New Headphones

So I figured out that the in ear phones I had were causing the inner ear thing to go a little nuts so I started looking at over the ear phones aka headphones.

I looked at the Bose Quiet Comfort 3’s and quite honestly passed over them. They’re overpriced ($300) and their noise canceling is pretty much nothing but amplification. In order to do true noise cancellation you kind of have to predict the future. Then you can shoot out a wave front that is the inverted phase of the signal. DSP has brought that goal a lot closer but it just isn’t fast enough to counter most noise.

So during my digging I remembered Grado Labs. I recall having heard about them when I was doing my radio days. The most rave reviews were for their Prestige series SR80 headphones.

We’d used Grado cartridges on the turntables at the radio station I was working at back in the 80’s. And they had a very sweet sound so I figured I’d look at their headphones.

I first looked at their SR60’s. They are supposed to be good but the SR80’s have four conductor connecting cables and thicker ear cushions. The four conductor thing is interesting because it means you get a Y split with two conductor lines running to each side. But it makes no difference at the connector end because two of the grounds get tied together anyhow.

Grado Labs Prestige Series SR80
Grado Labs Prestige Series SR80

They have a rather retro look to them and I like that about them. The fact that they’re made here in the U.S. fairly close to home also played a part in my decision.

They sound if you’ll pardon the expression, fucking awesome. I queued up some George Duke and some P-Funk to try them out and I’m in heaven. The frequency response on these babies is fantastic. The bass is right there but event the high notes are sweet. I note that they are really optimized for Jazz, for example I queued up Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” and then some Ramsey Lewis, and Incognito. Talk about blown away.

They are a little leaky, in other words you can hear it clearly both inside and outside. But hey, it’s more fun to share your music anyhow.

The absolute best part of this is the price. You can get the SR80’s for $95 on

Seriously, if you’re in the market for headphones check out the Grado line. I’m fairly sure you won’t be disappointed. The headphones come with a one year warranty but I’ll be honest, they look to be easily serviceable even if they break after that first year.

I’m also thinking about a pair of their iGrado’s. They’re about $70 and more adapted for mobile use. They use the same drivers, matter of fact most of the Grado Prestige and iGrado lines uses the same drivers.

I’ve been using them for about two weeks now, on the train, at home etc. Something else I noticed, I’ve seen at least two other people bumping through South Station in Boston wearing, you guessed it, Grado SR80’s.

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