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Reviewed on Sep 19, 2018

Grado SR80e/SR80 HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
5.4
Mixed Usage
7.2
Critical Listening
4.2
Commute/Travel
5.2
Sports/Fitness
4.7
Office
5.6
TV
5.6
Gaming
Type : On-ear
Enclosure : Open-Back
Wireless : No
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : No
Transducer : Dynamic

The Grado SR80e are decent open-back critical listening headphones, but a below-average choice for everything else. They're decently comfortable and have a well-balanced mid-range and a good bass for an open-back design. Unfortunately, they have a mediocre-at-best build quality that doesn't feel very durable, and they sound a bit too piercing on already bright tracks. They also leak a lot and poorly isolate in noisy environments, but it's by design since they are open critical listening headphones.

Test Results
Design 5.7
Sound 7.4
Isolation 1.9
Microphone 0
Active Features 0
Connectivity 4.8
Pros
  • Lightweight, comfortable on-ear design.
  • Above-average, open sound reproduction.
Cons
  • Very high leakage, by design.
  • No isolation from ambient noise, by design.
  • No audio controls.
  1. Update 2/16/2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
  2. Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.

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5.7

Design

The Grado SR80e, like the SR60e, have a nice retro appeal that will work for some. They're lightweight and relatively comfortable for on-ear headphones. However, they are not stable and will fall off your head quite easily. They also feel cheaply built, don't have any audio controls, do not come with a case and can be a bit cumbersome to carry around due to their thick and long audio cable that's not detachable.  The recently released Grado GW100  are wireless which is a bit more convenient for casual use although their open design won't be ideal for outdoors in noisy conditions.

Style

The Grado SR80e don't change much visually from the SR60e. They have the same distinct retro aesthetic. With an all-black color scheme, that's subtle and understated. Their style may not be for everyone, but they do stand out from other on-ear headphones. Unfortunately, the plastic used for the ear cups looks a little cheap.

7.0 Comfort
Weight : 0.34 lbs
Clamping Force
:
0.55 lbs

The Grado SR80 deliver a decent comfort level. They are lightweight and do not feel too tight on your head for an on-ear design. Unfortunately, the cushion-like cover on the ear pads does not feel good on the skin and is very susceptible to wear and tear. The headband is also not padded but since they are very lightweight headphones, it's not much of an issue.

0 Controls
Ease of use : N/A
Feedback : N/A
Call/Music Control : No
Volume Control : No
Microphone Control : N/A
Channel Mixing
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through
:
N/A
Additional Buttons : N/A

These headphones do not have any in-line controls.

8.2 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 2 C

The Grado SR80e are very breathable headphones. They have small on-ear cups that are open back so they do not obstruct a lot of airflow. They also have slightly more breathable pads than typical on-ear designs, with pleather padding which makes them even more breathable. Since they still rest on your ears, they won't be as breathable as in-ears over long listening sessions but they're a lot more breathable than over-ear headphones and most on-ear designs except the Koss Porta Pro.

6.1 Portability
L : 7.09 "
W : 6.69 "
H : 1.97 "
Volume : 93.31 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

The Grado SR80e share the same design as the SR60e. They are moderately portable and have a thin headband that's not too bulky. The ear cups lay flat to take up less space, and they will easily fit in a backpack. Sadly, they don't fold up into a more compact format, and the thick cable is a bit bothersome.

0 Case
Type : No case
L : N/A
W : N/A
H : N/A
Volume : N/A

These headphones do not come with a case.

5.5 Build Quality

Like the SR60e, the SR80e have a subpar build quality. They are lightweight and sufficiently dense to handle a few drops without damage but unfortunately, the cheap, and plastic joints do not feel durable. They look poorly glued together, and the cushion-like material used for the padding is very susceptible to wear and tear. On the upside, they have few moving parts that are likely to become loose over time and the thick audio cable looks tough.

5.0 Stability

These headphones are not designed for sports use. They have a long, thick and non-detachable cable that easily gets tangled or hooked on something, which yanks the headphones off your head. They also have large ear cups and don't apply much pressure to the ears for the sake of comfort which makes these headphones sway during any physical activity. They will quickly fall off your head while running and barely stay in place during casual listening sessions.

