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Grado SR60x Review (on ear headphone)

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 126 59.2%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 59 27.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 21 9.9%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 7 3.3%

  • Total voters
    213

don'ttrustauthority

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He was just referring to the development of the curve as greater samples of listeners were tested over the years, meaning the latest will likely be closest to the preference of an average listener. They are pretty similar anyway.


Most recordings will have their final mastering before release (which is what matters here) done with studio speakers. For the few that don't and use headphones with response far from that of studio speakers, that's just yet another cause of audio's circle of confusion, which Dr Sean Olive and Harman are trying to finally break at the reproduction side due to the lack of action in proper standardisation by the music industry at the production side. And it looks like it's thankfully working, with more and more headphones like the DCA Stealth that follow the Harman target being produced. The circle of confusion has to be broken somewhere at some time, and the Harman target is a standard that is least disruptive to the industry as it follows both the tonality of a good speaker in a good room, and the preference of the majority of listeners (including you judging by your praise of the Stealth).
MI love how you guys limit reality to 'what matters here', if people only listen to those you're right.

But what about the recordings that already exist? I listen to very little new music, and I probably speak for most audiophiles on that.

It's astounding you can call neutral a curve that assumes a modern studio environment and use of speakers with a a neutral sound for all recordings made henceforward. And all headphones should be made with that standard in mind. Are you insane? You can't call that objective or neutral. It isn't.

Harman curve has little to do with why the Stealth sounds great. It sounds great because it contains tech that eliminates resonances and distortions inside the cup.

The Harman curve tuning was little more than an afterthought to get the best tone. But the clarity is Dan.
 

2M2B

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I would love too as well but your assumption is not correct. Subjectively, never own any beside the GR10e IEMs which are my on the go IEM of choice but they are not really made by Grado, I really do like most models SR 325 and up. I did spend quite a bit of time with them, not sure why I never purchased any but I found something addictive to the Grado sound.I may admit I might enjoy a certain treble tilt, maybe I'm getting old, but there is something about them. To me the SR60 is unlistenable. The higher end models definitely have more bass, not Harman bass but decent extension, I would like to see the measurments but have the impression they roll off a bit lower than something like HD-650.
The GR10e might be the diamond in the rough, It THD much lower than their Over head's & has the same tuning as their SR line up. Would a better choice for objectivists trying anything Grado & are doing EQ.

As for the Grado SR60x it pretty much if MP3 was a headphone, It suck hardcore on technical performance but everyone loves them. On a fair note at least Grado labs are self aware about their subjectivists views.
 

GaryH

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But what about the recordings that already exist?
We have EQ fine-tuning for recordings erroneously produced using poor speakers. As Dr Sean Olive says:
some misguided recording engineers monitor and tweak their recordings through low-fidelity loudspeakers thinking that this represents what the average consumer will hear. Since loudspeakers can be mediocre in an infinite number of ways, this practice only guarantees that quality of the recording will be compromised when heard through good loudspeakers
This is the real insanity here.

Harman curve has little to do with why the Stealth sounds great. It sounds great because it contains tech that eliminates resonances and distortions inside the cup.

The Harman curve tuning was little more than an afterthought to get the best tone. But the clarity is Dan.
You do realize that resonances show up in frequency response, right? And the fact that the Harman curve is smooth shows it has no resonances. If you engineer a headphone that closely follows the Harman target, you will necessarily be engineering it to eliminate resonances. The Stealth following the target that closely is most certainly not an afterthought. Sean Olive's headphone virtualization study showed that frequency response accounts for the large majority of listener preference for headphones, with a correlation of 0.85 (1 being perfect) between preference for real and virtualized headphone (same frequency response on a different headphone) in blind tests. And this study was using the old artificial pinnae for the frequency response measurements (and so virtualization EQ) which overrepresented leakage, as Sean says in his blog:
Since this paper was written in 2013, we've improved the accuracy of the virtualization in part by developing a custom pinnae for our GRAS 45 CA that better simulates the leakage effects of headphones measured on real human subjects
So the correlation using the new pinnae would be even higher. As for distortion, research has shown it has little influence on preference, unless significantly high e.g. Steve Temme and Olive's study. Key points from that paper:
  • The linear distortions [frequency response errors] in headphones are orders of magnitude higher and more audible than the nonlinear ones [distortion]
  • None of the headphone distortion measurements could reliably predict listener preference ratings based on audible distortion
  • Nonlinear distortion in headphones of this high caliber (Headphone D excepted) seems to not be a significant factor in how good it sounds
  • This study provides further experimental evidence that traditional nonlinear distortion measurements are not particularly useful at predicting how good or bad high caliber headphone sounds
Note their threshold for 'high caliber' was not very high, as the test included several so-called 'mid-fi' headphones like the AKG K701, Beats by Dre Studio Edition and Bose QC15, along with the very low-distortion Stax SR-009. So, just like with DACs/amps, distortion is only really detrimental to perceived sound quality if it's pretty bad, and most headphones don't cross that threshold.
 

