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Grado SR60x Review (on ear headphone)

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 130 57.8%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 61 27.1%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 25 11.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 9 4.0%

  • Total voters
    225

EJ3

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Clearly you think real instruments and voices don't sound right....
You've hit the nail on the head: I have attended many, many live concerts, indoors & out, from rock, jazz, blues & country bands to community bands (around 60 pieces), to symphonies and (unfortunately, for the most part) Operas.
Knowing what most of the instruments & singing voices sound like live, that is my standard for great sound. But I want to know that my system components are giving me flat (as measured) for my starting point. The I can EQ or otherwise adjust until I have the sound the way I perceive it live. That may, however, be different than what you perceive or want to perceive in home audio. Your ears & my ears may key in on different parts of the sound (or the same parts of the sound) but may have different takes on it.
But someone who has never actually heard the actual instruments live will likely have a different idea of how it should sound to them.
The reason that there are tone controls & EQ's is not just to get the rooms sound to flat or the Harman Curve but to give the user adjustability because not everyone perceives the music in the same manner.
 
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don'ttrustauthority

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Not everyone likes bass. Hate it myself. Gives me a headache. Give me a crashing cymbal and snare drum anyday.
The Harman Curve is different if you're over 50, female, or hate bass. It's not quite 60x, but in that direction. Many of the users here believe Harman was discovered and it contains the secret frequency response that must be met at all costs, not realizing it's variable across any number of independents.
 

Jabinho

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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.

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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/
All Grados have that grazy 2k pump.
 

NoteMakoti

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Harman isn't perfect, but it's better than 10+ years ago when the headphone meta was dominated by 50 year olds who thought Huey Lewis was "too black sounding" (AKA "feeling bass means the headphone is bad") and couldn't hear highs at all unless they were boosted to Guantanamo Bay Torture levels (so detailed and sparkly!)

I don't think Harman is perfect, but I dread going back to those days.
 

Jabinho

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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! :)
All Grados have this massive 2k peak.
It's called Grado signature sound.
 

Jabinho

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How does that differ from the bump in the Harman preference curve?
1637450001253.png
 

Hifihedgehog

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Harman's research and the resulting Harman Curve is an aggregate average of subjective preferences across a variety of listeners and listening material. An objective look at subjective preference, if you will.
But there is another difference: the process of acquiring and assimilating was objectively administered so therefore the results and its logical conclusion are likely a natural reflection of what the human aural system is most attracted to above or below a strictly objective baseline of a flat FR. The Grado Labs methodology is more like the chef who cooks without any measurement tools and goes strictly by his gut to turn out his dishes. That approach may work for creating an artistic work, but audio reproduction devices are meant to be a window to the original work and not their own artistic rendition.
 
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Sal1950

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I've got an old pair of Grado SR80? hanging on the nightstand next to my bed. When I'm in the mood for a quick listen at bedtime they mate well with my Sansa Clip+ playing OGG files. Not the best HiFi for sure, but "good enough" for me in those times. If I want to do some serious listening I'll use my Senn HD650s but the Sansa Clip is a bit short on power for them.
To be honest I'm not much of a headphone person myself, no matter the cans, after a short time they all begin to aggravate me from sitting on my head and ears.
YMMV
 

Kyle / MrHeeHo

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Why is the default assumption on this forum that any product that measures poorly is designed and sold by science-denying scammers?
Because if they followed the science they wouldn't be making poorly measuring products
 

Sal1950

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The Grado Labs methodology is more like the chef who cooks without any measurement tools and goes strictly by his gut to turn out his dishes. That approach may work for creating an artistic work, but audio reproduction devices are meant to be a window to the original work and not their own artistic rendition.
I do agree with you as anyone that knows me here can testify.
But the truth is the most audio designers build a bit of their preferred "house sound" into their products, this is specially true for speakers and headphones. Some use quite subtle tweaks, others more so, but it is a world full of different preferences and as we say in the motorcycle business, "there's an ass for every seat". I could easily name a whole list of popular speakers that have built in "house sounds" but then I might get linched by their owners here. LOL
Personally I would advise buying neutral sounding products, adding a preference EQ is easy-peasy any time it's desired. Removing it can be difficult if not impossible should the desire strike.
Joe Grado starting building phono needles at his kitchen table back in 1953 and the companies been going strong ever since.
(Gotta support my "piasons" whenever I can.) ;)
 

don'ttrustauthority

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Distortion is audible in the treble and it's a bit grating with standard rock and roll.

