Grado Labs SR80x & SR325x review

Today we’re taking a close look at the all-new Grado Labs SR80x & SR325x headphones, which retail for $125 and $295 USD. 


Note: Grado’s Australian distributor, Busisoft A.V kindly sent us review samples of the SR80x & SR325x for us to share our thoughts with Headfonia readers. Australian readers can buy the new Grado Prestige Series headphones from their retail arm Addicted To Audio, while international readers can buy directly from Grado’s online retail store, 4ourears. You can check out some of our previous Grado headphone reviews here.

Generation ‘X’

Brooklyn NY-based manufacturer Grado Labs has a pretty simple formula – if you’re onto a winning thing, you don’t go messing with it. Too much, anyway. Their company motto, ‘Heritage Matters’ tells you plenty about the Grado family’s philosophy on business, music, and life: some things are worth keeping dear. The company has been in Grado family hands since they first started making hand-made phono cartridges back in 1952, and they have since found their way into the hands of even more music lovers around the world thanks to their decision to start producing headphones, starting with the legendary HP-1000 in 1989. 

And while Grado Labs has since started dabbling into more modern innovations such as IEMs and more recently, Bluetooth headphones (sacré bleu!) in order to keep up with consumer trends, their core headphone line-up has famously stuck to a retro design philosophy with an unmistakable aesthetic that is in no danger of being mistaken for that of any other manufacturer. Grado Labs might not exactly be a household name among music lovers who buy their headphones from big box electronic stores, but many of them might have caught the odd sight of some curious-looking open-backed headphones in the wild, or in pop culture that look like they’re more suited for use by a WWII radio operator than by a modern-day hifi enthusiast. But while other manufacturers relentlessly pursue technological innovation, visual design, and luxury appeal; Grado Labs focuses on delivering sound quality first and foremost, packaged in their tried-and-tested minimalistic headphone form-factor. You don’t get fancy packaging, or detachable cables when you buy a pair of Grado headphones – you get a simple cardboard box, and a big old attached cable that’s made to last, for years of listening enjoyment. 

For many headphone enthusiasts, their first ‘proper’ pair of headphones comes from Grado’s most affordable range, the somewhat ostentatiously named ‘Prestige Series’ (their higher-end lines being named the ‘Reference’, ‘Professional’ and ‘Statement’ series). Because things don’t change too quickly at Grado Labs, I guess you could say that it’s a fairly big deal when they do an overhaul of their most important headphone series, for only the fourth time. Replacing the ‘e’ series of Prestige Series headphones comes the all-new ‘x’ range, featuring all-new 44mm drivers, updated cables, as well as ergonomic upgrades in the form of new headbands and new earpads. Being the Headfonia in-house Grado fan, I stuck my hand up right away to dive into the new ‘x’ series and see what’s new, what’s unchanged, and whether Grado has chosen ‘evolution’ over ‘revolution’ with their 4th-generation of the Prestige Series. We’ve decided to take a look at what are arguably the most important two models in Grado’s Prestige Series line-up: the $125 USD SR80x, and the $295 USD SR325x.

Why these two, you might ask? The SR80 is ‘the headphone that started it all’, according to Grado, being their oldest continuously-made headphone which has tickled the ears of music fans since 1991. The model designation ‘SR80’ is synonymous with ‘entry-level audiophile sound’ in the world of personal audio, and has rightly deserved to be one of the benchmark headphones when it comes to the old price-to-performance equation. Leaping up the Prestige Series range, the metal-housed SR325 has long been arguably the headphone among their line-up that most espouses the famous ‘Grado house sound’, the series-topping model being famous for its energetic, detailed sound as well as its classic looks. Grado has no doubt put appropriately more engineering and design time into the flagship of the new ‘x’ series of their headphones (until we see the ‘x’ designation creep into their other headphones, anyway), so it deserves our close attention on that front. 

I’ll note here that there are another three models in the somewhat crowded entry-level Prestige Series: the $99 USD SR60x, the $175 USD SR125x, and the $225 USD SR225x. Confused? Me too. The changes between each model are extremely incremental and subtle, with the most affordable three models being physically indistinguishable apart from the number on their badge; while the SR225x sports a metal grille and Grado’s new ‘F-Cush’ pads. The SR325x buys you a genuine leather headband in addition to the signature aluminium earcups, and also features the ‘F-Cush’ pads, debuted on last year’s limited release, The Hemp Headphone. Grado explains that the driver is specially tuned for each model, and that driver matching and frequency-response capabilities improve as you walk up the range, but for the sake of brevity we’ll get into the two new ‘x’ models that will no doubt tempt the wallets of most listeners. 

