The SR80 cost a few dollars more than the SR60, yet it’s a better buy. Why? Because its performance is astounding for its price. The features of this model are similar to the SR60 (the earpads and wire are the major differences), so let’s just move on to the sound.
To test the SR80’s ability to swing, I started out with Bush’s Sixteen Stone (Trauma Records INTD-92531). On “Machinehead,” there are some guitar riffs with extremely complex rhythms. The SR80s did an excellent job of following these complexities. And yes, these cans can slam! The superb timing performance also permitted very good imaging on Mozart (Misha Rachlevsky/Symphony Orchestra Kremlin), with the orchestra solidly located – inside my head. Well, that’s what happens to stereo images with headphone. On Tori Amos’ Boys For Pele, image separation was quite good, but there was some loss of air around the instruments.
The tonal balance was relatively even, with a very slight bloat in the lower midrange. The recreation of the piano on both Boys For Pele and John’s Made In England revealed this quite clearly. I would say this variance is relatively benign, though. Given the difficulties of recording the piano well, this problem probably won’t break your heart.
The timbral presentation of the SR80s was excellent, with a natural sense of instruments and voice. The subtle nuances of Tori Amos’ sultry voice were present throughout. In addition, on the Mozart, the oboe and violin sounded quite natural and real, especially when they were played in the range of the human voice.
These cans fit into the sweet spot of this happy trio from Grado Labs. They are balanced, they boogie, and they provide enough detail to satisfy music lovers. The sound is full and comforting.
The High End