don'ttrustauthority

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You do realize that resonances show up in frequency response, right? And the fact that the Harman curve is smooth shows it has no resonances.
A headphone can have resonances if it's frequency response is aggravating the echoing frequencies which can happen with Harman or not, depending on the math of the distances inside the ear cup and the reflective properties of the materials being used in it.

There are no resonances in the Stealth because Dan used a meta material that is shaped in a way to absorb the particular resonances in the cup.

The tuning to Harman is done after they developed the tech and design. It was in fact, an after thought. Or, perhaps, a late thought. But the tech is the meta material and the shaping of such.

Harman? LOL Be careful Dan catches you crediting his work to others he might slap you silly.

I don't know enough about ear structure and how that might effect frequency response to know if tuning preference would change a lot, a little or not at all for different types of ears. Also, however, socially people might have a negative response to loud treble sounds (if say they live in an area where there are dangerous high frequency emitting animals, that strike fear in a sort of subconscious reaction.

I don't know how large an effect this might have aon a person's headphone preference, but it could have some.

Just as listening to different types of music might lead to a person preferring a particular tuning with that type of music. This headphone sounds better with rock. This with classical. If you have never heard a pair of headphones that sounds better on some types of music than others, I can't help you. I have. The Hman curve includes some of my favorite headphones, but not all of them.

And if they are all tuned the same, what if I'm in the mood for light music and I can't get my Grado? Do you think headphones should be regulated so that Harman tuning is required by the government?
 
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GaryH

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A headphone can have resonances if it's frequency response is aggravating the echoing frequencies which can happen with Harman or not, depending on the math of the distances inside the ear cup and the reflective properties of the materials being used in it.
As I said before, resonances will show up as peaks in the frequency response, because a resonance is an increased amplitude at a particular (resonant) frequency. The Harman target is smooth with no such peaks, therefore if a headphone follows it very closely it will not have any audible resonances.

Just as listening to different types of music might lead to a person preferring a particular tuning with that type of music. This headphone sounds better with rock. This with classical. If you have never heard a pair of headphones that sounds better on some types of music than others, I can't help you. I have.
What you're hearing is some headphones sounding better on different types of recordings, not genres of music (although some genres may have similar recording norms), due to circle of confusion issues again i.e. wild variation in audio production standards. The answer is fine-tune adjustment of headphone tonality via broad EQ filters, not a different headphone for every album. Do you have a different TV for each movie genre you watch?

And if they are all tuned the same, what if I'm in the mood for light music and I can't get my Grado?
Again, we have EQ for that.

Do you think headphones should be regulated so that Harman tuning is required by the government?
No, by the audio industry, just like the movie industry has common calibration standards between production monitors and cinema projectors / home TVs. If you want to dial up the contrast, color and sharpness to max [EQ in a massive Grado treble spike] feel free, but the default should be a common standard that aims to preserve the artist's intent.
 
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looqr

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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.
I had been wondering why I found Grados preferable to many other highly rated headphones closer to the curve.... felt puzzled over how polarizing they are. That explains it. Interesting.
 

