Grado SR80E £99
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