Brief: Nearly universally praised in the head-fi community, the SR60i is Grado Labs’ entry-level supraaural headphone and is quite often referred to as the ‘gateway drug’ to the world of audiophilia.
MSRP: $79 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $79 from amazon.com
Build Quality (8/10): Perhaps in line with their retro looks, the strength of Grados lies in their simplicity. There are really only three parts to the construction – the cups with the adjustment bars sticking out of the top, the headband, and the two plastic blocks that unify the structure. The headband a simple piece of steel sheathed in unpadded leather. The plastic cups are sturdy but do show some molding artifacts, just like the lower-end iGrados. The cable, however, is completely antithetical to the wimpy plastic string used on the baby Grados – thick, tough, and with a meaty 3.5mm plug, this cord is built to last. Overall the construction is not high-rent in any sense but carries with it an air of time-tested quality and brute strength. Not to mention that many physical problems with Grados can be mended with a hammer and some glue.
Comfort (8.5/10): Wearing Grados does take some getting used to – the cans rest on one’s ears and the slight pressure exerted by the pads can be bothersome after some time. Luckily, I’ve had plenty of practice. For me the bowl pads found on the higher-end models are far less comfortable than the amply-named ‘comfies’ that come stock on the SR60i and SR80i. The plastic SR60i is also much lighter than my last two Grados, the SR325i and MS2i, so after a few weeks of break-in they become as comfortable as large supraaurals can be. If the pads feel ‘itchy’ at first, I recommend giving them a bath in a low-concentration shampoo solution, followed by a good rinse. Of note again is the thick, 7.5ft cord, which is less than ideal for portable use (but at least the SR60i is terminated with an ipod-friendly 3.5mm jack, unlike higher-end Grado models).
Isolation: (2/10): Like all Grado headphones, the SR60i is a fully open design, which means they can be heard from the next room at reasonable volumes. Not recommended for busses, libraries, shops, or anywhere others may be bothered by music.
Sound (7.5/10): From the very first listen it is obvious that the SR60i, like all Grados, is a purpose-built listening device. Build quality, isolation, comfort, and all other considerations simply fade away when the music starts playing. There is just nothing out there for the money that can compare to a Grado for that front-and-center-at-the-Rock-show feeling. The overall sound is forward and edgy, with strong mids and pronounced treble. They are certainly on the bright side of neutral, though nowhere near as bright as the higher-end SR325i model. The bass is very tight but does not extend particularly deep and lacks the visceral impact of some of the closed cans in this lineup. In fact, the SR60i makes extremely clear the distinction between bass that is ‘punchy’ and bass that is ‘boomy’, having almost no ‘boom’ at all. The clarity is top-notch across the range and while the soundstage is below average in size, the instruments are well-separated and nicely positioned and detail is easy to pick out. The fast, fun, and forward sound of the SR60i works especially well with more energetic genres such as Rock and Pop but all music lovers will be impressed with the clarity and coherence of the sound.
Value (8.5/10): Though I’ve never personally considered Grados to be portable cans, the sound produced by the SR60i for a mere $80 is hard to argue against. They are completely open, not very compact, and the cord is far too long and thick to be convenient on the go. But they are also reasonably rugged, quite comfortable, and not quite as shocking to behold outside as, say, an AKG K701 or ATH-A700. The best thing about the Grados is that they don’t try to be a jack of all trades. They are absolutely stunning for what they are – clear, detailed, bright, and aggressive Rock cans. As far as I am concerned the SR60i really is one of the best all-around values in personal audio. Whether it is truly a portable headphone is a function of personal preference.
Frequency Response:20-20,000 Hz
Sensitivity:98 dB SPL/1mW
Cord:7.5ft (2.3m); Straight Plug