Grado SR80 Headphone Reviews

Manufacturer Grado Model SR80
Headphone Type Open Supraaural Headband Type Single
Weight (g) 135 Driver Type Dynamic
Enclosure Material Plastic Isolation (dB) 0
Impedance (ohms) 32 Cable Length (cm) 200
Frequency Response (Hz) 20 - 20000  
Connector 3.5mm with 6.5mm adaptor Street Price US$95
Buy from Amazon.com  
Average reviewer scores
Bass Extension 5.5 Bass Impact 6.1
Bass Quality 5.7 Mids Quality 6.1
Highs Quality 5.8 Soundstage 3.8
Detail 6.3 Portability 5.1
Isolation 0.0 Comfort 4.1
Durability 5.7 Improvement With Amplification 5.3
Value for Money 6.9    
Overall Score 5.7 Total Reviews 11

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Reviews by our members

Review by Senior Member NA Blur on 14 Nov 15  15:00
Individual review
Bass Extension6
Bass Impact9
Bass Quality6
Mids Quality6
Highs Quality5
Detail6
Comfort3
Durability4
Value6

Testing:
mp3
Audio from both iPod and PC
Amped and unamped
Tracks: Weird Al Yankovic ( Pancreas and Trapped in the Drive-thru )
Cake ( Pentagram )
Patricia Barber ( Touch of Trash )

First let me say that the ability of an iPod to drive these headphones surprised me. Even though I had to increase the volume to 3/4 full to get the detail I wanted.

BASS:
One of the great aspects of the SR 80 is the ability to represent the bass frequencies without having to stimulate the drivers much. You will appreciate the bass of this phone unless you plan on using it in very busy environments. In which case go with a closed phone.

BASS IMPACT:
Arguably the most attractive aspect of the sound for this price point. I have always enjoyed the way Grado Labs modifies the bass impact with their headphones. I mean look at the frequency response graphs. The bass is completely rolled off, but your ears will certainly disagree. If you want more bass impact and you are looking at these cans I say go for it. A+

MIDS:
The mids are present and not entirely washed away. Vocals were a tad distant for my taste. A slight increase in the mid frequencies can be heard using an amp, but it is nothing to be excited about.

HIGHS:
The highs are nicely represented out of both an iPod and PC. With amplification you can hear a kind amount of brightness. Cymbals are not represented well by these phones.

SOUNDSTAGE:
These phones have a very immediate sound stage especially using an ipod. What can you expect from an ear pad phone. Not much to discuss here other than the sound stage is somewhat level.

COMFORT:
Unless you expand the headband, wear a headband to move the top of the ear pad off of the top of your ears you are going to have sore ears. The headband is also thin with a nice stiff metal rod in it so the top of your head will also be sore. They are a light weight phone which is nice. Another positive side of their comfort is they do not clamp your head like many new closed headphones.

DURABILITY:
The weakest part of these phones is the ear pad material. It is very cheap foam that typically decays over time. Not as bad as say Shure's SRH 440 and below, but not very high quality.

CONSENSUS:
Not for Jazz!
These cans are appropriately placed into their price point. They sound surprising nice for an on ear phone. The bass and bass impact are great, the mids and highs are fine, and they can respond lightly to amplification. I give them a \"Try It!\" if you are just getting into the $100 bracket.

Review by Senior Member qazwsx on 12 Oct 08  09:51
Individual review
Bass Extension5
Bass Impact5
Bass Quality5
Mids Quality6
Highs Quality5
Detail5
Comfort5
Durability6
Value7

Typical Grado entry level headphones. Now don't get me wrong, these are a good value for its low price going, but they are without a doubt entry-level. The overall sound is pleasant and engaging, specifically in the highs, but that doesn't always mean quality. A good majority of my scores feel into 5's across the board, but don't get me wrong, they indefinitely favor the highs. Bass is fun when EQed but plain it isn't too impacting--definitely not for hip-hop because of that, go get your K81DJ instead. You do get decent extension though. Mids are well-presented, one area that this headphone excels in IMO, highs are harsh for some things but sound good in rock. Soundstage is noticeably lacking a bit. The higher end Grados definitely have better bass impact and a smoother sound but the SR60's still make a good entry level headphone without a doubt.