GaryH

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That explains it.
No, it really doesn't. Here is the description of the class of listeners being referred to that Harman identified in their blind studies:
The second largest class (21%) prefers headphones with 2-4 dB less bass than the Harman Target curve below 100 Hz. Membership is comprised entirely of untrained listeners, and predominantly female and older listeners (50+ years).

So their preferred target is the Harman target just with a bass shelf of 1.5-3.5 dB instead of the Harman target's 5.5 dB bass shelf. Grado's don't have a bass shelf, in fact they have a bass cliff, e.g. the SR60x's bass is up to 15 dB below Harman's:

index.php


And not only that, they have huge treble peaks up to 9 dB above the target. So the preferred target of the class of listeners that prefer less bass than the Harman target is far, far closer to the latter than to the frequency response of Grado's.
 

Kevbaz

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Can the spikes at 2KHz and 5KHz be harmful for you ears when listening at normal volume levels, those spikes look very high compared to what I have seen on other headphones.
Cheers
Kevin
 

Jimbob54

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Can the spikes at 2KHz and 5KHz be harmful for you ears when listening at normal volume levels, those spikes look very high compared to what I have seen on other headphones.
Cheers
Kevin
I doubt it, unless you are listening to test tones of those frequencies at higher volume levels.
 

EJ3

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Can the spikes at 2KHz and 5KHz be harmful for you ears when listening at normal volume levels, those spikes look very high compared to what I have seen on other headphones.
Cheers
Kevin
Probably not unless you are listening at high volume to something with a lot of energy at those frequencies (most likely not music). Personally I wouldn't be listening to any GRADO headphones anyway. I never have liked their sound. And I never have bought something for it's appeal to others, only for it's appeal to me. Sometimes that aligns with those that are "trendy" but most times not.
 

Kevbaz

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When I use my Grado’s I listen at low volume. I do enjoy the sound of Grado with some jazz and female vocals.
Kevin
 

Sean Olive

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MI love how you guys limit reality to 'what matters here', if people only listen to those you're right.

But what about the recordings that already exist? I listen to very little new music, and I probably speak for most audiophiles on that.

It's astounding you can call neutral a curve that assumes a modern studio environment and use of speakers with a a neutral sound for all recordings made henceforward. And all headphones should be made with that standard in mind. Are you insane? You can't call that objective or neutral. It isn't.

Harman curve has little to do with why the Stealth sounds great. It sounds great because it contains tech that eliminates resonances and distortions inside the cup.

The Harman curve tuning was little more than an afterthought to get the best tone. But the clarity is Dan.
To hit the Harman Target Curve you have to "eliminate resonances and distortions" inside the cup. If you don't, it will show up in the frequency domain. We don't tell people how to do this.

That is where the good engineering comes in, and from what I can see the engineers have done their homework with the Stealth.
 

x-dfo

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I remember loving my old pair, one of my first fancy pair of cans but gee whiz I also remember how my ears would suddenly be in incredible pain after listening for a while. Something about having foam in constant contact with my ears with these would make my nerves go into sudden revolt after too long. So screw grados.
 

tvrgeek

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Might try a bit of EQ on my SR80's. When new, they were pretty darn good for monitor headphones. Clarity etc. Never were my choice for relaxed listening. They were an upgrade to the original 414 Sennheiser's that I never was in love with even though their rep. I still like my Yamaha.
 

magicscreen

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Might try a bit of EQ on my SR80's.
My SR60e has great bass using +9 dB EQ low shelf under 200 Hz. Using this EQ with the HD6XX, the result is terrible.
Yes the Grado has 2 kHz peak in measurements, but I have never problem with that.
But my HD6XX is piercing my ears often, I do not know what the exact frequency is the problem.
This is totally depends on person.
 

musicforcities

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I enjoy my grado sr80e for classic rock and some jazz.

They are really great for films. Dialogue is super clear; the spacing of sounds in space is uncanny at times.