The new cable (not rubber) is nice, stillll thick and maybe having twisting issues though.

Disappointed that Grado is not moving forward with the rest of the headphone community.
 

don'ttrustauthority

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But there is another difference: the process of acquiring and assimilating was objectively administered so therefore the results and its logical conclusion are likely a natural reflection of what the human aural system is most attracted to above or below a strictly objective baseline of a flat FR. The Grado Labs methodology is more like the chef who cooks without any measurement tools and goes strictly by his gut to turn out his dishes. That approach may work for creating an artistic work, but audio reproduction devices are meant to be a window to the original work and not their own artistic rendition.
Says who? You? Guarantee you that the difference in most headphones is quality, not accuracy .. take your headphones and see. In order of price. I find they sound subjectively about what they cost.

Measurements may play into this too, but for sure, price reflects subjective sound quality.

The Grado design has a nice advantage with it's wide open design that allows the music to really shine. I suspect that the Harman curve for open back designs is different that the Harman curve for closed back, is that part of the Harman research?

I find that the Harman curve may change for music type, db level, and other variables that aren't taken into consideration with the one size fits all version.

So far as this 60x which just got home:

For acoustic string, horn, wind and percussion in small ensembles at low levels: the loss of bass is not apparent; the treble rise is a little much; but the peaky treble has it's plus side and the over all sound is nice. Some might say for The Pizza Tapes, the 60x could possibly best the Dan Clark Audio Stealth.

The cord is updated from the rubber one to a textured cloth tightly wrapped around a smaller diameter cord that STILL wraps around itself, we'll see if it's as bad as the rubber one which just got tangled to hell. Still, the plastic FEELS better, as if it's a new chemistry. The overall design is better, but the same. Just better parts, closer tolerances. Still, 1991 to 2021 is a long time and the standards have increased more than Grado's improvements reflect.

I'm curious to see if a minor update to Grado family is all we get with this X generation. Frankly, by now there should be an effort to take the Reference Series in a new direction. Doesn't have to look like an Italian racecar or even an old Grado!

Overall better quality for the same CONSTANT dollars despite the $30 nominal increase over 30 years.
 
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don'ttrustauthority

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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.
I'm curious, why do you think the treble peak may get larger and nastier and the price goes up?
 

GaryH

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Well some things are more important than measurements to. The existence of Grado as company should teach you that. But you seem to assume that people vote for Trump because they are dumb, not because they prefer Trump. I think they prefer Trump, and Grado. Does the Climate Change science support Trump? No.
And the answer is...option 3: marketing, which makes people like the (false) idea of something (or someone), not what it actually does for them sans cognitive biases in part formed from that marketing.
 

don'ttrustauthority

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But there is another difference: the process of acquiring and assimilating was objectively administered so therefore the results and its logical conclusion are likely a natural reflection of what the human aural system is most attracted to above or below a strictly objective baseline of a flat FR. The Grado Labs methodology is more like the chef who cooks without any measurement tools and goes strictly by his gut to turn out his dishes. That approach may work for creating an artistic work, but audio reproduction devices are meant to be a window to the original work and not their own artistic rendition.
If one study can do all that, then there is no variability between people based on, say, sex? Ethnic origin? You think Harman is identical for men and women? 18 and 80? 6 headphones of one type and ten people and you're done?
 

GaryH

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If one study can do all that, then there is no variability between people based on, say, sex? Ethnic origin? You think Harman is identical for men and women? 18 and 80? 6 headphones of one type and ten people and you're done?
Excluding presbycusis, yes, broadly speaking:


Taste in music and music production varies; (true, blinded) taste in music reproduction not so much. Just as taste in movies varies, but taste in TVs not really.
 
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