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Grado SR80i Concerns/Buyer's Remorse. Help Appreciated

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by chubbyone, Oct 31, 2012.
  1. chubbyone
    I'll try and keep this short but explain my situation well enough so you can help!
    I scoured the forums for hours, decided on a pair of Grado SR80i's. I listened through my iPad 2 w/ Spotify at 320kbps and MacbookPro with Flac converted to Apple Lossless in iTunes. I was initially blown away. But both scenario's have produced some pretty sharp feeling highs to my ears on some songs. I read all about how Grados have a bright tone, but didn't expect certain noises to actually cause me discomfort. Alicia Keys "Girl on Fire" for example, is on the threshold of amazing and painful. I can't decide which. While all of my Dave Matthews stuff sounds better than I knew it could.
    So I read more about break-in and dac's and amps, and in keeping with my "budget build" got a FiiO E7 to hopefully boost bass a bit at a lower volume and balance things out. This amp/dac combo definitely makes things sound better, the little bit of bass boost (level 1 of 3) is to my personal liking. I am still finding certain songs that just don't seem to sound right though. I have the stock comfies and have done no mods.
    I only have about 25 hours on the headphones, I did not perform any break-in as I read so many conflicting ideas on whether or not it even exists. I used to listen to a ~$80 pair of Sony IEM's. Very bass heavy and muddy sounding comparatively, and while I don't think they sound good now, compared to the Grado's, they still don't hurt...
    And one final detail, that just kind of dawned on me... I have been having some sinus (cold related issues) could this cause over sensitivity in my ears?
    Lastly, I have until November 24th to return the headphones. So I am not opposed to other suggestions in the $100-175 range, keep in mind I now also have a small amp/dac, while not the greatest, can still drive a larger can if needed.
    Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read this.... [​IMG]
  2. cel4145
    Leave them breaking in one more day and see if that helps. I ended up with two pairs of SR80is at the same time, and I swear I could hear a difference between new just a few hours out of the box, and already broken in. 
  3. charliex
    I'd tend to go with the assumption that your cold and related sinus issues likely has something to do do with it.  Wait a week or so and see where you are at.  Yes, Grado tend to be bright, and you also have the second lowest (outside of iGrado) Grado they make.  I found brightness issues from SR-60 (a fine pair of headphones!) through to the SR-225.  You may wish to save up for RS-1 (expensive), or if you can find a used HF-1.  Or you could go another headphone line route. An HiFiMan HE-400 might meet your needs and is an affordable planar-magnetic.  I just recently picked up an HE-300 (dynamic) and was pretty impressed (and much cheaper).
  4. chubbyone
    Hopefully with a little more time, they will warm up a tad, and my cold will pass and I won't have anymore concern...
    In the meantime, I was able to audition a pair of Beyerdynamic 770/80 pros today at Guitar Center. I wouldn't say I didn't like them, but they are vastly different than the Grados. Almost shockingly, given that I had had the Grados on only 2 hours before. The Beyers sounded very distant, and almost echo like. I felt more bass, but lost the detail that I like so much from the Grado. I took my E7 hooked up to an iPod nano via LOD which has Lossless music on it.. so I was driving it the same as my Grado.
    Is there a headphone under $200 that may be a mix of both?
    I know people knock SkullCandy all the time, but I tried the Aviators out too. I was kinda surprised, they seem like a good sound to me, and I can get them at $90 instead of $150. Though I only was able to listen to the skullcandy demo track. These headphones are actually what sparked my whole interest in over/on ear's initially, since I have an employee purchase program. Further, the new MixMaster series from skullcandy is at a discount as well. Around $210 if anyone has any thoughts on that..
    I almost wish I never found this site! I have become too critical haha
  5. cel4145
    The Grados have amazing transient response. So it's more than just their brightness adding the details.  I'd love to know, too, of another $200 headphone that that kind of speed. Guitar is just awesome on the Grados. I hope you find some that come close to that [​IMG]
  6. chubbyone
    This my fear. I am starting to understand the "Sorry for your wallet."
    I can't "unhear" the Grado detail that I like in the guitar stuff, certain tracks are a bit overbearingly bright, but when they shine... they shine.
  7. cel4145
    You may also not be able to tell in a short listening session to other phones in stores. I also have ATH-A900Xs that I like. But if I listen to them after I've been using the Grados lately, it can take a half an hour or more before I get used to the different sound again. 
  8. earwigger
    Your SR80 Headphones will improve after at least 100 hours of use.
    As to why they are so popular I think the answer lies in their close resemblance
    to the warm sound produced by the Shure  phono cartridges widely used in
    broadcasting  such as SC3 and M44e . The entry Marantz CD players were very
    popular for their captivating  believable sound.
  9. Christo4
    Coincidence or not, i just bought the SR 80i because i wanted too see what the hyped "Grado sound" was like and i have the same problems. On some tracks like Dust in the wind they sound amazing but on others they make my ears hurt.
  10. chubbyone
    I sent the Grados back. 75 more hours of listening probably would have caused me actual auditory damage. Something about the high's just didn't work for me. I can see why so many people praise this headphone, unfortunately I fall into the group that finds them too bright.

