Last time we discussed the Similarities & Differences between the Grado SR60i vs. SR80i. Today we’re going to take an in depth look at the Grado SR60e vs. SR80e, which are two updated versions of each previous headset. Do they improve on some of the shortcomings we saw last time? Stick around to find out!
Before we get started, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this review
Normally I would do a separate review of each headphone, but being as these two models are basically identical, instead I will review the SR60e and outline Similarities and Differences with the SR80e towards the end of the review. Enjoy!
Well it looks like the fine folks over at Grado did not learn their lesson from the past. A lot of the same issues that came with the 60i and 80i models are still present in the 60e and 80e. It’s a shame, because these headphones could be some of the finest models on the planet if not for the build and comfort aspect.
Normally when consumers rant and rave about stuff they don’t like in a product, the manufacturers listen (in the case of headphones anyway). Sennheiser is notorious for improving their line of products rather than regressing and ignoring their customer base. It’s odd to me that people keep buying these entry level Grado’s that have glaring problems. Is the sound that good? Well, aside from that unnecessary 2k spike, yeah. Lol.
However, what’s interesting to me is the split between reviewers that have had them for years and years (upwards of 5, 10, and even 20), to people who just flat out cannot stand them. Again, the dichotomy is very strange, especially since people seem to replace them over and over. It’s something I’ve come across quite frequently in reviews.
The positive qualities are still there. Made by hand in Brooklyn, New York, they have startling clarity to the point of being able to hear individual guitar string plucks, lip smacks, fingers sliding up and down frets, and other seemingly trivial things that really make a recording come together. Imagine I’m the dude from Big Lebowski:
“That rug really tied the room together man.” Donny: “Yeah, and he peed on it.”
So think of Grado devising and planning for this super tall building that’s going to be massive and cool and awesome, and house the greatest minds and be really reliable and durable, but then deciding that it would be a great idea to construct it out of balsa wood.
Lol. In all seriousness, this is a set that you’ll want to spend time with in the comfort of your own home. They aren’t really made for on the go, and being open back they will leak quite a bit of sound. Related:Closed back vs. Open back headphones.
This also means that the Soundstage is again very solid, if not outright amazing. You will frequently feel out of your head, or as if the band is playing in front of you. Well maybe not that realistic, but it’s still impressive. You won’t be whipping your head around or anything like that though. What is Soundstage?
Before we get into the rest of the review, I must mention this. Many of the reviews directly contradicted each other. Some of the Pros I outline later were Cons to others. While some people commented positively on build and comfort, the consensus however was roughly still the same. An exceptional pair sound wise, but lacking in the other areas mentioned.
So how’s the build on the 60e in my own experience?
I’ve never actually owned a Grado headphone, surprisingly. So I can only speak from experience with regard to demoing them, and taking them home from Audio Advice. It’s obvious that they’ve gone through hundreds if not thousands of hands for a long time. I’ve been going there for roughly 2 years and I’ve never had an issue with any of them.
That’s saying a lot, so I’m going to have to give the build a decent mark.
The headband adjustment is kind of eccentric, in that there’s a small rod that goes through a small piece of plastic and you basically pull the plastic up and down the rod to adjust. It works okay, but doesn’t exactly put your mind at ease with regard to how cheap it feels.
The entire headphone feels like something you’d find in a Toy Store, but I suppose that’s not really indicative of how well they’ve held up.
It’s made of pretty much all plastic, with foam for the ear cups and a long and fairly bulky cable. I would much prefer something smaller and more compact for a headphone of this size and weight. It’s just a little bit too big, with a 3.5mm jack that doesn’t do well with phones. If you have a case on your phone as most people do, you’ll likely have trouble getting the jack all the way in. Kind of a hassle.
BUILD SCORE: B-
What about comfort?
Comfort is pretty good overall. I found that I can wear these for extended periods with slight adjustments from time to time. The cups, though soft, still have a tendency of digging into your ear a bit. Nothing like the horrible L-cushions on an SR325e though.
The headband padding is non-existent, but you won’t really need it because it’s very light and the clamp force is pretty much perfect.
They are on-ear headphones, but they don’t behave like a typical on-ear. For me this simply means that most headphones resting on your ears can get extremely uncomfortable after awhile. The 60e (and 80e) both break this mold by being less irritating overall.
All in all?
COMFORT SCORE: A-/B+
They will dig from time to time, but a slight adjustment is all that’s needed.
What kind of sound are we getting here?
This is a detail heads dream.
AKA, me. Lol.
While I do have legitimate gripes (and you will too) about the 2k area, aside from that this is a near perfect headphone as far as sound is concerned. The rest of the mid-range behaves exactly as it should with an ideal zest and precision. It’s incredibly lifelike, and ultra detailed while still somehow coming across in a very natural and organic way. I’m telling you, you’re going to start hearing stuff in songs that has no business being heard.
The 2k problem doesn’t manifest ALL of the time, but when it does you’ll know immediately. Unless you’re old. Then it won’t matter. Haha. No offense to oldsters. “Top of the mornin’ oldster!”
Seriously though, it does kind of ruin the vibe when you’re jammin’ out to some dope tunes. Oh well.
