Grado SR60e vs. Grado SR80e headphones review

Grado SR60e vs. Grado SR80e headphones review

MSRP Grado SR60e: $79

MSRP Grado SR80e: $99

Sound Advice Headphones Product Points Review ™ By Don Lindich

Manufacturer website: gradolabs.com

Grado SR60e review

  • The Grado SR60e Prestige Series Headphones are wired, open-back headphones from audiophile manufacturer Grado Labs of Brooklyn, NY. The SR60 series has been an audiophole budget favorite for audiophiles for many years.
  • Handmade in the USA.
  • Plug adapter is included for use with stereo receivers and amplifiers as well as portable devices.
  • Heavy-duty cord is the best in this segment, a testament to the thought and effort that went info optimizing sound quality.
  • The headband and earpad adjustments feel a bit flimsy and lightweight. Clearly, almost all the money that goes into manufacturing these headphones goes into the the parts that make the sound.
  • Open-back design provides the best possible sound quality, but does not isolate you from the outside world and leaks a fair amount of sound around you when in close quarters.  These are not the best choice for use on airplanes and public transportation.
  • Sound quality is incredibly good, and unmatched at $79. It has the characteristic Grado warmth and just a bit of richness, excellent transparency, good detail, and reasonable, if not class-leading, dynamics. Presentation is laid back vs. forward. I’ve had readers tell me they much prefer the sound quality of the SR60e to $300 Bose noise-cancelling headphones.
  • One of the best headphone choices for classical, jazz, and vocals.
  • Fit is the weak link of these headphones.  While not uncomfortable, the flat pads can move around on your head, especially with the weight of the heavy-duty cord pulling down on them. While you can take them with you, they are best suited to dedicated music listening when stationary.
  • No matter the retailer, Grado products always sell for the same prices and do not go on sale. If you want a pair, no need to wait… you won’t see any promotions and they will not get any cheaper!
 

Grado SR80e review

  • Physically, the Grado SR80e is the exact same as the SR60e. It has the same headband, earpads, and heavy duty cord. The difference is in sonic performance.
  • The SR80e gives you a little more of everything compared to the SR60e. They are a little more transparent, have a bit more detail, a bit more bass, a bit more fullness. It is hard to quantify exactly how much better. If I had to put it into numbers I would say at least 10% better, but not more than 15%.
  • Is it worth the extra $20?  It’s hard to say, given how price sensitive shoppers can be when spending under $100. Read on for my thoughts on the Grado SR60e vs. the Grado SR80e.

Which one should I buy, given the price difference is only $20?

The difference between the SR60e and SR80e is modest, though clear and immediately discernible. I’d say it is worth the $20, but perhaps not for everyone. Given the difference in price is only $20, how do you decide between the two?

Let’s say you are looking for a $50 pair of headphones, but can stretch your budget a little… but not necessarily double it. This is where the Grado SR60e is a perfect choice, and that extra $29 is some of the best money you will ever spend.  There are no $50 headphones that come close to the sonic performance of the SR60e, and it is a very worthwhile stretch from $50 to $80.

For everyone else who does not mind spending the extra $20 or who is shopping in the $75-$100 range to begin with, get the Grado SR80e. Once you get up to $100 though you should also consider the Koss Pro4S, a $150 headphone that sometimes  goes on sale for $105-$110. It is a closed-back design that is more comfortable, has comparable sound quality and includes a nice hard case.

I will also say that if you never heard the Grado SR80e in comparison and just bought the Grado SR60e to begin with, I don’t think you would ever believe you were missing anything!  You would just marvel at how good a $79 pair of headphones can sound.

SR60e conclusion

Overall: 4/5

Performance 4/5

Value 5/5

SR80e conclusion

Overall: 4/5

Performance 4/5

Value 4/5

Questions? Send to donlindich@gmail.com.  Please include your city and state in your email.

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