Grado Labs

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Grado Labs
Industry Audio electronics
Founded 1953
Headquarters Brooklyn, New York, United States
Key people Joseph Grado, Founder
John Grado, President & CEO
Jonathan Grado, VP of Marketing
Products Audio electronics for consumer, professional, and business uses
Owners John Grado
Website www.gradolabs.com
Grado SR60 with "Grado Labs" name displayed

Grado Labs is an audio manufacturer known for hand-making high-end dynamic open-air headphones and cartridges in Brooklyn, New York. In June 2014, Grado released their new line of headphones,[1] The e Series, and was named in the Top Eight Most Social Small Companies in America by Mashable and American Express.[2]

History[edit]

Grado Labs was founded in 1953, by master watchmaker Joseph Grado. The Brooklyn company is now run by President and CEO John Grado, who bought the company in 1990 after running day-to-day operations since the 1970s.[3] John’s son, Jonathan Grado, recently entered the company as the third generation of Grado.[4] Grado specializes in dynamic open-air, supra-aural, high-fidelity headphones, which have won awards and accolades from audio-related publications such as Stereophile magazine. Grado Labs holds 48 patents as of July 26, 2014. Grado currently produces five families of headphones price points:

  • The Prestige series (6 headphones)
  • The Reference series (2 headphones)
  • The Statement series (1 headphone)
  • The Professional series (2 headphones)
  • In-Ears (3 headphones)

An older series of headphones (the "HP Series") designed by company founder Joe Grado are also held in high regard in the audiophile community, often selling for high prices on the used market. Currently all present and future Grado headphone models are designed by John Grado.

Grado iGrado street-style headphones

In addition to their headphones, Grado has also produced a highly regarded series of phono cartridges for over 40 years.

Alessandro MS1i

In its over 60-year history, Grado has kept a very low profile by relying on word-of-mouth advertising among audio dealers and consumers instead of mass advertising campaigns to protect its brand image.[5] Nearly all of Grado's products are hand-crafted but all are produced in low numbers.

Grado also produces three models of headphones for the Pennsylvania-based Alessandro High-End Products company; the Alessandro Music Series One, Two, and Pro. These are built from the ground up and are not based on any existing model Grado produces at the moment, although they share many components. In addition, Grado produced a model for a German Distributor, which they call the PS1, and was sold in the US for a retail price of US$1400.

Headphones[edit]

Grado’s most recent line of headphones is The e Series.

What’s New:[6]

  • Grado's proprietary polycarbonate is engineered to absorb excess energy and reduce secondary impulses, for a clearer tone.
  • The e Series method of curing our select Mahogany tone-woods enhances their natural ability to reduce sound coloration and produce consistent results.
  • Rhodium is employed to prevent corrosion on connectors, and unwanted graininess in your music.
  • More than 60 years of Grado Labs expertise have led to the development of the most refined driver geometry in Grado’s history, which tracks music frequencies with unequaled precision.
  • Design refinements within the housing prevent stray resonance from interacting with the driver, thus protecting the purity of reproduction.
  • The magnetic field has been fine-tuned for symmetry throughout the full range of the voice coil.
  • The bonding agent is new, optimized for greater strength, less mass, and better reliability.

Prestige Series[edit]

Headphone Model Headphone Class Driver-matched dB Construction Earpads Termination
iGrado Prestige 0.1 Polycarbonate Mini Cushion 1/8" (3.5 mm) plug
SR60e Prestige 0.1 Polycarbonate S-Cushion 1/8" (3.5 mm) plug with 1/4" adaptor
SR80e Prestige 0.1 Polycarbonate S-Cushion 1/8" (3.5 mm) plug with 1/4" adaptor
SR125e Prestige 0.1 Polycarbonate S-Cushion 1/8" (3.5 mm) plug
SR225e Prestige 0.05 Polycarbonate L-Cushion 1/8" (3.5 mm) plug
SR325e Prestige 0.05 Aluminum Alloy L-Cushion 1/8" (3.5 mm) plug

Reference Series[edit]

