Getting your hands on open-back, on-ear headphones can be considered as a rarity, and we’ve saved you some of your precious time by presenting you the Grado SR80e. Grado Labs is known to be a top manufacturer of some unusual headphones. Perhaps being unique is one of the trademark of Grado Labs, and with all the awards and great reviews that the Grado SR80es has been getting, we won’t be surprised that it is deemed to be a major player of in the audio industry, with the likes of Sennheiser, Bose and Beyerdynamic. If you have used or are familiar with the SR80is, expect to see some product similarities with the Grado SR80e.

Grado SR80e: Unusual Design, High Quality Audio

If you love to stock on headphones with a unique design rather than traditional ones, the Grado SR80e is a great purchase. Primarily, what makes the Grado SR80e unique is that they have an on-ear design but at the same time they are open-backs.

Since the Grado SR80e has an open-back design, expect that it will leak sound and will not provide minimal to no isolation. If you are planning to use this to listen to music or your favorite track in the office, at the library or on a train, you might want to use something less leaky. When you want privacy during a call, you would not get this from the Grado SR80e. 

The ear pads of the Grado SR80e is another sign of its unique imaging. At first glance, the ear pads look like round slabs of foam and it feels more scratchy and not so soft compared to traditional headphones in the market. However, once you eventually get accustomed to its fit and structure, they are actually fine and bring comfort in the sense that it doesn’t make the ears feel hot unlike most leather ear pads. 

We couldn’t emphasize how we are totally shipping the design of the Grado SR80e. Aside from being unique functionally, the chunky plastic ear cups are also framed with in-laid grilles and there are metal prongs attached to the housing of the headband to give a look similar to radio-operator headphones. However, if you’re into fashion or want vibrant colors from your headphones, the Grado SR80e may be a bummer as it is only available in black.

Grado SR80e: Affordable Audiophile Headphones

The Grado SR80e is also recommended for individuals who want to enjoy and experience high-quality audio but are looking for an affordable selling price. Of course, since the price of the Grado SR80e is more affordable than other headphones in the market, you can expect that the device is made more of plastic. However, don’t take this as a sign that the Grado SR80e is substandard – the parts that need to be metal are made of metal and the parts don’t really affect or lower the efficiency and prestige of the product.

If you are purchasing the Grado SR80e online or on a retail site, you might receive the box a slightly deformed or mangled cardboard box. As you all know, some boxes undergo a lot of handling during shipping and since the cardboard box of the Grado SR80e is thin, it is highly possible to be bruised here and there.

Fortunately, there’s a generous amount of foam padding inside the box to cushion the headphones and keep it safe. Aside from the Grado SR80e headphones, there’s also a 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter inside the box. It doesn’t have a carry case and the cable does not have an inline remote for a cell phone or mobile phone. 

Speaking of cable, it does not detach but it is thick and durable enough, making it feel tougher than its price. If you are looking for portable and convenient headphones, you might want to shop for another device or model. The four conductor cable together with the gold plated mini plug brings your audio to a whole new level, whether you are using it with your gaming system, mobile phone or tablet.

Grado SR80e Sound Quality

Now that we’re over and done with the fact that the Grado SR80e are indeed unique and one of a kind headphones, let’s move on to its sound quality and accuracy. Generally, the sound quality of the Grado SR80e is impressive, from the vocal dynamics, detail and clarity.

The open-back design of the Grado SR80e helps make the headphones sound crisp and nimble. The bass sounds punchy and clean and in terms of frequency, you won’t notice any sign of band bleeding or encroaching. Audiophiles can also appreciate the lack of clogging between the arrangement and parts. The Grado SR80e can also switch between different music genres without highlighting any flaws, making users enjoy their favorite song, whether it’s hip-hop, classic opera, pop, or piano instrument. The Grado SR80e gives off a listening experience full of energy and vitality without boosting any specific frequency range.

While all these qualities may seem to be building up the Grado SR80e, not everyone can appreciate this pair of headphones. Why? It’s because it has an upfront presentation, making the music seem like it’s very close to the ears, even if played at a low volume. If you are a fan of sound imaging that does not cling to the eardrums, the Grado SR80e is a good choice.  That being said, some people may find it a bit tiring to listen to the Grado SR80e at a high volume for long periods of time. The Grado SR80e is quite similar to the sound performance of the SR60es, only with a better-defined treble and a slightly tighter bass. 

If you appreciate mid range accuracy, the tone, texture and feel of the Grado SR80e is incredible, rendering instrument and vocal quality with detail. In terms of imaging, this pair of headphones from Grado Labs actually have one of the best in the market. It has a weighted group delay of 0.24 which is actually more than decent.

Grado SR80e De-stressed Drivers

This is another highlight of the headphones and while the company does not disclose what process it does, other than saying that it is proprietary, we are banking on either doping, damping or a combination of the two. Doping is a process that involves slathering the driver in polymer or a solution to change the rigidity and thickness. The drivers also have various damping materials in the cup which affects the response of the drivers significantly.

Grado SR80e Stereo Headphones: Grado Labs Fun Fact

The models produced by Grado Labs are made by hand in a brick building located in Brooklyn, New York. While the company doesn’t really sell their products by marketing flashy designs and cool features, they put their strength in their uniqueness. They make their own sound signature with their own hand and while they do not really deviate from the industry standards, they do have their own twist to it.

Grado SR80e Comfort

The comfort of the Grado SR80e is not very impressive especially for new users. The Grado SR80e is adjustable to an infinite number of positions and the headband is also made of flexible aluminum. As mentioned earlier, as soon as you get used to the fit, you can totally have a great listening experience, whether for gaming, watching your favorite TV show, or talking on your cell phone. Of course, if you want a gaming headset, there are far more comfortable and powerful headphones out there to give you a better sleight of hand.

SR80e Frequency Response

The frequency response of the Grado SR80e shows excellent bass delivery across all spectrum which may be attributed to its open back design. It also has a consistent treble delivery which can be attributed to its on-ear design.

Grado SR80e: Our Verdict

Overall, the Grado SR80e are known to be lively headphones with an impressive treble detail and excellent midrange. It also has a deep bass that’s quite decent for its style and size. If you are looking for a unique pair of headphones with good reviews and an affordable price tag, you’ll find the Grado SR80e to be a good deal. Take note that it has no remote controls and microphone, but all would be well if you are willing to overlook that.