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  • Customer Reviews

on December 23, 2011
I got the Grado SR80i because I wanted a high-quality, full sized set of headphones that I could use with portable devices like iPods, iPads, guitar trainers, pocket amps, etc.

All of these portable devices are battery driven and their onboard amps have limited output capacity. To be able to use regular headphones and not the usual earbuds supplied with these devices can be tricky.

Most earbuds are extremely efficient (100+ db/1mw) with low impedances of 16ohms or less. This makes them easy to drive to high volume levels with less power. However, most good quality "audiophile" headphones are the opposite: low efficiency (94db@1mw or less) with high impedances (60ohms and up). Even if you turn up the volume all the way on your iPod, using these types of headphones will result in low output volume, distortion, and short battery life.

The Grado SR80i is efficient enough to be used with iPods (98db/mw, 32 ohms). In my opinion, the resulting sound quality is noticeably better than using earbuds, though the Grados will still be quieter than the earbuds at the same volume settings.

Though the Grados aren't known for being super cushy or luxurious-- the foam earpads are simple and relatively firm-- they are much easier on the ears than earbuds over extended listening periods. They are a great way to upgrade the sound and feel of using an iPod simply, easily, and for a reasonable amount of money.

There really aren't too many full-sized headphones out there at any price that are efficient enough to use with iPod type devices. A separate outboard headphone preamplifier would allow you to use any kind of inefficient full-sized studio headphone, but these preamps would add a whole new level of complexity (more cords, additional box), while taking away most of the portability. Decent ones can also cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars by themselves. The Grados were some of the very few high quality headphones that would allow me to skip a headphone preamp... and in fact the entire SR line is similar to the SR80i in efficiency, so you have a wide range of prices to choose from.

Though the iGrado is even more efficient than the SR80i, it looks cumbersome and uncomfortable, being an "on-ear" headphone that employs earpieces hooked over the ears to stay in place. The SR60i also looked good, but reports of the smaller earpads being less comfortable and the sound quality being less than the SR80i kept me away. Obviously, you wouldn't want to go jogging with your iPod wearing these types of headphones, but they are great for general listening.

A hundred bucks may seem like a lot of money for headphones, but the Grados are totally worth it. Don't be fooled by the new, flashier new headphone companies; the Grados are relatively basic and simple compared to most of those, but it's obvious that all of your money goes into buying high quality drivers and sound.
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I'm a high-end audiophile and headphone freak. Sure, I have a pair of Sennheiser HD600's and I love them, but they are NOT for use on portable music players OR by just plugging them into the headphone jack on your home stereo. They MUST be driven by a headphone amp. One of the most important things that headphone buyers need to know is the OHMS of the headphones. The higher the OHM's, the more power you need to drive the headphones. For portable devices, like an iPod, I find that 32 OHM cans (headphones) are the way to go. The Grado SR80i are 32 OHMS. PERFECT for your portable player OR to just plug into the headphone jack on your home stereo.
Now that you have the "OHM" issue out of the way, lets go to sound.
Headphones, like any OTHER parts of your audio system should NOT add or take away anything from the recorded music. Mid-Fi cans have a tendency to boost the bass. That puts a veil over the mids and highs. YUCK! Grados are known for having a very neutral sound.
There is no need to buy the more expensive Grados UNLESS you are going to their top end line which are FANTASTIC! But once again, will ONLY sound great with a seperate headphone amp.
For very good but not PERFECT portable audio I use an iPod. ALL the music files that I convert to it from my CD's are in .WAV format. That means not compressed and NOT lossy like MP3 or AAC. If you use .WAV or Apple Lossless when converting your CDs for use on your iPod and use the Grado SR80i's, you are going to hear a GREAT difference in the sound of your music.
Bottom line, they are the BEST set of headphones for One Hundred bucks BARRING NONE! They are also the best headphones that you can use where you do NOT need a seperate headphone amp.
For reference for my comparison, I compared them to my Sennheiser HD600's WITH a very good headphone amp.
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on November 7, 2013
I am a former musician who has worked with studio musicians for the likes of Peter, Paul, and Mary. Sound quality-wise, the Grado SR80i's are worth multiples of their whopping $99 selling price. Their definition, range, accuracy, and the like match anything within any working man's price range of $500 or less. I have not encountered any of the complained-about issues for this model, save for the discomfort of the ear cushions. I corrected that problem by placing a single sheet of Charmin Ultra Soft bath tissue over each cushion. These Grado headphones sound like a professional-grade model on my $2,000-plus Sansui G-22000 receiver. On my $59 Sony SRF-M73 Walkman, the sound is staggeringly full, clear, realistic, and loud - especially considering that this is a cheap 15-year-old Walkman and that I listen to compressed FM radio signals. If you want uncolored, well detailed, efficient sound for less than $500, you cannot go wrong with these fabulous Grado's. These babies are definitive proof that with respect to audio equipment, price is almost never an indication of sound quality.
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on November 6, 2014
TLDR; PERFECT for use in a work/cubicle farm environment, allowing you to listen to well defined balanced music even at low volumes all the while not disturbing your co-workers AND remaining aware of your surroundings (phone-rings, people calling out for you etc.)