Headphone Model Headphone Class Driver-matched dB Construction Earpads Termination
RS2e Reference 0.05 Hand-Crafted Mahogany L-Cushion 1/8" (3.5 mm) plug
RS1e Reference 0.05 Hand-Crafted Mahogany L-Cushion 1/8" (3.5 mm) plug

Statement Series[edit]

Headphone Model Headphone Class Driver-matched dB Construction Earpads Termination
GS1000e Statement 0.05 Hand-Crafted Mahogany G-Cushion 1/4" (6.5 mm) plug

Professional Series[edit]

Headphone Model Headphone Class Driver-matched dB Construction Earpads Termination
PS500e Professional 0.05 Hand-Crafted Mahogany/Aluminum L-Cushion 1/8" (3.5 mm) plug
PS1000e Professional 0.05 Hand-Crafted Mahogany/Aluminum G-Cushion 1/4" (6.5 mm) plug

In-Ears[edit]

Headphone Model Headphone Class Driver-matched dB Construction Earpads Termination
iGi In-Ear Unknown Plastic Tips 1/8" (3.5 mm) plug
GR8 In-Ear Unknown Plastic Tips 1/8" (3.5 mm) plug
GR10 In-Ear Unknown Plastic Tips 1/8" (3.5 mm) plug
Grado RA1 headphone amplifier

In addition to the currently available headphones listed on this table, Grado sells a Headphone Amplifier called the RA1. It utilizes AC, or DC power supplied by two 9 volt batteries (depending on model). It has two RCA connectors and a 1/4" (6.5 mm) jack, enclosed in a solid mahogany box.

Grado also manufactures an alternate headphone line for Alessandro Music Products; a maker of higher-end guitar components. Known as The Alessandro Music Series, these models have roughly the same external appearance with those from Grado, but feature a slightly different printed text and lack the identifying "button" of many lower-end Grado models. The series has said to have been designed for the musician market, and encompasses the entry-level MS-1 (or Music Series 1) with plastic driver housing, the MS2 with aluminum cup and plastic driver housing, and the "professional grade" MS-Pro, which features a mahogany driver housing similar to that of the RS-1.[7]

Limited edition/specialty headphones[edit]

Most of these headphones are rebranded and/or limited versions of Grado headphones. The Grado HF1 was sold exclusively to the Head-Fi online community, which had a total of 450 original November sales, one replacement (December), seven waitlist sales, three March sales and twenty April sales, each numbered 001–481. RRP for the HF1 was US$200. The HF1 is, arguably, one of the most sought-after Grado headphones. Most contend that its sound stands unique among the models.[citation needed]

In May 2009, the limited edition HF2 was announced, also for sale exclusively to Head-Fi members. The production limit was set to 500 units or however many units sold by the end of July 2009, whichever came first. The 500 units quickly sold out, ending the sales of the HF2 early. It was announced on October 12, 2009 by Todd Green that there were several left unsold, bringing the total number produced to 524. These extra pairs also quickly sold out. RRP for the HF2 was US$429. As of February 2010, there was a run of 26 B-stock HF2 that were released, totalling the production to 550. The B-stock serial numbers began from #550 and went until #575.[citation needed]

The PS1 Pro was a special production order for a German Distributor, and was more expensive than any of the Grado line. A partnership between headphone manufacturer Grado and wireless technologies manufacturer FreeSystems paved way for the FreeSystems headphones. The FreeSystems package included an integrated Grado RA 1 amplifier (as mentioned above), headphones which have a physical appearance similar to that of the Grado PS1, and a Free Systems infra-red transmitter and receiver. The RRP was US$3,800. The system was intended for release by February 2002, but was never released.[8][9]

All headphones have a 32 ohm-Impedance.

