on 25 October 2009
I got these as I couldn't take my sennheiser PC350 gaming headphones out without attracting strange looks, I also heard they were incredibly highly regarded as excellent for audio.
When I put them into my Yamaha electronic drumkit, I was blown away. Into my X-fi soundcard, blown away yet again. Even in my iPhone unamplified they failed to disappoint. Waiting for the pocket amp to arrive.
I haven't seen one thing wrong with these headphones as of yet, the quality is simply stunning.
on 9 September 2011
I have only had these headphones for a few hours, and though they have some obvious design faults - headband too narrow and too tight and not adjustable; uncomfortable on-ear cans rather than over-ear cushions; plasticky; doubtful reliability according to other Amazon reviews; too long a connection cord - who cares when the sound quality blows you away!!! I have some Beyerdynamic DT 990 headphones which I thought were the bees knees until I heard the Grado SR80i. Now it is clear that the DT 990s are mellow in comparison with the SR80is which produce a sound which is indistinguishable from that of my high quality hi-fi system that consists of a Quad 405 amp and Yamaha NS100 monitor loudspeakers. I have overcome the tight headband by using an elastic band and some cut-down knitting needles, and I will probably fit some over-ear cushions and shorten the connecting cord. But at the end of the day, the Grado SR80i headphones are phenomenal.
Update: Warning! If you can't live with the uncomfortable headband and ear pads, or if you want sturdier, more reliable headphones which give comparable sound quality, then I suggest you opt for Beyer (some people have 'bent' the Grado headband spring to reduce the pressure on their ears). However, if you can put up with their annoyances, the sound from the SR80i is something special. Better still, if you can fit the Grado cans into a more comfortable headband, with over-ear cushions, then you will have a pair of headphones to die for - that's why I still give them five stars, despite their shortcomings. I am now using the Grados in a comfortable (ex-Beyer) headband with over-ear cushions (without the original sponge pads), though it wasn't easy to convert them. And it was whilst I was doing this conversion that I noticed some other doubtful features. In particular, the connecting wire is a sturdy, moulded cable, until it reaches the Y-junction where it changes to wires encased in sleeving, which is not a sturdy arrangement. I also noticed that the headphone units which are glued into an outer plastic tube, are both cockeyed, with one edge several mm nearer the ear than the other! On the other hand there is a two-year guarantee with the phones. When I contacted Grado about the reliability issue, their response amounted to complacency verging on arrogance. They had millions of satisfied customers, they said, and it was to be expected that a few dissatisfied customers would vent their spleen on the internet - which is true. But it is also true that Grado SR80i headphones are built to a standard I would expect from a plastic toy from China. German, precision engineering they are not! Which is a shame.
PS: One Amazon reviewer complains about the lack of bass response in the SR80i. I didn't notice this but bass response can depend on how close the earphone drivers are to the ear, and mine are closer in my alternative headband. Nor do I use the black, foam ear pads, although they don't seem to have much effect on the sound. Also, I am used to the crisp, damped, boom-free bass from my Yamaha NS100 monitor loudspeakers, with their 'infinite' baffles, and the SR80i provide similar bass. The other possibility is a variation from one set of phones to another, which would not be surprising, considering their design and construction.
PPS: Several months now and the Grados continue to blow my socks off! With their phenomenal 'openess' you aren't just listening to the music - you are there!
I have to concur with what other reviewers have said. These headphones sound great but build quality is not as good as some other brands, certainly they are not as well built as my Sennheiser's. The main issue for me is the length of cable which is approximately 1.8m and not long enough to allow me to sit on my usual chair and listen. I was going to order the Grado extension cable but after doing a couple of hours research I ordered a cable of (supposed) equal quality, longer and half the price Fisual S-Flex 3.5mm Jack Headphone Extension Cable - White 2m
I have listened to a selection of CD's from the latest Aleksandra Kurzak opera arias CD - 'Gioia' to Velvet Revolver's 'Contraband' and found these headphones to be very capable of dealing with the complete range from Kurzak's high notes to Slash's rifts. The base is maybe a tiny bit weaker than my Sennheisers but not too much that you would notice if you didn't have other phones to compare with. The phones respond quickly to changes in level and tone and for phones under £200 I would think they would be hard to beat.
I cannot imagine wearing these for longer than a couple of hours as they don't fit as comfortably as would be wished. I am fortunate after reading other reviews that the headband isn't too much of an issue for me.
If you want a great sounding set of headphones under £200 then these will fit the bill nicely.
on 15 March 2008
Recently I bought a pair of AKG k701s. Fantastic headphones, but not good at rock music. After much online reading, I bought these Grado SR80 headphones to plug that gap.
The difference between the two headphones is profound. My immediate impression of the Grado SR80 was 'yuck'! The boxing looks cheap, the headphones (compared to k701s) are plasticky and the foam was on wonky. They didn't look like a 'prestige series' headphone. However, they're lightweight for overear cans and much more comfortable than I had been led to believe.
