Top positive review
19 people found this helpful
Once you have Grado, you'll never go back!
on 27 May 2011
Before I write this review, i will give you a little background to my purchase of these hoping anyone reading can relate. This pair of Grado headphones were the first phones i've ever owned from the company, prior to this I owned (and still own) many different Sennheiser models ranging from the HD 595 to the CX 870. I have read so many positive reviews on this small independent American headphone company that I had to try them myself, i opted for this model as they're better than the widely reviewed sr 80i but i couldn't afford the steep price tag of the sr 225i so i opted for this pair, this was one of the best audio equipment decisions I think i have ever made.
Many people write that Grado's are of poor build quality, this i would like to completely disagree with. These phones are very well made, the steel bar that runs through the faux leather headband has only caused me discomfort after about 2 hours of use, even then it only takes a 30mins rest and then i could go another 2 hours of music listening without fatigue. Another issue I read is the comfort, i think i must be wearing a different headphone to these reviewers cos these flat ear cushions are more comfortable than my Sennheisers. Yes when first out the box the ear pieces press pretty firm against your head, but you simply bend the metal bar and they ease off very quickly, sometimes i genuinely forget i am wearing them due to them being so light (people maybe referring to the bowl ear cups of the later Grado's/sr 125 when talking about comfort, i can imagine they are uncomfortable). The cable on this is both very long and thick, the sign of a truly excellent quality cable can be seen straight away.
Enough of the aesthetics, let's talk sound quality. This is quite a hard part to talk about when discussing my experience with Grado, so let me give a balanced argument. Positives first; these are so easy to drive, an iPod can do them justice, at the same time a powerful amp will make a noticeable difference, these only get better. the sound of these are very direct, detailed, spacious, exciting and fast. I don't listen to this bull by Dr Dre about "hearing parts of a song you never knew where there" (the only thing you hear with them Beats by Dre is over-enhanced bass) with these headphones you TRULY hear things you never knew where there, unfortunately that also means if you are listening to a low mp3 quality file you will know about it. Music sounds like you are sitting next to the artist as oppose to my Sennheiser's which in comparison sounds pretty distant and dark (you would be amazed when you make the transition), but the spacious open aired design of the headphones means there is a very good sound stage too (direct and spacious, i know right it's a bit of an oxymoron). You can place individual instruments, vocals sound clean and very realistic.
Now the negatives. These are essentially small loudspeakers, my god they leak sound more than a hole in a bucket full of water, if you want private listening in a public area then get another headphone, these are for home use ONLY. The worst part about these headphones is I cannot work out whether or not these headphones have decent bass or not. One thing I can say for certain, there are no deep lows on this phone (closed headphones can really hit this spot) and as a result I strongly recommend against you getting these for anything bass heavy i.e. R&B, Drum & Bass, Hip Hop etc. However, this phone seems to love the mid-range of bass, especially punchy bass from say a bass drum on a drum kit or a bass guitar. When you listen to indie music, Jazz or Rock then these headphones appear to have a lot of bass, something i cannot get my head around. on the other hand, some R&B songs packed serious bass through the Grados so I guess it is completely variable.
Overall, i absolutely LOVE the Grado sound. Although they don't pack that low, deep bass that would be ideal for movies and R&B/Hip-Hop lovers they still have strong, warm and clean bass in the mid range that really does indie/rock/jazz music justice. I found that with headphones that pack excessive bass my ears fatigued very quickly, because the bass on these are pretty weak on the lows I found my listening periods extended dramatically, also the lack of resonating bass in my skull meant the soundstage opens dramatically and the detail shines through everywhere. Music is so clean and exciting to listen to now, you hear vocals and harmonising in tracks that were simply never there before, the subtle tapping of a drum kit cymbal in the distance suddenly becomes as clear as day with these on. One final thought, you need to watch a film on these. I did, and although there is a relatively weak impact when an explosion goes off it's the spacious sound these give that make the film so immersive!
These are expensive, they will probably not satisfy bass heads (my speakers/sub-woofer are what i use to satisfy my bass needs) but my god they are worth every single penny if you value quality over everything else. If this is what the sr125i's did to me, I may invest in the higher range of Grado's in the distant future. Do your ears a favour, I would recommend to anyone interested!