Home Headphone Guides 10 Grado Headphones Ranked Worst To Best

10 Grado Headphones Ranked Worst To Best

Which Grado headphones, if any, are most worthy of a purchase in 2023?

by Stuart Charles Black
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Aloha friend and Welcome aboard!

Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions leading to a beautiful audio experience that will make you fall in love with music (NOT gear) all over again, so…

Let’s discuss the best Grado headphones in the e-line by ranking them from worst to first.

By the end of this article,

you’ll know exactly which ones are most worth a purchase based on the sound, the pads, and how they change the sound, as well as price, diminishing returns, and overall value for your money.

With that, let’s dive in!

Introduction

The Grado line is quite unique in that all of its cans are handcrafted in Brooklyn New York.

The Grado family has flown mostly under the radar, but their headphones have become increasingly more popular over the years.

Their very first headphone was built in 1991 by John Grado, and the first metal one came not soon after in 1993, in the form of the Grado SR325.

There would be many more milestones for the family, and their roots can be traced all the way back to 1950.

What’s interesting to me is that they started out making phono cartridges, speakers, tonearms, and turntables.

To this day, they still have not paid for advertisements or endorsements.

Production of turntables would begin to slow down in 1988, and eventually, Joseph Grado would go on to retire in 1990.

His nephew John would buy the company from him, and not soon after, headphone production would begin in 1991.

Today we’ll hone in on the third generation of these Grado headphones, the “e series.”

I’ll rank them from worst to first, and by the end, you should have a great idea of which ones are most worth a purchase.

#10

Grado SR325e

Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

Specifications

  • Driver Type: Dynamic.
  • Operating Principle: Open-air.
  • Fit: Supra-aural (On-ear).
  • Frequency Response: 18Hz – 24kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 99.8dB/mW.
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm. What is Headphone Impedance?
  • Material: Metal, Leather, Foam.
  • Weight: 12.6 oz.
  • Inputs: 3.5mm, 6.35mm (1/4″)
  • Cable Length: 5 ft.

I’m placing the 325e last because it was just about the worst experience I’ve had listening to a headphone – Grado or otherwise.

The bass is punchy, and the sound is clear and detailed (perhaps even more so than the 60e and 80e), but 2kHz is still a huge issue + the pads are awful.

I have no idea what Grado was thinking, but these “L-cushions” as they call them, are pretty aptly named. They’re losers.

They dig into your ear lobes, they hurt, and they make the overall sound very bitey, sibilant, and extremely essy.

Overall,

the SR325e provides a bit of a punchier bass with the same overall sound as its predecessors.

They don a leather headband and metal casing (as opposed to plastic/polymer), so I suppose it’s a slight upgrade build-wise, but I’d never recommend these in any circumstance.


#9

Grado SR125e

Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

Specifications

  • Driver Type: Dynamic.
  • Operating Principle: Open-air. Closed back vs. Open back headphones.
  • Fit: Supra-aural (On-ear).
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 99.8dB.
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm. What is Headphone Impedance?
  • Material: Plastic, Polymer, Foam.
  • Weight: 9.2 oz.
  • Inputs: 3.5mm, 6.35mm (1/4″).
  • Cable Length: 2.3m.

If there were ever a complete waste of a headphone, the SR125e is it hands down.

It sounds identical to both the 60e and 80e, it contains the same pads and the same exact build, yet it costs more money.

Color me confused.

I’ve never understood why these existed, but I digress.

I’d go ahead and skip over this one unless you’re into wasting money.


#8

Grado SR225e

Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

Specifications

  • Driver Type: Dynamic.
  • Operating principle: Open-air.
  • Fit: Supra-aural (On-ear).
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm.
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 22 kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 99.8 dB.
  • Driver size: 40mm.
  • Material: Foam, Plastic, Metal.
  • Color: Black.
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: No.
  • Cable coiled: No.
  • Cable length: 5.64 ft.
  • Comes with straight cable: Yes.
  • Ear-pads replaceable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: No.
  • Headband Padding: No.
  • Headband Style: Traditional.
  • Fold-able: No.
  • Weight: 9.9 oz.
  • Accessories Included: 1/4″ adapter, User manual, Warranty/Registration card (depending on the vendor).
  • Amp needed: No.

The SR225e has good clarity and an overall tight signature with plenty of slam.

