Brooklyn-based Grado Headphones releases a flagship model that integrates natural materials in novel ways
by Evan Monroe
In 1990, Joseph Grado and his son, Jonathan, were staring at the end of one of the most prestigious audio manufacturing businesses in the nation. Their family company, Grado Labs, founded in 1952 and located on a quiet stretch of Brooklyn’s Sunset Park, was on leading edge of the budding 1960s audiophile industry, and Joseph patented the nation’s first stereo moving-coil phono cartridge. What ultimately saved the company after the CD-centric 1980s and 1990s was the recent resuscitation of vinyl, as well as its Brooklyn-built headphones. Over time, and in what John explained was a “natural” growth process, the headphone business became a game changer to the point now where Grado hand makes nearly 160,000 each year in four model lines (Prestige, Reference, Statement and Professional), along with an in-ear (earbud) series—a number of which are regularly regarded as the finest in the world.
In June, Grado released its newest flagship, the PS2000e, one John Grado said required more than two years to create. The highly desirable sonic signature of maple wood, first used in Grado’s limited-edition GH1, delivers a unique but desirable response, so the new design includes a hand-carved maple inner chamber paired to a new Smoked Chrome colored shell. Cladding the wood with metal serves an additional purpose: the elimination of ringing and other distortions. The PS2000e also has a wider leather band for increased comfort for long listening sessions, and both the maple chamber and headband are exclusive to the new model.
“When I first started at Grado, I wanted new releases to always be happening, but I’ve learned from my dad two fundamental powers—quality and patience” noted Jonathan Grado. “It’s been a decade since we last built a new flagship, but I knew there was no reason to rush out a new one. Waiting has afforded us the opportunity to try new things, like using maple to make a headphone that truly represents our heritage.