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Old 09-16-2011, 08:43 AM
koolkat koolkat is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 62
Smile Grado SR60 review w/ pics

pics updated.

Timeline

June - Got my first pair of Sennheiser headphones. (HD438)
July - Very short audition of the M50.
August - Bought the Clip+ and SR60
September - Modded my SR60

Short introduction

This review is mainly for those just getting into headphones. I'm not really good with audiophile lingo like "grain", "timbre" in describing things, so I won't be using them.

The sennheiser HD438 was my first good headphone, given to me by my dad. It's very comfortable and the lack of clamp force makes it excellent for movies. Decent sound quality.

I had the PSP as my source at that time. Being the FNG that I was, I thought getting an amplifier would make the PSP sound better. A couple of guys advised me against that and I eventually ended up getting the Clip+

Somewhere along the way, I caught the upgraditis bug. M50 was being talked about everywhere and I thought the SR60 modding threads (on a few other forums) were very interesting.

I gotta admit it was a really short audition but then again I don't believe headphones magically sound better at the thousandth hour. I compared two headphones M50 and SR80.

M50 was just flat and boring, imo. There was nothing interesting about the sound sig while the Grado sound really got me interested. More importantly, I thought it was really overrated for the price, and not worth the step up from my HD438. Let's get back to the main topic.

Comfort wise, the SR80 were slightly better than the M50. But the M50s were closed back, so they isolated better.

Yadayadayada days passed, weeks, and I decided to buy a Grado. Now there were two choices. The SR60 for S$120 and the SR80 for S$170. Was the difference worth S$50? Imo, nope. But if I lived in the US, was the difference worth $20? Nope, but it's only 20 dollars more so why not.

lol.

So what exactly are the differences between the SR60 and SR80?

The pairs I had for audition were showing slight signs of wear, so they're time tested. I'm guessing they had about a year's use on them. I thought that the SR80 was slightly better than the SR60 in the highs but the bass was pretty lacking compared to my previous can.

They cannot be used a toss-me-around / portable type cans as the parts are held together by glue and can accidentally pop out easily.

If you've got the money to spend, then go for the SR80, but the SR60 are quite similar to the 80s and are by no means worse; they're just slightly different. Besides, you don't want a STOCK Grado. You wanna modify them.

WHAT GRADO SOUND SIG?!

Grados (not sure about the high end ones) make rock music come alive. I love listening to The Killers and RHCP. The Killers sound amazing on the SR60. Although RHCP has quite a bit of bass guitar in their songs, the SR60 managed to pull it off quite well.

Vocals up front, electric guitar to the left. Cymbals and bass in the background. Somehow everything just comes together so well, despite not having a huge sound stage. Mids are great. They brought out the epicness in Brandon Flowers and the other Killers.



What you get from Grado

Box



Certificate from John Grado



Inside the box (without headphone)




No frills package.
All you get is the headphones, a certificate from John Grado and a 6.2 adapter.
The box itself is made from cheap thin cardboard-like material.


Right out of the box

I considered myself a basshead before getting the Grados, so ymmv.

I wasn't impressed by the SR60. They were uncomfortable, very harsh and the music lacked body. At that time I was using onboard audio, so the sound also sounded a little bloated and congested. The FiiO E7 fixed this.

Over the next couple of days, I got used to the highs and they felt refreshing in small doses. The lack of bass didn't bother me as much but it was still very uncomfortable.

What people usually do is stretch out the headband by pressing it down. The metal is quite ductile so if you hold it in place for a couple of minutes, it will more or less retain that shape.

Washing the foam a couple of times with Selsun shampoo made the foam softer. If you find the default comfies uncomfortable, try the yellow HD414 pads from sennheiser. I got them for about S$10.

TL;DR Harsh highs, very prominent mids, poor low end response.





Modifications

I removed the plastic grill and button, the cloth covering the driver protector and poked two holes by the circle magnet thingie to increase bass. Hole-poking is irreversible, so don't poke all ten holes.

Imo, two holes gave the music a little more body while retaining the other SR60 qualities. Too much increase in bass quantity will muddify the whole sound sig, and I don't recommend poking over 2 holes on each cup.



Grill and Button removal

Top view of cups before filing away the burrs



Inside view




Holes




Cloth removed from driver protector





End Result

The increase in bass quantity tamed the highs a little and gave the music more body. The removal of the cloth, grills and buttons increased the clarity of the phones.

TL;DR They sounded more musical.

Comfort-wise

I still can't wear the Grados for too long without adjusting.

Grados are great for music, but not much else.

Despite being open air, they don't have a great sound stage. I suppose they might be great for amateur fps players since all you need to hear is the treble (reload, footsteps, grenade pins).

Amplifier needed?

Scientifically speaking, no. These headphones are quite sensitive and they have a fairly low impedance (32 ohms) so they can be driven well by any portable music player.

If you are looking to tweak the sound a little, then an amplifier may help. Different amps have different sound signatures. According to many accounts, the PA2V2 brings out the bass in your headphones.

The Grado RA-1 Amplifier is widely regarded as an overpriced block of wood. The RA-1 performs about as good as a Cmoy. If you're looking for a desktop amp, look into getting the Fiio E9 or the Objective2.

For more info on the O2: http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/08/o2-summary.html


Conclusion

Great headphones for their price. Learn to appreciate these cans and they'll perform.

Music

Tracks that I love listening to on the SR60

The Killers - Pretty much all their albums
Angus and Julia Stone - Big Jet Plane, Just a Boy
Yellowcard - Shadows and Regrets, Dear Bobbie

I'm not a fan of Paramore's studio albums.. I prefer listening to Hayley sing live. She sounds cute. Not sure if it's got anything to do with my SR60s, ha ha ha (>.<) Nevershoutnever's live performances and other live performances with a lot of acoustic guitar strumming sound great on Grados, imho.

Ben Harper's cool too.

What I'm using right now

Music: Acer Aspire 4740G WASAPI Foobar > Fiio E7 > Grado SR60
Movies: Acer Aspire 4740G VLC > FiiO E7 > HD438
Portable: Sansa Clip+ > Fiio E7 > Philips IEM/HD438



SR60 and FiiO E7



Hopefully someone somewhere will find this useful.


Last edited by koolkat; 09-17-2011 at 06:33 AM.
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audio, m50, sr60, sr80

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