The Prestige Series
Note: reviews may refer to earlier models
Golden Wonder - Grado SR325i
Apple iPod owners take note: the earbuds supplied with your white knight are about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike. What you need is a serious set of cans to do justice to your music and what better way to enjoy pristine hi-fidelity than by using staunch traditionalist GradoÂ’s note-perfect earmuffs?
The SR325i allows you to cultivate the air of a Forties radio announcer (good thing, trust us) and unlike AppleÂ’s telltale white earphones, theyÂ’ll also imply that you carry a full reel-to-reel system in your bag, rather than a hard drive-based MP# player. You may, however, find yourself sayings things like, Â“LetÂ’s give Jerry a biff on the noseÂ” and Â“Now for the shipping forecast,Â” at random intervals. Not that it matters. YouÂ’ll be to busy enjoying the lilting, haunting melodies of Cannibal Corpse at full-tilt to care.
This is a lot of money to spend on a pair of headphones, but if youÂ’re a big fan of ear cans there are few better options than these Grados. This model is built to celebrate the brands 50th anniversary, and is finished in gold to reinforce that point.
We find the colour a touch vivid, but thereÂ’s no denying the quality of their sonic performance. These headphones will treat you to a vivid sound that bristles with detail and dynamics. Most of the opposition barely hints at the kind of bass power these SR325i cans can deliver with ease, so whether you like hard charging hip-hop or large-scale classical, these Grados will please. We recommend these highly!
HI-FI CHOICE - Molto upgrade
By: Richard Black
The Grado SR325i is an improved (hence the i suffix) version of the original SR325. Changes to the SR325i's driver design offer lower transient distortions and the housing is now gold in honor of Grado's 50th anniversary, congratulations!
We expect these headphones will see a lot of action, as these are indeed very capable transducers. If you're at all used to good headphones you won't be surprised to learn that the level of detail you can hear is superb, with fantastic extension in the treble. This makes the top end sound effortless and as clean as a whistle. Bass is good, too Â– obviously, headphones don't really hit you in the solar plexes but the Grados are rather good at making you think they can. Again, it's very clean and the absence of distortion can at first make one think the bass is light, the false impression dissipating rather quickly in the presence of really strong low frequency sounds. You'll notice the degree of insight these headphones offer into sounds Â– both familiar and unfamiliar Â– is really very impressive.
Indeed, it can sometimes be quite amusing to listen to familiar recordings on headphones like these and play "spot the edit" Â– or the extraneous noise or chair creak. It's not that one wants to hear them of course, but the realization that so much was previously hidden from aural view underlines how informative these headphones are, Accordingly, music becomes more involving and even if you still ultimately prefer loudspeakers, you may be surprised how hard it is to switch off and go to bed at the end of a listening session.
Grados also seem particularly good at stereo imaging, a weak point with headphones mainly because most recordings are mastered for loudspeaker listening where stereo works differently. The Grado sound seems to compensate for the departures from expected loudspeaker imaging. This is high-quality music reproduction, thoroughly deserving of serious attention.
If you're yet to be convinced of the virtues of true high-end headphones, these could do just the job. If you're already a believer, you owe it to yourself to hear these. Grado has a reputation for good cans, and it's clearly richly deserved.
HI-FI CHOICE / By: Richard Black
By Malcolm Stewart
The SR325 is the top model in Grado's Prestige series. Open-backed and priced at $295, it looks ideal for the earnest headphone listener who doesn't want to take out a second mortgage to buy a pair of cans. Its styling is dated but my reasons for not being a headphone fan are more serious than any lack of cute looks. Most phones simply don't sound convincing enough to substitute for loudspeakers, and the majority refuse to stay perched firmly without crushing my cranium or making me sweat. The SR325 manages to meet both those demands. It also has a sensible lead that's not cumbersome but sufficiently robust to avoid tangling, which is a rare and welcome attribute in headphone leads.
It articulated spirited bass guitar lines cleanly and fleshed them out fully when appropriate. It also maintained their presence in the mix, even when the other instruments were giving it plenty.
The Grado's top end seemed equally well judged. Picking out detail without making it unnaturally dominant made its portrayal of drum kits and percussion instruments informative and natural. The mid-band integrated perfectly with the upper and lower extremes, conferring a pleasing, coherence and unity on the SR325's presentation.