Review by Senior Member Scottyboy MacBeethoven on 02 Jun 08  23:20
Individual review
Bass Extension8
Bass Impact6
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality7
Highs Quality7
Detail9
Comfort6
Durability8
Value9

This is a superb entry into the realm of the audiophile. The SR80s have a very 'musical' quality. By that I mean there is not one single definable aspect that makes them stand out; music on these cans sounds more alive, involving, immediate, exciting and, well, musical.

The bass is natural and extended and is not boosted artificially. Mids and highs are natural and clear. Nothing ever feels forced and yet nothing ever feels wooly or dull.

The SR 80s are great for all kinds of music. They have a slight edge to the SR60s in that they have a punchier bass and feel sharper and clearer. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the SR60s have a flat pad that covers the transducers?

One slight drawback: The soundstage is not great for classical music. Sound is natural, crisp and detailed. However, big orchestras and symphonies sound like they are coming from sources near the left and right ear. In other words, you are conscious that you are listening with headphones. In my view, there is not enough of a feeling that the sound is coming from an area in front of you with natural reverb coming from all around. Perhaps I am asking too much much for a set of cans under 100 ($196).

Apart from that, they're terrific!

Review by Senior Member Thelonious Monk on 06 Feb 07  17:15
Individual review
Bass Extension5
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality6
Mids Quality6
Highs Quality6
Detail6
Comfort5
Durability6
Value9

Due to my recent downgrade, I'm left with these as my only headphones. And that isn't a complaint, these are very very good headphones for the $85 I got them for. I've had a sweet tooth for progressive rock and older heavy metal music lately, and let me tell you, these babies really shine with electric guitars. Very forward, and in-your-face. No soundstage to speak of, which I really couldn't care less about unless I'm in the mood for some Stravinsky or Beethoven. The bass quality is surprisingly good for this price range, definitely more tight than boomy, and the impact is great. Not muddy at all, I can clearly pick out the bass guitars from the bass drum in poorly produced hip-hop music. They're quite portable, but I wouldn't suggest using them on the go. They leak sound like crazy.

Ok, I was a bit too nice in that paragraph. Time for the bad news! A lot of the time, when the drummer is playing any cymbal at all, it sort of sounds like static. They could definitely fair better in this category. On some tracks, where the vocals are very exposed, I might get punched in the face by sibiliance. "SSSSSSSon look at all the people in thiSSSSS reSSSSTTTTTuraunt..." Even when I turn the volume down.

Comfort is average. They don't exactly dissapear on my head, and don't exactly tear my ears off in a bloody mess.

Under $100, you can't do better. Period.

Review by Senior Member gunnar on 28 Dec 06  15:14
Individual review
Bass Extension2
Bass Impact3
Bass Quality4
Mids Quality6
Highs Quality6
Detail5
Comfort5
Durability7
Value9

The SR80s are the cheapest headphone I would consider audiophile-worthy. They do just about everything right tonally with very good levels of insight and detail. More than anything, they don't do much wrong which makes them listen-able and non-fatiguing. At this price, there is no headphone which offers more neutral or punchy bass. Transients exceed many loudspeakers costing over $1000. The imaging is a little flat and the treble a little opaque, but at the price, the musical value is undeniable.

Review by Senior Member lensman on 21 Sep 06  04:57
Individual review
Bass Extension4
Bass Impact4
Bass Quality5
Mids Quality5
Highs Quality6
Detail6
Comfort3
Durability6
Value4

dont like these phones much :D no soundstaging, no bass to speak of, very uncomfortable, pads arnt deep enough, nice highs though..but very well made, headphone cable is the best ive seen lately drivers are in a good solid plastic enclosure, and the pads are removable for washing, stood on these twice and theyve survived :D...id love to give these a higher rating, as i love grado carts, but unfortunatly these phones dont even come close

Review by Senior Member jessem on 21 Apr 06  14:14
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality6
Highs Quality5
Detail7
Comfort4
Durability4
Value5

Questionable build quality. Bass is taught, impactful, and detailed, in short stunning for the price. Detail across the spectrum is also on par with headphones worth 3x as much. Mediocre comfort, a sharp peak in lower treble and sibilance all contribute to a fatiguing listen however: not for everyone.

