Grado Prestige Series SR80e Headphones


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With an open-back design, excellent sound quality and minimalist design, The Grado SR80e supra-aural headphones punch well above their price.  Grado Labs in Brooklyn, New York, has been making high-fidelity headphones since 1953.  More than 60 years of experience in the audio reproduction field has given Grado the ability to produce what is arguably the best entry-level audiophile headphones on the market.  Coming in at $100, the Grado SR80e headphones are a high value choice for those looking to break into the audiophile headphone world.  

BUILD:

These headphones are simple and streamlined.  The headphones sit fairly comfortably on the head, with a simple metal band covered by a wide leather strap.  The plastic-encased phones themselves are not overly-large and rest easy on the ear.  The earcups are soft and feel quite good for on-ear pads.

The ear cups have a unique attachment to the headband that allows them to swivel freely horizontally, which means you have to take a moment each time you put them to make sure the cups are facing inward toward your ears.  Another build note is the 3.5mm connector.  The casing around the connector is oversized and I had trouble using it with some recessed jacks as well as my phone while in it’s case.  The SR80e comes in no-frills, all business packaging with a 7 foot straight cord and includes a ¼” adapter.

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SOUND:

The SR80e’s have a relatively flat sound without an overemphasis in the low bass range.  There’s not a lot of heavy, low bass here, compared to other consumer offerings on the market, but the mid range bass is rich and tight.  The mids and highs are where this unit really shines.  The detail and separation on these headphones is almost unmatched in its price range.  Vocals are clear and crisp and the difference was noticeable even when listening to audio books.  The open backed design really opens the sound stage up and plops you down right in the middle of the music.

A trait these headphones have, similar to any other open backed headphone, is that they do leak sound.  There is no sound isolation for you, so outside sounds filter in with whatever you’re listening to.  Conversely, those around you will hear what you’re playing as well.  Something to keep in mind if you are commuting on a crowded train or plan on using these in a noisy environment.

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OVERALL:

Though these may not be the best choice for hip hop, electronic or similar bass heavy material, the Grado SR80e’s perform admirably with just about any other genre of music.  The wide open sound stage and clear, powerful sound from mid bass to highs bring previously unheard details in your music to life.  Priced at $100, these make a great first audiophile headphone set as well as a valuable addition to any music lover’s collection.

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