Bag of Spoons
Just off the A1(M)

Tue, 14 Jun 2005

Grado SR-60 Headphones

I spend a lot of time listening to music at work. It helps block out the distracting noise and gives me some pleasure in the process. About 7 years ago I bought some fairly cheap JVC headphones to use in the office. They are lightweight portable headphones that I actually chose because they came with a fairly long cable that would reach the rear of my PC. They have actually been quite good, but now the foam is starting to wear out.

In my search for headphones for portable use I discovered Head-Fi. This is a meeting place for headphone obsessives, but contains lots of useful information. So far this has led me into buying my Sennheiser PX200 for use when travelling and to acquire my Koss KCS-55 for office use (but lost out due to comfort).

One of the most consistently rated headphones on Head-Fi is the SR-60 from Grado. This American company produces a range from the budget SR-60 up to some very expensive kit for the perfectionists. They seem to control the distribution channels to the extent that their products are a lot cheaper in the USA than everywhere else. The SR-60 retails at $69, but is more like 70 in the UK. I couldn't justify the higher price, but managed to find a supplier called The Sound Room who would ship them (free!) to a colleague in Miami. I was able to pick them up from him this month and have been giving them a good testing.

They look quite old-fashioned compared to the futuristic models from most manufacturers. They are more like something you would expect a WWII radio operator to wear. What I noticed at first was the very thick cable. This hints at quality. The cable ends in a gold-plated 1/8" mini-jack, but it comes with a gold-plated 1/4" adaptor. The headphones are easily adjusted to rest on the ears. The metal headband can be bent slightly, if necessary to adjust the pressure. The pads are a form known in the headphone community as 'comfies'. They are fairly soft and easily removed if replacements are needed.

Okay, I know you want to know how they sound. I'm not a great expert at describing audio sensations. All I know is that they sound great to me. The sound is extremely clear. You can hear every little nuance in the music. There is bass there, but it's not overblown and sounds very focused. These headphones are of the open type, which means that they will leak sound that others can hear at higher volumes and allow you to hear what's going on around you at lower volumes. That's okay for work as I need to hear my phone and when someone wants my attention.

I have found that they make my ears quite warm, but are otherwise quite comfortable. I may have to make them slightly less tight on my head.

So overall I'm very happy with them. Definitely a bargain at only 35 to me.

Incidentally, I had the opportunity to try some Shure E2C earbuds at the airport on the way home. These are a very different animal, designed for musicians on stage, but suitable for travellers who need to block noise. I tried them with the foam sleeves that act like earplugs, but they come with other types. In the short time I tried them they sounded good. Listening to a track with a driving kickdrum it seemed to be hitting right in the middle of my head. A strange sensation. I might consider something like this one day if I was doing more air travel. They sell for around $99/60. I saw a few people on the planes with the Bose noise-cancelling headphones, but those are a lot more expensive at $299.

[21:32] | [/Gadgets] | Comments | G

Distributed Consoles?

I think this article is just someone tossing an idea in the air about getting the next generation of consoles to contribute to distributed processing projects like Folding@home, but it has great potential. If millions of idle consoles were working on the project they could achieve a lot. The new consoles are more powerful than most PCs and come with internet connectivity, so are ripe for this. The issue may be persuading owners to install the software.
[20:53] | [/Computer] | Comments | G



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