Best Headphones Under $100 – Grado’s SR60i

Patrick Nosker July 1, 2010 0

Aside from the giant consumer electronics companies out there, most people have not heard of the smaller brands such as Grado Labs, located in Brooklyn, NY.  No, they don't have the marketing budget of Bose, and they don't have the production capability of Sony.  What is it about Grado that keeps them alive?  As a small family business, the Grado family has been making headphones for over half a decade.  Instead of tuning their designs to have a perfect frequency response wave, as long as it sound's good to the owner– it's good enough for his customers.  Building each part by hand in the USA (with exception of the iGrado headphones), Grado's quality has an old-time feel to it, much like when you buy a table from a local furniture store rather than Ikea.

 

So what exactly is the SR60i?  It's Grado's least expensive "Made in the USA" headphone, and boy is it spectacular.  When the box first arrived, I opened it and inside were these funky looking headphones.  They looked very odd, had a very long cable, and looked like they were made for the 1970s.  After putting them on and playing some music, I was completely stunned.  I plugged them into several amps and they all helped considerably too, raising their sound quality up to the levels of the Sennheiser HD595.  The were amazing.  I noticed that Grado does not recommend a burn in procedure, such as playing music continuously for hours and hours.  Instead, they want you to naturally use them to break them in.  Over a two week span, the headphones got even better.  I was amazed.  To make sure I wasn't going crazy over a set of $80 headphones, I let a few other people give them a listen.  

One of them is a hardcore speaker nut who rarely uses headphones.  He owns thousands and thousands of dollars in high end audio but never really enjoyed listening to headphones.  I gave him the set of SR60i to try out with an amp.  Immediately, he was impressed.  He squeezed the headphones closer to his ears to get a better seal (he has a much smaller head than me) and was practically jumping with joy.  When I told him they were only $80, he practically fainted.  Needless to say, he immediately went on Amazon.com and bought himself a pair.

The only caveats I found with the SR60i are that they are very open.  If you don't want to distract others, get another brand's headphones.  They also are difficult to use in loud environments because of this.  The other negative is that there are more expensive options from Grado.  I have only heard the SR60i but will hopefully get a chance to try the others too.  But, will the SR60i owner always want more?  Personally, I think these are the best full sized headphones I have ever heard… and I have heard many headphones.  I was blown away by their performance.  With an amplifier with crossfeed and a good source, these cans are the best value you can get.

[Grado Prestige Series SR60i] – $79.00

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