Product: Grado Prestige Series SR225i Headphones
Rating: Strong Recommend*
Grado has always been one of our long-time favorite audiophile gear companies, delivering extremely affordable headphones with great performance and timeless style. When we asked them what the next step up was, they recommended us a pair of SR225i's. How'd they stack up against the competition? Let's just say if we'll have to start making some extra room on our headphone shelf...
After having experienced the Grado SR60i's and some of their higher-end models like the SR325i, it was an interesting experiment to see how different they sounded compared to one another. Given each jump in model adds another $100 or so to the price tag, we feel $200 is the sweet spot in terms of pricing. But let's see if you get bang for your buck here, shall we?
Well, first off, Grado's headphones in general have an amazing mid-range and are what some consider slightly "brighter" than most other headphones on the market in the same price range (Denon, Sennheiser, to name a few). When we say brighter, we're referring to how "in your face" the sound is. For some, this brightness can cause listening fatigue after a few hours. Luckily for us, the SR225i's dim down that brightness to quite a certain degree and add layers of astounding clarity to the listening experience.
We have an eclectic selection of mixes - our playlists range from 80's music to classic, pumped up electro to low-fi indie. The SR225i's manages carry on their tradition of impressive mid-ranges, but also brings to the table an impressive amount of bass some argue are missing from their lower end models. Even better is when we plug the SR225i's into a simple hybrid tube amp. The sound starts to glisten and create a soundscape that is literally one of the most surreal and pleasurable experiences we've had the opportunity to enjoy.
As for comfort, the SR225i can be quite stiff and tight on the head when first worn, but they seem loosen over time. The build quality is amazing, as expected, but don't expect anything industrial or stylishly overstated. It's a timeless design that has everything you need to listen to good music either direct from vinyl or high-bitrate MP3's.
Well, almost everything. We were a bit surprised the headphone jack was by default a 1/4" stereo plug, which basically requires some kind of receiver or amp with one of the larger audio plugs or one of the bulky adapters that convert it into a mini-audio cable (Above: $12) in order to be able to listen on something like an iPod or MacBook.
We'd also like to note that these are not "closed" headphones by any means. They're very "open," which means sound will leak all over the place and everyone on the subway will hear what you're listening to, even at lower volumes.
Minor gripes aside, the SR225i's are still hand's down the best pair of headphones in its class. The sound is smooth as silk provided with proper amplification, breathing life into your old recordings and hidden details in your modern digital library. At $200, it is perfect for the interested prosumer looking for an introduction for Grado sound and an excellent addition to any headphone collection.
Pros: Jaw-dropping quality sound, mid-range is ace, stylish timeless design, comfortable
Cons: "Open-ness" may annoy some people around you, default 1/4" stereo audio plug makes it difficult to listen on laptops/iPods
You can pick up the Grado SR225i headphones over at Amazon for $200 shipped.
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did loan us the product for testing and review purposes.