In terms of sound, the tonality I'm told is characteristic of Grado - warm, bass-heavy but still with excellent treble. They go loud... very loud without distorting and (to my ears at least) they sound as good straight off the ipod as with a headphone amp (I own a Ray Samuels hornet which I don't use with these headphones). The soundstage is SMALL - well defined, clear, but more like you're in a band-room than an opera house! Which is why they're excellent for rock music. When saying the soundstage is small, I'm not saying that the stereo representation or localisation of sound is in any way other than excellent - just that everything is very immediate and close-to. They're also bassy, but not overly so. I find for certain types of music such as electronic like fluke or moby (or if I'm just in the mood for bass) that the Hip-Hop EQ enhances the bass without overly affecting the other frequency ranges. The other EQs on my 5G iPod muddy the sound too much to be of use.
So - look a wee bit cheap, but sturdy build, lovely sound which is best suited to rock, nice stereo and definition, but small soundstage. I use them as my walk-about headphones and do wear them in public (although they leak being open-backed). However, they're most definitely not reference and if for you the joy is in the detail - in hearing the vocalist breath, in hearing the buzz of a guitar string, in precisely pinpointing orchestral instruments I wouldn't recommend. However, if you love music as a whole (the overall sound), if you want your brains jangled, if you want the best sound on your mp3 player without having to invest in an amp then you can't go far wrong with these.
Finally, I disagree with one of the other reviewers comments about iPods. I use iPod 5G, RSA Hornet and AudioLineOut Supercotton Dock and in my humble opinion this system (provided mp3s are well-encoded) would be hard to fault. Granted, I don't own stacks of very very expensive hi-fi equipment and can't directly compare.
on 3 May 2009
Lots of reviewers of Hi-fi in general have little audio background - which always makes reviews quite funny to read.
I went through a London DJ's collection of high-end headphones for a comparison. Won't name any brands, but all his kit was closed-back, made far more robustly than the grados, and was at least twice the price.
Listening in a quiet room with my library of lossless tracks, the pure sound quality the grado's totally outstripped nearly all of them. He said that while they would be useless for DJing, their value for money was a lesson to the audio manufacturers of his kit.
With their defined and open sound, playing a diverse range of tracks from the high-end accuracy of Dire Straits to the thumping bass drive of pendulum shows a balance of sound with no need to adjust EQ. Vocals of kansas, jamiroquai's bass lines, ACDCs drive, and the quality of Dooley's world(ATB)on a hi-end amp make my friend's eyes go wide.
Closed back phones with a more robust build are far more suited to everyday "Bose" use, but the audio quality and comfort of the Grados is unbeatable for their price, and truly embarrasses Bose's attempts. They totally outclass the etymotic ER6is too.
I don't know what kind of Ipod the other reviewer was using, but I have no issues driving the grados on my ipod classic at half volume. Classics have more amp power than the other ipods though - perhaps that's why.
While they'd be useless for DJ use - they are a great choice for the ipod user who wants the best sound, especially if you can put up with having to look after them - you can't just stuff them in a ruck sack. But when they sound this good - looking after them shouldn't be an issue....if portability and robustness are your priorities, then just go back to the original earphones. I'll never take these on the train or bus without taking care. Some don't like the basic looks - but you'd never see Craig David wearing these things, which is one of the best things about them. Enough said!
on 27 March 2012
Pros: Astounding sound quality
Cool retro look
Cons: Quality of materials is questionable.
Ordered these after reading reviews in magazines and online as I was looking for some decent cans as an upgrade to my Sennheiser HD202's. £112 is a fair bit to spend and at the limits of my budget but any doubts I had disappeared as soon as I heard these headphones. Your music collection gets a new lease of life no matter what you listen to. Excellent separation, crisp treble, punchy base and excellent midrange. I am writing this review after only listening to them for around 6 hours though apparently after they are broken in, they only get better and better. The sound is clearly better listening through a hi fi or computer with more amplification though through my ipod touch they still sounds great. The 50's retro look is love it or hate it. Personally I think they look great.
The bad points I would say are that they do look quite cheap when you have a good look at them. The quality of the plastics and headband suggest that the money has clearly gone into recreating a great sound. Only time will tell if the build is strong enough. The cabling on the other hand is quite thick.
Many reviews talk about sound leakage. Personally I don't think it is as bad as I was expecting it to be but I was aware of what to expect so it doesn't bother me personally as I only use them at home.
To summarise, if superb sound quality is at the top of your list, I cannot recommend these enough. If you want a fashion statement and sound quality is secondary, look elsewhere. I can only wonder what the higher specification Grado's sound like.
on 5 January 2011
What the Grado SR80i's are not:
- Commuter's headphones. If you use these on a train not only will everyone else hear you but you will hear them. Even when I tried them in a relatively quiet record shop the background noise stopped me from hearing what they are really capable of.
- iPod headphones. Don't get me wrong, they are bloody amazing when plugged into my iPod, but they are not good as they can be. I'd say they are better than any headphone I have tried in a portable music player, but that's not what these are about.
