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Grado Drivers  

post #1 of 102
Thread Starter 
Can someone confirm if Grado actually makes them in house ? For those that did the factory tour, did you guys actually see them making the drivers, like winding the copper coil onto the drivers and them forming the diaphrams and assembling them together or you just saw them inserting the finished drivers into the various housings ?

From what I can see, they are incapable of making the drivers and diaphrams in house. It looks likes they are just simply assembling and molding the plastic parts in house. Grado has already mentioned that the cable assemblies come from China. From some of the photos and people comparing the drivers look similar to drivers from other brands, mainly drivers that are from China. Now the scary question, are they even different driver models for each of the Grado models ?

This photo says it all, notice the PVC formed trays holding the drivers and the China type yellow cardboard seperators. From experience this is how drivers from China are packaged:
post #2 of 102
John Grado told me they are made in house.
post #3 of 102
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanth View Post
John Grado told me they are made in house.
Well, I would agree 99% percent of the plastic parts are made in house like the plastic moldings such as the bracket, cups and headband retainer for the SR60, SR80, SR125, SR225 and RS2 and the assembly and packaging of the headphones. Well the rest of the components such as the drivers which contains too many complex parts I highly doubt from what I can see. Grados would cost in the tens of thousands if every single component was made under one roof and their factory would have to be much much larger. Also I don't know if the term hand made is decieving since they call manual assemby "Hand Made" 99.99% of other brands of headphones are then handmade if they were assembled by human hands.

If they can show me a photo of them assembling the drivers such as winding the copper wire onto the coil, forming the mylar diaphrams and inserting the magnet onto the metal stamping then I would eat my words, but for now Grados are just assembled by hand in the USA and therefore able to use the "Made in USA" title.
post #4 of 102
They make catridges in house too. They are far more complex than headphone drivers.
post #5 of 102
If Rega can work out of an old mill, then Grado can work out of their facilities. Your problem EdT is that you have already made up your mind. You ask a question which you will not take the answer to, despite the fact that the body of evidence which does exist supports that Grado builds its drivers.

The drivers are in trays, stacked between cardboard. Gosh, might that be because that's a sensible way to store them before they are to be worked on at a workbench? Just because something comes in a moulded plastic tray doesnt mean in came in that trey from China. I'm fairy certain that my Tesco fairy cakes dont.
post #6 of 102
Good points Duggeh. Not to mention the shots of Grados warehousing rooms. They have been in business for 50+ years I think they know how to stay organized. The stacks of headphones and headphone parts is staggering.
post #7 of 102
It's been suggested in the past that some grado drivers were manufactured in japan by a company called Primo -- but this was in a kindof round-about context -- describing a Nakamichi headphone which was also manufactured in part by Primo.

Myself i don't care if they were assembled by elves or robots - although frankly i put more trust in a quality robot than an elf.

I'm skeptical of the assertion that the drivers are wholly manufactured in that basement but i'm not a grado fan or critic so i don't really care.
post #8 of 102
I've been there, and as far as I know, except for the 2006 iGrados, everything is Brooklyn born and raised.
Things might have changed since I was there last year, but I doubt it.
post #9 of 102
Judging by all the evidence presented here, plus from my own experience, im going to agree with EdT.

Lets look at this from a wider perspective:


1) There are hundreds if not thousands of drivers in China all which look 90-95% identical to Grado's.

2) The HP1000 drivers were outsourced from Singapore, though the company dosent produce them anymore, whats stopping grado in ordering from a competing firm?

3) Designing drivers is a science. There are no scientific minds at grado. The physics involved in such a task are far beyond 'family run'.

4) EdT is correct, those driver trays are a dead giveaway. Where would Grado manufacture these? Better yet, why would Grado speed thousands of dollars to manufacture these? Common, those are shipping crates designed to protect a specific product.

5) Tooling Tooling Tooling: Grado drivers have vacuum formed diaphragm's and stamped steel back-plates. Very very expensive and requires skilled trade workers to operate.... doesn't seem to fit with what we saw in the factory tour.

6) Interesting argument about cartridges vs. drivers.... But have you seen the winding on a Reference cartridge- let me say it is far from complex.


on to the bigger, more obvious reasons:

IF grado produces there own drivers why have they used the exact same driver for their entire lineup since the beginning of time? Right now, in-front of me i have a set of SR60, MS2, SR325i, RS-1, MSPRO, and PS-1 drivers; They are all virtually identical inside and out. Reasons for their different sound have been attributed to diaphragm doping- which many audio companies do to OEM drivers (ex, Sonus Faber) with great success. There are also a few minor cosmetic tweaks, but nothing hinting at manufacturing differences.

I can understand why John would say the drivers are 'made' in house since its not necessarily false even if he doesn't manufacture the parts. The plastic perforated cap on the front is indeed 100% Grado, and the doping solution is a tried tested and true Grado signature. Without those subtle yet crucial tweaks, its not a Grado driver.