SR80x key specifications:

  • Frequency Response: 20-20kHz
  • SPL 1mW: 98
  • Normal Impedance: 38 ohms
  • Driver matched db: .1

SR325x key specifications:

  • Frequency Response: 18-24kHz
  • SPL 1mW: 98
  • Normal Impedance: 38ohms
  • Driver matched db: .05

Design and form-factor

So what exactly do we have on our hands here? If you’re new to the world of hifi, it’s important to note here that like all Grado headphones (barring the limited-release ‘Bushmills’ model), the SR80x and SR325x are completely open-back, open-air designs. Sound goes out, and sound comes in while you’re wearing them. Don’t expect any isolation from the outside world, and expect someone sitting next to you to be able to hear just about everything that you’re listening to. These are best suited to at-home listening, or for use on the go in quiet places like hotels and offices – I often use open-back headphones like Grados at the office as it means that I can hear other people if they’re talking to me (but please don’t be that person that annoys someone sitting close by), and they’re good for general spatial-awareness while still being able to enjoy music. And as open-back headphones go, these Grados are very open sounding headphones – probably the most open I’ve experienced to date – they don’t attenuate any outside noise whatsoever. Nada.

The SR80x and SR325x employ the same basic construction as all Grado headphones, using round earcups connected to the minimalistic headband via a simple and lightweight plastic gimbal array, with metal rods that swivel forward/backward and up/down to allow you to find the right fit on your head. It’s a very simple design, and the earcups will swivel around infinitely until the attached cables are twisted up. I’m tempted to call it ‘flimsy’, but then again I’ve never had a Grado headphone break on me – and I’ve owned and reviewed a lot of them over the years. The fact that Grado used the same system on the $99 USD SR60x as the $1,995 USD PS2000e tells you that they have plenty of faith in this system (on the other hand, it would be nice to get something a little more robust when you’re shelling out flagship-money for a pair of cans). I will note that the review pair of SR325x that I received was a little ‘creaky’, in that the rod-blocks creaked a little when articulated, but it certainly wasn’t a problem when wearing them.

New 44mm drivers

The biggest news with the arrival of the ‘x’ series from Grado is the use of an all-new transducer. Unlike the previous 32-ohm/99.8dB drivers from the ‘e’ series, the new models in the Prestige Series sport an updated 38-ohm/98dB driver, which suggests that the similarly-specced Hemp Headphone released in 2020 was a prelude of sorts to test Grado’s new driver technology ahead of a whole line-up overhaul. From my experience as well as many others who spent time with it, The Hemp Headphone was a slight departure from the traditional Grado-sound, offering a more versatile and ‘approachable’ voicing that appeals to a more mass audience who might otherwise find Grado headphones slightly bright, fatiguing or simply too ‘niche’. With this in mind, it’ll be interesting to learn whether Grado has taken on board the rather positive industry and public reaction to The Hemp Headphone, and offer a new twist on the classic ‘Grado sound’ in their entry-level Prestige Series line-up.


Click over to page 2 to continue the review.

4.1/5 - (68 votes)

Hailing from Sydney's eastern beaches, Matty runs his own beer business, 'Bowlo Draught', as well as working in creative advertising. When he's not enjoying his hifi and vinyl collection at home, he can probably be found rolling-up on the green at his beloved Bondi Bowling Club.


  • Reply June 22, 2021


    Nice review Matt!

  • Reply June 24, 2021

    Lee Brown

    Very detailed review, which was great. I have an original SR-60, but have been using IEM of late. Maybe an upgrade could be in order. By the way, that is Albert King, not B.B. on the “In Session” album.

    • Reply June 25, 2021

      Matty Graham

      This new range does sound noticeably different enough to at least warrant an audition! Thanks for the pick-up BTW, it was rather late when I was doing my listening…

  • Reply June 24, 2021


    Fidelice Precision Headphone Amplifier YES PLEASE! I have just a quick question, is it any different internally from older RNHP or just a new look to match new line?

    Thanks for review, I found my Hemps already very dynamic, if these 325x are even more, with better bass, I am in 🙂

    And you will hate me for this one (again), can we get at least 1080p pics pls?

    Have a great day!

  • Reply July 11, 2021


    Nice information

  • Reply July 18, 2021


    Hello, thx for this interesting review!
    How does the Grado GW100 compare to these two ? Is it close to the SR80X or more on the SR325X side? (especially in wired mode)

  • Reply February 16, 2022


    Hello, when you say “While I enjoyed spending an album’s worth of a more ‘classic’ Grado sound, I found that I was missing the more balanced and meaty sound that the L-Cush provides the SR325x. It’s clear that the Grado clan have voiced this to be a crowd-pleaser, and the decision to use the L-Cush pads here is the correct one. ”
    Didn’t you switched by mistake between F anf L Cush in these 2 sentences ?

  • Reply February 16, 2022

    Matty Graham

    You are correct – thanks for the pick-up!

  • Reply February 27, 2022


    Hi. As as 325x owner who was rather underwhelmed by them when paired with a Zen DAC V2, which I also felt did little over my phones dongle DAC apart from add volume, I recently bought the Mojo 2, and am again also underwhelmed by the Mojo 2 with the 325x. An in shop audition never really is sufficient. I’ve tried Tidal masters, Apple Music, and local hi res files on my PC, and feel all of the above really offers nothing over some older £100 headphones plugged into my phone. I’ve tested my hearing and could hear 18k so don’t feel that is the issue.