- Dance music headphones. For me, the bass is quite subtle. Maybe it's just me being used to a heavy bass on dance tracks, or cheaper headphones compensating for a lack of clarity with an over heavy bass. From what I read it is something you get used to, maybe this is how the music was meant to sound before bass-heavy sound systems came into the mix?
What the Grado SR80i's are:
- To be listened to in absolute silence, or as near as humanly possible. Kick everyone out of the house, plug them in, and play something acoustic from a good source. Dido's No Angel album is good for this, as is Mumford and Sons. You will really hear the difference. It will sound like you have the artist singing a meter or two away from your ears, they are that good.
- Amplified, they sound even better. From my iPod classic, they were too quiet. Clarity was still amazing, but they weren't driven well enough. In a laptop this was better and they were plenty loud enough. Plugged into a decent amplifier and playing from a CD, they were outstanding. Words cannot describe. The difference in recording quality over the past thirty years can really be heard as well. I cannot recommend these enough.
Something to be careful of though is that they will play to quite a loud volume without distorting, so watch the temptation to keep turning them up as you could damage your ears. Oh, and they come with a 3.5mm to 1/4 inch plug so don't worry about buying an extra.
on 7 April 2011
bought these headphones a while ago, price hasn't changed,not much to look at, reminds you of a 1st world war pilots headphones,but thats where the similarity stops, these are truly very very good cans,for either audio or movies,audio is crisp and sharp,even in ballads you can just about make out what instrument is playing, also in rock/metal music the sound keeps the same no need to keep adjusting the volume on your hi-fi they really do handle music well, i also purchased the grado headphone extention lead which grado guarantee %100 no sound loss, which they dont. only draw back for some is that other people can hear the sound from these as they are not an enclosed type,so if you where to sit next to someone on a bus/plane they would also be able to make out what you where listening to, very snug fit on the head without giving you too much pressure around the ear, one draw back is the headphones lead, can tangle very easily and get twisted but thats a slight problem if any. 9/10 to grado.
pros, very good phones, audio crisp sharp, very good price,these headphones are only as good as the system you are connecting to,e.g a cheap hi-fi will not do these phones any justice at all,
like the saying goes,'you only get what you pay for'
cons, not much to look at, they dont fold flat, not goood for commuting, lead can get twisted.
got mine from amazon, fast service and delivery, best phones iv'e ever spent money on, and iv'e had a few in my time, GET A PAIR NOW
on 16 December 2011
My first pair of Grado cans and I am not disappointed, more like wow! WHY haven't I tried these before? If your after snazzy good looks and lush build quality/finish buy another brand, if its a great soundstage and superior totally involving listening experience then get Grado cans! Personally I quite like the retro look, LOVE the Grado sound. I would not put anyone off buying these, but as with any audio component think an audition/demo is always a good idea where possible. Details of sound stage and quality are already in reviews, and I agree; Fantastic, these just get better with use. Replacement earpads (the 325i "L type" Grado Spare Pads for SR225i/325i/RS1i/RS2i (L Cushion) or even GS1000i "bowl type" Grado Spare Pads for GS/PS1000) are available along with the SR80i "pancake" type Grado Spare Pads for SR60i/80i/125i (S Cushion) all fit and depending on the listener have varying effects on the sound, the larger ones giving a more "open" sound IMO as they are a little further away from your ears and are not obstructed by foam at all like the standard type which are fine, I just like to experiment a little. Just a matter of personal taste & in some cases comfort. Also worth considering with these; Grado extension cable (4.5m) if you require it, and a good case too, which in my opinion is a must have for these if your going to be taking them out and about. Sound fantastic through my smartphone, mp3 player, HiFi AMP headphone socket and DAC headphone out. A real all-rounder. I am already looking to my future Grado upgrade for pure home HiFi audio. It would take a pair of speakers 10 times the cost of these to achieve close to the same detailed quality sound. They put you "right there"..... For listening at home; Grado 450cm Extension Cable For portability; GRADO HEADPHONE CARRY CASE
on 10 April 2008
Just got a set of these. The sound from them is great, I'm no audiophile, but they sound a lot better than the Sennheiser HD497 phones I used to use (that said these are more expensive). I use these mainly at work in a shared office, so these points for me are important:
- they leak sound a bit more than my Sennheisers did, or at least, my office mate says they're just as bad. Having said that I can listen to music at much lower volumes with these and they're still clear and rich.
- I can hear my colleagues talking much more than I used to with my old set. The foam doesn't go over my ears quite as much (yet). This is good and bad. I can hear them when I'm listening to music -- bad. I don't shout anymore when I use my phones for Skype -- good.
- the cable is much shorter than my old set, which is great. I used to roll over my Sennheiser's cable occasionally with my chair (probably their undoing). With these the cable is a tidy length that sits on the desk and doesn't reach the floor. This combined with the fact the cable seems a load thicker and better put together should mean I get a bit of a longer life out of these.
Overall, I'm happy.