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Grado SR60x Review (on ear headphone)

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 129 57.8%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 61 27.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 24 10.8%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 9 4.0%

  • Total voters
    223

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Grado SR60x on ear, open back headphone. It was kindly sent to me by a member and costs US $99 on Amazon.

The classic look of Grado is paradoxically timeless:
Grado 60x Review Budget Over Eat Headphone.jpg

It takes me back to 1990s when I started to manage the signal processing team at Microsoft all of whom were using Grados. It feels plasticky to be sure but other than foam rotting, they hold up well.

They are pretty light:
lightest budget headphone reviewed.png


They pinch the top of ear though so I could not wear them for more than a few minutes. Strange as I don't remember this when I wore them three decades back. Wonder if we develop more pain receptors in our ears as we get older! :)

Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. Headphone measurements by definition are approximate and variable so don't be surprised if other measurements even if performed with the same fixtures as mine, differ in end results. Protocols vary such as headband pressure and averaging (which I don't do). As you will see, I confirm the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers mostly in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests. If you think you have an exact idea of a headphone performance, you are likely wrong!

Fitment on the fixture worked on first try which surprised the heck out of me given the fact that these are on ear headphones. But please heed the above warnings regarding accuracy of measurements especially in higher frequencies.

Grado SR60x Measurements
Let's start with our usual frequency response:
Grado 60x Measurements Frequency Response Over Eat Headphone.png


Now that is a simple story: very little bass (expected) and large bump in lower treble (not expected). I can see this accentuating spatial qualities and detail and hence selling to folks. Here is the relative curve for equalization:

Grado 60x Measurements Relative Frequency Response Over Eat Headphone.png


Gross equalization should be easy.

Distortion is very high:

Grado 60x Measurements THD Distortion Over Eat Headphone.png


Grado 60x Measurements Distortion Over Eat Headphone.png


As note though, we get luck with the peak around 4 kHz as we would be pulling that peak down a lot anyway.

Impedance is on the low to medium side:

Grado 60x Measurements Impedance Over Eat Headphone.png


Zooming in, we see the sins of the headphone:

Grado 60x Measurements Impedance zoomed Over Eat Headphone.png


We see the same two peaks in frequency response indicating resonances in the headphone/driver.

Group delay is messy in the same region:

Grado 60x Measurements Group Delay Over Eat Headphone.png


Edit: here is the updated sensitivity:

Most efficient over ear headphone tested.png


Note that I measure sensitivity at 425 Hz. With the large peaks in 2 to 4 kHz, it is likely to sound louder than this graph indicates.

Grado SR60e Listening Tests and Equalization
I was listening to my every day Dan Clark Stealth when I switched over to Grado mid-song. Immediate impression was oh, there are more highs here. But not in a super obnoxious way if the peaking was at higher frequencies. A bit more listening though and the sharpness starts to get to you so equalization is mandatory:

Grado 60x Equalization Parametric EQ Over Eat Headphone.png


The improvement with the two notch filters was dramatic. It took the edge off the sound but still left enough for it to have good spatial qualities. Bass boost was tricky as it is definitely needed but crank up the volume and the drivers start to generate static/crackle. Fortunately it gradually comes over and for average listening you can push it that much.

With all of this in place, I enjoyed listening to the SR60x. Yes, the highs were still a bit artificial and edgy if I can call them that. But there was also something about this open back headphone that surprises at times with how it sounds.

Conclusions
If there ever was a company that built whatever it wanted and didn't care what people thought, is probably Grado. They still build these by hand (?) in New York to whatever metric they think sounds good. Well, first impressions are that but it only last a minute of two. Use the above EQ and you quickly learn a lesson in what balanced tonality is (with EQ) and not (without EQ).

I can't recommend the Grado SR60x without EQ. With EQ, it is good and can have slightly above attribute at times.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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  • Grado 60x Frequency Response ASR.zip
    23.7 KB · Views: 95
Last edited:

deafenears

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Wow, look at the sensitivity... something so small also requires a nuclear reactor to power it?
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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Wow, look at the sensitivity... something so small also requires a nuclear reactor to power it?
Oops. Hang in there. There may be a mistake there...
 

sweetchaos

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To import this PEQ profile into 'Equalizer APO', use:
Preamp: -5.0 dB
Filter 1: ON PK Fc 40 Hz Gain 5.0 dB Q 1.0
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 1950 Hz Gain -8.0 dB Q 4.0
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 4400 Hz Gain -8.0 dB Q 6.0
Otherwise, see my PEQ guide.
..................................................................................................................
For those who don't have PEQ-capable app, and want to use GEQs instead:
See my GEQ guide for 10-band, 31-band, and 127-band GEQ profiles.
 
Last edited:

NoSnakeOil2

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May 15, 2020
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70
I've had 2 Grados, and found the comfort abysmal. Scratchy earpads and a cord, thick as a telephone cable, that over time twists under the chin. Oh, and an screechy sound here and there. It amazes me Grado has lasted as long as it has. Of course, your ears may differ.)))
 

jae

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When I said I wanted open back headphones reviewed, this is not what I meant!
 

pavuol

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Well it provides two pairs of "antennas":
- one hardware type for communication with extraterrestrial intelligence
- one treble FR type for unearthly music experience :p
(disclaimer: I really don't care about the first pair, actually I have a sweet spot for retro designs..:))

On a positive note, they are breathable and let you remain cautious to outside noises!
 

Ata

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I always wondered why people would even consider let alone buy entry level Grados, now I know why I wondered that! :)
 

Jimbob54

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No surprises and I doubt the measurements get better as you go up the line.

