In 1991 Grado creates its first headphones, since then their design has remained almost unchanged. Traditions are firmly preserved, both in appearance and in sound, about the first it is definitely accurate, but about the second not quite. In addition to its legendary design, the Grado sound is known for its aggressiveness and disregard for anyone who is convinced that headphones should strive for linearity and that is why they are so popular among Grado sound lovers. Why do you need linear sound if you listen to music and not work in a recording studio?
And this is true because in the end the music should be fun and the Grado approach makes sense when it comes to certain recordings, but on the other hand, they initially created, in addition to their Grado audience, a division into what their headphones play with and what they are with. not compatible. On the one hand, Grados are devoted to tradition, on the other hand, they want to please the largest possible audience and thus make gradual changes to the sound.
To some extent, it will be true to say that the Grado is gradually moving away from the original individuality towards the mainstream – this is shown by the SR325x.
Beginning in 2007, Grado has added letters to each Prestige model that announces that the driver has been improved, the sound is better, the cable is better, and so on. In the beginning, this letter was i, then in 2014 – “e”, and finally in 2021 – “x”.
● Construction type: open;
● Driver type: dynamic;
● Driver diameter: 44mm;
● Resistance: 38 Ohm;
● Sensitivity: 99 dB;
● Frequency response: 18-24000 Hz;
Packaging and equipment
Grado SR325x comes in the most common cardboard packaging, inside which is polyurethane foam with the headphones themselves. Also included is an adapter from 3.5 to 6.3 mm and a sheet with a photograph of President John Grado himself and his sons, and an autograph below. It seems that the sheet was printed on a home printer using cheap paper. Overall, it is surprising how unpresentable the packaging is, I hope that more effort went into the headphones themselves.
Design and ergonomics
I’ve always loved Grado for their ‘reference’ vintage design from the 50s and 60s. As mentioned earlier, Grado reinforced concrete does not deviate from their traditions in terms of design, the main difference is only in materials. SR325x, unlike its younger brothers, has a metal bowl body. Today it is rare to see metal headphones, mostly plastic and much less often wood, therefore SR325x are to some extent unique. The headband is made of leather and stitched with white thread, while the younger models have leatherette.
Copper cable 8-core, very rigid and covered with a braided sheath for a longer service life. The ear cushions were replaced with flatter ones, which significantly affected the sound, they are made of foam rubber and are open inside like the SR225x. Anyone familiar with Grado headphones knows that these are not the most comfortable headphones in the world and the new SR325x is no exception. in fact, this is a continuation of the old “tradition” with minor changes.
Obviously, the company is not going to take any steps towards improving ergonomics and comfort, therefore, fitting before buying will be more relevant than ever. And of course, these are open headphones, you will hear everything on your head as without them. Everything Grado headphones are still hand-made, which the company is proud of, but I can’t say that it definitely has a positive effect on the quality of the headphones. But we came here for the sound, didn’t we.
The company says that the driver for the new X-Series has been redesigned for improved sound quality and reduced distortion. Changing the ear cushions and refining the driver affected the sound very well.
Generally speaking, the Grado SR325x is an old sound, but in a new wrapper. I haven’t heard every single Grado headphone, but based on what I know, the SR325x has departed the most from the old traditional brand sound towards linearity and comfort.
Probably the most noticeable is that Grado finally has a normal bass, it will still not be enough for such genres as electronics, but this is the first time in my memory when Grado headphones have a noticeable full-size bass. As before, the range from 1 kHz to 5 kHz has dips and rises, I do not know why, but Grado stubbornly maintains a “bump” in the 2 kHz region (approximately), to a lesser extent, but as relevant as it was with previous models – everything recordings that are recorded too rough and compressed will be extremely difficult to listen to, the headphones don’t tend to smooth out and you will hear all the recording errors.
The upper range definitely cannot be called linear, I do not have the opportunity to make measurements, and the grados themselves do not provide any measurements, but it is absolutely certain that there are several rises and dips above 8 kHz. And of course, how not to say about the airiness for which the city is famous, this is no longer the flashy, accentuated top like the previous generation, they are more smoothed out, but nevertheless everything also creates a feeling of air and space well with the difference that you can now listen to them on high volume without clenching your teeth.
All the little troubles with regards to the frequency response are corrected using the parametric equalizer and in combination with the “correct” recordings, these headphones play without exaggeration, phenomenally to my ear. In many tracks, the vocals seem to be slightly pushed forward, they are very lively, natural.
Headphones always emphasize their penchant for live music and live vocals without any effects or compression. As always, grado shows great detail if the material and the path can offer it. I would recommend the owners to experiment with ear pads as they significantly affect the sound, they can be bought separately.
Compared to SR325e – SR325x started to play warmer and the middle is better worked out. In general, the sound is now more linear and organic, the same airiness, but now there is more bass and vocals sound more weighty. I also noticed that the top is slightly softened, now in some recordings it is not so fatiguing. Overall, I think the SR325x definitely outperforms the SR325e across the range.
Grado The Hemp Headphone is very similar to the SR325x in sound and performance. The latter have a heavier lower range and are generally more emotional. The Hemp Headphone offers a more linear and comfortable sound.
Compared to the Sennheiser HD650, which have a similar price and also an open design, the SR325x has 38 ohms versus 300 ohms which is a very big difference. Therefore, for those who do not have a powerful source, the city will immediately become the winners. When it comes to sound, Grado and Sennheiser are two completely different approaches to sound. Sennheiser has a softer, warmer sound with a “punchy, thick” midrange while hailstones are harsher and more aggressive, with more detail and airy feel. It seemed to me that the SR325x has better low-mid bass, it is more accurate and faster. I can definitely say for sure that genres such as rock and some electronica sound much better in hail.
I believe that the Grado SR 325x is not a universal headphone, although it can be seen that this is not the classic city that was before. To my ears and taste, they are fully revealed in the first place with live music from bluegrass to rock and, what is important, a good source, in most cases they will not play well with a phone. The upper range, namely its lower range, is the only thing that can sometimes spoil the impression, and sometimes, on the contrary, make the recording more interesting.
The Grado SR325x plays fantastically well with good traction and quality material. The strong points are airiness, space and detail. Of the minuses, like the previous models, they are still not the most versatile, although the SR325x, thanks to the driver changes, will appeal to a much larger audience than the younger models and the previous “e” version. These are already headphones not only for true fans of Grado, but also for “ordinary” people who may not have liked the sound of ten years ago.
It is noticeable that the city has done a great job and this is not just a new model, I can not say much about the appearance and materials. I do not see much difference, but this is a new sound, further from the “original” towards the new city, and I think this direction is correct. For those who love true vintage design and without exaggeration, first-class sound at a reasonable price, the SR325x deserve special attention.