Grado SR80i Headphones

  1. keanex
    Great Entry Level Sound
    Written by keanex
    Published Aug 16, 2011
    Pros - Really musical headphones
    Cons - Comfort, fatiguing, congested
    I owned these a long time ago so this brief review is written from memory.
    The Grado SR80i may be the best rock headphone for the price. The in your face presentation of the sound, the sharp mids and highs and tight bass really brings the listener into the music. The problem is they may be too in your face. They feel as if sound is being injected into your ears while the mids and highs that were once fun are now very bright and causing fatigue. Comfort was an issue for me as well, I had a hard time wearing these for 2+ hours.
    I said they were possibly the best rock headphone for the price, but outside of rock music I found these lacking very much. These are rather one dimensional headphones.
    I think the Grado SR80i are a fantastic headphone, but I think many users will love/hate them as I did. 
      gevorg, Syros and monousa like this.
  2. RudeWolf
    Great value for a listener who knows what he likes.
    Written by RudeWolf
    Published Aug 1, 2011
    Pros - Mighty attack, juicy mids, unsibbilant highs. No need for amping.
    Cons - Could get uncomfortable, listening to loud recordings is punished by harshness.
    As someone already had stated- the Grado SR80i gets left in the shadow of its less costly sibling- the SR60i. For me the choice was quite easy- I had a hundred bucks to burn for my first serious headphone, so SR80i was the best thing that I got in my sights. I had heard that the SR60i is a great performer and the SR80i should be all that plus more- the choice was easy.
    First thing that I liked about them even before listening was the cable- it was nice and thick about the same diameter as a normal AC cable. When I looked at the grills it was apparent that if needed the resoldering should be a breeze. The 1/4 to 1/8 adapter is the most solid I've ever seen- when plugged on it seems like a natural extension to the plug. Other than the wire build quality seems sufficiently well, construction is light so these headphones won't break if dropped. Just try not to step on them. When reading about the Prestige Series Grados one thing did upset me- many people complained about the comfort. For my average sized head the clamping isn't too much though sometimes after longer (4+ hour) listening sessions my pinnae seem to press through the stock foam pads. But after a little rest it's all good again. I don't have very thick hair but the metal band pressing on top of my head was never a problem.
    Now about the sound. First of all these headphones do benefit from burn in for about 50-100 hours. When listening for the first time my jaw positively fell in my lap but now I'm confident to say that at first they sounded a bit thin and harsh. After the burn-in they get a bit more gentle and the bass blooms too a little. Bass wise they are a little too tame though you can hear the stated 20Hz low end and it will be more than enough to get that great PRAT for rock and jazz. One thing you must keep in mind when feeding these phones- as higher end headphones sound terrible when not properly amped, these sound terrible when fed with the wrong records. The SR80i absolutely hates the loudness war. If you dare to listen something compressed you WILL feel like in a war! Your teeth will clench and you will tire and think about running to the hills. When I first listened to some of recent pop-rock I felt like fighting. Since then I've listened to just about everything Steve Hoffman has laid his hands and ears on. For some time I thought that from now on I won't be searching music by artists but by audio engineers. But there are many others who aren't sacrificing dynamic range for fast sales. And those are the ones a Grado listener must have. You must keep in mind that Grado is (in)famous for tuning his products to his ear, so in some sense your taste must match to his. The SR80i does not have the wide genre bandwidth of some closed phones or IEM's but when at it's best it sure does not sound like 99$.
    The SR80i is a higher fidelity headphone in sense that it does not try to cater everyone. It IS a highly polarising headphone and that is visible to anyone who has read more than a few reviews. If you like to listen to 60's rock, blues, jazz, funk these might be all that you need. The sensation is closest to using a guitar amp for a pillow.
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    2. Chris_Himself
      I'd run to the MS-1's like almost every time, I prefer the MS2 to the SR-325.
      Instead of the bright colored "sparkly" treble you get, it's a little more clear and airy, both are a win win situation, but that clear and airyness in the treble is actually a characteristic of the higher end model Grados. The SR-60 and 80 have that really fun sparkle but once you move up and get more serious in the range, then you start getting what the Alessandros give you. For instance I prefer the MS-2 to the RS-2 even!
