Grado GR10 - Performance

By Hugo Jobling



  • Recommended by TR
Grado GR10


Our Score:


Although exteriorly the only change is the colour scheme, the GR10s have a number of differences to the GR8s internally. Improvements in the materials used are claimed to offer improved frequency response in both the high and low end of the GR10s 20Hz to 20Khz reproduction range, delivering more detail than the GR8s, which were already impressively detailed earphones. Direct comparison proves the boast accurate; the GR10s definitely do sound better than the GR8s, with subtle details in the low and high end - most obviously percussion and string instruments respectively - standing out more clearly.

From an iPod with compressed music, the difference is subtle, but with a good DAC and amplifier used to deliver lossless audio to the GR10s, on tracks that have the type of instrumentation that the improvements to these earphones highlight its definitely noticeable. It's not revelatory in the way that moving from a pair of bundled iPod earphones to a set of custom moulded JH Audio earphones might be; you probably won't find yourself noticing details you never realised where there, but you will find that they become more integrated in the mix, not a background detail you have to strain to hear.

It's probably only the type of person who really does like to tell that a cymbal hit was at the edge, not the centre, who will even consider this worth paying £400 for. Luckily for Grado, such people do exist; in fact the company's reputation for excellence is propagated by those very customers.

The GR10s have an impedance of 32-ohms, versus the 120-ohms of the GR8s. The upshot is that the GR10s are easier to drive, especially with typically low-output devices such as mobile phones and portable media players. This is obviously good because having a lower the output volume from your playback device makes the introduction of distortion by the amplifier less likely.


January 12, 2011, 11:30 pm

Being the old cynic that I am, I always wonder how companies such as Grado 'design' their prices. "Reassuringly Expensive" or just plain daft, I can't tell, pleb that I am.

One things for sure, in our consumerist world many will think the higher the price - the better the product. Numerous years on this earth have taught me that is an over simplistic view of technology. Good luck to those who decide to pay this kind of dosh (bankers? maybe). As delivering the suggested quality level will need a pretty decent setup and original recording to deliver er, value for money.


January 13, 2011, 12:23 am

Thanks for the review, I just wish there was more of a comparison with the Shure 530/535 or perhaps a more relevant comparison is the Senheisser IE8 with its single speaker system. Either way, I have to say I am tempted with these having owned Grado headphones in the past, they are just so unique!


January 13, 2011, 10:13 am

Maybe you can tell the sound quality of Shure SE 420-425 (i read they are almost the same in sound) according to the sq of Grado GR10? If Grado rated 10, what's the number for Shure? Old reviews need to be upgraded to new standards.

By the way, i never liked Shure 420 sound. Much cheaper and newer single driver Shure headphones sound better for me.


January 14, 2011, 1:14 pm

So are we saying the iPod DAC isn't good enough for these headphones but is good enough for the Arcan rCube?


January 14, 2011, 4:06 pm

Chocoa - dartboard.

Meenaxi - I don't have the SE535s to hand so I'm going by memory (and a notepad with the word "wow" in it a lot) for the comparison.

stranded - I prefer the GR10s, but you'd hope they'd sound better given the price difference. Mind you, I liked the SE420s enough to buy a pair back in 2007.

Marko - It's the DAC+amp combo in the iPod that really sucks. High bit-rate files on a dock-connected system sound fine from an iPod as it's pretty much just a repository.

Michael G

January 14, 2011, 5:47 pm

Am I the only one who finds the idea of paying this amount of cash for a pair of in-ear headphones...frightening? The most I've spent is £70 and I felt ridiculous then. They were Shure's and to be honest, I struggled to hear the difference when compared to the headphones bundled with my Walkman. I am sure these sound unbelievable but I can't help but feel Trusted Reviews are getting a little out of touch with reality giving a £400 pair of in-ears a 9/10 value rating.

I suppose it's all relative though.


January 14, 2011, 9:59 pm

Chocoa & Michael G: I'm with you. I can tell the difference between bundled headphones and £20 Sennheisers; I can differentiate between those and a £60 set but the difference is far less obvious. Beyond that the increase in price proportionate to the detectable increase in quality seems insane to me. But then I suspect that unlike "audiophiles" we simply have rubbish ears ;)


January 14, 2011, 11:21 pm

@MrGodfrey: The law of diminishing returns in action. I suspect even audiophiles would agree that the more you spend, the less you get for your money. It's just a matter of how much that last 10% is worth to you.

I'm not the best example of restraint. As I type this I'm listening to an iBasso D2+ via a pair of SE535s...

Alex 11

January 15, 2011, 1:14 am

Do you guys have any plans to review Westone earphones? I know that they are bit hard to come by in the UK but I have an UM3X and they sound great. They do sound quite a bit different (I can’t say that they sound conclusively better, both have their weaknesses and strengths) compared to the Shure SE530 I had earlier and seem to show a lot less wear. You have to be very careful when using high-end ear in-ear phones; I say this from experience, I have broken a pair of SE530s and lost another.


January 16, 2011, 4:55 am

@ Alex, Westone are overrated in my opinion, far too much bass bias. Had them for less than a day and had to get rid, stuck by my awesome SE530s though for more accurate sound reproduction I use the Sens IE8s, equally fabulous headphones! Wonder where these GR10s fit in the overall scheme of things.


April 30, 2011, 9:59 pm

Very interesting that negative comments I posted about the Grado GR10s have disappeared from the thread. Was it because I perhaps implicitly criticised Mr Jobling of falling for the Grado hype (or the emperor's new clothes)? That really isn't on Trusted Reviews. Come on, put it back, or I'll have to write it all over again.

Suffice it to say I was also taken in and I find the Grado GR10s thin, splashy and strained with little or no depth or body. And that's with around 100 hours of burn-in. They are far less detailed than the Westone UM3X and the latter gives the music a three dimensional presence that the Grados don't even hint at.

ohm image

November 6, 2014, 7:35 am

I reckon your ears needed a cleaning. The GR10 is detailed, but not strained. It is one of the best-sounding earphones out, at any price. That is, as long as you aren't really into tripped highs or big big lows.

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