Grado GR8e In-Ear Headphone - Reviews
Pros: Well balanced, mids and uppers are detailed, small and light
Cons: sub-bass can be lacking, can be pricey for some people,
Before I get started let me introduce myself, my name is Adam. I am a 38 years old headphone and portable audio lover, mostly iems. I am your average guy that works 8-10 hours a day and am required to wear hearing protection all day. My choice of hearing protection is usually an iem. My reviews are aimed at the average Tom, Dick, Jane or Harry, one day I did a search on the web for a new iem for work. Which brought me to Head-Fi, most searches bring you here one way or the other. I found most of the reviews were written towards audiophiles filled with long dragged out terms that i couldn’t understand at the time. Not that there is a problem with that, but the majority of consumers are not audiophiles. So that’s how I got the idea of writing consumer friendly reviews. You won’t find my reviews filled with charts, graphs, meters or audiophile lingo. The only charts I care about are my quarterly 401K charts. There are plenty of talented writers that include all that in reveiws already.
My goal with my reviews is to let the average consumer know if this product is worth their hard earned cash. Before I get started I would like to say thank you to Jonathan Grado for sending me a demo unit out. I am not employed or am I being compensated for this review, this review is based of my honest opinions. The Grado GR8e can be purchased from the following link for $299.00
Grado who hasn’t heard of them, the small company is based in Brooklyn, NY. I say small because of the size of the building, they are anything but small. Grado has been known world wide longer than I have been alive. Grado has been making audio equipment in the same townhouse since 1953. I won’t go into the whole history about Grado, but it could be a best selling book how they became what they are today. The story behind Grado Labs is the American dream at it’s best. Starting a company with only  $2000, making phono cartridges in their kitchen to making some of the world’s best headphones to this day. If that’s not the all American dream I don’t know what would be. We all have heard of there over the ear headphones, especially for how they can reproduce mids. Not so much about there iems though, I had know idea they made an iem until I came across a thread. I was expected them to be a dynamic driver design, shockingly they use balanced armatures. I was given the chance to review the GR8e version, that uses a single balanced armature. Let’s see if there iems can match the quality of sound there headphones are known for.
Driver: Moving Armature
Connector: 3.5mm stereo mini-plug
Frequency Response: 20 -20,000 Hz
Sensitivity: 118dB/1mW
Impedance: 32 ohms
Max Input Power: 20mW
Cable: 51"/130cm
Weight: 9 grams
Grado is not known for their packaging and gives you a no frills clear box.  They are not ones to be flashy with fancy boxes and and shiny pictures.  I have a feeling they will never follow what other companies are doing.  And I am completely fine with that as long as they keep producing quality headphones and iems.  As you noticed most companies advertise the hell out of there products, not Grado and they haven’t since they started. The most you will see is a picture of one of their products on Instagram or Twitter with some kind of funny snarky remark.  I actually like how they post on social media, you won’t see photos that have been fluffed or computer generated.  You get a real life picture in real life situations (maybe not the ones where the headphones are levitating) but it’s clever and out of the box thinking.  Why change now it obviously works for them or I wouldn’t be writing this review.
3 pair ear tips (S M L) proprietary blend of two silicons
Ear wax proof cloth x4
Ear wax proof cloth ring x2
If you ever bought one of their headphones you can already guess there isn’t many accessories. It’s kind of like cutting the crap out and just  listen to them already. They do provide 3 sizes of a proprietary blend of silicone tips that are quite comfy. Also if you don’t clean your ears, 4 wax proof cloths and 2 rings are included to hold them in. This has to be one of the best accessories that someone could come up with. Trying to clean a permanent screen or filter is a pain in the butt.  You will never really get them 100% clean but with this design you have a brand new ones with no worries.  Wax build up and dust and other foreign objects that you may shove in your ear canal can greatly destroy the sound quality if it clogs the nozzle opening. It would have been nice to see a carrying case included, but we don’t buy Grado products for accessories now do we.
