Most audiophiles who’ve been around for a while retain fond memories of at least one Grado product. Over the years, the Brooklyn-based company has carved out a niche in phono cartridges and headphones that marries value with musical excellence. At the same time, that musicality often gets associated with a certain “Grado sound.” That sound sets Grado apart from other companies, and is held in reverence by Grado fans.
The SR325is is the top of Grado’s entry-level Prestige line. While that almost sounds contradictory (tall short people?), it helps to remember that Grado’s reputation is built on delivering high performance products at entry-level prices. The Prestige line starts with the $49 iGrado, but really hits its stride with the justly famous SR60i at $79. In such company, the SR325i has the premium price of $295. We were naturally curious to see what Grado could do with all that financial headroom, given that their $79 effort is pretty darn good. We’ve previously reported on Grado’s higher end GS1000 and RS2 efforts at $1000 and $500 respectively (click on the embedded links to read the reviews).
The SR325is is an open back headphone, which makes it less suitable for noisy environments or offices where you don’t want to disturb others. Technically, the SR325is seems straightforward, but as usual God is in the details. Grado pays attention to the basics of getting the diaphragm mass and compliance right so that bass response is solid and highs are extended. They also emphasize the importance of diaphragm and enclosure design to minimize and control resonances. Beyond that, the SR325is has a voice-coil wound from ultra-high purity, long crystal (UHPLC) oxygen free copper. Grado claims that ultra-high conductivity copper yields the clearest transmission and lowest coloration possible. Grado applies very high power neodymium magnets to provide maximum efficiency and better dynamics. Drivers in the SR325is are pair-matched to within .05 db. All metal work for the SR325is is machined from a special non-resonant, very hard alloy using a special Grado process.
An interesting headphone given its’ provenance, but can it compete with offerings from Sennheiser, or for that matter Shure or even Grado itself?
Consider this headset if: you want headphones with excellent transparency but you want to avoid the edgy or harsh sound that often comes with seemingly transparent headphones.
Look elsewhere if: you need state of the art performance at the frequency extremes or if you need/want closed-back phones due to your environment or as a matter of preference.
Ratings (compared to similarly-priced headphones)