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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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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!
0Comment| 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
These headphones have a real retro style and feel that wouldn't look out of place in a world war two German U-Boat. Build quality and finish is to a high standard, although the Sennheiser of old probably have the edge. Still my Grado 125's look and sound as good as new 5 years on. Some complain that the thick cable can detach from the headphone casing and require resoldering - so I handle carefully. The cable is far too short for most general use at 6 foot - my 1970s Sennheiser HD424's lead come in at a far more useful 8.5 feet. So expect to huddle in close to your amplifier or buy the Grado extention lead. Plus the lead only has a 1/4" [6.3mm] standard jack, with no 3.5mm mini-jack for MP3 players/TVs (again you can buy the Grado 15cm mini-jack 6.3mm to 3.5mm adapter). The headphone lead is also very thick and inflexible, so it's relative shortness isn't that helpful when using a small MP3 player (with the optional Grado 3.5mm converter). For my MP3 player I use a lighweight pair of £60 noise cancelling Sennheiser PXC 250 mk1 headphones (that are great and came in black or white varieties), so these Grado 125s are used strictly with my vintage Arcam Alpha 9 amplifier/Alpha CD home HiFi system (also equipped with an Arcam rDAC-kw to take the wireless audio feed from an iPod 160Gb Classic/Arcam rWand+ or laptop/Arcam rWave). The thick cable on the Grado 125s probably mean thick wires, suggesting better sound quality. And that's where the headphones do excel. Bass is tight & powerful, mid-range vocals are clear & precise, and the treble is slightly bright but pleasantly so, and there's the typical open-back spacious soundstage. I listen mostly to rock, pop, and a little folk/country&western music, i.e. a lot of vocals, which the Grado's excel at reproducing. These headphones sound best with high quality HiFi sound sources, and like my Arcam HiFi they are quite neutral and don't add any electronic 'characteristic' or warmth to the sound. With an MP3/iPod player, that's say bass light and bright with MP3 compression artifacts, they will show up the inferior sound source ruthlessly, and the iPod headphone out may not drive them properly anyway (so don't blame the headphones).

The tough, but lightweight and soft, bubbly foam ear cushions make for comfortable long-term wearing, although I had to very slightly bend open the headphones on first use to stop them clamping far too hard on my head - after which they were fine. Some complain they are uncomfortable for extended use, but once modified I can use them for hours. Alternatively you can slowly 'wear them in'. These are supra-aural headphones, i.e. the foam cup presses firmly against the ear rather than surrounding it. The headphone cups swivel round, so you can put one cup against the ear recording engineer style, if you don't mind forgoing sound quality and stereo image (actually very handy when recording on tape/CD and checking levels etc when the TVs on). The fact the headphone cups can spin around & around can really twist the cable where it enters, so watch out for this (it may well be the cause of the reported wiring failures) - using the GRADO HEADPHONE CARRY CASE will prevent the cups rotating when not in use.

I did have to spend another £40 on the Grado 450cm Extension Cable [6.3mm jacks] and the Grado Adaptor Cable 6.3mm to 3.5mm (15cm Length) lead to give the SR125's full functionality. These very solidly built Grado extension leads work really well (unlike the £12 generic one I had that never connected properly). Plus the extension cables 'are constructed from the same high quality wire as Grado's headphone cable'. I knew that the headphone lead was too short, there was no 3.5mm adapter, and that I would have to get these extension cables after I bought the SR125s though. With the massive Grado extension lead I can now sit anywhere in the room and sound quality isn't compromised. So other than the few gripes (which could lose the SR125s a star if they didn't sound so great), I can recommend these Grado SR125 headphones for serious audiophiles.

I have used these headphones for five years now and like them a lot - my elderly HiFi was quite expensive & largely British built, and these headphones compliment it well for iPod, PC, CD, tape, LP and TV sources. More importantly I don't get any bass distortion when playing loud(ish), which led to me dumping my old 'Cyberman' Jecklin Floats. Overall, I like the retro look, like the punchy `rock and roll' sound quality, but always handle the headphones very carefully [and never let the kids use them]. I haven't compared these SR125s to their identical looking but cheaper Grado SR60/80's siblings though, I just took Grado's word for it that they offer superior sound quality for the extra money - independent reviews seem to confirm this. The SR125s feature 'an improved diaphragm and voice coil design and UHPLC [Ultra-high purity, long crystal] copper voice coil wire' compared to the £80 SR80s. I chose these over Sennheiser models, but have yet to discover what Grado's after sales support is like. With my 1970's HD424's I can still order spare foam pads for them cheaply from Sennheiser, and when they were many many years old I could still even buy replacement HD424 leads and speaker units - which is fantastic after sales support. I just hope Grado can match this when I need it (although I'd probably use it as an excuse to jump a bit further up the Grado quality tree). From new, the 125s have a 1 year Grado UK warranty that assumes you purchased them from an "Authorised Grado Dealer", and the Grado UK website sells replacement 125 ear foam inserts and offers a bespoke repair service for out of warranty repairs.