I definitely wouldn't advocate any Grado as anyone's main listen but they sure can be fun, especially after EQ.
 

aandres_gm

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No surprises and I doubt the measurements get better as you go up the line.

I definitely wouldn't advocate any Grado as anyone's main listen but they sure can be fun, especially after EQ.
I would love to see the more expensive models, as I also doubt they will perform any better. If anything, the treble peak may get larger and nastier.
 

Maiky76

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Grado SR60x on ear, open back headphone. It was kindly sent to me by a member and costs US $99 on Amazon.

The classic look of Grado is paradoxically timeless:
View attachment 166004
It takes me back to 1990s when I started to manage the signal processing team at Microsoft all of whom were using Grados. It feels plasticky to be sure but other than foam rotting, they hold up well.

They are pretty light:
View attachment 166005

They pinch the top of ear though so I could not wear them for more than a few minutes. Strange as I don't remember this when I wore them three decades back. Wonder if we develop more pain receptors in our ears as we get older! :)

Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. Headphone measurements by definition are approximate and variable so don't be surprised if other measurements even if performed with the same fixtures as mine, differ in end results. Protocols vary such as headband pressure and averaging (which I don't do). As you will see, I confirm the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers mostly in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests. If you think you have an exact idea of a headphone performance, you are likely wrong!

Fitment on the fixture worked on first try which surprised the heck out of me given the fact that these are on ear headphones. But please heed the above warnings regarding accuracy of measurements especially in higher frequencies.

Grado SR60x Measurements
Let's start with our usual frequency response:
View attachment 166006

Now that is a simple story: very little bass (expected) and large bump in lower treble (not expected). I can see this accentuating spatial qualities and detail and hence selling to folks. Here is the relative curve for equalization:

View attachment 166016

Gross equalization should be easy.

Distortion is very high:

View attachment 166008

View attachment 166009

As note though, we get luck with the peak around 4 kHz as we would be pulling that peak down a lot anyway.

Impedance is on the low to medium side:

View attachment 166010

Zooming in, we see the sins of the headphone:

View attachment 166011

We see the same two peaks in frequency response indicating resonances in the headphone/driver.

Group delay is messy in the same region:

View attachment 166012

Edit: here is the updated sensitivity:

View attachment 166018

Note that I measure sensitivity at 425 Hz. With the large peaks in 2 to 4 kHz, it is likely to sound louder than this graph indicates.

Grado SR60e Listening Tests and Equalization
I was listening to my every day Dan Clark Stealth when I switched over to Grado mid-song. Immediate impression was oh, there are more highs here. But not in a super obnoxious way if the peaking was at higher frequencies. A bit more listening though and the sharpness starts to get to you so equalization is mandatory:

View attachment 166015

The improvement with the two notch filters was dramatic. It took the edge off the sound but still left enough for it to have good spatial qualities. Bass boost was tricky as it is definitely needed but crank up the volume and the drivers start to generate static/crackle. Fortunately it gradually comes over and for average listening you can push it that much.

With all of this in place, I enjoyed listening to the SR60x. Yes, the highs were still a bit artificial and edgy if I can call them that. But there was also something about this open back headphone that surprises at times with how it sounds.

Conclusions
If there ever was a company that built whatever it wanted and didn't care what people thought, is probably Grado. They still build these by hand (?) in New York to whatever metric they think sounds good. Well, first impressions are that but it only last a minute of two. Use the above EQ and you quickly learn a lesson in what balanced tonality is (with EQ) and not (without EQ).

I can't recommend the Grado SR60x without EQ. With EQ, it is good and can have slightly above attribute at times.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/

Here are some thoughts about the EQ.

Notes about the EQ design:
  • The average L/R is used to calculate the score.
  • The resolution is 12 points per octave interpolated from the raw data (provided by @amirm)
  • A Genetic Algorithm is used to optimize the EQ.
  • The EQ Score is designed to MAXIMIZE the Score WHILE fitting the Harman target curve with a fixed complexity.
    This will avoid weird results if one only optimizes for the Score.
    It will probably flatten the Error regression doing so, the tonal balance should be more neutral.
  • The EQs are starting point and may require tuning (certainly at LF).
  • The range around and above 10kHz is usually not EQed unless smooth enough to do so.
  • I am using PEQ (PK) as from my experience the definition is more consistent across different DSP/platform implementations than shelves.
  • With some HP/amp combo the boosts and preamp gain need to be carefully considered to avoid issues
  • Not all units of the same product are made equal. The EQ is based on the measurements of a single unit.
  • YMMV with regards to the very unit you are trying this EQ on.

Good L/R match.

I have generated one EQ, the APO config file is attached.


Score no EQ: 54.4
Score Armirm: 91.4
Score with EQ: 105.8

Code:
Grado 60x APO EQ [email protected] 96000Hz
November172021-160533

Preamp: -5 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 40.25 Hz Gain 5.00 dB Q 0.36
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 165.83 Hz Gain -2.32 dB Q 1.27
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 2040.69 Hz Gain -9.55 dB Q 2.80
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 3673.67 Hz Gain 4.90 dB Q 6.00
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 4257.16 Hz Gain -8.97 dB Q 3.86

Grado 60x APO EQ Flat@HF 96000Hz.png
 

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nyxnyxnyx

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if there's one thing I gotta agree with, it's that grado headphones are generally unique in comparison to a large section of the market. I used to like the ps500 even though I knew it wasn't "correct".
 
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amirm

amirm

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GWolfman

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Doesn't seem worth the price considering the anemic bass and drastic peaks in the treble.

Edit: looking at the post EQ score it seems definitely worth a shot if EQ-capability is available.
 
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