In 2008, Grado updated their entire line up and adding the “i” lettering to every model. The popular entry level model SR60 became SR60i, and the high end RS1 and GS1000 became RS1i and GS1000i. The SR325i model, having already the “i” designation, is updated to the SR325is. Many people who were on the market to purchase Grados were curious on what changes come with the “i” models. Browsing the internet forums, I couldn’t find a definitive answer, so I set out a review to find out.
I pitched the original SR60 to the Grado SR60i to see which comes up on top. Both headphones that we reviewed had around 200 hours on them, so the differences in sound that we report is not due to the factor of burn-in. I didn’t see the need of amplifiers as well as lossless files, so I connected the SR60s straight to the Ipod, and files were 128Kbps to 320Kbps. The Ipods used were Touch 2nd Gen and Nano 2nd Gen.
Since Grado was famous for Rock music, I played Muse, Coldplay, as well as some songs from Juno’s Soundtrack. I also played some bass heavy sounds from Black Eyed Peas to listen to the Bass performance.
As you can see from the pictures, the old and the newer model has quite a different look. The old model is definitely more retro looking, while the new model is a little more modern, while still looking like a Grado. The new model has a bigger diameter housing too, at 6.3 cm compared to the old model at 5.5 cm. The new model’s housing is 3.2 cm thick while the old one is 2.4 cm thick. Doing some quick calculations, the new housing is roughly 70% bigger than the old one! You can also see from the picture how the new one has a tapered housing, while the old one doesn’t. Both models come with the same standard SR60 pad.
Other than the different housing, the driver is different as well. A macro shot to the driver units will reveal this. Everything else is the same on the new one from the headband to the cable. On the higher end models, the “i” version actually has thicker cables than the non-i. Previously Grado used 2 cables for each channel, one for signal and another for ground. The higher end “i” models actually uses 4 cables for each channel: two for signal and two for ground.
Overall I didn’t notice any change in fit in the new one. The SR60 pad has always been the most uncomfortable of all Grado pads, and on the new one it is still just as uncomfortable. The feel of the SR60 remains cheap and plasticky, always reminding you to upgrade to higher-end models whenever you have the cash.
For $60, the sound of the SR60 is award-winning. You are hearing Hi-Fi level sound that would need hundreds of dollars to achieve through speakers. The original SR60 was a lot of fun too, it is very musical and plays a lot of genres of music well for its price range. True, it doesn’t have enough bass for some genres, and the soundstage is a little small for classical, but its detail, transparency, openness, and musicality is almost unmatched by anything else for $60. Most people are hooked to the Grado sound the moment they put on the SR60.