Grado – GR8e

Disclaimer: Grado sent this GR8e for the purposes of this review. I paid nothing but UPS bribes. It goes for $299. You can find out more about it here.

I loved the Grado GR8. Its 120Ω resistance made sure that all but the worst amps out there were able to spit it a good signal. This is intent-driven design at is best. The GR8e is an intent-driven evolution of the original. And, it is exquisite.
If you’re keen on knowing how it handles, I’ve conveniently pasted the text from my review of the GR10, verbatim. Thought I should have, I’ve changed nothing. In case you’re wondering, GR8e differs from the 2014-variant GR10 in the following areas:
1. its cable is thinner, just like the original GR8
2. it lacks the port between the sleeve and nozzle
3. it’s speckled navy not speckled turquoise
4. the Grado text is white, not black
5. the metal nozzle portion is goldish, not silverish


Here’s the verbatim:


The Marque

The great news is that it comes from Grado, a name as trusted (and as old) as your grandma’s apple pie. They’re not your everyday hi-end headphone manufacturer. Advertising? Never really seen it. Retail plugging? I don’t think so.

No, this family-owned audio company lets their products do the talking. And they’ve collected quite a following over the years.

This here is my Grado talk. 

The Cable

I bought a GR8 about three years ago. It’s a well thought-out earphone. My complaints are few: an energetic cable whose internals are susceptible to component wiggle, to coiling, and whose plug-side stress relief is too soft.

The GR10 is a better made earphone, but isn’t perfect.

My wife (who stole my GR8, and who knows every Final Audio earphone by name, and yet still swears she ain’t a geek) noticed, by comparison to the GR8, how sturdy the GR10’s cable is. It is thicker, better moulded around its components, and more supple. It still does the coiling thing, and I’m playing it nice with the plug-side stress relief, as I don’t want it to split. 

Also like the GR8, it transfers a goodly amount of touch noise to the ear, just not to the same degree. 

What may come as a shock to potential customers in 2014 is that it isn’t removable from the earphone body. But if the GR series has caught your eyes because of its diminutive size, and user-friendly posture, you’re most likely not looking for a detachable cable. You know that detachable cables make earphones bigger, more unwieldy, and usually glued to memory wire- a thing I consider to be the worst ever bandaid solution conceived in earphones.

The Chassis

After handling Jerry Harvey’s amazing (and behemoth) Roxanne universal, the GR10 feels like a baby pea. It’s so much yummier looking, though. Below its thin outer plastic veneer is a glinty, and beautifully highlighted skin. It’s got none of that audio geek avoirdupois. My wife and I consider it to be the finest-looking earphone on the planet. 

From its deep turquoise hue to its delicate curves and precise filter threads, it is beautiful: a jewel. Too bad it didn’t come in a nice jewel box. In fact, it didn’t come with a carrying case at all.

And my wife absconded with the nice soft-sided nylon pouch I used to use to carry my GR8.

Let’s quit with the praise for a bit. I’ve got a few bones to pick. First, the logo is painted over the clear veneer. It rubs away. It is a delicate, almost hand-painted affair that looks great under the macro lens. But after several careful months, my right GR10 has lost its O. 

It also isolates less well than many competing earphones. You’ll have to turn it up a bit louder to enjoy John Denver whilst riding the rocket. That said, still it is a GRADO earphone.

The sound tube is made from a featherweight aluminium alloy. Plugged into it are the same filters used in ortofon’s e-Q8 earphone. Grado ships a plastic nudger to help you put them and take them out again. I’ve not once had to change them on any compatible earphone. Part of that has to do with the excellent silicon ear tips that are one of the few things that come in the unassuming box. Again, they are the same ones shipped with ortofon’s e-Q series. They are so comfy and so good that the first thing I do when reviewing earphones from other companies is to throw away the filthy, painful ear tips that come with them and slip on the Grado/ortofon tips. The are supple, mould comfortably to the ear, and they last a long time. They also keep the sound tubes far enough away from the waxy bits of your ears. 

Another cool part is that the left ear bears an indicating nipple right at the back. Since both sides bear the exact same shapes, small details such as this aid blind use. Interestingly, The Grado logo is upside-down when worn with the cable over the ear; and with the cable down, it faces the inside of the ear. 

I’m sure there’s a drunken story behind it.


Sound on the next page, after the click
4.2/5 - (29 votes)

Back before he became the main photographer for bunches of audio magazines and stuff, Nathan was fiddling with pretty cool audio gear all day long at TouchMyApps. He loves Depeche Mode, trance, colonial hip-hop, and raisins. Sometimes, he gets to listening. Sometimes, he gets to shooting. Usually he's got a smile on his face. Always, he's got a whisky in his prehensile grip.


  • Reply April 15, 2015

    willy vlyminck

    Great review but looking forward to the GR10e test

    • Reply April 16, 2015

      ohm image

      That should come. As you know, the GR10 is my all-time favourite universal, so I’m quite expectant of what the e version will deliver.

      • Reply April 16, 2015

        willy vlyminck

        I hope a bit more 3D bass without compromising it´s virtues like the natural sound they offer with acoustic instruments and voices.

      • Reply October 14, 2015

        Ron Luongo

        Any update on the GR10e vs. the 10 or 8e? Thanks.

  • Reply April 15, 2015

    willy vlyminck

    Love the pictures by the way

  • Reply April 17, 2015

    Andy Kurniawan

    I’m looking at leckerton uha 6s you got there. How do you like them compared to Oppo ha2 for iem use?

    • Reply April 19, 2015

      ohm image

      I need a little longer with the Leckerton to tell you. It is very nice. The HA-2 has more hiss, which is problematic, but is otherwise great. As you can tell, a review is in progress.

  • Reply April 21, 2015

    willy vlyminck

    I actually don´t miss an amp with my GR10. I have the compact Beyerdynamic A20d, which doesn´t bring that much extra to my iPhone 5s, exept stronger rhythm.With my FiiO X1, I use mostly the IE80, same here no amp required.

    • Reply June 19, 2015

      ohm image

      It’s one of the great things about the GR series: no amp required. But honestly, most modern DAPs and phones are so good that the only time you may need an amp is when you really have a goofy earphone.

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