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
STEREOPHILE "PRODUCT OF THE YEAR"
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.
Very few products survive the test of time. They are replaced with the next new thing even before the consumer can sit and open the box. The thrill is gone before you get the product to work. We live in the era of "pump and dump"seduced by the dark forces of not-to-clever advertising sound bites, which are only effective because we are bombarded with them and we acquiesce just to make it go away.
A real exception to the rule are the Grado SR60 headphones. Truly.
For the better part of ten years, they have been consistently great. For the money, there is nothing better under $100. Combined with a decent portable headphone amplifier such as the Headroom Total Bithead, and the iPod (lossless only please), orgasmic audio is possible.
Grado Labs has been building headphones a very specific way for many years, and just like Di Fara Pizza (another Brooklyn institution), it is all about getting the basics right. The SR60s do not use the most expensive parts available, something Grado chooses to implement in its more expensive RS1, RS2, and GS 1000 headphones, but there is something unique about the SR60s that has always made it one of the most satisfying purchases in audio la-la-land. My first pair lasted almost eight years before the ex-wife used it as a doorstop. I should preface that with "angrily" as I was still wearing them at the time.
And I thought nothing could break the headband...
All of the Grado models have a vented diaphragm that uses a large air chamber. As a result, the diaphragm is not plagued by an excessive level of distortion, leaving the listener with a clean and detailed presentation. Another benefit of the design is that Grado headphones reproduce punchy bass that is clean sounding, taut, and resolute considering the size of the driver. The influence of Grado's fine line of moving coil and moving magnet phono cartridges can be heard in the midrange, where vocals are incredibly coherent and full of body. There is some excess warmth, but I would rather have that than a totally neutral and analytical sounding presentation. Soul over razor sharp accuracy any day of the week.
The SR60s also use a copper voice coil wire and copper connecting cord terminated for use with a 3.5mm stereo jack. Grado supplies a mini plug with a 1/4" adaptor for listeners who want to plug their headphones into the larger sockets found on receivers, integrated amplifiers, and dedicated headphone amplifiers.
The black retro look has not deviated from its inception, including the thin steel spring strap covered with quasi-leather (it is plastic) that makes up the headband. The headphones slide up and down and swivel on a very simple post, which makes them easy to position on your head. The SR60s are also easy to fold and place inside a notebook bag or duffel.
The foam pads that sit on top of the outer ear will eventually require replacement, but they work. The most recent pair that I tried seemed to be more comfortable than the older model that I owned, which is a step in the right direction. Prolonged listening sessions with the SR60s are far more enjoyable than they used to be.
One of the obvious benefits of the iPod revolution is that people are buying headphones in tremendous quantities. A recent walk through the Rutgers campus, which surrounds our corporate offices here in New Brunswick, was very educational to say the least. Three out of every 10 students we observed were wearing some style of headphones connected to a portable music player. Not surprisingly, a majority were wearing the Apple ear buds. Needless to say, we did not see too many people walking around with a pair of full-sized open headphones like the SR60s. We let a few people try the SR60s and the overall reaction was very positive. Everyone preferred them to the ear buds, especially when we mentioned that they were only $69.00. One comedian asked if he could "borrow" it for the night.
Portishead's "Glory Box" from their Dummy release is a personal favorite of onheadphones.com staffer, J. Kastner, and after one listen through the SR60s, we figured out why.
Shivers all around. Yes, we are repressed. Well, perhaps not all of us. The SR60s reproduce a very spacious soundstage inside your head, but it is not their main selling point. The fundamental reason to buy these is the superb job they do reproducing the human voice.
For $69, the midrange quality of the SR60s is really quite extraordinary. There is an openness to the sound that you just do not hear on headphones at this price point, or frankly, under one hundred and fifty dollars. The SR60s main competitor, the Sennheiser PX 100 sounds far more colored in my opinion in the midrange. It lacks the detail or clarity that makes the Grado so good.
Jerry Garcia and David Grisman's The Pizza Tapes is a wonderful example of how important, chemistry is between two musicians. The guitar playing just flows effortlessly throughout the recording and it is a very rewarding listen. The resolution of the recording pushes most high-end systems and exposes any of their warts. The SR60s faired very well. The Grados are not the last word in headphones if you are looking for something with a velvety smooth treble. They have some bite. It is not the kind of excessive treble that makes the overall presentation too forward sounding, but make no mistake the Grados are not laid back sounding when pushed.
What originally sold me on the SR60s when I first bought them was their bass response. Most inexpensive headphones have mediocre to terrible bass. Manufacturers think in terms of "quantity" versus "quality". That unfortunately often means a bloated mess that is incredibly fatiguing to listen to and at the expense of the rest of the sound. The SR60s are very well balanced; the bass compliments rather than drowns out the rest of the sound. For the lack of a better word, the Grado SR60s are focused.
Focus is a good thing.
Especially, if you are still listening to MP3s.
The SR60s are much better with lossless. With vinyl and a good headphone amp? Crazy good.
Sort of like pizza with more than one piece of fresh mozzarella and real sausage.
The real deal. Do not walk. Run and buy them.
Non Resonant air chamber
Standard copper voice coil wire
Standard copper connecting cord
mini plug with 1/4" adaptor
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!