The bass here is rich and articulate, digs deep, and has some nice impact. I actually prefer Indie Pop, EDM type stuff with the SR60e and 80e vs. Metal and Rock. It does well with those genres too, but sometimes can sound muddied up with certain tracks like Built to Spill’s “Carry the Zero.”
Perhaps it’s the recording, but I feel like it’s almost too much of a good thing with regard to guitars and stuff. Way too in your face.
The bass really excels in such an eye opening way that even a staunch bass head with a preference for head rattling low end would be hard pressed not to enjoy a change of pace here; namely the fantastic articulation and clarity.
The treble is fine here, it doesn’t really get too out of line or bright which is a welcome change from most other offerings in this price range or otherwise. I honestly didn’t find the treble that problematic. If we complain about a bright treble on a Grado, we’re frankly going it have to complain about it on the majority of headphones in this price range or otherwise. Honestly, when someone complains about treble on any headphone, I just kind of chuckle. Unless you’re working with a darker headphone like an Audeze, most have issues in this area as it’s pretty tough to get it right. Also, nearly every single headphone manufacturer designs their headphone with some sort of peak in the treble. It’s just a fact of life. So deal with it. 😛
SOUND SCORE: A-/B+
They sit light and comfy on the head without pressure. They don’t sag or fall off.
The low end comes across tight and with perfect clarity.
Satisfying bass extension for me.
Crystal clear mid-range and pristine clarity.
Symphonic recordings produced without strain.
Overall nice sound balance. Very rich.
Good for mixing/reference. Very revealing and detailed.
Easy to drive. Can be used with pretty much anything.
Foam padding causes some fatigue, and are a little rough on the ears. You’ll be making a slight adjustment from time to time. Minor con.
Cable is a bit large and bulky for a headphone of this size and weight.
Ear cups swivel completely, which may tangle the chord into oblivion 😛
Right or left channel may go out after a time. This hasn’t happened to me but I read it online.
2k area is definitely over-emphasized and does tend to spoil an otherwise great listening experience.
My Video Comparison
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Let’s take a break and look at some photos!
Click to see the 60e & 80e!
More coming soon. I haven’t finished editing and deciding on which stay.
At 32 ohm, they don’t require an amp, but you’re probably going to want something like an E10K. It’s a perfect starter amp and will provide plenty of power here. 200mW into 32 Ohm to be exact. How to choose a headphone amp!
If you are looking to mix, or want that amazing clarity, these may be for you. They have an open, airy sound, and do well in an isolated environment away from people and the potential for disturbance. I’ve seen them endorsed for:
I mostly enjoyed them with stuff like Indie Pop, R&B, Hip-Hop. They do very well with genres that have more emphasis on bass surprisingly. This is not a bass head headphone but the extension, articulation, and clarity are all phenomenal and very engaging.
They have an amazing, crystal clear, and pristine sound .. but again they suffer from construction issues and an overall lack of comfort. One solution to the comfort issue is to purchase separate ear-pads. The Ear zonk L-Cushion donut pads were a big hit among-st reviewers, and did improve comfort levels significantly.
Another method to keep the ear cushions healthy over a long period is to periodically take them off, dab them with a hint of dish-washing soap, wash them a bit, let them dry, and put ’em back on the headphones. This apparently helps keep them springy and fresh yo!
Similarities & Differences
They by nearly all accounts have exactly the same specifications and sound, but there are some subtle differences that I will go into before the final word!
The following “differences” come mainly from my research. To me, they sound identical and I could not discern a real difference over the course of many tracks. Even if there was, I feel like it would have been somewhat of a fabrication and I trust what my ears were telling me. You should too. 🙂
The SR80e’s have a slightly better bass texture. It’s just a tad deeper, punchier, and better defined.
The 80e’s have better driver matching. They have a slightly better bass than the other, as alluded to above.
Some however say that the 60e has more bass, while the 80e sounds a bit more forward in presentation. A big gripe with the 80 model in general (i version and e version) is that they sound a bit harsh and sibilant.What does Sibilant mean?
SR80e has a little more speed and accuracy over the 60e. It is just a bit more fast paced, lending itself well to heavy metal bros.
All of the specifications are exactly the same, except for weight and the cable length. The SR80e is 130.4 grams, while the 60e is 124.7 grams. Note: I weighed both on my scale with the cable and they both come in at exactly 7.2 Oz FWIW.
The cable length of the SR80e is 1.83m while the 60e is 2.1m.
The 80e’s are bit more comfortable.
Despite all that, I am still attracted to these. I would recommend them based on detail retrieval alone. There are sounds that the 60e and 80e reveal that I have never heard in other headphones so they definitely still have a lot of value. This would make a great mixing/mastering headphone for sure. They are unafraid to be revealing and honest about pretty much everything you’re hearing. Comfort is pretty decent overall, and build varies depending on who you ask, really.
I got a chance to demo them both on many occasions, and instantly fell in love with the clinical yet still natural sound. Even taking into account all of the negative reviews regarding build and comfort, I would still buy them based on their magnificent sound alone (aside from 2k LOL). If you’re into any of the genres above, or just appreciate crystal clear sound, I wouldn’t think twice for the price. They are that good.
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.