Even so, the same general issues manifest in not only the mid-range at 2kHz but also the treble around 10k.

It’s sibilant, essy, and strident again, which tends to ruin the otherwise decent sound signature.

Like the 325e, the 225 contains the same L-cushions and generally suffers from identical comfort issues, so definitely keep that in mind before purchasing.

The Soundstage here is pretty good, as I was checking my back because periodically I would hear stuff that sounded like it was coming from the outside.

The cable itself is very sturdy if a tad bulky.

Still,

I found it less cumbersome than some of Grado’s other offerings.

The relationship between the weight of the headphones vs. the weight of the cable is a little more balanced here.

Overall,

still a waste of money in my opinion.

#7

Grado RS1e

Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay!

Specifications

  • Driver Type: Dynamic.
  • Operating Principle: Open-air.
  • Fit: Supra-aural (On-ear).
  • Impedance: 32 Ohms.
  • Sensitivity: 98 dB SPL/V. What is Sensitivity in Headphones?
  • Connector Type: 1/8″.
  • Cable Length: 7 ft.
  • Cable Style: Straight Y.
  • Weight: 8 oz.
  • Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year.

Summary

Right off the bat, the reference series showcases an authentic mahogany wood finish, as opposed to metal or plastic in previous iterations of the line.

Make no mistake, each of these headphones is handcrafted from real wood in Grado’s Brooklyn headquarters.

The RS1e’ has a bit smoother of a treble than any of the Prestige series models, and won’t become sibilant quite as easily, if ever.

They’re also engaging at any listening level, and sound just as interesting at a low level as they do at a higher one.

Your source is important, as these won’t flatter the music but will instead present it to you as is.

It’s highly advised to listen to high-quality files such as FLAC, WAV, or at least 320 kbps MP3s.

All in all, these articulate piano notes and music in general with startling ease and clarity.

Users note that the bass isn’t quite up to par, but I found it more than enough.

It’s more of an articulate, detailed bass rather than one with a lot of impact.

The cable is still very thick, but having tried these on, the comfort level isn’t quite as good as some of the Prestige models.

In other words,

the fit is a little awkward and because they utilize the L-cushions, comfort here is still pretty bad.


#6

Grado RS2e

Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay!

Specifications

  • Driver Type: Dynamic.
  • Operating Principle: Open Air.
  • Fit: Supra-aural (On-ear).
  • Frequency Response: 14Hz – 28,000kHz.
  • Driver Size: 44mm.
  • Sensitivity: 99.8 dB/mW.
  • Impedance: 32 ohms.
  • Material: Leather, Mahogany, Foam.

The sound differences between the RS2 and 225 aren’t monumental, but they’re there.

To put it simply, after hearing the RS2e, you won’t go back to the 225 because the sound is a smidgen better.

The bass on these is heavier, and the soundstage is also wider and more spacious. What is Soundstage?

The bass has more slam while still remaining incredibly clear, articulate, and detailed. The sound as a whole is also just a little bit clearer.

Like the RS1e, these won’t bite as much in the treble when turned up, as opposed to the cheaper models in the Prestige line which can sound a bit grating at times.

Does all that warrant the big gap in price increase? Not really. Will you go back to the 225s after listening to these?

Nope.


#5

Grado PS500e

Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay!

Specifications

  • Driver Type: Dynamic.
  • Operating Principle: Open Air.
  • Fit: Supra-aural (On-ear).
  • Frequency Response: 14Hz – 29,000kHz.
  • Driver Size: 44mm.
  • Sensitivity: 99.8 dB.
  • Impedance: 32 ohms.
  • Material: Metal alloy/mahogany hybrid enclosures, a powder-coated aluminum housing, and foam padding

The PS500e takes the sound of previous headphones and mellows out the highs a bit, contributing to a much warmer overall sound, but has a smaller Soundstage.

While the bass is toned back more, the mid-range is notably better on the 500e in comparison to something like the RS2e.

Rock will thus sound better with the 500e, as the treble is more mellowed out and less sibilant and harsh.

You can achieve the same sound here with something cheaper, which is why these aren’t worth the price in my opinion.

The same 2kHz bump is there, but it’s a tad less extreme this time around.


#4

Grado PS1000e

Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay!

