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Grado SR325x review: The ideal cans for home listening and even gaming -By Fsk

For audiophiles, the word ‘grado’ is quite special. It refers to a firm that has been making headphones in New York City for the past seventy years, and over the years, John Grado’s business has become a byword for funny-looking open-back headphones that are almost mandatory. . To be owned by audiophiles. Here, I find a pair of their SR325x headphones in their entry-level Prestige lineup, and boy are they good.

On first inspection, the SR325x don’t look like a £262/$295 pair of headphones, with a retro-inspired aesthetic that looks closer to 1953 than 2023. Valuable option. They look absolutely fantastic to my eye, and feel great in the hand too.

What sets the SR325x apart from cheaper options in the Prestige range through its build is the fact that the earcups are made from aluminium. This gives them a bit of weight and justifies the price a bit more than the plastic models. Furthermore, the headband on the SR325x is made of genuine leather, as opposed to the vegan options, and feels excellent as well. My only qualm about their build is that the earpads here are made of a thin foam, as is typical for Grados, and they feel like they might fall apart… at least replaceable are very cheap. Other than the earpads though, the SR325x feel rugged and their build is excellent.

It might not seem like these Grados support your noggin particularly well, but even with their lack of padding, it’s all a matter of shaping the headband to your head and letting them rest over your ears. For those not used to on-ear headphones, it took some getting used to, but once you get them set up properly, the SR325x are a very comfortable set of headphones. The clamping force isn’t much, depending on how tightly you adjust the cups to sit, and the 340g weight makes these some of the lightest headphones I’ve tested. They’re only a few grams more than the Drop+ Hifiman HE R7DXs I looked at a few months ago, which means they don’t feel like there’s a lot of pressure on your head when you’re wearing them.

The party piece for these Grados comes with the fact that these are open-back headphones, which means they let out as much noise as they can. Compared to more traditional closed-back cans, open-back designs provide a wider soundstage, which is less physical. Restrictions on how detailed a sound can be. While this may be good for audio quality, it means that these headphones are designed for home use only. They’re very noisy, so they’re not suitable for your commute to work or when you’re walking around town, and likewise, others around you will hear every note of your music.

For its stated purpose of listening at home in a quiet room, the SR325x sound fantastic. The Grados have been noted for offering a generally more sparkly sound profile that drowns out the treble while stifling the bass, another characteristic of the open-back design. These SR325x deliver surprisingly strong bass response, albeit with a punchier low-end than other Grados, with an excellent soundstage. His sense of breadth became apparent in the opening overture section when playing Rush’s 2112, where Alex Lifeson’s guitar drives were scattered throughout, one of the longest listens of the 1976 track.

The fact that the bass isn’t overpowering or muddy here makes the Grados more of a natural listen, with surprising clarity and detail. This was clearly presented in James Taylor’s I Was A Fool to Care, with a certain crispness to his fingerpicked acoustic guitar and a sharpness to his vocals that I didn’t note on other headphones. Hearing a few more JT favorites also brought out the width of that soundstage once again, with plenty of breathing room for the rest of the band, especially the strings in the background.

Where it’s perhaps a little surprising is that the Grados really shine with its presentation of the top-end. As expected, it’s surprisingly crisp and clear with the brand’s signature glow that worked wonders on Steely Dan’s Do It Again, whose opening minutes of competitive percussion can be a minefield for headphones. The SR325x dealt with them admirably, while that track also serves as a showcase for the true vastness of the can’s soundstage. The synth notes at the top of Steve Hogarth’s cage also reinforce the excellent top end, further contributing to the stunning listening of these SR325x. Additionally, as in Rush’s Working Man, Neil Peart’s cymbal ride in the song’s instrumental section was particularly upstaged by the rest of the track’s harsh and powerful guitar work.

They’re also a solid set of headphones for gaming. The wide soundstage keeps you immersed in all kinds of games, especially in more cinematic titles, while the more robust bass response compared to other Grados also helps with immersion, giving games some impact. I ended up rigging the SR325xs for a few rounds of CS:GO, and it all became clear to me with the sound of detailed matches, along with the sheer power of gunfire and explosions. Furthermore, in playing with Forza Horizon 5, the immersion factor came into play either in races or in freeroam.

All of the above combine to ensure the SR325x some of the best headphones I’ve tested, especially when paired with the right source material and running them through a powerful DAC like the Chord Mojo 2 I found here Is. With that in mind, the 38-ohm impedance is fairly low, so you can easily drive these headphones from a smartphone or computer’s integrated audio, too.

£262/$295 for a pair of headphones might sound like a pretty penny in the grand scheme of things, but it’s well worth it for a class-leading pair like the Grado SR325x. They deliver a gorgeous glow with clarity and detail in their sound that makes them an enjoyable listen for all kinds of music and sports too. Their status as open-back headphones means they also impress in terms of their soundstage against their closed-back opposition. With that in mind, they may take a while to fit properly, but other than that, these are some great headphones that are worth a try for any budding audiophile.