Chances are you’ve never heard of Grado. The high class headphone manufacturer’s logo is not as instantly recognisable as Sennheiser’s or as ubiquitous as Sony’s.
However, the company is known in mastering studios for its top of the range (£1,000) GS 1000 headphones which ruthlessly lay bare the components of any mix while, due to their unique walnut construction, making the wearer resemble a 1940s radio ham. Meanwhile, for a fraction of that price, their SR60s (£80) have, for some years, been the audiophile’s choice when it’s time to see what an iPod is really capable of, given a decent sized file.
At long last, John Grado, who still runs his company out of a Brooklyn townhouse, has produced his first in ear earphone the Gr8. This means that while you’re nodding out in the Monday morning rush hour to the sonic vistas of that new Fuck Buttons file, your fellow travellers won’t be driven mad by the racket leaking from your head.
While the sound quality lacks the ultimate bass extension and degree of sophisticaton of those thousand pound biggies it will astonish and make you reassess what’s possible from a tiny bud poked into a – hopefully not too waxy - ear.
Yes they’re expensive but think of them as a high fidelity upgrade to first class travel: effectively silencing screaming kids on Eurostar trains, murmuring loonies on transatlantic flights or those continual annoying reminders of what stage you’ve crawled to on the daily commute. You’ll soon agree they’re worth every penny.
Gr8: £269 www.gradolabs.com