For over 60 years and 3 generations, the Grado family has been handcrafting phono cartridges and then headphones in Brooklyn, New York. Their headphones have been enjoyed by music legends like Neil Young, Ringo Star, Billy Joel, among others.
A Bit of History
In 1953 Joseph Grado started the business in a building that his father had bought in 1918. John Grado, Joseph’s son, took over from his father in 1990. Within a few years, John’s SR-60 gained the reputation of the best affordable headphones on the market. In the 2010s, Johnathan and Matthew started to work at the shop as well. They revitalized the company with new ideas, including earphones and Bluetooth headphones, as well as a stronger social media presence.
A Unique Design and Sound Signature
All Grado headphones share the same sound signature; smooth vocal with extended top-end. Higher-end headphones use wood, metal, or both to house their proprietary drivers. As such, the phones behave much more like on-ear miniature speakers than most traditional headphones. All Grado headphones are open-back, which allows the air to flow outside the chamber. This allows for an airier, crispier and clearer sound at the small cost of some sound leakage. They might not be the best choice for a noisy environment, but in the proper setting, they are outstanding.
Meanwhile, North of the Border
In Canada, Audio Group is the distributor of all things Grado. They are well-equipped to service headphones, even long after the warranty expired. It’s an environmentally conscious approach to customer service- why throw away a piece of equipment when it can be restored to its original state. It also saves owners a fair amount of money.
A Long-Time Fan
I’ve been the proud owner of Grado headphones since I was 17, and I have yet to find cans that sound as lively and captivating. My pair of RS2 has given me years of good service, but unfortunately, one of the grills kept falling off. The wood was also starting to fade, and the drivers were a bit past their prime.
I emailed Michel from Audio Group and sent him my headphones. Michel has been trained by Grado to service all headphones Grado Headphones for a flat fee. I ended up with new drivers and a new chord.
So, What About our Patient?
My newly restored RS2 sounds much more transparent and detailed. The bass is also better defined. I can always get another pair when funds allow. Dropping the needle on Chicago Transit Authority (GP8) and Billy Joel: Song in the Attic reveals great imaging and plenty of punch. These phones can rock. Just as impressive are Lionel Richie’s soothing vocals on my Quality Record copy of Can’t Slow Down (M-6059). Penny Lover never sounded better.
I’ve yet to compare my restored RS2 to their successors, the RS2e, but I imagine they’d put up a good fight. These cans have been with me for so long, that I can’t imagine parting with them. They will be forever my headphones. Welcome back!