You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you that a fruit company ended up turning into a high quality headphone business. You also wouldn’t believe me if I told you that a company that’s been in the business for 64 years hasn’t spent one dime on advertising for its products. Since 1953, tucked away in the same small office space in Brooklyn, New York, lies one of the hidden gems in audio headphone world. That company is called Grado Labs. A family owned establishment since their fruit business days that has been passed down from generation to generation.
Grado Labs takes extreme pride in the fact that all of their product sales are done through word of mouth. They feel that spending more effort and money on making a rich sounding product that is spread across a community of supportive buyers is much more valuable than any single advertisement.
“Every ad says it’s the world’s greatest product. Everything can’t be the world’s greatest. Wherever I look, I see ads I don’t believe. Why would anyone believe ads for Grado headphones?” – CEO John Grado
From one generation to the next, headphones were passed down. The word of mouth wasn’t just through family and friends though. Even celebrities and musicians started taking notice of the quality of these headphones.
Having been sold off of the story and reading numerous reviews, I had to check out these headphones and see if the buzz was really all that.
The headphones come in a light weight box displaying the company’s logo.
Upon opening the box you receive a letter from the Grado family detailing their commitment to the product as well as a thank you for supporting their mission.
And then after you pass the courtesies comes the end product.
I ended up going with the SR325e model from the brand’s Prestige Series. The headphones are equipped with a powder-coated aluminum housing with an open back to them. It also comes with a genuine top-grain leather padded head-strap that is Brylcreem resistant. Let’s start with the Pros.
-The headphones themselves are incredibly well made and beautifully designed. They look even better in person.
-The sounds that these things can produce are almost inexplainable. You can truly distinguish which sound is which; the highs and lows of the instrumentation and vocals, and guitar strings sound as clear as if you were in the studio with someone playing.
-The open back makes for a more surround sounding headphone because there are no barriers between the drives in the headphones and your surroundings. This adds a ton more depth to your music.
-The added mass from the metal housing helps minimize the vibrations making the delivery a much smoother sound.
-They come with an eight-inch and quarter-inch headphone jack for multiple input.
-Their lowest priced headphone starts at $80 and is unmatched to any other headphone in the industry for the price and sound quality.
-The headphones come equipped with a thick, durable Y-shaped cord. Though this is a benefit to the headphone’s durability, the chords are relatively long in size and are not really ideal for commutes out in public that often. That being said, wearing them outside is probably not recommended, but they’re headphones. I’ll be honest, I wear them outside (as long as it isn’t raining) because I don’t really care, but to each’s own.
-Sound leak. This is due to the fact that they are open back. As we listed that the open backs were a pro due to the increase in overall sound quality and depth, the headphones do create some sound leakage when listening out in public or in quiet areas.
-If you are a big bass listener, these headphones might not be what you’re looking for. Though the bass sounds great in them, these headphones were designed for you to pick out all of the details in the music and not have one instrument overcrowd the other.
-The ear pads can get uncomfortable after long listening sessions.
Overall, these headphones are impressive. If you consider yourself a music head or an audiophile as they call them, who loves to dissect and get the full experience out of your music, this product is definitely for you.
What I like most about the company in general is that they represent a foundation. Their story is original and it showcases a love and passion for what they do. The brand isn’t about trying to make the most money possible; and it’s transparent. They just simply do it to continue a legacy and provide a high quality product.
The brand’s marketing scheme uses all forms of social media to accomplish their popularity. VP of Marketing, Jonathan Grado, used social media to showcase their headphones and everyday he would tweet and post on Facebook. Since implementing this, Mashable, a social media leader, named Grado Labs one of the top social media small businesses in the United States.
With 100% of the headphones being crafted and hand-made in Brooklyn, NY, this is about as American as it gets. What are the key things to take from the Grado family? Well 1.) Do what you love, be original, and be consistent. 2.) Don’t ever sacrifice quality for quantity, or in this case notoriety. If you have something genuine to put out into the world, people will acknowledge and support it without you having to pay people to speak highly of your product or support it.