      Also based on the spec sheet, it has the SR-125 features (except it has a mini plug still) for only 100 bucks.
      Chris_Himself, Aug 1, 2011
    3. Chris_Himself
      Great review by the way, I like that you noted the Grados can punish you for really poor recordings with maximum loudness, a lot of people mistake that accuracy for having an overly harsh tone. I mean it can be sometimes even with good music, but a lot of the time for me especially, it's listening to really tinny undynamic 80's hair metal, it just comes off at really harsh droning to me.
      Chris_Himself, Aug 1, 2011
    4. RudeWolf
      Thanks, Chris! When I looked for my first good headphone I guess I had heard about the Alessandro though I didn't really know what series it was. Because they looked "grado-ish" I just thought that they are a vintage/special edition of some sort. Also when I say that SR80i is eclipsed by the SR60i's huge popularity the Alessandro line is market wise even more in the shadow of Grado.
      And you are right- the trebble of SR80i is not that airy, one thing's for sure though- it isn't sibbilant if the original record doesn't hold any sibbilance. Still- I guess that it can be tweaked by recabling to silver or swapping the cups for different material or/and shape.
      RudeWolf, Aug 2, 2011
  3. Carbine
    Excellent headphones!
    Written by Carbine
    Published Jul 2, 2011
    Pros - Sound quality, price.
    Cons - Long wire, double sided cords, uncomfortable, major leakage!
    These are one of the best purchases I have ever made on headphones. They are so clear, especially the vocals. The bass is okay. They are "bright" and they can be described as "in your face". A recommended modification you can do is the "quarter mod", which will make it sound clearer, but still retain the comfort of the pads. For what you're getting, these didn't cost that much.
    Now the cons to these headphones outnumber the pros, but the sound quality outweighs all the cons.
    These have a really really long wire! To make matters worse is they have double sided cords!
    These come stock with comfy pads, which are pretty comfortable, but only for a short while. After about maybe an hour, they feel uncomfortable so you may have to adjust it or take a little break.
    As all Grado owners know, they leak hell of a lot. At medium to high volumes, it's like they have their own mini speakers. They sound like when you listen to something from the speakers on your phone. To avoid these noticeable sounds, you can listen to it at low volumes, but then it wouldn't be loud enough for you to enjoy and you could also hear outside noise more easily.
    I highly recommend everyone to buy these headphones, but only to listen at home, somewhere quiet or some place that doesn't bother anyone else.
    1. Nick01
      The cord isn't that long. Significantly shorter than the standard 10 ft cable that come with most headphones.
      Nick01, Jul 2, 2011
    2. Carbine
      I guess I'm just not used to it as I don't own many headphones with that length or many headphones at all for that matter.
      Carbine, Jul 3, 2011
  4. unchain
    Damn you, Grado.
    Written by unchain
    Published Mar 18, 2011
    Pros - Sounds amazing, cost is nothing, quality is wonderful, value is ridiculous.
    Cons - Somewhat uncomfortable for very long listening sessions, leaks noise like a sieve (not really a con, just something to be aware of).
    This were my first "real" headphones and now I'm building a Mosfet Mini Max tube amplifier and DAC, buying parts, modding my headphones, etc. All in three short months. These will turn you into an audiophile.

    The clarity from these are just wonderful. Rich, full mids, wonderful treble response (perhaps too times they can be very bright and tinny, but usually not) and a good low end too. This is, of course, pre-modification. With the drivers vented, new grills, new headband, custom wood cups, G Cushions and the driver cloth removed, these headphone dominate.

    That's probably one of the coolest things about them, the amount of known mods! These are so much fun to play with, mine look nothing like they used to, sound totally amazing and are very comfortable.

    My two cents? Get some cans from the Grado Prestige Series, modify the hell out of them and have fun listening to some amazing headphones for the price.
      supermorgan likes this.
    1. Ixeling
      What kind of music did you try them on? :)
      Ixeling, Aug 24, 2014
  5. madtone11
    The rock starts here!
