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Grado SR80x Headphones: The Classic Reinvented

The $125 Grado SR80x headphones are the longest running headphone model in their lineup for a very good reason. They sound great.

Grado Labs SR80x Prestige Series Open-back Headphones

The story of the SR80x holds a special place for not only myself, but the ears of hundreds of thousands of listeners. The first pair was built in 1991 and the SR80x is worthy of being the longest running Grado headphone.

My first pair of audiophile-quality headphones were the Grado Prestige SR-80s and I schlepped them around the globe for almost 5 years. They vanished during the Second Intifada in Israel when I had to evacuate a bus in the Negev out of fear that a terrorist was trying to board a bus in the area.

My laptop bag was unattended for hours and when I finally got it back — the headphones were gone. I hope whomever took them enjoyed them; I had another pair in my suitcase. 

This new generation of the Grado Prestige X Series is a model for model replacement; comprising the SR60x (£109.95, $99), SR80x (£129.95, $125), SR125x (£189.95, $175), SR225x (£249.95, $225) and SR325x (£329.95, $295).

The Prestige remains the company’s entry-level range which falls below its Reference Series headphones.

One of my complaints about the Prestige Series was that the cable would kink a lot and I constantly had to untangle it. The new Grado Prestige X headphones utilize a new cable design offering more durability and flexibility. Nylon-braided sheathing that prevents kinking and twisting.

Grado Labs SR80x Prestige Series Open-back Headphones Angle
Grado Labs SR80x

Another issue with the original SR-80 was the headband. Try wearing those in the hot Negev for a few weeks. Brutal. It looks like Grado has redesigned a new headband to make the new headphones more comfortable for longer listening sessions.

The Prestige X Series headband redesign improves comfort, which reduces listening fatigue. The padded headbands for SR60x, SR80x, SR125x, and SR225x have a leather aesthetic, but are vegan-friendly man-made material.

Grado have also upgraded the headphone cables for the new Prestige X models. The 8-conductor cables in the SR225x feature a super annealed copper wire – 99.9999% pure copper – to deliver improved purity of the audio signal. All Prestige X cables terminate in a 1/8 inch mini-plug with an included 1/4 inch adaptor.

The Grado SR80x also utilize the new 4th generation Grado 44mm drivers which are specifically tuned for the SR80x; this new speaker design features a more powerful magnetic circuit, a voice coil with decreased effective mass, and a reconfigured diaphragm.

For more information: Grado Labs Prestige X Headphones

Where to buy: $125 at Amazon | Crutchfield

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Leo

    November 28, 2021 at 7:03 pm

    Grado needs to modernize, even 15 years ago the sr225se would almost unusable in terms of comfort. At least they put something soft between your ear and the drivers and the cables aren’t as stiff and in the way. But that height adjustment slider is one of the most annoying methods ever used, and on ear is still a little off-putting.

    They do sound great but its not worth it in the modern market when we have hd 598s, dt 770/990s, and fidelio x2hrs constantly going on sale

    • Ian White

      November 28, 2021 at 9:29 pm

      Leo,

      On-ear bothers me for sure. As you correctly put it, they need to modernize. The machines they use to create the molds are very old and one would think they’ve made enough money over the years to change things. I’ve visited the factory in Brooklyn (a glorified townhouse) and the machines in the basement were older than me (I’m 51). They do a very nice job on the cartridges. Watching their techs wind each cart and assemble them was really interesting.

      The cables on the older models were the worst. The worst. I had one get wrapped up around my M4 and I looked like a jackass on the bus fighting with my headphones while holding a rifle.

      Ian White

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