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Grado SR325e review

What Hi-Fi? Awards 2020 winner. The musical, detailed sound of the Grados makes them a truly top buy Tested at £280

5 Star Rating

Our Verdict

Best home on-ear headphones £100-£400, Awards 2018. Remaining unbeaten at this price, these hugely revealing Grados are a compelling buy

For

  • Tonal balance
  • Transparent across frequencies
  • Expressive dynamics
  • Precise timing
  • Fast, agile
  • Rugged build

Against

  • Nothing

Invariably there comes a time in a product’s lifespan when it has to bow down to newer, better competition.

But the Grado SR325es – our current sub-£400 award-winners – can be safe in the knowledge that for them today is not that time.

Despite many rivals being given the once over since their arrival, they remain the go-to cans before you reach the Shure SRH1540 (£430).

Even without their £20 price drop since our last review, the Grados are a hugely compelling buy.

MORE: Awards 2018 - Best on-ear headphones

Video review

Design

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

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 under £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: Best on-ear headphones 2018

Performance

An open-backed design means the music leaks out

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

If you’re serious about sound quality and they fit your budget, what are you waiting for?

MORE: 

Best audiophile headphones

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, New York and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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