Disclaimer: Grado USA sent us the Grado SR80E for this review
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.
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.
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.
It continues on page 2 after the click