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Grado GR8 In-Ear Headphones - Grado GR8 In-Ear Headphones

By Hugo Jobling



Our Score:


Letting Grado's GR8 'phones down a little is the meagre offering of just three silicone tips: small, medium, and large. When even comparatively cheap earphones are now coming with a plethora of both silicone and foam tips this seems a little bit stingy. The tips are comfortable enough, however, and I was able to get a good seal.

The specs do betray one aspect of the GR8s with alacrity. Their 120ohm impedance means that these 'phones really do benefit from the use of an amplifier. That's not to say that an iPod touch, a Cowon iAudio 9 or a similar player can't drive these earphones well enough for use out and about, but this isn't the ideal setup. Luckily, even something as cheap and cheerful as the FiiO E5 should provide a helpful boost to the output of your PMP of choice.

Thankfully the GR8s compensate for this small inconvenience. If your source does have enough power to drive the GR8s without straining, or you have an amp, the result is commendable. Raise the volume to a decent level and the outcome is a forceful output, but one that doesn't feel at all strained. Cheaper earphones might push out a lot of sound at high volumes, but you can bet that everything will be muddied up like nobody's business. Not so with the Grado GR8s; you're eardrums will give in long before these 'phones.

Another interesting design feature is Grado's use of a single moving armature in the GR8s. Pretty much all earphones at this price range use at least dual-driver if not triple-driver designs - the three year old Ultimate Ears triple.fi 10 Pro Earphones being a prime example of the latter design. A single driver does bring with it the advantage of needing no crossover, which is where most multi-driver earphones fall down. Certainly the GR8s have a beautifully cohesive soundstage. There's no obvious transition between woofers and tweeters to mar the output, just equally clear reproduction of low, mid and high end frequencies.

This cohesiveness doesn't mean there isn't plenty of stereo separation, though. When tracks call for it, the left and right channels maintain a great distinction, which of course helps with developing a wide soundstage and, ultimately, keeps them truer to the recording studio's intentions. Obviously with the drivers sitting in your ear, that special all-encompassing awareness afforded by a great set of headphones isn’t possible, but as IEMs go on this front, the GR8s are up with the best of them.


March 10, 2010, 6:32 am

Why dont you review some ear buds headphones what are in most peoples price range ,this is obviously high end stuff aimed at audiophiles because no normal person would spend £265 on earphones,lets have some stuff that more people can afford,dont get me wrong ive bought lots of things on this site that have been reviewed and given at least 8/10 such as a sharp hd tv,g7 laser mouse,pioneer up-scaling dvd player all great quality stuff and i bought because i thought it was good value as well,everyone to their own but lets have some reviews on headphones that more people will buy


March 10, 2010, 1:32 pm

It's always annoying that build quality never gets its own rating. Out of the box things can look robust enough but people are looking for a long term investment. I stopped forking out 50 quid + on earphones because after daily usage while travelling no brand lasts much longer than 6-8 months before the sound drops out in one side, and the wire comes apart. Just not worth it anymore. Much more comfortable in the easily replaceable budget end of the market now (CX500s for instance).


March 10, 2010, 2:23 pm

@paul: We have done.





To point out but a few.

@GoldenGuy: The trouble is, there's no way we can consistently rate build quality. Some things that look very well built can fall apart suddenly while something that looks incredibly flimsy will last surprisingly long. This is particularly true of flexible items like headphones. Obviously we try and assess such factors but it's always going to be difficult. As for headphones breaking after 6-8 months, if that happens then they should be replaced under warranty. Overall, though, I'm sort of with you on this one. Certainly when combined with the fact that you can lose them and that full-size headphones give you a better overall listening experience if you're simply after quality, I'd never consider a pair of in-ears this expensive again.


March 10, 2010, 3:38 pm

The thing that causes headphones to break 95% of the time is the cable. If the cable is no good then you will have to buy a new pair every 6-8 months in hard use like GoldenGuy said. That's why it boggles my mind how anyone can charge this much money for high-end headphones that don't have user replaceable cables. If you can simply buy a new cable when yours goes then headphones can easily last over 5 years if treated correctly (especially if they are dynamic driver headphone rather than balanced armature as BA are more fragile).

