Grado produces high quality headphones for discerning listeners and audiophiles. The SR80e may be a “budget” Grado at around $99, but it remains a very high performer.
Design: One thing that sets the Grado SR80e apart from other headphones in its price bracket is that it is an open back design. This means that you can more clearly hear the outside environment around you. If you have not tried an open back headphone before, the SR80e is a great place to start. If you find closed back headphones retain too much heat, the SR80e is a refreshing alternative.
Sound Quality: The Grado SR80e headphones provide balanced sound left to right and unusually high detail through the midrange and upper frequencies. These are not dark sounding headphones. They are perhaps slightly brighter than neutral. Bass is clean and controlled but is not intended to dip terribly low. They are a perfect match for pop, rock, metal and classical. In contrast to the AKG K52, which represents incredible value in the AKG line of headphones, the Grado SR80e is crisper and brighter. The AKG K52, with its deeper bass extension and perhaps more neutral sound, provides a less-punchy and more laid back sound presentation. The Grado SR80e excels at presenting dynamic changes in music passages.
Build Quality: Unlike most headphones, the Grado SR80e headphones are American made in New York. The fit and finish is excellent. They are also one of the best headphones to buy if you are interested in modifying headphones to make them better. Grado and other vendors provide replacement and upgraded parts. For example, you may consider purchasing some different ear pads, such as the Geekria Comfort Foam Earpads. Changing the ear pads requires no tools, only takes a few seconds, and you can switch back and forth to see which you prefer.