We’re taking a look at ‘The White Headphone’, the $795 USD latest limited edition release from Brooklyn NY manufacturer Grado Labs.
Note: The White Headphones were loaned to us for the review by Grado Lab’s local Australian distributor, Busisoft AV, who we must thank for the opportunity. All words and impressions are our own, and the review pair are heading back their way. Inspired by The Beatles’ eponymous 1968 album, there’s a handful left.
Love them or hate them, you can’t deny that no other band has left as much of an indelible mark on music and popular culture as the ‘Fab Four’, a.k.a The Beatles. It’s astonishing to look back at their body of work – thirteen full-length albums – and remind yourself that they managed to release every one of them between 1963 and 1970, all the while managing to reinvent themselves stylistically over and over again and change the course of musical history in the process.
Founded in 1953, Grado Labs have also left their mark on the audio world. Three generations of the Grado family have hand-built their range of phono cartridges and headphones for legions of loyal devotees worldwide out of the same Brooklyn store-front that they started out in seventy-odd years ago. Like The Beatles, Grado tends to split audiophiles into the ‘Love them’ or ‘Hate them’ camps. The former tend to attracted to the company’s old-school values, old-school aesthetics, and exciting, brightly-tuned house sound (sometimes referred to as the Grado sound). The latter camp will grumble that after decades of manufacturing, the family-run company refuses to innovate with new technologies and approaches to construction, and stubbornly avoids opting for a more crowd-pleasing tuning. And that’s exactly what Grado they’re famous for – doing things the way they always have.
And here’s the part where I need to let you all know that I love The Beatles, and I absolutely love Grado headphones. Yes, I know they’re ‘coloured’ sounding (and I know they’re unlikely to add a detachable cable anytime soon), but I think they look terrific and bring certain genres to life unlike anything else – especially rock, metal, jazz, and live acoustic recordings. So when I saw that Grado was releasing a limited-run of headphones inspired by one of The Beatles’ most famous records, there was no way I was going to miss out on putting them through their paces.
“The limited White Headphone commemorates the power an album, or even just a single song, may have on a person’s life.” – Grado Labs.
Most people have a ‘favourite record’ – the one you know front-to-back, and every time you hear it, you’re immediately taken back to the time, the place, and the feeling of when you first heard it. My favourite album depends on what day of the week you asked me, but it’d be a close pick between The Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Siamese Dream’, Tool’s ‘Lateralus’, or Temple Of The Dog’s ‘Temple Of The Dog’.
On the other hand, I don’t think there’s any ambiguity around what John Grado’s favourite record is. You and I might know it more informally as ‘The White Album’ – The Beatles’ self-titled 1968 record (and only double-album), which is easily their weirdest and most eclectic mix of songs, styles and ideas. In total contrast to the psychedelic colour-fest of their previous record, Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, ‘The White Album’ takes its name from its starkly-white album cover, which has only the faintest embossed name on the front.
Inspired by both the music and cover art of ‘The White Album’, ‘The White Headphone’ is a remarkable tribute to a piece of music history that clearly means a lot to the Grado Family. The latest in their expanding Limited Edition range, The White Headphone is easily the most distinctive-looking product the heritage-focused company has released to-date, dare I say, perhaps even ‘modern-looking’ (shock horror)? Under the hood, The White Headphone’s manufacturer’s specifications are as follows:
- Transducer Type: Dynamic
- Operating Principle: Open Air
- Frequency Response: 14hz-28kHz
- SPL 1mW: 98
- Normal Impedance: 32ohms
- Driver Matched db: .05db
Head over to Page Two to continue our review, just CLICK HERE.