Cable
Detachable : No
Length : 5.6 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS

The Grado SR80 do not come with any additional cables. They have a 5.6ft non-detachable cable with a 1/8TRS connector.

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Headshots 1
Headshots 2
7.4

Sound

The Grado SR80e decent sounding open-back on-ear headphones. They have a good, consistent, and punchy bass, a well-balanced and even mid-range, but a bright and mediocre treble. Additionally, their bass lacks extension and thump/rumble, and their treble is too piercing and sibilant (sharp on S and T sounds). They also have noticeable distortion in the treble range, which makes certain higher frequencies harsh and impure. Overall, they are a decent choice if you prefer a bright sound profile and clear and forward vocals, however, they won't be the ideal choice for fans of heavy bass or those who are looking for a neutral sound profile.

The rest of the SR range of the Grado headphones sound virtually the same, so if you like the sound of the Grados, there is no need to get the more expensive SR225e or SR325e.

7.7 Bass
Std. Err.
:
2.93 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
51.13 Hz
Low-Bass
:
-6.1 dB
Mid-Bass
:
-0.61 dB
High-Bass
:
0.57 dB

The bass is good. The LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 51Hz, which is decent. Additionally, low-bass, which is responsible for the thump and rumble common to bass-heavy music and sound effects, is lacking by 6dB. However, mid-bass, responsible for body and punch of bass guitars and kick drums, and high-bass, responsible for warmth, are within 1dB of our neutral target. Overall, the bass of the Grado SR80e lacks thump and sub-bass, but has just the right amount of body and punch.

8.6 Mid
Std. Err.
:
1.9 dB
Low-Mid
:
0.58 dB
Mid-Mid
:
0.0 dB
High-Mid
:
1.62 dB

The mid-range is great. The response throughout the range is virtually flat and very even. The results in a clear and well-balanced reproduction of the fundamental and lower harmonics of vocals and lead instruments. The 10dB bump around 2KHz though, bring excess intensity to upper harmonics of vocals and leads, making their overall mid-range noticeably forward.

6.7 Treble
Std. Err.
:
4.54 dB
Low-Treble
:
3.59 dB
Mid-Treble
:
4.45 dB
High-Treble
:
-1.63 dB

The treble performance is average. The overall response is rather uneven and noticeably overemphasized throughout the range. Low-treble shows the continuation of the high-mid bump and is over our neutral target by about 4dB. This makes these headphones noticeably intense and bright sounding. Mid-treble is overemphasized by more than 4dB, resulting in a sharp and sibilant sound. This will be mostly noticeable on vocals and cymbals, making their S and T sounds harsh and piercing.

8.6 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
0.29 dB

The frequency response consistency of the Grado SR80 is great. They show excellent bass delivery across multiple users and re-seats, which is most likely due to their open-back design. They also have a very consistent treble delivery, which is probably due to their on-ear design. Overall, the Grados will provide the same bass and treble response across multiple users and re-seats, regardless of the shape and size of your head, and whether you wear glasses or not.

8.8 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.24
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
0.23
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
1.91
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
3.56

The Grado SR80 have great imaging. Their weighted group delay is 0.24, which is very good. The graph also shows that the entire group delay is below our audibility threshold. This ensures a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were well-matched in amplitude, frequency, and phase response, which is important for the accurate placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, video games effects) in the stereo image.

6.0 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
2.56 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
1.33 dB
PRTF Distance
:
6.91 dB
Openness
:
9.2
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
8.7
Correlated Crosstalk
:
-0.5 dB

The soundstage of the SR80e is mediocre. Due to their on-ear design, the Grados don't interact with the pinna and don't activate its resonances. That's why the PRTF response is basically a flat line. This results in a soundstage that is perceived as small and located inside the listener's head. However, the open-back design of the SR80e will help in creating a more open-sounding and immersive soundstage, compared to closed-back headphones.

6.1 Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
:
17.34
Weighted THD @ 100
:
171.795

The harmonic distortion performance is mediocre. These headphones show an elevated amount of THD in the bass range, especially at 100dB SPL. This suggests that they may struggle to produce a clean bass at very high volumes. Also, the spikes in THD around 4KHz will make the sound of that region noticeably harsh and impure.

