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Looking for New Headphones, How about a Classic? Grado SR-125

I was reading Andrew Marshell’s blog post on Audio Ideas about returning for repair his Grado SR-125 headphones and his wonderful experience with Grado’s customer service and product. I decided to check out what audioreview.com user reviews have had to say about the Grado SR-125 and ran across an impressive review by Mark Girvan. Which I thought, seeing as headphones are a popularly searched item on audioreview.com, I would share with you.

Grado has an outstanding reputation for making some of the worlds best heaphones and at the $150.00 level for the SR-125 these maybe your ticket to personal hi-fi.

- audioreview

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Grado SR-125
Grado SR-125
69 reviews
4.43 of 5
MSRP: $150.00

Description: The first big step up from the SR60, the SR125 are great headphones for home use. The Grado name suggests high quality and great sound, and the SR125 are no exception. They produce a detailed musical presentation, showing off good highs and mids, with tight, controlled bass. Their only downfall is that they tend to be a bit uncomfortable, but this can be remedied by bending the headband around. The SR125 can be used with a portable player or with an amp.

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Reviewed by:

Mark Girvan

(Audio Enthusiast)

Review Date
July 16, 2006

Overall Rating
4 of 5

Value Rating
5 of 5

Used product for
1 to 3 months

Visitors rate this review
5.00 of 5, 3.00 votes

Price Paid:  $190.00 from The Audio Shop

Do not be fooled by the length of time I have had these headphones, I have spent a great deal of time with them. I will try to provide a very usable review for the non-expert music lover who does care about the music and how it sounds. First, my general opinion is that these headphones are very sweet, they aren’t perfect of course, but they are quite good.

First I say you must know your music and listening style, what characteristics in a headphone will work with your music or against it? Consider the source of the music, is it very bass centered, very vocal, strong high frequencies, mellow, reserved or any other adjective/combination you can think of. Within musical genres there will be huge differences in recording quality so try to have realistic expectations and do not generalize based on just a few albums. The more varied the sources you use, the more enjoyment you stand to gain from these headphones.

As many have stated, these headphones provide a very detailed, accurate reproduction of the music. I find the bass and mid-range to be very articulate, fluid and controlled. The bass is very accurate and well defined. Note the bass isn’t coloured with engineered emphasis at the headphone level, Grado has left that to the people who engineered and recorded the music.

I value a strong, detailed neutrality in the audio sources I use. While that itself may mean different things to different people, my goal is to hear what was recorded as truly as I can with my equipment.

By no means do I own the elite of audio, but I do have what I think is a very nice listening system capable of reproducing accurate, pleasing, high-quality music. I have a classic NAD 2600A Monitor Series power amplifier coupled with another NAD classic, a 1300 Monitor Series Preamp. My CD player is a new NAD and finally I listen with Energy C-5 floor standing speakers. The speakers by the way are just amazing, if you find some new in any audio shop, please listen to them, you will be very glad you did.

I feel it is important that the reader has some frame of reference in respect to the system any reviewer uses in order to gain any real idea from what it is the reviewer is trying to illustrate. Let’s face it, there are no words that can actually portray a sound, only sound itself can do that.

I enjoyed what I felt was a well presented vocal portrayal for both male and female voices. The vocals were balanced, engaging with plenty of warmth and presence. With some very bright, detailed recordings such as The Dave Matthew’s Band album Crash, the highs may move more toward over-presented. Lowering the volume will significantly improve this. The same is often true for a great deal of rock which by it’s nature, moves toward over-stated, edgy sound and this is magnified the louder you play it as with all music. I have loved listening to the new Tool album, 10 000 Days with the Grados. The album is very well recorded offering you an intricate listening experience full of power and texture with many breaks into rich quiet and dark passages. One of the few rock albums I have been able to really enjoy at a higher volume. Still at the upper edges I wish the Grados a tad less bright, but let’s not split hairs, this is really hard rock music played loud, highs will become intense.

My current music listening favorite is a gem of a Peter Gabriel album titled Up released in 2002. This is an album full of amazing music, three tracks from it are just pure art. Track number 3, Sky Blue is an intense discovery of why well recorded music is such a decadent treat, as are the following two tracks, No Way Out and I Grieve. This to me is a prime example of the caliber and recording style of music that makes these headphones simply sing. I was not at all afraid of volume, and even driven very solidly, the 125s performed magnificently. The detail and clarity of the music is spectacular with loads of texture and warmth.

I have spent some time listening to Holly Cole, Tears for Fears, Pink Floyd, Rush, Thievery Corporation, Three Days Grace and many others. I have yet to listen to any choral or orchestral music, nor any Bach, but I will soon as I really love to listen to as many styles of music as I can.

For my conclusion I would feel comfortable saying these headphones are likely to most appeal to and please people with a diverse listening style where quality recordings are sought out. If you liked artificially emphasized bass boom, you will not be 100% satisfied. I play the drums and I love to listen to the bass lines in music, but for me music is a complete sound immersion. These headphones provide a very accurate, engaging bass experience which I found very pleasing and very capable of bringing the bass to life as it was intended to be heard.

Mid range is also very rich and detailed, but with poor or edgy source recordings and any real volume, I find some less than pleasing moments in the music. Again, please put that in context, if the music lacks balance and is very bright itself, these detailed headphones will portray that to a detail that is not always pleasant, but not unexpected.

Detailed, accurate, vibrant sound capable of reproducing many rich varied sources. Really active, accurate articulate bass. Nice full mid-range with very tight focus.

As many others have found, depending on the source, they can become bright at times. I have even found big differences in the source brightness of songs on an album so do not read to much into this. Try turning the treble gain control down one level if you experience this, and or reduce the volume.

This so-called weakness with really well balanced recordings provides a sound richness that is needed and hard to achieve.

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