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Photo by: Robert Williams

The SR60 has gained "LEGENDARY" status.

The SR60 has received rave reviews from around the world and is the most commonly recommended headphone on the market today. The SR60 was awarded

in two categories,
"The Accessory of the Year"
and the prestigious
"Budget Component of Year"

Winner of the Best HiFi Headphone Award Grados SR60 No stranger to our Awards pages, these open-backed Grados have given you all the sound quality of a serious speaker set-up at pocket-money prices. Snap up a pair now, if you haven't done so already.

Grado seemed like headphones from a bygone age, but they sure as heck dont sound like it. Our 2007 award winners are classy affairs, able to deliver the full frequency spectrum with devistating ease. Base weight is great and for imaging quality, detail, delicacy and shear enjoyable musicality, the Grados are sensational.

More Reviews


Stereophile - Grado SR60i headphones
Headphones/Headphone Accessories
By Jim Austin - May, 2010

Here's a question for a poll: What's the best hi-fi value of the last 15 years? I'd bet that, 16 years after its introduction, Grado Laboratories' SR60 headphones would get more than a few votes.

When introduced, in 1993 or '94, the Grado SR60 was cheap by hi-fi standards—just $69. The early '90s were a great era for personal sound—ie, headphones. It was a time when, for the first time in my memory, it became possible to buy really good headphones for under $1000, let alone for less than $100.

Corey Greenberg, in his June 1994 review of the Grado SR60s (Vol.17 No.6), noted that, after auditioning many of the affordable headphones then available, "I just wanted to lower myself into a tub of Noxzema and be left alone for a couple of months." I'm not exactly sure what he meant by the Noxzema bit—I've never been afflicted with that particular temptation—but I figure it can't be good. Fortunately for Corey, the SR60s appeared in time to save him from drowning in skin cream.

The SR60s' subsequent success is easy to understand. It sounded good—honest, musical, warm—and it was cheap. Regular people who hadn't grown accustomed to the absurd prices of high-end gear could buy a pair with no loss of self-respect.

Those virtues of value and musical honesty were the ones that attracted me a few years later, when I bought my own pair of SR60s. Like Corey, I sought affordable 'phones that would sound good when driven by the feeble output stage of whatever portable device I was using at the time. No other 'phones I auditioned anywhere near the Grados' price seriously challenged them. The sound of the day was fuzzy and electronic, with boomy bass; either the designers weren't listening to the headphones they designed, or they were aiming for the big, wide middle of the sonic bell curve. The SR60s lacked the combination of negative sound qualities I was hearing from their locally available competitors, and which always reminded me of a hip-hop–playing low-rider pulling up next to me at a stoplight.

Fifteen years later, I still own those SR60s, and use them almost daily (mostly with my TV, the sound channeled through my Benchmark DAC1 D/A converter). They've given me just two tiny problems: The original earpads were uncomfortable, and I lost the tiny rubber endcaps that secure the earpieces to the headband. A new puppy solved the first problem by eating one earpad, which prompted me to order the far comfier Large Grado Pads, called the S-cushion and widely available online for $15–$20. The second problem never really was one; every six months or so, I spend 10 seconds threading the earpad back on. (When they read this review, the folks at Grado will send me a replacement endcap—or maybe I'll steal one from the review sample.)

Here's the most remarkable thing about the SR60s: The 2009 Stereophile Buyer's Guide listed their price at $69—no increase in 15 or 16 years. If the SR60s were a great deal for $69 in 1994, they were an astonishing deal at that price in 2009.

Updating a Budget Classic

But what about this year? The 2010 Buyer's Guide lists a new model, the SR60i—the subject of this review. The price is higher, but only a little: $79. Is the new version worth the extra $10? Well, even the old version was worth the extra $10, and a good bit more: an increase of $10 in 15 years covers less than half the inflation of the dollar in that period. Grado's John Chen tells me that your extra $10 gets you "an improved driver" and a new cable with "a higher conductor count." I speculate that the SR60is are also cheaper to manufacture: How else to explain such a small price increase? But, whatever—so long as they haven't messed up the sound.


The outstanding qualities of the SR60s were the warmth and honesty of their sound. These have been retained in the SR60is, though there may be a shade less warmth. The SR60s were free of obvious colorations and unfortunate resonances; so were the SR60is. The new edition seems to go a bit deeper in the bass, though I didn't find this subjectively important. The one difference that I did find important enough to affect my experience of the music was that the midrange sounded a touch more vivid. I found most music a little more involving through the SR60is; I recall especially "MDM," track 1 of Charles Mingus's Mingus The Candid Recordings (LP, Barnaby, KZ 31034); the tones of Eric Dolphy's alto saxophone and bass clarinet seemed a bit richer through the SR60is. Keep in mind, though, that I'm comparing the new Grados with a pair at least 15 years old. The older 'phones may just be tired.

Grado says that the SR60is are fine to use with portable players. I agree—but only in a quiet place. Their sensitivity was a bit low for my iPhone (used without a headphone amp). In a reasonably quiet home setting, the volume levels achievable were perfectly adequate, but if you plan to listen on airplanes or in other noisy places, you'll want more volume—or, better, more isolation. Try in-ear 'phones, many of which have been reviewed in Stereophile's pages. They're a better solution than electronic noise reduction.

