- Media: Electronics
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Grado Prestige Series SR80i Stereo Headphone (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
- Adjustable, soft vinyl headband
- Superb sound quality
- Large ear cushions for comfortable listening
- Mini stereo plug with 1/4-inch adapter
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Like all the 'Prestige Series' models, the multi-award winning Grado SR80i is an open-back headphones, on-ear design. It is light, comfortable and built on the same features as the SR60i headphones, but the SR80i utilises a 4 conductor connecting cable and the driver diaphragms are put through a special 'de-stressing' process in order to enhance inner detail. The result is a headset which delivers a wider, more open and dynamic soundstage, but which is also smoother in the treble and deeper and even better controlled in the bass; a sound that is pure Grado.
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Top Customer Reviews
I upgraded to these over an older "Razer" gaming headphone, and the difference in sound quality is just astronomical. Grado's are nice and bright on the highs, and the bass extends nice and low. Probabaly not the "bassiest" headphone out there, but I am very pleased with the sound.
very good sound reproduction.
I have the impression that tthey are not very sturdy. They are for quiet home listening.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
For years I had used a pair of Sony MDR-somethings until the earphone pads were disintigrating. I had some extra cash and decided to do some research before rushing out and buying a new pair. I was unfamiliar with the Grado brand, but all of the reviews were fantastic for their entire line. But I wasn't really thrilled about an open-ear design, I had been used to closed-ear headphones. Research on a bunch of audiophile sites said that open-ear headphones gave the most natural sound, and the Grado SR 80's were rated the best buy for any headphones under one hundred fifty dollars, better than the more famous Sennheiser brand. Then I kept reading how uncomfortable they were. I hesitated buying them and for over a week I kept reading more Grado reviews. I almost bought some other brand because the reviewers claimed they were more comfortable than the Grado's. I finally found a few reviews that said the newer pads on the Grado's were more comfortable and became even more comfortable after a short break in period, just like the sound quality improves after a few dozen hours of play. So I broke down and ordered them.
The very first time I put the Grado's on I could not believe the sound difference over my old Sony's. It was like listening to the artists in the studio or on a small stage, instead of them in the room next door. There is no muffled or tinny sound. Everything becomes crystal clear. You can pick out individual instruments, hear individual voices in crowds, even the artist breathing. Lyrics become much easier to understand, and my appreciation and enjoyment of music has increased because of the Grado's.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend these to anyone. And from the websites I've read that while there is a quality boost going to the SR 125's, the sweet spot price wise in the Grado line is with the SR 80's. I encourage you to read up on these, the more you read the more you'll be convinced to buy them.
It would cost ten times more to put together a stereo system and speakers that sound as fantastic as these headphones do.
GREAT Sound, fantastic bass, great for rock, jazz, country, classical, world music, everything I've tried sounds incredible.
Uncomfortable reputation isn't true. Was a tight fit the first couple of times I used them, but they have a metal strip under the top that you can stretch out and then they feel great (if you have a big melon like me).
Very lightweight, I wear them for hours and do not feel a need to take a rest from them.
Much cheaper than any equivalent sounding stereo system.
Somewhat large if you wanted to use them as portable headphones with an ipod or other mp3 player.
If you are going to connect it to most stereo systems you will need a mini-to-standard connector. You probably already have on if you've had headphones before. The connector on the headphones is the standard mini size most headphones today are.
What are you waiting for? Get yourself some Grado's!
I just wanted to add that (at least in the newest incarnation--the pads have been tinkered with by the manufacturer) they are *very* confortable, compared to many other headphones. The earpieces have two pivot points: one allows them to pivot on a vertical axis attached at the headband and another on a horizontal axis running through the earpiece. This combined with the bendable headband allows for a lot of adjustment. I have a pretty large head and they're not overly tight or otherwise uncomfortable. And the apparently-recently-redesigned earpads on this model have some cushion without being mushy-soft on their outer surface (pads like that always made my ears sweat).
Before buying these, I read just one (recent) review that claimed these were comfortable, and I didn't beleive it. Now I do. (I also didn't beleive they would sound appreciably better after a break-in period, but they did after about 30 hours of being attached to my receiver with the radio on nonstop.) Well, that's all I wanted to say. Back to listening.