    So my question is as someone who has also reviewed the Dan Clark Aeon 2 Noir, would the Noir offer a significant improvement over the 325x, and also get more out of the Mojo 2. I appreciate you may not have heard the Mojo 2, but any feedback you can give would be much appreciated. I will take the 325x and Mojo 2 to any future audition. Thanks in advance.

  • Reply February 28, 2022

    Matty Graham

    Being a pretty sensitive headphone, the 325x is unlikely to yield any major benefits from different amps and sources – they sound how they sound, and I’m guessing their sound doesn’t really gel with your tastes.

    The Noire is a completely different headphone in every regard (the obvious ones being that they’re a) a closed-back and b) a planar). The Noire has a more even-handed and linear tuning, and better bass and treble extension and articulation. It also sounds more spacious and has better depth and separation, despite being a closed design. It doesn’t quite have the same ‘pep’ and energy as the Grado, however.

  • Reply March 1, 2022


    Hi Matty. Thanks for your feedback. That’s the first comment about amps and sources not really offering anything to the 325x that I’ve seen, and that certainly makes a lot of sense based on my experience. I’ll have to find somewhere local with good demo facilities to try a few planars.

  • Reply June 23, 2022

    Miles Dufourny

    I’ve owned a pair of the SR80x since last year and it is definitely the best iteration of the “80 series” and have owned every version since the early 90’s. I’m alternating between the stock pads and the TTVJ Deluxe flat pads (depending on the music and the sound quality of the recording). I’m also using a MOJO into a Schiit Vali 2 (with a National NOS tube) – for pedestrian travel I use an OPPO HA-2.

  • Reply August 31, 2022


    Great review. I had the grados and love their sound. They are detailed with lots of warmth and great instrument separation.

    However I sold all of them. The comfort issue was a big factor. I could not keep the headphones on for more than 1 hour before my ears would be screaming of pain. I even went to buy the grado rs 2e thinking that these would improve comfort. Unfortunately, none of them(sr80e, sr325, rs2e) did.

    Besides I wear glasses and they do not make life easier if you are listening to on ear headphones esp the grados with their clamp.

    Overall I would say to folks to beware if they have glasses etc. But you got to try the grados once for their sound and perhaps stick to the lower end of their range.

    Thank you for a great review which also pointed out the comfort issues. Hopefully Grado will listen and improve on it

  • Reply January 11, 2023

    Anderson da Silva

    I have a SR225i for 10 years. They´re great and running strong, but I feel disconfort after some use. Are there any improvent in confort with this new “x” Series? Thanks.

  • Reply July 12, 2023

    Justin Legrande

    First timer with Grados here. Just received an SR325x yesterday after purchasing direct from Grado’s online shop. So far, after hooking them up to a PC sound card (Sound Blaster AE-5 Plus), I’ve noticed that adjusting the sound card volume while reducing music player app (e.g. AIMP) volume to a single digit percentage significantly improves sound quality. Reducing sound card volume and increasing music player app volume has a dulled quality of sound. So I do think that at least digitally, there is something to an amp improving aural performance of the 325x.

    Even though I wear glasses, the F-cushions that comes stock with the 325x don’t press upon the temples of my glasses at all, since the temples rest on the side of my head instead of on my ears. This made it mostly painless during my 2 hour session yesterday testing out the 325x. However, the pads/phones still required adjustment to find a position that minimally pressed upon my ears. I almost forgot the calfskin leather headband was there at one point while wearing it, so it’s pretty good.

    However, I did order the Dekoni velour custom pads designed for use with Grados, since those are supposed to be one of the best pad upgrades for comfort without drastically altering the sound signature. Will see how that goes after they arrive.

    As for how the 325x sound… Well, so far it’s revealed one musician’s music I’ve liked a lot for over 10 years now to have a particular quirk. She presented her vocals or one instrument prominently at the beginning of most of her songs, and added her vocals and/or other instruments in tandem midway. But heard through the 325x, an effect is apparent where her vocals are distanced while another instrument (especially drums/percussion) becomes prominent. With multiple other headphones I’ve used throughout the years, mostly closed backs, her vocals and instruments sound properly placed side by side.

    As it turns out, she was wearing Beyerdynamic DT770’s (closed backs) in a song with her reveal appearance. So it may be she mixed and recorded with closed backs in mind, while open backs with more soundstage and better imaging reveal an effect she may not have intended while recording. Some of her voice pitch raises sound very sharp (in a bad, grimacing way) heard through the 325x, while her more consistently smoothly pitched moments sound even more angelic. (Almost cried listening during one of them!)

    That musician artist unfortunately suffered a disease causing her to lose her previous singing voice. Makes me wonder if practicing those sharp pitch raises contributed to her vocal cords being damaged…

    Will report back after trying the 325x more with Dekoni pads!

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