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Grado Prestige Series SR325e review: These very clear and open-sounding headphones are exciting to listen to

While they aren't for bass lovers, the SR325e headphones deliver very open, detailed sound that makes them exciting to listen to.

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David Carnoy Steve Guttenberg
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David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.

Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
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Steve Guttenberg

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.

2 min read

The SR325e is the top-of-the-line model in Grado's Prestige Series, which has been updated for 2014. It retails for $295 (available for £300 in the UK and $450 in Australia) and gives some of the most open, detailed sound you'll find at this price, and is an impressive pair of headphones overall.

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8.1

Grado Prestige Series SR325e

The Good

The sturdily built Grado Prestige Series SR325e headphones offer very clear, detailed sound and spacious stereo imaging thanks to the open-back design.

The Bad

Some people may be fans of Grado's firm foam earpads -- but others may not be so enamored of their comfort level. No carrying case included.

The Bottom Line

While they aren't for bass lovers, the SR325e headphones deliver very open, detailed sound that makes for exciting listening.

Grado, which is based in Brooklyn, N.Y., and builds most of its products there, has not changed the iconic exterior design of the headphones and like its SR325 predecessors (the previous model was the SR325i), his model has the same firm, bowl-shaped foam pads that apply a little more pressure to the outer edges of your ears than the more simple foam pads of the step-down $99 SR80e , which are arguably more comfortable. The SR8oe headphones are significantly lighter, but not of the same build quality as the SR325e model. Some people like Grado's earpads (they're user-replaceable, but overall we'd say this model's comfort level isn't up to the level of its sound quality -- it's good but not great.

Grado SR 325e headphones product photos

See all photos

Like all open-back models the SR325e headphones don't block external noise and they also leak sound, so they're not ideal for travelers or cranking your music in an open office environment. Unfortunately, they don't ship with a carrying case. And with the industrial-grade cord and beefy plug, the reality is that they're designed for home rather than mobile use (read: it's probably too stubby to fit into your smartphone's headphone jack, especially if you have a case).

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Grado hasn't changed the design of its SR325 series, but the innards have been updated in the new 'e' series. Sarah Tew/CNET

Performance

Grado headphones are known to have an exciting sound and the new SR325e kicks that excitement up a notch. This new model balances the energy with a richer and fuller tonal balance than previous generations of Grado's Prestige headphones. Thanks to the open-back design, its stereo imaging is more spacious and wider than that of closed-back headphones like the Sennheiser Momentum and Beyerdynamic T 51p , as well as the somewhat pricier Bowers & Wilkins P7 . The SR325e headphones are also more immediate, brighter, and more detailed-sounding than those three models. But the SR325e's bass is nowhere as full. If you crave full bass, this isn't the one for you.

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The SR325e has an industrial-grade cord design. Sarah Tew/CNET

On Nine Inch Nails' "Hesitation Marks" album the SR325e's low-end was beautifully defined and clear, but the T 51p sounded more powerful and its weightier balance also better tamed the harshness of NIN's percussion. Meanwhile, the P7's bass oomph clobbered the SR325e's, but the P7's dynamic punch is nowhere as lively as the SR325e's. These two models sound very different -- the P7 is "dark" and subdued while the SR325e clear and bright.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, the Grado SR325e is great headphone, with very clear, dynamic, open sound. It's just not a bass lover's headphone. Still, you'll be hard-pressed to find a headphone in this price range ($300) that offers better clarity and more spacious stereo imaging.

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8.1

Grado Prestige Series SR325e

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Sound 9Value 8
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