1.9

Isolation

These headphones are not designed to isolate listeners. The open-back ear cups encourage leakage to improve the overall sound quality. Unfortunately, this means that they will be distracting to people around you at moderate volumes, even on a bus. Their lack of passive or active isolation means, they don't block much noise and makes them unideal for commuting or traveling.

2.2 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-1.22 dB
Bass
:
-0.09 dB
Mid
:
1.08 dB
Treble
:
-4.44 dB
Self-Noise
:
0 dB

The isolation performance of the SR80e is poor. This is by design and typical of open-back headphones. Therefore, they don't provide any isolation in the bass and mid-ranges, letting in all the low rumbling noise of airplane and bus engines, and the chatter of people around you. In the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds like S and Ts, they provide about 5dB of isolation, which is inadequate.

1.5 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
64.08 dB

The leakage performance is poor. This is by design and due to their open-back design. The significant portion of their leakage is spread across both the mid and treble ranges, which is quite a broad range. The overall level of their leakage is very loud too. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 64dB SPL and peaks at 81dB SPL, which is way above the averages noise floor of an office.

0

Microphone

Integrated
:
N/A
In-line
:
N/A
Boom
:
N/A
Detachable Boom
:
N/A

The Grado SR80e does not come with a microphone. For a wired headphone with a good in-line microphone, check out the Bose SoundTrue Around-Ear II, the Bose QuietComfort 25 or the Apple EarPods.

0 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
N/A
LFE
:
N/A
FR Std. Dev.
:
N/A
HFE
:
N/A
Weighted THD
:
N/A
Gain
:
N/A

The Grado SR80e does not have any active components and do not require a battery.

0 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise : N/A
Speech + Subway Noise : N/A
SpNR
:
N/A

These headphones do not have a microphone so the noise handling has not been tested.

0

Active Features

The Grado SR80e are passive headphones with no battery or app support.

N/A Battery
Battery Type
:
N/A
Battery Life
:
N/A
Charge Time
:
N/A
Power Saving Feature
:
N/A
Audio while charging
:
N/A
Passive Playback
:
N/A

These headphones do not have any active components and do not require a battery.

0 App Support
App Name : N/A
iOS : N/A
Android : N/A
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
:
N/A
ANC control
:
N/A
Mic Control : N/A
Room effects
:
N/A
Playback control
:
N/A
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

These headphones do not come with an app or software for added customization options.

4.8

Connectivity

The Grado SR80e have a simple 1/8"TRS audio cable with no in-line remote. They will only provide audio when connected to your console or PC and have practically no latency since they are wired. However, this also means that they will not have the range and convenience of wireless headphones.

0 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
:
N/A
NFC Pairing
:
N/A

These headphones are wired and do not have a Bluetooth connection. If you want a similar design in a wireless format the consider the Grado GW100.

7.2 Wired
OS Compatibility
:
Not OS specific
Analog Audio
:
Yes
USB Audio
:
No
PS4 Compatible
:
Audio Only
Xbox One Compatible
:
Audio Only
PC Compatible
:
Audio Only

The Grado SR80e have a simple 1/8TRS audio cable with no in-line remote/microphone, so they will only provide audio when connected to your PS4, Xbox One or PC.

0 Base/Dock
Type
:
N/A
Optical Input
:
N/A
Line In
:
N/A
Line Out
:
N/A
USB Input
:
N/A
RCA Input
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
:
N/A
PC Compatible
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
N/A
Dock Charging
:
N/A

The Grado SR80e do not have a dock. If you need a headset with a dock that also has a wired connection for gaming or watching movies, then consider the SteelSeries Arctis 7.

0 Wireless Range
Obstructed Range
:
N/A
Line of Sight Range
:
N/A

These headphones do not have a wireless range since they only connect via a regular audio cable with an in-line remote.

10 Latency
Default Latency
:
0 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

The wired connection of these headphones has negligible latency, which is suitable for gaming and home-theater use. Although the range may be a bigger issue for that use case since they have a relatively short cable for watching movies from your couch.

