There are few headphone makers out there that have achieved a truly legendary name. Audiophiles around the world treat the name Grado with a sense of respect, and for good reason — their headphones are of an extremely high quality.
Not all Grado headphones, however, cost an arm and a leg. In recent times, the company has branched out a little to make some of its headphones a little more affordable. But does that result in the same quality? We put the Grado SR125e headphones to the test to find out.
The first thing you’ll notice about these headphones is their design, and for good reason — they’re extremely unique. The word “sleek” doesn’t necessarily apply here — but “classic” does. It’s also pretty darn simple — there’s a simple leather band that runs over your head, and the headphones extend to different sizes through a basic metal rod.
We think the retro style on these cans is a good thing — they don’t conform to the same treatment that the likes of Beats and Monster give their headphones, and it helps Grado’s headphones stand out.
These headphones aren’t going to be the pair you take with you on the road. They’re designed to stay at home — they don’t come with a case or a bag beyond the cardboard packaging, and in the way of accessories they only include a 1/8″ to 1/4″ adapter. But that’s all they need. Again, you’re not taking these on the road — you’re using the Grado SR125e’s to listen to high definition music at home, and when you’re not using them they’re sitting on a shelf or near your headphone amp.
There really isn’t much more to say about the headphones’ look. They definitely look classic, and have an all-black design. The one perhaps negative thing about them is that it seems like Grado has traded good audio quality for cheaper parts. The parts still look great, to be sure, but the plastic earcup feels a little cheap and the padding isn’t very strong and is a little susceptible to tearing.
When it comes to comfort, these headphones take a more simple route. Who needs fancy memory foam and over-ear designs when you can use some good old fashion basic foam. Turns out, that foam feels great.
The Grado SR125e’s are very lightweight, which helps make them comfortable. At only 145g, or 32 lbs, the headphones stay comfortable for hours on end. They would most certainly get uncomfortable — and quick — if they were heavier, especially considering the lack of padding on the headband.
The foam may not feel as nice as a faux leather would, but again, they still feel quite comfortable. The worst thing about the padding is that it would probably tear pretty easily, but if you’re careful enough, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Overall, the Grado SR125e’s are pretty uncomfortable despite the minimalistic approach Grado has taken to comfort.
Let’s get something out of the way before we delve into how these headphones sound — they have an open design. What that means is that you’re going to be able to hear everything going on outside the headphones, and everyone around you is going to hear what you’re listening to — there’s really no sound isolation, but that’s done on purpose. An open design, for example, helps a pair of headphones sound much bigger, because the audio isn’t confined to inside the earcup.
Now, the sound quality. Grado has done it again with these bad boys. These headphones sound huge.
The SR125e’s offer a very balanced bass sound, without overdoing it — one thing’s for sure, these aren’t designed to bring any boosted bass to hip hop or rap tracks. Instead, they’re designed to sound the way the mixing engineer intended it.
Because of that, everything is extremely well balanced. There are just enough mids to the mix without making it sound to much like an AM radio, there are plenty of highs to give vocals presence and cymbals that nice crisp sheen, and while we said they aren’t boosted in the bass, there’s still enough bass to please most.
With their classic look, the fact that they’re reasonable comfortable, and excellent sound, the Grado SR125e’s are an excellent pair of headphones. What makes them even better? The price. At $150, these are the perfect pair for audiophiles on a budget.
Sure, the SR125e’s have their use — they’re not for jogging, nor are they for taking on the go at all. They’re not for someone who wants added bass to their mix. They are, however, for someone who enjoys top audio quality at home, with no one else around. If that’s you, don’t walk — run — to your computer, head to the Grado website, and hit the Buy Now button.
|Frequency response||20Hz – 20kHz||Noise attenuation||Unknown|
|Driver size||Unknown||In-line controls||No|
|Sensitivity||99.8dB at 1mW||Microphone||No|
|Rated impedance||32Ω||Earpad material||Foam|
|Total harmonic distortion||Unknown||Magnet material||Unknown|
|Rated input power||Unknown||Water resistance||No|
|Maximum input power||Unknown||Battery life||N/A|
|Wireless connection||No||Wireless distance||N/A|
|Wired connection||3.5mm||Cable length||1.2m (4ft)|
|Detachable cable||No||Case type||N/A|
|Weight||145g (32lbs)||In-the-box||1/8″ to 1/4″ adapter|
|Active noise cancellation||No||Colors||Black|