The Verdict

John Grado took over from his uncle Joe Grado, the company's famous founder, some 20 years ago. He's revised one of high-end audio's great bargains, and without messing it up by raising its price too much or by compromising its performance. In fact, in my opinion, the SR60i is better than the original, and remains one of audio's great bargains.



Vented diaphragm

Non Resonant air chamber

Standard copper voice coil wire

Standard copper connecting cord

mini plug with 1/4" adaptor

Buy Grado Direct from
Tranducer type
Operating principle
open air
Frequency Response
Normal Impedance
Driver matched db

What does the i stand for in the new SR60i from Grado? Improved, that's what! Yes, Grado has taken one of the world's most legendary headphones and taken it a few steps further. The new SR60i has an upgraded driver design, and they have enlarged and improved the mass distribution in the plastic housing. The way the SR60i's new driver and plastic housing move air and react to sound vibrations are now less affected by transient distortions. With the SR60i you will notice improved control of the upper and lower range of the frequency spectrum with both better supporting Grado's world renowned midrange. And The SR60i will produce a sound that is pure Grado, warm harmonic color, rich full bodied vocals, excellent dynamics and an ultra smooth top end. Listen and Enjoy!

"These 'phones are so good for their price that I wouldn't be surprised if Grado has trouble keeping dealers stocked."
— Stereophile / Barry Willis Vol.17, No.5
"The greatest bargain in all of portable audio-dom are the Grado SR60 headphones. They manifest a terrifically involving, rich sound which can civilize even a cheap portable CD player."
— FI magazine / Andrew Keen Vol.1, No.7
"The SR60 is an exceptional value with no peers in its price range."
— Radio World / Bruce Bartlett Vol.20, No.9
"The SR60 headphones sound impressively warm, lively and detailed. For the money, there is nothing quite like them."
— Time magazine / Fred Kaplan Vol.149, Vol.19
"Superb musical performance; free from the in-head lateralisation that plagues headphones."
— HI-FI Chioce
"The Budget Grados stand comparison with Audiophile headphones costing many times their prices. Way Recommended!!!"
— Corey Greenberg - STEREOPHILE Vol.17, No.6
"I love my iPod but hate its wimpy, tinny earbuds. So I replaced them with a pair of Grado SR60s. They look like AV lab equipment circa 1981 yet cater to audio snobs, packing high-end quality into lightweight plastic ant foam. These can give vibrant fidelity, even at low volume. "
— Stuart Luman, WIRED Magazine
"Headphones are a very personal choice, but the SR60s have amassed a cult following among iPod users for exceptional audio quality and comfortable design. The SR60s feature a vented diaphragm design with a non-resonant air chamber resulting in a deeper and cleaner bass than other phones."
— Marc Saltzman, Feature Magazine
"The SR60 has won numerous product of the year honors from a variety of respected audiophile magazines and reviewers continually vote the SR60 at the top of what is a very lively pack of products. There has to be a reason for all this acclaim, and in the case of the SR60s, it's the sound, pure and simple."
— Leo Laporte, 2005 Gadget Guide
"They're made in Brooklyn, and they look as if they stepped out of a '60s music studio, with their black plastic backs and retro styling. But make no mistake; these are modern phones with the best sound of the phones we tested. Audio is lifelike and balanced, with a nice open quality to the highs and good bass. Great for iPods! For their price, they're an absolute steal."
— Mark McClusky, Mobile PC
"Recently I purchased an MP3 player and after seeing reviews on your SR60s, I had to try a pair. Yikes!! I thought hi-fidelity was dead as a result of digital. But not so! Your excellent phones have re-kindled my love of music. Thank you! The only downside is I had to order pair of 325is!"
— Chris Neuman
"BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK! The SR60 offers near-studio-grade sound for a fraction of competitor's prices. In our test, these headphones unearthed previously unheard layers of sound, thanks to the low distortion and high accuracy typically available only in pricey phones you see cupping the ears of audio engineers."
— CARGO magazine
"...the Grado SR60s may just be the greatest audiophile value in the world"
— Ed Kobesky / Positive Feedback
"Frequently described as the gateway to audiophile sound, the Grado SR60 headphones hold the title of best full-size open headphones for less than $100 - many models that cost twice as much don't sound as good. The retro-looking SR60 headphones have punchy but natural sound and will floor most first-time listeners."
— Macworld
"You'll be hard pressed to find a better pair of headphones for the money than the Grado SR60. The upper mids/highs reveal excellent detail, and the bass is solid too. I bought a pair about 8 years ago and I swear the price was the same as it is today. Good price, simple looks, practical and sophisticated where it counts: in the sound."
— Chris Jones / The Perfect Vision magazine
"Grado practically defines the term bang for buck with the frill-free, pure-sounding SR60i"
— Cult of Mac / Eli Milchman
" my opinion, the SR60i is better than the original, and remains one of audio's great bargains."
— Stereophile / Jim Austin
"The SR60i is thrillingly impartial. Low frequencies punch heftily, yet stop punctually, while voices in the midrange are as loaded with character and expression as you're likely to hear. Treble, likewise, is deft and rapid"
— What HiFi / England
"The most varied group to be voted on, there was very little spread in the balloting with one exception: Grado's remarkable SR60 headphones. Both Corey Grrenberg and Sam Tellig raved about the SR60s in print. Pretty much every other writer who tried them voted for them."
— Stereophile / John Atkinson Vol.17, No.12