Value Headphones (Grado)
April 21, 2008 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Are the Grado SR60's the best headphones that I can buy for under $100? I plan on using them, or whatever headphones I get, mainly with my iPod.
posted by waltzing astronomers to Shopping (26 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Where will you be using these headphones? SR60s are open headphones, and if you're listening to them in public, everyone will be able to hear what you're listening to loud and clear. In my opinion the best closed over-the-ear headphones under $100 are the Sony MDR-V6. They provide excellent isolation.
posted by zsazsa at 10:15 AM on April 21, 2008

They're wonderful, you will not regret getting them.

Although...while they aren't exactly fragile, if you don't take care of them, they will fall apart. They'll still work, but you'll have a tough time making the ear pads stick to the bar that goes around your head.

Or mabye it's just me!?
posted by saxamo at 10:17 AM on April 21, 2008

I've been intrigued by the SR60's legend for a while too, but the openness puts me off. saxamo is the leakage really as bad as zsazsa says? Where, when and how do you use yours? Do you find it bothers others nearby?
posted by mumkin at 10:26 AM on April 21, 2008

I love my SR-60s. For use with my iPod, I love my iGrados even more. Same driver as the SR60, more portable.
posted by namewithoutwords at 10:28 AM on April 21, 2008

I think that the iPod, and most other portable music players, don't provide enough power to drive larger headphones to their best. carries some nice portable headphone amps, but if you're trying to spend less than $100 on the headphones, I doubt you want to spend $100 on an amp. If you're handy with a soldering iron, you can piece together a simple amp from parts for less. Google for 'headphone amp kit' and you'll find some plans. I'm just saying that if your listening will be exclusively iPod-based, you may not get a huge amount of enjoyment from ANY big-driver headphone.
posted by autojack at 10:29 AM on April 21, 2008

Although...while they aren't exactly fragile, if you don't take care of them, they will fall apart.

I've had the same experience. I'm wearing my SR-60s as I type this, but the headband is splitting and one of the ears falls off a lot. They sound great but they leak and aren't rugged.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:30 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Incidentally, I have the Grado SR-80s and I wear them all day long at work in a quiet cubicle environment. I listen to rock music as loud as my too-many-club-shows-without-earplugs ears need it, and no one has ever complained in the course of several years.
posted by autojack at 10:32 AM on April 21, 2008

I really like my Sennheiser PX100 portable headphones. They seem to be very popular for iPods, and they come in white or black.
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 10:48 AM on April 21, 2008

Also a Sennheiser PX100 owner here. Very satisfied.
posted by netbros at 11:48 AM on April 21, 2008

Yet another PX-100 owner here. They're fairly inexpensive (about $60), sound great on an iPod (I also have a much more expensive pair of Sennheiser 590s, and actually the PX-100s sound better on my iPod due to the lower impedance), and they easily (with some practice) fold up into a pocket-sized carrying case.

Mind you, they are open-ear design (sort of), but from my experience nobody will hear your music unless you have them up fairly loud, and the sound quality is good enough that you're not tempted to do so.
posted by neckro23 at 12:30 PM on April 21, 2008

I love my SR60s, and was just talking to someone (who also owns a pair) and agreed we'd be happy using these forever. I've found the leaking open-ear design to not be a big problem. I've listened in a moderately quiet office environment without complaints. A silent library might be a problem though.

On the downside, as mentioned, they aren't the type of headphones you can just shove into a gym bag and not worry about. I lost sound in one ear due to a faulty connection around the headphone itself. I had that repaired, and have since started losing sound in one ear unless I hold the actual plug into the jack in a certain way.

On the upside, I've been told that I can have them repaired, forever, as often as necessary for only $40. (In Canada)
posted by Adam_S at 12:43 PM on April 21, 2008

I'd suggest in-ear monitors for use with iPods. I have a pair of Shure E3s I bought just before Christmas for around $100. They provide excellent isolation, are very comfortable when you find the right tips, and sound great.
posted by kindall at 1:11 PM on April 21, 2008

I've had SR-60s for a few years and don't notice too much noise leak at all, and the phones/headband have held up.. but the outer cord housing is made of fairly hard (somewhat non-pliable) rubber/plastic. Within a year I had a short in the wire- where the single jack wire connects to the two separate earphone wires (Y-connector). The design has the hard rubber/plastic wires getting pinched flat into the hard plastic y-connector, which, with any sort of normal wear and tear, is going to quickly lead to torn outer wire casings at the joint.

Sorry.. late in the day and I feel like I'm rambling.. does that make sense? Otherwise I do like them very much.

I'll second zsazsa, though. The durability and quality I've generally found in Sony MDR products has been pretty good all around.
posted by mbatch at 2:52 PM on April 21, 2008

I had a pair for quite a while but eventually replaced them with cheap iems for Ipod listening.
While at home I listen to much more impractical headphone/amp combos.