I really like these headphones.
I got them for use at work to replace a previous set of cheap MEElectronics HT-21 headphones that sounded great for the price, but were terribly uncomfortable to wear.
These SR80i headphones are very comfortable to wear. I was initially concerned with the fact that they are open, meaning they leak music to the surroundings, BUT, they play so clearly and defined at any volume that I find myself listening mostly at the lowest end of my volume settings, so the end result is that nobody around me can really tell that I'm listening to music. With a lot of other in- or on-ear solutions, playing at low volumes results in very muddled sound and you find yourself straining or "looking for" parts of the songs that seem to have disappeared. Not so with these. Can I dial the volume up to MAX? -Yes, and they still sound great, no distortion or issues that I have found, but to me, in the environment that I use them, more importantly I can dial the volume to the lowest setting and still get crisp defined clear music!

Since I need to stay somewhat aware of my surroundings, the open design combined with enjoyable music even at low volumes is a winning combination, and best of all, they don't leak enough to be disturbing to my coworkers!

As far as comfort, I tend to get distracted by sudden e-mails or phone-calls, and I have many times found myself putting them on in the morning, but before getting around to starting my player, I get that first e-mail or other distraction, and I forget to go back and turn the music on, while my ears stays softly cradled in nicely warm (but not hot) soft foam. It's like cuddles for my ears!

For the price, you get great balanced sound, they are easy to drive (meaning you should be able to use these on pretty much any player from tiny MP3 players to PC audio output ports to high-end audio amplifiers), and produce a comfortable listening experience.
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on July 31, 2013
After reading all the reviews about Grado headphones, I purchased the SR80i here from Amazon.

For me, the 3 leading items for the SR80i are the design/construction, the sound and the comfort.

The Design/Construction

The SR80i is definitely a retro looking headphone. Personally, they remind me of the headphones available in my grammar school library - very industrial looking and functional. The construction is primarily plastic, with a metal headband covered by a thin and stiff leatherette material along with the metal posts that the earpieces slide up and down on. One quirk to this design is that the speakers can swivel 360 degrees on their posts, which can lead to cord twisting if you are not observant. The earpieces are covered in a very flat, coarse and scratchy sponge material - very similar to speaker sponge or microphone windscreen covers. The cabling is a "Y" cable with separate cords going to each speaker and meeting at a rubbery "Y" shaped cover. The rest of the cable is quite thick, thicker than a standard USB cable and slightly thinner than an ethernet cable, terminating in a mini-plug. A 1/4 inch headphone adapter is included. The cable is also quite long, probably 6-7 feet long so if your intended use is to pair the SR80i with a portable music player, you will need to coil or wind-up the cord to shorten it.

The design is love it or hate it. Personally, I like the retro design. I haven't had any construction issues so far. The SR80i, despite the plastic, feels very sturdy. One important point to note - the SR80i despite its appearance, is an on-ear open design headphone. As a result of the open design, there is very little sound isolation. Anyone around you will definitely hear the music you are playing. If you were planning to use them at work or on a daily commute, folks around you will hear your music as well.

The Sound

I've read a great deal about "the Grado Sound" without really understanding what that meant. If I can describe it, where the SR80i shines is by making music seem "alive". The sound is very forward and clear. In fact, out of the box my SR80i was almost what could be called shrill in the mid-range and treble sounds. At first, much of the pop music I tried listening to sounded too bright to the point that it sounded razzie or distorted.

Many reviewers and Grado owners recommend burning-in the SR80i from a low of 20 hours to as much as 80-100 hours for the headphones to break-in and settle down. I've generally been dismissive of the notion of burning-in headphones as "urban myth". However, that view has changed with my SR80i. They most definitely require a burn-in period to settle down and sound their best. I plugged my SR80i into my home stereo receiver, turned on the tuner and let it play over a weekend for about 30 hours. I can definitely say that the SR80i sounded much, much better after burn-in. The highs lost the harsh, shrill quality and became very full and rich sounding. The mid-range settled down and no longer had a razzie or trilling quality but instead became clear and crisp, particularly in vocals.

