Grado SR60e vs. SR80e – Comparing the Two Grado Giants (Full Review)

Grado Labs have been around for a long time, so there’s a good chance you’ve heard of them. In fact, you’ve probably also heard about their Prestige Series, and the SR60e and SR80e. Believe it or not, those headphones have also been around for a while. However, that’s no indication that they are actually a good company — many products have been on the market for years, but that doesn’t mean they are fantastic.

Still, Grado’s users seem to be very happy with their products. They are not shy to sing them praises everywhere on the Internet. So what makes Grado so good that their clients are proud to say they own a pair of Grado headphones?

Let’s be honest — we all want to get top-notch quality for an affordable price. Grado is one of the manufacturers that can provide that. However, they still have a wide selection. So, which pair of headphones should we choose? Which will fulfill our needs and desires? More importantly, which will be the ideal match for our pitch-sensitive ears?

For a true audiophile, headphones are the holy grail. Once we find a company that works for us, we become fiercely loyal. Grado is one of the companies that fit into that description for us, but which model is the winner of the battle for the best pair of headphones? Today, we are comparing SR60e and SR80e — two of the most popular Grado models.

Last update on 2021-06-09 at 20:06 / Affiliate links / Ratings / Reviews / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Grado SR60e vs. SR80e — Advantages and Benefits

With rich harmonics and a wide frequency range, both SR60e and SR80e are great for listening to “rich” music at home. But what are the advantages of these two models compared to other products on the market?

Pros — What Grado Has to Offer

Supreme Sound Quality

Grado SR60eGrado didn’t secure their place on the market through ad campaigns and endorsements from major companies; they earned it through quality. Further proof of their efforts is the fact that their headphones are handmade, and thus require strict quality control.

To ensure the utmost quality, Grado tests each model multiple times. Testers listen for errors or changes in the sound and use various testing instruments to make sure that the quality is top-notch. The primary focus for Grado has always been to offer pristine yet rich sound. So if the headphones pass all the tests with flying colors, they can finally ship out the product.

Visually Appealing Design

Unlike most modern headphone models, Grado stuck to the 90s “recording studio” look. However, while simple ear cushions, a leather headband, and a cord might seem too minimalistic to some, we appreciate them. They look more natural than the neon futuristic headphones that have become popular over the last few decades.

Furthermore, the design isn’t the most critical feature. The true purpose of headphones is sound, and Grado delivers in that aspect.

Comfort and Ergonomics

Thanks to their simple design, Grado headphones are very comfortable to wear. The on-ear foam padding is big and soft, which lets us listen to our favorite tunes for hours without hurting our ears. But of course, it depends on how sensitive our ears are.

Cons — What Grado Might Be Lacking

Not Well Suited For Outside Use / Unportable

SR80eEven though both the SR60e and SR80e are comfortable and ergonomic, they are best for listening to music at home. The headphones are somewhat bulky, and they don’t “stick” to the head that well. Therefore, exercising and walking around with them isn’t particularly comfortable.

Another major factor that impacts outside use is the open-back design, as it leads to a lot of sound leaking away. That might be annoying to the people around us. However, the “leakiness” is a good trait for at-home listening as it slightly expands the sound and provides better acoustics.

Finally, the cord is long, which is a crucial feature for headphones that we use at home. There’s nothing worse than walking around and being pulled back by a too short cord! However, keep in mind that, since the headphones can spin sideways, sometimes the cord can get tangled up. Thus, the headphones are definitely not portable.

Lack of Volume Control

There’s a general lack of controls on both models, which isn’t ideal for “active” listeners. When you’re laid back, listening to some good old rock and roll, this might not be a nuisance. However, gamers and other users who need to manipulate the controls more often might not appreciate the lack of volume control.

All in all, the Grado headphones aren’t that good for casual listeners. They are more suited for dedicated audiophiles with a big music collection.

Of course, some of our pros might be cons to certain people, but we think they’re justified. Everyone has their own preferences, and some of these features might be either really good or really bad depending on the taste of each user.

That’s precisely why we are going over all the features that both of these Grado models have. However, before we jump into comparing the two models, let’s do a bit of a reveal. Here’s a short overview that we like to call — What’s in the box?

What’s In The Box?

Similarly to the overall minimalistic design of the actual headphones, the packaging isn’t anything fancy. Grado chose to stick to their old-school style and preserve the premium vibe. As soon as we opened the box, we noticed a simple pamphlet that talks about the company and its history.

Underneath it, we found the headphones securely tucked away in a simple foam casing. This is where the ergonomic connection between the headband and the speakers comes into play. We could clearly see how easy it was to store the headphones due to their swiveling nature.

The package also included a 6.5mm adapter for other types of listening devices and the cord.

Related Headphone Review: Treblab XR800 Review

Grado’s Unique Selling Point — Sound Quality

Since Grado is well known as a real treat for audiophiles, here’s a rundown of sound specifications for both models.

