GRADO SR80E: The Evolution

Disclaimer: Grado USA sent us the Grado SR80E for this review

 

GRADO

First, I need to apologize to L, Headfonia, and most of all Grado for the EXTREME delay in this review. My life took a crazy turn as of late (for the good), and my time and energy for writing was all but gone. Thank you all for your understanding and patience.

What do I love more than good sounding gear? That’s right! Cheap, good sounding gear. The Grado SR80e on review today definitely gets the price right, but does it have the performance to back it up? Let’s find out.

Grado Labs, of course, has been around for many years, being founded in 1953 (that’s 61 years for those who hate math), and making phono cartridges (which they still do). In 1989, they started making headphones. Their current headphone lineup can run you anything from $79 (SR60e) to $1700 (PS1000e). They recently redesigned (new drivers, housing and cables) their Prestige series line, of which the SR80e is a part. Their Prestige series goes from the afore mentioned SR60e to the $295 SR325e. So this is their entry level line. Grado is also quite well known for their, how do I say… intense midrange. So, does this new Grado live up to the reputation of old? Let’s find out.

SR80E

The SR80e comes with a double ended (non-removable) cable terminated in a 1/8 inch plug and containing a ¼ inch adaptor. My favorite thing about this headphone, before taking sound into account, is how comfortable it is. It is extremely light. I’m not sure what better compliment I can pay than the fact I can easily forget that I have them on. The leather headband does a fine job of evenly distributing what little weight there is. The cable feels fairly substantial, and it did a good job of behaving itself. It doesn’t tangle and there is no issue with microphonics. The build of the headphone feels solid. The cups swivel 360 degrees, and are of plastic construction. It looks like a good headphone of its price point: a good, $100 headphone.

I will mention here that I did most of my listening with ALO’s The Island and a Fiio e9k/Dacport LX combo, figuring, at their price, they would be good, reasonable pairings for the SR80e. Although, with an impedance of 32 ohms, it can be driven fine by an Ipod, the fact that the Grado leaks sound in and out like mad (it is open-backed, after all), means that, at home, with a nice little amp is where this thing belongs.

Sound

I hope I’m not risking an anticlimax by saying the SR80e sounds like a Grado, but they do. To those of you who don’t know what that means, here’s what you are looking at. The bass puts down a good, firm bottom. It has enough body to make it feel substantial, and hits with good impact. It also goes down fairly deep. The treble has some sparkle to it, nice detail, and I didn’t find the treble to be fatiguing. The bass and the treble do their job, and their job is to compliment the midrange. It is this midrange that Grado Labs’ headphones are known for, those very special Grado mids that set their headphones apart from the others.

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GRADO SR80E: The Evolution
4.2 (83.72%) 43 votes

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20 Comments

  • Reply October 28, 2014

    Krzysztof Maj

    Hello,
    You’re saying that these cans are not for classical. Have you found any other cans from Grado line to be good for classical music? For instance 325is/e?

    • Reply October 28, 2014

      ohm image

      The GR10 earphones are A+ for classical in terms of extension and power in both extremes. Not cans, though.

      • Reply October 28, 2014

        Krzysztof Maj

        Yes, but those are IEM’s. Interested in full desktops headphones.

        • Reply October 28, 2014

          Headfonia_L.

          And it has to be Grado?

          • Reply October 28, 2014

            Krzysztof Maj

            Well, could be also other producer, but if yes, than I am assuming that for the classical music you don’t recommend any Grado cans.

            • Reply October 28, 2014

              Headfonia_L.

              I probably wouldn’t, indeed

              • Reply October 28, 2014

                Krzysztof Maj

                Hm, ok. I have 325is and quite enjoyed classical over them, but I think they need good match with headphone amp – event built-in. I am not saying that 32Ohm cans need headphone amp, but if using let say DAC with in-built headphone out it needs to be a good match. In my case I needed to change some caps/resistors around the opamp to change frequency response in lower/mid bass and now they’re singing.

                • Reply October 28, 2014

                  dalethorn

                  I agree on the 325 series – they are slightly forwad, but in a pleasing way, and never harsh.

  • Reply October 28, 2014

    Anthony Kimball

    Bon Voyage, enjoy life, & thanks for the review!!

  • Reply October 28, 2014

    Marc

    Goodbye Dave and thank you for all the wonderful reviews!! Good luck with your new job!

  • Reply October 28, 2014

    ohm image

    Dave, I am sad to see you go, but love to watch _how_ you left. The pleasure has been all ours. This was a fitting product from which to make a final leap. Well done.

  • Reply October 28, 2014

    John123John

    at least leave us with another HD 650 review before you go! 🙂

    • Reply October 29, 2014

      Dave Ulrich

      hahaha, I’ll see what I can do.

  • Reply October 29, 2014

    gagetbOy

    good luck man family 1st is always a good motto.

  • Reply October 30, 2014

    alexandrov

    Thanks for the review
    And you’ll be back, believe me 🙂
    I’ve said the same many times but audio remains my main hobby and I always return 🙂

  • Reply February 17, 2015

    dalethorn

    So I ordered the PS1000e today…

    • Reply February 18, 2015

      Tibor

      You are lucky man!

      • Reply February 18, 2015

        dalethorn

        Very lucky, yes. I expect it will sound very good, but some users have said the bass is very light, so that will be a subject of investigation.

        • Reply February 18, 2015

          Tibor

          I am about to buy 325e soon! PS series are a bit too expensive for me, but I auditioned them both already, and they are perfect 🙂 So share your thoughts then.

          • Reply February 19, 2015

            dalethorn

            In the late 90’s I bought the Sennheiser HD580 that got a rave review on Stereophile, but it was really just too distant, and so I bought the HD565 which was much better I thought, then shortly after that I got the Grado 325 from a store in Santa Barbara, and it was about $325 then if I remember correctly. The 325 was just about the most perfect sound I’ve heard, for balance and for musical enjoyment. When I got the PS-500 in 2011, it had a small bass hump around 75-100 hz, but other than that just perfect through the mids and highs. So it could be the PS-500 of today is better than the 325 of today, but I wouldn’t bet money on it. I think you’ll find the 325 to be an amazing sound.

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