Now with close to 100 hours on my SR80i, I understand why Grado headphones have such a devoted and passionate following. Where many quality headphones place you stage center and 5 rows back from the stage, Grado's put you on the stage with the artist. There is an immediacy and vibrancy to the sound quality of the SR80i. You have the sense of the artist performing in front of you. I've thrown various genres of music at the SR80i from Pop, Rock, and Country to Classical, Opera, New Age and Jazz. All sound fantastic.

A number of reviewers commented you can use the SR80i with an iPod, iPhone, Android or tablet and it is technically true. You can drive the SR80i with these devices. Personally, I found that you really have to crank the volume almost to near max to get the SR80i to a modest volume. Again, while you can use it with a portable device, I don't really feel it was designed for use with portables. If you are really serious about wanting to use the SR80i with an iPod or other devices, I would strongly recommend investing in a modestly priced headphone amplifier like the ones available from Filo to really have the SR80i sound it's best with portables. Again, you can use it - but I think you'll be disappointed at the low output using the SR80i with a portable.

The Comfort

Out of the box, I found the SR80i to not be a comfortable set of headphones. The metal headband is quite tight, causing the speakers to press very heavily on the outer surface of the ear. After 10-15 minutes of listening, my ears became quite sore and red from the pressure of the ear pad. The Grado "Comfy" ear pad that comes standard on the SR80i offers little to no cushioning. That coupled with it's very rough, coarse and scratchy sponge covering make the SR80i very quickly fatiguing on the listener's ears.

First tip to new SR80i owners is to stretch the headband outward to lessen the pressure on the ears. It's briefly mentioned in the manual. Just grab the 2 speakers and straighten the headband. Personally, I've stretched mine so that the ear pads just rest very lightly on the ear for maximum comfort. Second tip is to consider purchasing alternate ear pads for the Grado. The Grado replacement L-cushion bowls and G-cushion over-the-ear bagels are pricey and run in the $45-$60 range. There are lower priced after-market alternatives here on Amazon. For me, the 2 most comfortable ear pad replacements are the Sennheiser 414 cushion that fits the SR80i along with the G-cushion bagel by Ear Zonk. Purists claim that using anything but the Comfy changes the sound of the SR80i. I don't hear that with the Sennheiser pad and only modestly with G-cushion because it moves the speakers from resting directly on the ears. Either option makes the SR80i more comfortable for longer listening sessions. I also purchased a snap-on headband cover with memory foam here on Amazon that makes the headband very comfortable vs. the hard and thin leatherette band sitting on your head.


From an audio perspective, you cannot go wrong with the SR80i. Despite it's modest price, it's a true first step into the world of audiophile quality sound. I would have ranked it 5 stars but knocked off 1 star for the comfort issues and need to purchase aftermarket ear pads and headband to turn the SR80i into a comfortable set of headphones.
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on February 4, 2013
I was looking for a pair of studio monitor type headphones for a protools class I'm taking, when my boyfriend got involved and showed me a consumer reports. These were at the top of the list and I was annoyed since they were exactly what I was NOT looking for (I had been looking around the $40 range for closed headphones with a longer cord so I could also use them at home for watching TV at night through the receiver). After reading a lot more about them, as well as the other headphones I was looking at, I ended up wanting these or the SR60i. I told my boyfriend I was going to buy the 60s, and then when he asked why I was unable to really give a good reason without just saying "because I don't want to spend $100 on headphones." So I had to go back and ask myself if being cheap is really all it's cracked up to be. These headphones really caused some soul searching, let me tell you.

I finally decided that I really did want these headphones, after reading so much about them, and even though they had nothing that I was looking for originally. So I got them without telling my boyfriend because I would have to tell him that he was right about what I really wanted and that's not something I like to do.

When I got them, the box didn't really trip me out even though it looks hideous and cheap. What did bother me was looking at them and realizing that they just said SR80, and wondering if these were even SR80i's. After about five minutes of research I was able to find pictures that showed that's what they were supposed to look like. Still being skeptical I google image searched for SR80 vs SR80i and found a side by side picture and it settled my mind completely. Huge difference. So I finally put them on and listened to them.