In the box

  • Grado SR80e Headphones
  • 1/8" to 1/4" Adapter

Compared to other Headphones

The Grado SR80e a have an above-average and open sound quality but lack many features for everyday, casual use. They're lightweight and moderately comfortable. The open-back design of the ear cups also improves their overall sound quality. Unfortunately, their build quality doesn't feel durable and they fall off your head quite easily since they do not have the most stable design and have a bulky non-detachable stereo cable. They also have sharp and piercing sound quality that won't be ideal for all tracks, especially bright and treble heavy songs. See our recommendations for the best on-ear headphones, the best headphones under $100, and the best audiophile headphones.

Grado SR60e/SR60
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Grado SR80e have no significant differences when compared to the Grado SR60e. They sound about the same, although the SR80 have slightly better imaging and treble mostly due to better consistency in the treble range. However, like the SR60e, they sound sharp. This won't be for everyone, especially on already bright tracks. On the other hand, SR60e are a slightly better value for your money since they have the same performance and overall build quality as the SR80e.

Grado SR125e/SR125
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Grado SR80e are pretty much identical to the Grado SR125e. The SR125e have slightly thicker and more durable cables, but have the same design and build quality as the rest of the budget Grado line up. The SR80 are, therefore, a better value for your money since they have the same performance at a cheaper price point. They also do a bit better in the treble range, although both headphones are a bit too sharp and may sound piercing on already bright tracks. Also, the difference in the treble is within the margin of error for our sound test, since its consistency varies from person to person.

Grado SR225e/SR225
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Grado SR225e are also almost identical to the budget Grado SR80e but have slightly different pads. The different pads emulate an over-ear design, but it's not very large, which means they still sit on the ears like on-ear headphones. Unfortunately, the pads now clip the top of your ears which makes them a bit less comfortable to wear during long sessions when compared to the SR80e and SR60e. The SR80e, on the upside, are a better value for your money since they sound basically identical to the SR225e, except for the slightly better distortion performance of the more premium model. The SR80e are also a bit less cumbersome to carry around since their cable is not as thick and bulky.

Koss Porta Pro KTC
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Koss Porta Pro are slightly better headphones than the Grado SR80e. The Grados have a better build quality and a more open sound for critical listening with a larger soundstage than the Porta Pros. The Porta Pros, on the other hand, have a more outdoor-friendly design despite being open thanks to their portable on-ear format and in-line remote if you get the KTC variant. They also deliver more bass than the Grados, which some listeners will prefer, and they are compact enough to carry around on your person without much hassle, unlike the SR80e.

5.4 Mixed Usage

Below-average for mixed usage. The Grado SR80e are critical listening headphones, not intended for other use cases except maybe home theater. They deliver an above-average sound quality that reproduces instruments and vocals decently well but will sound a bit too sharp for some. They're also decently comfortable but are less stable than most on-ears and even some bulkier over-ear designs. They're also open-back headphones that won't be versatile enough for outdoor use by design.

7.2 Critical Listening

The Grado SR80e are above-average, budget critical listening headphones. They have a wide, open soundstage and great reproduction of instruments and vocals. They lack a little bass and sound slightly sharp at times, but they reproduce the detail in high-res audio with above-average accuracy.

4.2 Commute/Travel

Not designed for commuting. They don't block any ambient noise which won't be ideal for a busy train or bus ride.

5.2 Sports/Fitness

Not intended for sports. They're unstable and the thick cable is bothersome. They also have no control scheme and are bit bulky and cumbersome to carry around on your person. On the upside, they are fairly breathable.

4.7 Office

Sub-par for office use. Unless you work alone or in an isolated office, the leakage level will be too bothersome for those around you. Also, the open back design does not block any noise so you will hear your environment fairly easily even when listening to music at higher-than-average volumes.

5.6 TV

Below-average for home theater. The Grado SR80 are decently comfortable with an above-average sound quality. They also have no latency since they're wired. However, they're limited by the range of their audio cable and may require an extension cord.

5.6 Gaming

Below average for gaming. They're decently comfortable, sound great and have a low latency wired design. However, they do not have a microphone for voice chat when gaming, and no customization options which are typical for most gaming headsets. Also, they do not have the convenience of wireless design or multiple connection options for an optimized experience on Xbox one or PS4.

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