[Test Espresso] Grado SR325e: best hi-fi headphones under €400?

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Since we’ve been enjoying Grado products for so long, we’ve been thinking that it would still be legitimate to dedicate a test bench to one of these marvelous headphones… But the hardest part was choosing which one. Indeed, from the SR60e displayed at less than 90€, to the PS1000e sold in the 2000€, all deserve a long look! But we had to make a choice, and the SR325e seemed to us to be an excellent compromise.

Helmet Grado SR325e embodies the pinnacle of Reference range, and unlike all the other members of the series, has the particularity of adopting aluminum shells. It is of course made in New York, in the now famous assembly workshop of brooklyn. A real crush, which we want to share with you here.

The product oozes craftsmanship (I think that’s a good thing), and the packaging is very basic. This changes us from large disproportionate boxes and fluffy fluffy coverings that are useless… Here, a flexible cardboard box, an A4 sheet presenting the brand (made on the house printer?), a little padding for the helmet… And basta! But when you buy hi-fi headphones, and especially a Grado, you do it more for the content (the music), than for the form (the look).
Beyond the packaging, the appearance of the helmet is not the most modern. Some will like the side Vintage almost timeless, when others will not even dare to appear with such a thing around the neck. Because we will come back to this later, but if the Grado is an excellent helmet hi fi, it can also be Nomadic once associated with a simple smartphone (impedance of 32 Ohms). You can therefore, while keeping in mind that this is a open helmet, take it with you on your walks or trips.

Simple but well constructed, the Grado SR325e adopts very basic foams that just surround the ears. If you feel like it, you can change these foams for more upscale models, in particular those used on the brand’s flagships, the GS1000e and PS1000e. The benefit will not only be felt in terms of comfort, but also and above all in terms of sound. The forums Americans and French are full of information on this subject, in case you want to give it a try!
Compared to its smaller brothers SR60e, SR80e and SR125e, the SR325e does not cause no pressure on the ears, which allows it to be very discreet, even after a good hour of listening in a poorly ventilated apartment! Basic but still comfortable, it is height adjustable through two adjustable antennas. All heads, including the biggest ones, will be able to benefit from effective support! Ah yes… This helmet is also rather light, despite the use of aluminum for the hulls.

If you were indulgent enough to forgive its packaging, and you like its look, then you will be rewarded in the most beautiful way! Indeed, once connected to our valiant Cowon Plenue 1 test player, these Grado SR325e headphones were able to impress all those who deigned to lend an attentive ear. Everyone stood in awe of his incredible dynamism, and his disconcerting energy. It hits hard, but very cleanly, which is quite rare!
Just listen to the first seconds of Beat It, taken from Mickael Jackson’s Thriller album (here in DSD 2.8 MHz version), to understand that the track that will catch these headphones in default has not yet been recorded. ! Liveliness battery is not a common thing, as is the ability of this headset to never saturate, even under heavy load. Energy therefore, but who is totally mastered, and which will harm very little the intelligibility of the various micro-information.

Listening is therefore invigorating, without falling into the trap of too flattering coloring. But if the sound of the SR325e is punchy, lovers of fairly pronounced bass will blame it for a discreet bass, and one rather incisive treble. But come to think of it, we like this bass, since it always remains perfectly credible, held and structured. The treble may also seem too present for some listeners, but again, it’s a real pleasure to see no approximation. If needed, adjust the EQ from your walkman/smartphone!
We will also appreciate the ease of association of the Grado SR325e, which already sounds very good on the headphone output of a smartphone. The listening level is satisfactory thanks to an impedance of 32 Ohms and a sensitivity of 98dB. Associated with an audiophile player like the P1, it acquires an extra definition which does not disappear when you turn up the volume. Ditto on the headphone output of an RME studio sound card. Magnificent.

It is not the most precise of Hi-Fi headphones, nor the one that offers the most detailed rendering, but it imposes a incomparable energy, which we would like to find more often. Pleasure, it will give you, and not just a little: in this area, it is unbeatable!

NB: the Grado SR325e is an improved version of the SR325i, with a new loudspeaker and an 8-conductor cable. The connector now changes to mini-jack format.

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