Choosing headphones is very much a personal matter but I'd encourage anyone who wants to escape the typical, in-yer-face, cheap can sound to listen to these Grados. Their warm tonal balance won't be to everyone's taste but the unexaggerated dynamics and vigorous bass might just sway your choice regardless.
Hi-Fi Choice / By Malcolm Stewart
The AAS Journal
The Periodical of the Atlanta Audio Society
Other than monitoring field-recording sessions, I haven't spent much time with headphones of late that is until the Grado SR 325's were made available for a home audition. Having some past experience with several Grado models at various price points, and always impressed with their favorable price/performance ratios, I was more than idly curious as to this reference model's performance at their retail of $295. This following the phenomenal breakthrough performance of the Grado SR60's introduced a few years past at $69. The Grado Company is famous among LP loving audiophiles and collectors for their cost effective phono cartridge's and for some years their headphones. Joe Grado, founder of the company in 1953, is himself a singer well known in the NYC opera circles. He is a micro-engineering genius as well. He patented the first moving coil cartridges among other designs and continues to release new products with Chief Engineer John Chaipis. Joe's nephew John Grado is now owner and responsible for all the newest designs making it a family affair based in Brooklyn, New York.
The SR 325's feature an open-air transducer design which does not completely close out the listener from the outside world. They enclose enough however to allow focusing on the music without undo distracting. A double plus as you can remain aware of your surroundings and voices addressed to you, yet enjoy a private listening session. The SR 325s technical specs quote advanced low mass polymer diaphragms, ultra pure long crystal (UHPLC) oxygen free copper voice coil and connecting conductors and high power neodymium magnets.
Their 96dB SPL sensitivity@ 1mV and 32 ohms impedance allows ample volume and an easy drive for phone jack output amps. Their overall presentation is involving, detailed, nonstrident with a light and airy flavor-vs-a darker character. This however with ample low bass extension when present in the material. This I found very appealing. The SR325s offer a broad (18Hz-24Hz) frequency response supporting dynamic material. No particular peakness or frequency bands over accentuated indeed a very smooth presentation. Representing a product from the ear and the mind of an experienced musician-Joe Grado. The ear pads are comfortable enough and the phones light enough to wear for long periods than past Grado models-a most welcome improvement. Physically the SR325s may appear more vintage in style in comparison to many '90's streamlined, lightweight mass-market designs, yet their '20's retro form is appealing.
The SR325's are robust headphones, yet weigh only 11oz. They should hold up well for the long haul, and don't sport those cheesy little plastic earpieces with a blob of foam to poke into your sensitive ears. To these ears, the SR325's are the real thing for serious music listening. If you love music of all types, desire intimate associations with the subject (including cassette books and binaural recordings) and room silence is required or appreciated by persons around you, I feel the Grado SR 325's are an excellent choice and well worth an audition.
The AAS Journal The Periodical of the Atlanta Audio Society Volume 14 - Issue No. 2
By Anthony Chiarella
For less than $650, you can achieve a level of sound quality that typically costs thousands. How? Compare Grado Laboratories' SR325 headphones and RA-1 headphone amplifier with any amplifier/ speaker combination in the $4000 range, and you'll see -- and hear -- what we mean. Whereas loudspeakers must fill acoustically imperfect listening rooms with sound, headphones work in concert with the small, predictable volume of air between your ear and the headphone driver. The resulting sound is more accurate and consistent, which explains why audio engineers use headphones to monitor the recordings they produce. And the headphones chosen by the most discriminating sound professionals are those made by Grado. Handcrafted with high-purity copper voice coils and connecting cable, machined alloy driver housings and pair-matched left and right drivers for superior stereo imaging, a pair of SR 325s will bring you closer to the musical truth at the heart of great performances.
Whether you purchase, a set of Grados or any other fine 'phones, the headphone jack on the front of you receiver or amplifier will prevent you from realizing their full potential. Uncompromising in design and performance, the RA-1 amplifier is powered by a pair of 9-volt batteries for the last word in detail and noise-free background. Carved from a solid block of precious mahogany, the RA-1 connects to the stereo outputs of any receiver, amplifier or source component and includes its own volume control for easy adjustability.
A winning combination!