Finally, I like to consider the overall vividness of a headphone, which is ability of the headphone to make music sound intense and realistically alive. The 325s are quite good in this regard, thanks to their excellent transparency and natural midrange frequency balance. They don’t have quite the “slam” on some macrodynamic material that, say, the Denons mentioned above have, but overall I thought the vividness of the 325s was very good.
On Alison Krauss and Union Station’s song “Stay” [Alison Krauss & Union Station – Forget About It, Rounder], Alison’s violin has a superb sense of body, overtones and string/bow texture. Kim Kashkashian’s viola on “Three Arias” from Neharot [ECM] is similarly well balanced and clear.
Going back to “Stay”, Alison’s voice, which is rather light, occasionally gets into a range where there is some slightly sibilant stridency from the 325s. Fortunately, this is low enough in level that it isn’t too distracting, something I can’t always say competing headphones.
Later on Forget About It, the song “Maybe” has a solo bass drum whack that is startlingly powerful and well defined on the 325s. This is, given the air pressure limitations of headphones, a rendition that sounds very much like what one hears from a bass drum in a concert hall. I commented on this same drum when I reviewed the Ultrasone Edition 8s. The Grados, at 1/5 the price have a little less bass power and depth, but better definition than the Ultrasones, which is high praise indeed.
On Brandi Carlile’s song “The Story”, from the album of the same name[Columbia], we get to see how well the 325s hold up with power pop. The impressive thing here is that with drums, guitars (acoustic and electric), bass, and vocals going full tilt, we still can hear each instrument distinctly.
The Grado SR325is merits comparison with a wide range of headphones. Here are a few samples to give you an idea of how competitive we found the 325 to be:
The Grado ear cups are spongy, but the metal driver housings touched my ear. Fortunately clamping force is low, so this isn’t painful. Over time, I did develop a pressure point that required moving the 325s around. I thought they were comfortable for about an hour.
The SR 325is comes with a one-meter cord and a phone plug. If you’re using them in portable mode (with an adapter), or next to a PC, that’s good; for everyone else an extension cord is in order. With an extension cord I didn’t like the fact that the plug would yank the headphones if it fell off my lap.
I didn’t find the SR325is to be particularly amplifier sensitive. I did slightly prefer the Luxman P200 (solid state) amp to the Woo WA22 (tube).
Grado’s SR325is is a transparent headphone that seems to have been voiced by musicians. This headphone will make you think very hard about why you would spend more, particularly if musical accuracy is your goal and if frequency extension isn’t at the top of your list of needs.