Im not saying Mr. Grado is lying- hes an honest man whos number one goal is to protect the vitality of his business- disclosing company secrets doesn't fit with his profile. But in this case, i think its a matter of the most obvious answer is correct. And besides, common guys, no other "chinese" manufacture has been able to duplicate the success of Grado Labs, It makes no difference whether they produce the drivers or not.
post #10 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhydon View Post
5) Tooling Tooling Tooling: Grado drivers have vacuum formed diaphragm's and stamped steel back-plates. Very very expensive and requires skilled trade workers to operate.... doesn't seem to fit with what we saw in the factory tour.
Right. Where's the vacu-form and the hydraulic press that makes the stamped steel parts? You also need a jig for centering the magnets, and a machine for winding the coils accurately, and a jig for gluing the coils to the diaphragms without using too much glue and without the hesitation of a human hand.

Mainly what we saw in the tour pictures was soldering stations, diagnostic gear, and a plastic injection molding system.

Quote:
IF grado produces there own drivers why have they used the exact same driver for their entire lineup since the beginning of time? Right now, in-front of me i have a set of SR60, MS2, SR325i, RS-1, MSPRO, and PS-1 drivers; They are all virtually identical inside and out. Reasons for their different sound have been attributed to diaphragm doping- which many audio companies do to OEM drivers (ex, Sonus Faber) with great success. There are also a few minor cosmetic tweaks, but nothing hinting at manufacturing differences.

You also see a lot of differences in materials - type and thickness of the plastic. AKG seems to do this a lot. Different polymers have different self-damping properties, etc.

Any damping fabric on the back of the driver makes a big difference, too.
post #11 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhydon View Post
Judging by all the evidence presented here, plus from my own experience, im going to agree with EdT.
EdT's and your "evidence" is 100% conjecture meanwhile immtbiker has been there and spoken with John. I have not had the luxury of being there but I have talked to him on numerous occasions. So...go with the guys talking outta their asses? Or go with Aaron who has been there, seen for himself and talked to the main man. I mean, even if John was flat out lying to me, Aaron has BEEN there.

As for no tech at Grado...um...sure, of course Rhydon, you are able to completely discount the 50+ patents Grado holds or has held for audio innovation and design? No no tech at all.

It may seem like I'm caustic with this, coming on strong becuase I like John and the Grado house sound, but it has nothing to do with that. I despise folks chiming in on things they have little to zero knowledge about and spewing it as fact.

Duggeh had it right in the first place, EdT and the like have made up their minds so why argue? When someone calls someone else a liar, or beats around the bush but insinuates the same, I take offense as I would for anyone let alone a friend like John. That's just me though.
post #12 of 102
Lol calm down, i too recall someone saying they were made in japan. Frankly i couldn't give a toss either as long as they sound good
post #13 of 102
^Exactly.
post #14 of 102
Thread Starter 
I can understand John Grado's reasons to protect his business and trade secrets and I admire his perspectives to try to give as many opportunities to his community and country in supplying as many components and individuals to the sucess of his business and the economy. There are some people you can fool, but like myself with over 20+ years in plastic/zinc injections, electronics and machine shop, Rhydon and ericJ seem to have manufacturing experiences as well that we remain very skeptical. I know it would be bad publicity if the headphone community ever found out if their drivers were indeed made somewhere else, but the reality of it is, that over 80% of manfactured goods that we buy and own are no longer made in North America. BMW who had a plant in China since 1994 has "secretly" opened a second plant this month without much fan fare, why ?, would the BMW brand would loose some of its glitter and prestige if the consumer found out that they were paying for German labour when it was made in China ? I for one think alot of the goods made in China are of high "quality", it just one of those stereotypes that people have that all good made there are bad which is far from the truth. I can name the following brand of headphones that made there completely with no loss of brand prestige; Senns, Goldring and Koss just off my head. I think the bottom line here is if manfacturers can produce their products more cheaply, will the consumer see a price cut ? or will the greedy capitialist still pocket the money as if it was made with North American or European labour, now that is my true question and point that I wanted to make.

Someone here or even Grado themselves mentioned that the SR60 has the same driver as the iGrado that is completely made and packaged in China, right there should a big enough clue in itself.
post #15 of 102
Guys talking out of their asses?

Dosent seem like the Zanth i know!? In-fact i thought he was a pretty smart guy

Someone who's seen the manufacturing of Grado drivers, yes the forming of the diaphragms, the stamping of the steel backs, the precise jigs and adhesive machines, speak up. Otherwise, i think everyone here has a right to think for themselves. Actually, if anyone has seen the manufacturing of any speaker driver you would know the complexity of the process and the resources required.

Im not trying to soil your brand here Zanth, im a huge Grado fan myself- everyone who knows me would know i wouldnt buy any other headphone; But we're not measuring eachothers junk here.

When it all boils down, like i said, it makes no difference where theyre made. But if one were to "wonder", the evidence, yes the evidence, seems to suggest otherwise.

Isnt that the great purpose of head-fi? A public forum where we can share each-others thoughts without scrutiny, to predict until proven?



...Just as a side, you may want to check the dates on those patents.
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