Headphone Model Headphone Class Construction Earpads Termination Production Limit
HF1 Limited Edition Plastic and Hand-Crafted Mahogany Bowls 1/4" (6.5 mm) plug 481
HF2 Limited Edition Mahogany and Aluminum Alloy Bowls 1/4" (6.5 mm) plug 550
PS1 Pro Limited Edition Aluminum Alloy Bowls 1/4" (6.5 mm) plug 250
FreeSystems LE Limited Edition Aluminum Alloy Unknown Unknown Never released
DS2012 (Dolce & Gabbana) Limited Edition Mahogany Circumaural Bowls 1/4" (6.5 mm) plug Never released
The Bushmills x Grado Labs Limited Edition Wood from Old Oak Barrels Comfort Pads 1/4" (6.5 mm) plug Unknown

Past production[edit]

The Joseph Grado Signature Products HP-1000 series headphones were limited to 1000 units produced. The HP-1000 series consisted of the HP-1 (with phase/polarity switches), HP-2, and HP-3. They came in two varieties of cable. The Joseph Grado Signature Ultra-Wide Bandwidth Reference Cable and the Signature Laboratory Standard. Please note that the older, non "improved" models in Grado's lineup (such as SR-60 and RS1) are not contained within this table because the improvements were not significant and they directly replaced the older models in the lineup.

Below is a table of headphones no longer offered by Grado:

Headphone Model Headphone Class Driver-matched dB Construction Earpads Termination
SR60i Prestige 0.1 Plastic Comfort Pads 1/8" (3.5 mm) plug with 1/4" adaptor
SR80i Prestige 0.1 Plastic Comfort Pads 1/8" (3.5 mm) plug with 1/4" adaptor
SR125i Prestige 0.1 Plastic Comfort Pads 1/4" (6.5 mm) plug
SR225i Prestige 0.05 Plastic Bowls 1/4" (6.5 mm) plug
SR325is Prestige 0.05 Aluminum alloy/ Plastic inner sleeve Bowls 1/4" (6.5 mm) plug
RS2i Reference 0.05 Hand-Crafted Mahogany Bowls 1/4" (6.5 mm) plug
RS1i Reference 0.05 Hand-Crafted Mahogany Bowls 1/4" (6.5 mm) plug
GS1000i Statement 0.05 Hand-Crafted Mahogany Circumaural Bowls 1/4" (6.5 mm) plug
PS500 Professional 0.05 Hand-Crafted Mahogany/Aluminum Bowls 1/4" (6.5 mm) plug
PS1000 Professional 0.05 Hand-Crafted Mahogany/Aluminum Circumaural Bowls 1/4" (6.5 mm) plug
SR40 Unknown Unknown Plastic Foam 1/8" (3.5 mm) plug with 1/4” adaptor Unknown
SR325 Prestige Unknown Plastic Foam 1/8" (3.5 mm) plug with 1/4” adaptor Unknown
HP1000 Joseph Grado Signature Unknown Aluminum Alloy Flats 1/4" (6.5 mm) plug Unknown
SR100 Prestige Unknown Plastic Flats 1/4" (6.5 mm) plug Unknown
SR200 Prestige Unknown Plastic Flats 1/4" (6.5 mm) plug Unknown
SR300 Prestige Unknown Plastic Flats 1/4" (6.5 mm) plug Unknown

Phono cartridges[edit]

Each individual cartridge manufactured by Grado is hand assembled and tested for frequency response, channel output, channel balance, phase linearity, inductance and resistance.

Prestige Series[edit]

The Prestige series of cartridges are designed for high output and stability under much use. A considerable tip mass reduction results in a manufacturer-reported frequency response[10] to 50 kHz and tracking forces from 1 to 2 grams.

Prestige models available in both ½" mount and P-mount. 78 RPM styli are available for these models. All styli in the Prestige series are user replaceable.

Reference Series[edit]

The Reference series of wooden cartridges are a fixed coil design, handmade at Grado labs from a specially selected species of mahogany. A curing process is performed between production steps to achieve Grado Labs' desired sound. Unlike the Prestige series, the Reference series generator/stylus module is not replaceable allowing a redesigned one piece magnetic circuit and a reduction of chassis resonances. The Reference Series is considered by some to be among the finest cartridges in the world, and has been a flagship of Grado Labs since its early history.[citation needed]

All Reference series cartridges are ½" mount. 78 RPM styli are not available with the Reference series. All re-tipping on the Reference series is done by Grado.

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]