Review by Senior Member slwiser on 13 Jun 05  11:04
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality7
Highs Quality6
Detail6
Comfort5
Durability6
Value7

I have had these phones for several years. They were purchased when I got my first headphone amp, the Total Airhead (2-AA version, 2001). I have found that these are a nice headphone for its price.

Review by Member arthurking on 21 Nov 12  18:02
Individual review
Bass Extension5
Bass Impact4
Bass Quality5
Mids Quality6
Highs Quality5
Detail7
Comfort3
Durability5
Value5

A nice balanced headphone that I will probably keep in my collection for as long as they stay in one piece. The plastic construction is not very good looking but seems like the type of plastic used if durable enough.

A good pair worth the money.

Review by Member anonymous on 12 Jan 05  17:11
Individual review
Bass Extension5
Bass Impact9
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality7
Highs Quality8
Detail7
Comfort4
Durability3
Value9

The Grado SR-80 is currently my headphone of choice and I personally think it is an excellent headphone.

BASS: The bass has incredible impact, as all Grado phones do. There isn't actually a whole lot of bass compared to phones like the Sony V6, but theimpact and tightness of this bass is incredible. The deepness and is also impressive. On some classical recordings I can hear a lot of deep bass resonance that is subtle but the phones still do a good job of outputting it, which is cool. The punch, though, is really what makes this phone's impact so impressive. I have never heard a tighter, punchier headphone.

MIDS: Mids are as good as can be expected from Grados (quite good). They have very little hint of graininess (then again, this could be my source or recording) and are mostly very smooth. Male vocals, especially deeper ones, really shine on this headphone in particular and I think they are this phone's specialty. The detailed approach of these headphones really makes vocals sound realistic and liquid-like. The authenticity of every artist's voice, whether breathy or scratchy, is portrayed well by this phone.

HIGHS: Detail, detail, and more detail! Some people do not like this phone because its high end does tend to be very prominent and very fatiguing. Indeed, this is the most fatiguing headphone I have ever used. The details really shine through though, being one of this phones strong points for sure. I think it is actually this increased detail and "harshness" as some deem it that add a lot of detail to the rest of the sound, since all instruments produce overtones and high-end frequency squeaks and stuff that add realism to the sound.

SOUNDSTAGE: This phone isn't crazy on soundstage. In fact, it's actually pretty poor. It has plenty of left and right, but very little front to back or up to down. In fact, my MX400's actually have a more realistic center than these. If you're looking for a big concert hall to be thrown in front of you, prepare to be disappointed.

AMPED: This phone improves a decent amount with an amp. I know with the AV-710 the difference between unamped and amped is night and day. With some of my better sources, like my MZ-S1, the differences are extremely subtle. The bottom line is that the amp really makes the sound a lot fuller andbetter balanced. Sometimes I can't explain why, in terms of frequencies and Head-Fi lingo, but my amp just makes the sound a lot more fun to listen to. High-end details are more prominent, but high-end harshness is actually reduced somewhat. Mids become more realistic, and bass gets tighter, louder, and even punchier than before. The difference between unamped and amped with this phone, at least with my soundcard source, warrants the purchase of an amp, as the phone sounds a bit thin unamped in comparison, but definitely not "muddy" or "murky" as Headroom deems it. In fact, the phone is actually brighter unamped.

BURN-IN: I've heard from some people that this headphone takes 2-5 years to actually fully burn-in. As of this point I've had mine for about a year and I can say these didn't sound half as good out of the box as they do now. Out of the box, they are very thin sounding. The high-end details are all there, but the sound is very shifted towards the treble end of the spectrum and relaxes noticeably after about 120-300 hours. The bass is very hidden out of the box (but extension is just about as far as it will ever be; it may not seem so, but the deep bass is there, just extremely hidden), and after 24 hours you will already notice a difference! After a year of "burn-in", these phones have improved tremendously. At a certain point I realized the difference in the bass couldn't be ignored. The bass has filled in and has actually come to a very nice level, so much better than within the first three months or so that I had these! The punch just has this depth to it now that the phone never initially had. Burn-in fills in the phone quite nicely, and there's no doubt these phones should be given a long burn-in time before they can properly be judged.

