stars as i really didnt get on with them, odd as i love the cheaper MS1's and the more expensive 225i's.
  10. dietcoke2am
    2.5/5,
    "Meh. Over-rated. "
    Pros - Great sound quality for the on-ear sort of headphones
    Cons - not good for public use
    Interesting headphones. 
     
    As I first opened the box I was thinking that there may have been a mistake because they looked like they had come from a 99cent store. The plastic material on them is somewhat similar to what you see on cheap toys - believe me, I'm not being dramatic.  The build on them is really good tho; they are light-weight and not flimsy at all. I did not like the ear pads at all. One reason is simply because the foam makes them look cheaper then they already seem. Another reason is that the foam pads look thick from a side view but that's just designed to hide the plastic casing. So your ears don't really sink into the padding as you might imagine. I had never heard of the term sound leakage before joining this website - These headphones do that, dramatically lol. But i guess that's the way their design works, with the open back design. After about an hour of listening to music on these headphones i felt like i could just ignore the asthetics and keep them. Yep, they sounded that good! I was like, woa, these have pretty clear sounds. The bass on them are punchy, and by that i mean, the bass doesn't resonate in your hear, it just punches and it goes away. I guess they're good for the bass that Pop music has. Anyways, enough about the sound quality. So, I got bored of being bored and headed out on my board to skate. I swear i was pissed at that moment. I could hear everything! My wheels, the change in my pocket, the cars passing me by, the pedestrians taking steps, the wind blowing, sirens....etc. I was like, no way, really!? I don't know about everyone else but i'm out of the house a lot, and I bought these headphones because most reviews hail on how reasonably priced they are in comparison to how great they sound, plus with my interest in purchasing something that would help me get away from all the noise society makes, i thought these would be a great buy. Little did i know that these would only serve to make me go mentally insane! - not kidding about this. I tried to not mind all the disturbances (which took a lot of concentration), but it was like trying to listen to the tv in a cafeteria. I raised the volume as much as i could: Pandora's audio quality is crappy so i played 320kbps audio files, which helped because their volume was higher, but not high enough because all the sound was escaping and all the external sound was coming in. 
     
    I'm returning them. Thanks but no thanks. 
     
    On the other hand, these are a fun pair of headphones, and if you can spare $100 and use them only when convenient then they could be a great addition to your other cans.
     
    end of story.