The bass for those genres seems ok. though I usually to eq up the lower end. And I’m a treble junky/50 yr old with an anatomical high shelf filter…

It’s very nice with acoustic guitars. Lyle Lovett-y type stuff for example. Acoustic guitar and vocals take advantage of the upper middle being “excited”. But I use aftermarket big bowl pads like grade uses on their expensive phones. Turns the sr-80e (or any other grados with the on ear pads) into circumaural. Because the stock pads were very painful—ten minutes before physical pain for me. Also the driver sits a tad farther away which lowers the bass a bit more but also relaxes the upper mid intensity. The sound staging is pretty amazing as a result. Very “airy” as the audiophiles say. This is going to sound strange but they can be a bit like electrostatics with the big bowls. Lots of apparent detail due to the exaggerated peaking in the upper middle to upper end. And I mean apparent. Nevertheless, subjectively Some instruments/sounds seem to be placed in space to the extent that I’ve been tricked into thinking that left the speakers on in the room, or that a sound (like a door closing) in a film or podcast came from from my house. And it’s easier to locate the driver relative to the ear canal.
 

2M2B

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This is going to sound strange but they can be a bit like electrostatics with the big bowls. Lots of apparent detail due to the exaggerated peaking in the upper middle to upper end.
The FR for the SR80e is almost close to a few Electrostatic headphones. Many are bright because the bass is lower than the Treble.
 

musicforcities

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The FR for the SR80e is almost close to a few Electrostatic headphones. Many are bright because the bass is lower than the Treble.
Ah I’m glad to hear (pun intended) I am not totally nuts in this instance at least. So: want a taste of electrostatic headphones but can’t afford ‘em? buy a grado 60 or 80, slap some third party $15 big bowl pads on them an go crazy ;-).

Fwiw, the grados seem cheaply made but mine have held up well. The cord has held up fine and actually has quality copper wiring inside (two thick conductors for each ear.) And they can be relatively portable as the ear-cups rotate flat and they are very light.

I see they improved the headband on the new models. On the previous models one can also swap it for headbands and cup brackets designed for the Sony MDR V6/etc or the ATH 50 models (generic assemblies for either are readily available for less than $20). Ok now we are getting into nutty mod culture territory…which the Grado fan-base is rather into. But $15 pads, a $20 headband if the old one breaks…). Grado also has good support and service. If one gets a pair with crackling at higher volumes, grado will swap them out I hear bo problem. Some crackles occur from a stray hair getting caught in the screen or on the back of the driver.

As you can tell, I have a soft spot for them at the price. we are taking a price rang of junk like Beats or under $75 Senn’s gaming sets (which are trash in my experience in sound and build quality).

The old sr80 has more slightly more bass than the old sr60s and are worth the price difference. Would I buy mire expensive grados than the the sr80? No way. At $150 to $300 there are many other better options and from what I have heard the higher end grados (sr125, 225, 325) are at best marginal improvements to the se80e…and some of that is down to better stock pad. The rest to better driver matching.

I owed the massdrop/Koss Ekectrostats for three weeks before returning them. They were terrible. No lo end whatsoever and a tinny upper end. The included “amplifier” needed to power them was the most craptastic electronic device I have ever owned. The plastic case was beyond cheap feeling. It made the worst styrene DIY project boxes seem luxurious in comparison. And it developed a 120hz buzz in one channel after one day that never went away (and it was not an issue with the mains power or grounding). I discovered it a frequent recurring issue.
 

Aperiodic

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Never understood the Grado mystique. The sound is nothing special and the comfort- well, there isn't any.
 

2M2B

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I owed the massdrop/Koss Ekectrostats for three weeks before returning them. They were terrible. No lo end whatsoever and a tinny upper end. The included “amplifier” needed to power them was the most craptastic electronic device I have ever owned. The plastic case was beyond cheap feeling. It made the worst styrene DIY project boxes seem luxurious in comparison. And it developed a 120hz buzz in one channel after one day that never went away (and it was not an issue with the mains power or grounding). I discovered it a frequent recurring issue.

Electrostatic Headphones live off them being more detailed & having better decay than Dynamic drivers. Despite the fact much of that is because there diaphragm doesn't ring when doing bass, Your better off getting the Sundara & ER4XR since there decay is the same, but they cost $300 instead of Stax L300ltd being $1200 with power driver.
 
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