I spent a lot of time researching headphones and finally came to the decision to buy the SR80s. I couldn't be happier. These headphones will not completely transform your music or change your life, however, you WILL hear things in your music that you've never heard before and you WILL become much more immersed in your music, achieving a new level of appreciation for it. The things that you will hear from the SR80s that you won't hear from your generic $20 headphones or earbuds will be 1) balance, 2) clarity, and 3) instrument separation. The balance (in my opinion) is perfect. Some say the SR80s have a "bloated" bass compared to the Alessandro MS1s and the SR60s (which I will talk about later), but I prefer a little more bass and I think these are just right. They represent everything across the range at just the right volume without anything being too overpowering. As far as clarity goes, if you're music is high enough quality (see "Other Things to Consider"), you will be able to hear the little details that you would normally miss in your music. For example, if listening to a song with acoustic guitar, you will hear the buzz of the strings, the sliding of the fingers, and the actual contact between the pick and the string. Instead of just hearing it, you will now see and feel it too. Although instrument separation may not seem too exciting, it means the difference between a listening to a song and feeling like you're in the same room as the band. It prevents things such as the rhythm guitar from being drowned out when the lead comes in. As far as comfort goes, the SR80s are uncomfortable. I got them, put them on my head, and was pretty upset after only a few minutes of listening. However, I carefully stretched the metal band and replaced the donut pads with a set of softer covers from an old set of headphones I had and they are REALLY comfortable. With a simple modification like this I was able to completely transform them, now they are light, comfortable, and mostly secure. They sell the SR60s ear pads (which are softer and cover the whole ear) seperately and go for around $10.
Pros and Cons You Will Notice:
The Pros- Beautiful to listen to (of course). Great length cord (I measured it at around 7 feet). Fold flat for transport. CAN be powered by an iPod (easily).
The Cons - Uncomfortable (but only at first, check "General Impressions"). Sound "leaks" out (and may be louder than you expect it to be). To a bystander, it sounds as if you are listening to regular headphones at top volume. This also means that these are in no way "noise canceling," if it lets sound out it can also let sound in (if this is an issue, check "Alternatives/Comparisons").
Pro?Con? - Retro styling (I personally think it's quite cool). Can expose your low-quality music for what it really is (you'll hear static and noise clearer than ever), but is this really a bad thing?
What kind of person do the SR80s work the best for? Someone on a low to moderate budget looking for an amazing set of headphones for use primarily at home. Someone who's music collection consists of mostly rock and prefers more bass over treble. If you don't fit that criteria, you should consider one of the following options.
Grado SR60s: Although I don't have first hand experience, I've read enough to know that these will fulfill your need for high-quality headphones, leaving you very satisfied for the small price of $69. You won't hear as much bass from the SR60s however (and there's a slight difference in the wiring) and I obviously think it's worth the extra $26. Check out [...] for more info.
Grado SR225s: From what I understand, you should just skip over the SR125s because the balance just isn't very good (some even say the SR80s are BETTER than the SR125s). If money isn't much of an issue, go for these guys. However, an amp may be necessary for an iPod.
Shure E3c's: GREAT choice for sound isolating headphones. GREAT choice for any headphones. Super isolation with accurate sound and portability. The sound isn't as good as the SR80s, but it's mostly about the difference in function in this case.
Alessandro MS1s: These little babies almost found their way to my ears, but lost out at just the last minute. If you are considering this Alessandro/Grado hybrid, it comes down to this: the SR80s have more energy (meaning more bass, more punch) and a more extended range, while the MS1s are more analytical, neutral, and are "laid back" compared to the SR80s energy. Many people complain about the MS1s highs though, saying that they get fatiguing, though some also complain about the SR80s "bloated" bass. The MS1s may be more accurate, great for things like classical music, but in the end it seems the Grados are the only way to go for Rock. The two headphones are very comparable in price ($95 compared to $99 for the MS1s) but vary in the balance department and are all about personal preferences.
Sennheiser HD555s: These headphones are better quality than all other headphones listed here (minus maybe the 225s). They are over-the-ear headphones so they block out more sound than the others, but not as much as the Shures. They seemed to be extremely cheap for the level of quality ($100 at the time of the review), however I didn't explore the possibility because I knew they would require an amp. You also may want to consider the sound card in your computer if you buy these. As far as sound goes, they are more clinical and less exciting than Grados.
