Grado specialises in transducers. That is to say they specialise in devices that convert types of energy from one sort to another. In an analogue system we have transducers at both ends - we have a cartridge at one end, which is a stylus tracking modulations in the grooves of a record, attached to a cantilever that carries a small magnet, which moves between two coils of wire, inducing a current; it converts movement to electricity. At the other end of the system, we have loudspeakers. You can think of these as the opposite of cartridges - instead of a magnet and coil moving to induce a current, we have a current which moves a magnet and coil, and thus moves the air. Grado, of course, specialise in the most delicate of loudspeakers - the headphone.
Based in Brooklyn, Grado Labs is a family run company that for over 60 years has been dedicated to achieving the best quality of sound. The company has passed through three generations of leadership: Joseph, John, and Jonathan Grado.
The founder Joseph Grado was a watchmaker, and in 1950 he began making phono cartridges by hand in his own home. In 1953, he founded Grado Labs on the site of his father’s grocery business, which continues to be the company’s factory, in order to take his production of hand-built cartridges further. Two years later, the first ever Grado Cartridge was sold. Joseph Grado came up with more innovations in phono cartridge design than any other person so far; notedly in 1955 he invented the stereo moving coil phono cartridge. In the early years, the company also produced speakers, turntables and the wooden-tone arm, but in 1963 Grado stopped production of those and dedicated all of their resources to creating the world’s finest phono cartridges. In 1976, their first truly high-end cartridges were created, with the title of Joseph Grado Signature Products.
In 1990, Jospeh Grado’s nephew John became President and CEO of the company. John Grado created and released Grado’s first line of headphones, which is perhaps what the brand is most famous for today are known for today. From 1990 to 2014, John created over 60 different headphones, and the Prestige Series of headphones won more awards than any other headphone line in the world.
For the first few years, John and his wife lived with their children on the top floor the factory, and every day the two of them would build headphone orders themselves on a small worker’s bench. John also continued the focus on cartridges, and redesigned the whole line of Grado phono cartridges using the knowledge he had gained while designing headphones. Grado uses a unique damping system which almost entirely eliminates resonant distortions in the magnetic and electrical circuits in their cartridges, creating a whole new level of analogue performance.
Stephen has always been a fan of Grado headphones - both for their charming retro aesthetic, and their wonderful, precise, airy sound. They're unusual, in that they have firm foam, and sit on the ears rather than covering them, and being open-backed, make no effort to insulate against sound leakage. These are headphones for listening in private, and for breathtaking accuracy and engaging presentation.
Grado cartridges are also exceptional. The Prestige range are superb all-rounders, and are competively priced, while the Reference range is remarkable on several counts - in producing probably the finest moving magnet (iron) cartridges on the market, and also their beautiful wooden cartridge bodies.
We are proud to offer headphones and cartridges made by a family business, and can’t wait to let you experience their quality in our new showroom in Lincolnshire.