SR-80 review relative to other Grado's (longish)
May 17, 2002 at 4:38 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 5

Ned

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I picked up the SR-80's last week They are my first "good" headphones but I've had good loudspeakers for more than 10 years (currently B+W CDM 1NT's).

I bought the SR-80's and ordered the SR-325's since the store didn't have them in stock. I later cancelled the 325's feeling that $410 was a little too much to spend on headphones at this point and due to my satisfaction with the SR-80's.

My impression of the full line from 60 up to RS-2 (didn't hear the RS-1) is that they all have a similar sound. Sennheiser on the other hand, seems to have a different sound for every single pair of headphones, as if they don't really know what they are trying to achieve. Overall I found Sennheisers' to have way too much "slam" and not enough detail (enter Grado).

To my ears, the 60/80/125/225 all have similar bass capability, probably limited to the earcup size. The 80's are more potent than the 60's but the 80/125/225 are very similar. This is not to say that they are equal in quality, the higher you go the more sophisticated the sound becomes. However, when you hit the 325's you get into the larger earcups (aluminum here, then wood in the RS models). This to me was the biggest change in bass response. Upright basses, bass guitar and drums have a new resonance in the 325's that I found totally missing in the lower models. The RS-2 also had this new resonant character but to a lesser degree. I found it wonderful, which is why I initially ordered them in additon to the 80's.

I did most of my listening at the store on the 80's, 325's and RS-2's. To me the 125/225 didn't provide enough improvement to justify the extra expense. If i want more quality than the 80's provide (and can afford/justify the cost), then the 325's are the only ones that do it while also providing the extra element of bass resonance.

To describe the "veil" that the 80's have compared to the higher models, I would say it's like your head is surrounded by a box made of thin paper with the sound trying to penetrate to your ears within it. The original, natural sound is slightly masked/deflected/absorbed whereas the RS-2/325 seem to lift the veil away. I've often read this "veil" metaphor in speaker reviews but the effect isn't this prominent.

Overall I found the RS-2 and the SR-325 to be equal but different in their character. The RS-2's were sometimes magnificent, but at other times they lacked in bass resonance and sounded a tad too analytical compared to the 325's. Sometimes however, the 325's didn't quite have the imaging and authenticity of the RS-2's. Often they sounded quite similar, dare I even say the same, although never in the bass octaves.

The similarity in the Grado line is something that I feel is a strong benefit. The character changes somewhat with each so for those who want a little more bass, a little more treble, there is probably one right model for them.

Going back to the SR-80's, they are perhaps overshadowed by the higher models and yet complimented by them too. If you switch back and forth you can definitely hear differences in texture, subtlety, realism, which make the SR-80's seem less impressive. But then again, it's listening to the fabulous higher end models that expose these shortcomings and you realize how good the SR-80's are for the relatively small price. Heard any $90 speakers lately that sounded wonderful at times? Ultimately this is what made me cancel the 325's. They are wonderful cans but the 80's do much of what they can do and at an easier to manage price. One day they'll be mine but the 80's will satisfy till then.

As for comfort, I bought the SR-60 "comfy pads" since many others here had posted about the annoyance the "bowl pads" can cause. The "comfy's" are more comfortable but they accentuate bass and soften treble (sometimes a good thing, sometimes not). I would definitely recommend getting them as an alternative to the "bowls". Being able to swap the earpads so quickly is a nice design feature.

I don't remember what it was exactly that sparked my sudden interest in headphones but it's been very interesting and rewarding for the "speakers only" kind of audiophile that I had been.

Thanks go to this forum, the Headwize forum and Goodcans.com for the information that they provide.

To any angry Sennheiser fans
smily_headphones1.gif
my taste in B+W speakers can probably tell you what my tastes in music reproduction tend toward so don't feel that I'm condemning them. They just don't appeal to my taste.
 
May 17, 2002 at 4:55 AM Post #2 of 5

Bongofury

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I was wondering myself about the 325's, as I had bought the 80's and was wondering if the 325's would have more bass and low end punch. While the 80's sound great, it left me wondering if there is more. The 325's may be in the future, but the 80's still sound pretty good. My impressions were that the 80's lacked a little on the low end, especially the kick drum, and the cymbals were a little hissy, not crisp. I also found that the open hi-hat was a little hissy too. Do the 325's provide a cure for those short commings? You can read my impressions of the 80's, under my "Bongofury" SR 80 first impression. It's too bad that the 325's would cost around $450 Canadian dollars.
 
May 17, 2002 at 5:57 AM Post #3 of 5

millerdog

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Ha! As a grado lover I too was thinking of some B&W speakers! My beloved Spicas died, but at the time I bought them, B&Ws were my second choice!
enjoy your grados!
md
 
May 17, 2002 at 12:34 PM Post #5 of 5

Beagle

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Welcome Ned. That was one of the most concise, articulate and down to earth Grado reviews I've read here.

I agree that the SR80 is the best bang for the buck and may be all one needs in a headphone. I find the SR225 and 325 a bit more refined and less "grungy" or "plasticky" sounding but only in a direct A/B comparison. One could say the SR80 is more forward in the upper midrange or the 225 and 325 are more laid back in that area.

I find the higher range models are tweaked to provide a different sound but not one that is necessarily "better" for all ears. The main improvements or benefits with the 225 and 325 are better imaging and soundstaging (ex. a vocal is more precicely/tightly positioned)
 

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