Grado SR80 vs. SR325i Comparison
Mar 21, 2008 at 9:27 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 18


100+ Head-Fier
Jan 7, 2008
I arrived at head-fi at the beginning of the year with a new pair of Grado SR80s that quickly submerged me in the world of hi-fi audio. Since then I've acquired a few bits of kit hoping to expand upon the great sound I've been getting with my trusty SR80's.
One thing I have done recently is got an Apogee Duet (which I am very happy with and will be doing the comparison with) and some SR325i's. These 325i's currently have about 100hours burn-in on them. I'd image the SR80's have at least 250 hours.
Before buying the SR325i's I'd read quite a lot about them here on head-fi. I was expecting insane levels of detail within an extremely extended top end, which some people find metallic and brash, stronger bass than I'd been experiencing with my SR80s, and overall a more exaggerated Grado sound.
After extensive A/B tests between the SR80 and SR325i over the last couple of days, I've got to say that the golden cans sound nothing like how they were described to me on here.

The SR80s are very clear phones - very forwards sounding and bright (as most of you know) and extremely 'bouncy' - injecting fun into every track you listen. They're kind of like they have an in-built e.q. that makes the parts of the music you love shine through.
...but you probably already know this about the lower-end Grados if you're on here.
The real suprise is how the SR325i's sound in comparison.
The highs don't seem nearly as prominent in the 325, they are less airy and very solid sounding accurate highs as opposed to the more smoothly flowing and natural sounding (although arguably less precise) highs of the '80s. This was extremely suprising to me as you never stop hearing about the high frequency focus that these phones supposedly have according to the majority of head-fi!
The mids are probably the most major difference between the two 'phones. Basically the 325 has much MORE. I've got to say I reckon the people who say they are fatigued by the SR325i's highs are being muppets; it's the mids that do it. They are very strong, rich, articulate mid frequencies, that make these headphones sound incredibly THICK and FAST. This is what you'd spend the extra money on! Where the SR80s sound kind of mid scooped, the 325s fill it in VERY nicely, bringing another dimension to your music if you will. I've never heard a juicer midrange response on a headphone or anything else for that matter.
The bass on the 325s is also much stronger and fuller, and sounds less clinical than the SR80s, which seem to be very accurate in the bass department, where the 325s are smoother and fuller. I have not decided if i prefer the accurate but maybe slightly sterile sound of the SR80's bass, or the 325's more musical sounding bass. One thing is for sure - it's very nice to have more bass, and I think that it really contributes to the thickness and richness of the overall sound.

Both headphones are very much in-your-face headphones, although the SR325i really stands out as the headphone to listen to if you want to be in the middle of the action, due to that FANTASTIC midrange that the SR80's seem to be missing. The SR325i's seem a lot more balanced overall than the SR80's. They remind me more of studio monitors than the SR80's which are far more easy going in comparison, but somewhat distant and thin (in comparison of course!!!).

Really all I'm trying to achieve with this little comparison is to inform people about the SR325i's which seem to have been misinterpreted hugely on this forum. They are thick, fast, aggressive, accurate, low mid focussed phones when compared to the SR80s which sound clearer and brighter and more relaxed.

This is my first analysis of any headphones that I've written so be gentle with me. I just needed to get this out there as my pair of 325i's sound nothing like i'd expected them to. However, I do love them, they are very good for mixing and listening, and they provide a great contrast to my trusty SR80s.

Mar 21, 2008 at 11:55 PM Post #2 of 18
This is indeed a very different impression from the one I have heard commonly on the forums. I'd love to hear the SR325i, but... too expensive
Mar 22, 2008 at 8:59 AM Post #3 of 18
I know; and that's why I actually expected this to be quite a popular topic. 77 views, and you're the only one to reply! Perhaps people are just sort of half reading it and thinking my ears are probably just confused. I assure you all they are not.
I've spent hours upon hours A/Bing these headphones, and I am extremely certain of my observations. Perhaps Grado have changed the design of the SR325i's?
Mar 22, 2008 at 9:22 AM Post #4 of 18
Doesnt seem to sound nothing like my SR325i when I had them. The highs and punchy bass are what dominated the frequency response, (ok, not that extreme) but when I got RS1 I got punched in the face with very fluid and strong midrange and less highs dominance.
Mar 22, 2008 at 11:33 AM Post #5 of 18

Originally Posted by MaZa /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Doesnt seem to sound nothing like my SR325i when I had them. The highs and punchy bass are what dominated the frequency response, (ok, not that extreme) but when I got RS1 I got punched in the face with very fluid and strong midrange and less highs dominance.

Reckon they might have put RS1 drivers in by accident? lol

EDIT: Would there be any way to tell from looking at the drivers themselves? The SR325i's drivers have GRADO printed on the metal bit in the centre quite faintly and in a tall font, the SR80s have GRADO printed on them a lot smaller - it looks like a stamp.
Mar 22, 2008 at 12:20 PM Post #6 of 18
I thought that before too. That maybe wrong drivers were installed in my phones. The 80's I just recently sold, as compared to a pair I had a few years back sounded different. They did not have as many hours on them though as the first pair.My 225's sound different too but they only have maybe 60 hours as compared to a years worth of use.
Mar 22, 2008 at 12:26 PM Post #7 of 18
The pair I listened to for about a week seemed to put a lot of emphasis on upper mids I guess you could say. They had a lot of dynamics and were very quick. That is what I loved about them. Unfortunately, most of my recordings were overly bright because of this. Perhaps it was the recordings themselves but I could not change all of my music or setup so I returned them.
Mar 22, 2008 at 12:29 PM Post #8 of 18
From those pictures of the Grado facility, it looks like it would be very easy for them to mix up drivers... Not the most organized looking of places.
Grado Labs Facility Tour [audiojunkies]
Mar 22, 2008 at 12:31 PM Post #9 of 18
Maybe every once and a while the workers swap them around to give someone a surprise.
Like a rs1 driver in a sr80.
Mar 22, 2008 at 12:33 PM Post #10 of 18
yeah...let's just hope they don't do it the other way around :/
Mar 22, 2008 at 12:42 PM Post #11 of 18
If you goto headrooms website and pull up the chart on the 325i you can see when compared to the other grados that the 325's put more emphasis on all frequencies from about 3khz on up.That sounds about right compared to what I heard when I had a pair.
Mar 22, 2008 at 12:44 PM Post #12 of 18
The SR-80 and SR-225 were my main headphones for eight years. The old SR-325 was brutally bright in comparison. Maybe the newer 325i isnt as bright?

But some recent reviews/ comments that compared the 325i to my favorite MS2i mentioned how much livlier the treble was for the 325i. The MS2i is to sterile, to me, even with my tube amps .... unless I use flat pads. So go figure.
Mar 22, 2008 at 12:44 PM Post #13 of 18
I saw that. It doesn't sound right - do you think I should contact Grado asking for a way to confirm these headphones are 'right'?
Mar 22, 2008 at 12:49 PM Post #14 of 18
You could try and contact them. Maybe they would do an exchange.
Mar 22, 2008 at 1:22 PM Post #15 of 18

Originally Posted by indysmith /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I saw that. It doesn't sound right - do you think I should contact Grado asking for a way to confirm these headphones are 'right'?

If you ACTUALLY have a more refined pair of 325's why get another pair that is potentially brighter less refined version .... unless you want a more emphasized top end.

My take .... these headphones are new to you. You may be drawn to the 325i's much stronger bass and lower midrange. Give them some play time. Your ears may suddenly discover there is a lot of treble present. The SR-80 is defintely bass shy which can make the 80's treble seem more prominent in comparison, at first.

Users who are viewing this thread