Home Open Back Headphone Reviews Grado Labs SR80e Review – Truly POINTLESS Headphones

Grado Labs SR80e Review – Truly POINTLESS Headphones

The 80e looks like a carbon copy of the 60e in appearance. Does it also possess an identical sound?

by Stuart Charles Black
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Hey there friend and Welcome aboard!!

Before we get into the Grado Labs SR80e Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…

You’ve come to the right place!!

And instead of boring you with a bunch of nonsense, we’ll get right down to brass tacks today. I’ll tell you about the sound of the 80e (as well as build & comfort), how it compares with the 60e, and if it’s ultimately worth a purchase.

So let’s get going!

Grado SR80e


  • Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay!
  • Type: Dynamic, Open back. Closed back vs. Open back headphones
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 99.8dB
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm. What is Headphone Impedance?
  • Material: Plastic, Polymer
  • Weight: 130.4g
  • Inputs: 3.5mm, 6.35mm (1/4″)
  • Cable Length: 1.83m


Grado SR60e vs. 80e

The build of most Grado headphones lies somewhere between cheap/flimsy, to incredibly robust.

This depends entirely on the user as I’ve talked with folks who’ve owned the same model for upwards of 10-20 years.

On the flip side, there are others who report to me that they fell apart within a few months to a couple of years. I suppose it depends on the model you get, but the stark dichotomy seems a bit strange.

What isn’t surprising with regards to them falling apart is the way they’re constructed.

You’ve essentially got a small rod running through a piece of plastic for the headband adjustments, cheap foam pads, and an incredibly frail headphone overall as it’s pretty much all plastic.

Add to that the super bulky cable which doesn’t match the rest of its stature, and it can make for a frustrating experience.

The non-detachable cable tends to really get in the way and I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to putting the headphones on my head.

They’re simply too light for the thickness of the cord as it likes to tug around too much and is generally very annoying.


Grado SR60e vs. 80e

Even despite all that, comfort on a 60/80e is actually pretty good.

Because they use the S-cushions, you won’t find them digging all that much and their lightweight nature makes it pretty okay for extended listening sessions.

I will caution you that after about 3 hours (maybe sooner depending on who you are) you’ll start to feel the pads digging into your earlobes.

So they do require a bit of adjustment, but for the most part, I’d say comfort is slightly above average – especially given all of the other quirks we discussed.

Lastly, the headband is very thin and feels cheap, but you won’t feel these on the top of your head much either.


While generally am not a huge fan of Grado headphones, it isn’t all bad. In fact, I mostly do enjoy the sound of the 60e and 80e.

For one, they are incredibly detailed and reveal a lot of subtle things you’ll miss in other headphones. The bass is handled well, and the treble isn’t overly bright but still can be a tad Sibilant at times.

I’ll never forget one of the times I sat at Audio Advice for 3 straight hours listening to the 80e coupled with Classic Rock and some Hip-Hop.

It was immensely enjoyable for the most part. The headphones provide a mostly smooth, liquid sound with plenty to bang your head over.

In other words, it really gives the songs, a big boost.

The issue has always been the mid-range. Voices and instruments tend to really shout at you and it ends up being too much of a good thing.

In other words, they stand out unnecessarily and you will notice it after a while even despite being wowed initially.

Part of this glaring problem is that even if you have the worst measuring rig on the planet and took an abysmal reading, the 2kHz spike would still show up and be painfully obvious. It’s just that huge of an elephant.

Why Grado decided to do this and still refuses to correct it is beyond me, as you’ll find this roughly 10dB spike in every one of their headphones.

SR60e vs. 80e

The Best Grado Headphones

I did a comparison of the 60e vs. 80e here, but in essence, the 80e continues where the 60e left off; i.e. it’s more of the same.

In other words, it’s an exact replica of the 60e, with the same sound, build, comfort levels, etc. but at a higher price.

This is a huge reason why I tell people not to bother with it.

If you’re interested in the Grado sound, try a 60e instead and see if you like it.


  • Lively sound, and incredibly detailed.
  • Tight bass. I was pleasantly surprised that for being a bass lean headphone, these were more than satisfactory and I found myself not desiring more.
  • They handle fast tracks and lots of instruments well.
  • They do well with most genres.


  • The 2kH area is boosted way too much.
  • The cable is much too large for a headphone of this size and weight.

Video Comparison

Here I did an in-depth A/B comparison of the Grado 60e vs. 80e. You’ll get a good sense of how both of these headphones sound in relation to one another as well as their overall build and comfort levels.

Amp/DAC requirements

Being 32 Ohm Impedance and 99.8dB Sensitivity, these will not require separate amplification but you’ll likely pair them with something anyway given how bulky the cable is.

I’m pretty sure Grado intended for these to be used with some sort of DAC, but they are still efficient enough to be driven out of a phone.