Grado makes a custom headphone for a company called Alessandro that are said to be "more refined" than the sr-60s and are magically $99. Personally I would look to those or the sr-80s as I personally prefer the bowl style earpads that the sr-60s lack.
posted by jade east at 4:16 PM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

They're great. But they're only great for listening at home, by yourself, because they "vent" some sound out while you're listening to them. For that reason (and because they're sort of fragile), they're not good headphones for, say, the subway. I like mine a lot, though, and use them only with my iPod.
posted by buriedpaul at 5:38 PM on April 21, 2008

The SR-60s are the best value in the under-$100 range, with all the openness/fragility caveats people have already mentioned. You do not need a separate amplifier with them.
posted by shivohum at 6:53 PM on April 21, 2008

To clarify, I think they're great, but I don't think they're a good only-pair-of-headphones to own with an iPod (unless you only listen to the iPod by yourself).
posted by buriedpaul at 7:03 PM on April 21, 2008

I absolutely love my SR60's. However, i agree with the above; the headphones don't hold up to day to day rigor as is.

That said, once your cable breaks, i highly, highly, highly suggest adding minijacks to them as to relieve the stress on the cable. It does take a little bit of doing, but it's fairly straightforward, and makes the headphones better than ever.

There are also suggestions there on how to improve the headband on the above linked... Many radio-operator headphones from old-school ham radio sets fit perfectly on grados, and is currently what i use, and they're way more rugged than the stock band.
posted by furnace.heart at 9:55 PM on April 21, 2008

I really recommend super.fi3s theyre similar but better in my opinion.
posted by ihope at 2:18 AM on April 22, 2008

For under a hundred bucks, and for an iPod, in-ear monitors might be the best way to go. If you can't stand 'em, though, the previously-mentioned Sony MDR-V6 (or its overpriced sibling, 7506 I believe) and Sennheiser HD-280 are also worth considering.
posted by box at 4:46 AM on April 22, 2008

Purchasing Grado SR-60s rocked my world and seriously changed the way I think about music. If you take care of them they'll last you a long time. Any serious music listener should get a pair, even just to own a piece of history.

They are "open," however, so everyone will think your music is blaring in your ears even if it's not up all the way. Some may find it distracting, especially in crowded areas. I never really cared, YMMV.

I'd get a pair of SR60s because it's the perfect starting point for your headphone-junkie career. The MDR V6 are not a bad set of cans, but you can't go wrong if you can find a pair of SR60s for the same price (or cheaper, as I have seen in the past). I think I bought my pair new for $65 a few years ago.

For strictly the best performance, there's another good set of headpones in the sub-$100 range: the Alessandro MS-1, which is a subset of the Grado company. For $99 the MS-1 is probably slightly better than the SR60, but for starting off you may not even be able to recognize the difference.

The last option I'd clue you in on is the Koss KSC75. You can find them on sale at Radio Shack for $9, and I've bought several pair at my local bookstore for $13. These headphones are bar-none the best sounding things you can purchase under $50. When times are tough, they don't disappoint.

On a related note, it's quite wise to consider what kind of music you'll be listening to. The SR60s are built for rock, and they handle it fantastically. If you're a jazz fan, you may be disappointed. When you become a headphone addict, you'll live at
posted by BenzeneChile at 11:40 AM on April 22, 2008

SR-60's demand more power than your iPod can furnish. Unless you're going to carry around a battery-powered headphone amp, you won't get the most from those headphones.

Frankly, iPods amps aren't good enough to warrant very good headphones, even when loaded with uncompressed music files. And buying nice cans to listen to compressed music (mp3, etc.) is like trying to gold-plate rusty pig-iron.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:11 AM on April 23, 2008

There's always one in every thread who thinks that if the sound isn't perfect it isn't worth listening to. *eyeroll*

If you go with the Grados, I highly recommend that you do not under any circumstances listen to any of their higher-priced models, because you will find a way to justify buying one of those instead. I ended up with SR-225s, which cost me a whopping $200. They are, however, absolutely worth every penny. I used them to enjoy, yes, compressed music on my work computer (gasp! shock! horror!) for three years. Emphasis definitely on enjoy. Then, sadly, I started a job where I had to share an office with another person and had to switch to something else because of the leakage.
posted by kindall at 11:23 AM on April 23, 2008

There's always one in every thread who thinks that if the sound isn't perfect it isn't worth listening to. *eyeroll*

That's a gross mischaracterization of my post. I actually recommend cheaper headphones for iPod use.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:48 PM on April 23, 2008

I used Grado SR60s with my older iPods. It's fucking awesome. Maybe plugging them into a Hi-Fi will let you appreciate the headphones more, who knows. They do leak noise, but at work it wasn't an issue, and I have two coworkers who sit very close to me in an 'open concept' environment.
posted by chunking express at 9:08 AM on April 24, 2008

I also wish they fit in my iPhone. Fucking iPhone.
posted by chunking express at 9:08 AM on April 24, 2008

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