I was not blown away, but honestly I can't imagine ever being blown away by how something sounds. I have never really been into sound before so maybe that's why I can't imagine it (just taking this protools class to see if I would be interested in it, the idea of doing foley and field recording seems like the most fun ever). However, they sound really good. Like, really really good. Like, I haven't bought more than two CDs in the past three years and all of a sudden I can't stop sitting here listening to my broken iPod just so I can hear how everything sounds.

I guess I am blown away, just in a minor way. The bass blows me away. I don't love too much bass, but I've never heard headphones that sound like this. I feel like I've never heard the lower end of music before. At concerts it's just so overbearing that it doesn't blend in. Well. These headphones change everything.

I guess I'm rambling. They sound amazing. Acoustic instruments sound SO GOOD, people say that metal sounds the best through these headphones but I didn't really feel as impressed with the metal and hardcore bands I listened to as I was with the Chieftains and the Decemberists. And Enya, oh my god Enya. Ridiculously amazing. Yes I love Enya, some Enya, and all of Shai Hulud so make of that what you will. I do have to turn these up to get the sound that I want, it could be just me though. When I eventually shared them with my boyfriend he wanted them quieter and expressed the same opinions. He thinks I have hearing problems though, and I might agree with him (never out loud).

They leak sound so much, it's funny. They are like little speakers. When my boyfriend has them on I'm not really bothered by the noise, but when I have them on he is constantly telling me they are too loud. What can I say? You can clearly hear what other people are saying when the volume is at a good level, but when I have it up to my preferred level I can't hear anything else.

So here are the things I wanted to know but couldn't find in reviews:

•The cord is around 6 feet long, almost 7. Too long for walking around but not long enough for sitting on the couch with.
•They say SR80 but that is normal, you can tell they are the i version if it looks like the pictures on here. If it doesn't, it's wrong.

Here are things I did find in reviews but feel it's important to reiterate:

•The jack will not fit in most cases on ipods or iphones. I luckily have a soft case and it squishes it down so it fits, but soft cases really don't protect your device well.
•They come with a really nice gold plated 1/4" jack.
•The cord is thick and sturdy.
•They are the bomb.

tl;dr i don't know why i ended up buying these but i don't regret it one single bit and you probably won't either unless they are just straight up broken.
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on December 26, 2013
I tried to like these...I really did. The sound was decent (although I felt the power handling was rather weak), but I don't want to really comment on that in depth as I never sufficiently burned them in to make an accurate assessment. I ended up returning them because they were just SO uncomfortable for me. I have had loads of phones over the years and this has been the only pair I just could not stand to have on my ears. I realize that there are options for replacing the stock pads but I don't feel that should be a requirement when purchasing headphones. When I saw how much foam was included in the packaging I thought, hey Grado, why don't you pack in a couple ear cup options instead of this giant piece of foam surrounding the headphones. I also felt the construction was rather weak, but I would have been willing to forgive this had they been more comfortable.

For reference I was using these phones with my Nuforce Icon DAC connected to my Acer C720 Chromebook via USB. I played a variety of music genres to sample the sound. The files were 320kbps and I was using Google Play Music.
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on January 31, 2014
I've been pretty careful with these - they essentially just live on my desk at work, but the right-hand driver is emitting a buzzing sound, especially when hitting louder bass notes reminiscent of voice coil rubbing. I got these because I've read nothing but good things about Grado's headphones both in sound quality and build quality.

For a pair of headphones that cost as much as these, I expect a little more than 3 months of service before they need to be sent in for repair. I won't bother buying another Grado product, even steeply discounted.

I'd tried everything short of trying to pull the actual diaphragms back with tape before tossing these in a bin and swearing off the brand. I know that this is the grattle, and I've tried every combination of sucking, blowing, and picking every bit of lint and hair out with tweezers to no effect.