Specifications

  • Driver Type: Dynamic.
  • Operating Principle: Open-air.
  • Fit: Circumaural (Around-Ear)
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 50,000kHz.
  • Driver Size: 50mm.
  • Sensitivity: 99.8 dB.
  • Impedance: 32 ohms.
  • Material: Plastic, Polymer, Foam.

The G-cushioned PS1000e bears most of the same qualities as the others, including a detailed, snappy bass that isn’t overblown or muddy, and the treble sparkles like usual.

Even so,

the same general issues still manifest including the mid-range bump, as well as more treble bite and a generally essy sound.

Despite that,

The pinpoint precision and accuracy are there, with reports of even being able to discern which way the microphone is pointing toward an instrument.

A pretty bold claim for certain, but just know that the space between instruments delivers more clarity than previous members (likely due to the pad change), but it’s probably not enough of a difference to warrant such an outrageous price.

Notable differences include an increased driver size of 50mm and a broader frequency response.

Keep in mind you can’t really hear anything over 20kHz, so it’s a bit of a marketing ploy.

The PS1000e is heavy, much heavier than the other models in the line, and may actually need some separate amplification, which is a surprise considering Grado headphones, in general, don’t.

As usual, the better the source file, the more enjoyable your experience will be.


#3

Grado SR80e

Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

Grado SR60e vs. 80e

Specifications

  • Driver Type: Dynamic.
  • Operating Principle: Open air.
  • Fit: Supra-aural (On-ear).
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 99.8dB.
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm. What is Headphone Impedance?
  • Material: Plastic, Polymer, Foam.
  • Weight: 130.4g.
  • Inputs: 3.5mm, 6.35mm (1/4″).
  • Cable Length: 1.83m.

The SR80e boasts the same general frequency response as the others, but I placed these higher on the list for a couple of reasons:

  • They’re cheap and give you 90-95% of the Grado sound.
  • They utilize the S-cushions which are much better than the Ls.

All in all,

these are mostly identical to the next headphone in line:


#2

Grado SR60e

Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

Grado SR60e vs. 80e

Specifications

  • Driver Type: Open back.
  • Operating Principle: Open air.
  • Fit: Supra-aural (On-ear).
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm. What is Headphone Impedance?
  • Sensitivity: 99.8 dB.
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Material: Plastic, Polymer, Foam.
  • Headband: Vinyl or something similar.
  • Color: Black.
  • Weight: 124.7g.
  • Cable length: 2.1m.

The 60e bears an identical sound to the 80e but it’s even more affordable.

In fact,

if you’re interested in the Grado sound, my advice is to purchase a 60e and see if you like it.

Everything I’ve talked about up until this point with regard to all the other models can be applied to the 60e as well.

In other words,

they all share essentially the same sound, but the 60e, like the 80e, contains the S-cushions which are much more forgivable on your ears.

You won’t have nearly as many comfort issues with this model and it’s just another reason to try them first over the others in the line.

My Review & Comparison to the 80e

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#1

Grado GS1000e

Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

Specifications

  • Driver Type: Dynamic.
  • Operating Principle: Open Air.
  • Fit: Circumaural (Around-Ear)
  • Frequency Response: 8Hz – 35,000kHz.
  • Driver Size: 50mm.
  • Sensitivity: 99.8 dB.
  • Impedance: 32 ohms.
  • Material: Leather, Mahogany, Foam.

Summary

The bass on the 1000e is very realistic, and not lacking in the least.

Of course, there will always be people with unrealistic needs, but I found that the bass is highly sufficient in pretty much all Grado models, and the 1000e is no exception.

Continuing in the vein of the RS2e, the GS1000e improves on Soundstage, clarity, and a more spacious/airy presentation.

Vocals also take on a more realistic quality, being much more vivid, with greater clarity.

You’re able to discern and understand artists better, and you can play the headphones pretty loudly without sibilance (much like the RS2e).

A big difference in the 1000e is the sense of being able to pinpoint instruments with a lot better precision.

It becomes easier to locate instruments, but it’s also very dependent on your source file; the higher the quality the better.

Again, however, the question of if it’s worth 3x the price of the SR325 is debatable, as I still don’t believe these are worth the money.

That said, like the RS2e, if you hear the 1000e or happen to purchase it, there’s no going back to lesser models.

Overall,

I thought the GS1000e was the best out of the line, and this mostly has to do with the pads providing a more spacious presentation.