Grado SR60e vs SR80e Specifications Comparison

Grado SR60e SR80e
Frequency response 20Hz — 20 kHz 20Hz — 20 kHz
Sensitivity in SPL/mW 99.8dB 99.8dB
Impedance 32dB 32dB
Driver Matched dB 1dB 1dB

It’s also crucial to mention that both models have a dynamic transducer, as well as the open-back operating principle. Furthermore, neither of these models require an amplifier to work, which is great, as you don’t have to buy additional equipment.

Overall, we’d say these two models are tied so far. But, let’s see how well each of them holds up when we dig a bit deeper.

GRADO SR60e Prestige Series Wired Open-Back Stereo...
  • 3.5mm mini plug with 1/4 inch adapter
  • Open Air Operating Principle

Last update on 2021-06-09 at 20:06 / Affiliate links / Ratings / Reviews / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

GRADO SR80e Prestige Series Wired Open Back Stereo...
  • Grado's award winning headphone - open back design offer a larger sound stage with greater detail and clarity
  • "The Grado SR80e's are special, buy them and love them" - What HiFi
  • Mini plug termination, incudes a 1/4 inch adapter
  • Lightweight, comfortable design
  • 4OurEars is the only Grado Authorized Amazon Reseller - 1 Year US Warranty

Last update on 2021-06-09 at 19:47 / Affiliate links / Ratings / Reviews / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Grado SR60e vs. SR80e Product Reviews

Now it’s time to cut to the chase. In the next couple of chapters, we’ll witness the battle called Grado SR60e vs. SR80e. We’ll discuss build, ergonomics, and sound. What’s more, we’ll actually see if these headphones are worth it.

The Grado SR60e vs. SR80e Comparison

Grado SR60e

Grado SR60e

Last update on 2021-06-09 at 20:06 / Affiliate links / Ratings / Reviews / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Since its release in the 90s, the Prestige series has become a true staple. However, it’s not exactly the same as the “e” series. The “e” series came out in 2014, and it’s a re-iteration of the original Prestige series.

Of course, the “e” series features improved materials and sound. Thus, as bona fide audiophiles, we just had to give these two models a thorough look and see if they offer that top-notch quality many users claim they do.

Those of you who, much like us, appreciate clear and pitch-perfect sound, know how hard it is to find a perfect pair of headphones. Because we are aware that this task is an uphill battle, we take Grado’s high claims with a grain of salt. We can’t take them at their word — we have to check if the SR60e model really does provide the sound clarity Grado claims it offers.

Finally, in a world where manufacturers try to go the extra mile, whether the users asked for it or not, Grado’s minimal design stands out. The SR60e headphones have an old-school look — not necessarily ideal for outdoor use, but a fantastic choice for all of us who love to indulge in first-class sound quality.

Build Quality

All Grado headphones are handmade in Brooklyn, and a lot of dedication goes into assembling and testing them. In regard to the visuals, the SR60e looks precisely the same as the SR80e. Grado keeps it simple. The main difference between these two models is the sound.

The Grado SR60e model comes with an open back design that allows us to see the driver. As we’ve mentioned already, Grado headphones have an “old-school” appeal. They remind us of the 90s-era recording studios and the first audio equipment designs.

The headphones aren’t minimalistic per se, but they’re definitely simple. In fact, the ear cushions are just simple-looking sponges that provide comfort even though they don’t look that special.

In addition, SR60e features a simple yet effective connector for the leather headband. The connector allows us to turn the speakers sideways for more accessible storage and transport.

Finally, the “e” series features a newer 4-cable conductor in the cord, allowing for a stronger signal. As a result, the headphones are less prone to outside interference.

It’s also important to note that SR60e has a somewhat longer cord than the other model and is heavier, which might make manipulation a bit difficult. However, the differences are minuscule.


The overall design might not be appealing to the modern headphone user. If you’re accustomed to fancy and flashy design, the basic retro design might not be your cup of tea. Furthermore, if you’re a fan of listening to music on the go while traveling, walking, and exercising, Grado headphones aren’t an ideal choice. We’re not saying it’s impossible, but we wouldn’t recommend it, as that’s not their primary purpose or intended use.

Since the headphones are handmade, they’re sort of minimalistic and don’t feature all of the “attachments” that most modern headphones come with. There are no straps or cushions to firmly secure them to our heads. Moreover, the leather headband is not particularly reinforced, and it’s also thin. Even though they fit well around the head, they probably won’t be comfortable or secure enough if we’re active or moving around.

Another significant factor that contributes to the “stay at home” nature of the Grado SE60e headphones is the open-back design. A lot of the sound escapes the headphones, and anyone near us will probably be annoyed. Grado SR60e ReviewThere isn’t a true sense of privacy that most other headphone designs offer, and the simple ear cushions aren’t really helping the case.

Sound Quality

Sound quality is the only significant difference that separates SR60e from its counterpart.

Since we can probably agree that no design, no matter how pretty or flashy it is, can make up for the poor quality, it’s easy to understand why Grado dominates the market. Even though they don’t put much effort into making their headphones more “modern” and “up-to-date,” they deliver where it matters most — the sound quality.

