Price: $99.99 Amazon
Review by: Desz Martinez
While I love the convenience and popularity of mp3s, I also love enjoying music in its intended high audio quality, which is why I have kept my CD only car stock stereo installed till this day. I do in fact make sure when converting my CDs to mp3s to convert them to the best quality possible. I have a great ear for music and sounds, but one thing I have learned throughout my years of music listening, music production and podcasting, is that a quality pair of headphones is just as important as the quality of the music, podcast or sounds being played. You just can’t use any pair of headphones to get the full experience of sounds going into your ear.
Introduction: I have been hearing about the Grado headphones for sometime now, everything I have read or watched online has been highly positive about the brand. I needed to get my hands on a pair of Grados to review and test for myself. Sometimes; things get over hyped, yet come out short when tested in real situations. Time to get in a TQ review, let’s check ’em out.
Design and Presentation: The first thing and most appealing thing about these headphones have to be the vintage look to them, I love the old school–vintage look they promote. The SR80i’s come with an adjustable, soft vinyl head band and large ear cushions for comfortable listening. I literally had the SR80i’s on for about 4 hours with none stop tunes and podcasts while doing stuff around the house, so even though they promote a rugged and heavy look, they are light and comfortable.
One thing that may be a good or positive feature, depending on the type of person you are, would have to the headphone’s cord. It is about 6 feet long, so forget taking these headphones to the gym unless you want to jump rope with them, the cord can also get in your way when walking if you let it naturally fall. On the other hand and the positive side of things, the cord is an excellent length for when using the SR80is in the studio, class or office, I found the length to be more of a pro for me since I use the headphones mostly in my office while producing or recording music and podcasts, I also wrap the excess cord and put it in my pocket when walking or doing stuff around the house.
The headphones also come with a 1/4 inch gold plated adapter, great for mixer boards! Unfortunately, the SR80is don’t come with first generation iPhone compatibility; you will need to buy and adapter.
Hands on: Ok, let’s get into the tests. I will have to admit, I’m sort of spoiled by my Beats by Dr. Dre Studio headphones, so right before I tested the SR80is, I didn’t expect them to sound anything close to what I’m use to. Boy was I wrong.
I tested the headphones with a mixture of music that range from Kanye West to the Phantom of the Opera Soundtrack. Yes, I’m a Phantom of the Opera fan.
I put these headphones to the test of CD and MP3, some mp3s being higher quality than other, and of course one CD to really get the ultimate experience.
Kanye West – College Drop Out: MP3 320kbps
The sound was crisp, very crisp, the treble levels are incredible, volume levels reached very high levels, enough to make me lower it a few notches. One thing that I did notice was the lack of bass with this album; the bass was present, but nothing close to what I have heard on other headphones, but enough to create a full and clean sound. The vocals and synth sounds; sounded crisp, clear, and full.
Green Day – Dookie MP3 128kbps
I imported my Dookie CD at 128kbps just to test out a lower quality mp3 album with the SR80is. The sound was obviously much lower, but the SR80is kept the crisp and clear sound. It handled the change in volume levels fine and brought the vocals to a front layer, they sounded like they were right next to you ear, yet not too loud or too busy, considering the punk music.
Phantom of the Opera Original Soundtrack MP3 256kbp
I’ve been a fan of the Phantom of the Opera since 5th grade when I was introduced to it by my late 5th grade teacher, Mr. Fadorca. I swear the sounds of “Music of the Night” give me this unexplained power and motivation that is hard to describe. Since I’m real familiar with the soundtrack, I decided to test the SR80is with it. Let’s just say that it shined and sounded better than ever. I heard things I had never heard in this opera soundtrack, the SR80is really work well with Opera music. The deep voices, strong orchestra all sounded crispier and cleaner than ever before. A true motivation, and the cleanest high pitches I have heard.
Mana – Donde Jugaran Los Niños Compact Disc
Ok, this is where we go all out. I went with Mana as the final and only CD test with my SR80i headphones review. Mana is a Spanish Rock band, and I really wanted to hear the guitar strings and smooth vocals. Just like I imagined, the SR80is performed incredible. Not only was this CD crisp, but it was full and rich, and the guitar strings were right next to your ear, a perfect LP to test these Grados out. Mana has a combination of hard and fast tracks mixed with slower guitar powered tracks. The SR80i headphones took care of business.
Wishes or Changes: I really don’t have any whishes or changes other than the request to bring first generation iPhone connection. Yes, I still have the 1st iPhone.
TQ Bottom Line: Overall, the Grado SR80i headphones really surprised me. I hate to compare the Grados with the Beats by Dre Monster headphones, but I use the Beats everyday and for me to go out and say that the Grado SR80i headphone’s crisp and clean sound are on par and even surpass the Beats in certain music, is saying a lot. While the bass is not the best, especially with Rap/Hip-Hop music, there is enough bass to create a full sound and rich sound that impress, especially knowing that the Grados are engineered to be very neutral, adding no emphasis on any parts of the frequency range. In addition, the volume level on the SR80is max at a perfect and comfortable level. And oh yeah, the price–$99 for a pair of quality sounding headphones is the right price, this is what also makes these headsets very desirable, a great price for a pair of outstanding headphones can’t get any better. Bravo Grado! You get 5 michelas out of 5! And that’s rare, like Mr. Clean with Hair!
5 Michelas? (What does 5 Michelas mean?) 5 michelas is like drinking 5 of your favorite drinks, you are feeling better than ever, you are the life of the party, your buzz has reached the highest level of happiness, you are truly unstoppable, unbreakable, but most importantly, perfect! The 5 michela rating is the only rating to have an after party in honor of your perfection! Congratulations!
Get the Grado SR80i Headphones from Amazon.com