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.
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.
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.
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.