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Grado SR80 review

Sound quality isn't a new thing

Our Verdict

Like an ageing rocker, these cans are not much to look at, but sound performance is second to none


  • Refined

    Open performance

    Tightly composed bass

    Lightweight design


  • Prehistoric styling that will make people snigger, but you'll never hear them

As the dated design suggests, Grado's SR80 headphones have been around long before most of its rivals were just a twinkle in their manufacturer's eye.

While they may look like a throwback from days gone by, the secret to their sonic success that's stood the test of time is the outstanding sound quality. The open design allows air to escape through a vented diaphragm, which may upset anyone sat close to you, but gives the sound an uncluttered, open feel.

The stiff leather headband and awkward adjusters give the headphones a deceptively inexpensive appearance, but the well-cushioned, lightweight ear cups are at least comfortable, if not pleasing to the eye.

Style aficionados may not be swayed, but for pure sound performance, the SR80s have few peers. The beautifully composed sound is doused in detail without extinguishing the depth of bass response.

And the expansive, airy quality separates each strand of music to create a wonderfully proportioned soundstage full of clarity and natural expression. With sound performance this good, you can turn a blind eye to aesthetics.