Top positive review
8 people found this helpful
so far, so good
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.