Review: Grado Labs SR80 Prestige Series headphones

A brief hardware review by Bobulous.


photo: A pair of Grado SR80 headphones, showing both sides of the earpiece, and the gold-plated audio jack plug.

The Grado SR80 comes from Grado Labs' Prestige Series of headphones. The SR80 is fitted with a mini-plug but a 1/4″ adaptor is included. Frequency response is 20Hz–20,000Hz.


The Grado SR80 headphones can be bought from for £88.99 which includes shipping.


photo: A close-up of the left earpiece, the gold jack plug nearby.

The SR80 uses "open air" headphones, which means that air can freely pass through the earpieces. This gives the sound quality a very natural feel, but it does mean that the headphones allow outside noises to interfere with the audio more easily. It also means that people around you will hear what you are listening to more easily than if you were wearing closed-style headphones. However, if you intend to wear headphones at home in a quiet room, these concerns become irrelevant.

The sound quality through these headphones is excellent. Vocals sound beautiful (depending on who's doing the singing, obviously), the instruments all sound clearly separate, and the bass sounds rich and smooth whether you're listening to rap music or jungle music. The sound quality is good enough that I imagine you could easily go deaf before the volume was loud enough for you to hear any distortion through the SR80 (but I strongly recommend you don't investigate this assumption yourself).

The only downside I've experienced with the Grado SR80 is pain. Not due to the sound output, but due to the way the earpieces sit on the ears. I've got a big head, and the foam earpieces make my ears hurt quite badly after an hour of use. While they're sat still, I don't notice so much. But the slightest movement, or removing them altogether, and a very noticeable aching pain occurs. The earpieces seem to squash the soft outer tissue of my ears. This is a problem that I've had with other earphones, though, so it may just be that I have too large a head, or too delicate a pair of ears. It would be nice to be able to adjust the force with which the earpieces cling to my head, though. People that need headphones that they can wear all day may be disappointed by the SR80. If you need comfort, make sure to try these headphones for at least an hour before you buy them.


The Grado SR80 provides excellent sound quality, but I personally find them quite painful after wearing them for an hour or so. People with smaller heads or tougher ears may be luckier. Even taking the discomfort into account I still frequently use these headphones, and I've had them for eighteen months now.