My Video Review

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Closing Thoughts

Things that all of these headphones have in common:

All are open-air and leak sound

You’re going to want to listen in a somewhat isolated studio space/comfort of your own home.

None of these are really meant for on-the-go or portable situations.

All are Supra-aural and fit on your ear

(with the exception of the GS1000e, PS2000e and any that utilize G-cushions).

While I really thought the comfort factor of some of the earlier models was pretty spot on, the more expensive models are definitely hit-and-miss and may require an ear-pad swap.

All have roughly the same type of signature

While there will be small improvements as you ascend in class, a lot of the time it’s not enough to warrant the increase in price.

That said, once you hear or own a Grado headphone that’s at any point more expensive than the last one, you’re likely not going back.

All have roughly the same type of build quality

While the build isn’t the best around, I do think it’s good enough for the cheaper models.

However, once the price starts to escalate, the build quality should be markedly improved and it simply isn’t.

The Best Grado Headphones

That said, I believe that 2 headphones, in particular, will get you around 90-95% of the sound.

They are the SR60e and the SR225e.

Sure, you could spend more and get more clarity, but the law of diminishing returns starts to kick in after the 225.

That is to say that the increase in quality gets smaller and smaller relative to the price.

This is an issue with most headphones above $300, and the Grado line is no exception.

I’m in no way trying to bash any of these, but I have to be honest.

I wouldn’t pay for most of them given the astronomical price (for some) and that kind of lackluster build.

It is good for the most part but could be so much better.

With all of that, et a 60e if you really want to try a Grado:

 

Want my top 5 audiophile recommendations?

 

Video Discussion

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Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this article on the best Grado headphones.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Looking for something else? Please contact me!!

What do you think about the SR60e and 225e? Is there another headphone on this list that you would purchase? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

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!

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6 comments

Mike Adamson September 28, 2020 - 9:39 am

You might want to change some details on the GS1000e…….They are not ‘on ear’ and are supplied with ‘G’ Cushions. You also describe the PS1000e as ‘On ear’………details, details! but you might as well try getting them right! How can you possibly claim any credibility on your appraisals of these headphones when you are unable to get the patently obvious right.
Just a thought!

Reply
Stuart Charles Black September 28, 2020 - 2:08 pm

Hey man thanks for the heads up. I will fix that right away. We all make mistakes. This website has over 500 pages of content, so there are bound to be errors. It was a simple typo. I probably copy-pasted the specs from another headphone like the 60e so I wouldn’t have to re-type it all, then forgot to change the fit to Circumaural. All you really had to say was “Hey I think you made a couple of typos here and here. Just a heads up.” Thank you for stopping by!

Reply
Jason Moonchild February 8, 2023 - 2:13 pm

I have original SR80, original SR225, original MS-2 (Alessandro Music Series 2, a civilized brother of the first SR325 and SR325X.

I think 99 people of 100 would pick this new 325x over original SR325. I’m that one person, who loves this original SR325 more than any other Grado. It is like a Golden sample of all Grado has ever produced. Some say it is the John’s favourite headphone. To me, it sounds like no other headphone. You hear everything. People often say they hear things they never heard in their music, when they get new headphones. SR325 triples that experience. Every headphone after that, sounds so boring and even frustrating, because you cant hear those individual instruments anymore.

Also, I think that “Harman curve” is for people who would want to fall sleep, when listening music. Perfect examples are these mass-produced Sony, Bose, apple headphones. They perfectly destroys everything which makes listening music an emotional experience. Hopefully Grado would make a new line of headphones like… “NFR”. Not For Reviewers. Or “NFP” Not For Press. But to people, who love music, or something different than mass-market sound… That original sound of Grados. E, i or new x models are not bad. But they are tuned down, because of reviewers, who whine they sound so different, because they like equipment made for “easy listening”.

Reply
Stuart Charles Black February 10, 2023 - 6:21 pm

Glad to hear your experiences were positive! I will be reviewing the X series soon, just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Stick around because I will likely make a post similar to this one and rank them again.

Reply
Mohd Aiman Safwan September 27, 2023 - 10:42 am

I think you should try the new generation grado rs2x… many improvements for this new generation..

Reply
Stuart Charles Black September 27, 2023 - 10:43 am

We’ll see! Still haven’t gotten around to it but it’s definitely on the to do list. I will try and remember to reach out again when I demo them. Thanks for stopping by!

Reply

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