I really love the overall sound of this headphone. It has an excellent exciting, involving, foot-tapping impact that none of the other headphones I've ever listened to can capture. The only downside I can see to this phone is the high-end harshness, which I still find fatiguing at times. However, there's something else you're forgetting:

FLAT PADS: These pads are amazing. The bass improves tenfold with these, I'm not kidding. It's like adding a really nice subwoofer to an already nice speaker system or something. The punch practically knocks your head around. Bass guitars and double basses extend better. The bass is just so awesome it justifies the downsides to these pads: When I initially threw these pads on, it struck me that the sound felt extremely compressed. The details were still there, but very hidden. These pads significantly attenuate the highs,which some actually might find relieving. I do, but I also miss the detailed and wide-open feeling the bowls gave me. What little soundstage was there is now extremely compressed. However, the extremely impactful, bassy new feel to the music is just undeniably awesome. It instantly put a smile on my face and got my foot moving.

It is important at this point in the review to note now the stark contrast these phones have made from out of the box to now. I can confidently say now that amped, burned-in for a year, and modded with flat pads, these phones are the exact opposite of what they were out of the box. Out of the box they had this thin, high-end-heavy sound, with little bass. Now they are a bassy, punchy, rock and roll machine! Truly this is exactly how these phones are meant to sound, at least for me. You may wish to experiment and find a middle ground.

In conclusion, these phones will greatly impress you no matter how you use them. I cannot recommend this phone enough for the money. I hope you enjoy yours as much as I enjoy mine!

Review by Member strogg on 27 Dec 04  21:36
Individual review
Bass Extension6
Bass Impact6
Bass Quality4
Mids Quality5
Highs Quality5
Detail5
Comfort2
Durability8
Value6

EQ Lowdown:

Bass: it's not the tightest thing i've ever experienced. although you can definitely feel the bass and definitely understand its presence, it beckoned the question (at least to me): is it flabby? it may sound like it, but in reality, it's just loud and tight-ish (bordering on flabby)

mids: very nice mids, although a bit recessed. i wouldn't want to use these solely for vocals, though.

highs: not exactly the "grato" sound that most people hear, but the highs for sure are forcing us to acknowledge its presence. the highs can mainly be described in one word: crisp. and when i say crisp, i mean crisp.

Soundstage:
Imagine your head... yeah. that's it. that's the soundstage

Detail:
the sound in these headphones are fast and furious, but the sound is somewhat lacking in detail (what do you expect from $100 headphones anyhow?) um... yeah. that's it.

Comfort:
gaaaaah!!!!!! imagine a headphone pad made out of rock salt. yeah. that's what it's like. although it'll loosen up over a few days, i find it probably better that it's not loosened up. after a month of having the headphones, i immeditately went about changing out the pads to something much softer, and boy not only did it feel better, the sound was actually BETTER (now that the drivers are closer to my ear)

headbangability:
virtually none, although if you tighten the headband enough by bending it inward, you can do some light headbanging without much problems.

Other things:
Can you say not airy? Although it may feel light and open without sound, the sound will iimmedately overwhelm you. the in-your-face (literally) sound will be perfect for rock music (all the way to death metal if need be). classical, on the outher hand, sounds like you're the conductor with all 100 or so instruments w/in a 5 foot radius of you.

amplification:
amplifiers don't do squat with this. it'll make it louder, sure, if you like listening to music at heavy metal concert levels, but please don't try it.

overall:
this is a great budget headphone for you rock enthusiasts on a college budget like me. it requires no amplification, and it has enough detail behind it to warrant 192+kb/s music. just be sure to prep your ears for a rough ride or plan to spend $10 on headphone pads.

Grado SR80