    I purchased a set of UE6000's two nights ago, and haven't looked back. I knew as soon as I put these on that I was on the wrong path for my tastes with the SR80i's. The UE's aren't quite as detailed, but overall suit my needs far better. I am completely satisfied with them at this point, and find the E7 to be a worthwhile addition to their sound.

    So thanks for the input, hopefully someone else can find something worthwhile from my experience.
  11. earwigger
    The Sennheiser HD555 Headphones are a close alternative to the Grado sound but not quite so fast or overly bright.
    E-Bay dealers are selling them in the UK for £80 (brand new) and possibly in the USA too. I have a pair for easy listening (Nina Sim Simone etc)
    but I need to get accustomed to either "phones" for a couple of tracks but I thoroughly enjoy both.
    If you are in real doubt maybe after another day or two return the SR80's for a refund and try to listen to the Senns 555. The model  range differ when
    compared to the closed back ones. Sennheiser 555 are open backed and are clear and have good insight into the nuances of voices.
    Try not to wind up with too many headphones; two should be plenty!
  12. Chris J
    I don't own a pair of Grados, but everytime I hear a pair of SR-225 or RS-2i I get filled with Grado lust.
    Someday I want to get my grubby paws on my own pair.
    Anyway, I can understand what you are saying, for example, I just cannot understand what anyone sees in Senn HD-650.
    Final thoughts: It's hard to just use one pair of phones for everything, I find myself going back and forth between various headphones, different sound signatures for different kinds of music.
    Really, the best headphones for you are the headphones you like.
  13. Strangelove424
    I had the same reaction to them at first too. At first I EQed them down at 2kHz, then rolled op amps. That helped a bit, but ultimately they are still bright.  I got a tube amp for another pair of phones, and Grados sound really incredible on it, but their character never really changes. I won’t lie to you, it’s a fatigueing headphone and it’s a little more than “being honest”. They shove everything into your face, but no other headphone in the world regardless of price will give you that kind of experience. I still prefer them for rock’n’roll over any other mid-fi headphone I’ve heard (DT880 I own, K701 I swapped with a friend, and a pair of HD600s from Amazon I eventually sent back) which are all 3-4x the price. I bought a pair of Beyers, known for extension and punch, but they still don’t do rock’n’roll the same kind of justice. The truth is, I’ve never left a rock concert without my ears ringing. The Grados invoke that kind of experience within me, as harsh as they can be. Sometimes music is not supposed to be smooth. Jimmy Hendrix’s National Anthem, for instance, is supposed to hurt, it’s supposed to make you feel pain, because it’s a harsh and violent  expression of pain. I can’t tell you Grados are your kind of can, but I would give them another week and see how you feel then. I did the same for myself, and at the end of the week my frame of my mind had changed. The way I saw it, it was a live concert in a can. Front row tickets. Actually... ON STAGE tickets. haha
    Edit: I also wanted to say I'm a DMB fan too. If you end up sending back the Grados, or need a reason to keep them, please listen to the version of All Along the Watchtower from Listener Supported first. It's something to experience. The hairs on your neck will stand up straight. 
  14. stacker45
    It's refreshing to read an objective point of view like yours,to quote you ''just didn't work for ME'',''wrong path for MY taste'',''suit MY needs far better'',i'm glad that you've found what you were looking for with the UE6000s,enjoy them

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