Grado SR80E £99

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Awards 2018 -

There are a few things you need to know if you’re con­sid­er­ing buy­ing Grado head­phones: they look a bit funny, they sound great, they’re a lit­tle anti-so­cial when it comes to leak­ing sound. If you can get along with all of those fac­tors, you’re in for a treat.

That open-back de­sign is key to their per­for­mance. They’ll leak sound like a sieve and pro­vide al­most no iso­la­tion, but we have real af­fec­tion for the de­sign. The Gra­dos look retro, and not in a su­per­fi­cial way de­signed sim­ply to look good on a shelf.

And we’re cer­tainly not go­ing to com­plain when the cans sound as good as they do. Their dy­nam­ics, de­tail and clar­ity are all-but un­matched at this price. The open-backed de­sign helps make these head­phones sound fast and nim­ble. Bass is clean and punchy and there’s no sense of one fre­quency band bleed­ing into or en­croach­ing upon an­other.

As there’s no fat to the sound, noth­ing to clog up the separation be­tween parts of an ar­range­ment, the Sr80es can jump be­tween gen­res with­out any ob­vi­ous flaws. That’s partly be­cause there aren’t any true clunkers to point out. They’re vi­tal and en­er­getic, and get their re­sults with­out em­ploy­ing a boost in any par­tic­u­lar fre­quency range.

Their pre­sen­ta­tion is up­front, mu­sic start­ing close to your ears, but the open, well-sep­a­rated sound doesn’t cling to your eardrums in the way it might with lesser head­phones. If you like the style and don’t mind the fact they leak sound, there’s noth­ing bet­ter at this price.

The Grado SR80S are up­front and en­er­getic, but very leaky in­deed

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