    Written by madtone11
    Published Jan 2, 2011
    Pros - great sound quality for rock music (and most jazz music too)
    Cons - bad for music that has big soundstage or is bass-heavy, quite old design, freakin' expensive outside US
    I like the sound, but I think its time for a new "modern" design (or at least a revision). Still, a really good entry level headphone.
  6. BotByte
    Greastest headphones a cheap man can buy
    Written by BotByte
    Published Dec 23, 2010
    Pros - Amazing Audio, great cord, basic design
    Cons - Swiveling headphones, headband, earpads, the cable connections
    Buying these, changed the way I listen to music
    they taught me that there is more to music, then what I was listening to
    Before, on my Senn HD 201s, I could hear the music
    These, make me listen to the music
    I hear sounds and tones that before, I didn't know existed in the music
    the sound stage is wide and amazing
    Cover one side of the open phones and the music cuffs out. because of their design, they leak sound
    I don't care about leaking
    The headphones swivel, not a big deal, but they can twist the cord.
    The left and right headphone cords are squishy, with padding in them to allow them to wear out the twisting
    The pads suck, yet are better then cheaper phones.
    the band is thin, yet on my head, they don't make a difference
    the line in to where the cord meets the headphone could use some protection
    the build is mostly plastic, it feels cheap but makes me feel as if it could outlast aluminium
    the slider stays in place and slide easily when needing to move
    mods are all over the place, so these things can be transformed in endless ways
      MarcadoStalker7, Urokoz and Sigfod like this.
  7. Maxxtro
    Who needs more?
    Written by Maxxtro
    Published Aug 12, 2010
    Pros - cheap, very good sound quality, pretty comfortable
    Cons - 1/4" only with adapter
    So I wanted to buy some better-than-average headphones for listen to my music at night.
    On my search I found this forum. I read and read and read. Beyerdynamic - maybe too much bass, Sennheiser - too expensive, AKG - require a too expensive amplifier and so on.
    But Grado - made for rock and obviously not that expensive. But wait, here in my homecountry they are about 3 times the price as in the US.
    So I tried to find some used SR225i and I found them. But remembering that I maybe would have to pay 20% extra when I import them into the EU they still were too expensive.
    So I asked for a pair of SR80i. And I got a reasonable offer from a "neighbour" in the Netherlands, so no extra taxes.
    And now I have them - and I think they are more than good enough for me.
    They have a very clear sound, accurate highs, clear voices and thigth basses. And to be honest I do NOT know what people mean when they say they have not enough bass - for me it already is at the border to too much bass! Really!
    The build quality is pretty good for the fact that they are made of plastic for the biggest part. The comfort is - well, not too good due to the simple design, but still comfortably enough as though you can bend the headband if it fits too tight.
    So my final conclusion is that they really are good enough to listen to your music at night! And that I say as one who has a pair of real high-end speakers for normal listening!
    P.S. I amp them with a pretty accurate RA-1 clone, which I got "for free" with my CD-Player!
  8. Professor00179
    Good entry level cans
    Written by Professor00179
    Published Aug 10, 2010
    Pros - Grado sound signature, 'sensational', oldschool design
    Cons - could be more comfortable and... cheaper (in Europe)
    These are good entry level headphones. The overall sound is good in quality but bear in mind that they do not have soundstage at all. Well, it has a bit more airness than SR60i, but if you had experience with open Sennheiser cans you would never call it a proper soundstage of headphone equipment. Instead of the soundstage they have very musical sound signature. I have seen one of head-fiers saying that gradoare 'sensational'. I think this is the best way of decribing them. Headphones seem to be on the bright side of the nature. Though they are not as bright (for me) as SR125i and SR225i, they are still quite bright, especially if you try to get used to this sound after you owned Sennheisers, which have a bit darker character (in general). Bass has proper snap and impact. It shows up when it is supposed to and disappears fast when you dont need it anymore. Mids are slightly recessed though not very much and you can not even notice it in many songs. These cans are detailed for the price although they can not compete with more expensive headphones.
