Grado sr80e vs sr80i

Grado is a family run business. They take pride in each pair of headphones that are hand made which ensures a better quality product and avoids the pitfalls of mass production lines.  So if you are a music enthusiast, then making the right choice on which headphones will best suit your needs is very important.  

If you are a firm believer in the phrase “value for money”, you will want to make sure that you have an informed decision that results in purchasing a dependable set of headphones.  We will be sharing a series of things with you about the sr80e and sr80i headphones.  That will help show a clear nonbiased comparison between sr80e and sr80i.  Our goal is to provide you with the ability to make the right decision after reading this article. 


This model of the sr80 series is now in its third generation, and the result is much more laid back with improved bass. It is an open back 80s retro design which is the central theme around the Prestige Series. Perfect for on-ear with impressive sound giving you a spacious and natural stereo imaging. The rounded ear-cups have large foam pads attached that extend beyond the driver unit. 

Grado sr80e

The retro theme is carried through with the wire grill cover which allows you to see the drivers.  You can outsource replacement ear pads from Grado themselves or third-party manufacturers such as Earzonk.  These headphones come with a thick and sturdy cable that measures 2m and has a tough strain relief at the straight jack. With all this, they still only weigh 232 grams, which enhances their comfort. 


The Sr80i design is the second generation to the SR80e model.  These headphones offer an incredibly balanced and detailed sound that is sharply timed giving you a natural live performance feel whilst enhancing the hi-fi quality.

However, one should take note that they are not the best for train rides or traveling in public transport because they do leak sound, and let’s face it, not everyone likes Earth, Wind, and Fire.  But for home use where the sound will not bother your spouse, children, or pets, the SR80i is simply a stupendous buy. 

Favourite Features

Feature 1

The SR80i features a fake leather headband with plastic “radio operator” ear cups, and metal struts that hold it all together. They are open back with foam earpads that cover the drivers rather than encircle them. Conventional headphones utilizing a closed-back design suffer from internal reflections and enclosure vibrations that erode sound quality.  

However, the mind-boggling simplicity of the SR80is open-backed feature gives the person wearing the headphones a sound experience that can only be described as sublime.  This model has an enhanced bass response. The SR80e has a durable embossed vinyl strap with a new polymer that minimizes resonant distortion in the plastic housing. 

With a new driver design, transient distortions are virtually a thing of the past. Giving improved control to the upper and lower range of the frequency spectrum.  However, Grado’s well-known mid-range is still supported and the pure Grado full-body vocals are still very evident.  


The SR80e features consist of two funky plastic ear cups joined via metal rods to the vinyl headband.  Instead of the plush ear pads found on many other headphones manufactured by various competitors, these use a rather coarse lightweight foam.

However, they are deceptively comfortable. The cord is chunky and non-detachable and attaches directly to each ear cup. The ear cups can swivel through a full 360 degrees but there is no way to fold the headphones for packing them away. They do not have wireless connectivity or a microphone, but they have the open-backed design which enables them to deliver a sound that is both as energetic and lively as it is compelling. The treble response is a distinctive feature on this model, being really crisp and clean.


The SR80e has a 4 conductor cable and a gold plated mini plug, S-Cushions, and durable embossed vinyl strap. In the box with the headphones, you will also find the warranty, the Grado story sheet, and a 6.5mm golden adaptor. Whilst the SR80is may look like a carryover from the 1950s, they do have a serious point and that is how they sound.  With the right recordings, the music is natural and can only be described as simply beautiful.  

What Could Be Better

To improve the SR80e model a single lightweight cord which plugs into one side only will add to the comfort of the headphones and would be a tremendous asset. Though not necessary a finer foam ear piece may enhance the aesthetics of this product. In order to bring the SR80e and SR80i products in line with their competitors’ trends, it would be vital to incorporate Bluetooth wireless connectivity and a detachable microphone.   

The Verdict

The SR80i has a rugged feel to them, but the ear cups do have a tendency to fall off. They appear to be glued or plastic welded to the metallic stems. In most cases, a strategically placed spot of glue will solve this problem. However, Grado does offer a 12-month warranty, and after the warranty expires they also offer a repair service for your headphones at a very reasonable price.  

Pros. Though relatively inexpensive, the SR80e delivers engaging and detailed sound but with a spacious quality to it.

Cons. These headphones, with their open-backed design, will leak sound, which may be an inconvenience to people next to you. Thus they are not a great companion in the office or on your daily commute. They have no passive isolation, Bluetooth connection, active noise canceling feature, or an inline microphone. In addition, some people may find the sound too full.

However, one cannot deny that in this price range, there are no other speakers or headphones, which are capable of delivering this level of sonic excellence. 

Rob is a musician and audiophile at heart. He plays 5 instruments. Besides music, Rob enjoys a good whiskey and the outdoors.
Robert S. Thompson

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