I don’t understand most people’s obsessions, but I do have some understanding for the audiophile. I mean, who doesn’t like music really, and who doesn’t want to hear it in as high of quality as possible? The only problem with being a true audiophile is that it becomes a real expensive hobby real fast, with the cheapest of “audiophile approved” headphones in the multiple hundreds of dollars, and the top-of-the-line ones costing thousands.
Grado has jumped into the market with their SR series in an attempt to bring audiophile quality to an affordable price level. The most inexpensive of these headphones is the Grado SR-60, which retail for $69.
The headphones are made of solid, somewhat heavy black plastic, with big foam-covered earpieces. Leather covers the top band to cushion your head, and the headphones are adjusted via metal sliders which allow the earpieces to individually rotate 360 degrees.
These earphones are definitely not a fashion statement, and they are really too large and clunky for everyday around-the-city use. The open design of the earphones also causes a lot of sound to leak, even at a moderate volume, so they aren’t really good for public situations (or when you want to keep what you are listening to private.) Also, if you have them on for more than an hour at a time the earphones will really start to make your ears sore, and the leather strap at the top will flatten out your hair and make you look goofy.
The sound quality is the selling point, however, as it is leaps and bounds over anything else you can get at a chain store, or for less than a hundred dollars anywhere else. There is a much greater level of clarity, the bass is much more pronounced and you notice a lot more detail. Being able to rotate the earphones also makes it easier to pack and store them, as you can get them perfectly flat, and they come with a long and solid cable with a gold-plated connector.
These earphones are really good for home use, where you are going to be listening in private (or at least, with someone else around who doesn’t mind the leaking noise.) If you want high sound quality for listening to vinyl or the stereo, or for computer sessions, these are probably the best choice out there for the price. If you want something that you can take with you as you walk around town with your iPod, or to use on your laptop in public, however, these are really not a good choice at all. Aside from the looks, the comfort level and the sound leakage, they also can’t really help crappy input (as with most mp3 players or laptop onboard sound cards) and won’t offer you a huge amount of advantage from some regular earbuds or cheap padded noise-reducing headphones.