That being said I would say if you wanted to spend lots of money on a headphone right now that will last you a while I would only consider the Sennheiser IE8. They have user replaceable cables, high quality plastics and they are dynamic driver phones. I would say the TR review of them did not do them justice. To experience them fully they need to be burned in for at least 100 hours as the sound changes tremendously. I got a pair of IE8s recently and they beat out both the SE530 (which I have briefly listened to) and the UE TF10 (which I've had extended listening with) for sure.

I would think that Grado must be trying to sell the GR8s as portable upsells for those that already own some full size Grados. I think Grado should stick to what they know best with full size.


March 10, 2010, 5:36 pm

I will say only one thing: post-purchase justification syndrome.


March 10, 2010, 9:34 pm

@Hugo I'm not going to deny that it could be the case that I am being swayed by the IE8s being my new headphones, you can't argue with the amount of people loving the IE8s at the moment. On headfi which is one of the largest headphone enthusiast forums on the internet they constantly get praise. Check out the appreciation thread: http://www.head-fi.org/foru...


March 10, 2010, 10:11 pm

yes ED i didnt see these other reviews ,ED in your view how much better would a pair of

Klipsch Image S4 Noise Isolating Earphones sound say than a pair of sennheiser cx500, given the senns are around £20,i know lts hard to describe sound but are the Klipsch worth £40 more in sound quality


March 11, 2010, 3:37 am

As good as they always are, this review is one step too far from reality. Thanks to this site in particular, and others, I have a pair of Shure SE310s. I'm a happy bunny. But I must say I'd like to see more balance in terms of audiophile/normal income folks.

This is clearly crazy money for the exceptionally wealthy and considering the top Shures, not good value for this money either. It could be presumed that those who buy these are not the type to read in-depth expert reviews in the first place. A step down the cost range is required...

But keep it up, the MP3 section remains my favourite. ;)


March 11, 2010, 7:55 am

@Disgrace - I think you have to put it in context. A 5 has been awarded for value and you don't review a Ferrari by constantly moaning about the price, you either can afford it or you can't.


March 11, 2010, 9:13 pm

I wish I had ears that could actually tell the difference between £300 and £50 pound buds - but an ill spent youth means I can't...

Buggered hearing is clearly saving me a fortune :)

Alex 11

March 12, 2010, 2:20 am

I managed to misplace my (beloved) pair of SE530s, and I am now looking for a replacement. I was waiting for a review of the Grados, and as they seem from the review to be no match for the SE530s, Should I go for a pair of SE530s while they are available, wait for the SE535s (which are likely to carry a jolly premium) or get something different like a Sennheiser IE8 ,UE TF10 or Denon AH-D2000 (I know this not directly comparable)?


March 12, 2010, 7:20 pm

I still prefer my FutureSonics Atrio, even after trying out the Grado GR8 and the Sennheiser IE8. To begin with, I didn't like the Grado sound signature, so it was an instant out. Between the IE8 and Atrio... Sure, go ahead and accuse me of having post purchase justification syndrome, but honestly, despite both using dynamic drivers, both companies adopt differing principles.

IE8 goes for quantity, while the Atrio goes for both. While it has less bass than the IE8, the quality is much better. Audio perception is after all, something that is not constant. One's meat is another's poison, and really, trusting reviews will get you nowhere. You do need to try the headphone out in person!

The Atrio costs less, and performs better (YMMV), to boot.


March 18, 2010, 4:15 pm

Alex - Everyone here will (I think) agree that the SE530s are the best universal fit 'phones you can buy.

Alex 11

March 22, 2010, 10:21 pm

Hugo - Is there an improvement in sound quality with custom sleeves for SE530s?


November 20, 2010, 6:49 pm

hey that was a very nice review. How would you compare the GR8 (or maybe the GR10 if you have reviewed that too) to the UE Triple fi 10?

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