You may run into issues plugging them in though, so keep that in mind. The termination is DUMMY THICC and sometimes doesn’t play nice with certain phone cases.

Who benefits?

They seem to do well with most genres/bands, including but not limited to:

  • Classical
  • Jazz
  • Metal
  • Rock
  • Beethoven
  • ELO
  • Slayer
  • Dream Theater
  • Nature sounds
  • EDM
  • Vocals

They also tend to excel with fast guitars, metal, rock, progressive, etc. given that their transient response is excellent.

The Best Grado Headphones

Thoughts from Stu’s notepad

Sound Leak

Be aware that these both leak sound and fit on your ear. There is no noise isolation whatsoever, so they work best in the comfort of your quiet home studio with minimal distraction and outside noise.

Comfort Remedy

One solution to the comfort issue is to purchase separate ear pads. The Ear zonk L-Cushion donut pads were a big hit amongst reviewers and did improve comfort levels significantly.


The vocal clarity is astonishing. There is so much detail in these that gets lost in other headphones. That said, they do tend to get bright and fatiguing after a while.

I cannot turn them all the way up without some minor sibilance. What does Sibilant mean?


The mid-range is definitely forward, which lends itself well to instrument precision as well as vocals. You’re going to start to hear subtle things that you haven’t noticed before in some of your favorite tracks.

For instance, there’s some really cool feedback and echo on the song Drift by the progressive jazz band Chon. Guitars in general sound very clean and articulate, with revealing timbre. What is Timbre?

The problem with this is that as mentioned above, it can become too much of a good thing and starts to really annoy you after a while.


The 80e is essentially a clone of the 60e at a higher price point but suffers from the same issues in the mid-range. Detailed, fast, and mostly good sound outside of 2kHz.

Overall not recommended in today’s headphone landscape given the vast amount of options available.

Final Word

What do I recommend instead?

In the 60e review, I point people towards the Koss KPH30i and I will do so here as well. If you’re looking for a headphone under $100, I think it’s the one to consider first.

The 30i is an astonishing achievement in audio to be sure. For roughly $30, you’re getting 95% of the audiophile experience.

There are many products in this hobby that are grossly overhyped. The 30i is not one of them.

Interested in learning more?


Well, that’s about it for today my friend. I hope you enjoyed this Grado SR80e Review and came away with some valuable insight.

Are you convinced that the 60/80e isn’t worth it anymore? Let me know!

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!

If you love what I do here and want to support the blog and channel in a more personal way, check me out on Patreon and discover all the value I have to offer you.

All the best and God bless,





Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!



Grado SR80e









  • Lively sound
  • Great Soundstage
  • Good Transient Response, Fast
  • Good Comfort Overall


  • Mid-Range Issue @ 2k
  • Build is a tad flimsy
  • Cable Too Big for Headphones

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Keith Aldrige December 1, 2019 - 6:08 pm

Hello, Stu, well, I found the Philips comparison I wrote to you earlier about, now, another question though…I some time ago I bought Philips 9500 and love them. However, I do not want to duplicate. If I buy the Grado 80, am I duplicating the sound I already have in the aforementioned? If so, is the solution going to be buying the Grado 225? I did not see a review for the 1440 Shures yet. Some time ago, I had wrote you about that.

Stuart Charles Black December 3, 2019 - 1:53 pm

Hey Keith! Yeah I mean the SR80e may be a tad different in sound signature. There’s an unnatural peak at 2k, with a similar bass response and a bright treble. I do like the headphone but find that the 2k peak is kind of troubling. The 225e is just more of the same in fact: Pretty much the entire e line sounds basically identical to be honest. You may really enjoy the 60/80e though – I guess it would just depend on how sensitive your ears are to mid-range spikes and treble spikes. Mine don’t really like it although the headphone overall is still very good. Out of all the e line, I probably would only recommend people the 60 or 80e.

Aggie December 9, 2020 - 11:03 am

Hi Stuart,
how would you compare this SR80e to the Sennheiser HD 650? I mean only sound. As I mentioned in another comment, I have SR80e and I decided to buy HD 650 (just waiting for delivery). I wanted to try something more hi-end and HD 650 looked like a good idea. But now, when I just read this post, I think that I made mistake and I bought headphone which is very similar to my SR80e. What’s your opinion?

Stuart Charles Black December 11, 2020 - 8:31 pm

Hey Aggie!

The HD650 is more laid back for sure, with even less mid-range emphasis than the HD600. I would liken it to taking sandpaper to wood and smoothing it down, while the HD600 is the wood without sanding. The 80e is too forward @2k. I’d have to go back and read this review again to see what you were referring to, but you made a great decision in purchasing a 650. Don’t worry; you’re going to love it!


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