    Design is very basic. The new version of Grados semms to be made more accurately than the old one, but... they are still hand made in a dark basement somewhere in Brooklyn, where workers have no access to light and food for days... This is one of the biggest cons. According to the price of these headphones they should be built well and they are not. Different parts seem to be matched with each other by force and glue not accuracy and skill. In that case it is good that the design is pretty basic otherwise it would be even worse if someone had to build these headphones in more complicated way. In my case I have ended up with the left driver being put at some strange angle to my ear. It seems like the left driver is a litle bit closer or its sound is stronger because of different accoustics. Reading through many reviews and comments I see I am not the only one person affected by low build quality. I like their oldschool design though. They have very specific look just seem to be nice for me.
    As for the comfort there are good and bad things. The good thing is that you can stretch the headband to the shape you like and it will stay in such state thus you can manage to suit their shape exactly to your head. I believe this is very useful for peopme wit 'thin' or wide heads. I personally did not find it useful as they sit on my head quite comfy anyway. On the downside they sit not only on your head but also on ears. While you do not feel wrong with it during short term listening it can be VERY irritating ofter an hour.The pads of the new version seem to be more comfortable than the standard bowl pads that were supplied with SR80 few years ago. I also think that the new pads make the sound more 'realistic' as it is not so bright comparing to bowl ones and vocals (especially male) sound more natural.
    There is another disadvantage though you 'get it' only when you lbuy these headphones in Europe. In Europe they seem to be much more expensive comparing to US. At the price of ~$179 / £110 they are priced as high as HD595 and they really are not so good in that price range. I would say that it is more SR125 level not SR80. HD595 with the same price as SR80i (in Britain at least) are much better choice in terms of build quality, comfort and value. Even in terms of sound quality HD595 seems to be better, however, only in general as you might find yourself loving the grado sound signature.I would say that the value you get with SR80i is not higher than £80.
  9. vicdiaz
    Vic's Grado SR-80i review
    Written by vicdiaz
    Published Jul 19, 2010
    Pros - Sound and price
    Cons - foam pads
    Compared to the old SR-80s they sound better, but the foam pads, they don't seal against your ears as the older foam pads.
  10. Prog Rock Man
    Written by Prog Rock Man
    Published Jul 6, 2010
    Pros - Dynamic attacking sound, detail, soundstage
    Cons - Some find the pads uncomfortable, the cable.
    The Grado SR80 is a classic headphone. It has a classic style, like a old radio ham. It has been around virtually unchanged for donkeys years. It is a superb entry to audiophile headphone listening.
    Often overshadowed by the baby of the range, the SR60, which has won numerous awards. The SR80s can be had for only £20. When I auditioned for my first headphones, the first to go were the SR60s. The SR80s had more dynamics, detail, everything really. I preferred them to some similarly priced Sennheisers, which did not retrieve the same detail.
    They are know as the rock headphones because of their dynamics and attack. Attack is the speed that a note is started. So if a track goes quiet and then starts again, the Grados can startle with how suddenly the new passage begins. This also creates strong dynamic swings, which work well for rock and orchestral music. Their open backed design makes for a wide sound stage, where instruments feel as if they are around you and not trapped inside your head.
    Some may find them too bright and not a relaxing mellow listen. I think that they do acoustic and vocals in such a way that you feel you are there, with the singer.
    The only, issue and it is for some is the foam pads sitting on the ears. There are two types, bowl with an open centre and flat, like Mickey Mouse ears. I prefer the latter. They also leak a lot of sound and let in a lot as well. So they are no use as portable headphones to be used on public transport.
    The cable is fixed and goes into both sides and is prone to twisting. I hang mine upside down every so often, so the weight of the headphones (which is not much) helps to pull out any twists.
    By the SR80s with confidence that you are already 90% of they way to serious audiophile headphones. Classic.
      Sigfod likes this.
    1. alistair
      Hi there
      been using these since the late 90's... I'd love to know where you got these for £20
      even back then they were around the £60 mark.
      alistair, Apr 5, 2013
    2. AHorseNamedJeff
      Where on earth did you find SR80's for 20 pounds.
      AHorseNamedJeff, May 4, 2013
    3. mamamia88
      would like to know that too.  
      mamamia88, Jun 3, 2014