The first important factor that impacts sound quality is the frequency range. SR60e features a full frequency range that the human ear can perceive — from 20Hz to 20kHz.

With such a wide range, some manufacturers still struggle when it comes to mimicking specific sounds. However, Grado takes the cake here as well — SR60e provides clear sounds, no matter where they fall on the frequency scale. In fact, it’s the bass sounds that SR60e excels at, which is unusual for headphones that fall into the “affordable” category. We can thank the open-back design for that as it allows the bass and sub-bass to pack quite a punch.

The second major factor would be distortion. If you’re not that familiar with audio technologies, you might not know that all speakers are at risk of distortion at high volumes. The distortion problem originates in the electronics inside the speakers, as different materials and devices have different tolerances for voltages and amplitudes.

When you’re on a budget — “something’s gotta give,” as they say. With Grado, the simple design allows them to put all their resources into technology. That’s why SR60e speakers are reliable, and the distortions are few and far between.

The SR60e Feature Overview

After using the SR60e for a while, we can safely conclude that even though the headphones give us that rich and clean mid and high-range sound, they’re more focused on bass. The bass isn’t too exaggerated in any sense of the word, but it’s noticeable, especially if you’ve used headphones by manufacturers who put more effort into the design instead of quality.

Grado SR80e

Grado SR80e

Last update on 2021-06-09 at 19:47 / Affiliate links / Ratings / Reviews / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Grado SR80e headphones come full of promises: they aim to provide a clear sound and powerful bass. What’s more, they deliver on their promises, which makes them an ideal choice for all those who dread even the slightest quality inconsistencies. Grado makes sure that the sound is pristine and clear from start to finish.

The standard over-the-ear design with soft padding and a lightweight composition is the next generation of headphones that Grado offers. So here’s what you’ll get if you choose the Grado SR80e headphones.

Build Quality

Much like the SR60e, SR80e headphones feature the open-back design. However, the driver is often red in this model, unlike the clear one that barely shows in the SR60e. This makes them easily recognizable, which is a great plus, given that most of their other features are quite similar to the SR60e.

When it comes to the actual design, the SR80e headphones feature a non-removable, double-ended cable that’s somewhat shorter than the one on the previous model. We like the fact that it’s non-removable, as that can prevent the cord from getting lost or the plug from getting damaged. With a ⅛-inch plug and a ¼-inch adaptor, the cord is pretty much standard, and it isn’t prone to tangling.

If we disregard the sound quality for a moment, the most prominent feature of the SR80e headphones is the comfort they provide. Because they are very light, you can wear them for hours without ever feeling them on your head. They practically hug your ears, and even after using them for an extended period of time, you won’t feel any discomfort when you take them off. Furthermore, the soft leather headband does a great job of distributing the weight around your head. With no discomfort, these headphones are ideal even for prolonged and even professional use.

Grado SR80e ReviewFinally, SR80e’s signature feature is definitely our favorite. The plastic cups can swivel 360 degrees, which makes the headphones easy to store.

Sound Quality

Although not suitable for versatile use, SR80e offer fantastic sound quality. The sounds are razor-sharp, and a lot of attention goes to mid-range frequencies. Not many headphones that rival Grado with their prices can claim the same.

Furthermore, SR80e integrate mid-range frequencies and treble quite well. The bass is powerful, but it isn’t bulky. In fact, considering that this is a pair of open-ended headphones, the lack of diffusion in the bass is quite impressive.

Even though they perform well, SR80e can produce a somewhat raw sound at higher volumes. However, mid-range sounds, like high vocals and guitar riffs will sound amazing on these beauties. As rock and blues enthusiasts, we know how to appreciate a headphone model that can make every sound super defined and distinguishable.

The SR80e Feature Overview

Even though it’s true that the SR60e might have a “stronger” bass, the SR80e headphones focus way more on balance. The bass is just as strong, but it’s incredibly balanced, deep, and accurate. Of course, the mid-range sounds are just as clean, if not even cleaner than those by SR60e.

These headphones are made for all types of music with a complex spectrum of frequencies, volumes, and tones. That makes them ideal for those of us who equally enjoy solos with guitar shredding and the perfect high notes of opera singers. After all — we want to hear it all!

Related Headphone Review: Treblab X11 Earphones Review

Grado SR60e vs. SR80e — Final Verdict

Sadly, we can’t decide which of these models is better, as they are quite similar. However, there are some distinct differences.

While the SR60e has a slightly stronger bass than SR80e, it isn’t as well balanced as it is with the other model. The SR80e headphones balance the bass quite effectively, giving it a deeper and more intense quality, and as a nice bonus, the bass performance doesn’t diminish the impact and clarity of mid and high-frequency sounds.

Other than that, both models look the same on the outside and have that old-school look most of us love.

So, even if you opt for the SR60e, the older model, you won’t be disappointed. Both pairs of headphones deliver high-quality sound and are sure to satisfy any audiophile. In conclusion, the Grado SR60e vs. SR80e battle results in a close tie.

Other Grado Headphones that we recommend:



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