Wow the GR8es are tiny they're shaped like little jet engines that fit deep into your ear canal, providing maximum isolation and a good seal. The housings look like plastic but are built out of a light weight metal.  The shells are painted a deep dark blue with a hint of sparkle, the front port housing is a goldish copper color.  Grado also incorporated a recessed ring for the tips to stay in place. I was very happy to see this some companies seem to forget this, I have had tips actually come off inside my ear leaving me left to fish them out with tweezers.
GR8e cable is a made from a supple black colored rubber that's not too thin or thick. The plug is straight instead of being on a forty five degree angle. Personally I prefer this some people like a right angle plug. When I use a portable dap I shove it in my back pocket and if the cable gets caught on something it usually pulls out saving the cable. With a plug set on an angle it tends to just get hung up and puts strain everywhere, damaging the cable.  Grado also incorporated a cable slider that I almost missed.  It blends so well with the Y split you can barely see it, the Y splitter is sized perfectly.  I like to run the cable under the front of my shirt,  with big Y splitters it looks like I have a third nipple or a growth coming out of my chest.
Strain relief seems to be strong throughout the whole cable so you won’t have to worry about it coming apart.  The cable connecting to the shells is angled in slightly towards your face, which works well.  I find cables that are coming straight down from the housings flop around a lot and become annoying.  I couldn’t be happier with the overall build quality of the GR8e, it’s a big difference from there over the ear headphones.
Before even receiving these I really wasn’t sure what to expect, since Grado is known for using dynamic drivers. I was even more shocked when I found out they use a proprietary balanced armature.  All my listening was done with hi-res files playing from my AK100ii, I also didn’t use an external amp since they are easy to drive.  If I had to pick one word to describe the GR8es it would have to be Clear.  Grado is known for their over the ear headphones clarity and crispness in the mids and highs.  The GR8es are know different the mids are very detailed and clean that work exceptionally well with live recordings. I wasn’t to shocked to hear how good the mids were since it’s a Grado product.  The lower frequencies have just the right amount of presence, midbass is highly detailed.  They can lightly touch into sub-bass depending on what you are listening to, but they don’t give you that low end rumble that some people itch for.
The upper frequencies is where the GR8es shine to my aging ears, they extend very well.  I was expecting them to be really elevated and up front but they are nicely balanced with the rest of the frequencies.  They were never ear piercing or do they become fatiguing while listening for long periods.  Although being a single balanced armature instrument separation and imaging is really good, being able to pinpoint where every instrument is being played from. Higher frequencies are crispier then a NY city pizza crust and extends further than the Holland tunnel. The higher frequencies just sound down right good.
The only other iem I could compare them to that I have on hand are the Shure SE315s and the AKR01, both being single balanced armature designs.  I will compare them to the Shures since a good amount of people have these or have had them.  GR8es definitely have better clarity than the Shures higher frequencies. The Shures soundstage is also not as good as the GR8es, the GR8es soundstage gives you a nice sense of openness for a balanced armature.  GR8e low end isn’t as big sounding compared to the 315s, the 315s also go a lot lower into sub-bass.  Although the bass isn’t as prominent it’s more detailed and not as stuffy sounding. I guess you could say more quality then quantity commparing the two.  Comparing the midrange the GR8es are more upfront and more clearer and detailed then the 315s. Shures 315s mids are more laid back and not as detailed and can almost sound distant to the GR8es.

To sum it all up Grado’s GR8es are detailed threw out the range and have a clarity to them that is amazing.  They sounded good with just about every kind of music, bass heads should look at a different option.  Music like dubstep and rap low end can be lacking, if you listen to rock, classical, jazz or any live music you can’t go wrong with these. If you noticed I didn’t say country because no one should listen to that, just kidding listen to whatever you like and these will work great with country.  The price might be high for some, but for us Grado fans it’s just another one to add to our Grado collections. To top it off the build quality is top notch and will last for years, kind of like the NY Yankees winning streaks. I wish I could say that for my hometown Philadelphia Phillies or are football team.  NY also has the NY Giants that don’t even play in NY. One thing I can count on is Grado being located in Brooklyn and continue to produce award winning headphones and iems.  Thanks for reading I hope this helped anyone interested in the GR8e.
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Reactions: Sparhawk69
great review acain, I've never really considered grado for earphones before. and these days I much prefer detail instead of bass.