After trying a number of other headphones, I've come to the conclusion that these are just plain bad, anyway. The bass is nonexistant, and the highs are sibilant. The actual stereo image is no better than basic earbuds: none at all - all sound is "inside" your head. There are lots of headphones that outdo these in pretty much any category, anyway, so it's no big loss.
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on November 17, 2013
I have never owned fine headphones before, and I am not comparing them to other premium brands, but for the $99 that they cost I can't believe how great they sound. It is so clear and accurate and gives you a three dimensional image of the space, that the only better "home system" sound reproduction that i have heard is at the house of a friend who is an all-out audiophile. So I guess that I saved myself $10,000 plus I can walk down the street while listening. That same friend years back told me to get a Grado cartridge for my turntable. He said that to get a better cartridge than the $50 Grado you would have to spend at least $300 and for my system I wouldn't hear much difference (he, of course, needed the very best and you can guess which one I got). So, in a similar vein, I am curious what the high-end Grado headphones sound like that cost anywhere from $700 to $1700, but I am not going to find out because I just don't want to tempt myself to go there. The people who say that they hear things that they never heard before on their albums listening to the SR80's are absolutely right. They sound gorgeous. My main fear is that you really become aware of the quality of the engineering and the recording. Those artificially separated stereo recordings where the bass is all on one channel and the lead guitar is all on the other drive you nuts, while a perfectly engineered jazz or classical recording is an eargasm where you can close your eyes and picture the room and exactly where everyone is. You will hear all of the little problems that the engineer thought would be buried in the mix. You become much more aware of those little sounds that you take for granted at a live performance, like the oboist sucking on his reed right before he comes in, or the key system clacking on the clarinet, or the pianist stepping on a foot pedal, and that takes a bit of getting used to on headphones. On pretty good sound equipment this stuff is audible but significantly less noticeable. I don't want to be one of those people who mentally rate recordings by how well they are engineered, and shun the crappy recordings or crappily re-engineered recordings, and end up caring less about the music. These headphones sound so good that you could turn into one of those people. They are definitely a step into that lofty realm without having to ante up audiophile dollars.
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on March 15, 2013
I had these for about a month now and been listening to them for almost everyday. They sound great for the price. What I like about them is the sound, looks, and comfort. It is also nice to know that they are made in the USA.

Here are some of my nitpicks of this headphone:

The fit and finish is not great and consistent. There is some slight plastic flashing from the mold that sticks out. The headband feels cheap and generic. The earpads do not feel like it would last for years. They just do not feel well-made at all considering the price and expectations of being made in the USA. If no one heard or knew about these, the headphones look and feel much less than the $100 asking price. In my opinion I would think these are worth no more than $25 "IF" I didn't know a thing about headphones.

There is no "Made in USA" located anywhere. Only on the plain sticker that seals the cheesy box is what says Made in USA and also SR80i. There is no "i" on the headphones. The obvious difference is the cup size compared to the older non "i".

The cables can twist with no indication of how much it has been twisted. The ear pieces rotate too easily. This can be a problem in the future. Too bad they did not put a marking on the cables. If you drop them or throw them around, you will have to straighten them out again. Of course you do not have to, but it can keep getting twisted and twisted until a wire fails. Another annoyance is that a twisted cable is rubbing on your neck.

From my research the cables are made in China. The drivers are also "probably" made in China. People that have taken tours at Grado have never seen the actual workers making the drivers. They have seen crates or boxes that indicate it is most likely from China. I have emailed Grado and others as well with no answers about where the drivers are from. For those that do not know, you can have other parts made from other countries but can still be labeled as "Made in the USA". The funny thing is that the main component (the drivers) could very possibly be made in China while the cheaper parts are made in the states.

The plug is bulky. If you have a case or cover on your MP3 or phone you may not be able to fully plug it in. Well you can always enlarge the hole though.

For the good stuff:

Totally customizable. You can mod them all the way when only the driver is left. The simplicity of these headphones makes it mod friendly for sound and appearance. My future plan is making it only a one sided detachable cable and a different mesh.

Grado headphones are not very popular. Maybe the sound leakage is not helping much. I still wear them out in public and be considerate with the volume if someone is near me. Unlike Beats where everywhere you go you will see it. Standing out from the sea of typical headphones is a plus in my book.

I like look. It is original and does not look like any other headphone. They also go around my head nicely. Other headphones (especially DJ style) leaves a huge gap on the sides of my head. Looks very goofy.

The cables are flexible and feels nice. Although the cables coming from the ear to split is thin with a bigger covering to make it look thick.

The weight feels fine. Not too light or too heavy. Being too light may come off as cheap. Of course you should not associate weight with quality.

Having them open is good for bicycling or skating if you must. You can still hear cars or people around you.

It is easy to drive and with a proper amp it should sound much better. I am running a cheap DAC and amp (from PC) and it improved.

They sound great which is the most important thing. Just look at the reviews. It is highly likely that you will also like them.

Made in the USA. You don't see that very often. I even brag about it. Too bad it is not stamped on it.

Seems like they can last for a very long time if cared for. Repairs should not be too difficult if something does go wrong.

Overall it is 5 stars for me. A good product is a good product no matter what who country or skin color that made it. There are plenty of reviews and comments here that describes how these headphones function. Giving it a bad review after you bought it because the sound leakage or it can't handle your dubstep music then it is your mistake. You have purchased the wrong kind of headphones.
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