Grado goes “e” – An Interview with Jonathan Grado marcusd June 26, 2014 Features 27 My actual first ‘proper’ headphone was a Grado SR80 combined with a Little Dot MK2 tube amp and some DAC I cannot quite remember. Honestly it was love at first sight with those sleek retro designs and a vibrant musical presentation that just wiped the floor with anything I was using up until that first day I stuck them on my head. Often referred to as the gateway product to audiophile addiction by many of my colleagues in the business, Grado has proven to be remarkably stubborn in this modern era of mass digital marketing and the “me too” philosophy from esteemed competitors. I highly doubt you will ever see a “DJ” headphone from Grado such is the reputation of the brand for the last 60 years. Their brand is their headphone done their way and you either buy into it or you do not. Thankfully a ton of people have done so down the years. Just recently Grado made a big splash with the announcement that they would launch a new “e” series of headphones. The ‘e’ series is not some minor offshoot with a niche appeal, this is a radical overhaul of just about 90% of the Grado line-up for headphones from the humble SR60e right up to the PS1000e (on which we have a review cooking very shortly for release). In short it is major news. Already it is being dubbed “the 3rd generation” of Grado headphones with the previous iterations being the original numbers edition during Joseph’s time in the late 80’s and the prestige series more commonly associated with John’s oversight of the company beginning in the 90’s right up to the launch of the ‘i’ series in 2009. With the launch of the “e” series also comes the next generation of the Grado family to oversee it’s success, Jonathan Grado, the Vice President of Marketing for Grado Labs. I can still remember the original picture of a young Jonathan testing his family heritage, like a poster boy for all those great kids with headphones shots you now see on Facebook. It was no surprise then sooner or later the next generation would take the reins of this prestigious American institution for the next assault on our ears. We had to talk about not just about the E Series, but life in general and what it is like being a Grado. So a few emails later via one social site or another I managed to grab some time with Jonathan to ask some questions posed by some of our readers and my own thoughts and this is what he had to say. Click on next page for our discussion with Jonathan on the new e series headphones… 24bit Damn fine article. Marc Definitely a good read. headfonics Thanks Marc! johnvictornunez It’s great to know that Grado is continuously holding on to their legacy. I distinctly remember the feeling of owning my first open back headphones in the form of the SR80, and until now, I still am a fan of their craft. headfonics The sr80 and the Aiaiai Tracks are the only sub $100 headphones I am tempted to go back to just for that initial wow feeling. headfonics Thanks buddy. http://dalethorn.com dalethorn I assume some of those paintings you see in that room are by Angelo Grado. Now, after owning Grado headphones, I wouldn’t mind having a genuine Angelo Grado painting. It’s all good…. headfonics I would says that is indeed correct and they are Angelo’s paintings. A talented family. Stephanie He looks as good as his headphones sound 😉 headfonics Haha I had a feeling sooner or later the female fans would voice their sentiments 😉 http://ohm-image.net/ ohm image And at least one male one. Of course, Stephanie could also be a male. Stephanie, are you ♀ or ♂？ headfonics I will be female and male if it meant the ps1000 e was coming my way 😛 http://ohm-image.net/ ohm image I’m a straight bloke and even I agree. Josá Vitorino As a long time Grado user I find the adoption of a 3.5mm plug a mistake in hifi terms and more garbage in the signal path for the sake of fashion. It should be standard only in the lower range. Any respectable headphone amp, like Grado’ s own, needs a larger plug. headfonics I believe they kept the quarter jack for the professional series. skogber I agree. The Prestige series could have 3.5 but not the rest. Les It is assumed the vulnerable plastic pins are still used for the driver/head band interface. It would have been nice to see a flanged female insert in the driver body and a threaded pin on the head band, this given a shoulder to allow head band movement. The present plastic pins either snap or work loose causing the driver to fall from the head band. To me this is the only weak point in the Grado design and I have been told that spare plastic pins are unobtainable. headfonics When I spoke to the SG distributor he mentioned that he has no issues taking in Grado cans that have issues and fixing them and if possible keeping the charges really low or none at all. Might not help if you are outside Singapore though. enu Grado, my favorite brand in Headphones. Seriously, when does Jonathan plan on making them more comfortable ? The age of surface modeling and 3-printers is here. Plastic mold injection via die is gone. I really really like grado’s for about 20 minutes then I have to take rest. http://ohm-image.net/ ohm image I agree about their headphones. You really sometimes have to work it. But their earphones… dear me, more comfort than a grado earphone I can’t imagine. headfonics The way they make them can be almost as important as the end product itself. For some that old fashioned hand made process is endearing and to others it is old hat. donunus I am jealous Marcus! I would have had a million questions too if I were there. Although I am currently a Sennheiser type guy so far as headphones are concerned, Grados have always had a special place in my heart. My old sr60s and sr80s during the 90s were more enjoyable to me than Sennheiser hd580s and Koss ESP 950 electrostats back then. Now these E series cans have got me interested again Grrrr ado 😀 headfonics I know. Dang I have been thinking of the ps500 e a lot again donunus yah that and the rs2e is really calling out for me 😀 I dont like it when something out of my 200 dollar rule calls out hehehe. The B&W P7s have been bothering me as well so it is starting to become a sickness again. skogber All Grados are better sounding than 95% of Sennheisers. I’ve tried several from both on many amps and most Sennheisers are not even close. Adrastos34 Really enjoyed this article. I am going to have to give the new “e” series a try. I have used the Grado RS2i as my daily at home cans for years now. I have spent a ton of time with them on ear (if I am on the computer they are on my head) and absolutely love them. Its funny you mentioned the photography nut thing as it was my passion growing up and is now my profession. I think it definitely has to do with the reasons Jonathan mentioned. headfonics Thanks for the comment and glad you enjoyed the article. Glad your making money out of a hobby that I must profess to be a quiet fun thing for me but nothing on a pro level. I think Jonathan has a photography blog somewhere and he has a bit of talent in that respect. Hope you enjoy the new ‘e’ series!