Our Verdict 
Best home on-ears £150-£300, Awards 2014. The musical, detailed sound of the Grados makes them a truly top buy
For 
Wonderfully musical
Detailed, orderly presentation
Fluid dynamics
Sturdy build
Against 
Open-back design is not well suited to portable use
Reviewed on

The SR325es are our first look at Grado’s new third-generation headphones – the e Series – that replace one of our long-time favourites, the SR325is.

They bring improvements to the motor system and housing, and a wider, more cushioned headband, but otherwise they’re a spitting image of their predecessor.

The industrial-looking earcups’ metal alloy housings (coated with a grey power finish) remain, as do the stubby, extra-terrestrial-like metal antennas that link the cups and band.

MORE:  Awards 2014 - Best on-ear headphones

Video review

Design

Rather than enclosing your ears the spongy pads rest on them, helping to keep them cool

They’re not the head-turners you might expect for £300, but they do bring a sturdy, solid build.

Giving the Grados a friendly yank does nothing but emphasise their flexibility and hardiness – and, as the earcups rotate 360 degrees, the construction remains creak-free.

Foam ear pads hang over, rather than hug, your ears, keeping them airy and cool. While some will prefer a tighter grip, the Grados never feel loose-fitting.

The headband can easily be adjusted with a sliding mechanism and, although without cushioning, it feels surprisingly lightweight on the head.

More after the break

Performance

An open-backed design means the music leaks out

The real upgrade is in their sound: clearer and weightier than the SR325ises, they are as musical as they come. We start with Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel and the Grados burst into life, lapping up the song’s rhythmic energy.

Each of the track’s layers is distinct and well-organised in a way that ensures a naturally cohesive presentation.

John Williams’s Somewhere In My Memory (Home Alone’s signature score) is a delicate composition – a flurry of sprightly, dainty instrumentals – and the Grados treat it with a suitably light hand: agile and fluent, they breeze through the varied orchestration without a hitch.

Seasonal bells and chimes never sound bright or hard-edged, just beautifully sharp and well imaged. Balanced, detailed and dynamically sound, the tuneful, mellifluous manner of the SR325es makes longer listens a true delight – and with every music genre, too.

But beware: these open-backed ’phones leak sound like a damaged boat leaks water, so the unfortunate person beside you will get almost as much of an earful as you.

We’d wait until you’re home alone to crack out your Mamma Mia! soundtrack.

Verdict

The SR325es might not be the prettiest pair of headphones on the market, but they’re top quality soundwise. And that’s what counts.

MORE: Awards 2014 - all the winners

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