Update August 2012: My Grado SR-125s have found a new lease of life beyond the HiFi system with my gaming PC and the superb Arcam rPAC Personal Audio Converter USB DAC & Headphone Amplifier - you need headphones of this quality to get the best from this Arcam PC USB2 digital to analogue converter (DAC) - CD tracks have to be ripped to ALAC Apple Lossless via iTunes though for the best sound.
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on 16 August 2007
I'm a fan of Grado's headphones having previously owned a pair of SR60's until they disintegrated. I've always valued the Grado headphones as their sound quality is exceptional and their resistances are low, making them ideal for use with non-amplified equipment (e.g Ipod, computer, cd player etc). Most of my friends own senheisers, I've always been very happy with the Grado's.

The quality of sound that the Grados produce is truly awesome. When I received them I spent an entire night going back through my music collection experiencing the music as if it was new. The detail that can be picked out is mind blowing.

I do have a couple of niggles (not bad enough to stop me awarding a top score). Importantly the cable comes with a 1/4" Jack which means that it won't plug into your ipod without an adaptor (less than £2 at Maplin). This was annoying, not least because I had to wait an extra day to try out the headphones. really one should have been included in the box considering the price tag. The headphones do get uncomfortable after a while (i've had this problem with most headphones that I've tried). Finally I'm not convinced that the cable into the headphone casing is going to survive the test of time. This was a problem that I had with my SR60s, I ended up having to resolder contacts every now and again.

But don't let these factors put you off! I really like headphones and thoroughly recommend them. All I can say is: order a pair and make sure you leave a night free to rediscover your music collection!
22 comments| 28 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 December 2007
This is the first pair of Grado headphones I have purchased, not through Amazon but I thought I'd add my two cents never the less.

Clarity and detail are the first things I noticed and as the previous reviewer stated it's a wonderful experience to go back over your music collection and listen to previously missed or unappreciated sections of songs etc.

I have two minor issues though, one of which is that it does take a week or so of constant use for the 'phones to break in, as they can be very uncomfortable initially.

I assure you though this will pass and soon they feel like they are not there.

My second complaint is rather more jovial, in so far as I will have to go back over my entire cd collection and rip it at a higher bit rate, a poor quality rip will sound muddy, flat and lifeless.

These are the best headphone I have ever had the pleasure of using and even with these minor niggles is well worthy of five stars.
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on 12 February 2009
Other reviewers have more than adequately covered the main pros and cons of these excellent headphones. But, I want to add something different which might be useful.

This product is obviously ideally suited to high quality audio equipment BUT if you're looking for great sound on a tight budget my suggestion is that you splash out on these instead of expensive source components. It's a contentious idea, I know, but try it out. If you do it in the shop, what can you lose?

These headphones can make real "music" on the most basic of equipment. Yes, I use them on my hi-fi and they're excellent. But when I attach them to my ultra-cheap MP3 player I am always astounded by how good the music still sounds.

I'm pretty sure that my SR-125s are now at least 10 years old. I have used them nearly every day since I bought them. I've just had to replace the earpads (20 pounds for two pieces of foam!) but the headphones are still in very good condition.

I won't let them go until they completely disintegrate. Then I'll replace them with another pair of SR-125s.

Best money I've ever spent on any hi-fi equipment. And I've spent a lot!
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on 10 October 2009
The headphones arrived 4 days before the estimated delivery date (which was a pleasant surprise). So I eagerly tried it out on a number of different types of songs. I was not disappointed. Particularly poignant was listening to my late father's voice on an old cassette. It felt like he was sitting in front of me! The quality of these headphones compared to my old Sony ones was like the difference between seeing HD television and SD television. Every nuance, every breadth was audible. This is sheer quality!
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on 7 January 2014
These are the best headphones you can get in this price range. Please note that these are designed to be used indoors only. In my opinion Grado needs to improve the physical design of their headphones. After having these for nearly 6 years they started disintegrating. I have always dreamed of the Grado RS1 model but considering the fact that they are based on the same design concept, I would think twice before spending £2000 on a pair of headphones.

In my opinion these are worth buying anyway. Just you need to be careful with them. These are not a tough pair of headphones. They are very fragile so if you want them to last long - look after them and keep them in a safe place.
Also, do not spin the cables around because after a while they start breaking off at the top of the Y shaped splitter.
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on 28 December 2012
I've owned other brands of headphones, some within the price range of these SR125i. But, in the short time I've had these, they have already shown they are remarkably good, perhaps the best I've ever owned. I'm still in the 'burn-in' stage, but their sound is very pleasing, and I expect it to grow even better.
After some hours of use my ears did get a little sore, but they've always done that with all headphones :)
Pair these headphones with a decent source and you'll be able to enjoy many hours of wonderful music.
What could be improved is that they let in a lot of ambient noise. This can become particularly annoying during quiet passages
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on 28 February 2008
I tested the items at a hi-fi show and they sounded great.
Unfortunatly, if a seller cancels your order you can't give feedback as the order is removed. As the item was marked as "In stock" at the time of write, I feel obliged to write something here.
PlanetGizmo do not have this item (at the time of writing) and as far as I can tell from their own website, they don't even stock it.
My only wish is that Amazon themselves stocked this item so I can buy it directly.
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on 31 October 2009
The sound from these SR125i's is superb, which of course is the the most important aspect (5 stars from me) but it's the little things that cause me to take a mark off : first, the cable is pretty short, thick and unwieldy. Also, unlike some of Grado's cheaper headphones, there is no 3.5mm adaptor.
Secondly, (and I appreciate this doesn't affect many people) because I shave my head, I found the headstrap particularly harsh and uncomfortable; would it be so hard to add a little padding?
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