Other cans to check out: Denon AHD2000, AKG K70, Beyerdynamic DT880 or DT990, Sennheiser HD280 Pro ([...])
Other Things to Consider: An amp can cost a lot of money and can significantly increase the cost of your purchase. I chose to buy a pair of headphones that didn't require and amp and told myself I would buy one later on if I really felt the need. It could turn what was once a relatively cheap purchase into an expensive one. Also, as mentioned before, you will need quality music to match your quality headphones. As well as hearing all of the details of the music, you will hear the extra noise and static. Many songs that were fine before will start to bother you with that "ssssssss" sound in the background, just something to think about. When it comes to my modification with the different ear pads, there is a slight difference in sound quality. With the softer pads the music will sound slightly muffled, so slight that I can only BARELY notice it. For me, the trade off for extra comfort is well worth it. If you want to listen to the SR80s on an iPod, they do not need an amp and are definitely loud enough. I usually keep the volume at 50-60%. Finally, in my opinion, before considering any of the more expensive options, know that the SR80s will leave you very satisfied. If this will be your first pair of high-end headphones, buy them. If you want to go running with headphones or noise leakage is an issue, try the Shure E3c's or another set of in-ear headphones (or buy both, a set of in-ear phones will likely be by next purchase). Otherwise, you will be happy with your decision, guaranteed. Don't expect miracles, but expect a darn good set of headphones.
Once you get used to them, and after spending a few days of burning them in, the SR80 starts to shine. Connected to an Arcam CD72 CDP via an Onkyo TX810 stereo receiver, Mahler 5th (conducted by Rattle) could finally show its tragic might. "Nozze di Figaro" (conducted by Kleiber) overture was as lively as Mozart intended it to be, although the cans have very dominant bass, it didn't overshadowed the brightness of the violins. "Kind of Blue" was a little bit too "Bassy" to my taste, but overall the details and clearness overwhelmed me. Listening to the live preformance of "Your Latest Trick" (Dire Straits' "Sultan of Swing") the SR80 lacked the soundstage to deliver the live performance feeling, but again - details were astonishing, this lack of soundstage was the SR80 vice when playing "Alexander Nevsky" (conducted by Bernstein), "Arise ye Russian People" and again the cans were a little too "boomy". The ability of the SR80 to show the finest details of the sound with its great bass capability made listening to a fine studio record, such as "Violator", a true delight - "Halo" is my favorite track and the SR80 shows the great production work put into that record. In another great studio production - The SR80 make Suzanne Vega and Joe Jackson a delight to listen to with "Left of the Center", on the same CD ("Tried and True"). More velvty productions may sound a little "hazy" with the SR80, this could be either a downside, as with "Moonlight Shadow" (from Oldfield's "Crises"), but with the tragic "Song after the Rain" (from Poliker's "Ashes and Dust") the SR80 sound truly fits the occasion.
As an added bonus, and unlike Senn's offerings, the SR80 are very easy to drive and can color your iPod (or any favorite MP3 player) with briliant sounds.
The Good - Astonishing vocal range, clearness and detailing you will not find even in >$1000 speakers, great bass. Unique design and build quality.
The Bad - Little "bassy" to my taste, tiny soundstange. Ergonomics could have been better, anachronistic design.
Conclusion - For less than $100 (or even triple than that), you will not be able to find a better piece of equipment. It will astonish you with details that will make you rediscover your CD collection. You may not like the design, ergonomics, the emphesis on bass or the lack of soundstage, but the SR80 cans easily get 5 stars for overall value.
Then came the SR60, which I soon exchanged for SR80 (because of its superior Bass performance) and also bought a Total Bithead Headphone amp and I absolutely love the setup.
Q. How do you know a good can from bad??
Ans. I use a simple solution that works for me.
1. Firstly, Close your eyes while listening to music.
2. Put a rather noise song (something that has many instruments playing simultaneously) and try to figure out-
-- diffrentiate exactly what instruments are playing
-- in which ear and at what pitch level they are playing?
-- how audible the soft ones like bells and chimes are?
-- How defined, spacial and NATURAL sounding the Bass is? (There are many people for whom loud Boom-Boom Bass means good Bass. What they fail to understand is how NATURAL it sounds is more important.)
-- How the overall experience is?
Do this much with a Grado and you are sure to take one home.